Pubdate: Tues, 23 March 1999
Source: Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
Copyright: 1999 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: J. David Jennings


The March 18 bust of two hydroponic pot operations in Hull and Ottawa
supplying medicinal marijuana to area residents shook my faith in government
policy-makers ("Medicinal marijuana operation broken up in RCMP raid: AIDS
patient weeps as Mounties smash drug-growing equipment,'' March 18).

These growers were not the well-armed biker gangs that we are told viciously
dominate the street drug trade, but people acting out of social conscience
to meet the needs of very ill people.

These growers willingly took the legal risks to provide a community with a
regular supply of a plant that helps them survive the ravages and discomfort
of their diseases.

May God bless them for alleviating the suffering of others, even through
illegal acts.

If it is not time to end pot prohibition on humanitarian grounds, it is
certainly time to do so from an economic point of view. How can a country
with maximized taxes, low productivity and a declining standard of living
ignore a potential revenue stream to fund medical, educational and other
social infrastructure spending?

Not only would all levels of government enjoy new income streams, but they
would recover policing, judicial and prison costs.

Savings in operating costs on those areas would free money to be spent on
other pressing areas -- from school lunch programs and low-cost housing to
care for the elderly.

History teaches us that prohibition of substances or ideas never succeeds in
the end. A few decades ago, consuming alcohol would have made you a criminal
who associated with criminal suppliers who associated with criminal
brewmasters who made and supplied the drug you ultimately consumed.

Does that strike you as absurd from today's vantage point in history where a
well-regulated and taxed industry now services what was once a vice?

Looking back at history, have we learned anything or are we busily repeating
with pot the same mistakes of alcohol prohibition? Let us do what all
civilized societies do in the end with a vice over which people are divided:
legalize it, industrialize it, tax it and spend the proceeds on social

J. David Jennings, Kanata

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