GUEST COMMENT: Marijuana prohibition a bizarre, expensive approach

I wonder if Prime Minister Stephen Harper enjoys the occasional beer or scotch and soda while unwinding from a long day in politics.

By Christopher Foulds

 

“To alcohol — the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems!”

– Homer Simpson

 

I wonder if Prime Minister Stephen Harper enjoys the occasional beer or scotch and soda while unwinding from a long day in politics.

I wonder if Harper enjoys a glass of wine as he works on the passion that is his book on the history of hockey.

I wonder this now because we are weeks away from stronger Conservative-created laws that will create criminals out of ordinary people while making real criminals all the richer.

Bill C-10 has passed in the House of Commons and needs only Senate approval to become law. The fact the Conservatives control the Senate – thanks to the prime minister stacking the upper chamber, despite promising not to – means the omnibus crime bill will become law in the new year.

Dan Albas, the Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, penned an opinion piece that ran last week in our sister paper, the Merritt Herald.

While Albas pointed to welcome mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes – including sexual assault of a child and involvement in child pornography – he glossed over aspects of the bill that are simply ludicrous.

This would include the Conservative government’s insistence on repeating the failures of the war-on-drugs mantra.

As has been documented elsewhere, the crime bill treats casual marijuana users with more force than it treats perverts.

Consider: Under the proposed law, a pedophile guilty of coercing a child to watch pornography with him, or a man convicted of flashing children, would receive minimum 90-day sentences.

Yet, get convicted of growing six pot plants in your home and you are looking at a minimum of six months behind bars.

Growing plants for personal use will get you twice the sentence of being sexually deviant around kids.

The Conservatives, like myriad American administrations before them, continue to treat marijuana as empires have treated Afghanistan: Despite overwhelming evidence proving conquest  is impossible, attempts are made again and again.

Is it hubris or stupidity? Let’s coin a new word: Hubridity.

Do North American politicians not realize the only groups that embrace prohibition are criminals and cops?

The former group loves it because its profit margin grows with every new law; the latter group can’t complain as such laws lend weight to its argument for more resources at budget time.

Harper was in Vancouver this fall and spoke about Bill C-10.

“Drugs are not bad because they are illegal. They are illegal because they are bad,” Harper said, arguing they do “terrible things to people.”

If that is the Conservatives’ philosophy behind a pending law that will make criminals out of casual pot users, out of many people I know who grow their own to enjoy in the privacy of their own home, perhaps Harper or Albas or any other Conservative MP can explain why alcohol and tobacco are not being treated equally.

If, as Harper stated, drugs are illegal because they do “terrible things to people,” how does he view the one substance – alcohol – that causes more deaths and creates more mayhem than all other drugs combined?

If marijuana is illegal because it does “terrible things to people,” then that illegal list should include booze and cigarettes.

And mayonnaise.

Of course, Harper’s words are foolish. Marijuana does not do “terrible things to people;” the prohibition of marijuana does terrible things to people, not the least of whom are upstanding citizens who simply prefer to smoke than drink.

It’s a bizarre world – we have a federal government intent on spending upwards of $19 billion to build prisons to house a good number of marijuana users, yet true dangers like the KFC Double Down are allowed to be traded freely in Canada, ensuring our arteries and hospital beds remain clogged and our budgets remain in the red.

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Christopher Foulds is editor of Kamloops This Week.

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