Davis' desk: Half-baked prohibition

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Moose Jaw police charged a man with possession of marijuana on Tuesday.

A man smokes a joint in Toronto, Tuesday May 27, 2003. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kevin Frayer

He was released on an appearance notice with a court date.

The arrest report didn’t say whether he was inside a house on the 700 block of Coteau Street West or standing on the street smoking a joint.

Regardless, that man will appear before a judge on a simple possession charge. If found guilty for having less than 30 grams of marijuana, he could pay a maximum fine of $1,000 and will have that haunt his criminal record.

There’s also the slight possibility he could serve six months in jail in addition to paying the fine.

No person should ever be arrested, have to pay a fine or go to jail for using marijuana. But that’s not the fault of police officers.

Marijuana is still classified as one of the drugs Canada is fighting a war against, even as Washington and Colorado sell it recreationally in the United States to adults over the age of 21.

Marijuana will forever be a political issue instead of a social one.

There is a reasonable middle ground somewhere between the fear-mongering Conservatives and the puff-puff-pass Liberals.

Since Stephen Harper took office in 2006, there have been more police reported criminal incidents of possession every year than the year before, with the exception of 2009, according to Juristat.

From 2006 to 2012, the total of marijuana possessions reported by police sat at 366,478. That number is larger than the population of London, Ont.

Not all of those possessions resulted in convictions and criminal records, but they did take up police resources and backed up an already-slow judicial system.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made headlines by admitting he had smoked marijuana since becoming an MP. He has been trotting out statistics that marijuana prohibition policy has cost law enforcement $500-million a year and has left 475,000 people with criminal records since the Conservatives took office in 2006.

I was unable to find evidence of either claim.

Former marijuana user and current American President Barack Obama said marijuana is as safe as alcohol.

People lose jobs, partners, families, limbs and lives to alcohol.

Some of the happiest, productive and most well-adjusted people I know are marijuana users.

I know of people who have turned their big, beautiful brains into garbage with the use of hard drugs like cocaine and ecstasy.

Not everything that’s legal is good for us either.

The biggest concern with vices like gambling, alcohol and tobacco are keeping them away from kids. We have age restrictions on all three. VLTs and tobacco packages have warnings. Liquor stores have signs about not using fake IDs, not drinking while pregnant and not drinking and driving.

Marijuana legalization would require the same treatment. Keeping it away from kids would be most important.

Even with adults, marijuana is not for everyone.

There are studies about the connection between marijuana use and psychosis or schizophrenia, but more research needs to be done.

Marijuana is already used in Canada medicinally, and as far as I can tell, we haven’t fallen into complete anarchy.

If prohibition continues, Canada is in danger of being totally out of touch with its citizens, the rest of the world and, most importantly, reality.

Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.

Geographic location: Canada, Washington, Colorado United States London, Ont.

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  • Ryan
    January 30, 2014 - 11:57

    You are 100% correct. I couldn't agree more with your whole article.