Tag Archives: marijuana

Up, up and away

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Cautioning prudence to investors desperate to cash in on the next, big thing is not much different than spitting into the wind. For reasons that should seem obvious, you are bound to regret it.

As it happens, the Cassandras of the financial world are few and far between whenever the market smells red meat in the air. Are we now heading into this mortally treacherous territory thanks to the impending legalization of pot for recreational use in Canada?

Last week, Moncton’s OrganiGram, a medical marijuana producer, confirmed plans to build out its production capacity to 26,000 kilograms of the stuff (about 9,000 kg more than its current output) annually. Meanwhile, according to a report in this newspaper, the company has “made some new friends in high places. Trailer Park Boys, the hit Canadian comedy TV show, will be collaborating with the cannabis company on an exclusive strain of marijuana as soon as it becomes legalized.”

Said OrganiGram’s chief commercial officer, Ray Gracewood: “We need to be strategic about the opportunities that will be afforded to us with the advent of recreational use in Canada. Brands will play a key role within the cannabis market space, and we’re devoting the thought leadership and developing our strategy well in advance of these expected changes to ensure we’re prepared.”

Elsewhere, despite their mindful-sounding public statements, the industry’s “thought leaders” are licking their chops without actually knowing how the shape of their emerging business will solidify.

According to a piece in Cantech Letter, “Already setting new record highs for months, shares of Canadian marijuana stocks have reached lofty new territories after California voted to legalize marijuana. On Tuesday, (November 9) while many were mulling the shocking surge to the White House by Donald Trump, the state of California passed Proposition 64, which will allow residents 21 years and older to buy and possess up to one ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes and to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The new measure will create an environment for state-licensed businesses to set up retail marijuana sales. With a proposed 15 per cent sales tax, the state is expected to take in an added $1 billion in tax revenue from legalization.”

Indeed, as the CTV reported last week, “Shares in Canopy Growth Corporation (based in Smith Falls, Ontario) saw its value hit $17.86, double its level from a week earlier, before falling again. The total value of the company’s stocks briefly hit $2 billion, twice what it was a few days before. Stock in Aurora Cannabis, based in Alberta, jumped to $3.95, up from around $2 a week earlier.

Mettrum Health Corp. also saw its trading stopped twice, while Supreme Pharmaceuticals Inc. and OrganiGram Holdings Inc. had their trading stopped once each.”

All of this feels vaguely familiar. Enthusiasm for the “new” and the “exciting” is a permanent feature of market capitalism. As with virtually everything within the realm of human volition, it produces both good and ill effects. On the one hand, ventures obtain access to badly needed capital for expansion and product innovation. On the other hand, too much hot blood can generate bubbles, which have a nasty habit of bursting when you least expect.

The age of legal “Mary-Jane” in New Brunswick is about to dawn. That’s great, as far as it goes. We could use the business boost in this province. But let’s not forget that all industries take time to mature. We want them to survive and thrive, despite the fickle headwinds that conspire to knock them down, cold and stoned.

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N.B. keeps growing higher

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As if to prove that this picture-perfect province takes a back seat to no other jurisdiction in Canada for sheer, gutsy innovation, the man in charge of New Brunswick’s liquor commission seriously wonders whether you’d like a joint with that bottle of brandy you’re buying.

I can only imagine how that conversation would transpire in the checkout line of my local, neighbourhood magasin d’alcool.

Clerk: “I see that you like a fine cognac. I’m wondering if I could interest you a high-quality Indica or Sativa to go with that drink?

Me: “Huh?”

Clerk: “Well, you are obviously a man of distinction and taste. A good, smooth spliff is the perfect complement to distilled wine. Might I suggest our latest point-of-purchase offerings?”

Me: “Can I have my receipt?”

Clerk: “Of course, sir, but before you go, allow me to educate you about the lovely qualities of our cannabis products. . .As you can see from the display, we have ‘White Widow’, ‘Big Bud’, and ‘Bubblegum’. . .all of which are supremely smooth and go very well with soft French cheeses. . .Then, of course, we have the specialty brands, ‘Ice’, ‘Northern Lights’, and ‘Purple Power’”.

Me: “No thanks. Again, can I have my receipt?”

Clerk: “Certainly, sir. . .uuuummm. . .would you like it pencil or crayon. I’m always about the customer service.”

