It is almost impossible to find a valid argument for our laws prohibiting marijuana use. While it may not be the healthiest substance on the face of the earth, there is no evidence that it is nearly as harmful as tobacco or alcohol, which are not only legal but a major source of income for the government, via taxes.
Our freedom of choice is seriously hampered by the law that makes marijuana possession a criminal offense. The drug does not kill. Users pose no threat to society. Unlike many who consume alcohol to excess, marijuana users do not get violent or aggressive when they smoke too much. They are more likely to fall asleep. Unlike tobacco and alcohol, marijuana is not addictive. It may have a negative impact on motivation and short term memory – but that’s hardly a valid reason for making possession, use or even cultivation a criminal offense. We allow people to legally engage in all sorts of activities known to be life-threatening, so why do we treat people who use a drug that harms absolutely no one, except – MAYBE – themselves, as criminals?
One of the most vehement arguments against legalizing marijuana is that it is a “gateway drug.” If we smoke marijuana, some say, we are much more likely to start using other, more dangerous and addictive drugs like ecstasy, LSD, cocaine and heroin. The thousands of regular marijuana users in this country would, I think, strenuously argue the contrary. However, it is true that people who become addicted to more dangerous drugs often begin by experimenting with marijuana. Since marijuana is illegal, the only way to procure it (unless one has a medical reason for use) is through drug dealers. And yes, drug dealers often have more in their arsenals than just marijuana. So because marijuana is illegal, people who want to purchase it are exposed to criminals who may tempt them into trying other drugs. If it were legal, there would be no gateway issue. People could buy marijuana at controlled outlets and would not need to have any contact with dealers.
Right now the government spends money hunting down and incarcerating people who are harming no one. Even those who sell marijuana are not harming anyone; they are simply meeting a well-established need. The police waste time searching out grow-ops and picking up people who are high. The courts get jammed up with cases, our prisons overcrowded. It’s ludicrous.
If marijuana were legal, no one would suffer. It could be sold as a controlled substance, which might actually reduce the number of young people using the drug. The police and our courts could devote their energies to dealing with criminals who steal, abuse, terrorize or kill others. The government could tax marijuana and use the income to help Canadians.
Some would say that just because we have legalized other dangerous substances, that’s no reason to legalize another one that might be harmful. This argument has some merit, but only if we believe the government should make health and lifestyle choices for us. And if that is the case, the government should immediately ban tobacco and alcohol use, bungy-jumping, snowmobiling and a long list of other activities that are known to have risks. Otherwise we’re being hypocritical. Either the government should dictate what people are allowed to do in their own time or they should stay out of our personal business as long as our choices do not hurt others. I very much hope that no one in this country wants the government interfering in our personal lives.
Given that Canadians pride themselves on championing individual rights and freedoms, it’s ridiculous that our government has not legalized marijuana.