Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jul 2005
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 BC Newspaper Group and New Media Development
Author: Kirk Tousaw


Editor: Re: Double standard on joints, opinions, Langley Times, July 24.

Frank Bucholtz advocates, somewhat ironically, more vigilance against 
marijuana smokers. More vigilance? It is currently a crime to possess 
marijuana. A crime that could land someone with a criminal record 
(preventing travel to the U.S.), a fine or incarceration.

Tobacco users, on the other hand, are able to buy their dangerous drug at 
every gas station in the province. They smoke on the streets (tossing aside 
their butts as if they somehow weren't littering), in bars (despite 
anti-smoking ordinances) and, yes, even in concerts. How, exactly, does 
this state of affairs favor the marijuana aficionado?

In some ways, however, I agree with Bucholtz - marijuana users should be 
treated more like tobacco users.

Marijuana prohibition makes little sense. It has not impacted use patterns 
in any way and has been repeatedly found to do more harm to our society 
than marijuana use ever could. Putting aside the irrationality of marijuana 
prohibition on policy grounds, it is also not justified on public health 

The Senate of Canada and courts at every level of our judicial system 
(including the Supreme Court of Canada) have heard and accepted evidence 
the vast majority of marijuana users will suffer no short or long-term 
health consequences.

Yes, some studies conclude that long-term heavy marijuana smoking may cause 
negative bronchial health effects (emphasis on the "some" and "may" 
qualifiers). There has never been a causal link to cancer proven in the 
laboratory and, anecdotally, it seems unlikely that marijuana causes cancer 
as humans have smoked it for thousands of years - and, for the last four 
decades, in vast numbers - with no reported cases.

The bottom line is that, yes, we have an abhorrent double standard when it 
comes to drugs in this country. Very dangerous legal drugs are sold 
readily, either by prescription or over the counter, while a benign plant 
is criminally prohibited (with all the negative consequences resulting from 
that prohibition). It is time to end the hypocrisy and regulate the 
distribution and consumption of marijuana.

Kirk Tousaw, campaign manager, BC Marijuana Party
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom