Marijuana debate continues to go up in smoke

"When the Union of B.C. Municipalities voted to support the motion to decriminalize marijuana it was a case of more bark than bite."

When the Union of B.C. Municipalities voted to support the motion to decriminalize marijuana at its recent convention it was a case of more bark than bite.

Harper and his servants in Ottawa will never entertain that idea because the war on drugs has become its own little industry.

They can build more prisons and install all kinds of gadgets at border crossings. They can spy, search, wiretap and harass anyone they want in the name of the war on drugs. They can label anyone who would consider an honest discussion on marijuana as a “pothead.”

Our Premier Christy Clark won’t go near the issue with a 10-foot polling station. She’ll wait until she’s out of politics to really say how she feels.

And while many politicians at the UBCM had valid points concerning crime and addiction in their communities, the sad thing is some of the comments coming from elected officials shines a light on the ignorance that will always hamper any serious discussion on the matter.

As one Okanagan councillor, Tom Siddon, pointed out marijuana is a gateway to worse things and decriminalizing it would lead to people using cocaine, heroin and any other hard drugs they can get their hands on.

It’s amazing in this day and age that people such as Siddon, who by the way was part of Brian Mulroney’s corrupt gang on Parliament Hill, refused to accept that same argument against other vices in our society.

There’s no denying that over-use of any drug, legal and non-legal, can lead to something worse. But you could make that case with most things including gambling, fast cars and, of course, alcohol.

Alcohol can lead to dependency, which causes chaos at home and work, broken families and abused children. And we haven’t even begun to talk about the affects on health and the danger it causes on our highways.

So is Siddon implying alcohol abuse doesn’t lead to worse things? Or is he just singing an old tune pushed by old ideas.

Recently a member of the B.C. legislature and former police officer also began calling for the legalization of marijuana.

Of course it should be noted that Liberal MLA Kash Heed won’t be seeking re-election so it begs to wonder why he’s speaking up now that he’s not going to stay in politics.

Lots of former MPs, MLAs, attorney generals and police chiefs support decriminalization but rarely do we hear from someone in an actual position to make a change.

Once again the fear of backlash outweighs common sense and open debate.

That came to light last week when another example of the backwards thinking towards marijuana sprung up south of the border, not surprisingly in the Southern U.S.

The battle over a measure to legalize medical marijuana has once again been hijacked by fanatics.

An Associated Press story said The Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values, which unsuccessfully sued to try and get the medical marijuana proposal off the November ballot, said it paid about $1,000 for airtime to run a 30-second spot opposing the measure. The ad at one point shows a black actor sitting at a table with guns and filling bags with marijuana.

“The grass-growers and dope dealers would be in charge,” the narrator says in the ad. “Arkansas doesn’t need a state filled with stoned-out zombies, or the criminal activities that come from legalizing controlled substances.”

This is what sensible conversation on legalization of marijuana or the use of marijuana for medical purposes is up against.

A recent Trail Times online poll showed 60 per cent of respondents were in favour of decriminalization. So the issue appears to have public backing.

One just has to look across the line to Washington State. On its November election ballot is Initiative 502. If it passes it would legalize small amounts of marijuana-related products for adults. It would generate tax and the revenue would be earmarked for health care.

It takes the decision making out of the hands of agenda-pushing, preaching politicians and puts it in the hands of the people with the common sense – the citizens.

Obviously there are both sides of the debate but in the end the question will decided by voters.

Unfortunately we’re not that forward thinking in Canada.

As long as there are myopic politicians and outlandish responses to legitimate claims, any changes won’t be seen here until the smoke clears and the true facts on the issue are discussed by reasonable-thinking people.

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