HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Best To Revisit Canada's Silly Stance On Pot
Pubdate: Thu, 04 May 2000
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2000 The StarPhoenix
Contact:  204 5th Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7K 2P1
Fax: (306) 664-0437


Ralph Klein and Stockwell Day admit they've done it. Senator Pierre Nolin
enthusiastically admits he's done it.

So, too, likely have countless dozens of national, provincial and municipal
leaders in every field from business and politics to education and even
policing, even though not many have the backbone publicly to admit they've
done it. Light up a joint, that is, and yes, inhale.

As Nolin, Day and Klein may well attest, there's no evidence that
recreational use of marijuana leads to addiction, acts as a gateway to using
stronger drugs or causes any number of other problems the ignorant attribute
to smoking pot.

Any signs of "reefer madness" are to be found only among the zealots who've
orchestrated North America's "war on drugs." That miserable attempt at
social engineering annually wastes billions on futile enforcement efforts,
nurtures organized crime and has criminalized 600,000 Canadians over four
decades for ingesting a chemical that does negligible harm to users and
their communities, compared to either alcohol or tobacco.

Yet, despite years of lobbying to legalize marijuana - even delegates to the
recent Liberal convention supported decriminalizing simple possession -
Ottawa remains reluctant to go beyond approving pot for medical use, even
that a pitifully gutless effort by Health Minister Allan Rock.

By allowing sick people to use pot with permission but not making it
available through legal channels, Rock is being absurd. Just last month,
police swooped in to bust an Ontario woman whose medical marijuana shipment
from B.C. they'd intercepted in the mail.

Although the permit spared her arrest, police wouldn't relinquish the 21
grams of pot because that's considered trafficking.

The thinking that went into creating this fine bit of legislation cannot
even make sense to someone who regularly tokes Manitoba pot, which is much
sought after by aficionados across the continent for its potency.

The downright silliness of the pot laws is beginning to sink through in some
quarters, however.

Klein is backing his Justice Minister David Hancock's suggestion this week
that Alberta should consider ticketing people for pot possession instead of
criminally prosecuting them. This "solution" has been proposed before but
raises the question: Why even make pot possession a punishable offence,
however minor? Why not simply legalize the drug and treat its sale and
consumption no differently from booze?

Justice Minister Anne McLellan disingenuously is attempting to distance
Ottawa from such a ticketing proposal by claiming it has "no mandate" to
allow it. A minister who pushed through a controversial law that enshrined
the legal rights and obligations of gays among common law partners is
clearly ducking the issue when she suggests "division in the police
community and in the society at-large" is reason to put off reforming pot

Polls have shown for years that most Canadians support legalizing pot and
decriminalizing simple possession. Unlike their political masters, ordinary
people are well aware of the hypocrisy involved in freely selling lethal
booze while banning the use of a substance with no such harmful effect.

As for renewed police opposition to decriminalizing simple possession - last
year, national police chiefs supported the move - surely McLellan realize
the police, whose rosters have swelled and budgets ballooned thanks to the
futile war on drugs, are feathering their nest.

Cannabis accounts for about 75 per cent of all drug busts, about half of
those arrests involving possession of less than 30 grams.

Prosecution is expensive because all samples, however small, require lab
analysis for prosecution.

Economics has finally done what common sense could not in motivating
politicians such as Hancock to rethink how they should deal with pot.
Perhaps it will be the economics of legalizing the sale of this relatively
innocuous substance that will spur governments to take the next logical
step. The sooner the better.
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