Legalizing Pot – I

In my time in radio I was used to playing listener requests. If someone wanted to hear a song I would do my best to play it, as long as it fit the format of the show. Requests for Led Zeppelin fell on deaf ears when I was doing a classical music show.

And yes, I did do a classical program on a rock station. Such were the quirks of the radio licensing system in Canada.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that this post is by request from someone who asked my opinions on legalizing marijuana. Thanks for giving me an easy topic. It is one though that I had been thinking about, given that marijuana was a minor issue in the Canadian federal election, with calls for legalization, decriminalization and the status quo. I’m on the fence on this issue, but I’m not sure which fence.

Legalization of pot was not a major issue to me in this campaign. However, long before the vote was called I decided I could not support Liberal Party leader (and now Prime Minister designate) Justin Trudeau because of his stance. It wasn’t his call for decriminalization that bothered me. It was his attitude towards the law as it now stands.

Two years ago Mr. Trudeau admitted that not only had he used marijuana, but he had smoked it since being elected to Parliament. A dinner guest had pulled out a joint and passed it around and Mr. Trudeau had a puff. Marijuana possession is still illegal in Canada, and I was (and remain) appalled that a lawmaker would take such a cavalier approach to the law he has sworn to uphold. His personal views on the matter should have been irrelevant. Instead he encouraged the commission of a crime at his dinner table. Now the man is about to become Prime Minister. I hope for the country’s sake he has grown up a lot in the past couple of years.

For the record I have never used pot, never really been curious enough to try. I have spent enough time around people who were using the stuff to know that I prefer reality.

There are other reasons too. What more would I desire than the relationship with God I already have? I don’t see any need to “expand” my consciousness using marijuana. The second was that given that the substance is illegal in Canada, and there is a Scriptural injunction against breaking the law, I should stay away from it. Not to mention that in my youth I was considering going to law school, something that would have been impossible if I had had a conviction for drug possession on my record. (I don’t know if that is true today; I get the impression law schools are a little more lenient.)

Canada supposedly has the highest marijuana usage by teenagers of any of the G7 countries. That is disturbing, for a whole number of reasons. Because he substance is illegal (except when prescribed by a physician for pain management, something that has become legal only in the past couple of decades) that means our teens are engaging in illegal activities and associating with criminals who just might not have their best interests at heart.

I haven’t looked at the science, so I can’t say definitively if smoking marijuana leads to harder and more harmful drugs. I suspect it is like alcohol, a lot depends on the person. But I do know that there is greater profit to be made in narcotics, which have a much more damaging effect on the body. The people who sell marijuana are frequently also those who sell the harder illegal substances. Their concern is profit. Lots of profit. Which would make you think that perhaps the substance should be legalized, with government controls, to cut back on the illegal trade. That can be a compelling argument.

It is hard for governments to legislate morality, and this does in the end come down to a moral choice. For most people the only reason to smoke pot, as I understand it, is because it feels good and takes them into an altered state of consciousness. Pot smokers may think it is better, but having talked with a few I can say that stoned doesn’t improve things, it just make you think life is great. Always nice to avoid reality, but for how long?

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