It's Time for Canada To Legalize Cannabis

It's Time for Canada To Legalize Cannabis
Posted by CN Staff on February 25, 2005 at 09:10:39 PT
By Wayne G. Cook
Source: Toronto Star
The use of cannabis is widespread and there is intermittent talk from the government of Canada regarding "decriminalizing," but not about legalizing, it. Cannabis has much in common with both alcohol and tobacco products. Each at various times has been demonized, banned, criminalized and targeted as a health risk. We can learn from these experiences.What can we learn from alcohol? First, banning doesn't work. As attempts at prohibition proves, it turns this area of the economy over to criminals and gives ordinary citizens criminal records.
Second, although there are definite health hazards for some, there are also putative benefits and people for millennia have ignored any claimed risks. Accordingly, we have decided that such a large group has a right to make its own decision. Third, the system the Liquor Control Board of Ontario uses to control alcohol distribution is effective. Alcohol is available to adults, its purity is assured, there is a minimal black market and the province gets considerable revenue.We also know there is a downside to alcohol and assistance is given to problem drinkers. There are protections against drunk drivers, for example. Controlled distribution is an effective compromise for this product.What can we learn from tobacco products? All the evidence from the last 30 years indicates that tobacco is dangerous for the health of both smokers and anyone who regularly inhales second-hand smoke. Despite these risks, some will still smoke and we have decided adults have the right to make their own decisions. Accordingly, tobacco products remain legal for adults. Tobacco products are also extremely addictive, so we put many controls on them. Smoking in public places has been restricted, tobacco products are taxed heavily to reduce the demand and promotion has been virtually eliminated in an effort to reduce the number of new smokers, especially among the young. We are reaching an effective compromise that protects smokers, non-smokers, and minors. What lessons can we draw from these experiences for cannabis? Concerning health, as far back as 1972 the LeDain Royal Commission on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs reported that "the physical and mental effects of cannabis would appear to be much less serious than those which may result from excessive use of alcohol."This statement appears true 30 years later. More recently, there are claimed health benefits, especially to some who suffer from certain illnesses. All in all, this is a situation that calls for personal choice, but with appropriate controls. So what should be the preferred path?First, the federal government should make the use of cannabis products legal: Decriminalization is not sufficient.Second, a safe, regulated supply should be made available, perhaps through a CCBO or Cannabis Control Board of Ontario. These steps would guarantee product purity, take criminals out of this area of the economy, provide tax revenues, allow police to concentrate on more serious crime and stop the harassment of ordinary citizens. Existing R.I.D.E. programs can be used to help control irresponsible drivers, and the use of designated drivers can be adopted from our experience with alcohol.One of the major benefits will be to reduce the availability of pot to minors. If this seems counterintuitive, just ask any teenager which is more available to them, alcohol or cannabis? Drug dealers don't ask for proof-of-age.Cannabis use is so pervasive that its use may go almost unnoticed if it were legalized. It will have benefits all around, not the least of which will be the capture of money that now goes to criminals. Naturally, moralists will object to this "sin" being legalized and wish to impose their beliefs on others. Surely, we can overcome this attitude in modern Canada. The other issue is the reaction of the United States, whose absurd, counterproductive "war on drugs" is opposed to any tolerance for recreational drugs. Controlled distribution in Canada should minimize the amount of legal cannabis that goes to the U.S., as it does with alcohol. Perhaps, in time, Americans will learn from our experience and soften their attitude.Most arguments against cannabis legalization are moralistic, whereas the arguments in favour are pragmatic and would help to protect minors, users, and society.The time has come to legalize cannabis.Wayne G. Cook is a member of the Toronto Star's community editorial board. Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)Author: Wayne G. CookPublished: February 25, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Toronto Star Contact: lettertoed Website: Related Articles & Web Site:CannabisNews Canadian Links Panel Backs Legalizing Marijuana Senate Panel Calls For Legalization Want Pot Legalized 
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 23:04:36 PT
What I think is by tomorrow more will be known about what happened. I hope something good can come out of this horrible situation.
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Comment #15 posted by afterburner on March 03, 2005 at 22:53:53 PT
FoM and BGreen
I agree with both of you: "Something has to give" and "Where was the outrage?"
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 22:11:34 PT
Since this happened it has been unbelievable. My husband and I are talking about this case now. They were junior officers and he snuck up on them and killed them. This man wasn't in his right mind. How did he have a gun? I didn't think guns were allowed in Canada. I don't know where this will go but I do know that the time of reckening is coming. Something has to give. 
