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Just legalize it already

By Hempology | November 13, 2007

The Province, BC
11 Nov 2007
Andy Ivens


Larry Campbell has seen the effects of Canada’s marijuana prohibition laws first-hand, as an RCMP drug officer for eight years and as chief coroner of B.C.  before his election as mayor of Vancouver in 2002.

He figures the drug should be legalized, controlled — and taxed like tobacco.

“There is no question that there is violence tied to the grow-ops.  There is violence involved in the criminal gangs that run them,” Campbell says.

“The time is here that we should simply take this out of the criminal element and regulate it.  The idea that marijuana is virtually any of the things that the drug warriors in the United States say is ludicrous.

“They’re much like the Conservative government — they don’t believe in scientific fact.

“The fact of the matter is that if we regulated it, we would probably find ourselves in much the same way as we are with tobacco right now.”

But Campbell is against simply decriminalizing the drug.

“I don’t support that because it sends out a real mixed message.  It says to those that use it, ‘This is not a problem, but we’re not going to make it legal.’

“And it says to the drug gangs, ‘Congratulations, you just moved up to a new notch here.  Nothing’s going to happen to your customers, so you can grow it and sell it as much as you want.’

“It’s just a simpler form of prohibition.

“I don’t think that Little Johnny should have a record [for marijuana use] and I don’t think he should be barred from going anywhere [because of a criminal record].

“Just take a look at Prohibition in the United States with alcohol.  It’s as simple as that.

“I would be hard-pressed to find any people that I know who haven’t smoked marijuana and I can tell you that I don’t have any of them to my knowledge who are addicted to any other drugs or marijuana.”

Campbell says one thing has convinced opponents marijuana should be illegal: ideology.

“It’s all ideology — if they’re wrong on this, then what else are they wrong on? They won’t even allow hemp.  That’s how stupid these people are — and they are stupid.  I describe [White House drug czar John] Walters as a moron, and he is truly a moron.

“I like to base things that I do on scientific fact.  If a scientific fact said marijuana is a gateway, addictive drug that causes great harm to society, I’d be [in favour of] life sentences.

“But it’s not and we know that.  There simply is no evidence to it.

“In the United States, they have more people in jail per capita than anywhere in the world, and the majority of them are in there on drug-related charges.

“Legalizing [marijuana] means you don’t have to come down hard on anyone, plus you get at the $8 billion that we’re losing [in taxes] in the economy of British Columbia.

“If you get to tax it, you get to control it [and] you get to decide who’s going to use it.

“If you want to reduce the use of marijuana, you reduce it exactly the same way as we do with cigarettes — you raise the taxes and educate the people on any harms that there may be, and there are harms.

“Anytime you ingest something into your body, there’s going to be something going on — and smoking is the least of it.

“And I think there are people who are susceptible to having difficulties with any substance, including marijuana, but we can limit those.

“I’ve said all along: Legalize it, control it and tax the livin’ hell out of it and put it all into health care, straight in,” he says.

“In Europe, it’s not a crime, it’s a nuisance .  .  .  why don’t we look at it like that?

“If [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper gets his way, prisons, like the United States, will be a growth industry.  We’ll start destroying families.  [There will be] more crime, breakdown in society and loss of productivity from good people going to jail for nothing.”

Campbell says “there’s no question” Canada’s marijuana laws are dictated by the U.S.  war on drugs.

“We dance entirely to their tune.  We’re afraid of what will happen if we ever legalize marijuana.”

Asked what the U.S.  could do in response, Campbell says: “They could invade us.  That’s not outside the realm of possibility.  They’ve invaded lots of other friends over the years.

“They could close the border.  It would hurt us more than it would hurt them.”

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Eyes: Reduces intra-ocular pressure, a help to glaucoma patients.

Spasticity: Believed to help calm spasms from spinal-cord injury, MS and possibly epilepsy.  In the early 1900s, cannabis tinctures were marketed as anti-spasmodics.

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Nausea: Combats nausea from chemotherapy, helps minimize vomiting.

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