Late last month, Canada became only the second country in the world to legalise recreational marijuana. The move was led by Canada’s liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and supported by a comfortable majority of Canadians, allowing it to pass comfortably through the legislature. It is a decision that just makes good sense.
Whatever potheads may tell you, cannabis is not a healthy thing to smoke. Sure, it has some limited medical capabilities, and yes it is on balance not as bad for you as tobacco, but it is simply not healthy. It produces smoke that damages the lungs, and the effect it has on the brain can lead to permanent issues in large doses, particularly in younger users. Marijuana, like with almost all drugs, can cause damage to the human body. However, this is no reason for a ban on the substance. Tobacco and alcohol are at least as bad as cannabis, and yet they are legal. This is a tremendous double standard, existing only because tobacco and alcohol were already widely consumed before bans on drugs became the fashion. Nobody is calling for a return to prohibition, so clearly we now accept as a society that people are therefore allowed to slightly harm themselves in an attempt to enjoy themselves. As such, there is no reason to not have cannabis legalised.
Legalising marijuana also makes sense from a health perspective. Much like with other perceived evils such as abortion or prostitution, people are going to pursue cannabis and other drugs whether it is legal or not. The only difference caused by banning drugs is that consumers are liable to poor quality product that could seriously harm them. Furthermore, these harmed consumers will be less likely to get the medical aid they need for fear of legal repercussion, leading to unnecessary deaths. Legalising cannabis, along with all drugs, removes this issue. Users of softer drugs such as marijuana can consume it safely, knowing that the product is clean and that they will not be arrested if they need to go to a hospital. Meanwhile, addicts of harder, more lethal drugs can be weaned off them in care, and will not feel forced to go down a path that invariably leads to poverty and often death. Legalising drugs keeps people safer and saves lives, and also makes a tidy profit too; the government can tax legal drugs in a way it can’t black market ones.
Finally, legalising drugs stops thousands of lives being wasted away in prison due to the misfortune of being caught. Particularly in the US, tens of thousands are locked up along with real criminals simply for being in possession of illegal drugs. This fills up prisons with people who really do not belong there, and destroys lives for no good reason. At worst, these people need some help to get off a dangerously addictive substances and get their lives back on track. At best, all they need is some air freshener to get rid of the smell. These people are not criminals, they’re just enjoying life at their own expense. They hurt no one. There is no reason for them to be in jail.
This author is no pothead. I like a drink, but no more than that. And yet even I can see the ridiculousness of these laws. Canada has taken a big step for the western world by joining Uruguay and legalising cannabis. We can only hope that the rest of the world will soon follow suit.