Pubdate: Sat, 04 Jun 2016
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Toronto Star
Author: Alan Coxwell
Page: IN 11


Re: Toronto police raid marijuana dispensaries, May 27

Justin Trudeau really should go down the hall and elbow his way into 
former Toronto police chief and MP Bill Blair's Parliamentary office 
and tell him he wants to fast track the legalization of cannabis to 
the end of June 2016.

Then Justin might call current Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and 
ask him to politely to drop the 257 charges and release any of the 90 
arrested in last week's cannabis dispensary raids who might still be 
lingering in one of his steel cages.

Millions of dollars in police and court time are about to be 
squandered even if the Liberals keep their word to introduce cannabis 
legislation in the spring of 2017. Surely Canadians have better, more 
enlightened and humane ways to spend their tax dollars.

Here is the reality check upon which the above suggestion is offered: 
Dr. Kieran Michael Moore, associate professor of emergency and family 
medicine at Queen's University in Kingston, recently pointed out that 
we have a "prescribed drug epidemic in Ontario." According to Dr. 
Moore, 5,383 Ontario residents died from non-intentional, 
opioid-related causes from 2002 to 2014. Here in Hastings County, an 
average of five people died each year between 2006 and 2010 from 
accidental opioid overdoses. Dr. Moore points out that even a week of 
opioid pain killer use can lead to addiction.

In that same time period, how many people died from cannabis? Zero. 
Not one death has ever been attributed cannabis overdose in North 
America. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of the American 
Medical Association indicated that in certain areas, legalized 
marijuana coincided with a drastic reduction in painkiller deaths. 
But Big Pharma and Big Alcohol do not like what they are seeing and 
they have the money to "lobby" politicians.

Toronto Police Chief Saunders justified his actions by saying, "it's 
a genuine health concern" because of the lack of a regulatory process 
or quality control and due to the fact that some dispensaries were 
within 300 metres of schools.

Herein lies the problem. Richard Nixon's "War on Drugs" propaganda 
has permeated our consciousness about cannabis since 1971. The 
outright lies and politically motivated distortions of the truth are 
all engrained deeply in our society. Organized crime was just given a 
reprieve by Toronto Police. Street dealers will once again fill the 
demand because the people who want cannabis know the truth: as a drug 
cannabis is comparatively harmless yet very helpful to many who 
suffer from various health issues.

If politicians would simply educate themselves about the reality of 
this plant, new industries could flourish. Like the wine revolution 
in Prince Edward County, where someone with passion can buy some 
land, plant some vines, squash some grapes and market their wine, 
Hastings County could have a flourishing hemp/cannabis agricultural 
renaissance. From hemp we can derive paper, cloth, hemp-crete 
building material, synthetic fuel produced seven times more 
efficiently than ethanol from corn, etc. etc.

The choice is yours Justin. Please, go knock on Bill Blair's door.

Alan Coxwell, Stirling, Ont.
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