Pot. You don't have to smoke it to addle your brain. Just trying to
make sense of the whole issue is enough to make your head spin.

The federal justice minister is about to table a bill decriminalizing
simple possession of marijuana. If caught with 15 grams of less of pot
under the new law, you would' get a ticket, like a parking fine.

So, does that mean personal marijuana use is okay now? The government
won't send Joe Stoner to jail for a joint any more, it'll just take
his money.

And that confusing message is nothing compared to the entire
legalization vs. decriminalization vs. criminalization debate.

The make-it-legal liberals claim we ought to have the freedom to
inhale whatever we please and point out the outrageously lucrative and
increasingly violent illegal pot trade can be ended virtually
overnight by legalizing weed. If anyone can grow it in their garden
and it becomes an agricultural crop like any other, the bottom falls
out of the price and the criminals lose interest.

That sounds good, particularly in places where illegal pot grow ops
are increasingly responsible for random shootings, mistaken-identity
home invasions and beatings, and house fires.

The hitch in that approach, however, is the fact that there exists
directly on the other side of the border a major illicit market for
B.C. bud. American authorities have made it clear they have no
intention of throttling back on their insanely expensive and
ineffective war on drugs, including marijuana, and they're not pleased
at all with Canada's decriminalization move. This despite the fact
that the consequences of pot possession in the States varies from
tickets to guaranteed jail time.

The law hasn't reduced demand for "the herb" at all. So that means
crime will still pay for those who smuggle marijuana into the U.S. And
you thought border line-ups were long now.

On the other side of the fence are the lock-'em-up types, who want
more enforcement and stiffer sentences for pot growers and
distributors. That talk always sounds good but it is money that does
the biggest talking here. Billions and billions of dollar; that kind
of cash will always overcome the best efforts of police officers and
the toughest courts.

Proving that beyond any doubt are our American neighbours, who have
thrown vast sums of taxpayers' funds at the war on drugs and thrown
tens of thousands of people into prison in the process.

Unfortunately, U.S. authorities can't or won't admit the futility of
the fight. While they fume and fuss over Canada's decriminalization
plans, their laws - and ironically, their demand for our pot - are
significant contributors to the problem.

It's enough to drive you to drink.

Pubdate: Wed, 28 May 2003
Source: Tri-City News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003, Tri-City News
Contact: newsroom@tricitynews.com
Website: http://www.tricitynews.com/