Posts Tagged ‘marijuana’
Months and years of campaigning, more than$2.2 billion in election spending, over 100 million votes cast… and Americans in their wisdom decided to essentially maintain the status quo. President Obama returns to the White House for a second mandate. The Senate stays blue; the House stays red. But lest anyone was thinking that this whole thing was a giant waste of time, remember that it beats the hell out of the alternative.
I was on a plane for most of the evening, and while I was able to watch the results come in on satellite TV (thanks, WestJet!), I didn’t have internet access so no liveblogging of results. It was like a throwback to the pre-Web 2.0 years when you actually had to rely on traditional media sources for information. Well, unless you’re Barack Obama, author of the Tweet heard around the world.
The big vote
The race was close all night, but the nail-biter didn’t materialize. While both candidates were neck-and-neck in the popular vote for much of the evening, most of the highly contested swing states went one by one to Obama: New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia were called one by one for Team Obama. You could see the wind go out of the sails in the Romney camp as each one was declared, but Ohio finally solidified things shortly after 11pm ET. At that point, it was all over but the fat lady, whose singing will be heard in Florida just as soon as all those folks standing in line have a chance to vote.
So what happened to give the Obama team such a wide margin of victory, despite a 7.9% unemployment rate and widespread anger and disillusionment with the status quo?
Well, this is a new one, I have to admit: A politician apologizing for not smoking pot:
“I am not a fan of marijuana use. I have to confess this — I know all politicians are asked. I’ve never used marijuana. I apologise,” said Elizabeth May.
May’s Green Party, of course, calls for the legalization of marijuana in its platform.
Here I am on another Sunday night procrastinating going to sleep… because when I next wake up it will really be Monday and the weekend will be over. And there’s nothing more depressing than a Monday morning. So I’m determined to make it worse by being tired as a zombie. Makes perfect sense to me.
Anyway, this weekend did not rain as was predicted. In fact, it was sunny and beautiful. I hope everyone took advantage. Justin Trudeau sure did.
So what is it with the French and rejecting constitutions anyway? I think Chriac should simply insist on a Notwithstanding Clause.
Quote of the day: “President Bush has made a mistake in his show of support for Abbas (or Arafat in a Brooks Brothers Suit with better barber).” I never quite understood why Arafat, with all his millions, couldn’t afford to look better. Or, for that matter, why Suha never bought some sorely-needed plastic surgery. Oh, was that rude? I’m so sorry. I should know better than to insult dead terrorists. That would be uncivilized.
Speaking of terrorists, Abbas is making more threats, suggesting that suicide bombings “may be over” (yeah right) while threatening more if “progress” is not made. How, I wonder, does Abbas define “progress”? Israel is set to let 400 terrorists back on the streets, and the Palestinians are set to… do nothing but complain and launch more violent attacks, as usual. When was the last time the Palestinian side made any “gestures”?
On the home front, with Parliament set to get back to work tomorrow, amidst the scandals and non-confidence votes, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler dares to suggest that the government get some actual work done by passing proposed bills legalizing same-sex marriage and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. A valid argument. We’re paying all these people to govern, it’s about time they get on with it. Of course, the Tories oppose both bills, but I wonder whether Stephen Harper is capable of trying to attack the issues, or if he’s programmed to a single note and will keep hammering away on the sponsorship scandal instead?
The Marijuana Party may have only obtained 0.2% of the popular vote, but their platform has generated a real buzz. Now, the Martin government has pledged to decriminalize marijuana within this mandate:
Prime Minister Paul Martin pledged to reintroduce legislation this year to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana.
There had been rumours that, under pressure from the United States, the new Martin government would let the legislation fall.
Parliament failed to get the legislation through before it was dissolved prior to the June 28 election which saw Martin’s government reelected, but without a majority in Parliament.
Meeting with reporters after the first formal meeting of his new cabinet, Martin said “the legislation will be reintroduced this fall.”
I don’t smoke the stuff – never have, never will – but I support this legislation. There’s no reason why someone who smokes a cigarette can do so legally, but someone who’s caught smoking a joint will end up with a criminal record. Law enforcement resources should be dedicated to important crimes, not to chasing people with a little bit of weed.
In fact, I’d say this doesn’t go far enough. Decriminalization – replacing a criminal sentence with a fine for a regulatory infraction – won’t solve the crime involved from the supply end, nor will it help people who are legally allowed to smoke pot for medical reasons to have access to a standardized supply. The government out to simply legalize it and then tax the hell out of it, just like cigarettes. If people want to harm themselves or indulge from time to time, at least the money will go to fund the government, and not to line the pocket of some drug lord.
Sure, there are problems associated with legalization. So decriminalization is probably an important first step. And I’m not advocating drug use. But there are worse things in life than the occasional joint, and it’s time for the law to catch up with reality.
