Pubdate: Mon, 23 Jun 2003
Source: Battalion, The (TX Edu)
Copyright: 2003 The Battalion
Author: Mack Mcleod
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


In response to Timothy Gilbert's June 19 column:

Before praising Canada's marijuana decision, look closely.

The penalties for growing and distributing marijuana will double. Life 
imprisonment sentences would become possible under the new proposal, while 
they are not currently used for marijuana production. No allowance is made 
for medical use and the ticketing process for users still allows for arrest 
and formal criminalization at the discretion of police.

Very little changes under the proposed new laws. Doubling criminal 
penalties for production while dropping use to a fine won't discourage 
casual use nor heavy users. It will scare off some of the more benign, 
generally law-abiding pot growers and leave only the most violent criminal 
elements willing to risk harsh jail sentences for the lucrative market.

Current police practice for small amounts is often to confiscate, warn and 
do nothing else. There is generally no record of any kind.

Yet ticketed offenses can be recorded and known to agencies wishing to do a 
background check and discriminate for employment, insurance or housing 
based on someone's recorded history of marijuana use. Many casual users 
will actually receive a harsher punishment under this "decriminalization" 
than they do today.

As long as marijuana remains in the criminal domain, the criminals and 
police agencies are the only winners, as they both can look forward to 
lucrative funding to fight their war over an inebriant which is more 
properly sold and regulated as we do for alcohol.

The title of the article has it right, as did our Canadian Senate when the 
conclusion of their exhaustive study declared that legalization and 
regulation were the proper course to control marijuana.

Mack Mcleod, Thornhill, Canada
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