According to an exclusive scored by Brunswick News reporter Adam Huras, “The president and CEO of NB Liquor has quietly been heading research by liquor boards from across the country to prepare for the sale, distribution and regulation of marijuana, now that the federal government is moving toward legalization. Despite the New Brunswick government remaining relatively silent on how it could handle the sale of pot. . .Brian Harriman currently leads talks on the impacts of the impending federal move.”

Well, at least someone is leading something in New Brunswick.

As for weed?

I’ve never liked it much. The last time I ‘inhaled’, I ran screaming from a party, convinced that a seven-foot clown wanted to be my ‘best friend’. (On the other hand, that could have been the brandy talking in my ear).

Still, I have to hand it to Mr. Harriman and his friends. Sales of stock beer and table wine are down in New Brunswick even as purchases of specialty liquors are up – everything from botanical gin to absinthe. Give the boys and girls at N.B. Liquor their props for getting ahead of the curve.

As for their provincial bosses. . .well. . .not so much. At least, not yet.

“We’re kind of in a bit of a wait-and-see mode,” New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau told the Saint John Telegraph-Journal late last year. “It’s the responsibility of the federal government to kind of make the first move, if you will. I would say all provincial provinces are probably looking at when they do make that move, what would be the next steps for the provinces. It’s a discussion that is starting to occur in anticipation of what’s coming.”

And why not? Some estimates suggest that a regulated, legal pot market would be worth billions of dollars a year to provincial coffers. A fraction of that sum might just offset the cost of caring for ailing tobacco smokers (who indulge in a far more deleterious habit than do recreational users of marijuana).

On the other hand, should N.B. Liquor pioneer this customer innovation, it will have to spend a few dimes reproducing its in-store posters:

“Nice mustache, but if you don’t look 30 years old, no spliff for you.”

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One columnist’s excellent adventure

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I always knew I left the employ of the Globe and Mail too soon. Now, I have real evidence that my failure to become a national columnist of weight, gravitas and fulsome wordiness has robbed me of the opportunity to obtain contact highs in the rocky mountains of Colorado.

There, we find the Globe’s Margaret Wente, provocateur-cum-commentator extraordinaire, hanging with some producers of perfectly legal pot, (“In the Weeds”, May 16, 2015).

God, what an assignment!

Give a Russian sailor a bottle of vodka, a credit card and tell him that downtown Halifax in the springtime is his for the plundering, and. . .well, that’s just about the only circumstance that beats what dear, old MW recently encountered in Denver, which is, by the way, “magical at dawn.”

I’ll bet it is, but do go own Ms. Wente: “Along the western horizon, the snow-capped mountains are bathed in pink from the glow of the rising sun. The sky is turning purest blue. The air is crisp and clear, and you can see forever. What a great place to get stoned.”

She goes on (and on, and on, and on. . .hey, is that my hand in front of my face, or just another snow-capped mountain?): “In Colorado, recreational marijuana was legalized on Jan. 1, 2014. Denver now has more pot stores than it has Starbucks. Anyone over the age of 21 can walk into a store and choose from hundreds of varieties of flowers, nibbles, marijuana-infused drinks, oils, ointments and pain patches, as well as a growing array of wax and other supercharged hard-core products. There’s even a sex lube for women, which promises to deliver the most mind-blowing experience of your life.”

Okay. . .too much information even for the stoners among us. Still, I get her point. She’s having fun “researching” this business. More power to her.

Except, of course, until recently, Ms. Wente belonged to a strident cohort of Canadian commentators who adamantly refused to accept the logic propounded by sociologists, psychologists, several important lawmakers (both former and current) and almost every cop who ever ran a beat.

For years, they have insisted that decriminalizing marijuana, regulating it as a controlled substance, would save millions of dollars in tax-funded law-enforcement costs and just about as many kids from underserved, breathtakingly damaging incarceration courtesy of the state.

Here’s what The Times of Israel (no friend of progressive social policies) said just the other day: “Signalling a possible shift in attitude towards the recreational use of marijuana, police chief Yohanan Danino called for the government to reassess its current policies in light of growing calls from lawmakers and the public against prohibition of the drug.”

Reported the Times: “Speaking to high school students in Beit Shemesh, Danino told them they will be ‘surprised to hear’ current police policy on cannabis. ‘More and more citizens are demanding marijuana use be permitted,’ he said. ‘I think it’s time for the police, along with the state, to reevaluate its traditional position.’”

