Pubdate: Thu, 07 Sep 2017
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Prince George Citizen
Author: Jan Manning
Page: 7


According to Dr. Michael O'Malley and Dr. Kiri Simms (via CBC),
marijuana-induced psychosis has increased in the last 10 years. I do
not dispute their claims.

THC in pot sold on the street contributes to the problem. In fact, as
with any illegal street-sold drug, the more potent the active
ingredient, the better for sales. Yet, it's highly unlikely that the
seller is concerned about the amount of THC in the pot he sells on the
street, except for repeat sales.

Portugal comes to mind, where all drugs have been legalized. Warring
against the illegal drug trade was killing Portuguese citizens and
their budgets. So, in 2001, simple possession of small amounts of
heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs was made legal. Drug use
and HIV infections are down and drug-related deaths are second lowest
in the EU. Users are supported, not criminalized, since Portugal's
drug issue became a public health issue.

Can we do that in Canada - turn lives around and save lives by
de-criminalizing and destigmatizing drug users? Sure, if we take
control of the manufacturing, sales, distribution, education and
support processes for those who use drugs, we can turn this around. If
we have a platform for scientific studies on the effects of drugs on
children, on their brains and on society, then we can save lives and
improve lives. Pot potency, both THC and CBD, can be measured and
regulated and used also for medicinal purposes.

If we buy into the notion of "a war on drugs", we leave vulnerable
people on the streets or in the shadows, the homeless and the
professionals who can't quite seem to get it together. We can buy into
a different concept, where illegal dealers are cut from the equation
and legitimate, professional sales are monitored and regulated. Then
the "war" becomes a health issue, out in the open. When the
manufacture of drugs is regulated by government, medical intervention
can take place at the beginning of the problem, not after the fact.

It's a matter of redirecting tax dollars from courts and jails to
social services and healthcare - and from the criminal element to
legitimate businesses. Perhaps, with legitimate, measured steps in the
legalization and medical use of marijuana, we can begin a journey
similar to the successes of Portugal.

Jan Manning

Prince George
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt