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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN ON: Column: Case To Legalize Pot
Title:CN ON: Column: Case To Legalize Pot
Published On:2012-01-26
Source:Windsor Star (CN ON)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:02:31

A new poll suggests Canada may have reached the tipping point and a
66-per-cent majority favours legalizing marijuana.

Hallelujah! Finally we might get a sensible public policy discussion
in this country about what to do about a relatively benign substance
that has been demonized and outlawed for a century yet is as readily
available in schoolyards as cigarettes.

Prohibition and a 40-yearlong "war on drugs" have led to pot being
more widely accessible, taxpayers considerably poorer, gangs richer
and thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens branded "criminal."

Another 50,000 or so Canadians are busted every year for possession;
throw in 20,000 or so traffickers and producers, and this so-called
war is costing us as much as $400 million annually in law enforcement,
court and corrections.

Bearing in mind a million dollars a year buys roughly 12 new cops, 14
teachers or public health nurses, ask yourself: Couldn't all that
money be better spent?

The federal Liberal party obviously thinks so - 77 per cent of
delegates at the convention two weeks ago voted to legalize the herb,
echoing the Senate special committee on illegal drugs (chaired by a
Conservative), which 10 years ago urged the government to free the

Four decades ago, the Le Dain Commission similarly called for an end
to the criminal prohibition of cannabis.

Across the country today, more and more people agree.

Conducted Dec. 13 by Toronto-based Forum Research Inc. and released
last week, the latest poll of 1,160 respondents 18 or older showed
that residents of B.C. were the most likely to support pot-law reform,
with 73 per cent wanting change.

Who's leading the way? Those aged 55 to 64.

Why? Yes, there are a lot of old hippies. But of all the age cohorts,
the middle-aged and elderly, the late-boomers, are learning faster
than most that marijuana may be the Aspirin of the 21st century.

Medicinal marijuana is changing the debate about pot across the

From cancer patients fighting nausea from chemotherapy to those
suffering from glaucoma, Crohn's disease and other ailments, pot
brings therapeutic relief unavailable from pharmaceutical products.

Its growing and widespread use is erasing old stoner stereotypes and
triggering a more grown-up adult conversation about the weed.

And money is driving it - not just the prospect of future tax revenue
estimated in the billions, but fortunes are being made right now from
medical marijuana.

In some U.S. states with medpot programs, big box stores have opened
selling hydroponic gear, specialized equipment and supplies for growers.

Ending the criminal prohibition of marijuana does not mean making it
freely available - it means regulating it as we do alcohol and
tobacco, far more dangerous substances.

Portugal legalized pot and other drugs a decade ago and the sky did
not fall: European drug addicts did not flock to the country nor did
Spain suffer the feared nasty side-effects.

This poll should spur the federal government to rethink its crime
legislation and to begin a discussion about different models of

Recreational pot-smoking could be dealt with as we have battled the
more deadly use of tobacco - with public health campaigns and education.

No one has gone to jail for taking a cigarette break or been busted
for grabbing a quick puff, yet we've driven down use and tobacco has
far less cachet today.

The hipster attraction of marijuana can be similarly attacked without
exposing our children to criminal prosecution and the risk of a record
following them for life.

Let's treat marijuana and other drugs as a health issue rather than a
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