4:20

This excerpt is from an article by Scott Taylor from Metro news on the legalization and taxation of cannabis.

“Ivey School associate professor Mike Moffatt said the tax works out to about 40 cents for each of Colorado’s 5.2 million people. “Assuming the usage would be similar among Ontario’s almost 13 million people, the tax the government would earn would be around (a) lofty $5 million,” he said. That’s for a single month, equating to $60 million a year.

“A lot of this tax money is money that would otherwise be going to drug dealers and organized crime,” Moffatt said. “Instead of financing that, why not finance schools and hospitals and all the things our society needs?”

He cited a Fraser Institute report that stated the federal government could realize over a billion dollars a year if pot was legalized.

But London West Conservative MP Ed Holder said he couldn’t disagree more with the figures. Price, he said, will still create competition between the legal outlets and drug dealers.

“That does not go away because it’s been legalized,” he said. “The underground economy does not go away.”

Plus, Holder said, he’s never known of a situation in which a person using hard drugs didn’t start off with marijuana.

“If you ask our local (police) chief if he thinks marijuana should be legalized, it would be interesting to get his reaction to that. I imagine he’d say no. The previous chief said no … because it leads to other things,” Holder said.  “At what point do you put money ahead of principle?” (I would suggest Mr. Holder look to the oil sands which many consider putting money ahead of principles.)

Mr. Holder’s comments are unfortunate because there are some who read the article who put weight in his words because his ass is in Ottawa when really he’s just an ass in Ottawa. If you want to shovel something try the end of my driveway Ed.

Ed Holder tries to argue with an economist not because he possesses the correct information but because of his convictions and those of his party. He needs to put empirical evidence ahead of his intuitions which were cemented in a Grade 5 health class and driven deep by the Harper Hammer.

Mr. Holder fails to back up his claim because it is an institutionalized myth and perception rather than a fact. You can still be tough on crime while making cannabis legal, probably tougher because you can actually allocate more resources to true societal ills. Tough on crime is part of the foundation of conservatism but for the Harper Hooligans it is more about perception. When we can open the paper and see thousands of dollars worth of cannabis (worth that amount because it is illegal) and see people crowding courtrooms it seems law enforcement and justice are working. Interestingly, drug busts are one of the few photo opportunities available to law enforcement to demonstrate the need for ever increasing tax consumption in the face of declining crime statistics.

Mr. Holder actually believes people will make the rational decision to avail themselves of illegally produced cannabis when a safe and legal alternative exists. Lay off the moonshine Ed.

“The underground economy does not go away.”

No, the underground economy does not disappear but it does shrink to the extent that a legally regulated market displaces it. If taxed at 25% the 60 million in taxes would shrink the underground market by $240 million in Ontario alone. Seemingly recreational users are a target while organized crime is not. Mr. Holder’s approach to the underground drug trade is to throw his hands up. Would he throw his hands up at drunk driving laws because someone is always going to drive drunk?

We can estimate the tax dollars but as important are the tax savings from unrealistically enforceable laws. Petty marijuana offences siphon resources from violent crimes which may end up neither prevented or solved and legalization creates safety for users and allows more control.

This government wants us to believe that because their opponents are in favour of decriminalization they are in some way irresponsible to youth development and safety. Outside of political manoeuvring I don’t see the point. Many young people are protected by and adhere to the laws governing tobacco and alcohol; why would marijuana be any different?

Justice is blind so it is administered fairly. When we create and continue with laws with the same disability we create conditions more conducive to catastrophe. In my opinion current drug laws have failed society. The war on drugs has been raging since the seventies. One wonders why after half a century we cling to this misguided approach.  It’s like putting a Band-Aid on dust. Can we not be rational? Fifty years of failure requires me to question what is happening. The conservatives keep swinging with a broken bat which makes them fools who hopefully will soon see the field.

To gain an idea of what has been happening for decades consider the resources we would require to institute alcohol prohibition. If that seems undoable consider we are doing just that for a drug that is less likely to be linked to violence through usage. I realize there is violence surrounding cannabis but it mainly spawns from its criminalization.

Plus, Holder said, he’s never known of a situation in which a person using hard drugs didn’t start off with marijuana.

For over a decade science has told us that “there is no conclusive evidence to suggest the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”

If marijuana is a gateway drug as Mr. Holder suggests it needs to be considered if this correlation doesn’t come about from contact with the illegal market. If marijuana is decriminalized people won’t be dealing with people who can procure heroin, methamphetamines etc. It becomes harder to find butter when it is not next to the milk. If marijuana can be considered a gateway drug it needs to take its place behind tobacco and alcohol. All three are mentionable mainly because they are accessible and somewhat acceptable. Caffeine is the original stimulant.

Thanks in part to people like Ed Holder it is all a myth that won’t die. Tobacco is both legal and lethal as is alcohol yet marijuana with few if any deaths directly attributable remains an enemy of the state. We have prescription drugs such as Percocet and Oxycontin which ravage lives but for some reason Doritos eaters are demons. For youth the entire message becomes nonsense.

I think the largest failing in the war on drugs has been the inadequate application of services that do fight drug use…addiction services. We pay well over three hundred dollars a day to incarcerate addicts while pennies trickle into programs and solutions.

Addicts don’t always see things as they are. The madness of addiction disappears in the folds of the habit. What is sad, harmful, wasteful and senseless becomes a rationalized series of repetitive and self-destructive behaviours. Addicts are occupied in the behaviour or those that enable it to the extent that they cannot recognize the absurdity. Current drug laws are an expanding and similarly sad, harmful, wasteful and senseless use of resources. This is not a policing failure, it is a political failure. When looked at from afar is a societal shame.

You can take away the substance but the addict continues in some form. In jail tobacco was a rarity and some inmates would smoke dried orange rinds and banana phloem. We covet what we can’t have. There is a degree of being dared when we make something that is socially regarded as harmless, illegal.

This will all happen despite Mr. Harper. Generations to follow will scratch their heads that we took so long to figure out a manageable path.

We need to look at the social consequences of criminalizing marijuana. What effect does a criminal record have on an individual, a family and a community? Criminal records are a cause of employment discrimination which is a gateway to financial disempowerment which can be linked to some financially motivated criminal activity. A criminal record places an individual on the fringe of society where it becomes difficult to contribute in a meaningful way. We shake our heads at people who are “wasted” but how many lives have been wasted by criminalization?

If we keep myopic morons in parliament it becomes a mirror for the prison system itself. Problems in and problems out.

Mr. Holder seems capable of reading the chief of police’s mind so I will take a crack. I think despite the job security the whole affair provides he might call it an economic and social failure. Even if the chief hasn’t drunk the same blue Kool-Aid I can imagine he might agree it is pointless and expensive to police recreational marijuana use. How unbiased is an officers opinion on legalization when their livelihoods are threatened by the abolition of a portion of their powers and budgets?

It’s fun to watch the conservatives straddle this dilemma. On one hand it is politically advantageous to appease public perceptions but they have a handbook they must adhere to or voters who vote for the party will shrink. There is a solution, open your eyes to solutions. “Just Say No” has a place. It should be used at a polling station. If you make me walk for my mail you can walk as well.

My advice to Ed Holder and Mr. Harper it to inhale deeply of some common sense; hold it in and it might even go straight to your head.

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