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Decriminalization of Pot possession

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
What do you think? Should pot possession be decriminalized? The government of Canada has proposed for this to happen. Instead of decriminalizing, should it be made legal? Here is the story.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien was never a pot head, in fact, he’s never even lit up once. But that doesn’t mean that he thinks the law should come down hard on those who do.

The P.M. wants to change federal law so those caught smoking up won’t be overshadowed by a criminal record for the rest of their lives. But before people start running into the streets with bags of marijuana and lighters, they should heed his message. “We're not legalizing it, we're decriminalizing,†he explained during a Liberal fundraising dinner on Tuesday.

Amendments to the Criminal Code are expected to land in the Commons within the next two months. The changes will make possession of a little bit of the drug a minor offence, that could be handled like a traffic violation. “So you will have another ticket,†Chretien explained. “For losing your senses, or something like that.â€

And no, a softer line on the pot possession front isn’t triggered by his own background with the substance. “I never tasted it in my life,†he said.

Chretien said that the move to ease up on simple possession will come hand-in-hand with a more all-encompassing anti-drug plan that will still be hard on traffickers.
post #2 of 50
Its legal in so many countries. I know Holland and Germany both allow it for 'social' use.

I personally don't think it should be legalized in the US, but that is just my honest opinion, and I surely don't hold it against anyone who believes otherwise.
post #3 of 50
It's still illegal in Germany, but there is talk of decriminalizing it, since it is legal in Holland, and has also been decriminalized in Switzerland. I personally don't think it should be made legal, but decriminalizing it would unburden the justice system to some extent. I don't think it should be treated like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, etc..
post #4 of 50
Possession of amounts, less than an ounce, has been a misdemeanor, for a long time here. Possession for sale or distribution is the the big felony.

There's a lot of pro and con, to this. I never used it much and haven't, in over 20 years. It never affected me any differently, than alcohol but it wasn't worth the price or the hassle.

There are certain health considerations and I wouldn't want anyone driving under the influence - but that's another law. These days, showing dirty on a drug test, will keep you from getting a lot of jobs. I've been drug-tested, prior to getting my last three jobs.
post #5 of 50
For the record, I think it should be legalized. It really isn't any worse than alcohol or cigarettes, and just imagine what kind of tax revenues we could get! We could be out of a federal deficit in a year, at most. And that's not even taking into consideration the industrial and manufacturing uses of hemp, the benefits to the farmers (it has a short growing season, and nurishes the soil, so it could be planted IN ADDITION to the regular season crops). Or the possible medical uses of it, which could be boundless. (Yes, I have done a lot of research on it, and no, I never used it regularly.)

Knowing that it won't be legalized in my lifetime, I think decrimalizing it is a very good idea. I'm sorry, but pot doesn't hold a candle to cocain, heroin, meth, ecstasy, etc. Cops should be going after the hard drugs, not the people who just smoke dope.
post #6 of 50
Originally posted by valanhb
For the record, I think it should be legalized. It really isn't any worse than alcohol........
Look at how many deaths are attributed to alcohol, yet it's legal. People are dying daily from driving under the influence, alcohol poisoning, etc.

As Heidi stated, pot doesn't compare at all to the harder drugs and right now I wish the people who need it, like the cancer and AIDS patients, have access to it.

post #7 of 50
I really don't know, good or bad things could come from it. What works in one nation might not work in ours, I think a lot of American's are a very differnet breed if you will.
post #8 of 50
I think it should be legalized. I'll admit that I've used it in the past, but never had an "addiction" like I do to cigarettes. I gave it up over a year ago, because Mike doesn't approve. It helped my depression quite a bit and I can feel the difference in my systems now compared to when I used it. I get depressed a lot more easily now. I don't think people should do it all the time, but at least for medical uses, it should be legal. It's still legal for medical in some states but it's so controversial that it's hard to find a doctor to proscribe it when it's needed.
post #9 of 50
A lot of drugs have legitimate medical uses and a lot of legal drugs are abused. Just as people need to use alcohol, responsibly (don't drink and drive) they need to use their medication responsibly. I'd be crazy to drive, after taking my migraine meds.
post #10 of 50
I think it should be legal. People need to take responsibility for themselves and what they put in their own bodies. Also, just think of the millions of dollars that would be saved each year if law enforcement officials didn't have to hunt down and arrest growers and those in possession. It will also put the pot pushers out of business.......pretty much.
post #11 of 50
I don't see a problem with it, though I've never used it and probably wouldn't, but that's just me.

The thing they're talking about at school is how it is supposedly a "gateway" drug that leads to the usage of harder and more dangerous drugs. But I don't see how it could be any worse than tobacco. But I've never even smoked a cigarette, so I really don't have a clue what I'm talking about...
post #12 of 50
Jenn, the only way I can see pot as a "gateway drug" is because you have to find drug DEALERS who will make more money if they get you addicted to the harder stuff.

