Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jan 2017
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Herb Couch
Page: A4


Re: "Time to treat addiction as a mental health issue," Dec. 27.

I would certainly agree with Chris Nelson that cannabis should be
legalized. Cannabis prohibition has been a complete failure. He is correct
when he says that drug prohibition is "among the deadliest and costliest
exercises society has tried." Regulating cannabis is a much better
approach to take.

We must also recognize that accurate, scientific, reality-based
information is necessary in order for people to make informed decisions
about cannabis use. It is very important to not spread misinformation
about cannabis to the public.

Unfortunately, there are three areas where Chris Nelson is terribly
misinformed about cannabis:

1. The plant should be called cannabis. Chris should not be using slang
terms like dope, weed, stuff, pot, or marijuana. The Final Report of the
Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation states, "We believe it
is more appropriate to use the term cannabis when engaging in a serious
discussion of the goals and features of a new regulatory system for legal

2. When it comes to safety, all drugs are not the same. Cannabis is a much
safer choice than alcohol, commercial tobacco or fentanyl. In fact, no one
has ever died from a cannabis overdose. Compare that fact with the many
thousands and thousands of deaths from alcohol, tobacco and fentanyl use.

Chris makes the absurd statement that "Arguing that smoking dope is safer
than drinking booze is akin to stating that getting shot in the leg is
preferable to taking one in the head."

Cannabis use is not "getting shot in the leg." That is just a silly,
exaggerated reefer madness scare tactic.

3. There is a big difference between drug use and misuse. All drug use is
not an addiction or a mental health issue.

Of course, any substance use involves risk. But it is important to talk
about alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, fentanyl and other drugs in a
sophisticated manner and distinguish between use and abuse.

The vast majority of people who use cannabis use it in a responsible
manner. For many people it is a valuable medicine.

Cannabis use is really a health issue and civil rights issue.

Let's legalize and regulate cannabis, right now, and encourage honest,
scientific, compassionate, health and evidence-based information and
education. That will help people make wise choices.

Herb Couch Nelson, B.C.
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