Opinions

Is legalizing marijuana the right move?

STEVEN KRENTZ ILLUSTRATION

STEVEN KRENTZ ILLUSTRATION

 
Leaders from Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, and other countries in Central and South America are pushing for the United States to switch from their current prohibitionist model of marijuana legislation. They’re hoping for decriminalization, or even legalization, following Washington and Colorado’s decisions on Nov. 6 to legalize the drug in their respective states.

They suggest the move would greatly ease drug trafficking in their countries. The bills passed in Washington and Colorado make it so that marijuana can be regulated (much like alcohol), opening the door to a number of economic benefits in the states. It’s too early to tell, but it’s a decision that’s looking to have a promising outcome—and a move that Canadians should follow.

According to a poll conducted by Forum Research in November 2012, 66 per cent of Canadians favour legalization or decriminalization. The Green Party, Liberal Party, and Libertarian Party of Canada all favour legalization, while the New Democratic Party supports decriminalization. The ruling Conservative Party, however, has moved towards increasing mandatory minimum sentences for growing, trafficking, and possessing marijuana—a move that only 15 per cent of Canadians support.

In a YouTube interview uploaded on Mar. 16, 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke about why he wants tougher laws for marijuana possession. “When people buy from the drug trade, they are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence…Drugs are illegal because they are bad.” Unfortunately for Harper, a morality based argument holds much less ground when leaders in Central America say that legalization would actually prevent cartels from holding as much power as they currently do. As for the “drugs are bad” argument, it’s simplistic. The same argument was used by the temperance movement Dominion Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic for the prohibition of alcohol in the 1930s, and we all know how well that worked out.

Using morality to dictate policy is a ridiculous move, especially when it goes against what constituents want. People are going to use marijuana recreationally regardless of whether or not it’s legal. By following in the footsteps of Washington and Colorado, tax dollars, the lives of those affected by cartels, and thousands of hours put in by law enforcement can be saved.

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