Coincidental with word that a British Columbia seed company has won second place at the annual High Times Cannabis Cup in the Netherlands, comes news of a speech delivered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Vancouver defending Canada’s get-tough laws against the use of that drug.
The two countries could hardly have different approaches to how to deal with the problem of drugs. Both agree that drug use is a definite problem, just as the abuse of alcohol and tobacco is a problem. In Holland, however, the sale and use of marijuana and hashish are controlled and regulated — one does not need to go to the Mob to buy, for example, Hydra, the hashish that was crossbred between the strains Warlock and Haoma and brought the silver medal to Canada this week.
To even be able to discuss cannabis products in such terms is an indication of how far the industry has come from sordid exchanges in back alleys and dark streets in many civilized countries.
But not in Canada, as Mr. Harper made clear in Vancouver. Mr. Harper reaffirmed his government’s intention to stiffen penalties for dealing in marijuana and other drugs, defending it by saying: “Drugs are not bad because they are illegal. They are illegal because they are bad.”
They are, he said, “corrosive to society” and they” do terrible things to people.”
Mr. Harper is right on all those counts, but one could make the same argument about coffee, cinnamon doughnuts or whiskey. Anything can be bad, corrosive or terrible to people who take it without moderation. So while the prime minister may be right on what are essentially the small points, he continues to avoid the main point — that while drugs such as marijuana might be bad, making them illegal creates problems that are far worse.
Mr. Harper at least nodded at this truth when he said “I know ( the drug trade ) fuels a lot of criminal activity” but he is resolute in his intent to push through legislation that will fuel that activity even more fiercely, even though all the evidence indicates that tougher penalties don’t diminish either drug use or crime associated with it.
In fact, the regulation of marijuana would accomplish precisely what the prime minister says he wants to accomplish — reduce the social ills created by drug use, get rid of the criminal element and, not incidentally, funnel the billions of dollars now going to organized crime into government programs for the people. Those are not bad results for a simple act of common sense.