Justa Puff? Marijuana Debate Smolders On

marijuana growing

Marijuana Legalization Debate

WASHINGTON, DC – Indepth – In Canada Liberal leader Justin Trudeau‘s statements on “having a puff” of marijuana has re-lit the debate over the issue of marijuana legislation. In the United States, there are several states which have moved to de-criminalize the drug. Trudeau’s comments have had the federal Conservatives condemning the Liberal leader.

Is the issue of marijuana smoking one that Canadian and American politicians should be examining? 

The United States is apparently doing just that. Canada is moving to toughen sentences and crack down. 

US Attorney General Holder Marijuana Statement

English: Official portrait of United States At...
United States Attorney General Eric Holder

This week,  Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT) invited United States Attorney General Eric Holder to a September 10 hearing to clarify the federal response to states that have passed marijuana laws in conflict with federal policy. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and Colorado and Washington last year became the first places in the world to legalize and regulate marijuana for personal use.

In Thunder Bay, Mayor Keith Hobbs, a retired law enforcement officer has come out offering solutions. The Mayor, in 2011 stated, “To those that do not understand my take on the Marihuana debate I will leave you with this: The way I see it there are three solutions to marihuana:  

Thunder Bay Mayor Hobbs – Solve it!

1) Anyone caught smoking it goes to jail for life. Guaranteed no one will smoke it and the market dries up. Do you really think that this is realistic in Canada? It would halt the debate forever though!

2) Keep the status quo. Police spending limited resources on a battle that is already lost. Organized crime getting richer and richer, the courts being tied up time after time.

When I worked drugs we busted a dealer and the next one in the food chain took over. Marihuana is not a gateway to harder drugs.

Drug dealers are a gateway to harder drugs. When you buy pot from a drug dealer they have access to harder drugs.

As a police officer I attended numerous domestic assaults, beatings, robberies, stabbings and murders and not once was it the result of pot. 98% of the time it was alcohol related.

3) Legalize it. Government controls the grow-ops, sells it in the LCBO and taxes it. The billions in revenue can pay down the debt, go towards enhancing community based policing, fighting the real drugs like oxy’s, crystal meth and cocaine to name a few.

This will take huge revenues away from organized crime as well. Impaired driving charges can be laid for those that drive under the influence of pot, laws can be passed so that you can’t have it readily available in your vehicle and other safeguards could be put in place. These are my solutions”.

LEAP – Current Efforts Ineffective

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) are a group of American law enforcement officers who Holder has been saying that the mode of enforcement against marijuana is ineffective and a poor use of law enforcement.

LEAP states that Attorney General Holder has been ‘holding back’.  “An announcement clarifying the federal response to these new state laws would be coming ‘soon’ since last year. In the meantime, the federal government has continued to crack down on medical marijuana providers, leaving states and local communities unsure how best to proceed”.

“Just as happened during the prohibition of alcohol, states are well ahead of the federal government in developing sensible marijuana policies,” said retired LAPD Deputy Chief Stephen Downing, board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officers opposed to the war on drugs. “Right now, local law enforcement are doing everything they can to enforce these democratically enacted laws, but inconsistencies between stated policy and actions on behalf of the Justice Department have made that impossible.” 

What are the issues, and how will they impact Americans if the United States moves to decriminalize marijuana?

LEAP Answers Questions of Marijuana 

NetNewsLedger asked the following questions of LEAP:

NNL: From the perspective of law enforcement, is arresting and charging marijuana smokers a good use of resources?

LEAP: Retired Lieutenant Commander Diane Goldstein, Redondo Beach PD answered, “Given the economic realities of the last 4 years across both Canada and the United States, continuing to waste both law enforcement human capital and fiscal resources is neither efficient nor effective. As an example, in the US we have 400,000 untested rape kits  representing men, women and child victims.  In the meantime, we arrest 1.5 million drug users a year, with marijuana arrests accounting for more than 750,000 of those.  It is this waste of resources that contributes to the dismal solvability rates for violent and property crimes –  nearly four of ten murders, six of ten rapes and nine of ten burglaries remain unsolved”. 

NNL: If the United States were to completely legalize smoking of marijuana, would there be a need for any regulation of who could sell it? 

LEAP:“If and when the U.S. legalizes the use of marijuana, there will still be a need to regulate and control the commercial cultivation, distribution, sale and consumption of the product,” answered former Prosecutor James Gierach. 

“Like with alcohol, the popularity of marijuana as a recreational and medicinal product requires the licensing of commercial cultivators, transporters, distributors and sellers, and the imposition of reasonable standards of purity, potency and labeling, along with rules regulating the hours and location of sale as well as setting age restrictions on who can buy it.  Other rules aimed to prevent impaired driving and to otherwise protect the public health, safety and welfare would also be in order.  However, if reasonable marijuana control and regulation were not a public policy choice (and it is), then no regulation would still be a better, safer public policy than prohibition and zero-tolerance”.

NNL: Some politicians seem to think that marijuana is the first drug on a slippery slope into greater drug use and addiction to hard drugs? Is that the experience from LEAP?

LEAP: “Approximately 15% of any given population will suffer from ‘addictive personality disorder’,”  comments Patrick Heintz, a retired Counselor and Corrections Officer. “The vast majority of that population will be addicted to and abusing alcohol.  As it breaks down, in a population of 100 people, a full 10 will be addicted to alcohol, the remainder will be addicted to various behaviors such as exercise, porn, etc., with a relatively small number, 1.3 of them,  addicted to narcotics”.

Heintz added, “The hysteria and dishonesty of the Gateway Theory begs the question: Is there really a ‘drug crisis’ in America?  There certainly is a multi-billion-dollar, prohibition-fueled illegal drug trade and attendant violence crisis in America. The UN annual drug report as well as the DEA’s own data estimate there are approximately 1 million heroin addicts, 1.5 million cocaine addicts and approximately 314,000 crystal meth addicts in America”. 

“This is less than 1% of the population. A significant population in need of services to be sure, but a crisis? With 35% of the population being diagnosed as clinically obese, with all the attendant complications of that issue, that more looks like a real crisis to me,” states Heintz.

“If one were to talk to almost any addict, as I did for 20 years, they will quickly learn that the first drugs addicts almost invariably abuse are tobacco and alcohol. If closing the drug gateway through incarceration and punishment is the way to address and ameliorate the mental health diagnosis of addiction rather than a rational medical model of intervention, secession, and lowering of onset of initial use, then if we are to be honest about it, we should be arresting and incarcerating people for sales and use of alcohol and tobacco”. 

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