Once again, Cpl. Scott Hilderley seems to misunderstand the case against the criminal prohibition of cannabis (“Sparking up the marijuana debate,” letters, March 21).
The question is not whether or not cannabis should exist, or whether or not young people should consume it, but rather, what is the optimal regulatory model for preventing harm to consumers, and society in general, from cannabis cultivation and consumption?
As someone responsible for providing and propagating cannabis-related news and information on the Internet, I agree with Cpl. Hilderley that not all such information is equally accurate, unbiased, valuable or relevant.
While it is true that some critics of cannabis prohibition point out there are vested interests in maintaining the status quo, (no surprise there), I have never seen this observation advanced as the only reason cannabis remains prohibited.
The origins and contemporary causes of cannabis prohibition are much more complicated. Health Canada’s brief synopsis of some of the potential harms from chronic cannabis smoking is not bad, but a little misleading. For example, while it is true that “Cannabis smoke has some of the same toxic substances that are found in tobacco smoke that can cause cancer,” cannabis has never been shown to cause cancer. Further, Health Canada neglects to suggest safer, smokeless methods of ingestion.
After reviewing mountains of evidence and interviewing dozens of experts on the subject, the non-partisan committee unanimously recommended that cannabis be controlled in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco, in part to reduce availability to young people, and to facilitate education and prevention. For example, if cannabis were legally regulated, Health Canada’s warning could adorn the packaging.
To advocate alternatives to criminal prohibition is not to condone cannabis consumption, or to disagree with the almost universal opinion that young people should avoid it. Quite the contrary.