More Harm Caused by Calgary Marijuana Criminalization

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More Harm Caused by Calgary Marijuana Criminalization

Even as medical marijuana in Calgary is becoming a reality, the drug remains a common source of criminal charges ranging from possession to trafficking, even when small amounts of the controlled substance are involved. While society is heading in one direction—namely, admitting that marijuana use is incredibly common despite its being illegal, and that it is less harmful and less addictive than alcohol despite the latter being entirely legal—Calgary Police and other law enforcement and criminal justice personnel seem to be going the opposite way.

Increased crackdowns and drug-related court cases clogging the Calgary rolls continue to make headlines, and continue to give Conservative policymakers something to blow hot air about (yes, people are using marijuana when it's against the law, what?). While it might be high times for the Calgary Police, the straight dope is that our current attitude towards marijuana criminalization (and the criminalization of many other drugs, for that matter) is causing more harm than good to the average citizen of Calgary.

Not only do marijuana users face fines and even possible jail time for their personal choices, but now it appears that criminalization is making marijuana itself more dangerous.

According to CBC News, a new marijuana derivative is putting users and makers at greater risk due to volatile chemicals used in the manufacturing process and high concentrations of THC (the primary active compound in marijuana) in the finished product, called "Shatter."

Shatter is essentially a hardened cake of THC, with concentrations reaching as high as 90% in some preparations. Making Shatter involves using chemicals like butane to extract the THC from marijuana leaves and buds, and Calgary Police have already attributed two explosions in residential areas to Shatter production operations.

It takes a lot of marijuana to make a little bit of Shatter, as the process simply concentrates the THC—there's no net gain to users in terms of the way the drug makes them feel, and it's not any cheaper than marijuana itself. In fact, because the concentration of THC is so high in most Shatter preparations, users are more likely to have a negative experience by over-ingesting (there has never been a fatality or any permanent physical damage attributed to a THC overdose, and that remains the case today). The only reason Shatter is becoming popular is because it can be smoked in vapor-based e-cigarettes without releasing a marijuana odor.

Make marijuana legal—or at least decriminalize it—and the need to hide the smell goes away. There would be absolutely no reason to produce Shatter, and everyone would be safer. If we want our laws to truly protect us from harm, not to shield us from behaviors we might not agree with, making marijuana OK and removing the incentive to risk explosion to produce Shatter would make a lot more sense.

If you've been accused of a drug-related crime in the Calgary area, including crimes involving marijuana and/or Shatter, please contact my office today and get the legal assistance you're entitled to.