HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Fuzzy Thinking Keeps Marijuana Illegal
Pubdate: Sun, 07 May 2000
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2000 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Mordecai Richler


The common-sense campaign to decriminalize marijuana use surfaced
briefly in London recently, and then sank, no more than a three-day
wonder. The original British newspaper campaign for decriminalization
was launched here a couple of years ago by the left-wing Independent,
its stance supported by many writers, scientists and police officers,
most of them names to conjure with. And then this spring the more
influential, far from fellow-traveling Daily Telegraph briefly
brandished the sanity torch, unavailingly, alas.

Looking homeward, I doubt that Jean Chretien, celebrated savant of
Middle Eastern affairs - or, conversely, aging vaudevillian touring
long past his due date - will advocate decriminalization in his next,
eagerly awaited little red book of promises to be broken.

Joe Clark could possibly see the point of drug-policy reform, but, as
things stand, he appears to be obsessed with his lawsuit aimed at
preventing the Alliance gang from including "Conservative" in their
full-blown party name. Just in case Joe is unaware of his lawsuit's

potential, I should remind him of an earlier conflict over name
rights. When the Marx Brothers were about to make a movie called A
Night in Casablanca, there were threats of legal action from Warner
Brothers, who five years earlier had made a famous flick called,
simply, Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Groucho,
speaking for his brothers, immediately dispatched a letter to Jack

"Dear Warner Brothers," he wrote, "You claim you own Casablanca and
that nobody else can use that name without your permission. What about
'Warner Brothers"? Do you own that, too? You probably have the right
to use the name Warner, but what about Brothers? Professionally, we
were brothers long before you were. We were touring the sticks as the
Marx Brothers when Vitaphone was still a gleam in the inventor's eye,
and even before that there had been other brothers - the Smith
Brothers; the Brothers Karamazov; Dan Brothers, an outfielder with
Detroit; and 'Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?' (This was originally
'Brothers, Can You Spare a Dime?' but this was spreading a dime pretty
thin, so they threw out one brother, gave all the money to the other
one and whittled it down to, 'Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?' "

That leaves us with the born-again Deformers, aka Alliance, and I'm
certainly not counting on Preston Manning, Tom Long or Stockwell Day
to take up the cause.

Day, memorably skewered in some Toronto Star columns by Dalton Camp,
that most intelligent and engaging of Tories, is of course a special
case. Put plainly, if he gets to be the one who molds the CRAPPERS
election platform, I will be looking for a flat-tax offer to benefit
the truly rich, a referendum on hanging to please the most goofy of
his supporters, and just possibly a school system that will answer to
God and the Bible, and will surely not teach evolution. Day, who
considers Of Mice and Men to be a dirty book, obviously has no
redeeming social value and will no doubt eventually be consigned to
whatever level of hell is reserved for narrow fundamentalists. I
should point out that fundamentalism (whether Christian, Jewish or
Muslim) is not, like homosexuality, implicit in a man's genes, but is
a matter of personal choice.

As I have written in this column before, it is as ridiculous to treat
marijuana use as criminal as it was to impose Prohibition on the
United States in 1919. Marijuana is readily available in any bar I
have ever been to in Montreal or Toronto, not that I make a habit of
frequenting such sleazy venues.

Stockbrokers and accountants will continue to smoke it, illegal or

According to most medical authorities, it is less harmful than tobacco
or booze.

As things stand, Western small farmers appear to be in constant need
of government grants.

Legalizing marijuana could be their salvation as well as making for a
tax bonanza for Paul Martin. Why, just consider the brand names
resourceful Westerners could make available.

Manitoba Manna. Sachet of Saskatoon. Alberta Gold. Even as that
unappreciated social do-gooder Sam Bronfman once rode to the rescue of
parched American imbibers, so a latter-day Canadian Samaritan could
provide for our deprived neighbours to the south, incidentally
founding a fortune.

Go for it, Canada.
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