04 April 2006

Which Canadians Exactly, Stephen?

Our PM made his pilgrimage to the Canadian Professional Police Association - one of his natural constituencies - and promised to get tough on crime. So what else is new? Ontario's former premier, Mike Harris - Harper without the charm - did the same sort of get-tough thing, and it turned out to be a waste of time and money, not to mention lives of people in society who are particularly vulnerable. But that's not where I'm going with this post (so you can put away the bandaids for my bleeding-heart). The Toronto Star quoted Harper as saying “Canadians have told us they want our government to protect the way of life that has made this country such a great place to live.

With an only 34% plurality, his claim that he's speaking for all Canadians is a little far-fetched. In point of fact, many Canadians are decidely not in favour of the de facto recriminalization of marijuana possession (check the comments stream at the Globe link - almost unanimous opposition to Harper, and this is the conservative Globe and Mail!), especially for those people who are now facing criminal charges for attempting to relieve symptoms of serious disease.

While there is evidence indicating that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, both in terms of the physiological effects and societal effects, there is the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug to more dangerous narcotics. However, setting ideologies aside, the lesson from the U.S. Prohibition era tells us that it is the criminalization of the substance that is the gateway: regulating and licensing, much in the same way that alcohol is treated today, removes the direct contact with the criminal element. Besides, if you want to look at a REAL so-called gateway drug - one that has nearly 100% correlation with hard drug users - look no farther than tobacco.

Stephen - you don't speak for the majority of Canadians, and you sure don't speak for me. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Disclaimer: I do not smoke marijuana - in fact, I never have. However, I see this as an issue that has little to do with carefully examining and considering both the facts of the matter, and the complex effects of potential legislation - and it's that blind ideological politicization to which I object.
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