Editor, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Love affair with Miss Mary Jane," May 20, 2004,
It is surprising to read that "There have been no inquiries into the drug since [the 1972 LeDain Commission]", given that the "Senate Report on Illegal Drug: Cannabis" of Sept. 2002 is still available on the Canadian Senate's web site. This report is one of the best ever conducted, spanning almost two years, holding more than 40 days of public hearings, hearing from over 100 witnesses (both pro- and anti-prohibition) and considers reports and experiences from other countries.
The Canadian government has not "made some real attempts". On the contrary, they've simply ignored this valuable report. Instead, based on the House of Commons report--a much less researched, must less detailed, and much more political effort--they introduced Bill C-38 (which became Bill C-10) and attempted to convince us that it was a "decriminalization" bill. Even the Justice Minister eventually back-tracked on the term "decriminalization," acknowledging the bill was really "recriminalization." Luckily, Bill C-10 died on May 19, 2004 when the federal election was called.
The truth about marijuana can be determined by a rational analysis of the facts, as was done in the Senate's report, the LeDain Commission, U.S. President Nixon's Shafer Commission, and many other studies. To summarize their anwers to your questions:
Is it addictive? No more so than coffee, with similarly mild withdrawal symptoms. The Senate report concluded "physical dependency on cannabis is virtually non-existent" and "psychological dependency is moderate and is certainly lower than for nicotine or alcohol".
Does it ruin lives? Certainly less than many legal drugs and activities. Just because marijuana may be harmful to a small minority of users, there is no reason to prohibit responsible use for others. To apply this logic would result in alcohol being prohibited.
Is it a gateway drug? No, with the exception that since one must contact marijuana vendors who might have other drugs available, one might be offered other drugs. This is a direct result of marijuana prohibition. I've never once had a liquor store employee push the hard stuff on me, and I'm sure there are regulations that keep the alcohol makers from cutting their product with filler to enhance profits.
Regarding the gateway theory, the Senate report concluded: "This theory has not been validated by empirical research and is considered outdated" and "cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use. In this sense, we reject the gateway theory."
Einstein once said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." It's time to stop the insanity and legalize marijuana.
On Saturday, June 5, 2004 there will a "Fill the Hill" demonstration on Parliament Hill. See http://www.fillthehill.ca/ for more information.
[Ed note: The Senate report, "Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy", is available at http://www.parl.gc.ca/Common/Committee_SenRecentReps.asp?Language=E&Parl=37&Ses=1]