Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 Date: 07/16/1998 Source: Vancouver Province (Canada) Author: Norm Siefken Not only should cannabis be legalized - the government should advocate cannabis as being much less harmful than alcohol. As an emergency medical worker (X-ray Tech.) for 20 years I have seen many overdose victims, including alcohol overdoses. Excessive drinking can lead to coma and death, but I have never seen anyone O.D. on cannabis, nor have I found any such cases in the medical journals. The impact of alcohol in Emergency Departments is well known. We see drunk driving accidents and fatalities on a regular basis. A lot of violent behavior such as fights and spousal abuse is triggered by drinking. Chronic legal alcohol use leads to many horrible diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver. Cannabis is harmless by comparison. Pot smokers are well known for their peaceful "mellow" behavior, and non-violent nature. Psychological dependence can occur, but never the type of addiction which results in devastating withdrawal symptoms. Shopping is also a potential psychological addiction. Should we have a war on shopping? The answer is not more prohibition but to legalize cannabis and tax it. This would help our overworked RCMP by cutting the cash flow which the gangs need to survive. The tax revenues from this multi-billion dollar industry would solve a lot of problems in Canada, including more and better treatment facilities for hard drug users. A person that only wants to buy pot should not have to go to a pusher that will try to sell them heroin and cocaine as well. Mr. Cannabis should be available at the liquor store and he should enjoy the same legal status as Mr. Booze. Why is it that one person can legally pickle their brain every night with alcohol while the occasional cannabis user is labeled a criminal? Norm Siefken Chilliwack, B.C.