Pubdate: Sat, 07 Sep 2002
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2002 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: J. Ann Ross
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The executive director of the police association was quoted saying: "Drugs 
are not dangerous because they are illegal; drugs are illegal because they 
are dangerous." However, if one takes a closer look at the history of drug 
prohibition in Canada, this is clearly not the case.

In 1908, opium was banned in Canada, not because it was considered 
physically harmful, but as a result of growing racial tension between white 
society and Chinese immigrant workers.

Marijuana use was outlawed in Canada in 1923. It was prohibited not because 
of the known dangerous effects of the drug, or because its use constituted 
a substantial problem for Canadians; rather it was banned as an unnecessary 
reaction to U.S. anti-drug propaganda. In fact, marijuana use was not even 
common among Canadians during prohibition. The first official discovery of 
illicit marijuana use was almost an entire decade after it was outlawed.

Tobacco use, on the other hand, was commonplace during this period of time. 
It too was considered for prohibition. Interestingly however, it was 
excluded from any act. Apparently, in 1911, the Canadian House of Commons 
accepted MacKenzie King's unsubstantial argument that tobacco was clearly 
not a dangerous, habit-forming drug!

Marijuana prohibition was enacted over 75 years ago. The decision was made 
not because of a growing problem among Canadians, or because it posed a 
significant health risk to the public. Rather, it was an arbitrary decision 
that resulted in the future creation of many more social problems.

The cost of law enforcement, criminal justice and corrections is 
extraordinary, and hundreds of thousands of individuals have been given a 
criminal record for simple personal possession. This is not to mention the 
ill effects of the black market for marijuana that exists in our country. 
It is time to make a change. The harmful effects of marijuana use are few, 
and the positive effects for many are substantial. The costs of marijuana 
prohibition far outweigh the benefits to society.

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