Discussing (Not Smoking) Marijuana

If you don’t want to get into trouble at a social gathering I’m told you should avoid discussing politics and religion. Try tossing in the subject of legalizing marijuana!  Now that’s controversial.


All drug laws in Canada are under federal jurisdiction, which means the provinces can’t change them. But don’t tell that to the people who periodically demonstrate on downtown Vancouver streets. They don’t want to hear it while they use the event as an opportunity to flaunt the law and smoke pot.


A recent Angus Reid Strategies poll resulted in a Vancouver Sun headline announcing that “65 per cent in B.C. want marijuana to be legalized”. It takes a moment to discover that it was an online poll of 822 people, thus just 534 people in a province of 4,146,000 who actually said, when asked if they thought the legalization of marijuana would reduce violence related to the drug trade, that it probably would.


I’m not disputing it might. Nobody really knows. Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, points out in the article that if marijuana were legalized and regulated it would be “safer to buy and sell pot.” He added, “Still, since marijuana is illegal worldwide, the theory has never been tested.”


No, it hasn’t, and I for one hope Canada never becomes the testing ground. Gang violence is vile, but it was about money long before drugs like marijuana became popular. Legalize marijuana and, while that will please those who smoke it, the violence will simply shift and continue to be about money from another source.


Do I think that 65% of my neighbours favour legalizing marijuana? No, and I think such polls are dangerously misleading. I also think those who use such headlines contribute to media sensationalism.


But I’m told that’s another controversial subject best avoided if you don’t want to get into trouble.