Next up, we have the two debates – French tonight, and English tomorrow night. L. Ian MacDonald has high expectations for Stephen Harper:
For Stephen Harper, the French debate represents a significant opportunity. If the Conservatives have really moved into the mid-teens in Quebec, as reported by the CPAC-SES Research poll last week, then the debate offers Harper the possibility of taking his support to the next level of 20 per cent, where the Conservatives would actually start to win a few seats. That could help him close the deal in Ontario, where they like to vote for parties with support in all regions of the country.
[ . . . ]
The worst nightmare for the Liberals could occur in Quebec living-rooms tonight, if viewers turn to one another and say: “you know, this guy Harper, he’s not so bad, he speaks pretty good French.” The result would be not a breakthrough, but a beachhead, for Harper.
That said, it ain’t over till it’s over. History has shown that 2 weeks before an election, results can be vastly different than on election day. I predict somewhat of a swing back from the NDP to the Liberals, as voters on the left panic about the prospect of a Conservative government. I doubt that we’ll see that happening in Quebec, however, as Bloc voters seem intent on punishing the Libs. But with the Libs and the Tories neck-and-neck, I wouldn’t be so quick to write off Paul Martin just yet.
In the meantime, I’ve discovered that the number of candidates in my riding has jumped to 8. All the major parties are represented, as well as the Green party, the Marxist-Leninist party, the Libertarian party, and the Marijuana party.
Hmmm… the Marijuana party… maybe I’ll vote for them. I mean, I don’t smoke the stuff and have no particular interest in it, but on principle I happen to agree that it should be legalized. Besides, here’s a one-issue party that has a reasonable chance of attaining its goal and makes no pretence about wanting to govern in any other area. Hey, sounds good to me!
Or then again, maybe not.
The sad thing is, I don’t feel particularly motivated to vote for any of the candidates or parties. So many choices, but in reality, so few… no wonder participation rates are so low and voter apathy is through the roof. Votes matter in precious few ridings; in the rest, the conclusion is foregone and we might as well just stay home.
With Ottawa’s proposed decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, it seems everyone is ringing in with their opinion.
The Quebec government is concerned that it will help and encourage organized crime. Halifax police are worried that more people will drive stoned. Peter Wlodarczak of the Edmonton Journal claims in a column that marijuana is an “entry-level drug which only leads its users to other forms of illicit narcotics. Then they enter a spiralling black hole from which precious few escape.” And an editorial in the Regina Leader-Post decries the confusion of the proposed new law.
On the other side of the debate, readers claim that the new law will allow law enforcement to direct more resources towards fighting “hard” drugs. And an editorial in the Globe and Mail claims that the new law is “as moderate as it’s possible to be while still doing the right thing”.
There are so many opinions on the subject, it’s dizzying to keep them straight. People are worried that the US will be mad at us. Others are concerned that our tourism industry will be negatively affected or that crime rates will soar. Advocacy groups for cancer patients are angry that growing marijuana remains illegal. Some people want the laws tightened, other people claim the new proposal isn’t relaxed enough. It seems that every political group and constituency is weighing in on this one.
But it is a letter in the Vancouver Sun that most accurately reflects my opinion on the matter:
Marijuana should be legalized and treated exactly the same as alcohol is, distributed only to those with proof they’re at least 19. Just as it’s a legal right to purchase any type of alcohol for use either recreationally or medicinally, the same should apply to marijuana. Period!
The argument being touted about how bad marijuana is for youth is well taken. Just as alcohol is. But then, we haven’t done a very good job at educating or setting an example for our children about the responsible use of booze, have we?
You cannot legislate some peoples’ tragically poor decisions and resultant behaviour. On the other hand, legislation should not restrict the rights and greater benefit to the majority because of those poor decisions of a comparative few. If that were the case, alcohol would be prohibited because it produces drunks.
No, I don’t smoke pot. No, I have no desire to try it. Nor do I smoke cigarettes. But that’s not the point.
It is much worse to be a nicotine-dependent chain-smoker than to occasionally smoke a joint. So why are cigarettes legal and not marijuana? It doesn’t make any sense.
Laws designed to protect people from hurting themselves are all very well and good, but this one simply doesn’t work as-is. All the new law would do is put down on paper what is already essentially true in practice. Police don’t bother prosecuting a teenager caught smoking a joint. There’s just no point in throwing him into the criminal justice system, costing a fortune in the process. It’s already de facto tolerated. I’ve been to numerous rock concerts where the unmistakable scent of thousands of kids partaking was hard to miss. It’s reasonable to assume that the police know this too, and yet I’ve never seen them slap the handcuffs on a fan at a Dave Matthews Band concert before.
If anything, I think the new law doesn’t go far enough. The government ought to make the total leap and just legalize the damn stuff already. That will take organized crime out of the supply business, and generate millions in tax revenue for the government.