03 May 2010

Compassion is Nice - I Would Settle for Some Sense

Today's Star reports that the marijuana trafficking charges against most of the members of C.A.L.M. have been dropped. Charges against its owner are still pending. Why police decided to suddenly lay charges after fourteen years is beyond me. Anyone who says that police don't decide which laws to enforce, or when to enforce them, is either naive, ignorant, or not paying attention. There are clearly some politics behind this - someone trying to make a point, a name for themselves, or a reputation.

While we're at it, could someone please explain to me why more serious and potent pharmaceuticals and addictive substances are sold through government outlets and pharmacies, while marijuana - for either recreational or medical use - is not.

What is at play here, I think, is a typical BAH response to a not-that-complex social and moral issue: "To change the laws and regulations is to admit that we were wrong all along, and the System can never be wrong." Could some pot-smoking MBA student please do a final project on the economics of marijuana regulation (and enforcement), touching on the direct costs of keeping the substance illegal, the indirect costs of prosecution and incarceration, the health cost equations for those who suffer diseases whose symptoms are alleviated by the substance, and the revenue potential for a new MCBO to parallel the LCBO?

Governments typically don't listen to a bunch of protesting potheads; nor do they generally respond to tales of suffering. They do listen to cold, hard numbers emerging from one of its premier business schools. So here's the challenge: Which among Rotman, Schulich, Rogers, Ivey, or Queen's will be the first to create the air-tight business case demonstrating the net economic benefits of ending prohibition?

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