Art by Rebecca Duce.

Art by Rebecca Duce.

I’m not going to take up time by bouncing around the topic. I honestly think it’s about time marijuana was legalized in Canada. To be quite honest, I don’t see why it isn’t yet. I’ve never personally smoked (or otherwise ingested) marijuana, but I’m still firm in my belief that it should be both decriminalized and legalized. Maybe with the confession that Justin Trudeau has smoked it while in office will help others see just how harmless it can be when dealt with properly. Maybe, by the time I’m his age, this article will be moot – maybe even by the time I’m done university. Nice and simply, here’s why I think we’re past due on a revised weed bill.

We are in debt, big time. And as a country. According to a wonderful website, called Debt Clock, which helps figure out a rough image of a country’s federal debt, we’re at about $17,500 in the red, per person. Keep in mind we have close to 34 million people in Canada. We may not be as bad as other countries, but do the math: we’re in the hole. Now, I’m not saying that national legalization of weed will solve our financial problems, but at the same time it would do a lot to aid in it. In Ontario, according to a smoker’s rights advocacy group, Ontario cigarette prices (for a carton of 200) was around $30.35 in 2003. In my opinion, that’s crazy enough. Then you figure out that a whopping $20.66 of that price is the multiple taxes from the provincial or federal government. Now you see how we could use legalized weed to our advantage. The taxes alone on legalized weed could easily be a multimillion-dollar industry, if sold the same way we’ve been distributing alcohol and cigarettes for decades. In my eyes, it’s an amazing business move. There’s a whole other argument related to money saving in the sense of not needing police to “waste money” enforcing it anymore, but I’d argue that point in a separate article.

Marijuana is not lethal, meaning you will not die as a direct result of smoking or otherwise ingesting weed. I’d say it becomes a pretty reliable fact when the Government of Canada’s “Healthy Canadians” website clearly states the non-lethality of it, right under the many short-term effects (among them, spontaneous laughter – how scary) and above the list of long-term effects. I noticed something on the page dedicated to tobacco that, quite frankly, pissed me off: the effects of tobacco aren’t listed, that is, not unless you scroll down to the bottom of the page and find a separate link directing you there. Once you read and compare, you see that tobacco effects are in fact much worse and take effect in a shorter amount of time, too. Don’t get me wrong, marijuana can be bad. It can lead to (as our government website tells us): impaired short-term memory, psychosis, mild paranoia, anxiety, or panic in the short-term. In the long-term, you could experience enhanced chances of schizophrenia, breathing problems or cognitive impairment. Now, on that hidden tobacco page? Smokers can experience problems with their heart and blood vessels, certain types of cancers, lung and respiratory problems, menstrual problems, fertility problems, premature delivery, having a low birth weight baby, erectile dysfunction and premature death. I don’t smoke tobacco either, but if I had to choose between a cigarette and a joint, based on what my own government is telling me? I know what I’d be grabbing.

Time for a fun fact: when same-gendered marriage became legal in Canada, straight people were not forced to marry someone of the same gender. After abortion became legal in Canada, our nation still had numerous women giving live birth. Odd, isn’t it? Tobacco is legal, but I’ve never smoked in my life. Alcohol is legal and guess what, people drink. But some don’t. The thing that ties all of these together? Possibly controversial laws, that you don’t have to take part in if you don’t want to (or, in the case of same-gendered married, it may simply not be something that effects you on a personal level). Just like if weed was legal, you wouldn’t have to smoke it if you didn’t want to, as with alcohol or tobacco; if weed was legal, you would have to follow laws related to it, just as with alcohol or tobacco. Of course, it probably wouldn’t be a perfect system. Many would abuse it, we’d probably still have illegal dealers and underage users. Laws should be enforced stating that only certain businesses could sell it and to individuals of certain age groups. If using, there should be limits on what you could be doing afterwards and for a certain time period after ingesting, similar to the enforcement against drinking and driving, and in overly public places with children.

I could list a hundred other arguments why I think it should be legal. I don’t use it now, and if (when) it’s eventually legal, I still won’t. It’s just something that doesn’t personally appeal to me. But from the eyes of someone who doesn’t use marijuana, I still think it’s well past the time to decriminalize and legalize. Just ask Justin.

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