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Comment #13 posted by BGreen on March 03, 2005 at 22:05:16 PT
What do THESE deaths mean? NOTHING!
If the shooting of four officers over an alleged cannabis garden means cannabis is completely responsible, then these other deaths mean nothing.In the past five years, 11 of the 18 listed deaths of cops were caused by traffic accidents, two were shot after pursuits and another was shot responding to a domestic disturbance, one had his throat slit by a hunting knife and two died in a plane wreck. But the Darwin Award goes to "Calgary Const. Darren Beatty, 29, a member of the department's elite tactical unit" who "died after he was shot by a colleague in a hostage-taking simulation during a training exercise."Where was the outrage about the deaths of these other 18 cops?Why didn't they go after guns, cars, knives and criminals that use those weapons?The Reverend Bud Green***********************************************************The killing of four RCMP officers Thursday during a raid on a marijuana grow operation in northwestern Alberta appears to be the worst case of police dying in the line of duty in recent memory.A list of some of the other Canadian police officers known to have died on the job since 2000: Nov. 13, 2004 - Auxiliary RCMP officer Glen Evely, 39, of Vernon, B.C., when a stolen truck ran a red light and struck his cruiser. May 23, 2004 - Ontario Provincial Police Const. Tyler Boutilier, 32, of the Grenville detachment, killed when his cruiser was struck by an oncoming vehicle in his lane as he answered an emergency call at a campground. May 15, 2004 - Const. Chris Garrett, 39, of the force in Cobourg, Ont., slashed in the neck with a hunting knife after responding to a 911 call about a robbery in the parking lot of an abandoned hospital. Feb. 28, 2004 - Cpl. Jim Galloway, 53, an RCMP dog handler stationed in Sherwood Park, Alta., killed during a gunfight after an armed standoff in which the suspect also died. Sept. 20, 2003 - Ontario Provincial Police Const. John Flagg, 55, killed when his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck during a high-speed pursuit near Almonte, Ont. May 27, 2003 - Const. Philip Shrive, 49, of the provincial police detachment in Renfrew, died in hospital a week after his cruiser was struck by an oncoming truck. Dec. 18, 2002 - RCMP Supt. Dennis Massey, 53, killed in Calgary when a propane tanker truck's trailer toppled over and landed on his car. Sept. 15, 2002 - Richmond, B.C., RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng died when his police cruiser was broadsided, sending him flying through the rear window. March 12, 2002 - Banff RCMP Const. Christine Diotte, 35, killed when a sport utility vehicle slid on an icy patch of road and crashed into her while investigating another accident. Feb. 28, 2002 - Montreal Const. Benoit L'Ecuyer, 29, shot and killed during a chase with a speeding car. Feb. 18, 2002 -Toronto Const. Laura Ellis, 31, killed when the police cruiser she was a passenger in collided with another car and then struck a utility pole while responding to an emergency call. Dec. 23, 2001 - Const. Martin Lefebvre, 22, of Shawinigan, Que., died after losing control of his patrol vehicle while answering an emergency call. Dec. 20, 2001 - RCMP Const. Dennis Strongquill, 52, shot after pursuing a stolen car in Russell, Man. Oct. 17, 2001 - Calgary Const. Darren Beatty, 29, a member of the department's elite tactical unit, died after he was shot by a colleague in a hostage-taking simulation during a training exercise. March 5, 2001 - RCMP Const. Jurgen Seewald, shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Aug. 28, 2000 - Const. Alain Forget, killed when thieves rammed a police car at a roadblock in St-Hubert, Que. Aug. 16, 2000 - RCMP Sgt. Ed Mobley and pilot Tim Nicholson died when their plane crashed in northern British Columbia during a training exercise. June 9, 2000 - Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Marg Eve, died two days after a truck hit three police cars and another vehicle stopped on the side of Highway 401 near London, Ont.
Four RCMP officers killed after raid on Alta. marijuana grow operation
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 17:20:39 PT
Related Article from
Public Safety Minister Says Will Consider Tougher Grow Op PenaltiesMarch 3, 2005OTTAWA (CP) - Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan says she's prepared to consider tougher penalties for marijuana grow operations in the wake of Thursday's tragic shooting of four Alberta Mounties.McLellan and Justice Minister Irwin Cotler will review the proposed marijuana decriminalization bill to see whether it goes far enough."Do we have the right laws in place?"Prime Minister Paul Martin joined McLellan in offering condolences to the families."This terrible event is a reminder of the sacrifice and bravery of the men and women who serve in our national police force," Martin said in a statement."Canadians are shocked by this brutality and join me in condemning the violent acts that brought about these deaths."Martin was kept informed of the developing events during several phone conversations Thursday with RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli.He was expected to call for a moment of silence Friday before delivering a speech to the Liberal party national convention in Ottawa.
