Saturday, March 17, 2012

Up-In-Smoke: The Marijuana Debate Rages On

At their party convention in Ottawa on Jan.  14, the Liberal party voted as a majority to legalize marijuana should they be re-elected into parliament.  Marijuana legalization has been on the minds of Canadians ever since the medicinal usage of marijuana was legalized in Canada in 2001.  This subject has been a hot topic of debate for years and the Weal is exploring both sides.
Who’s gonna stop the fire?

By Lisa Johnson, Weal Writer

It is known by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that smoking marijuana makes you relaxed, more thoughtful though not necessarily insightful, and more creative.  It creates the illusion that the good things in life are better and the bad things a little less bad.  If you endure disease or chronic pain, it will ease your distress.  If you have trouble falling asleep, pot can help with that, too.

Although it sounds pretty good, making pot legal would also open Canada to a host of negative side-effects beyond occasional paranoia and general laziness.

In 2009, 28.5 million Americans age 12 and older had used marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed; found the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  The NIDA-funded 2010 “Monitoring the Future” study showed that 13.7 per cent of 8th graders, 27.5 per cent of 10th graders, and 34.8 per cent of 12th graders had used marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.

Pot is fairly accessible.  I have never heard an adult say, “I’d love to try some of that marijuana everyone’s talking about, but can’t get my hands on any.”
It’s one of the easier drugs for dealers to handle.
Should pot become legal, drug dealers won’t sell it anymore, which might seem like a good thing but it won’t put them out of job.  All it means is that they’ll be pushing harder drugs ( or pot laced with harder drugs ) like cocaine.
According to the Calgary Police Service, the potency of marijuana has increased dramatically.
“Concentrations of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC — the psycho-active ingredient in marijuana that makes people high ) have increased from between one per cent and four per cent to as high as 39 per cent,” states the Calgary Police website on Marijuana.

That’s an increase of about one thousand per cent or more.

So when adults, or kids with a rebellious streak, go looking for something illegal to do, as many are inclined, they’ll no longer have the relatively mild pot as an option.

The illegality of pot and the threat of being caught and punished, keeps us on our toes, we think twice before misbehaving.  In a bizarre way, illegalized marijuana empowers us –it’s illegal enough to make kids think twice before smoking, but not illegal enough to stop sensible people from enjoying a nice toke in private.
If the legalization of marijuana does go through it may turn us into a stoned society.  For example, looks at the devastating effects the legalization created in Amsterdam’s red-light district, where marijuana is famously legal.

The area disgraces an otherwise beautiful, historic city.  It’s easy to overlook the soulless stares of prostitutes in shop windows because the staggering stoners, cliched Bob Marley street art and seedy drug dealers on every corner offering a cornucopia of hard drugs are depressing enough.
Picture that, but in Calgary on Steven Avenue.

By Ben Morris, Weal Writer

According to a recent poll conducted by Forum Research Inc.  in Toronto, 66 per cent of Canadians favour the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.
Maybe Canadians have realized that the continued prohibition of marijuana is a waste of money and law enforcement resources.

Since the Controlled Drugs Substances act was passed by parliament in 1996, the feds have spent $450 million a year on controlling marijuana, with 95 per cent of that money being used for law enforcement.  That law enforcement has been used to arrest people who possess a drug that has not directly killed a single person.  In 2010, marijuana arrests jumped thirteen per cent to more than 70,000 — almost 60,000 of those arrests were for mere possession.

One of the most inane arguments from prohibitionists is that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads users to harder drugs.  According to statistics from Health Canada, almost 11 per cent of Canadians used marijuana in 2010, and past-year use of at least one of five illicit drugs ( cocaine or crack, speed, hallucinogens, ecstasy, and heroin ) was reported as less than two per cent of Canadians for each.

Not only is the usage of other drugs small when compared to marijuana, the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana are huge.  If implemented Millions would be saved on law enforcement, and money could be made through taxation and gangs would lose money since no one would buy marijuana from a gang member when they can buy the drug at a pharmacy where the drug is guaranteed to be clean of contaminants.

Dozens of marijuana consumers work tough jobs and smoke weed in their time off.  These people spend their own money on weed so they can relax after work.  They shouldn’t be tossed in jail.

With legalization comes control.  Companies could ID consumers to make sure they don’t sell to minors.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees life, liberty, and the security of person.  Canadians should have the right to consume whatever substance they choose.  Thousands of people die every year from alcohol and tobacco, yet those drugs are perfectly legal.  The prohibition of marijuana makes no sense, and is an attack on liberty.

Source: Weal, The (SAIT Polytechnic, CN AB Edu)
Copyright: 2012 SAIT Student Association
Authors: Lisa Johnson, Ben Morris

Even for experienced smokers, eating foods containing marijuana can be a whole new experience. It might the perfect solution for those who don't want to smoke, or have trouble smoking, i.e. people with asthma.

There are virtually no health risks, as you are not smoking and there is no subsequent damage to your respiratory system.
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