calgary defence blog
A Defence lawyer's perspective on issues in criminal law
3 Reasons Alberta's Premier Needs to Come Around on Marijuana Legalization
Posted in DRUG OFFENCES andJanuary 14, 2016
Our Prime Minister has promised it will happen, and may law enforcement and health officials are very much onboard. Most provincial governments have come to accept what everyone else has known for a while: marijuana legalization is on its way. But as you might expect, Alberta's premier is lagging a little behind the times.
As one of Canada's more conservative provinces, Alberta's resistance to the devil's weed is no more surprising than its resistance to other social change. At this point in the marijuana debate, though, the issue should have been closed and done years ago. There's no compelling reason that marijuana should be illegal—it's less damaging to individual health and public health and safety than alcohol and even prescription opiates, is less addictive than many other recreational and pharmaceutical drugs, and can be regulated and taxed like tobacco and alcohol to offset whatever minor problems or minimally increased healthcare burdens occur after its legalization (though it is not clear that that there would be any measurable adverse effects).
There are, however, several compelling reasons for marijuana's legalization. Here are my top three.
1. Marijuana is Safer Than Many Other Legal Substances
Far less damaging to the body than cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription opiates. Far less habit forming than any of these things, too. Far less prone to contributing to significant errors in judgment that endanger the lives of users and others than is alcohol. Free from all of the environmental problems associated with the production and disposal of pharmaceuticals.
Why marijuana was ever criminalized in the first place is a matter of debate, but given the many far more dangerous substances that are legal, it can hardly be defended as rational to continue to ban the substance, especially in light of other arguments for marijuana's legalization.
2. Democracy Still Counts for Something When it Comes to the Law
The people have spoken, and the people are in favor of legalization—not just people who use or want to use marijuana, but people of all stripes who understand that irrationality of its criminalization and who maybe—just maybe—think the government should be more involved in other issues and less concerned with what adults choose to put in their bodies.
Which brings us to...
3. Personal Liberty Should Only Be Infringed When Absolutely Necessary
The principle of personal liberty is foundational to any modern democracy. We should be free to do what we please, so long as it does not infringe on another's right to do the same. there are many issues where this relatively simple principle leads to come pretty complex trade-offs, but when it comes to marijuana the issue is very clear: private use of marijuana in the home, or in businesses licensed for such use (like bars for alcohol), affects no one but the user, and should be an individual choice.
I hope the premier comes around on this issue.
In the meantime, if you've been charged with a marijuana offence, or with any drug-related offence or other crime in the Greater Calgary Area, please contact my office today for the zealous representation you deserve.
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