So do I. And so, now, does Ms. Wente. Sort of.

“I inhale. . .gingerly,” she writes. “After two or three draws, my cough subsides and I feel relaxed and happy. My entire body seems lighter. The effect is like three or four glasses of chardonnay, but without the heavy, woozy feel. It’s nothing like the stoned sensation I remember, when all I wanted to do was curl up into a fetal position and eat jelly doughnuts.”

Then, she heads home to Toronto, to the waiting arms of her husband who, without a bag of pot at the ready, presumably kisses her on the cheek.

Now, that’s a contact high worth keeping.

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One columnist’s excellent adventure

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I always knew I left the employ of the Globe and Mail too soon. Now, I have real evidence that my failure to become a national columnist of weight, gravitas and fulsome wordiness has robbed me of the opportunity to obtain contact highs in the rocky mountains of Colorado.

There, we find the Globe’s Margaret Wente, provocateur-cum-commentator extraordinaire, hanging with some producers of perfectly legal pot, (“In the Weeds”, May 16, 2015).

God, what an assignment!

Give a Russian sailor a bottle of vodka, a credit card and tell him that downtown Halifax in the springtime is his for the plundering, and. . .well, that’s just about the only circumstance that beats what dear, old MW recently encountered in Denver, which is, by the way, “magical at dawn.”

I’ll bet it is, but do go own Ms. Wente: “Along the western horizon, the snow-capped mountains are bathed in pink from the glow of the rising sun. The sky is turning purest blue. The air is crisp and clear, and you can see forever. What a great place to get stoned.”

She goes on (and on, and on, and on. . .hey, is that my hand in front of my face, or just another snow-capped mountain?): “In Colorado, recreational marijuana was legalized on Jan. 1, 2014. Denver now has more pot stores than it has Starbucks. Anyone over the age of 21 can walk into a store and choose from hundreds of varieties of flowers, nibbles, marijuana-infused drinks, oils, ointments and pain patches, as well as a growing array of wax and other supercharged hard-core products. There’s even a sex lube for women, which promises to deliver the most mind-blowing experience of your life.”

Okay. . .too much information even for the stoners in our midst. Still, I get her point. She’s having fun “researching” this business. More power to her.

Except, of course, until recently, Ms. Wente belonged to a strident cohort of Canadian commentators who adamantly refused to accept the logic propounded by sociologists, psychologists, several important lawmakers (both former and current) and almost every cop who ever ran a beat.

For years, they have insisted that decriminalizing marijuana, regulating it as a controlled substance, would save millions of dollars in tax-funded law-enforcement costs and just about as many kids from underserved, breathtakingly damaging incarceration courtesy of the state.

Here’s what The Times of Israel said just the other day: “Signalling a possible shift in attitude towards the recreational use of marijuana, police chief Yohanan Danino called for the government to reassess its current policies in light of growing calls from lawmakers and the public against prohibition of the drug.”

Reported the Times: “Speaking to high school students in Beit Shemesh, Danino told them they will be ‘surprised to hear’ current police policy on cannabis. ‘More and more citizens are demanding marijuana use be permitted,’ he said. ‘I think it’s time for the police, along with the state, to reevaluate its traditional position.’”

So do I. And so, now, does Ms. Wente. Sort of.

“I inhale. . .gingerly,” she writes. “After two or three draws, my cough subsides and I feel relaxed and happy. My entire body seems lighter. The effect is like three or four glasses of chardonnay, but without the heavy, woozy feel. It’s nothing like the stoned sensation I remember, when all I wanted to do was curl up into a fetal position and eat jelly doughnuts.”

Then, she heads home to Toronto, presumably to the waiting arms of her husband who, without a bag of pot at the ready, kisses her on the cheek.

Now, that’s a contact high.

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When all reason goes to pot

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Every so often, we Canadians elect governments that love to sweat the small stuff – especially when it’s wrapped in the big stuff

We, for example, appoint people to protect our environment only to recognize later that their version of preservation conforms to an arcane section of the legal code that says something like, “Earth is good; complete harvesting of the top soil, water table and everything in between is gooder.”

You know, it’s the small stuff, the fine print, that counts.

