When Rob (Rob Legget, author of Always Right) got on board with The Source, we had a deal: I would write a column, and he would oppose whatever viewpoint I took with equal passion and fervour (not a difficult proposition, since we sit on opposite ends of the political spectrum). Kind of an ongoing he said/she said argument to inspire community dialogue and debate.
This week, though, I thought I'd mix it up a little – let him choose the subject material and I'd contradict him.
No problem, right?
Well, as it turns out, big problem.
I simply cannot, in all good conscience, argue in favour of legalizing marijuana.
In fact, I think the whole idea is a crack-brained (forgive the pun) notion put forward largely by children who want to be allowed to do whatever they wish, regardless the consequences to themselves or anyone else.
Rob, I think, did a bang-up job of addressing the medicinal element of the issue, except I'd like to add that there are, indeed, mechanisms in place for approved patients to access pot.
But medicine aside, there's also a criminality issue.
The contention is that, if pot is legalized, the crime organizations it now supports will be out of business.
Much of B.C.'s unreported gross domestic product is sold south of the border – where pot remains illegal and must be first smuggled into the country before U.S. sales are realized. And I'm guessing American law won't be changed to mirror Canadian jurisprudence.
So, rather than discouraging career criminals, we would merely be providing a safe haven for opportunistic lawbreakers who will make their homebase here as they carry out crime on an international scale. Kinda brings new meaning to the whole 'meet your neighbour' concept, doesn't it?
Furthermore, legalization proponents keep saying the police are targeting, thus victimizing, the “Mom and Pop” operations that are only developed for personal pot use among friends and family.
Gimme a break.
I don't know what sort of image these folks have of “Mom” and “Pop”, but my Mom and Pop sure didn't maneuver outside the law as a matter of course – and in fact they actively, even furiously, discouraged us kids from criminal behaviour as a lifestyle choice.
Most of the grow-op busts in the region this year have netted produce valuing in the tens of thousands – often even the millions – of dollars. If that's for personal use, I'd suggest they need some sort of hobby, because they're overdoing it a tad.
That's some Mom and Pop you've got there, dude.
And the folks choosing this lifestyle often steal utilities, destroy property, create fire and safety risks not just for themselves, but for their neighbours as well, and resolve differences of opinion through violence. In short, they're criminals.
They have the same opportunity and options to lead reasonable, legal lives as the rest of us – it's not like we've all had it easy or handed to us on a silver platter, either - but they choose not to.
Am I really supposed to believe that a change in law is going to make them see the error of their ways, straighten up and fly right? Sure – just like the end of prohibition would've turned Al Capone into a sweet, kind, law-abiding teddy bear of a man.
In my experience, people who choose criminality over abiding by the law – whether they agree with that law or not – are a hazard to all those around them. Their sense of entitlement puts us all in jeopardy – what right do they have to arbitrarily ignore the rules set forth by the societies in which they choose to live?
Am I supposed to trust them not to drive stoned? Not likely. Not to settle disputes with fists or knives anymore? Fat chance. To honestly file tax returns on the pot profits? Who's kidding who?
And am I supposed to reward their criminal behaviour by making it legal just to reduce crime stats? Good grief, that's like changing your daughter's curfew from 10 p.m. to midnight by way of punishing her for showing up an hour-and-a-half late.
Finally, I believe legalizing marijuana would spark a massive spike in drug use, as well as dramatic increases in the manufacture and distribution of other illegal substances, like crystal meth and ecstasy, as criminals once engaged in pot continue to do what they do best.
Not my idea of strong, productive social policy.
Sorry, Rob, but I have to agree with you on this one.