Yet another argument (in my mind anyway) for legalizing it.
post #13 of 50
I was a teen in the 70s, and I smoked pot. It was not a gateway drug for me, and I'm more scared of my prescription painkillers that are synthetic codeine drugs than I am of pot, which as an adult I choose not to smoke. (Funny enough, I went to a strange college where I got serious about life, so I stopped smoking when I went to college, which is somewhat ironic as that's when many people start).

But my personal opinions of pot really aren't what drive my thinking here.

I see it as far more of a practical issue, and I agree with Heidi. There are so many arguments for legalizing it. To help reduce the number of dealers on the streets. It isn't addictive, like alcohol and tobacco, and they're legal. It doesn't impair you like alcohol, and it doesn't harm your health as badly as does tobacco. These are all great arguments for legalization. To help reduce crime. To regulate it. To make its proven medicinal qualities available to those who need it.

But my main reason for believing in the legalization of marijuana hasn't been mentioned here.

There are approximately 1.9 million inmates incarcerated in this country. They cost us approximately $42,000 per inmate per year. Approximately 60% of those incarcerated are there because of drug-related crimes. Approximately 25% of those are because of marijuana.

Let's save the U.S. taxpayer close to $12 billion a year by not incarcerating people for marijuana-related charges. Then let's tax the sale and distribution of marijuana, and create untold billions a year in revenue.

For me, it's not a question of ideology at all. Marijuana is safer than other legal forms of recreation. It is not addictive like other forms of recreation. It has medicinal value. And we could save taxpayers millions, reduce crime, reduce access to the "gateway," and generate much needed revenue.

It's that simple, IMO.
post #14 of 50
Back when I used to teach a college course titled Drugs, Alcohol and Behavior I always had students debate the topic of legalization of marijuana. It was really interesting that once they began investigating the topic, no matter how anti-pot they were, almost every student concluded that it should be legalized, taxed, and controlled.

One of my favolite things that I would say while lecturing on pot was that it is easier to kill yourself by eating green potatoes than by using marijuana! It is true...TCH by itself is not dangerous (as long as you're not operating heavy machinery while high), but the tar and other poisons in the smoke sure can do lung damage.

Anyway...I really don't get the appeal of pot except to those with medical conditions that are improved by the THC. But, I know pot is a heck of a lot less dangerous than alcohol, cigarettes, or any other illegal drug AND as y'all pointed out, legalizing would reduce the number of people in prison while also bringing in many needed tax dollars, so why not make it legal?
post #15 of 50
While I dont do pot, I agree that it should be legalised - imagine how much money the government would make from taxes on it alone.
A friend of mine was seriously injured in a motorbike accident and the only way he can allieviate the pain is smoking the green stuff - he does not want to take prescription painkillers and I respect him for that.
Besides, banning pot wont make it go away. The thrill of taking an illegal drug makes more people take it. Suppose if its legal, drug smuggling will reduce, crime MAY go down (this is just my opinion), and like Laurie says, less people in prison - they are already overpopulated as it is.
post #16 of 50
I helped teach a class in Germany called "Cocaine Addiction in America". In that class we had pictures of spider webs spun by spiders on different drugs. The only drugs upon which the spider could not spin a web that would work were caffeine and nicotine.

When I first moved to CA I met an officer of NORML. She had a back that was literally disintegrating on her and marijuana was the only thing that would kill the pain. Here's the deal: whenever anybody I've known who has smoked pot as a pain killer they've never gotten high--it's only been those who's smoked it recreationally that have gotten high.

I don't really like the idea of taking anything to "get high" but I don't see why people can't use it medicinally. I feel the same way about all drugs (including Heroin and Cocaine), but I also feel that the doctor has to take responsibility in making sure the patient does not become addicted.
post #17 of 50
Uh--for your information I'm one of those Americans taking psychotropic drugs. I don't do it to get high. I do it to stay alive--the same reason people use marijuana medicinally.

I also don't agree with using legalized drugs to get high. Also, anti-depressants will not get you high and will not work unless you have a chemical imbalance. Some will be right for you and some will not (that's if you need them), but why take a drug that your body does not need? That's nearly akin to swallowing draino because your constipated!

You can do it if you like, just please don't do it around me and we'll get along fine. I've seen it destroy too many people when they use things recreationally (including drugs like Ritalin and Vicodin).
post #18 of 50
Oh--and addiction is much higher when you use something recreationally and it's not fun to try to break. I've done it 3 times now and I'm working on a 4th (food).
post #19 of 50
No--I don't think pot is a gateway drug--I don't really think there is such a thing, but I do believe that some drugs will lead to others. What I mean is something like this--someone gets addicted to Cocaine and then it becomes extremely expensive and/or hard to get so they go for something with a similar high like Crystal Meth. I've seen that happen and it's not pretty.

Also--to be honest, people who smoke pot just to get high aren't usually the people you have to watch out for either.

