Pubdate: Tue, 23 Mar 1999
Date: 03/23/1999
Source: Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
Author: J. David Jennings

The March 18 bust of two hydroponic pot operations in Hull and Ottawa
supplying medicinal marijuana to area residents shook my faith in
government policy-makers ("Medicinal marijuana operation broken up in
RCMP raid: AIDS patient weeps as Mounties smash drug-growing
equipment,'' March 18).

These growers were not the well-armed biker gangs that we are told
viciously dominate the street drug trade, but people acting out of
social conscience to meet the needs of very ill people.

These growers willingly took the legal risks to provide a community
with a regular supply of a plant that helps them survive the ravages
and discomfort of their diseases.

May God bless them for alleviating the suffering of others, even
through illegal acts.

If it is not time to end pot prohibition on humanitarian grounds, it
is certainly time to do so from an economic point of view. How can a
country with maximized taxes, low productivity and a declining
standard of living ignore a potential revenue stream to fund medical,
educational and other social infrastructure spending?

Not only would all levels of government enjoy new income streams, but
they would recover policing, judicial and prison costs.

Savings in operating costs on those areas would free money to be spent
on other pressing areas -- from school lunch programs and low-cost
housing to care for the elderly.

History teaches us that prohibition of substances or ideas never
succeeds in the end. A few decades ago, consuming alcohol would have
made you a criminal who associated with criminal suppliers who
associated with criminal brewmasters who made and supplied the drug
you ultimately consumed.

Does that strike you as absurd from today's vantage point in history
where a well-regulated and taxed industry now services what was once a

Looking back at history, have we learned anything or are we busily
repeating with pot the same mistakes of alcohol prohibition? Let us do
what all civilized societies do in the end with a vice over which
people are divided: legalize it, industrialize it, tax it and spend
the proceeds on social infrastructure.

J. David Jennings,