David Asper: It’s the CMA, not the government, that’s ‘politicizing’ the marijuana debate

David Asper: It’s the CMA, not the government, that’s ‘politicizing’ the marijuana debate

The marijuana debate heated up again last week, when the Canadian Medical Association denied its support for a public service campaign that is to be launched by Health Canada warning of the dangers associated with use of the drug. Because there are conflicting views between the Conservatives and Liberals on the legalization question, the CMA said, it didn’t want to play politics.This is more than a bit disingenuous: Warning of the dangers of marijuana usage, which is currently illegal, is actually no different that warning about the use of legal alcohol or tobacco, which Health Canada does with the CMA’s support. In other words: Regardless of whether marijuana is fully legal, decriminalized or fully criminal, the Health Canada public service campaign has nothing to do with the political issue.In fact, one could argue that as Canada progresses toward some form of liberalized marijuana law, it’s a good thing that Health Canada is getting ahead of the game so that people who choose to use the drug are informed, as they are with tobacco and alcohol.On the larger question of the legal status of marijuana, Justice Minister Peter McKay reiterated his interest in adopting the regime proposed by the police chiefs of Canada, namely that possession of small amounts be decriminalized and possibly treated under the Contraventions Act. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals continue to pledge that if elected they will legalize the drug entirely for recreational use.Many people in different political parties have differing views on the subject, including within the Conservative party. I’m a Conservative and happen to support legalization and regulation, because, as I’ve noted before, mere decriminalization would continue to keep the supply lines (i.e. the drug traffickers) in the shadows rather than eliminating them by regulating and taxing the product as we do with alcohol.Unlike the Liberals, however, I think the Conservatives understand that legalization cannot happen with the wave of a magic wand. It would be completely irresponsible to simply wipe marijuana off the law books and proclaim that it’s as legal as growing dandelions in your garden.Should anyone, including children, be allowed to have access to marijuana? Could anyone grow it in any amount? Could anyone sell it anywhere they want? Should there be some kind of qualitative control so that toxic marijuana doesn’t find its way into the marketplace? Should, as Health Canada desires, warnings exist about the effects of the use of marijuana?These are the type of questions that need to be considered, and perhaps the most important one: If marijuana were to be legalized who would oversee its regulation? The provinces? If so, have they been consulted? The federal government? Has any study been done on how that would work?Our federal government seems inclined to take a more incremental approach by first decriminalizing marijuana to see what happens and how Canadians react to the change. This is a very Canadian and cautious approach — in part because it can happen within federal jurisdiction. Should the provinces take an interest in a next step toward legalization and regulation, it would be up to them to work with the federal government to make further changes.The CMA, by the way, is the same organization whose leadership worries about prescribing medical marijuana because of the lack of research on its long term effects. Which might suggest to some that the CMA leadership created this controversy as a PR stunt for the Liberals’ benefit.Carry on Health Canada. You don’t need the CMA.Source: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/08/22/david-asper-its-the-cma-not-the-government-thats-politicizing-the-marijuana-debate/

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