The Push For Legalized Pot Just Dopey

Dec 10, 2011

What is it about Van­cou­ver and its deter­mi­na­tion to make pot smok­ing a reg­u­lar activ­ity, like drink­ing cof­fee? This is a city where con­struc­tion work­ers are occa­sion­ally seen stand­ing in cir­cles, shar­ing a morn­ing toke. Noth­ing like get­ting ripped before set­ting to work on a dan­ger­ous build­ing site. Such as the one two blocks from the office tower where I work. But hey, it’s just grass. Just ask the four for­mer Van­cou­ver may­ors who waded into mat­ters well beyond any local juris­dic­tion, pen­ning an open let­ter last month that demanded the end of mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion in Canada. The four describe the pro­hi­bi­tion as a failed pol­icy, which is fair, but they don’t stop there. “Politi­cians of all stripes – not just at the fed­eral level – must respond before fur­ther dam­age is done to our B.C. com­mu­ni­ties,” declared Mike Har­court, Philip Owen, Larry Camp­bell and Sam Sul­li­van. What dam­age, one must ask? The may­ors weren’t talk­ing about phys­i­cal and men­tal health, which would seem para­mount; in their let­ter, they gave it barely a men­tion. They know as well as any­one that pot advo­cates are reluc­tant to admit the plain truth when defend­ing their right to harm them­selves and to encour­age oth­ers to fol­low. The facts are: Cannabis prod­ucts are laden with harm­ful chem­i­cals; mar­i­juana smoke con­tains car­cino­gens and dam­ages res­pi­ra­tory sys­tems; con­sump­tion impairs cog­ni­tive func­tions, espe­cially among youth, who are sus­cep­ti­ble to more seri­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal effects than adults. What­ever. Last week, sit­ting Mayor Gre­gor Robert­son chipped in with a tweet: “Good to see 4 Van­cou­ver ex-mayors call­ing for end of cannabis pro­hi­bi­tion. I agree, we need to be smart and tax/ reg­u­late.” Tax and reg­u­late. It’s the pro­posed panacea to a “mas­sive ille­gal mar­ket” that “dri­ves vio­lence in com­mu­ni­ties through­out our province,” accord­ing to the four for­mer may­ors. To be sure, the mar­i­juana trade is wide­spread and grow­ing, not just in B.C. but across Canada. It attracts orga­nized crime, just as the pro­hi­bi­tion of alco­hol early in the last cen­tury did. It also attracts mom-and-pop grow­ers who sup­ply their neigh­bours and friends. A key flaw in the legal­iza­tion and reg­u­la­tion argu­ment, what pro­po­nents such as the four ex-mayors and Mr. Robert­son ignore, is the assump­tion that under­ground mar­kets would just dis­ap­pear. In fact, they would con­tinue to thrive. Pot smok­ers would search for tax-free prod­ucts, just as they do cig­a­rettes, and they would find them quite eas­ily. Many, if not most, would choose potency and price over purity, which is how such mar­kets always work. “A reg­u­lated mar­ket would enable gov­ern­ments to improve com­mu­nity health and safety,” the ex-mayors claim. No expla­na­tion given. And how, exactly, would reg­u­la­tion pro­ceed? Let’s assume that like alco­hol, mar­i­juana would be grown by licensed sup­pli­ers, to be pack­aged and sold in government-run shops. What prof­its would a tightly con­trolled, union-staffed, gov­ern­ment retail monop­oly actu­ally pro­duce? Would gov­ern­ments pro­mote mar­i­juana use, the way they pro­mote liquor and gam­bling? How long before lob­by­ists push for retail pri­va­ti­za­tion? What about long-term health and pro­duc­tiv­ity effects? Have those been punched into any cost-benefit analy­sis? We should assume that under legal­iza­tion, cannabis con­sump­tion would increase among adults as well as youth. So would rates of work-related intox­i­ca­tion, and cer­tainly impaired dri­ving. This raises another ques­tion: Should legal con­sump­tion lim­its be enforced? Would a bus dri­ver be free to smoke a joint – or three, or five – before or dur­ing his shift? How could any­one detect if he had? Mar­i­juana and other cannabis prod­ucts aren’t going away. Nei­ther is orga­nized crime, nor small grow-ops. But blithely pass­ing off that soci­ety would ben­e­fit from state-sanctioned cannabis prod­ucts is just irre­spon­si­ble. The group of four – and Mayor Robert­son – would do bet­ter to remind peo­ple of proven dan­gers asso­ci­ated with the con­sump­tion of pot. Source: National Post (Canada) Copy­right: 2011 Can­west Pub­lish­ing Inc. Web­site: http://​www​.nation​al​post​.com/ Author: Brian Hutchinson

c1583aa3a9822330.jpg 150x112 The Push For Legalized Pot Just Dopey

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The Push For Legal­ized Pot Just Dopey

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