 Copyright - 2002-2005
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 16:19:39 PT
CBC: 4 Mounties Killed in Drug Raid
 March 3, 2005 CBC NewsMAYERTHORPE, ALTA. - Four RCMP officers were killed Thursday during an apparent raid on a marijuana grow operation in northwestern Alberta, a government source says. Complete Article:
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 15:57:38 PT
CP: Four Mounties Dead, Report Says
Canadian PressMarch 3, 2005ROCHFORT BRIDGE, Alta. -- Canadian Press is reporting that four Alberta RCMP officers were killed in a raid Thursday on a northwestern Alberta marijuana grow operation. CP is quoting a government source.Complete Article:
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 28, 2005 at 13:00:22 PT
News Article from The Canadian Press
Group Representing Medical Users of Pot Pulls Negative Comments from Website 
By Steve Lambert, Canadian Press February 28, 2005 
WINNIPEG (CP) - A group representing medical users of marijuana has pulled negative comments from its website after receiving a cease-desist notice from the company Ottawa hired to grow the pot. "On the advice of our counsel, we have temporarily removed the open letter of concern," Phillipe Lucas of Canadians for Safe Access said in an interview Monday. "But we certainly stand by the concerns that are cited." The open letter, which was posted on the group's website in January, listed criticisms of the quality, ingredients and health standards of the marijuana that has been grown by Prairie Plant Systems at its underground facility in Flin Flon, Man. The web message brought a quick response from Prairie Plant's lawyer, William Hood. "While anyone is entitled to express their views on a particular topic, you are, however, not entitled to publish false and misleading information which harms Prairie Plant Systems' reputation," said Hood in the cease-desist letter. He also said Prairie Plant Systems intended "to pursue all legal remedies available to it" if the group did not remove the comments from its website and refrain from making similar comments in public. The company's president said Canadians for Safe Access has no evidence to back up its claims. "They just make all these wild allegations and then they don't have any backing on it," Brent Zettl said Monday. The truce in the war of words may only be temporary. "We're currently examining our legal options and we're preparing a legal response," said Lucas. "We'll be able to comment on it in the next couple of days." Prairie Plant Systems has a $5.5-million, five-year contract with the federal government to grow pot for medicinal use in an abandoned mine. The 30-gram packages of dried leaves and buds are sold for $150 each to a small group of patients who have been approved by Health Canada who need the drug to alleviate symptoms such as nausea. Lucas's group and Prairie Plant Systems have been at odds before. In 2003, Lucas said the company's first batch of marijuana had low levels of the active ingredient THC. Health Canada disagreed, saying its own testing showed the pot had the correct potency. Copyright: The Canadian Press 2005
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on February 26, 2005 at 19:26:48 PT
Drug Testing Article from The Canadian Press
Alta. Urged To Permit Random Worksite Drug TestsFebruary 26, 2005EDMONTON  Alberta should consider amending its human rights law to allow for random drug testing to make worksites safer, says a government-appointed committee.The recommendation is part of a report that was submitted to the province in July 2003 but has not been made public.The province should consider "legislative solutions: if such testing isn't found to be justifiable under the Alberta Human Rights Act, says a copy of the report obtained by The Canadian Press.The government's silence on the issue prompted members of the oil and gas sector to write a letter this month asking the province to respond to the report as they themselves grapple with how to deal with impaired employees."Employers are not aided when human rights commissions are making rulings that employers cannot test their workers for drug or alcohol use," said Patrick Delaney of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada. He helped write the report and the letter."Our only recourse is to go to the politicians, have them review human rights legislation and make some changes."Other groups that worked on the report include the Construction Owners Association of Alberta and the Alberta Building Trades Council.If government doesn't take a firm position on testing, the issue is expected to evolve based on court and tribunal decisions.Alcohol and drug testing is already a fact of life at some Alberta worksites, especially in the energy and construction industries.Human rights tribunals in Ontario and Alberta have ruled that employers can test workers for justifiable reasons -- if they are in safety-sensitive positions, for example, or after an accident.While there are no rules governing testing, the Alberta Human Rights Commission says blanket random testing is discriminatory.Tribunals have also ruled that employees who test positive can't be automatically fired. It's been suggested someone with a substance dependency is considered to suffer from a disability and should be offered treatment.Such positions have hamstrung companies as they try to deal with employees who show up impaired from alcohol, marijuana and such hard drugs as crystal