Pubdate: Tue, 10 Sep 2002
Source: Medicine Hat News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002 Alberta Newspaper Group, Inc.
Author: Bruce Symington


I read with bemusement the article in the Sept. 6 edition of the Medicine 
Hat News concerning the police's stance regarding the legalization of 
cannabis. The article was so skewed and full of misinformation and innuendo 
that I feel compelled to respond.

The police chief is quoted saying one of the repercussions of cannabis use 
is proceeding to other drugs. That this is a myth can easily be seen if one 
thinks about it. There are many cannabis users and few hard-drug users. If 
pot is really a gateway drug there would be many more hard-drug users than 
there are. There are far fewer hard-drug users, therefore the gateway 
theory is exposed as a myth. There is one aspect of cannabis use that makes 
it a gateway drug and that is that the criminals who sell it also sell hard 
drugs, and thereby the consumer is exposed to them. The senators correctly 
stated that legalization would end this.

He then talks about the possibility that someone may take cannabis and then 
go back to school. As if that is not already happening. I have been around 
this town long enough to remember the three-inch high red headlines from 
the late '60s when pot was found at Medicine Hat high school. I even knew 
the fellow who was caught. There will always be those who use drugs 
inappropriately. There are kids today who drink then go to school. 
According to the logic of the chief's argument, alcohol should therefore be 
made illegal.

Sgt. Lindsay Fraser then is quoted saying drugs are illegal because they 
are harmful. If that is so, let us outlaw alcohol and tobacco, the two most 
harmful drugs in use. Any police officer will tell you that alcohol causes 
the most trouble for the police of any drug. Tobacco use kills thousand 
annually, yet it is not made illegal. Therefore, it is not the harm that 
causes the illegality. Lindsay then goes on to confuse the issue by mixing 
up the presence of grow houses, which is an effect of prohibition, with the 
substance itself. If cannabis were legalized there would be very few grow 
houses, just as following the repeal of the prohibition of alcohol there 
are very few stills in operation, unlike during prohibition when there were 

Const. Dellrae Sharp then repeats the gateway myth, stating incorrectly 
that cannabis is, like alcohol and nicotine, an addictive substance. It is 
not. She teaches the Drug Abuse Restistance Education program. She states 
that kids try pot but resent the constant suspicion and grow out of it. If 
it is an addictive substance how is it that the kids grow out of it? The 
fact is, many kids try different things. Some try smoking tobacco, and most 
do not continue. Some try cannabis, and most do not continue. Some try 
bungee jumping, and most do not continue. The senators in their excellent 
report stated that kids try cannabis then move on. The real harm of 
cannabis is the result of its illegality. We give the kids a criminal 
record for a little youthful experimentation, which causes more harm to 
them and to society. This is the insanity which the senate would have us 
end. Of course, if it weren't for the prohibition of cannabis, many police 
officers would find themselves looking for work. That is why they oppose 

One final note: The excellent book Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts, by Lynn 
Zimmer, Ph.D. and John P. Morgan M.D. outlines these and other falsehoods 
commonly touted by those who have a vested interest in continuing this 
ill-advised pogrom. I suggest that the chief, as well as the officers 
quoted, read this book and then they will be able to make informed comments 
that are worthy of listening to.

Bruce Symington

Medicine Hat
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