(SNN) Recently, the Harper government has found itself in an uncomfortable position. To protect their base, they must appear tough on crime, including crime on marijuana. However, they would be blind not to see they are on the wrong side of massive popular opinion in this regard. Harper even said while abroad that the so-called War on Drugs has been lost and new ways of managing recreational marijuana use must be found. (I always chuckle at the “recreational use” cliché; as if people are forming leagues and having competitions.)
In endeavouring to remain firmly against pot legalization but still appear supportive of softening the government’s unpopular position on the drug, Justice Minister Peter MacKay was recently quoted once again touting the establishment of a ticketing system for those caught with small amounts of marijuana. He said these tickets would be another option for the police to use when encountering those possessing pot.
This solution is wrong-headed and only slightly better than our current illogical marijuana interdiction policies. It still leaves the power of guilt or innocence in the hands of a police officer who has the discretion to charge you, ticket you, or simply let you go with or without your grass, all by how much he or she likes or dislikes the cut of your jib. It isn’t fair to the citizenry and really, it’s not fair to the arresting officer. What happens if their personal biases are betrayed by an examination of who they arrest, who they ticket and who they let off easy?
The other reason this ticketing approach seems futile is that even strict penalties don’t appear to be a deterrent to pot use and that softening the punishment suggests the danger to society can’t be all that serious despite the government’s shrill warnings.
It is obvious now to the majority that the only sensible way to manage marijuana use is to relegate it to the same realm as alcohol use with its similar adult-only measures. It’s no secret in schools today that it is easier to get all kinds of drugs more easily than it is to get alcohol. Let’s put pot where it belongs, as a controlled substance.
Optimists might suggest the ticketing move is just another milestone on the road to full legalization and should be welcomed with open arms. I say why bother with half measures. Let’s get on with it and make some money for the state. Anything else is pure politics.
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