Monday, 27 August 2012

Thoughts on Pot

Lately, I have taken to posting semi-regularly comments on my local newspaper's website www.princegeorgecitizen.com.  The paper itself is neither here nor there in terms of quality, but their website provides one of the only existing forums where one can express themselves in regards to local issues.  Often, the commenting area becomes a "left vs right" debate and I am not one to shy away from such a practice.  Earlier today, while reading commentary on an article titled "Grow-op leads to house arrest", I came across an anti-marijuana diatribe that was rife with inaccuracies and fear-mongering.  Feeling compelled to reply I composed a lengthy response that I would like to cross post here.  To be fair I will post the article link complete with the comments I responded to from user: "h0nneybadgr".



http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/article/20120823/PRINCEGEORGE0101/308239978/-1/princegeorge0101/grow-op-leads-to-house-arrest


I appreciate the time and effort you put into your post, although it feels that you copy and pasted it's contents from an essay you wrote years ago.  You provided us with 9 paragraphs and 1 source from 2002, so I will take this as an opinion piece and as such will respond in kind. 

Your first paragraph belongs in a stand up comedy routine, not in a debate about marijuana legalization.  Illegal organizations make their money in illegal ways, hence the reason they are called "illegal".  The production of marijuana is a very profitable endeavour for these groups for a number of reasons.  The profit margins are artificially high due to the illegality of the product.  Of course, illegal means fear in some of the public, which makes the product more difficult to obtain.  At the same time, penalties when caught are still reasonably low, so the risk is not high when weighed against the profitability.  With the new laws the Conservatives have established, there is little difference in jail time between a high volume producer and a small time user of marijuana, so it makes sense for the criminal organizations to find a place at the top of the food chain so to speak.  If marijuana use and production was legal, these organizations either wouldn't bother being involved or would be just one of many groups growing to distribute.  When legalized, the price of a product comes down, this is basic economics.  Demand will not increase, as there are very few people who would like use marijuana but don't due to it's legal status.  It would be nice for all users if they had access to the product in a safe friendly environment where they didn't have to interact with criminal organizations.  Take out the illegal aspect, and the marijuana industry is just that, an industry, and a very large one at that bringing in $4 billion dollars in revenue annually.  The price would likely be reduced if legalized, but take a minute to imagine the tax revenue that would be created. (Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com...

Next, you delve in to the classic idea that all drug users steal to get their next "fix".  Those that simply use marijuana and not anything harder will likely not need to steal for their habit as the cost is relatively low.  A heavy marijuana user may spend $400 a month, the approximate cost of 2 ounces in today's market.  Notice, that this cost is similar to the amount spent by a pack a day cigarette smoker.  Why are we not accusing cigarette smokers of stealing for their "fix"?  Drinking, even casually can easily cost someone $100 a weekend or $400 in a month.  Again, are we to assume that they are also stealing for their "fix"?  Those who are stealing for their "fix" are likely dealing with much bigger issues then marijuana use, and to argue that their problems were brought on by marijuana is laughable. 

You seem to fear an increase in people being "high on the job" if marijuana were indeed legalized.  Explain to me why this concern would be any different if the legal status of the substance changed.  Legalizing marijuana use would not impact the current laws in place in regards to "driving under the influence".  There are numerous people in professional situations who use marijuana, and many others who chose to abstain while working and partake only in their own private time.  To that end, there has been little, if any scientific proof that marijuana use makes one a dangerous driver. (Source: http://norml.org/library/item/...

This just keeps getting better.  You really go for the gold medal with your paragraph about "marijuana induced psychosis".  No sources or references in sight, one can only assume you pulled this one out of a Ronald Regan era fear mongering ad, or you just made it up off the top of your head.  This line has to be considered the true gem of your entire diatribe: "The cost of policing (not the drug but the behavioural impacts), the cost of care, the loss in productivity, and the socio-dynamic impact on people’s lives and the lives of their family is astronomical."  You are claiming a link between criminal activity and marijuana use.  Has their been instances where criminal acts occurred solely because the perpetrator was high on marijuana?  In a state of "marijuana induced psychosis" I suppose this is possible.  What to make of the studies that show marijuana having positive effects on brain function among schizophrenia?  One study even found that "Patients with a history of cannabis use were found to have superior neuropsychological functioning." (Source: http://www.opposingviews.com/i...
 
At this point I will rest my case.  I am not out to sway the opinion of people like yourself as I doubt I would have any success.  I find it insulting when numerous inaccuracies are put out in the public domain with so few sources to back them up.  Your opinion is just that, your opinion.  I appreciate that you were able to brace yourself for "hateful messages from those who either failed to read the whole thing, or are completely indoctrinated and unable to see both sides of the argument."  I hope I didn't come across as hateful as that was not my intention.  It was your piece and a few others that inspired me to respond.  The characterization of all marijuana users as lazy, uninspired, underemployed members of society left me annoyed and inspired to counter your arguments.  If you would like further assistance in getting over your stereotypical beliefs on marijuana users I can introduce you to numerous people who are at the same time professional, hard-working, well educated, friendly, and supportive of friends and family both financially and emotionally.  You may think you don't know anyone who fits the above description, but there are likely people in your life that are exactly that: functioning, contributing members of society who's life doesn't come to a grinding halt just because they use marijuana for one of many different reasons.

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