EDITORIAL: Pot discussion sorely needed

An Ontario court ruling last month should be seen as an attempt to advance the discussion about public policy on medical marijuana.

The ruling, out of a constitutional challenge, determined that the federal regulations forcing patients to go through medical doctors to access medical marijuana, made obtaining it unfairly onerous.

The court, which in essence echoed what many medical marijuana advocates have been saying for years, gave the government 90 days to fix the regulations with new legislation.

Instead, Ottawa quickly appealed the ruling, which ironically came in the midst of a federal election campaign that eventually saw a right-wing majority government elected.

This is the same Tory government that has for years touted an expensive and misguided ‘tough on crime’ agenda, based largely on inflated and factually challenged statistics, that includes mandatory minimum jail sentences for people caught in possession of a few joints.

Although the Ontario ruling deals specifically with medical access to marijuana, the issue is intrinsically tied to the criminalization/decriminalization issue.

Regardless of where Canadians stand on medical marijuana and the decriminalization of pot in general, this latest round of legal wrangling should reinvigorate the discussion, both in the legal and general public realms, about where we as a country stand on pot.

It’s widely agreed that the prohibitionist ‘war on drugs’ is an astronomically expensive failure, at least as it relates to marijuana.

What’s most needed now is a frank and intelligent conversation about where to go next. The Ontario ruling must be seen as the opening remark.

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