Pubdate: Tue, 31 Jan 2006
Source: Carstairs Courier (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Tall Taylor Publishing Ltd
Authors: Russell Barth, and Christine Lowe
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Dear Editor:

Stephen Harper must have a lot of friends who are drug dealers. He 
plans to implement mandatory minimum sentences for people who grow 
marijuana, and he should have no problem getting enough Liberal and 
Bloc votes to push that policy through.

History, science, and common sense show us that this policy would act 
as no deterrent, drive up the street price, drive up the dealers' 
profits, and therefore drive up the competition. This will inevitably 
lead to more gun-violence, more robberies, and more ruined 
properties. Even putting more police on the streets will have little 
to no effect, since police can catch barely a fifth of the growers 
and dealers as it is.

Even if we catch three times as many, there will always be a long 
line of guys waiting to fill every one of these vacancies.

There are already more than 600,000 Canadians with criminal records 
for drug offenses, and Harper would like to raise that number to 3 
million. He also wants to continue pressing charges for simple 
possession on teens.

This will dramatically reduce their ability to get into good schools, 
get good jobs, travel, and maximize their earning potential. This 
hurts all Canadians.

Then, the taxpayers will have to pay billions more - every single 
year - to arrest, hold, prosecute, and incarcerate these people in 
yet-to-be-built prisons. One wonders how many pedophiles and violent 
sex offenders will get out early to make room for all of these 
smokers and gardeners.

Harper's policy will also increase the danger to the estimated 1 
million Canadians who use marijuana for medical purposes. Health 
Canada's fiasco of a Medical Marijuana Licensing program will likely 
be shut down, or revamped to make access even more difficult for 
these sick and dying Canadians, adding even more strain to our Health 
Care System. On the other hand, regulating marijuana like alcohol 
would generate an estimated $3 billion in annual tax revenue, settle 
the Medical Marijuana issue once and for all, and reduce children's 
access to marijuana. It would also offer quality-controls, reduce 
criminal profits, reduce gun-violence, and save Canadian taxpayers an 
additional $2 billion in annual costs for enforcement, prosecution, 
home insurance, stolen hydro, and corrections.

Harper's marijuana policy could easily lead one to conclude that he 
is deliberately trying to subsidize organized crime, while making 
things more expensive - and dangerous - for average Canadians. But 
Harper's policy will make George W. Bush very happy, and that is - 
apparently - much more important to him.

Russell Barth & Christine Lowe

Federal Medical Marijuana License Holders, Ottawa
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