Pot Prohibition is No Longer an Option

Pot Prohibition is No Longer an Option
Posted by FoM on August 05, 2001 at 07:55:44 PT
By Deborah Jones, Vancouver Sun
Source: Vancouver Sun
The last time I smoked pot, it befuddled my brain. I was, oh, maybe 16 and it was the 1970s. Smoking marijuana was expected of teens, and I tried to like it. Instead, after six or so attempts, I gave up. I treasure clarity of mind too much to deliberately muddle it. Clarity remains elusive when it comes to pot. As of this week, federal regulations allow people who are extremely sick to grow, buy and smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons; the catch is, they need to obtain a physician's approval. This is wacky. 
Not only is the efficacy of pot as medicine scientifically unproven, but Ottawa has imposed on doctors the ridiculous role of policing a controversial substance that politicians lack the guts to deal with. The new regulations, which Health Minister Allan Rock announced in April and which came into effect July 30, are less about medicine than about the kerfuffle over decriminalization of pot. The fact that marijuana is now legal for medical use has nothing to do with its touted ability to relieve pain, depression or nausea. It has everything to do with realpolitik. In that respect, marijuana and tobacco have much in common. It's politically impossible to outlaw cigarettes. Although the adverse effects of tobacco are legion, too many people either want tobacco or can't help being addicted to it. Banning tobacco would be draconian in a democracy. It would also drive the substance underground, where it would spawn its own culture, black market and associated criminal activity -- just as pot has. Some people may chide me for comparing the two, but smoking cigarettes and marijuana are related. Both may be considered vices. Both have positive and adverse impacts on health. Medical research on marijuana is in its relatively early stages, but it's long been thought to alleviate pain and nausea. On the other hand, a recent U.S. study reported that the risk of heart attacks in middle-aged pot-smokers jumps five times in the first hour after they inhale. Furthermore, a 1998 paper by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse said marijuana can harm the respiratory system, physical coordination, fetal development and memory. The negatives of cigarette smoking are well known, and though you have to search long and hard for positives, cigarette smoking has been linked by researchers with a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease. If marijuana becomes legal, eventually it will also be found to be like tobacco in that regulators will tear out their hair over it. As an illicit drug, the social and health problems associated with pot have been underground and ignored or unknown. When marijuana emerges as a mainstream substance, it will cause the kind of problems we're now seeing with cigarettes, from worries about second-hand smoke to the health of smokers. In addition, we'll fret about road safety with drivers on pot out and about. They're already out there, but we have few ways of spotting them or measuring their ability to drive. As you've probably guessed, I don't personally like marijuana, although I have no objection to its use by responsible adults. I do know we have to find an intelligent way of dealing with its prevalence. An estimated 1.5 million Canadians smoke the stuff, and an estimated 600,000 Canadians have acquired criminal records from using it and being caught since it was made illegal in 1923, although police in B.C. are now relatively lenient. There is a groundswell of support for changing how we deal with marijuana; you need only look at the relative success of the B.C. Marijuana Party, which captured 3.5 per cent of the vote in the last provincial election with just one issue (decriminalization). A Gallup poll last March that suggested 76 per cent of British Columbians think possession of small amounts of pot should not be a crime. Rock's measures to allow marijuana for medical purposes came about because of court challenges. Now that he's gone this far, he should regulate pot rather than leaving it in the realm of crime. I don't support this without reservation; I think decriminalizing pot will cause its own set of problems. As researchers find scientifically-sound evidence that marijuana can alleviate certain health problems, they'll also likely bolster emerging evidence that it's harmful. But if THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is indeed found to be a medical miracle, researchers will develop more accurate and less harmful ways to deliver it than by lighting reefers and inhaling smoke. We'll start to figure out how to deliver it and will no doubt in time develop harm-reduction programs for people who over-indulge (they'd as likely over-indulge with an different drug, say alcohol). For now, I don't see any way out of the marijuana controversy other than to decriminalize it. Given its popularity, and our widespread public acceptance of it, marijuana is in the same league as tobacco -- a substance freighted with problems, but for which so many people are clamouring, it's become impossible to prohibit. Complete Title: Pot's Fraught with Perils, But Prohibition is No Longer an OptionDeborah Jones is a member of The Vancouver Sun Editorial Board. Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)Author: Deborah Jones, Vancouver SunPublished: Saturday, August 4, 2001Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2001Website: sunletters pacpress.southam.caRelated Articles & Web Sites:B.C. Marijuana Party Links for Discussion on Easing Drug Laws 'Open' To Legal Marijuana Articles - Canada 
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Comment #4 posted by R.Earing on August 06, 2001 at 08:24:27 PT:
I'm a Canadian Green
Toker00-I'm a Canadian Green party member.Our policy is far more developed than that speech.Free med mj with doctors note.Cultivation to be legalized.posession,trafficking also legalized.adoption of harm reduction plans.Diversion and rehab VS. criminal sanctions.Note:EVERY HOUSE on Vancouver island has a greenhouse.If only 10% were growing MJ,it would be a done deal,the cops couldn't keep up,even if all they did was raid grows.My estimate:far more than 10% ARE growing.
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Comment #3 posted by lookinside on August 05, 2001 at 12:21:56 PT:
seems like...
this is an open minded and balanced view of the a sane society, people should be able to make their ownchoices concerning their behavior, as long as that behaviordoes no harm to others...
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Comment #2 posted by Doug on August 05, 2001 at 12:17:59 PT
One thing they never point out
As an illicit drug, the social and health problems associated with pot have been underground and ignored or unknown. When marijuana emerges as a mainstream substance, it will cause the kind of problems we're now seeing with cigarettes, from worries about second-hand smoke to the health of smokers. But marijuana has been one of the most studied "drugs" around, and almost all of the research has been to show negative effects. It's not like they haven't tried to show its harmfulness. But other than studies that can never be duplicated, this has not been terribly easy.They also don't point out that the harmful and addictive qualties of tobacco have been know for a long time. King James I of England in the early 1600's wrote a essay about the harmful effects of tobacco, and sailors of that time would carry tobacco seeds with them so they would have some plants wherever they made landfall saince they were so addicted.So both of these drugs, with their good and bad points, have been well know. Just because the author of this article doesn't know them doesn't mean they are not already known.
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Comment #1 posted by Toker00 on August 05, 2001 at 09:32:31 PT
I wish SHE was a choice for political office...
Some third party needs to incorporate this article into their campaign speeches. Any GREENS reading?Uncommon common sense.Peace. Realize, then Legalize.
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