A Growing Storm

Tuesday, September 7, 2004


Written by Brandon G. Middleton

Added tax dollars, lowered number of illegal dealers, public choice on the situation; all fantastic pros to decriminalizing Marijuana in this country of ours. Unfortunately these pros are plagued with faults in a less than 20/20 situation.

The concept of decriminalizing marijuana has undergone quite the overhaul in the past year or so with our now former Prime Minister hinting at the idea for quite some time. Sure, the notion of thousands, possibly even millions of tax dollars being rushed into the economy through government control of the drug seems like an added incentive for those who don’t partake in its usage; not to mention easy, legal access for those who do. Everyone’s happy, right? Well…maybe not; for you see, on the flipside to the situation, one must consider the ramifications of such a decision on a much larger scale.

Like it or not, the United States is our best friend. They are shelter from the sometimes harsh exterior of the world as well as a provider for our very way of life as Canadians. At this very moment, Canada and the U.S. are exchanging upwards of $1,000,000 a minute through imports and exports of countless products, not to mention the income both countries receive from tourism. In sharing the largest undefended border on the planet, it must be assumed that there is an element of trust between the two nations. That trust was threatened following an unsuccessful meeting on the week of May 10th, 2003 between the Canadian Justice Minister at that time, Martin Cauchon and the U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft discussing Canada’s decriminalization plans. The United States’ anti-drug officials made their views on the subject rather clear and even went as far as threatening inter-boarder traffic as well as inflicting possible consequences in trade agreements.

With Canada’s economy just now beginning to stabilize at a respectable value after a significant recession, we cannot jeopardize our relations with our economically dominant next-door-neighbour. Our relations are already on the fritz due to Canada’s decision to take no part in the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately the United States seems to have opposing views on our decision and therefore, with so much of Canada’s operations relying on friendly ties with the U.S., we just can’t afford to stir the pot anymore than it already is.
As for the issue concerning a decline in illegal distribution of the drug if it were to become legalized, this assumption can’t be made without understanding or at the very least considering public reaction. There are millions of Marijuana users in Ontario alone and if the truth were to be told, marijuana is not a particularly expensive or difficult drug to produce or acquire. If the government were to take control of the industry as it has in the past with cigarettes and alcohol, prices would skyrocket. Taxes upon taxes would inflate the cost of marijuana and force those who can’t afford it into seeking alternate methods of locating the drug. Dealers would continue to purchase the drug from third parties, growing the crop for less than the government is charging, and resume selling it below the slated price to those interested in the discount.

Despite numerous valid and compelling arguments supporting the legalization of marijuana in Canada, none of them take into account the possible consequences on a multinational level; and it is at this level where our country’s decisions can induce the most painful impact to our economy.

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