I was reading blogs today and I came across a blog at Liblogs I had not visited before, called “The Maple Three“. I added them to my blogroll today and I highly recommend checking them out. The long and short of their post today, Stephane Dion and the Liberals should distinguish themselves sharply from the Cons by promising to legalize marijuana, and euthanasia.
I did some searching on marijuana and I found this CBC news article discussing a study by the “right wing think tank” the Fraser Institute (FI) calling for the legalization of marijuana. “Legalizing marijuana could add $2 billion to government coffers and deprive criminals of pots of easy money”. I think this “right” position of the FI highlights the issues I brought up earlier this month on how right and left is not always so black and white. Please see my previous post on my ongoing confusion.
The CBC quotes Marc Emery,
“The safety to the consumer and the general public would be terrific, and we’d save about $500 million in our Canadian criminal justice system from reduction of court costs, jails – oh, it would be tremendous,” said Emery.
Stephan Easton from the Fraser Institute notes that close to 25% of Canadians have smoked marijuana, including 80% of 19- to- 24- year- olds in BC. Large amounts are grown in Canada; in BC alone they estimate there are 17,500 grow ops. The BC industry is worth 7 billion and most who are caught are never charged and rarely go to jail (CBC, 2007).
The Maple Three argue this is bound to be a media attention grabber and will garner a lot of support because so many media outlets, the Fraser Institute, and Canadian’s support the concept of legalization, regulation and of course taxation. I mean why decriminalize it when you can legalize it and tax it? That benefits everyone, not just growers.
I have not re-posted any of my previous posts from my progressive bloggers diary, but I thought in light of the discussion today I would re-post an assignment I had to complete for a course I took in the summer of 2004. I was required to develop a persuasive speech on an issue or problem. In this speech I argue for the US to stop butting their nose into Canadian drug policy.
Does anyone remember who made this famous statement?
“I don’t know what is marijuana? Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine in one hand and a joint in the other hand.” (Jean Chretien, 2003)
President Bush’s White House Drug Czar, John Walters, condemned Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien as being “irresponsible” when he said he would consider trying marijuana after it was decriminalized when he left office in February. The news report goes on to say that Canadians are concerned about the behaviour of their Prime Minister and are “ashamed”.
This Republican appointed, Drug czar’s frustration is understandable as he fights to ensure the Canadian government does not go forward with its proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Canadians have the right to be aggravated and angry by the continual interference of the conservative, right wing American agenda to determine our own future in developing Canadian Drug laws and enforcement provisions. Canadians want their laws to reflect their own values and the unrealistic, prohibitionist, American propaganda vision in which the government, through lies, deception, smoke and mirrors determines what is good for “joe public” will not satisfy the Canadian people. The Drug Czar’s then attempts to threaten Canadians, implying that any attempts to liberalize marijuana laws in Canada could result in longer waits and tougher scrutiny for travelers at the border (CBC News). I respectfully ask that Americans “butt out” of our business on this issue and allow Canadians to embark on a journey to find out what is best for Canada.
Tobacco is the leading cause of death preventable deaths in both the US and Canada but the substance is completely legal to those over the age of majority. The same can be said for alcohol, which is also a completely legal substance, but is one of the most dangerous teratogens that can be introduced to a developing fetus, even more damaging to an unborn child than heroin. In fact, alcohol is the only drug that can actually kill a person as they withdraw from it. No one discusses throwing the producers or users of either of these products in jail, in fact they are often well respected and wealthy. They go about their highly lucrative businesses with no government outcry that these substances are dangerous to the people and must be made illegal. Many studies suggest that marijuana is the least harmful drug of the three, but the legal consequences of choosing pot over tobacco or alcohol are severe.
Currently an individual’s decision to experiment with pot can lead to a criminal record just for having the substance. For a young person this can damage their economic viability in society for their entire lifetime. It is not fair to saddle our young people with a criminal record for smoking a joint anymore than it would be for drinking a beer.
American politicians underestimate our young people today, they are not ignorant. The American government funds millions of dollars a year in anti-drug advertising targeted to young people that is not honest or informed. Perhaps their time would be better spent focusing on their own failed drug policies and developing a cohesive, workable and honest message for its own people.
An example of this is a anti-marijuana commercial I have seen many times on Fox Television. In it a young boy is smoking a joint with another boy. He then pulls out a loaded hand-gun out, of what is apparently his fathers desk, and shoots the other boy. As a Canadian my first reaction is “What in the heck is wrong with those kids parents?” How are they able to get their hands so easily on a loaded handgun? I am so shocked by the handgun, it is what I focus on, not the joint, to me it seems laughable to say the marijuana caused the shooting in that commercial’s context. However what I find most ironic about this whole message is that this commercial was most often run this winter during episodes of That 70’s show where we then watch the “main characters” of the 70’s Show get together in the basement to smoke joints together, always good times are had by all. No wonder our young people are so “confused.
One wonders if this is a case of deliberately confusing a message so badly as to ensure the war on drugs continues. The key players can be found, undoubtedly, by following the “money trail” and by asking ourselves “who is benefiting financially from this un-winnable war”? In a recent NY Times article it was reported that in some Texas counties approximately 30% of their population are incarcerated behind bars.
Many Canadians believe that the best way to address the problems of drug and alcohol addiction in Canada is through prevention, treatment and harm reduction methods, not law enforcement and prohibition. Prohibition and the criminalization of what should be considered a “serious health problem” suffered by many individuals in our society, is only driven underground and exacerbated by prosecution and incarceration. Through prohibition, we only succeed in driving those individuals who require treatment for their addiction out of reach of those who in society who may actually be able to help them.