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Legalize it

Arguing from self-ownership, Scott Carnegie thinks we should legalize marijuana.

Scott Carnegie - July 9, 2009

It’s harder for the general public to hear the message of “legalize all drugs.” It’s not something that is often heard. Therefore, I will focus on the legalization of marijuana, though the arguments for its legalization will apply to other drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, etc.

Though it has been shown that there are medical benefits to marijuana, the reason for its legalization is still based on the principle of self-ownership. I will, however, look at some of the common arguments for and against it, while still holding the self-ownership principle as the main reason for why it should be legalized.

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Canada

* Marijuana was first banned in Canada in 1923 under the Opium and Drug Act. Since 1997 marijuana has been covered by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
* In 2000, over 30,000 Canadians were charged with simple possession of marijuana, according to the 2002 Senate Committee Report on Illegal Drugs.
* Current laws are enforced unevenly across the country.
* Most of those convicted of possession of marijuana do not go to jail, but do receive a criminal record.


Think of the waste that goes into policing drug users. 30,000 people in Canada charged ever year. That means that every one of those people were dealt with by police, then entered into the system, paid fines, court dates, etc. The amount of bureaucracy needed to deal with this is staggering. Now, all of those people have criminal records. They will have a harder time getting a job, crossing borders, finding suitable housing, etc., all because they chose to put something into their own body. That is neither good for them nor good for the rest of society as they may end up drawing on welfare or other socialized programs because of the lack of opportunities a criminal record may bring them.

So the point comes up -- why smoke pot? As a non-marijuana user, I cannot answer that, except to say that people have been using this substance for many years, and its status as an illegal drug has not deterred many of them or halted the drug trade. To some folks the risk is worth it.

Every April 20 at the Legislature here in Winnipeg, you will find thousands of people lighting a blunt in open protest of the illegality of marijuana, yet there aren’t swarms of police coming down to break it up. Yet they will spend time going after people in their homes, on the street, etc. Why this inconsistency? Even the police realize that possessing marijuana is not a serious enough offense to warrant shutting down this peaceful protest. This seems like an inconsistent, hypocritical position.