CN ON: Editorial: Smoking Marijuana Far From Harmless

This editorial is begging for letters-to-the-editor.

Pubdate: Sun, 08 Aug 2010
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Canoe Limited Partnership

The debate about legalizing marijuana goes around every few years like a joint in frat house on a Friday night.

This past week we fired it up again. An exclusive Leger Marketing poll commissioned by QMI Agency shows that more than half of Canadians believe marijuana possession should not be a crime.

That’s a shame. Although possessing marijuana might appear to be a minor offence, if one at all, no one should dispute the negative impact marijuana addiction can have on people’s lives, especially
young people.

Now before you pot-smoking, self-righteous readers write us that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, no more dangerous than cigarettes, stop, put your roach down and relax.

Ask Greg Thomson, whose teenage son was killed by a drug-impaired driver in 1999, how dangerous marijuana can be.

In reality, the driver who caused the accident that killed Stan Thomson was found not guilty of driving while impaired, and it is clear from the circumstances of the accident that he did not lose control of his car, rather, he attempted an illegal, high-speed pass in the oncoming lane, probably to impress his teenaged passengers and other friends in a convoy of four vehicles. See

Ask the people who are waiting for a drug rehab bed.

Ask them why casual cannabis consumers are forced into treatment?

Ask the parents of the kids who are listless, failing in school and zoned out whether marijuana use is good for their families.

Why not ask the parents of kids who have been arrested?

This “ask the loved ones of the victims” technique in quite common from tough-on-crime types. Of course, it would be foolish of us to base our laws on the opinions of emotionally distraught victims. We do not, for example, base our snack food regulations on the opinions of the loved ones of people who have died from obesity.

Turning the feds into a super drug dealer is no answer. Surely by that pretzel logic, we could solve all crime simply by legalizing all offences.

Sigh. The dreaded “why don’t we legalize rape and murder” argument. I’d wager that people who fail to see a distinction between predatory crime and selling, buying and smoking cannabis do not get invited to many parties.

No, turning Canada into the new Holland is not the way to go.

As Ottawa Police Chief Vern White pointed out, today’s pot isn’t what your hippie parents smoked 30 years ago. Levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance in pot, are about four times higher today than what they were in the 1970s.


We are with the chief on this one. Life is not a Cheech and Chong movie and we have to have sober discussions about making pot laws more lax. For now, we just can’t
dig it, dude.

Here’s what I sent …

To the editor,

You suffer from a popular and understandable misconception, that arguments in favour of legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis rest on the herb being “harmless.” (‘Smoking marijuana far from harmless,’ Aug 7)

On the contrary, the more harmful the substance, the less abdicating control of it to gangsters and teenagers makes sense, and the more urgent the imperative to legalize and thereby regulate it.

There is no evidence that criminal prohibition suppresses availability or usage rates. Your anecdotal reports of addiction, traffic accidents, increasing potency and zoned out teenagers under prohibition merely attest to its failure.

Teens consistently report that cannabis is easier to obtain than tobacco and alcohol, and more report having tried cannabis than tobacco. Adults who are interested in obtaining cannabis, for medical purposes, would be well-advised to approach an adolescent relative or acquaintance.

Further, cannabis, alcohol and other psychoactive substances are economic substitutes with cross-price elasticities. When cannabis usage rates go up, alcohol abuse goes down, causing a net reduction in drug-related social costs, such as crime, overdose deaths, traffic accidents, domestic violence, unplanned pregnancies, child abuse, and fetal alcohol syndrome.