I am what is commonly referred to as a Red Tory.  Which means that, while I am a card-carrying member of both the Conservative Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario ( and a board member on both riding associations ), I don’t necessarily agree with everything that my two political parties set as policy.

And that’s fine; this is a democracy, and the policies of the parties I belong to are built from the grassroots-up.  Any party member can propose a policy or policy change, which then is debated locally, regionally, and nationally.

Most of us Red Tories are lockstep with the economic policies of the Conservative parties, but tend to be a little more relaxed when it comes to social policies.  I like to look at each of these issues individually, and base my opinions on my own understanding of the facts.

I don’t let my political beliefs drive my attitudes; it’s my attitudes and beliefs that drive my political affiliations.

And, in what my conservative colleagues will call a sharp left-turn, I think it’s high time ( pun intended ) that we legalize marijuana.

Now, I don’t smoke pot.  I am not advocating for the legalization of the stuff in the hopes that I will be able to get high in peace.  My reasons are more practical and pragmatic.

There are massive amounts of research into marijuana, its use, medical consequences of use, and its addictive properties.  The vast majority of the science indicates that marijuana is no more harmful to humans than alcohol or tobacco.

Yet, it has gained an unfair stigma as a “gateway drug.” Advocates of that theory postulate that because most harder-drug users admit to using marijuana in the past anyone who uses marijuana today runs the risk it will serve as a “gateway” to these more toxic, more addictive substances.

Yet, what those against the legalization of pot fail to mention is the fact that those who use harder drugs also admit to using tobacco and alcohol.

Besides, a reverse-proof argument like this has no merit.  All politicians may have ridden bicycles as children, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that all children who ride bicycles will become politicians.

Laws are implemented by our elected officials, and maintained by the state, for the protection of the citizenry.  Yet, the more I look at this issue, I see more harm coming to us from the “war on drugs” and illegality of marijuana than if it was legalized.

Prohibition of something high in demand never works – it didn’t work with alcohol, and it certainly doesn’t work with pot.  In fact, it creates a criminal industry that produces higher property crime rates, more violence, and less support for those who use the drug.

The economic side of it is what really blows my mind.  How many hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year by our federal, provincial, and local police services to enforce these anti-marijuana laws?

Are we really winning this “war” against our own citizenry? Imagine the tax revenues and economic benefits that would come from completely legalizing and regulating the industry.

Would we need the austerity measures currently proposed by our federal and provincial governments if we had this additional tax base? Perhaps, but the level of cuts would probably be lessened.

In poll after poll, the majority of Canadians have indicated that they believe marijuana should be legalized.  I have yet to see a convincing argument to the contrary.

It’s up to each family to live by their own moral code; just because something is legal, doesn’t mean my family has to do it.  But if freedom is truly what we stand for, then it’s time our federal government listened to the majority.

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Let’s legalize marijuana, and move on to solving more important issues.

Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2012, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Contact: http://www.intelligencer.ca/feedback1/LetterToEditor.aspx
Website: http://www.intelligencer.ca/
Author: Glenn May-Anderson