Pot 'already tolerated' despite political talk

Leo Knight, 24 hours

So, the annual gabfest at the Union of BC Municipalities resolved to work for the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana. Well, in the annals of historic futility, that motion may compete for top spot. Drug policy is federal jurisdiction and potholes and playgrounds are the purview of the elected officials and petty bureaucrats of the UBCM.

But the motion did get the talking heads going. On weekend talk radio, yet another lawyer and so-called 'expert,' trotted out the usual arguments to legalize marijuana starting with: It will deal a body blow to organized crime. A specious, but often-repeated argument.

First off, let me say I don't give a fig about marijuana, legalized or not. I have no skin in the game. But if the discussion is to be had, and it seems more and more that we must, can we at least stick to salient facts?

Organized crime, in all its guises, makes money off the marijuana trade. A lot of it. But so also do groups like the Hells Angels make money from hashish, cocaine, meth, ecstasy, steroids and even Viagra. And the mafia, in all its regional permutations, is squarely behind most of the heroin and cocaine sold in Canada and has been for decades. The bikers and good fellas also make money from pimping, people trafficking, extortion, gambling, loan-sharking, fraud and good old-fashioned stealing.

How exactly then is legalizing one illicit product going to do away with organized crime?

Here's another, if you and a pal spend Sunday afternoon on Kits Beach with a bottle of wine and police see you, you will lose your wine and get a ticket for public consumption of alcohol.

If the following Sunday you return with a few joints, spark up a fatty, and the police see you, they will likely as not ignore you. And if they engage, the worst that will happen is they seize the remainder of your pot. Marijuana is already tolerated for the most part.

Most people who use, begin smoking marijuana as a teenager. But, hang on, we as a society, don't allow teens to smoke cigarettes. Would the legalizers ban them from one smoke but not another? Of course not. So, about that black-market elimination then?

Legalizing — or its poor cousin, de-criminalizing — marijuana is not as cut and dried as many seem to think. Too many of the arguments for it go up in smoke.



Do you think pot should be legalized?

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