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Editorial: Time to Debate New Pot Laws

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A grown-up discussion of marijuana laws would be welcome during the election campaign. The current approach isn't working, as two recent news stories have demonstrated.

Last week, the Ontario Superior Court found Canada's laws against possessing and growing marijuana are unconstitutional. Justice Donald Taliano found the federal government allows medical marijuana use, but has created regulations that make access difficult and sometimes impossible, which violates patients' rights.

Until that is fixed, people have the right to grow and possess marijuana, the court found. Taliano gave the government three months to appeal or change the regulations; the government, predictably, has chosen to appeal.

And also last week, B.C. Hydro said it is suing grow-op owners who bypassed power meters to steal electricity.

It's pursuing 19 claims for $2.1 million, or an average of $110,000.

B.C. Hydro also repeated its estimate that grow-ops are stealing $100 million worth of electricity a year. (That estimate has climbed as the Crown corporation attempts to justify its $1-billion smart-meter plan.)

Using B.C. Hydro's figures for average grow-op power use, that means there are about 17,000 grow-ops stealing electricity in B.C. Other operators take the chance of paying for power or using generators. And there are roughly 4,000 outdoor grow-ops, according to research.

That means there are more than 22,000 marijuana grow-ops in the province. At least 40,000 people are likely employed, at least part-time, just tending the plants. The legal agriculture sector employs 32,000.

That suggest several realities. First, there is an enormous market for marijuana, inside and outside the province, which indicates many people don't believe it should be illegal and ignore the law.

Second, we are asking police and the courts to take on a hopeless task. There would never be enough resources to find 22,000 grow-ops.

And third, we are following a drug policy that does not work. It hasn't reduced marijuana use. It has cost billions in enforcement, court and prison costs. And it has created a lucrative revenue stream that has funded the growth of criminal gangs across Canada.

It has now been 39 years since the LeDain Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs reported.

After three years of hearings and research, it recommended the federal government decriminalize marijuana and that provinces introduce controls on use, possession and production. In short, treat marijuana like alcohol. The commission also recommended the federal government continue research on the impact of the changes on use and possible problems.

It's widely accepted -including by courts, health experts and the public -that marijuana is less harmful than tobacco, alcohol and hard drugs. It poses less risk of addiction, damaged health or social problems, and use does not lead to crime or violence or other drugs.

That is not to say that it is entirely benign. Any intoxicant has negative effects for some people.

But there is no fact-based case for treating it differently than alcohol or wasting so much money on ineffectual enforcement of laws that lack public support.

There has been little discussion of the issue. The Conservatives oppose decriminalization because it "sends out the wrong message," according to Rob Nicholson, who was justice minister. It's unclear what that message is. The party also favours tougher punishment, including mandatory jail time for anyone growing six or more pot plants.

The Liberals oppose the mandatory jail time, but don't support broader decriminalization. The New Democrats propose decriminalizing possession, but would apparently continue current policies on grow-ops and sales.

Only the Greens have proposed legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana.

We are spending billions on policies that have failed for decades. It is past time to consider and discuss new approaches.


News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: timescolonist.com
Author: Times Colonist
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Postmedia Network Inc.
Website: Editorial: Time to debate new pot laws
 

Son of Stimpy

New Member
Honest debate is all we need to win

If it's really true that courts, health experts and the public understand that cannabis is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol (and at well over 100,000 deaths a year in the US, prescription drugs should be added to that list), both physically and to society, then what's there to debate?

Economic arguments come down even more clearly against prohibition. We can spend $70 billion a year on the horribly destructive "War on Drugs" or take in billions in taxes. It's a no-brainer.

The only avenue of argument left to the prohibitionists then is the moral one, the claim that cannabis use is somehow morally wrong, while the use of alcohol and tobacco is not. Although I believe that a great many people do in fact embrace the moral argument, albeit semi-consciously, without ever having given it 2 seconds of honest thought, the moral argument is nonetheless too ridiculous to even bother refuting. In fact, one could reasonably argue that alcohol consumption, because it frequently causes lapses in moral judgment (witness, for instance, that some 95% of campus assaults and 90% of reported campus rapes in the US involve alcohol use ), is morally indefensible, while no such argument can be leveled against cannabis. As most anyone who is familiar with the effects of cannabis knows, it doesn't cause lapses in moral judgment or make people mean or cause them to behave recklessly. If anything, pot makes people more thoughtful, friendlier and more cautious.

Alcohol is widely perceived and used as a social drug, but it's actually more antisocial than social. Rape, family abuse, and violent crime don't exactly qualify as pleasant social interaction. Bar room fights and brawls are so common we hardly pay attention. The mood in an Amsterdam coffee shop is worlds away from that of a bar and worlds better. Violence isn't part of the scene at all. And a group of friends with high quality cannabis is, socially speaking, a thing of beauty. Alcohol does make some people talkative (even as it slurs their speech), but it makes too many others nasty and violent. Cannabis never does. Alcohol is a huge contributor to (real) crime. Cannabis isn't at all. Alcohol makes the mind sloshy and dull. Good herb, especially sativa and sativa-influenced varieties, makes the mind dance and soar. Alcohol provides a temporary means to drown one's sorrows. Pot isn't an escape from but rather an enhancement to life. It can make it a blast just to be alive! Would anyone even think to claim that of alcohol? Alcohol and physical activity don't mix, but cannabis and exercise can be a great combination. And on and on...

There is no valid argument for cannabis prohibition. So what's the rub? Aside from the corrupting and democracy-subverting influence of the tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drug lobbies, who are acting as "good" capitalists as they unethically try to kill their cannabis competitor, I believe that prohibitionists are motivated merely by negative emotion: a reactionary hatred of counter culture and an authoritarian, nearly sadistic attitude towards cannabis users that is devoid of either reason or compassion and is borne of ignorance - ignorance carefully maintained by government propaganda.

As for the political end of things, the answer is clear: Vote Green!
It's time to go on the offensive. Zero tolerance for the casual prohibitionist!
 
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