Pot-addled sodomites? Or just a better idea?

by Yule Heibel on May 2, 2003

Since Jean Chretien’s announcement on Wednesday that Canada will decriminalize marijuana possession by June 2003, the US has predictably gone into a tizzy. David Murray, special assistant in the Office of National Drug Control Policy (US), came to Vancouver yesterday to tell us in so many words that we were on the slippery slope. (To what?, one wonders; US invasion?). For not only will possessing a joint not land you in jail as it will in our right-thinking neighbour, but Vancouver is also on the verge of opening North America’s first safe injection site for drug addicts. What next?

How about legalized same sex marriage? The B.C. Appeal Court ruled unanimously yesterday that same-sex couples have the same right to marry as opposite-sex couples. While churches and family-values organizations complained, the Appeal Court affirmed that denying lesbians and gays the right to marriage violates the Canadian Constitution. This overturns an earlier decision by the B.C. Supreme Court defining marriage as a union between opposite-sex couples. Differing from modifications to laws in Vermont & Hawaii, the Canadian unions would be a legal marriage, not just a “registered partnership” or a kind of “civil union.”

Back to the pot issue: The Americans are of course threatening us with tighter border controls, knowing that this will hit trade and pocketbooks, but I don’t see how this is supposed to stop someone with a joint in their pocket. Special Assistant Murray’s lecture to Canada jumped from personal use to large scale trafficking without blinking. He seemed oblivious to the leap, even as he stressed the role of marketing (left undefined, but perhaps watered-down heroin chic, co-opted gangsta culture, mass entertainment, and bigtime trafficking: the kit and kaboodle of garbage aimed at kids) as the gateway to harder drugs. The article concluded with this: “Asked for evidence that the U.S. approach to drugs is effective or better than other approaches, Murray said it’s difficult to compare countries because they have different demographic make-ups and cultures that affect drug use.”

Indeed. Canada is different than the US. Perhaps Rick Santorum would suggest that married same-sex couples will next think it’s legal to roast their children for Sunday dinner, but Canadians seem less anxious about individualism than Americans are. In America’s melting pot, differences are burned away, which is what makes peer pressure so dangerously irresistable. Canada isn’t immune to that, but we’re *not yet* American. We need our differences.

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