Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Marijuana Debate Continues

The other day I wrote a post suggesting the need for a vigorous debate on the question of the legalization of marijuana, a drug against which countless billions have been spent as part of what many feel is a failed 'war on drugs.'

In today's Star, there is a spirited discussion in a lengthy series of letters that explore this topic, two of which I will reproduce below. As well, CNN's Sanjay Gupta, in a column on the CNN website, explains what led him to apologize for his earlier condemnation of pot for medicinal purposes. A brief video of his explanation follows.

Re: Legalizing pot, endorsing stupidity, Aug. 7

Is this column about the inappropriateness of legalizing pot or the shortcomings of Justin Trudeau as the Liberal leader? Trudeau is “the political embodiment of stupid?” Because Trudeau has an alternative to the time-consuming expense of policing the use and possession of pot, Rosie DiManno has chosen to ridicule JustinTrudeau by suggesting that “maybe he should fire up a reefer and ponder it some more,” in reference the fact that his thinking about dope has “evolved.”
I have never tried pot and never had the inclination to do so. Quitting “regular”cigarettes was, for me, difficult enough. The smell of this substance is nauseating to me when I have had the misfortune to be near someone who was smoking it.

But I think that Mr. Trudeau has an idea worth considering. By not having pot legalized, we are ensuring that some young people, who may be in possession of this drug when stopped by police, could be be saddled with a criminal record that will affect their future employment.

The financial savings alone would merit the legalization of pot. The police would be free to pursue more important criminal matters. The load on the court system would be lightened. There would be more room in our jails for “real” criminals.

Finally, if legalized, the tax revenues could be comparable to those collected by the LCBO. Could we actually see a PCBO, or an MCBO?
“What about driving whilst high?” Ms DiManno asks. I believe that some police forces are now in possession of a “marijuana version of the breathalyzer” that was developed in Sweden. It can detect 12 different controlled substances including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, morphine and of course, marijuana. Apparently, this test is equally as accurate as blood and urine tests. Therefore motorists using legalized marijuana would be subject to the same restrictions as motorists using legal alcohol.

Unauthorized growing of marijuana would remain a criminal offense, the same as bootlegging and cigarette smuggling.

I agree with Ms DiManno’s final statement that “Canada already has way too much stupidity,” but I don’t agree that Justin Trudeau’s idea of marijuana decriminalization is a part of that stupidity.

Warren Dalton, Scarborough

I agree with you that Justin Trudeau owes it to Canadians to explain how his legalizing marijuana would actually work. I have problems following his rationale for legalization. It seems to be his belief that by legalizing and regulating pot that will keep it out of the hands of our youth. We all know how successful that has been keeping tobacco and alcohol out of the hands of young people.

Not only that, in both cases legalization has resulted in a black market for both substances, with the entrance of organized criminal elements. I can see the same thing happening if we follow the same path with marihuana.

The other aspect Mr. Trudeau seems to ignore is that today’s hydroponically produced marijuana is many times more potent than that produced in the past. This makes it more likely to lead to addiction, adding even more problems to our struggling healthcare system.

I think Mr. Trudeau should rethink this subject before pushing ahead.

Larry Comeau, Ottawa


  1. Lorne, as I pointed in an earlier comment on this subject matter that alcohol lobby is the strongest opponent of drugs. They have not only influenced the governments but also public in general through propaganda that drugs like marijuana are dangerous for human health.

    I don't use any kinds of these drugs so I personally don't know, however, some members of the medical community have pointed out that alcohol is more dangerous. Sanjay Gupta is one example who has changed his mind on marijuana. He is a neurosurgeon and knows what he is talking about.

    1. And ultimately, LeDaro, I guess that is the point of my posts on pot. There is far too much misinformation, hype and hysteria surrounding the issue, which essentially preclude any rational discussion of the question of legalization/decriminalization. The fact that Sanjay Gupta has amended his own thinking on the matter may provide more impetus for a reasoned debate.

  2. The debate should be based on medical fact, Lorne -- not hysteria.

    1. Agreed Owen. Anything less is an affront to reason.