What’s presently “gooder” to the federal government involves a minor tweak in its official policy towards marijuana. Now, according to Justice Minster Peter MacKay, it may be okay to smoke up as long as you have the bucks to pay the. . .well, piper.

“Criminal Code offences would still be available to police, but we would look at options that would give police the ability, much like the treatment of open liquor, that would allow the police to ticket those type of offences,” he told Ottawa reporters the other day. “We have not arrived on the exact mechanism in which that could be done. . .We’re examining it. It’s not decriminalization. It’s not legalization.”

In fact, it’s not anything, really, except another attempt to avoid isolating certain individuals at the margin of a certain political base (people who still think, somehow, that the so-called “War on Drugs” remains a worthy, socially redeeming exercise) with an ideological salve paid for by the rest of us.

The actual experts on this subject generally demur to the proposition that the billions of dollars governments in Canada and the United States have spent fighting the so-called drug war over the past 30-or-more years has been a large-scale success.

According to the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy last year, its “researchers reviewed two decades of global drug surveillance data, finding that the supply of major illegal drugs has increased, as measured through a decline in the price, while there has been a corresponding general increase in the purity of illegal drugs.”

This prompted the Centre’s Scientific Chair Dr. Evan Wood (a co-author of the study) to declare: “These findings add to the growing body of evidence that the war on drugs has failed. We should look to implement policies that place community health and safety at the forefront of our efforts, and consider drug use a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. With the recognition that efforts to reduce drug supply are unlikely to be successful, there is a clear need to scale up addiction treatment and other strategies that can effectively reduce drug-related harm.”

Indeed, no less notable a figure than Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil and Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, concurred when he stated: “In response to a study like this, policymakers often say ‘drugs are harmful so they must be kept illegal’. What they fail to consider is, as this and other research suggests, that drugs are more harmful – to society, individuals, and the taxpayer – precisely because they are illegal. Some European countries have taken steps to decriminalize various drugs, and these types of policies should be explored in Latin and North America as well.”

Of course, marijuana is nowhere near comparable to the hard drugs that have preoccupied sound-bite-driven politicians for years. And, in this context, some Liberals may be tempted to consider the Government of Canada’s apparent softening on pot possession and use as a step in the right direction. After all, a ticket and a fine is better than jail time. This misses the point.

As long as non-medical marijuana remains technically illegal, public policy will remain firmly fixed to enforcement models that cost money and, plainly, don’t work. Besides, the simple act of holding a certain quantity of grass is not, in any reasonable person’s judgement, morally equivalent to speeding or driving around with open bottles of alcohol.

This government should emulate other North American jurisdictions, where legislators have stopped sweating the small stuff and started embracing the big picture of a new, legal, regulated, and tax-revenue-generating recreational industry.

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Pot’s “cool” factor is fading fast

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Never to be outdone – especially not by a Liberal usurper to the parliamentary throne – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (how is that guy even alive?) now professes to have smoked pot. Whereas Justin Trudeau confirms that he has sucked back on a spliff maybe six times in his life (yeah, right), Hog Town’s burgemeister giggles, “Oh yeah, I won’t deny . . .I smoked a lot of it.”

Given his performance in office, that particular admission is not likely to cheer those who insist that marijuana does not impair one’s judgement. Still, he does appear to be in good company.

Ever since Mr. Trudeau’s calculated announcement this month, elected officials from all points on the political spectrum have been fairly tripping over themselves to cash in on this newest “cool” factor in Canadian politics.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says smoking pot is among the “personal decisions that people make. I’m not going to weight in on a decision of another politician or individual.” As for her own “personal decisions,” she adds, “I have smoked marijuana, but not for the last 35 years. . .and certainly not since my children were born. It has never been a big part of my life.”

Liberal MP Wayne Easter says, “Yes I tried it once about probably 40, 45 years ago now and once what enough for me.”

His colleague Sean Casey explains, “I did as a teenager, I tried it couple of times. I didn’t like it, I was never a smoker and I hacked and coughed so much it didn’t do anything for me, quite frankly.”

Meanwhile, Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay sounds almost ashamed when he admits “I have never smoked marijuana. . .Well I guess down in Magel it was hard to find. I didn’t know much about it back then.”

It’s the same species of answer that Nova Scotia Liberal Leader, Stephen McNeil, gives when he says he, too, is a virgin to weed: “It probably has something to do with a mother who was a sheriff and five brothers who are law enforcement officers.”

