I have two big fears about the impending (Oct. 17) legalization of marijuana:
Fear # 1
That somebody you or I love will get in a car being driven by someone who is stoned to the bone, and as a result something tragic and terrible will happen due to the driver being under the influence of the “legal drug”. When the driver is prosecuted, and I am assuming that it will be illegal to drive a car if you are under the influence of marijuana, their guilt will not be provable in court because there is no measurement known to us that can detect a marijuana user’s condition at the time. They can only detect that marijuana is in your system where it remains for up to three months if you are a regular user, which I am sure many more Canadians are about to become. The problem is that you can only detect the drug. The detector cannot prove in a court of law that the detectee is, or was, under the influence of the drug at the time the tragic event occurred.
The police say they have tests to determine if a person is under the influence, but that (to my knowledge) has not been proven in court. It may only prove that the guy didn’t have a good lawyer. Sadly, we live in a time where a person is not expected to tell the truth in court. Deny, deny, deny is the tactic. They have to prove you were under the influence, and therein lies the problem.
I think a lot of people are going to go through a lot of pain and suffering if there is no legally determinable way to be sure that anyone who does such a thing, faces a consequence that would make doing it not worth the doing.
A little backstory before we get to fear # 2
I have long been suspicious of the ethics and general purity of heart of government decision-making regarding things like drugs, gambling and other “vices.” Back in 1906, Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier was involved in just such a decision concerning the legalization of Tobacco in Canada.
From a book called: Smoke and Mirrors, I quote:
“In 1903, the House of Commons approved - by 103 to 48 on a free vote - a remarkable resolution supporting an outright ban on cigarettes. The resolution, introduced by Montreal Member of Parliament Rober Bickerdike, read as follows:
‘That the object of good government is to promote the general welfare of the people by a careful encouragement and protection of whatever makes for the public good: and by equally careful discouragement and suppression of whatever tends to the public disadvantage. Thus, the smoking of cigarettes has been proved by overwhelming testimony to be productive of serious physical and moral injury to young people: impairing health, arresting development and, weakening intellectual power and thus constituting a social and national evil.
That licensing and restricting the sale of cigarettes has not proven sufficient to prevent these evils, which will continue while the public sale of the course of the mischief is permitted to go on.
That this House is of the opinion - for the reasons hereinbefore set forth - that the right and effectual legislative remedy for these evils is to be found in the enactment and enforcement of a law prohibiting the importation, manufacture and sale of cigarettes.’”
Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier was one of the 48 who voted against that resolution, although he would have supported legislation prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors. “Laurier was of the opinion that smoking was injurious to boys but not to adults.”
It is interesting to note that heroin, cocaine and marijuana were then legally sold all over Canada and the USA at drugstores - as health-tonics of course since it would not have been very smart to advertise it as a fun way to get all ****ed up. Yet our government at the time, correctly I believe, considered tobacco to be the most lethally dangerous of them all. So even though the bill to ban tobacco was passed by Parliament, Sir Wilfred let it sit on his desk until Parliament was disbanded on a non-confidence vote and the bill went into the trash basket. Now why do you think he would do that? Did he really and truly believe that tobacco wasn’t really that dangerous?
Tobacco currently kills 100 people every day in Canada. Do the math all the way back to 1906 and I’ll bet you have - at least - a million adult Canadians who have died because of Sir Wilfred’s decision to “believe” that tobacco was bad for kids but okay for adults.
I have often thought that maybe somebody got to him but I can’t prove it. Still… I would love to know how much money the tobacco industry contributed to Sir Wilfred’s successful 1904 re-election after he put that bill in the trash basket.
One of the big reasons tobacco was such a big deal after 1904 was that it had the benefit of being legal not just to sell, but to market, to advertise and to promote. Taxation also greased the wheels as tobacco ultimately became a ten million dollar per day cash cow for the various levels of government in Canada. The marketing effort was based on making tobacco look cool to kids who learned how to smoke not because it is a “cool” thing to do. Young people learned to do it because they saw cool people doing it, most of them paid to do it.
And that’s exactly what I am afraid will happen with pot.
Every month or so the government owned LCBO delivers to every Ontario mailbox and inserts in all the newspapers a beautiful, full colour multi-page brochure called “Vintages” which glorifies the use of wine and liquor to every Canadian and ultimately to our kids.
How much do you want to bet they’ll ultimately be doing the same thing for pot?
Fear # 2
When marijuana is declared legal and big business gets legally involved by going into business with the government, there will be billions spent marketing the product.
Saint Justin would do well to keep in mind that even though Sir Wilfred is thought by many to this day to be one of “the greatest Canadians”, right up there with Sir Donald Cherry, Sir Wilfred still made mistakes. This particular one was denying the dangers, (due to his own “personal” opinion that tobacco was not dangerous for adults), thereby setting up millions of young Canadians for a lifetime of addiction and an early, painful death from a dangerous, yet extremely profitable corporate and taxed drug. Even though Justin, along with many other Canadians believe in their heart of hearts that legalization of marijuana is a good thing, the right thing to do, they might be wrong. At the very least, they may be opening the door for some terrible un-intended consequences. Sir Wilfred didn’t think he was wrong... but I think he was.
Folks, we are playing with fire here. We are opening a door we can never close and it’s our kids who are going to get burned. If we want to be well-remembered by those who come after us, we’ve got to quit screwing around with the future of our kids for the sake of a few bucks today. We can’t be saying, “Hey man, it’s not about the money, it’s about the principal,” because, “Hey man… it’s all about the money.” Just ask the folks at Shopper’s Drug Mart where they are going to have their marijuana section. They’re ready to cash in. So are a lot of people.
Now that’s just my opinion... but just like Justin Trudeau, I might be wrong.