Volume 97, Issue 2
Thursday, May 29, 2003

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EDITORIAL
It's one small step for man

The federal government's decision to decriminalize simple possession of small quantities of marijuana has created quite a stir across the country.

Opposition members, law enforcement officials and even members of the federal Liberal Party caucus have expressed concern, opposition and even outrage. Some are suggesting pot leads to the use of harder drugs, but the only "scientific" evidence of that is found in the United States' War on Drugs commercials.

Other critics of the plan claim it will lead to increased use, especially among children and teenagers. The only problem with that argument is that even under current laws it is easier for a minor to get their hands on cannabis than it is for them to get a beer. Anyone who wants to smoke dope will smoke dope and the current law hasn't been able to do much about it.

And although experts seem divided as to exactly how bad smoking weed is for your health, the health risks can be no greater than smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol – both of which can be legally consumed.

So what's the big deal?

Part of the criticism aimed at the Canadian government stems from the fact the U.S. government won't be too pleased with decriminalization. However, there are several states in the U.S. that have already implemented the same type of legislation, which means these fears don't have much merit. Besides, marijuana is a domestic issue, one Canada should decide for itself. It shouldn't be up to the U.S. to dictate domestic policy for us.

For the most part, the critics are looking at pot as a moral issue. Drugs are evil – virtually everyone in Western civilization has been taught that since they were old enough to talk. But again, pondering the legal sale of tobacco and alcohol should force one to at least consider the blatant hypocrisy.

Ideally, the government should not have a say in anyone's personal lives, be it how one thinks, acts or does unto him or herself. If someone wants to get stoned, let them. As long as they don't happen to be heading towards you on a road while they're behind the wheel of a car, what do you care?

The legislation will not suddenly transform Canada into a pothead's haven, as appealing as that may be to many '60s hippies. Even though some of the more extreme critics of this reform envision the country becoming overwhelmed with crime and depravity, common sense suggests that won't happen.

In the process it will eliminate the grueling and life-altering consequences many have been forced to face due to an innocent experimentation with marijuana. How many parents can speak of days of yonder when they smoked a joint?

In a country that has so much useless bureaucracy and government interference, it's about time the Liberals took a stance and moved one minor step away from dominion over the individual Canadian.

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2002 THE GAZETTE