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak was actually out front on this issue back in 2011 when he volunteered, “I was a normal kid, I had a normal upbringing, a normal life in university. I experimented from time to time with marijuana. In other words, it was nothing to write home about in the “grand scheme of things.”

At around that time, U.S. President Barack Obama cracked up the Washington press corps when, in response to a question about whether he ever inhaled, he declared: “Frequently. . .That was the point.”

As a Wikipedia entry points out, “Prior to prohibition, U.S. politicians known for growing cannabis include some of the nation’s Founding Fathers and Presidents.” There’s Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and James Madison. There’s also Franklin Pierce, Zachary Taylor and George Washington.

More recently, since pot’s interdiction, a virtual bevy of prominent baby boomers have admitted to using the stuff, including Bill Clinton, Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

All of which raises the question: How cool can something be if everyone is (or was) doing it?

I was roundly considered a nerd in high school in large part because I refused to  toke up. I wish I could say this was one of my principled stands. The truth is I didn’t like the smell, though I didn’t (still don’t) begrudge anyone else’s decision to partake.

The legal alcohol I consume actually makes me more of an outlier (if not an especially cool one) than the marijuana some of my friends and associates smoke. I’m edgy and dangerous, flirting with disaster. In contrast, they’re all too bloody normal, even, dare I say, conformist.

Rob Ford – who has been lambasted in the press for his alleged appearance in a video with drug dealers and his infamous declaration, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine” – wonders why all these politicians “are all coming out” regarding their use of marijuana. It is, he seems to suggest, no big deal.

For once, he’s dead right.

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The high times of Justin Trudeau

Death in Dhaka...600 and counting

Politically, at least, it appears federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau can smoke pot and chew gum at the same time.

His admission last week that he partook in a celebratory exchange of herb at a party with friends three years ago generated not much more than polite applause among most Canadians, who care more about their mounting household debt than the recreational indiscretions of their elected officials.

The CBC’s “Community Blog” members seemed only too willing to forgive.

“So he’s human! It makes him even more likeable,” one posted.

Declared another: “And he’s honest. It raises him in my esteem, and I’m not even a Liberal.”

Added another: “I will vote for Trudeau on this alone. . .don’t decriminalize it, legalize, regulate and tax it. And I don’t even smoke weed. It makes sense.”

Indeed, one observed, “Name me one politician who hasn’t? Seriously, does this have to be an issue? I think issues such as honesty are a lot more important.”

In contrast (naturally) the federal Conservatives reacted less sanguinely to Mr. Trudeau’s confession. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the wayward fellow’s actions “speak for themselves”. Justice Minister Peter MacKay insisted the Grit honcho exhibited a “a profound lack of judgment. . .By flouting the laws of Canada while holding elected office, he shows he is a poor example for all Canadians, particularly young ones. Justin Trudeau is simply not the kind of leader our country needs.”

But if they were trying to have a field day at Mr. Trudeau’s expense, they soon recognized that few in the media or, indeed, the public at large were willing to play that particular game. In fact, this is becoming a pattern – as heartening to Liberal brand masters as it is worrying to their opposite numbers in the Tory encampment.

Justin Trudeau is gaining momentum as fast as Stephen Harper is losing it. Oddly, parliamentary prorogation helps the former far more than it does the latter. Although the prime minister may enjoy a short break from Question Period, his Grit rival is free to pontificate at length on social and economic justice issues about which, increasingly, Canadians care. What’s more, in sending his messages, Mr. Trudeau is using major and social media to marvelous effect.

Last week, he came out first and forcefully on the subject of Quebec’s decision to curtail expressions of religious affiliation among public servants in that province.  “I have enormous concerns about the limits that would be imposed on people, on their religion and on their freedom of expression,” he told reporters following a consultation with Premier Pauline Marois. “I don’t think it’s who we are and I don’t think it honours us to have a government that does not represent our generosity and openness of spirit.”

Online reaction to his remarks was swift and broadly supportive, if not uniformly for their contents then unanimously for their candor.

“Slowly but very deliberately Mr. Trudeau is showing Canadians that he is a different kind of of political animal,” one reader posted to the Globe and Mail’s website. “He is offering a potentially refreshing choice and is starting to prove that he is not afraid to run the risk of taking positions that may not appeal to everyone.”

