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Prohibition Doesn’t Work!

By Ted | June 28, 2002

more by Ted Smith

By Ted Smith

Victoria’s Hempology 101 Society

May 5th, 2002 [Published in Victoria's Times Colonist: June 27, 2002]

Canadian Senators are now echoing what the general public has known for years: Cannabis
is not as harmful as the prohibition laws. Recently published research is also bringing cannabis advocates and
scientists together to agree this herb is a safe medical and recreational alternative to legal drugs.

These studies add to the growing body of scientific evidence being used in court cases to prove that the
prohibition of cannabis is costly, unreasonable, unsuccessful and harmful to human health and civil
society. The new science constantly reinforces ideals held by cannabis activists, while providing the entire
population with intelligent arguments for sensible drug policies.

Countries around the world are slowly changing prohibition laws based upon sound
economic, legal, medical and social evidence which shows that the current criminal law prohibitng certain
substances is
counter-productive. In a UK police study half admitted to previously using cannabis, with most in agreement that the
prohibition laws harmed relations between police and youth.
On April 20, Amnesty International joined the growing chorus with a motion denouncing the
“War On Drugs” as a failure which contributes to poverty, violence and drug abuse.

Meanwhile, alcohol, as shown by the new research done by the Solicitor-General, contributes to far more
violent incidents than any other legal or illegal substance. The brief experiment of alcohol prohibition
tried by Canada and the US in the early 1900′s was partly created to curb violence caused by drunks, especially
against women. However, we were quick to learn that prohibition causes more problems than drug use and abuse,
giving criminals opportunities to sell addictive, impure substances at inflated prices. Alcohol contributes to
violence, driving accidents, addiction, lost productivity, family breakdowns, less empathy towards others,
medical illness and death. Howevever, if we want to claim to live in a free country we have to allow people to
make decisions about their own body.

At the same time, pharmaceutical drugs are often toxic and addictive, with a recent study in
the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that many new approved medical drugs are potentially
damaging or even lethal. The costs of new drugs is also of concern. The health care system is strained to
the finiancial limit, with prescription pills being one of the most expensive budget items.

A flood of new drugs, especially for relatively new medical issues such as AIDS and Hepatitis C,
complicates choices when considering appropriate treatment options. Often the physical costs of
treatment experimentation are unrecoverable. Many suffer pain and possible death from the pills
and procedures which are intended to help them.

The use of cannabis, on the other hand, has never in recorded history been directly responsible for a single death.
Many have died, however, under the hand of violent law enforcement agents, or in conflict with criminal
organizations and governments, with a few perishing under the influence of the plant in unfortunate accidents.
For the most part, cannabis is known throughout the world as a relaxing, healing benign plant with a wide
variety of potential uses.

The medical benefits of eating and smoking cannabis, combined with the relaxing and artistically
inspiring qualities of the plant, are very well documented. As a preventative medicine, eating cannabis
has more potential benefits than advocates dare suggest. While excessive smoking can result in some severe lung
and throat problems, the vast majority of these problems are related to smoking poor quality cannabis or the
use of inappropriate smoking techniques or equipment. Relatively few chronic pot smokers develop incurable
bronchitis, very rarely do non-tobacco smoking cannabis consumers get cancer and it is estimated only
5% of those who try it will end up using cannabis daily.

The main problem to consider when addressing legalization appears to be the issues around youth and drugs.
There are many legitimate concerns regarding youth and the use of both legal and illegal drugs.
For some youth, drugs are often used to rebel or escape. Youth also harm their physical, emotional and
social development by using drugs too early. Unforunately, prohibition is generally contributing to youth
drug experimentation, addiction and abuse.
Education, honesty and demonstrating appropriate behaviour patterns of substance use are the
best tools a role model can use to help youth live healthy, productive lives.

Most opponents of the “War On Drugs” are automatically condemned by many as being promoters of drug use
and experimentation. This is ironic because advocates for sensible drug policy are putting their lives on
the line to help society develop better governing mechanisms.
We believe drug abuse is the result of living in an unhealthy environment, not because some people are
We are not attempting to contribute to the
downfall of the human by having a big, never-ending party to celebrate our existance. We are greatly
concerned about our own health and security, just as we are worried about the well-being of future generations.

Changes in drug policy within HEALTH CANADA appear to be allowing a few individuals with medical problems
access to cannabis. The reality is the courts have recognized that cannabis is a neccessary medicine for
some Canadians. HEALTH CANADA’s compassion has been forced by court decision, and is actually not
a compassionate program at all.

Anne McLellan, federal Health Minister, recently announced the cannabis being grown in Flin Flon will only
be given to those involved in research, months, or even years, from now. In the meantime,
there will be no legal source of cannabis. Critics suggest the intention of
this research will be to disprove any perceived benefit from smoking cannabis in favour of using pills and
inhalers. Some believe those eventually receiving mid-grade research cannabis will not be given enough
medicine to properly medicate and they will be told if they consume any other cannabis they will be kicked out
of the experiment. Half will even be forced to quit using any cannabis while they are given a placebo to
smoke, a necessary part of any medical study. This will only happen after patients have experimented
with all available drugs.

The current situation in Canada is an awkward process where activists, courts, police, doctors, politicians, crown
prosecutors and media continually work to protect their position. We have activists undermining prohibition with
constant intelligent, passive, civil disobedience. Doctors generally protect their license from
sanction rather than stand up for any individual’s need. Judges are starting to make decisions defending peoples rights
and freedoms. Lawyers create new twisted arguments against illicit drug users, while the police increase arrests of
growers and advocates. Media companies focus upon corporate idealism and advertising sales, not accurately
informing the public and generally blaming the government for problems.

Politicians are perhaps the most confusing group to understand. The laws were created, and can only be changed by,
people elected to act in the best interests of citizens. The Victoria City Council recently proved how accountable
and accessible, yet powerless, municipal governments are when they unanimously passed a resolution supporting
the medical use of cannabis. While the almighty federal government protects the industrial status quo, taxpayers
fork out $5 billion per year to cover costs associated with the War On Drugs, as estimated by the Auditor General
of Canada. The real costs are felt every day by people from every walk of life.

We can no longer afford this “War On” people who use some “Drugs”.

Health, peace, and prosperity are possible using responsible drug policies which guide individuals towards intelligent

Ted Smith is Head Consultant for Victoria’s Hempology 101 Society, founder of the Cannabis Buyers Clubs of Canada and
faces 6 charges of trafficking cannabis.

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