September 28, 2020

BY KRIS MANUEL

When I was growing up, I was told that using marijuana was bad. However, I was never told why.

Now, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in Kennewick, Washington has announced officers will not be teaching the dangers of marijuana to students anymore, completely taking it out of the curriculum, according to KNDU news in Washington.

With two U.S. states, Colorado and Washington, voting to legalize and regulate cannabis for those 21 years and older on Nov. 6, and Uruguay announcing a proposal to legalize the sale and cultivation of marijuana in the country, the support to legalize its recreational use has become more mainstream. More and more people recognize it’s not as dangerous as it was made out to be and that prohibition has caused more harm than good.

I remember when there was an election debate at my high school and one of the parties was the Marijuana Party, whose main argument was to end its prohibition.

The candidate received a few snickers from the crowd and other candidates. I doubt many people took him or his arguments seriously at that time.

But it’s not a laughing matter when thousands of people are killed over pot in gang warfare while billions of our tax dollars were wasted on 75 years of prohibition, keeping people locked up for something millions of people are already using.

According to the 2007 World Drug Report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, about 80 per cent of those who used illegal drugs in 2006 were using cannabis, which is about 160 million people around the world.

Physicians, former police chiefs and former government attorneys are speaking out saying that legalizing pot is the right path to take. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an organization that has current and former law enforcement and criminal justice community members. It is dedicated to ending the harm marijuana prohibition has done.

I don’t believe people should be punished for using cannabis, which does not harm others and does less harm to themselves than most of the legal narcotics and food we use today.

“Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man,” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administrative law judge, Francis Young, in a report about the accepted safety of its use under medical supervision.

Yet, it was Harry J. Anslinger, America’s first “drug czar” in the 1930s, who said, “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death.”

In actual fact, according to Young, cannabis has never been responsible for a single death. He says overdosing on marijuana is impossible, unless you can smoke 1,500 pounds in 15 minutes.

However, legal substances such as alcohol, caffeine, aspirin and second-hand smoke kill lots of people.

Yet, we don’t put people in jail for drinking too much on the weekend or arrest minors for smoking cigarettes.

According to a Forum Research Inc. poll released in January, 66 per cent of Canadians are in favour of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

I myself didn’t see the logic of legalization until I started doing my own research on the many uses cannabis has – and it wasn’t just to get high.

Marijuana is used medically to help a number of ailments, including chronic pain, nausea, cancer, anxiety and HIV/AIDS, just to name a few, while all Canadian provinces are planning to sue tobacco companies for the illnesses tobacco has caused.

According to a CTV news article earlier this month, “The Ontario government says smoking is the leading cause of premature deaths and illness in the province and costs the health-care system $1.6 billion a year.”

Yet, medical marijuana dispensaries are being raided, inhibiting access for patients who rely on cannabis for relief. Cannabis is one of the safest drugs out there, even compared to those approved by doctors and sold in pharmacies.

According to Health Canada’s 2011 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, about 18 per cent of those who use cannabis are using it for medical purposes.

With increasing support to end prohibition, the facts cannot be ignored any longer and excuses to keep cannabis illegal are running out.