HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Smoking Out Truth About Pot
Pubdate: Wed, 30 May 2001
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2001 The Calgary Sun
Author: Roy Clancy, Calgary Sun


It's reefer madness, 2001.

The battle lines are being drawn in what's shaping up as yet another great 
debate on the decriminalization of marijuana.

Every day we see a potshot from one side or the other.

Yesterday, it was Prime Minister Jean Chretien who said that, although he 
welcomed the debate, plans for decriminalization are not on the government 

On Monday, the Canadian Police Association warned Canadians of the dangers 
of decriminalizing the drug.

These pronouncements follow the utterings of Tory leader Joe Clark, who 
hinted he would like to see marijuana laws reformed. Justice Minister Anne 
McLellan and Health Minister Allan Rock both say they would welcome new 
debate on the issue.

And in the last couple of years, the Canadian Medical Association, RCMP and 
Canadian Police Chiefs Association have endorsed decriminalizing possession 
of small amounts of marijuana.

All this publicity for the cause has hardcore hempheads loading their bongs 
in anticipatory celebration.

Why are so many Canadians so fired up over the cannabis issue?

The most recent utterances have been generated by "joint" discussions going 
on in a Senate committee and a new House of Commons committee struck to 
examine non-medicinal drugs in Canada.

But the reality is, as Chretien points out, it is a debate that has 
lingered in this country for 30 years.

A recent survey by a University of Lethbridge sociologist showing that 
support for legalization of marijuana has doubled in the last 25 years has 
pot proponents sniffing victory.

You have to hand it to them. They are a persistent bunch.

The U.S.-based North American Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws 
(NORML) has been active for decades.

I can still recall a day in the '60s when I was overtaken by a crowd of 
euphoric, chanting teenagers wielding signs bearing slogans such as 
"Legalize pot now!"

While I can remember uttering "fat chance" under my breath, at the time, I 
sympathized with them. In that era, kids who could barely shave were being 
sent to prison with hardened criminals for possession of one joint. The 
resulting damage to young lives was tragic.

But things have changed. For all intents, marijuana use is now condoned by 
society. Police don't often bother to enforce the law and when they do, the 
penalties imposed are minimal.

But that's not enough for the legalization lobby.

Their ultimate pipedream, apparently, is to see marijuana fully sanctioned 
and available for sale at the corner store.

The pro-dope advocates make some compelling arguments, such as the impact 
on organized crime and the relatively benign quality of the drug. But there 
are better arguments for keeping marijuana out of wider circulation.

Even though many Canadians register support for decriminalization, not many 
use marijuana. A study done last year by the Canadian Medical Association 
showed only 6.8% of people surveyed in Ontario had used the drug in the 
preceding year for recreation -- only 1.9% had used it for a medical condition.

Anyone who has known a chronic pot smoker can readily attest to the 
substance's side effects -- lethargy, inability to concentrate, memory 
lapses. Or better yet, go to a country where marijuana use is rampant and 
observe its devastating impact.

Which brings us back to the Canadian Police Association statement Monday 
suggesting the "costs of drug liberalization will be astronomical, not only 
in terms of health care and social services, but in true human terms."

What the CPA is saying in essence, is that by decriminalizing it, you risk 
making it a mainstream habit. If you polled Canadians on the prospect of 
this, they would likely be appalled.

"While we are seeing increased drug use among school age children and 
adolescents, perceived tolerance by community leaders is sending 
conflicting and confusing messages to our young people," said police 
association boss David Giffin.

The association realizes that current penalties send the message that drug 
use is harmful and not accepted by society.

It's high time Canadians realized it too.
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