Pubdate: Thu, 13 Apr 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: John Roe
Page: A14


Once again, federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch is
receiving massive public attention for a massively bad idea.

On Tuesday, just two days before Justin Trudeau's Liberals were to
unveil long-awaited legislation to legalize recreational marijuana,
Leitch abruptly announced she would outlaw this use of the drug if she
ever became prime minister.

That's right. The woman who wants to screen immigrants to ensure they
have "Canadian values" would roll back an initiative most Canadians
support because it makes perfect sense.

The members of her party, and voters across the land, have yet another
reason to hope she never fulfils her political aspirations.

Despite Leitch's desire to turn back the clock to the bad old days of
prohibition, there are compelling arguments for legalizing
recreational marijuana.

Though marijuana was first outlawed 94 years ago, prohibition has
failed to stop its use. Instead, it has driven the marijuana industry
underground and into the welcoming hands of organized criminals.

Meanwhile alcohol and tobacco, which cause more damage to people's
physical and mental health than cannabis, are legal though carefully

Legalizing recreational marijuana could actually mitigate whatever
harm the drug causes while freeing up police and the courts for more
serious offences and providing tax revenues for governments instead of
cash for crooks.

The experience in the United States shows Canada has little to

Eight states as well as Washington D.C. have legalized recreational
marijuana in some form.

One out of every five Americans - 64 million people - live in states
where they can smoke pot without a doctor's letter. The sky has not

Since Colorado - to pick one, representative example - legalized
recreational pot in 2014, there have been no widely felt negative
effects, according to state legislators.

Thousands of new jobs have been created and US$135 million from
marijuana sales flowed into the state treasury in 2015.

Marijuana use by adults has risen marginally, according to one survey,
while other surveys suggest usage was rising even during

State police have voiced some worries about problems related to
drugged driving, and that is an issue Canadian lawmakers must
carefully address.

But effective regulation of a legal substance should be Canada's

Even if Leitch, who is not one of the front-runners in the Tory
leadership race, were to win that contest and even if she were to
become prime minister, she would be unable to turn back the clock on
legalized marijuana until 2020 at the earliest.

By then, a nationwide system of legal producers and distributors would
be in place. It would be a ridiculous waste of time and energy to blow
up this system.

Where Leitch actually makes an important and legitimate point is in
reminding us all of the harmful effects smoking marijuana can have on
young, developing brains.

Leitch is a pediatric surgeon as well as a Conservative

She should use her position and expertise in the health of children to
improve the marijuana legislation being introduced today rather than
foolishly pledging to torpedo it.
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MAP posted-by: Matt