Print Edition: July 17, 2013
What would happen if we treated and policed marijuana like alcohol? Would it reduce gang violence and open up police resources to more important crimes than gardening? Wouldn’t it make sense?
Alcohol is worse than pot. It makes people more violent and more likely to get behind the wheel of a car when intoxicated – not to mention that it’s incredibly addictive. Nicotine is another deadly and incredibly addictive drug. Yet, I strongly believe people should have the right to use those substances if they make an informed decision to do so. So, something seems wrong to me when our police force is spending huge amounts of money trying to find hidden gardens (“grow ops”) being used to cultivate a relatively harmless plant – one that many sick people use as **medicine. It really bothers me that otherwise innocent people are in jail because of marijuana possession charges. Frankly, in a world where we understand how incredibly important something like InSite is, the fact that pot is illegal is just dumb.
That’s why—even though I’m not a big fan of any drugs—I intend to volunteer my time collecting signatures for Sensible BC, an organization aimed at bringing BC a marijuana referendum. If the referendum passes, simple possession of cannabis would no longer be a crime, and police resources would be diverted to more important tasks. And don’t worry, minors in possession of cannabis would be treated the same as minors with alcohol. It’s a plan that would keep a lot of innocent people out of jail.
But to even bring about a referendum, Sensible BC needs to collect signatures from 10 per cent of the voting population of each political riding in BC – over 400,000 between September and November this year. I think it’s worth the effort.
People that want to ingest (or inhale the smoke of) a plant in private, who do so responsibly and without harming anyone else shouldn’t have to rely on gangs and illegal growing operations in order to do so. Not only that, think about how many fewer dollars would go into the hands of drug dealers, traffickers and gangs if there were legal means for people to get it. Gangs aren’t making a lot of money off of alcohol these days. It doesn’t take a gun to protect your home brewery these days because we realized that prohibition didn’t work – it only fuelled an illegal, violent era of powerful gangsters.
I’m not one of those people claiming that weed is going to cure cancer or that the drug is some gift left to us by aliens or anything like that. In fact, even if you believe marijuana to be harmful, to make it easier to experiment with other drugs, or to be otherwise immoral, I encourage you to support the Sensible Policing Act this fall. Because, just like alcohol and cigarettes, we need to let people make informed choices for their own bodies. If we’re worried for people and want to help them, we need to treat them like mature adults. We need to give them the best, most accurate information we have, and we need to be prepared to offer them support if they need it. Beyond that, people need to be allowed to make choices for themselves.
We need to stop pretending that we can police and jail drug use out of our culture. It’s the wrong strategy, and we need to start heading down the path towards a better approach – and Sensible BC is the right first step.