HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Demonizing Marijuana Hides Bigger Booze Problem
Pubdate: Sun, 28 Nov 2004
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Province
Author: James McNulty, CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Only the Corporate Shadow knows what evil lubricant lurked at the
lunch tables of Canada's CEOs when they belched out the nation's
latest reefer madness scare.

Absinthe juleps, perhaps? Trays of 200-proof shooters? Maui

Whatever, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives had to be seriously
juiced when it called for a halt to the Liberal marijuana-decriminalization
bill for fear of tokers wreaking untold devastation in the workplace.

The hysteria was quickly demobilized in editorials across the land,
with the Ottawa Citizen tartly observing that, "after all, alcohol is
legal, and there's no epidemic of workers coming in drunk."

There's also nothing like marijuana to set tongues a-wagging in the
thrones of power, even as a majority of Canadians in a new SES poll
say people smoking pot for personal use should be "left alone."

The truly cynical aspect of this circus is that alcohol remains a far
worse menace to society than pot smoking, yet receives only a smidgen
of the bad ink.

Seven per cent of respondents to the new Canadian Addiction Survey
call themselves frequent heavy drinkers, up from 5.4 per cent in 1994.
Some 25 per cent of men and 30 per cent of people under 25 are
high-risk drinkers.

One glance at those statistics should have the corporate crowd
demanding an immediate return of alcohol Prohibition.

After all, it worked so well last time, about as well as the
impenetrable ball of hapless marijuana laws work today.

But a great many more Canadians drink than smoke pot. It's long been
considered acceptable in this country to get behind the wheel of a car
impaired, for example.

You may have to hit .08 on the blood-alcohol scale to be legally
impaired, but just one drink is impairing.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an average of 1,690
Canadians die each year and 74,000 are injured in alcohol-related
crashes. In 1999, 72,925 people faced impaired driving offences.

Why, exactly, does society allow a measure of alcohol impairment on
the roads while pursuing marijuana -- smoked by an estimated 4.5
million Canadians --as if it were hell in a rolling paper?

Well, ah, you know, uh, everyone (who drinks) kind of does it, and,
er, uh, it's been that way for a long time and, ah, besides, it's all
about individual responsibilities.

Like that stuff Conservative MP James Moore and Liberal MP Keith
Martin said about personal freedoms when arguing against a ban on
heart-clogging trans fats.

"I believe in choice," said Moore.

"People have to take responsibility for their own lives," added
Martin, a doctor.

For trans fats and alcohol. But not marijuana, oh dear no.

Thus the endlessly hopeless prohibition on a product used at least
once in the past year by 14.1 per cent of Canadians, according to the
survey, even though it must be acquired illegally.

That in turn feeds the criminal activity that surrounds marijuana just
as it did alcohol when Prohibition was in place.

In this neverendum of weed-whacking impossibilities, the Fraser
Institute notes the legalization of pot would raise $2 billion a year
in tax revenue.

But no, demonization of pot will continue to take the focus away from
booze, consumed by a mere 80 per cent of Canadians over 15 in the past

"Drinking is related, detrimentally, to 55 disease categories, but if
you look at the press you hear only about alcohol's protective effect
on the heart," Juergen Rehm of Toronto's Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health told the media. "The image of alcohol is much, much
better than the actual consequences."

The opposite can be said of marijuana: Its image is much, much worse
than the actual consequences.
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