Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jul 2014
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Steve Finlay
Page: C4


Re: Citizens, not police, should decide on pot's de facto 
legalization, Daphne Bramham column, July 22

Daphne Bramham's call for public consideration of marijuana 
legalization is welcome, even though many of her statements are 
uninformed, and even though the linkage to civic elections is merely 
symbolic. Municipal governments have no authority over marijuana 
prohibition or legalization.

It is inaccurate to suggest that Vancouver's police are creating 
policy in their actions surrounding the annual 4- 20 event. Police do 
enforce laws, but they also have the discretion to choose how to use 
their limited resources. It appears that the VPD knows well that 
attempting to enforce marijuana prohibition at 4- 20 would be a 
preposterous waste of effort. It would breach the peace rather than 
preserving it, and would take thousands of hours of valuable police 
time away from more serious problems. Does anyone really want the VPD 
to jail all the 10,000odd smokers around the art gallery? There are 
only around 35,000 prison beds in our entire country.

Bramham's information about the supposed dangers of marijuana must be 
treated with extreme caution. Saying that marijuana was the drug most 
often found among employees who had vehicle accidents tells us 
nothing about whether it was impairing them. Marijuana, unlike 
alcohol, remains detectable for many weeks after use - long after any 
possible impairment is gone. Other evidence shows that marijuana may 
lead to a net reduction in impairment. In 2011, Anderson and Rees 
analyzed the effects of medical marijuana laws in American states. 
They found that legalization of medical marijuana was associated with 
a nine per cent reduction in traffic fatalities, most likely because 
the use of medical marijuana was reducing alcohol consumption.

Many of Bramham's points demonstrate one of the major reasons why 
legalization is necessary: Prohibition completely fails to control 
any drug. The tongue-in-cheek comment about brewers asking to be 
treated like outlaws is right on the mark. When a drug is outlawed, 
all the decisions about marketing and production are made by people 
who operate outside the law. Legalization is the only regime that 
will enable us to apply necessary regulations such as age limits, 
labelling requirements, advertising restrictions and others. 
Legalization is the reason why Washington and Colorado can do these 
things, and we cannot.

Steve Finlay Secretary-treasurer, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition 
( Canada) Burnaby
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