But I classify emotional dependence as an addiction--it's just as difficult to work with. Done them both. But I can see why people would want to break it out.
post #20 of 50
Canada's legislature has gone on to the next step. (Sorry, I don't know the whole process....perhaps one of our Canadian friends can help?) I THINK it passed the legislature and will become law at a later date. Of course, the US government is saying all kinds of horrible things, that it is irresponsible and will increase use in the US (??????). Hey, Canada's it's own country, let them run their own damn country!

The other thing that isn't as talked about is that the bill decriminalizes marijuana for the casual user, making it more like a traffic ticket with a fine. However, they INCREASED the penalites for mass growing, distributing and dealing.
post #21 of 50
I don't know why governments have to bitch and moan about one another. If the US government is so darned dead set against anything Canada is doing--beef up the borders! They're supposedly against a lot of the stuff Mexico allows, but the borders down here are still lax.
post #22 of 50
Marijuana decriminilisation....must be the flavour for governments. It's happenning here in Australia two, not a federal law, (nationwide), just two individual states doing it but on very different terms.

In Western Australia, the Premier and the ALP wants the law softened so the occasional user pays a fine and the incident isn't recorded on any permanent criminal record. In effect, it's like paying a traffic fine. As I understand it, marijuana will still be illegal if you are found with an amount that deems you to sell and supply.

In New South Wales, they are wanting to start a trial of marijuana use on terminally ill people, people on chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. If successful with no backlash from the community, the New South Wales government will consider legalising marijuana for medicinal use. What this means is that tablets of the active agent THC will be sold rather than actual marijuana. (Does anyone else see the potential for a new black market here?? Or am I just being too cynical??) Great Britain has just done a similiar thing.

And on a different note, in South Australia, yet another state in Australia, it is legal to have two or three plants growing in your backyard. Any larger quantities, and people will be charged with various offences in relation to dealing. (I'm not too familiar with the legislation.) However what has occurred is that there is a disturbing trend in that there is a higher use of harder drugs. This is what a few studies have found. Due to this and community backlash the state government was considering reversing the current legislation on marijuana.

And my opinion, well I'm against legalising marijuana. However, I would like to see it used medicinally though only after more research done into the effects of THC. We still don't know all of them yet.
post #23 of 50
The change was not enough. They need to control it in an LCBO fashion. So you could say, go to LCBO and buy a pack of joints with proper id. heh.
post #24 of 50
Mags, you're right that we don't know the benefits or side effects of using marijuana or THC medicinally. The problem stems from the fact that pot is considered the same as cocaine and herione, so even testing with it by scientists (unless it is to study how harmful it is, there always seems to be studies on that) is illegal. I'm not sure why it hasn't been studied in Amsterdam, but I don't actually know the laws there. Basically, until the laws are made that takes pot off of the same lists as the hard drugs, we can't study the medicinal effects of it.
post #25 of 50

In relation to scientists testing THC and other components of marijuana, I think all previous testing is legal as it's gotten approval from higher up somewhere in the upper recesses of government. In the New South Wales study, I believe that all side affects and benefits will be recorded. It is also a human trial too, (I've heard it referred to it as that), so there will be some people who will get tablets that do not have THC. I just hope that for these people, the placebo affect kicks in as their pain level won't be reduced from THC. (This is the part that stinks about trials, some people always miss out in order to determine whether something works.)
post #26 of 50
Currently there is a medication on the market that has has THC in it. I believe the name is Marinol or something like that. It does help increase appetite and decrease pain, but apparently nowhere near as quickly or effectively as smoking pot. When you smoke, the THC goes directly into the mucous membranes and lungs, where it is immediately absorbed and very quickly passes into the brain. Whereas with a pill it has to be digested first, so it takes a while and the "hit" is not as strong. So, most people don't bother with the Marinol. --- This information is from about 8 years ago when I taught a class on Drugs and Alcohol. So the information might be a tad out of date by now.
post #27 of 50
"There are approximately 1.9 million inmates incarcerated in this country. They cost us approximately $42,000 per inmate per year. Approximately 60% of those incarcerated are there because of drug-related crimes. Approximately 25% of those are because of marijuana.

Let's save the U.S. taxpayer close to $12 billion a year by not incarcerating people for marijuana-related charges. Then let's tax the sale and distribution of marijuana, and create untold billions a year in revenue."

If possible, could someone please post a link to a site where I can document this information as have coming from? I have a speech due in the morning on this topic, and I can't seem to find any sources on this aspect of the issue. Thanks!
post #28 of 50
I did an internet search and came up with this:

These first three are from a definite pro-pot legalization POV, but numbers shouldn't lie. Theoretically.




Here's a good source: Time magazine has done a couple cover stories on marijuana. http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101021104/

To verify their statistics, or to compare with total numbers of those arrested, and total for those arrested for drugs in general, here is a link to the Uniform Crime Report that the FBI puts out. In each year there is a "Persons Arrested" category, which does include drug related offenses, but in the internet version it isn't broken down further into which drugs were involved. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm

Hope this helps! I know how hard it is to find good sources for this topic. I did a number of speaches on it in high school and college.
post #29 of 50
post #30 of 50
Ha!! Best response ever.....

Cheers, Sicy
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