LETTER: Science not on side with ‘420’ teens

The Editor,

Re: "Taking on the tokers," the Now, April 23.

It is heartening to observe balanced reporting that recognizes the courage and tenacity of teens Jordan Smith and the Fesenmaier twins standing up for what they believe — a great piece by reporter Amy Reid.

Unfortunately, these teenagers think that science is on their side based on NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) propaganda. If they are open to look at a much wider selection of scientific articles, I would be happy to oblige. Nonetheless, I applaud their willingness to engage and be part of an essential discussion.

It is concerning to me that the Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada appear to be behind the efforts of these youth, as they "had hesitation because of safety" of having the boys come out. Presumably, this organization, in common with their parents, endorsed this "out of school activism." In my opinion, all children of school age should be in school whatever their political opinion or personal choices.

I came to this subject via an unlikely route. Born and raised in the UK, I spent more than 20 years in the Royal Air Force and left as a senior officer in 2002 because I wanted to live in Canada.

I worked for six years at a Canadian Forces Base in Alberta supporting both the British and Canadian military training. In 2008, I relocated to B.C. where, for four years, I worked for a high-tech company in Richmond and held a top-secret security clearance through CSIS because of my work with the Department of National Defense. Overlaying my professional work was some significant family trauma. In 2005, my 41-year-old wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite utilizing the full catalogue of conventional treatment, she survived just over four years, passing away in December 2009.

Stranger than lightning striking twice, my 16-year-old, eldest daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour just two weeks before her mother died.

Over the past few years, I have come to appreciate what a polarizing topic cannabis is. However, I would like to make two things clear.

The first is that legalization and medicinal access are different topics, despite some agendas to intertwine them. In my opinion, the legalization is for every person of voting age to make a decision on. If people consider the current system is working, in which criminals regulate production, supply and access, then they are entitled to their opinion. However, noting that the United Nations rate Canada in last place out of western countries for teenage use of cannabis, I think most educated people would vote to legalize and regulate and tax it.

Now we come to medical access. If a patient requires it and a doctor prescribes it, then what compassionate society would have an issue with that occurring? We do not have such strong opinions on patients coming out of surgery and being administered morphine for pain relief. Imagine the hypocrisy of, "It’s a gateway drug" and "What about the addiction?" and "It will cause psychosis." You get the idea!

The Lower Mainland, and Surrey in particular, needs educated discussion, supported by science, to move forward.

David Hutchinson, South Surrey