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The Conservative's Promised Crackdown on Marijuana Could Unleash a Great Deal More Harm Than What It Intends to Address

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week his Conservative government will introduce legislation calling for mandatory, and much tougher, sentences for illicit drug producers and traffickers, and more resources for police to identify and close down marijuana farms.

It might be a good idea for one of his trusted BC MPs to sit down with him, behind closed doors of course, and explain to him the hazards of any truly effective anti-marijuana farming and consuming policies.

On the farming side, any policy that successfully reduces the production of marijuana to a significant degree will utterly crash the economy of most of the interior of British Columbia. Mining, fishing, forestry and food farming, the mainstays of the interior economy, home to two million, have all been in inexorable decline for decades. The only thing keeping most families afloat is production of marijuana or jobs in retail and other industries supported by the proceeds of sales of marijuana by the growers. The size of the industry has been widely estimated at around $7 billion per year. Employing standard spin-off multipliers, the marijuana farming industry is worth something like $56 billion to the British Columbia economy. Any policy that successfully put a dent in that industry would cause a widespread exodus out of the interior, a collapse of housing markets, and a train of economic refugees to the Lower Mainland.

So much for the supply side. The social ramifications of marijuana-free streets and parks in Vancouver, Victoria and other large urban areas are almost impossible to imagine. It is only widely-available marijuana among young men in particular that is to account for the relative peace and order we enjoy today.

Young people, and young men in particular, seem to have an innate human need to alter their minds, and they will do so with whatever substance is most easily available and most free of penalties. Take marijuana away from the cities and crack down on the harder drugs at the same time, and all that will be left will be alcohol. In terms of substances that cause the most harm directly and lead to the most social disorder and lawlessness, not to mention injuries and deaths, nothing comes close to alcohol in all its forms. Sexual assaults, rapes, beatings, fights, and serious car crashes are routinely alcohol-induced. If all marijuana ingestion was overnight switched to alcohol ingestion, these crimes and hazards would skyrocket.

So just as the one policy, if at all effective, crashes the economy in the interior and floods the big cities with busloads of newly dispossessed refugees, the other policy, if effective, turns the cities into alcohol-flooded arenas of violence and mayhem.

While the Conservatives may not be able to bring themselves to legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana, they should have a second look at maintaining the status quo and turning a blind eye to both production and consumption of the stuff. Just ask the police. Whom do they prefer dealing with? Young men high on pot rolling around in the park and banging drums, or young men drunk on rye rolling around in their cars and banging on each other?

Source: Republic, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Republic
Contact: letters@republic-news.org
Website: The Republic of East Vancouver - Your completely biased news source since 2000
 
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