Monday, September 30, 2013

The excuse factory

Stephen Harper has said the following about legalizing marijuana. What follows each quote is my response.

"I've been very fortunate to live a drug-free life, and I don’t meet many people who've led a drug-free life who regret it."

Well, Mr. Harper, I have yet to meet a marijuana (only) user that regrets it either. I predict that had you even been a casual user at some point in your life, your opinion would be quite different.

"I know some people say if you just legalized it you’d get the money and all would be well. But I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they’re illegal ... The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad."

Not if you read history, Mr. Harper.

"Cannabis was added to the Confidential Restricted List in 1923. The 1922 publication of Emily Murphy’s The Black Candle may have been inspiration for the addition. Murphy, a police magistrate, used anecdotes culled from anti-drug reformers and police to make her arguments, which make strong links between drugs and race and the threat this poses to white women. One chapter is entitled "Marahuana – A New Menace", and makes the claim that the only ways out of cannabis addiction are insanity, death, or abandonment.

More importantly, cannabis was outlawed after the Director of the Federal Division of Narcotic Control returned from League of Nations meetings where the international control of the drug was broached. Cannabis did not begin to attract official attention in Canada until the latter 1930s, and even then it was minimal. The first seizure of cannabis by Canadian police was not until 1937. Between 1946 and 1961, cannabis accounted for only 2% of all drug arrests in Canada."

"When people are buying from the drug trade, they are not buying from their neighbour. They are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe all across the world."

Yes, most of the marijuana Canadians buy is grown in the US (our neighbour) and Mexico. It isn't grown by local farmers only because it is illegal to grow cannabis without permission from Health Canada, although some do try to grow it in secret. So if we were allowed to grow it, we would no longer be supporting those 'cartels'.

"I must admit myself sometimes I’m frustrated by how little impact governments have been able to have on the drug trade internationally. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that if we somehow stopped trying to deal with it, it would suddenly turn into a nice, wholesome industry. It will never be that."

Governments have had little impact because the demand hasn't gone away. You can't reasonably expect sellers to give up a lucrative business when demand for product has never been higher and legal supply is non-existent. You don't 'stop trying to deal with it', you legalize and control it, tax it, make it safer for consumption. You arrange it so that a valid ID is required to buy it to keep it out of the hands of kids. Once it is legal to grow and produce in mass quantities, the 'cartels' become obsolete, because they are no longer needed to fulfill the demand. Many users would likely just grow a few plants in their back yard.

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