Pubdate: Mon, 23 Feb 1998
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Page: A15


Re: Remind your children marijuana is dangerous (Feb. 16).

In Louise Brown's column, Andrea Stevens Lavigne says, "Kids are too smart
for parents to lie to them."  I couldn't agree more.

Why then, do we find the same old, discounted marijuana myths trotted out
in the rest of her column?

For example, Wayne Walker of the Hospital for Sick Children says that
marijuana "takes away any motivation" and is "also the stepping stone to
harder chemicals."  How can these statements be reconciled with the fact
that even Ross Rebagliati, with all of his motivation taken away, could
still train hard and win a gold medal at the Olympics?

And, how do we approach the tired stepping stone theory, with the common
sense knowledge that while marijuana is the most popular illegal drug, the
majority of its users do not go on to other illicit drug use?

Similar lapses in logic can be found in public health nurse Carmen
James-Henry's assertion that marijuana is addictive.  How can we (and our
children) take such an assertion seriously when the facts are that less
than 1 per cent of marijuana users in Ontario progress to daily use?

No one wants kids to use marijuana, or tobacco or alcohol, for that matter.

However, if the Rebagliati affair sends a mixed message to kids, lying to
them about marijuana is an even more dangerous mixed message, one that says
kids "can't trust anything I say about drugs."

A more productive strategy for a parent is to accompany their child to the
local library, where they can both research and discuss the facts, and get
away from simplistic, illogical drug education sound bites.

Dave Haans, Toronto


Olympic athletes train for several years to protect their chosen sport.

Should their Olympic glory result in their becoming a role model for young
children, that is a bonus for them, but not necessarily their goal.

For Star readers quoted on Feb 13 who believe that Ross Rebagliati should
not have had his gold medal returned because his personal habits are
incongruous with his role as a sports hero for their children, I would
remind them that winning a gold medal in the Olympics is the result of
excelling at a sport, not for adherence to a morality code.

If you do not want your children to do drugs, tell them yourselves, and
explain why you do not agree with the decision made.  Don't leave it up to
an athlete, or any other personality to teach your children their morals.

Crystal Quast, Toronto


One is once again appalled at the breezy resort to misinformation and
misrepresentation that drug "experts" have trotted out, predictably, in the
wake of the marijuana imbroglio surrounding Olympic snowboarding gold
medalist Ross Rebagliati in Nagano, Japan.

Those quoted in Louise Brown's column, "Growing Pains" (Feb 16), still
insist, despite every reputable study's contrary findings and which studies
one might reasonably expect such dedicated professionals to have read, that
marijuana "is the stepping stone to harder chemicals" or that it is

It is perhaps to be expected that those whose livelihoods depend on
maintaining an aura of danger around the dried flower that is cannabis
would panic, when with every passing day it becomes clearer that Canadians
have lost all patience with our country's absurd and draconian drug laws.

At the very least, however, one might expect the members of their
self-interested little cabal to blush when making a none-too-subtle
association between marijuana and AIDS.

Perhaps being a marijuana alarmist in an era when it begins to ring a
little hollow "impairs judgement" every bit as much as any drug.

Many thousands of parents in Canada have had and continue to have
experience with marijuana, and so will their children.  Rather than raising
rhetorical, calculated, leading questions to do with already settled issues
around health and marijuana (ask Rebagliati), peer standing and marijuana,
and so on, why not put a more pertinent question to parents: Do you feel
that your child should be jailed, as have 3,000 other Canadian young people
every year, for smoking a joint?

George Higton, Toronto


I had just shown my 6- and 8-year-olds how to spell Ross Rebagliati's last
name for their Olympics report for school, but now we are discussing what
marijuana is.

I believe he is very deserving of the gold medal as he was the best at his
sport.  I also believe that with achieving that honour comes a certain
responsibility to the sport and Canadians.

He should deliver a top notch, public apology for this unfortunate situation.

Pat Scanlon, Scarborough


According to numerous commentators, Ross Rebagliati's gold medal
controversy sends a mixed message to kids.  I agree.

First, Rebagliati loses his medal for a positive marijuana test, even
though marijuana is not an IOC banned substance.  Message?  Marijuana is a
voodoo plant: those who even stand near a cannabis smoker must be stripped
of any evidence of accomplishment, no matter how honestly earned.

Next, Rebagliati protests that he has not smoked marijuana "since April,
1997."  Message: In the real world, cannabis users are often productive
(award winning) citizens, despite all the fried-egg agitprop commercials.

Then the decision is reversed on appeal.  Message: We can set aside
drug-war homilies ... but only if a gold medal is at stake, and only

Last, Rebagliati is urged by the Canadian Olympic Association to put on a
humiliating "just say no" dog-and-pony show to demonstrate his repentance.

Message: When it comes to marijuana, there are no adults, and no adult
dissent will be permitted.  We are all, regardless of age or status, bad

Pity there isn't a urine test for doublethink.  Maybe we could strip a few
legislators and public officials of their titles, or even the emperor of
his new clothes.

Robert Wilson, Toronto