We live in a society where nature is illegal. But for some reason, we allow safe injection sites, which promote illegal drug use. We have a booming industry centred around the consumption of alcohol, which is responsible for hundreds of deaths and acts of violence annually. And we have tobacco, one of the largest industries world-wide, responsible for thousands of deaths each year.
Yet Mother Nature’s plant, cannabis, is deemed dangerous and immoral.
In many parts of Vancouver, one can walk down the street smoking a joint and no one, not even the police, will look twice. This is how it should be. However, in other parts of North America, you can face harsher penalties and more jail time for a tiny nugget of weed than for first degree murder.
There are more pros to legalization than not.
Cannabis is one of the most versatile plants on the planet. Hemp can be used for cloth, clothing, rope, hair products, building construction materials, even fuel. In fact, cannabis can be used to manufacture over 25,000 products. And at the same time, one single plant takes in four times more carbon dioxide than a tree, in turn producing four times the amount of oxygen.
The rate of deforestation is three times faster than it can be replanted. Trees take an average of upwards of twenty years to reach the growth to be harvested. Hemp has a growing cycle of just three and a half months. When it comes to harvesting and turning the plants into a useable product, one acre of hemp produces the same amount of pump as over four acres of trees. Hemp fibre is also stronger, more versatile and lasts longer than wood products.
Cannabis also has numerous health benefits. Hemp hearts are one of those magical foods packed with numerous good things. They contain essential fats, vitamins and provide a balanced source of proteins.
Hemp hearts aid people who are suffering from:
The best part: it’s all natural and doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription with a text book full of harmful side effects.
If marijuana were to be legalized, the affect it would have on society would be more positive than not. For one, the drug trade wouldn’t be as predominant, thus leading to less gang activity. This includes human trafficking, drug mules and target shootings which regularly end up hurting innocent bystanders. This would also free up the legal system. Court time and jail cells wouldn’t be taken up processing petty cases for people possessing a plant.
In Canada, Stephen Harper’s government has come down hard on marijuana. But the severe laws and consequences we have in this nation are nothing compared to the life-ruining consequences of our Southern neighbour.
Let’s say you’re living in the state of Florida, under the three strike law*. You are a minority, with a little over an ounce of weed on you for personal, medicinal use. Because of racial profiling and a corrupt police force, you are randomly selected for a pat down. The cops find your stash along with your Nikes in your gym bag. You’re booked and taken down to the local station.
The next thing you know, you’re facing twenty five years to life in prison. Your children are going to grow up without a father, in a life of poverty because your wife can’t afford to raise three children on her own.
On the off-chance that you are lucky enough to get parole, under the current system you are marked as a criminal for life. You cannot vote, get a loan or better your life. Any potential employers would do a back ground check and your resume would immediately be disregarded.
This may seem like an exaggerated story, but it is in fact the harsh reality of hundreds of Americans.
The legalization of cannabis would also create an astronomical industry, which in turn means huge tax dollars, which could be used on public education and arts for children rather than fighting a “war on drugs.”
B.C. bud would also create hundreds of jobs. Retailers, cafes, suppliers, harvesters, growers, educational classes and manufactures for paraphernalia. B.C. tourism would also be on the up.
Although the positive reasons to legalize are far more than I’ve touched on, there are, of course, negatives to legalization. A big red flag most people have is that weed is a gateway drug to other harsher drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. This is, in fact, false. By legalizing you eliminate the need for kids to go to drug dealers to get their dope. If you were buying a pack of marijuana cigarettes at your local 7-11, the guy behind the counter wouldn’t be trying to upsell you on the sweet new shipment of crack he got in last week.
With any substance, there will be those members of society who would abuse the privilege and would get behind the wheel after smoking up. While the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana are still there, waiting at a four way stop for it to turn green is far less terrifying than a drunk driver barreling through a red light at 90 km/hr.
And, of course, there would be those with little regard for others around them, including children. While drug use is a major no in front of kids, there are many unfit parents shooting up with their toddlers in the next room. It is sad to say, but I see parents regularly smoking with babies less than a foot away. It makes me sick
Legalization of marijuana is the next gay marriage. It is a civil right that will be rallied for until the public can grow their own cannabis – for medicinal use or for pleasure.
With every aspect of adult life comes responsibility. If everyone were to be educated and use responsibly, we could all live in a better place where nature is socially acceptable and legal.
*Three-strikes law is statute enacted by state governments in the United States which mandate state courts to impose harsher sentences on habitual offenders who are convicted of three or more criminal offenses.
Submitted by Vancity Buzz reader Amanda West. If you want your voice to be heard, submit your letter to the editor by email at tips[at]vancitybuzz.com