CORY GRIOAT — The Sputnik (Wilfrid Laurier University)
BRANTFORD (CUP) — It’s about time we bought some munchies, put on some light tunes and legalized marijuana in Canada.
To be quite honest, I don’t see why it isn’t yet. I’ve never personally smoked or otherwise ingested marijuana, but I’m still firm in my belief that it should be decriminalized and legalized. Maybe with the confession that Justin Trudeau has smoked it while in office will help others see just how harmless it can be when dealt with properly. Maybe by the time I’m his age, this article will be moot — maybe even by the time I’m done university.
We’re in big time debt as a country. According to debtclock.ca, a wonderful website that helps figure out a rough image of a country’s federal debt, we’re at about $17,500 in the red per person. Keep in mind we have 34 million people in Canada. We may not be as bad as other countries but do the math — we’re majorly in the hole.
Now, I’m not saying that national legalization of pot will solve our financial problems, but it would do a lot to aid in it. In Ontario, according to a smoker’s rights advocacy group, Ontario cigarette prices (for a carton of 200) was around $30.35 in 2003. That’s crazy enough, but then you figure out that a whopping $20.66 of that price is from the multiple taxes from the provincial or federal governments.
The taxes alone on legalized marijuana could easily be a multimillion-dollar industry if sold the same way we’ve been distributing alcohol and cigarettes for decades. It has the potential to be an amazing financial move.
Marijuana is not lethal, meaning you will not die as a direct result of smoking or otherwise ingesting pot. I’d say it becomes a pretty reliable fact when under the heading “Healthy Canadians” on the Government of Canada website it clearly states the non-lethality of it right under the many short-term effects (spontaneous laughter among them) and above the list of long-term effects.
I noticed something on the page dedicated to tobacco that quite frankly pissed me off. The effects of tobacco aren’t listed — that is, not unless you scroll down to the bottom of the page and find a separate link directing you there. Once you read and compare, you see that tobacco effects are in fact much worse.
Don’t get me wrong, marijuana can be bad. It can lead to, as our government website tells us: impaired short-term memory, psychosis, mild paranoia, anxiety or panic in the short-term.
In the long-term, you could experience enhanced chances of schizophrenia, breathing problems or cognitive impairment. Now, on that hidden tobacco page? Smokers can experience problems with their heart and blood vessels, certain types of cancers, lung and respiratory problems, menstrual problems, fertility problems, premature delivery, having a low birth weight baby, erectile dysfunction and premature death. I don’t smoke tobacco either but if I had to choose between a cigarette and a joint, based on what my own government is telling me, I know what I’d be grabbing.
Time for a fun fact. When same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, straight people were not forced to marry someone of the same sex. After abortion became legal in Canada, our nation still had numerous women giving birth. Odd, isn’t it? Tobacco is legal, but I’ve never smoked in my life. Alcohol is legal and, guess what, many people still don’t drink.
The thing that ties all of these together? Controversial laws that only become applicable if you actually marry someone of your own sex, have an abortion or drink alcohol.
If pot was legal, you wouldn’t have to smoke it if you didn’t want to, as with alcohol or tobacco. Nobody can force you into doing something you simply aren’t interested in doing.
But if pot was legal and you did decide to smoke up, you would naturally have to follow laws related to it, just as with alcohol or tobacco.
Of course, it probably wouldn’t be a perfect system. Many would abuse it and we’d probably still have illegal dealers — especially because that’s how everyone gets their pot currently. There may also be issues with underage users, but that already happens with smoking and booze.
If pot were legalized, laws should be enforced stating that only certain businesses could sell it and to individuals of certain age groups. If consuming the drug in one way or another, there should be limits enforced on what you can do for a certain time afterwards, echoing the laws in place regarding drinking and driving. Laws about marijuana should also be created that pertain to using the drug in overly public places, once again relating to the laws and standards of alcohol usage.
I could list a hundred other arguments why I think it should be legal. I don’t use it now and, if and when it’s eventually legal, I still won’t. It’s just something that doesn’t personally appeal to me.
But from the eyes of someone who doesn’t use marijuana, I still think it’s well past the time to legalize it. Just ask Justin.
Graphic: Cody Schumacher/Graphics Editor