It is high time – pun intended – that Canadians, and specifically Conservatives, re-examine their position on the legality of marijuana in this country. It is very easy to brush off the message of legalizing or at least decriminalizing marijuana when it comes from the wrong crowd. Once you look past the fringe elements that make up the marijuana activists in this country, the overall benefits that legalizing the drug could have for Canada, in many ways, outweigh the negatives. The Conservative Party under Prime-Minister Harper have made it quite clear that they will not touch the law banning marijuana in this country, making it the only party in Parliament with such a stance. In fact, the laws have been stiffened with the Safe Streets & Communities Act, intended to “establish mandatory minimum penalties” for the following offences:
The law also states: “the maximum sentence for production of marijuana would be increased from 7 to 14 years.”
Just this past week, Ontario’s top court upheld the ban, in a case that would have seen medicinal marijuana more readily available to people who want/need it. As the law stands now, the only way one would be able to obtain marijuana for medical use is by obtaining a prescription from a doctor, and that’s if you can find a doctor willing enough to prescribe it to you. Heck, even Queen Victoria used cannabis to relieve her menstrual cramps; which would make her a criminal in most of the modern world, including Canada, albeit with a lack of enforcement.
As the only party currently in Parliament that opposes legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana and with Liberal leadership candidates, like Justin Trudeau now openly reaching out to youth by saying he agrees that marijuana should be legalized, the Conservatives need to take a good look at themselves and ask each other, if they could get rid of a “costly and inefficient” long-gun registry, why not get rid of a very costly and totally useless law banning marijuana in this country. If it is a question of morality, it is very understandable that we do not want to be encouraging youth to smoke marijuana; however, as human nature goes, youth will forever rebel against authority and older generations, and consuming marijuana is one undeniable example of dissent. The quandary that then arises however is if we do legalize marijuana, then youth will potentially move onto to harder and more dangerous drugs.
In addition, the law banning marijuana has absolutely no effect whatsoever on the easy access and availability of the drug. Hypothetically, if I wanted pot, all I would need to do is ask a couple of guys sitting around me in class, and I’d probably be leaving with some. The law only empowers gangsters and criminal entities, not only within Canada, but throughout all of the Americas. Legalizing the drug would instead take the cash out of the pockets of thugs and into the coffers of the state. Governments constantly whine about a lack of revenue and very little wiggle room to cut taxes, yet they have this cash crop sitting right under their noses. Police forces would no longer have to deal with and waste their resources on people simply smoking. Prisons would also be less cramped of essentially innocent people who would probably be leaving prison with a wealth of new knowledge on how to do bad things (Take Conrad Black’s word for it.)
It is important to remember that cigarettes used to be seen as “cool”. Today, it is for the most part seen as a character flaw. Marijuana will arguably end up with the same fate. At the very least, if people do decide to take up smoking cigarettes, the taxes are so high on the product that the ensuing healthcare costs should be covered by all the indirect taxes they've paid throughout their smoking life. And despite hard-core pot enthusiasts and Twitter accounts like @UberFacts repeatedly “informing” the public that marijuana is not bad for your health, or that it does not lower IQ, I at least am still skeptical of the resulting health consequences. Therefore, if marijuana were to be taxed, at least the future healthcare costs of their hypothetical disorder would be covered.
For the record, I am in no way condoning the consumption of marijuana, however I do recognize that it ultimately is a lifestyle choice for many people, and if this government truly does want to be seen as a friend of the free-market and champion of small government, they could easily (with the use of smart marketing) spin this and make a major political move that could spur dividends. Not to mention, it would pull the rug from under the opposition’s feet.