Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jul 1998
Date: 07/16/1998
Source: Vancouver Province (Canada)
Author: Norm Siefken

Not only should cannabis be legalized - the government should advocate
cannabis  as being much less harmful than alcohol.

As an emergency medical worker (X-ray Tech.) for 20 years I have seen
many overdose victims, including alcohol overdoses. Excessive drinking
can lead to coma and death, but I have never seen anyone O.D. on
cannabis, nor have I found any such cases in the medical journals.

The impact of alcohol in Emergency Departments is well known. We see
drunk driving accidents and fatalities on a regular basis. A lot of
violent behavior such as fights and spousal abuse  is triggered by
drinking. Chronic legal alcohol use leads to many horrible diseases
such as cirrhosis of the liver.

Cannabis is harmless by comparison. Pot smokers are well known for
their peaceful "mellow" behavior, and non-violent nature.
Psychological dependence can occur, but never the type of addiction
which results in devastating withdrawal symptoms.  Shopping is also a
potential psychological addiction.  Should we have a war on shopping?

The answer is not more prohibition but to legalize cannabis and tax
it. This would help our overworked RCMP by cutting the cash flow which
the gangs need to survive.  The tax revenues from this multi-billion
dollar industry would solve a lot of problems in Canada, including
more and better treatment facilities for hard drug users.

A person that only wants to buy pot should not have to go to a pusher
that will try to sell them  heroin and  cocaine as well.  Mr. Cannabis
should be available at the liquor store and he should enjoy the same
legal status as Mr. Booze.  Why is it that one person can legally
pickle their brain every night with alcohol while the occasional
cannabis user is labeled a criminal?

Norm Siefken
Chilliwack, B.C.