meth, said Delaney."This is equipment that is very unforgiving. One slip and you've got a fatality. And in a worse-case scenario you could have a catastrophic event."The right of someone for a safe worksite trumps your right to have a drink or shoot up or snort something."Last June, Clint Dunford, then Alberta's minister of human resources, said he would like to see mandatory drug testing within five years. Dunford was moved to another department after the November provincial election.That same month the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission updated its position on drug testing, making it clear the agency doesn't favour random tests."AADAC does not recommend alcohol and drug testing for employees unless there is evidence that substance abuse is compromising workplace safety," says the agency.Mike Cardinal, Dunford's successor, declined interview requests about the report and the letter."He wants more time. It is being reviewed right now," said department spokesman Chris Chodan.Alberta has no statistics on drug- or alcohol-related accidents, he said.Government and industry are not alone as they struggle to come to grips with drug testing.The issue has split Alberta's labour movement.Mark McCullough, president of the Alberta Building Trades Council, helped write the report. He said random tests are justified if they fall within the context of a comprehensive employee treatment program."My personal opinion is that safety takes precedence over the right to be impaired at a worksite," said McCullough."We want government to give a very clear signal that testing is not contrary to human rights and, if it is contrary, fix it. Have legislation that fixes it."Don MacNeil of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union, said there is no proof random testing is effective.In 2002, an AADAC survey suggested 11 per cent of employees in Alberta reported using alcohol at work, while one per cent reported using drugs.Marie Riddle, director of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, said testing complaints have been filed by employees and she expects to see more."There is no question that safety in the workplace is important," she said. "But so are the rights of people with disabilities."Finding a way to balance all of those things is the task and it is not an easy task."In the meantime, members of the oil and gas sector have formed a task group to look at how best to navigate the murky issue.Deborah Walsh of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said while some companies have individual policies, they want more information and have asked the province for a copy of the report."We are looking for consistency," she said. "It is important for our process to know where the government is going with this."Copyright: 2005 Canadian Press
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Comment #7 posted by global_warming on February 25, 2005 at 17:04:14 PT
No More War On Drugs
"The other issue is the reaction of the United States, whose absurd, counterproductive "war on drugs" is opposed to any tolerance for recreational drugs. Controlled distribution in Canada should minimize the amount of legal cannabis that goes to the U.S., as it does with alcohol. Perhaps, in time, Americans will learn from our experience and soften their attitude."In this grand scheme of things, how can any American ask for the blessings of God, when they are collectively working towards the final destruction of our planet.There is no Jesus or God, that will come to the rescue of this abominal group, there is no God, that will save us.As long as Americans are lazy and in a stupor, that is shaped by our impotent journalists and news services, as long as most Americans believe that Jesus will come to save them, there is no answer, for while they plot their next assasination, the ground that they try to cover will be filled with so much blood, that even the sparrow will avoid this place of death.Enjoy your evening, for time is measured, much like the Golden Rule and prayer, in equal measure forgive us God, as we, I, have been
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on February 25, 2005 at 16:48:44 PT
A Signed Editorial
Excellent. Wayne G. Cook makes so much sense. He hits that devious, wiggly prohibition "nail" square on the head. Hi, Kap! Good to see you!
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on February 25, 2005 at 12:11:10 PT:
Partly related: Grow op above ritzy restaurant
Go see before they archive it and they pester you for a sign-in:Marijuana grown atop ritzy eatery
Unwary patrons ate in dining room below, Owner, wife charged with producing pot
SPECIAL TO THE STAR is this of import? Take a look at the cash that was found: NONE OF IT WAS IN AMERICAN DOLLARS. Even low level dealers are deserting the US dollar, a danger sign that has been warned about here before.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 25, 2005 at 10:47:25 PT
I agree with you!
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on February 25, 2005 at 10:33:31 PT
oh, he's good...very good
I think this editorial is one of the best reasoned appeals I have read. 
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Comment #2 posted by global_warming on February 25, 2005 at 09:46:59 PT
Could this happen?
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 25, 2005 at 09:11:28 PT
Oh Canada!
Please listen to your people!
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