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Prohibition Doesn't Work - Legalize It

Sheila Graves

i smoke pot. I've smoked it for a number of years. Lots of people I know smoke it too. The recent police busts made on various Vancouver homes have gotten us all talking about the prohibition of marijuana again.

There are many complex issues to deal with when looking at the marijuana issue. Most of these issues come down to the fact that it is prohibited. For example, the reason that there are so many grow operations in homes is that pot is illegal. The reason there is so much gang and other illegal activity surrounding weed is that it is illegal. The problem here is about the illegality of marijuana.

We must ask ourselves why pot is illegal. I will use the age-old argument that pot is no more - probably less - harmful or addictive than alcohol and cigarettes. Marijuana became demonized long ago during the "Reefer Madness" hysteria in the U.S. In the 1970s Nixon declared a war on drugs, and in the 80s Reagan carried this through. This is not a war on drugs but a war on certain drugs. Alcohol and cigarettes - two very destructive forces - are 'OK' drugs.

Drugs are great. Just ask any pharmaceutical company. The 'legitimate' drug companies are one of the many forces that want marijuana suppressed. This is partly because of the medicinal qualities that pot has. Many people suffering a whole host of illnesses use marijuana to give them an appetite where they would normally be unable to eat. Marijuana also acts as a great sedative. These positive aspects of marijuana are overlooked because the drug companies want everyone addicted to their products. These drug companies have large sums of money to use to lobby the government to continue the suppression of the legalizing of marijuana.

The government must realize that there is a fortune to be made on the legal sale of marijuana. Presumably it would be sold like liquor and cigarettes to legal aged people. Just like with alcohol it could be sold in a special store. In fact the government could use the pre-existing liquor stores and expand their market to include marijuana. The taxation and sale of marijuana would be substantial enough to justify at least looking into marketing it.

Cops love weed. It is a perfect drug for them to make busts on and gain public approval. What better way to look good than to make a lot of high profile drug busts? I wish the police would focus their efforts on stopping organized crime. What would really impress me would be drug busts on the truly horrible drugs like cocaine, heroin, and other street drugs. When compared to these drugs marijuana is entirely wholesome. The authorities want the general public to believe that marijuana is as vicious as these other street drugs. The only reason marijuana is tied to organized crime is because it is illegal.

I'm sure there would always be a black market for pot. Just like there is a thriving black market for alcohol and cigarettes right now. However this is little justification for not legalizing marijuana. The authorities should focus their attention on this growing black market instead of on the responsible use of marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes.

If we were to legalize marijuana it should be subject to restrictions same as alcohol. It impairs your judgement and you should not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle while under its influence. One great thing about pot is that it mellows you out. This is in striking contrast to alcohol which makes people aggressive and plays a strong role in domestic violence. Why do we continue to say alcohol is OK and pot is not? In all honesty if we are going to continue to refuse the legalization of marijuana we must also lobby for the prohibition of alcohol. But wait! Prohibition never worked the first time around and the government makes far too much money from liquor sales to ever dream of making it illegal.

In short that is the problem. We have on one hand marijuana which would cause less social problems if legalized - and on the other hand we have the age-old social problem of alcohol. This issue doesn't make any sense other than it is about government control. Those with power have it in their interest to see that marijuana stays illegal. The majority of us - without strong political power except our will to lobby our own government - would like to see marijuana legalized for a variety of reasons.

At the very least we need to see the law relaxed surrounding the medical use of marijuana. As it stands the few individuals who are allowed to legally use pot for medical reasons must often put themselves at risk to illegally acquire it. There is simply not a safe way of getting it from the RCMP or doctors in its smokable form. The smokable form is often the only way many patients find effective relief with the marijuana pills being ineffective.

Once we can get marijuana legalized for compassionate medical reasons we will be able to properly consider its acceptability for legalized consumption for the rest of Canadians. At least people might one day have the choice about whether or not they want to use it. Choice is what makes Canada great.


Sheila Graves lives in B.C., where she enjoys the best marijuana in the country.

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