HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html It's Time To Take A Deep Breath And Legalize
Pubdate: Tue, 16 Apr 2002
Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Record (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Author: Frank Etherington


It's a ridiculous situation where millions of taxpayer dollars are going up 
in smoke.

In Waterloo Region and across Canada, high-priced police carrying 
submachine-guns invest vast amounts of time and money in a losing battle to 
enforce marijuana laws that the public and governments no longer care about.

Stories in Saturday's Record show regional police have conducted 91 raids 
since June 2000. One raid in Waterloo Region, Guelph and 20 other 
communities employed 500 cops who confiscated and burned $50 million worth 
of pot.

In Vancouver, where marijuana is a $6-billion industry that eclipses even 
lumber, raids on home-grows jumped from 23 in 1991 to 609 in 2001.

Small wonder the legal system there is buckling under the strain when it's 
estimated there are 30,000 profitable home-grows in and around Vancouver at 
any time of the year.

Liberal public attitudes and lack of concern about dopeheads who stun their 
brains with weed instead of booze are reflected in conditional sentences 
often handed out in courts when police charge small-fry pot farmers.

The bum-pat sentences make even the most dedicated drug cops wonder why 
they bother.

Even when home-growers -- mostly Vietnamese immigrants -- go to jail, we 
pay for accommodation plus deportation costs to fly them home.

Indirectly, we also pay for stolen power used to fuel home-grows, and hydro 
workers face high-risk situations as they dismantle illegal hookups.

Local prosecutors now say Vietnamese growers -- a minority that taints the 
reputation of the majority of law-abiding immigrants from that country -- 
are being imported from other parts of the world to grow pot.

They're here on visitor visas and, once caught, their bosses -- the rarely 
charged people who control Canada's home-grow network -- pay bail and other 

It's part of their benefit package.

Take a look at 2002 pot users and you no longer see hippie flower children.

Smoking dope is now an act of conformity. It's a mainstream, recreational 
pursuit enjoyed by every segment of society where 30 per cent of smokers 
are over 30 and raising families.

The Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse says half the 80,000 drug offences 
recorded by the courts in 2001 were for cannabis possession and many 
offenders received criminal records.

As a result, we've seen recommendations from the Canadian Medical 
Association and even the national association of police chiefs saying pot 
possession should be decriminalized.

As long as potheads don't pollute my breathing space, I would go even further.

Instead of waffling around with muddled efforts to approve pot for medical 
purposes, Canadian and U.S. politicians should legalize marijuana.

In Ontario, the government could then use liquor stores to sell weed the 
same way they market booze.

Such action would knock the bottom out of the illegal pot market and the 
resulting cottage industry of small, backyard crops would cut profits made 
by large home-grows.

Police could then train their guns on those producing and selling 
destructive, hard drugs.

We could use profits from legal pot outlets to strengthen our health system 
and finance treatment that will no doubt be required to repair damage 
caused to those who smoke marijuana.

Something we already do in this dopey, confused society where governments 
promote and capitalize on tobacco, booze and gambling.
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