Trudeau May Have Made Best Case for Legal Pot

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  Trudeau May Have Made Best Case for Legal Pot

Posted by CN Staff on June 10, 2016 at 10:11:19 PT
By Christopher Ingraham 
Source: Washington Post 

Canada -- Speaking Wednesday at an economic conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made one of the more buttoned-down, straight-edged arguments for marijuana legalization I've heard in recent years. It's worth quoting at length so I've done that below:Look, our approach on legalizing marijuana is not about creating a boutique industry or bringing in tax revenue, it’s based on two very simple principles:
The first one is, young people have easier access to cannabis now, in Canada, than they do in just about any other countries in the world. Of 29 different countries studied by the U.N., Canada was number one in terms of underage access to marijuana. And whatever you might think or studies seen about cannabis being less harmful than alcohol or even cigarettes, the fact is it is bad for the developing brain and we need to make sure that it’s harder for underage Canadians to access marijuana. And that will happen under a controlled and regulated regime.The other piece of it is there are billions upon billions of dollars flowing into the pockets of organized crime, street gangs and gun-runners, because of the illicit marijuana trade, and if we can get that out of the criminal elements and into a more regulated fashion we will reduce the amount of criminal activity that’s profiting from those, and that has offshoots into so many other criminal activities. So those are my focuses on that.I have no doubt that Canadians and entrepreneurs will be tremendously innovative in finding ways to create positive economic benefits from the legalization and control of marijuana, but our focus is on protecting kids and protecting our streets.Trudeau made these remarks in response to a conference participant who said that "Canada could be to cannabis as France is to wine." These enthusiastic predictions about the burgeoning marijuana industry — billions of dollars in revenue and taxes, thousands of jobs created -- should be familiar to anyone who's followed efforts to legalize pot here in the United States.But Trudeau's argument for legalization is concerned less with creating benefits, and more with reducing harms. He starts from the same place that many legalization opponents start from — concern for the safety of children.Opponents of legalization have always argued that relaxing marijuana laws will inevitably lead to increased use among teens and adolescents. This would obviously be a problem, because younger users are more at risk for marijuana dependency than adults, and heavy use among teens has been linked to a whole host of social and mental health problems.But Trudeau points to an easy-to-overlook fact: It's already incredibly easy for teenagers to get high if they want to. In 2015, for instance, nearly 80 percent of U.S. 12th-graders said it would be easy for them to obtain marijuana. It's clear, in other words, that current policies centered on making the drug completely illegal are doing little to keep it out of the hands of kids who want to use it.Trudeau argues that taking pot out of the black market and putting it under the aegis of a regulatory structure will actually make it harder for kids — those most susceptible to the drug's harms — to obtain it. We don't really know yet if that's the case. Legalization experiments in Colorado and elsewhere are still too young to draw sweeping conclusions about the effects of legalization on teen use and access.That said, the early data is encouraging. A recent study published in Lancet Psychiatry found that the over the past decade or so — as 13 states passed medical-marijuana laws, 10 states relaxed penalties for marijuana use, and Colorado and Washington became the first states to fully legalize recreational pot use — not only have national teen marijuana use rates declined, but problems associated with teen marijuana use, like dependency, have fallen too.Beyond that, the latest federal data shows no significant year-over-year change in marijuana use among teens in Colorado and Washington in the year after marijuana became legal there.Experts say none of this is particularly surprising. "Most of the legal changes have pertained only to those 21 and over, so the absence of a big increase in teens is exactly what you’d expect," Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University told me late last year.In short, it may be the case that marijuana legalization will have a much smaller impact on teen use rates than once feared. This doesn't mean that legalization doesn't bring risks of its own, however. If marijuana is more widely available, more people will use it, and a certain percent of them will develop a dependency on the drug. And another subset of users will end up doing incredibly stupid or dangerous things while high.But the question is weighing these very real risks of harm against the harms that are already occurring because of prohibition. Marijuana prohibition ruins lives — lives of the hundreds of thousands of people arrested for possessing the drug each year, or the lives of thousands of people put behind bars for years on account of simple marijuana possession, or the lives of people living in the communities wracked by violence when rival drug gangs fight over turf and put innocents in the crossfire.Trudeau is saying that this current approach isn't working, and that people legitimately concerned over the harms of the drug trade should consider a radically different approach. So far, the evidence is backing him up.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Christopher IngrahamPublished: June 10, 2016Copyright: 2016 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 

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Comment #7 posted by FoM on July 01, 2016 at 15:36:01 PT

Happy Canada Day! Yes I heard Obama's speech and I heard Parliament cheer 4 more years! I loved it! I am going to miss the whole Obama family.

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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on July 01, 2016 at 07:17:19 PT

Happy Canada - US Long Weekend, Friends
Canada Day today (Friday)American Independence Day (Monday)Bookends. Enjoy our blessings & freedoms. But keep on trucking and stand up for your rights!
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on June 30, 2016 at 21:43:32 PT

FoM - OT
Did you hear Obama's speech to the Canadian Parliament? At one point he quipped that Michelle refers to his hair now as "the Great White North." (from 14:54 to 14:57) at: JUNE 29, 2016.
President Obama Address to Canadian Parliament. President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed members of the Canadian Parliament
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on June 12, 2016 at 09:51:27 PT

developing brains
btw if they want to protect "developing brains" where are they on television watching, flame retardents, plasticizers, air and water pollution, toxic pesticides banned around the world except here, etc.

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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on June 12, 2016 at 09:49:38 PT

another tact
I'm starting to think the best response to ANY anti-cannabis propaganda or talking point is: african-americans are arrested for marijuana 4 times the rates of whites, despite equal rates of usage and selling.The media loves to glamorize african-american heroes like Muhammad Ali and Prince but when it comes to rounding up their people for jail they start talking about the gateway effect and developing brains.

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Comment #2 posted by Hope on June 12, 2016 at 08:32:08 PT

And thanks, Christopher Ingraham for seeing it.
All this struggle against injustice and lunacy hasn't been about getting something. It's been and still is about stopping something.
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on June 10, 2016 at 11:44:19 PT

Yes, thanks Justin for 'getting it'
Now implement it ASAP.Why does this have to take years?The politicians have created this vacuum and now they are not in a hurry to fix their own shortcomings.
Legalize it all!
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