HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Legalization No Hot-Button Issue
Pubdate: Fri, 23 Jul 2004
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2004 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: James Mennie, The Gazette
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


There's No Longer Anything Rebellious About Cannabis

So much for a smoke-free Canada.

If you look at just the numbers, you'd figure Bloc Pot party founder
Marc-Boris St. Maurice should be prime minister by now, or at least
leader of the loyal opposition. And yet he isn't, even though that
rustling sound you're hearing from sea to sea is one statistical
Canadian out of 10 rolling a joint.

As part of its continuing mission to quantify and catalogue every
aspect of Canadian life, including those that can leave some of us
staring placidly into space for hours at time, Statistics Canada has
determined cannabis consumption in this country has almost doubled
over the past 13 years.

But when you're talking about smoking dope in 21st century Canada,
even about how 3 million of us over age 15 - a little more than 12 per
cent of the population - admitted they'd used at least two cannabis
substances in the previous 12 months, there are certain mathematical
realities that cannot be ignored.

The first is that from a political point of view, decriminalization of
marijuana is not exactly a hot-button issue.

St. Maurice, whose party, once it stops giggling uncontrollably,
champions the legalization of marijuana as the Bloc Pot in Quebec and
as the Marijuana Party at the federal level, was crushed harder than a
roach during a police raid when he ran against Prime Minister Paul
Martin in last month's election.

A total of 351 people in LaSalle-Emard riding voted for St. Maurice,
who came in second to last, outpolling only the Marxist-Leninist
candidate - and even then, by just 72 votes. And even though the
StatsCan numbers suggest at 14 per cent, cannabis use in Quebec is
slightly higher than the national average, this province didn't
exactly knock over its bong in a rush to send any of the Marijuana
Party's slate to Ottawa.

The other unpleasant truth is found in the results of the poll itself,
numbers suggesting whatever mystique surrounded the use of marijuana -
or its more robust brother, hashish - has assumed the outlaw allure of
a binder on an actuary's desktop.

After nearly four decades of being perceived as something that
declared yourself to be outside the mainstream, lighting up a joint
has become about as born-to-be-wild as reading the end of a mystery
before you've finished it. And now that more than 10 per cent of the
population is ready to admit to a state agency they've broken Canadian
law, the dissuasive effect of that legislation has become clear. Cops
have admitted privately for years that the war on drugs was an abject
failure; the StatsCan survey results merely seem to be the articles of

Reefer blandness is gripping the nation as never before, and even
though the survey's findings prompted Martin to pledge this week he'll
reintroduce de-criminalization legislation this autumn, there seems
little reason for him to hurry.

After all, a growing number of Canadians may be holding their breath
these days.

But it isn't because they're waiting for changes to the country's drug
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