Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jun 2003
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2003 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Adam Roml


In a letter published in the June 17,edition of the Leader-Post, Matthew
Adam McDonnell expressed a great degree of disapproval for the marijuana
decriminalization movement. While I respect an individual's right to an
opinion, I find it disheartening that so many uninformed opinions continue
to propagate in our society.

First, McDonnell says that buying pot supports crime. Of course it does;
selling marijuana is illegal. But if crime is of concern to our society, is
it not prudent to note the prohibition of marijuana, much as the prohibition
of alcohol did between 1920 and 1933 in the United States, supports crime
through black market trade? The pushers are not going to go away as long as
a profit is to be made, and there will be profit to be made as long as
otherwise law-abiding, non-violent citizens continue to consume it, and as
long as the government enforces it prohibition. Simply put, prohibition
causes crime. It does not stop crime.

McDonnell also states "beyond any ambiguously moral comparisons, a simple
argument against decriminalization would be to acknowledge that alcohol is a
destructive force in our society, so why add more intoxicants to the mix?"

The simple answer would be freedom of choice. How is it that we allow our
government to punish individuals for smoking marijuana under the unfounded
premise of harm and criminality, yet we allow it to profit from the same
behavior associated with the use of alcohol, which is widely known to
actually cause these problems? How society not only accepts this, but
encourages it, is ridiculous. Perhaps we should ask, "why is marijuana
illegal in the first place" and "why should marijuana users be penalized to
begin with?"

Just because prohibition is law does not mean prohibition is justified. A br
ief examination of the history of marijuana, both prior to and during its
prohibition, reveals a strong connection with humanity. A symbiosis we have
enjoyed for thousands of years. The simple truth is that marijuana or
cannabis hemp, beyond "getting stoned", has thousands of industrial,
environmentally friendly uses that are being suppressed by the prohibition
of marijuana, so I present for your consideration the key points of the
marijuana legalization movement.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can produce four times
the amount of paper per annum from an acre of marijuana/cannabis/hemp than
you can from an acre of trees, plus hemp paper production uses one-fifth the
chemicals needed to process wood pulp. Hemp paper production would
drastically reduce the need for clear cutting, and allow for reforestation
to ensure the long-term survival of not only the timber industry, but the
life of our planet as well. The legalization of marijuana will open huge
industrial opportunity, creating jobs for the working poor.

Up until about 125 years ago, hemp provided almost all of the world's rope
and most of the world's clothing and textiles. Hemp fabric is four times
stronger than cotton, four times as water absorbent and four times as soft.

Cotton accounts for only one per cent of all agricultural farm land use in
the U.S. -- yet 50 per cent of the pesticides used in the U.S. are used on
cotton fields. Marijuana requires no pesticides. Marijuana/ cannabis/hemp is
a renewable crop, and the most effective plant for soil reclamation. Until
1915, marijuana was planted as ground cover and used to prevent mudslides
and soil erosion.

Petroleum fuels are easily replaced by hemp-based fuels such as methanol,
which is currently produced primarily with cornstalks. Hemp, however,
produces four times as much cellulose for making fuels like methanol than
cornstalks do. Some might argue that methanol is not a suitable replacement
for petroleum gasoline or other petroleum fuels, but considering most racing
cars run on methanol, and not gasoline, this just isn't the case.

The U.S. Army/Navy standards purchasing specifications list hemp oil as the
number one preferred lubricant for their machinery.

Beyond these few examples, there are approximately 50,000 known products
that can be produced with marijuana/cannabis/hemp. It is used in medicines
in the treatment of arthritis, glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, asthma and more. It
is also the number one plant-based source of protein on the planet, even
better than soybeans.

Some might argue that because it is harmful, we must ignore the centuries of
symbiotic harmony we have enjoyed with hemp, reciting the lies and
propaganda they have been fed, despite scientific evidence such as "The
LaGuardia Committee Report on Marijuana" findings in 1944 and the Nixon
administration's "The Report of the National Commission on Marijuana and
Drug Abuse" in 1972, which refute such claims of marijuana being a harmful
crime-inducing intoxicant. The simple truth is that there are hundreds of
legal, over-the-counter drugs, that kill thousands of people a year, and yet
marijuana, which is illegal, has never killed anyone.

Do we really need laws to protect us from a plant which can solve energy
needs, reclaim soil, prevent deforestation, repair the damage to our
atmosphere and provide us with over 50,000 other known uses simply because
marijuana is an intoxicant?

How ludicrous is it that we apply no law of prohibition towards alcohol, a
drug far deadlier and far more dangerous, offering no other benefit than
drunken buffoonery, but we punish people who smoke marijuana, a plant which
offers endless uses and environmentally friendly, industrial solutions with
far less harm than either alcohol or tobacco?

McDonnell ends his letter "If someone has made responsible choices, this
should be to their advantage". I couldn't agree more. It is high time the
Canadian government acted as the world leader it is and ended its
prohibition of marijuana so that we can once again enjoy all the positive
things marijuana offers.

Adam Roml

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