High time to talk about pot

More public dialogue needed in regards to legalizing marijuana

With the recent legalization of marijuana in Washington and Oregon, and with the inconsistencies surrounding marijuana dispensaries in B.C., we are young citizens who have many questions about where our community is headed in regard to marijuana.

Should Canada move from legalization of medical marijuana to an inclusive legalization for recreational use?

Arrests for pot possession in this province have been increasing – although the number of arrests depends on the region of the province where people reside.

As criminology students at Kwantlen who hope to enter a career in law enforcement in the future, we have been looking at health and legal issues around recreational marijuana in the Lower Mainland for a writing course with Dr. Sue Ann Cairns.

We do not use marijuana, and thus we have no vested interest in whether or not marijuana is legalized.

However, we do hope that when we are enforcing laws in our community, that the laws are consistent and make sense.

As citizens of this province and Surrey, we are concerned about the police time and costs associated with enforcement of our current laws regarding possession of marijuana.

We have discovered both pros and cons regarding legalization of recreational marijuana. The cons include the following points:

• Possible gateway drug to other forms of more dangerous drugs such as cocaine;

• Health risks, especially for adolescents whose brains are still developing;

• Impairments in judgement and memory while under the influence;

• Likelihood that legalization will not be a cure-all for the illegal marijuana trade.

The pros include these points:

• Reduction of black market;

• Economic benefits associated with taxation and licensing;

• Cost savings for courts and police time;

• Potential reduction of illegal supply in black market;

• Economic benefits associated with taxation and licensing.

Recognizing there will be a strong need to think this issue through carefully, we believe it is high time we have more public dialogue around this question.

 

Amritpal Jammu and Jasjot Mangat

Criminology students

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

 

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