Chretien announces that marijuana possession will be decriminalized

by Yule Heibel on April 30, 2003

Myself, I don’t smoke, but I’m glad to hear that my federal government plans to decriminalize marijuana possession by June 2003. I’m glad that tax money in Canada will no longer be wasted to prosecute users, to bring them up before the courts, and to have them take up space and resources in jails where they don’t belong. The de facto reality is that people smoke pot in public here, but the police need resources to go after profiteering dealers, not some kid with a joint. I don’t want to sit next to *any* smoker, regardless of what he has rolled, and I’m opinionated enough to desire seeing smoking relegated to isolation cubicles preferably located on another planet, but I don’t think that it’s worth my society’s resources to go after users. Big tobacco companies and drug cartels should get the scrutiny instead. My main gripe with regular users is that, just as old social drunks (who think they’re so witty) can be a royal pain when routinely in their cups, old dopeheads have a tendency to become irrationally paranoid and tediously fractious, and are actually painful to be around.

But to the fretting parents and on-the-hustings politicians, hear me: Marijuana as such is not a “gateway” to hard drugs, either. For better or for worse, other people are the gateways in our lives. If a kid doesn’t understand that, perhaps because something is ethically or morally missing in the environment, then he or she won’t be thoughtfully able to handle, over the long-term, those lower-grade substances like pot or wine or beer, either. The drugs-as-gateways analogy only holds if the subject can’t relate to or in fact has no community with real people in it, or rather: an alternate community of users presents itself as an attractive alternative. Increasingly, of course, everything in our society provokes the child into abandoning the kind of ties where accountable, accounted for, and accounting individuals have any qualitative purchase. The rationale of the rat race — the world of the parents, and the world the child is being trained for daily — is to have dealings with professional identities, not with actual people, but those identities can’t be held to account at the end of the day: they were only doing their job.

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