As far as vices go, marijuana can’t be any worse than what’s already legal

The Northern Sentinel editor ponders the logic of keeping cannabis illegal.

Dana Larsen’s recent tour to promote the decriminalization of cannabis use brings up a long-standing issue of whether we as a society really care about whether people get high or not.

I don’t know about everyone else here but I know I don’t.

After talking to Larsen recently I can begin to appreciate what he means when he talks about the policing resources it takes to deal with marijuana is not worth the trouble. Right now I’m looking at the number of Kitimat RCMP files that were opened regarding marijuana and so far this year there have been 25 cases.

For possessions, there have been three cases for cocaine, and none for meth or ecstasy. There have only been two cocaine trafficking cases and two of trafficking other drugs.

So on the drug front, marijuana is definitely taking up a bigger slice of time than all other drugs combined, if the numbers of cases are anything to go by.

Of course that says little of whether or not smoking up is actually harmful. And sure, smoking marijuana is harmful. As bad as cigarettes? I doubt it. As bad as alcohol? Comparable, I’m sure.

To get a better sense of this I turned to reports from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. According to their documents, they say research is showing cannabis could negatively affect mental and physical health, cognitive functioning (skills like memory, for example), ability to drive a motor vehicle and the development of children born to those who use cannabis.

If I didn’t know better I might think they were talking about alcohol, or Halloween candy. (“Wait, how many peanut butter cups did I eat?”)

Even when it comes to brain function, their report continued that long-term use doesn’t appear to produce lasting impairments, the concern is really when adolescents use it, in which case maybe the problems would last because of the stage of their brain’s development.

Now, they said frequent users are at increased risk for psychosis or psychotic symptoms, and while I have nothing to counter that claim, I do wonder whether the studies for that were using medically supplied cannabis and not drugs people have been acquiring from the street.

I’m not here advocating for people to start smoking the stuff — especially that guy standing near me in the grocery store; please wash your jacket, sir — but I just can’t see the danger in marijuana, beyond the dangers already present in cigarettes and alcohol.

If we can’t handle a little cannabis in our communities, we probably can’t handle tobacco or liquor.

Cameron Orr is the editor of the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

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