Editorial: To legalize or not to legalize, that is the question

Results of the recently-released Ipsus Reid poll show one in three Canadians support full legalization of marijuana in Canada.

Out of fear of being ousted by the Liberals in next year’s federal election, the Conservative government is once again ramping up its anti-Justin Trudeau messaging, this time because of his stance on marijuana.  But the joke’s on them since this new flurry of attack ads seems to be having the opposite effect than the one intended. With Conservative MPs across the country distributing flyers reminiscent of the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness,  the country’s leading political party is fast becoming the object of great ridicule. And here are some reasons why.

Since sales of marijuana to adults over 21 began in Colorado on January 1st (when the state legalized pot for recreational purposes), the state is forecasted to see more than $40 million in additional tax dollars in 2014, and even crime is down (though not necessarily related). The State of Washington generated $148,256 from legal cannabis sales in just the first three days that sales were allowed (July 7th, 8th, and 9th). And Huffington Post predicts Alaska, Arizona and California among others are the next states to push for legalized pot sales.

Cigarettes — which are legal for Canadians over the age of 18 or 19 (depending on what province you live in) and generate $3 billion in annual tax revenue — are estimated by the Canadian Cancer Society to cause 30 per cent of all cancer deaths and is related to more than 85 per cent of all lung cancer cases. Each cigarette contains some 4,000 chemicals, including highly carcinogenic compounds of carbon monoxide (found in car exhaust), arsenic (rat poison), ammonia (found in window cleaner) and acetone (found in nail polish remover).

Not that marijuana is squeaky clean — itself containing more than 400 chemicals including the psychoactive chemical THC, which sits at the crux of the debate because of its currently illegal-in-Canada “mind-altering” quality.

Yet it’s this very compound that delivers the health benefits associated with marijuana.

One Harvard study suggests THC restricts and even cuts in half tumour growth of highly aggressive lung cancers that are resistant to chemotherapy. Other findings suggest THC kills aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous (i.e. treatment AND prevention).

Results of the recently-released Ipsus Reid poll show one in three Canadians support full legalization of marijuana in Canada. Given the Conservative Party won 39.62 per cent of the popular vote in the last election, it’s no wonder the Harper government is taking “pot” shots at Trudeau’s position — it’s aligned with 33.33 per cent of eligible Canadian voters and the next federal election is just 14 months away.