Another pointedly observed, “I think it’s absolutely hilarious that after taxpayers have spent a lot of money paying for Mr. Harper’s strategically planned Arctic dog-and-pony show, he’s been bumped off the stage by Mr. Trudeau. Substance (no pun intended) prevails over photo-ops.”

This week, Mr. Trudeau launched another salvo into the hull of the Conservative dreadnaught by stating that the much-vaunted economic recovery, for which the Harper government adores taking credit, is unequal and, therefore, unfair to many middle-class Canadians. Speaking for himself (but clearly with his leader’s sanction, Liberal finance critic Scott Brison told The Globe’s Jane Taber, “The economic recovery has left behind a lot of middle-class Canadian families. Young Canadians and their middle-class families are facing real challenges, near-record levels of personal debt, some of the worst job numbers in decades.”

About which one commentator, representatively, posted, “Looks like we have a young leader who is getting better and better as he goes along. I’ll take that over Harper and his Band of Bucketheads any day.”

All of which suggests that Mr. Trudeau is riding high and in more ways than one.

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Common sense up in smoke?

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Those who argue that marijuana should be legalized, though tightly regulated, because the prohibitions against its use don’t work are only half-right. It all depends on one’s definition of the word, “work”.

If we acknowledge that the law contorts the evidence that cannabis is safer than either tobacco or alcohol, that it succeeds in making criminals out of otherwise peaceable citizens, that it reinforces crusty stereotypes about shiftless stoners, and that it costs Canada’s judicial system millions of dollars a year that could be spent in more productive ways, then we must also acknowledge that the law works marvelously well to utterly ill effect.

Just ask any cop.

This week, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) passed a resolution that would give officers the discretion to levy fines for simple holding (pending, of course, federal approval).

The text of the ruling reads, in part, “The CACP believes it is necessary to expand the range of enforcement options available to law enforcement personnel in order to more effectively and efficiently address the unlawful possession of cannabis. The current process of sending all possession of cannabis cases pursuant to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to criminal court is placing a significant burden on the entire Justice System from an economic and resource utilization perspective.”

According to CACP President Chief Constable Jim Chu in the accompanying news release, “It must be recognized. . .that under the current legislation the only enforcement option for police, when confronted with possession of cannabis, is either to turn a blind eye or lay charges. The latter ensues a lengthy and difficult process which, if proven guilty, results in a criminal conviction and criminal record.”

The Association stops short of calling for decriminalization. (In fact, it goes out of its way to support the legal status quo). Nevertheless, its declaration reflects what is increasingly becoming mainstream opinion about the drug in law enforcement, medical and even political arenas.

“As four former attorneys-general of British Columbia, we were the province’s chief prosecutors and held responsibility for overseeing the criminal justice system,” Ujjal Dosanjh, Colin Gabelmann, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant wrote in a commentary for The Globe and Mail earlier this year. “We know the burden imposed on B.C.’s policing and justice system by the enforcement of marijuana prohibition and the role that prohibition itself plays in driving organized crime.”

Indeed, they added, “Under marijuana prohibition, violent criminals are provided a protected market that enables them to target our youth and grow rich while vast resources are directed to ineffective law enforcement tactics. Meanwhile, Canada’s criminal justice system is overextended and in desperate need of repair.”

The solution, they insisted, is to regulate the “cannabis market”, which could, they claim, “provide government with billions of dollars in tax and licensing revenues over the next five years. These dollars are in addition to the enormous cost savings that could accrue from ending the futile cat and mouse game between marijuana users and the police.”

None of which would matter one iota if marijuana were the resident force of social evil that conservative ideologues claim. But the preponderance of evidence is, at best, inconclusive. Several recent studies have suggested correlations between mental illness in young people and cannabis use. Others conclude that the more likely causes of psychological disease are genetic and socio-economic, and that it is virtually impossible to select these factors out of the equation.

As long as the law prohibits marijuana use, we, as responsible citizens, are obliged to obey. Certainly, legal channels should never, under any circumstances, facilitate the drug’s availability to minors.

But in a responsive democracy, laws that confound common sense and good governance must be questioned. Especially when they work exceedingly well to achieve everything except that for which they are intended.

It’s not for nothing, perhaps, that health authorities in both Canada and the United States – where weed is also broadly illegal – report that pot smoking is up by several orders of magnitude since the turn of the decade.

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