Tag Archives: pot

Opportunity or Catastrophe? Weighing in on the Upcoming Legalization of Pot in Canada

Legalizing recreational marijuana was part of Justin Trudeau’s election campaign platform, but it wasn’t something many people took seriously. What with the common mistrust of politicians and the opposition of the very powerful Hell’s Angels gang, who stand to lose a lot of revenue if pot becomes legal, it was hard to take Trudeau’s proposition seriously.

That’s why I was surprised to hear that the Federal Health Minister had announced plans to legalize marijuana by 2017. CBC’s recent episode of Cross Country Checkup gave Canadians an opportunity to respond with a few of their thoughts on the new legislation. Many of the callers brought some great points to my attention, some of which I’ve touched on below. However, it was apparent that some callers were still buying into weed propaganda, from exaggerated health benefits to exaggerated threats. For this post I decided to pull together a few of the best arguments I’ve heard from both camps and try to find at least a little research to support their claims.

Pros of Legalization

1. Legalization could reduce an unnecessary drain on police resources

Cannabis related offences are the most common type of drug offence in Canada, especially here in British Columbia.

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Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

According to Stats Canada, “in 2012, 43% of Canadians reported that they had used marijuana at some time in their lives, and 12% reported using it in the past year”. That means half of all Canadians could have been charged with possession at one time or another. Although in some places police will turn a blind eye to mere pot possession, there are still a significant number of cases reported by police. CBC explains that 

there were 57,314 marijuana possession-related “incidents” reported by police nationwide, according to Statistics Canada. More than 24,540 people were charged as a result. The year before that, 25,819 Canadians faced charges.

What’s disconcerting about this grey area of crime is that police can often use their discretion when it comes to actually prosecuting an offence. According to a recent CBC News analysis, where you live can affect if you will be charged. They report that “you’re almost 23 times more likely to face a possession charge in Kelowna, B.C., than in St. John’s.”

Marijuana use is so widespread that it is taking a massive amount of police resources to even pursue pot users. According to a report last year, “police report a pot possession incident every 9 minutes in Canada”. Inevitably, chasing down the almost endless amount of pot users and dealers takes police away from pursuing other criminal activity. Continue reading

Devalue System

A week ago, Malik Richmond and Trent Mays, two high schoolers accused in a widely publicized rape case, were found guilty and sentenced…

to two years in juvenile detention.

Now there’s no rant I can write which is going to effectively communicate just how psychotic it is that Richmond and Mays received minimum sentencing, so I’m going to forgo any attempt and jump right into a list of crimes receiving harsher penalties.

Sale of Marijuana in Amounts Under 50 Kgs: 5 years.

Larceny in Excess of $3,500: Up to 10 years.

Mail Fraud: Up to 20 years.

Heck, Aaron Schwartz, an MIT student and internet activist who downloaded thousands of academic papers from JSTOR, was sentenced to 35 years in prison, in addition to a million dollar fine (Schwartz tragically killed himself in January of this year). Is what Schwatz did seventeen times more heinous than rape and dissemination of child pornography?

I don’t think so either.

And I don’t think people like Patricia Spottedcrow should be given twelve-year sentences for selling a dime bag of weed while someone who commits domestic violence may receive a maximum (in Nevada) penalty of 180 days in jail.

But I’m not hear to rail on our demented and irredeemably corrupt legal system.

I’m hear to talk about our values as a whole.

Back in 2011, during the teacher’s union strikes in Wisconsin, a complaint I heard a lot was “That teacher makes more than I do, has better benefits, and wants more money? That’s just greedy!” or “I saw that teacher driving around in a <insert fancy car here>!”

Now I honestly don’t know where these figures were pulled from; I have yet to see a wealthy teacher, let alone one who drives to and from work in a 1965 Chevy Impala, but that’s not really the point.

I do get being ticked off at people demanding more money when there aren’t enough hours in the day to spend all that they already have. Believe me, that resonates.

But if that’s the case, then where’s all the righteous indignation during the NBA lockout in 2011? No matter which way you slice it, those players were making millions, and pretty much shut down the NBA for half a year because they felt they weren’t making enough.

Now I’m not trying to pass judgment one way or the other, partly because I don’t know enough about the politics of the sport, and partly (mostly) because I think everyone involved makes and obscene amount to begin with.

So do actors, for that matter.

I frankly don’t see why actors should be paid millions to act as teachers in the ghetto while real teachers in the ghetto wouldn’t make that kind of money if they worked until their deaths. The same goes for doctors, civil rights lawyers, independent journalists, and so on. Pay an actor $5,000,000 to pretend to be a teacher, and everyone’s fine with it. Pay a real teacher $50,000 and the world is apparently coming to an end.

A professional footballer makes about $2,000,000 a year. Y’know how much a grocery store clerk makes? $28,000 (if we’re going ridiculously high). And you’d best believe my life is impacted more by any grocery clerk than anyone catching/kicking/hitting a ball for a living.

Now all this is to say we need to step back and take a hard look at our value system. What do we really consider to be a terrible crime? Is selling weed or beating your spouse senseless a more awful crime than rape? Is the work done by actors really so much more valuable than that done by teachers and nonprofit works *cough*? And even get me started on our military budget and the perks we give our politicians.

Again, I’m not here to pass judgment (not until tomorrow, anyways). I’m here to simply present the facts before you. Do you think we’ve got our priorities in order?