Pubdate: Sun, 22 Sep 2002
Source: Halifax Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2002 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Matthew M. Elrod
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Dear Editor:

Letter writer Victor Cyr asked a question about cannabis legalization which 
must be on a lot of Canadians' minds ("Don't facilitate," The Sunday 
Herald, Sept 15). Wrote Cyr, "Look at the myriad problems that legalized 
drugs such as alcohol and tobacco bring. Why would we want to add another 
one to the mix?"

The question presumes that cannabis is not already part of the mix or that 
if we clamp down hard enough, it no longer will be. There is no evidence to 
support either of these theories.

Cannabis is more often than not a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. 
When cannabis use goes up, alcohol use goes down. Economists Frank 
Chaloupka and Adit Laixuthai, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 
estimate that cannabis decriminalization would reduce youth traffic 
fatalities by 5.5 per cent, youth drinking rates by eight per cent and 
binge-drinking rates by five per cent. Other evidence suggests we would see 
similar declines in emergency-room drug and alcohol cases.

Adding cannabis to the mix would be like putting yogurt on the dessert 
menu. Currently, customers either order cake off the menu or pay the crook 
in the alley for their yogurt.

Matthew M. Elrod, Victoria, B.C.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager