Pubdate: Thu, 16 Mar 2006
Source: Brandon Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2006, Brandon Sun
Authors: Russell Barth and Christine Lowe
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Regarding the editorial Dude! Chill Out Over Pot Laws (March 12): Once 
again a confused media misinforms the public.

To start with, pot laws in Canada are not "rarely enforced." There were 
more people busted for simple possession in 2005 than in any other year in 
history. Even in 2003, when marijuana was technically legal for several 
months, police still broke their 2002 bust records.

Another bit of misinformation: "There's a huge, huge difference between 
decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing it -- as they do in the 
Netherlands." The Netherlands has never legalized marijuana -- they just 
stopped enforcing the laws because they realized that it was pointless and 

The notion that "most Canadians would agree that it would be a far better 
use of our law enforcement resources, the courts and the police, to go out 
and shut down grow-ops, meth labs and crack houses which more often than 
not are tied to organized crime" is also less than accurate. Most grow-ops 
are run by small-scale home growers who are actively trying to avoid the 
black market, and have no association with crack houses or meth labs 

The editorial continues; "If you want to keep kids from smoking marijuana, 
cut off their supply -- don't send the police out to charge them all with 
possession." True enough, but the supply has to come from somewhere! If it 
is legal to possess, and not legal to grow, then it will have to be 
imported from other parts of the world, which will increase crime and the 
profits derived from it.

The solution to the "marijuana problem" is simple. First, let people grow 
small-scale at home, like a beer or wine-making kit. Next, licence 
large-scale growers so they can sell their wares in "coffee shops." This 
will not only save taxpayers about $2 billion a year on enforcement, 
courts, corrections and stolen hydro -- it will also generate an additional 
$3 billion in annual tax revenue.

Alcohol prohibition in the last century subsidized organized crime, fuelled 
corruption in the police and government and increased gun violence. 
Marijuana prohibition in this century is doing the exact same thing.

As all sensible people know, mandatory minimum sentences and "crackdowns" 
will only drive the little guys out of the business and leave marijuana the 
exclusive domain of organized -- and heavily armed criminals. Ever heard of 
Al Capone?

Prohibition also makes things much more dangerous and possibly deadly for 
sick and dying Canadians who use cannabis as medicine, like my wife and myself.

Not only that, the Tories want to build several more prisons -- at a cost 
of billions of dollars -- to jail even more pot users. Expect a large tax 
hike to pay that tab.

Taking the marijuana business out of the hands of teens and criminal gangs 
and putting it into the hands of responsible adults is socially 
conservative. Generating tax revenue from that industry is fiscally 
conservative and using that money to teach kids why they should avoid drugs 
is morally conservative.

But the attitude of these so-called "Conservatives" leads me to wonder just 
which side of the law they are really on.



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