Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jul 2008
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: V. T. Piipponen


As I read The Examiner article about grow-ops, I found my head
shaking, my tongue tsk, tsk, tsking a lot my feelings moving towards
mild sadness and moderate anger. Push back from the situation, and ask
yourself, why is this like it is today? What has created this
situation with large commercial, illegal, and very dangerous grow-ops
in our communities?

In my view, it's the result of government's inability to learn both
from the past and from other countries, as well as its lack of vision
and courage, and simply not understanding human nature. The marijuana
is not the problem. The business of marijuana is.

All we have to do is look to the prohibition era of the 1930s. The
government of the day responded to the "threat of alcohol" through
prohibition, including police resources to enforce it. This didn't
quell the appetite for alcohol. What it did was create criminals out
of a lot of ordinary citizens, and the perfect climate for organized
crime to step in and make millions. No amount of police enforcement
really changed this. When provincial governments began legalizing
alcohol, the market for illegal booze started drying up (no pun
intended) and organized crime pretty much moved out of the business.

Consequently, communities were safer, and police resources could be
used elsewhere.

It's virtually the same today -different time, different substance. If
government had learned from the past it would have liberalized the
laws for personal consumption and getting pot, while making the
penalties for selling even small amounts very severe.

We can learn a lot from the Netherlands. The Dutch have very liberal,
open attitudes towards soft drugs. People can legally smoke at home or
go to specific cafes and order marijuana and hashish. It's smoked in
the cafe (not allowed in public). Does the Netherlands have a serious
problem with illegal grow-ops or organized crime entrenched in the
business? No and no. Are citizens perpetually stoned, unmotivated to
work, laughing and eating all the time? No. I believe the Dutch have a
sound economy and a healthy society.

We need to lobby politicians and law and policy-makers to treat pot
somewhat similarly to alcohol; to change the laws so that reasonable,
responsible people can indulge in a little pot if they like. If
smokers can get and smoke their pot legally, there's no market for
illegal pot. No market, no money, no organized crime, no dangerous
grow-ops -just safer communities.

Let's be safe out there.

V. T. Piipponen

King George Street
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