Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jan 2004
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Kirk Tousaw


The Editor:

Re: 'Why the urge to legalize pot?' Times Letters, Jan. 16.

Eric Myrholm's letter contained a number of factual inaccuracies about 
cannabis use. But that isn't what I found striking about the letter.

After all, the prohibitionists have rarely bothered to be truthful about 
marijuana. From the reefer madness of the 1930s, right up to the "crack of 
marijuana" lies today, prohibitionists have never let reality get in the 
way of a juicy soundbite.

The reason that Myrholm's letter was so interesting was its form. After his 
laundry list of mostly inaccurate or exaggerated claims about the danger of 
cannabis, he accused the Senate of not basing its legalization 
recommendation on valid science.

Now that is irony. As if Myrholm's statements, which read as if cribbed 
from the U.S. drug czar's website, should be taken as gospel and an 
exhaustive 18-month study disregarded.

To be fair, the smoking of cannabis may cause some harm to some people. And 
long-term, heavy use may cause some harm to some people. For that reason, 
people should educate themselves about the effects.

This is difficult in a prohibitionist environment, because the truth gets 
distorted by those opposed to reform and people learn to disregard the 
"official" message.

But using cannabis is a choice, and you can only harm yourself by using it 
[the impaired driving issue is a red herring, because that is and always 
will be illegal].

And it is clear that the costs of prohibition far outweigh the costs of use 
- - even if use increased dramatically in a legal environment, an unlikely 
result because most everyone that wants to use cannabis is doing so 
already. So why should adult Canadians be denied this choice and, worse, 
branded criminals for making it? The answer is that they shouldn't.

A free society respects the non-harmful choices of its citizens. And we 
want Canada to be that kind of society. That is why we feel the urge to 
legalize pot.

Kirk Tousaw,

Policy Director

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman