Drop The Reefer and Listen Up!

Drop The Reefer and Listen Up!
Posted by CN Staff on August 15, 2003 at 07:33:23 PT
By Doug Beazley -- Edmonton Sun
Source: Edmonton Sun
Let's say, for argument's sake, you're an Albertan male aged 25, have a university degree, earn more than $80,000 a year and you voted Alliance in the last federal election. That sound like you? Then drop that reefer, pal, and pay attention. That marijuana decriminalization plan you've heard so much about is all about you, and winning your loyalty for the Liberal Party of Canada. 
New polling by the Alberta firm JMCK seems to suggest that Ottawa's plan to decriminalize small-scale possession - while simultaneously promising tough new measures against grow operations and traffickers - is just jim-dandy with your average voting-age Canadian. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.1%, but its findings seem consistent enough across the country. About 63.6% of Canadians polled said they agreed with Ottawa's proposal to decriminalize possession.  Decriminalization supported here  A solid 63% of Albertans back the idea. Oddly enough, only 57% of British Columbians support decriminalization, the lowest showing of any region. That might reflect the fact that B.C. has more trouble with grow operations than other provinces. Or maybe the Left Coast isn't as mellow as we thought. But here's the juicy bit: 64% of Canadian Alliance supporters polled said they like the idea of decriminalization. Among Liberals, the figure was 63%. Support for dropping possession penalties rises with the respondent's education and income; younger voters tend to favour the idea more than older ones. In other words, the Grits have found a vote-getter that works in politically valuable demographic categories right across the country. And since cops routinely wink at small-scale possession already, it's become the perfect government policy - the kind that wins public credit without forcing the feds to actually do anything. "The Liberals are making an awful lot of noise about their marijuana policy, even though it doesn't really change anything," said Barry Cooper, a University of Calgary political scientist. "There are three reasons, I think. One is that the polling is good, the second is that it'll make the Americans crazy - for Jean Chretien, that's always a plus. And the third is it's going to be Paul Martin who'll have to tackle the diplomatic fallout with Washington. Three birds, one stone." The Liberals are even in step with public opinion on the flip side of the issue - tougher measures against marijuana trafficking. About 64% of Canadians polled said they favoured longer sentences for grow operators and traffickers - 60% in Alberta, 65.6% in B.C. Only the Atlantic provinces, at 58.5%, polled substantially less enthusiasm for a trafficking crackdown than Alberta.  Contradiction  There's a contradiction in all of this, of course: Canadians want to punish those who make it possible to get weed, but not those who already have it in modest amounts. For the cops who chase grow ops for a living, it's a baffling signal. "It certainly feels like we're sending a mixed message," said Det. Clayton Sach of the city police drug control section "Green Team." "I'm not one of those guys who thinks, you know, pot's just awful. If the people want it, who are we to say? Then again, if we said tomorrow people riding crotch-rockets don't have to wear helmets, we'd be scraping a lot of kids off the sidewalk by the weekend. "What drives us is that here's this guy making big money and driving a fancy car, and it's all coming from crime, and we're gonna bust him. But when you bust a heroin operation, you know you might have saved some kid's life." Marijuana is not heroin, and the polling suggests Canadians are aware that legal substances like booze and tobacco doubtless do more damage to public health. But tougher measures against traffickers probably won't achieve anything beyond driving up the street price of weed, and making some ganja gangsters wealthier than Warren Buffett. "Tougher enforcement increases the risks of production, which increases the cost," said Neil Boyd, a criminologist with Simon Fraser University in B.C. "So the price goes up. Who wins? The dealers win. "Ottawa's proposal basically threatens no one, from the police to the consumers to the dealers. Legalizing it is the way to get the criminal element out, but it's politically impractical. The beauty of this approach from Ottawa's perspective is that it doesn't really change anything." Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB) Author: Doug Beazley -- Edmonton Sun Published: August 15, 2003 Copyright: 2003 Canoe Limited PartnershipContact: letters edm.sunpub.comWebsite: Articles -- Canada
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Comment #1 posted by Virgil on August 15, 2003 at 15:38:52 PT
He does not mention the option of legalizing it or keeping it legal for Pete's sake and I seriously doubt most people want tougher penalties for growing.Mindless ramblings if you ask me.
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