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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Column: High on the Grits' Pot Plank
Title:CN AB: Column: High on the Grits' Pot Plank
Published On:2012-01-19
Source:Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-01-21 06:02:07

The Liberal Party convention last weekend revived the old debate on
whether or not we should legalize marijuana.

While our prisons are jam-packed, our public finances in the red and
almost everyone admits that the war on drugs is a "complete failure,"
the time may have come to reopen that bag of pot.

Legalizing soft drugs would allow that industry to get out of the
black market, just as the abolishment of prohibition did in the
United States in 1933.

Legalizing pot would also eliminate a great deal of the crime and
corruption linked to that sector of our economy. In an illicit
market, by definition, you cannot have any laws to regulate the
exchange of goods. Violence and bribery are the usual ways of
resolving conflict.

By selling pot over the counter, the quality of cannabis would
improve since all producers and distributors will want to build a
reputation of confidence and reliability.

Also, one should take into account the savings realized by
eliminating the expensive war on drugs and needless prison costs, as
well as the source of fresh revenue gained in new taxes.

The sale to minors could also finally be drastically diminished since
it would represent a small market made up of buyers who are poor and
thus less attractive to pushers, on whom police enforcement could be
much more effectively focused.

Anyway, as surprising as it could sound, there doesn't seem to be a
link between consumption and legalization. In the Netherlands, where
soft drugs are sold legally, consumption is lower than here in
Canada. In Portugal, there have been no significant changes and there
is even a small decrease in consumption since marijuana got de facto
legalized in 2001.

Europeans show more tolerance in matters of possession of drugs. It
does not constitute a crime in Spain, in Portugal, in the Czech
Republic, in the Baltic countries, in some German states and in some
Swiss cantons.

In face of the openness of Europeans, the failure of the Canadian
repressive approach becomes more and more obvious. At 19%, Canada has
the highest percentage of drug consumers - which is probably even
higher here in Quebec. We are followed, at 15%, by the other
ultra-repressive country on the matter, the United States. The
Netherlands, which legalized the use of pot, represents the European
average at 12%.

Canada acted as a pioneer on the continent when it allowed the use of
pot for medical purposes. Now the time has come to move a step further.

Don't get me wrong. I do approve of the Conservatives' policy of
being tough on crime. I just don't believe that an adult who freely
decides to have six plants of marijuana in his backyard or basement
and who smokes a joint or two a day is a criminal.

The Conservatives do not understand that but now the Liberals do. I
am quite sure that Bob Marley's spirit could inspire the Grits for
their next election campaign slogan: No victim, no crime...
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