In a July 11 editorial, Canada's National Post newspaper called for the legalization of marijuana under the headline "Legalize Pot." Aside from the Toronto Globe & Mail, the Post is the only Canadian newspaper considered to have a national reach. The newspaper had supported Prime Minister Chretien's marijuana decriminalization proposal, the editorial noted, but the current medical marijuana snafu -- because of repeated court rulings, the Canadian federal government finds itself in the uncomfortable position of being forced to distribute medical marijuana in order to avoid the collapse of its marijuana laws -- has led the Post to the conclusion that decriminalization isn't enough.
"Outright legalization may be in order," the Post editorialized. "Ottawa finds itself in the strange position of being a de facto pot dealer. This status quo cannot last," not because that would be morally wrong, but because it conflicts with the Post's free market ideology. "Marijuana is a chemically complex substance and only a free-market solution can supply therapeutic users with the variety and quality they seek. Second, it seems wrong as a matter of economics for the federal government to be a drug industry monopolist -- just as it is wrong for provincial governments in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and elsewhere to be booze industry monopolists. When the state gets involved in the sale of state-regulated substances, inefficiencies and conflicts of interest inevitably abound. In the long run, it makes more sense for pot to be treated like tobacco or prescription drugs -- regulated, but not sold by, the government."
It is the issue of medical marijuana that has led to the possibility of legalization, opined the Post. "First, the issue of therapeutic marijuana has created a sense of urgency in regard to drug reform: It is inhumane to deprive AIDS and cancer sufferers of an effective means of pain relief for a day longer than necessary. Second, by bringing a sympathetic, politically active class of marijuana smokers into the public spotlight, therapeutic marijuana has helped debunk the image of pot users as Cheech and Chong-style stoners.
"The result is that public acceptance of marijuana is increasing and even decriminalization now appears inadequate as a reform measure. Hopefully, this change in attitude will soon translate into political action. We look forward to the day when pot decriminalization gives way to pot legalization."
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