"A Triumph of Ideology over Science"

Not sure exactly how the Globe and Mail online subscription thing works. I know in the past I have had articles restricted and the message “You must pay” attached. I recently signed up for a free trial of the online student subscription service they offer, and initially it seemed to have a limit of 100 articles in a month that I could access.

That has since disappeared. If someone could explain to me whether it’s just a case of specific articles being restricted, or if my free trial is now allowing me unlimited access, I would be much obliged.

That being said, if the article I am linking to is one that most people would still have to pay for, my apologies.

There is an article at the Globe and Mail today concerning the Conservatives’ recent announcements that they plan to divert more funding towards “getting tough on crime. I thought the writer presented an interesting (although not particularly original) idea:

Dr. Martin, a physician from British Columbia, says the Conservatives’ approach is a triumph of “ideology over science.” While he supports more money for police to go after drug dealers or organized crime, Dr. Martin says substance abuse needs to be treated as a medical problem, not a moral one.

That’s the approach taken in many European countries that have much lower rates of illicit drug use than Canada, he said.

I agree that treating the issue as a moral one — particularly on a national scale — is never going to make a dent in the consciousness of today’s postmodern society. But I would propose that perhaps a balanced perspective — that both the morality and the science are important — would affect a lot more people than one or the other.

We discussed this issue in my Canadian Politics class recently, and I was surprised to hear a very creative proposal: A “Marijuana LCBO.” While this seems a ghastly proposal to anyone who fears Marijuana, there is grounds, in my mind, to think that it’s a far preferable solution to the war on crime that is continuously being undermined in the media today. Decriminalization — but not legalization — is a far better response than policing.

Whether one believes pot is morally wrong or not, there is no doubt that there can be physical consequences to substance abuse. For those who take the position that it is morally fallible as well (myself included), the idea of a PotBO is doubly appealing. Simply put, a marijuana depot would make it much less enticing to get involved with large quantities of the substance or to move on to harder drugs. It may seem counterintuitive, but if people who just want a temporary jolly can access Marijuana for a standard price with no risk of dealing with crime lords, etc., then why would they go to the illicit sources? And if the PotBO has a cap on the quantities, then it’s quite likely that people who might otherwise order a slightly larger amount would instead conform to the smaller quantity in order to access it for cheaper and more securely.

The real question is one of addiction. The political right would argue that easy access will encourage people to go out and get quantities beyond the cap. A physical and mental addiction would surely be cause to do so. However, I know people who have smoked the substance, and as far as I can tell they have not been on the alleged path to poverty. The image of a person in shambles with no money and no friends or family on whom they can count simply isn’t the norm for pot users, as far as I can tell.

And so, the question comes back to one of morality. Because I think it’s wrong, I would vote for a PotBO. Why? The argument that did me in was alcohol. The early 20th century bore witness to the fact that fighting the spread of substances with policing is ineffective. Once the government decided to decriminalize and regulate the use of alcohol, many of the issues that were so prominent in the days of Capone were stemmed. While alcohol use certainly isn’t eliminated, it is far safer and generally speaking less abusive.

If the government were to decriminalize marijuana possession while continuing to fight unlicensed distributors, I think it’s viable to say that marijuana abuse would be stemmed.


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