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The Varsity Online
University Of Toronto's Student Newspaper
2002.09.12

Interestingly, and apparently with a great deal of bias, the Editors censored this LTE so much as to publish only up to "I smoke Cannabis quite regularly." Shame on them, especially considering the idiotic and lengthy piece to which I was responding.

My response to their censorship is the first item below, followed by they LTE I submitted and they so heavily censored, followed by the original idiotic opinion piece.



I'm amazed and saddened by the level of censorship and apparent bias involved in the recent publication of only the first two paragraphs of my LTE regarding the legalization of Cannabis, with no mention of any cropping, especially after your printing the ridiculous and lengthy "Opinion" that I was responding to.

Ours is a very important and influential institution, one which could actually do a lot to help people that are suffering at the hands of this absurd prohibition and "war," if we choose to allow ourselves to care enough to make an educated and compassionate effort. Mike would likely feel differently if he cared about any of the hundreds of thousands of seriously ill Canadians for whom Marijuana has had beneficial effects or, again, if a little more research had been done before the writing of that Opinion. I invite you to read some of the testimonials and other information posted by the non-profit Toronto Compassion Centre at www.torontocompassioncentre.org or the Canadian Cannabis Coalition at www.cannabiscoalition.ca if you'd like to get a better idea.

I'm just not sure how you can ethically justify printing the opinion that those who fight for the rights of the terminally ill to access a natural medicinal plant that clearly helps them without absurd criminal sanctions are "insane" because of their "narrow fixation," and that "pot sucks," among other similar nonsense, while editing out all but the first few sentences of an appropriate response (with which our Senate, a great deal of Canadians, and an even greater percentage of University-educated Canadians logically agree).

You and your readers have, according to the University's Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters for instance, "the right to the fullest possible freedom of enquiry. In particular this includes: the freedom to communicate in any reasonable way, and to discuss and explore any idea." I would love to see you use these freedoms, in this situation, to help rather than misinform.

Yours humbly and respectfully,
Dominic S. Cramer



In response to an opinion printed in the Varsity September 9, 2002: "I was a teenage Pothead."

By Dominic S. Cramer

As a UofT alumnus and Cannabis entrepreneur and activist, I was very disappointed, even embarassed, to read that very self-contradictory and uninformed piece against Cannabis legalization.

I, unlike Mike, didn't smoke much pot as a teenager. Now, thanks to a messed-up back and an inflamatory pericardial condition, and because I work hard during the day with more than my fair share of stress, and since I find Marijuana to be a relatively safe and enjoyable "social lubricant," I smoke Cannabis quite regularly.

Indeed our Senate recently recommended the legalization of marijuana. It's not the first time our government's spent huge amounts of money, time and effort on an open-minded inquiry of this sort. Back in the early 70s they spent some $3.5 million on the Ledain Commission, which came to the same obvious conclusion. I say obvious, because it has been shown over and over that anyone who cares to actually research the situation inevitably comes to the same result: Cannabis should never have been made illegal in the first place. Of course this report is a step forward, but by itself it does nothing except to confirm the facts. Our government has to act on this advice.

With a little research, the author might have realized that legalization would actually help to solve the problems he is concerned about. All studies on the topic clearly indicate that legalization would actually cause Mike's desired "REDUCTION of potheads that litter our social landscape." A few wasted years as "a high school pothead" don't substitute for the slightest bit of thought and research into the subject.

Mike made some poor choices, we all do. Cannabis didn't cause them, and as he said, he definitely wasn't a typical Marijuana user. No one will argue that being a chronic pothead can't be a handicap for many. But interestingly, the majority of chronic potheads are extremely effective members of society, moreso than many abstainers [while having to cope with symptoms of serious ailments and often the unpredictable side effects of conventional treatments]. No matter how much pot you smoke, it's still your decision whether to sit around watching the boob-tube or to actually get things done. No amount of marijuana can provide an excuse for laziness or irresponsible behaviour.

In response to Mike's assessment of the "Marijuana Party" - that it's lame "to base a whole political party around a drug?" Maybe, but isn't it more lame to burden thousands of Canadians yearly with criminal records because of their victimless personal choice to consume a god-given and relatively harmless, actually extremely therapeutically active, plant? Isn't it far more lame to conduct a century-long war against your own people for such a ridiculous reason? Isn't it more lame to prevent seriously ill people from easy access to a medicine that has been used for thousands of years and has recently been proven to be extremely beneficial in the treatment of many illnesses?

Is the oppression of our fundamental rights and freedoms really a narrow fixation? Can it really be unreasonable to fight for the rights of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians that use Cannabis as medicine in ways that 92% of Canada endorses? Is it wrong to stand up for the million Canadians who choose to use this herb for reasons that are no one's business but their own?

So will pot be legalized? Some day, without a shred of doubt. This absurd drug war and opression can't last forever. Sadly, our government may indeed draw this out as long as they can, for no better reason than an unreasonable fear of the increasingly irrational actions of our "Big Brother."

Amazingly, Mike is a prime example of why prohibition doesn't work. The biggest concern about Cannabis for society is its effect on our children. As Mike proves, with Cannabis illegal it is usually far easier for a child to get pot than it is for an adult! Only through legalization and light regulation can we expect to protect our kids from drug abuse. With a little thought and research, Mike will realize that legalization will actually reduce his chances of running into the 21st century version of himself as a teenage stoner.

According to Mike, "maybe it’s not worth fighting against, but I still wonder why marijuana has become a drug worth fighting for." Perhaps you have a better idea now?


Some excerpts from the Senate Report Summary:
"The epidemiological data available indicates that close to 30% of the population (12 to 64 years old) has used cannabis at least once;
Approximately 2 million Canadians over age 18 have used cannabis during the previous 12 months, approximately 600,000 have used it during the past month, and approximately 100,000 use it daily. Approximately 10% used cannabis during the previous year; and
Use is highest between the ages of 16 and 24.
For youth in the 12-17 age group, we observed that:
Canada would appear to have one of the highest rates of cannabis use among youths;
Approximately 1 million would appear to have used cannabis in the previous 12 months, 750,000 in the last month and 225,000 would appear make daily use; and The average age of introduction to cannabis is 15."

"We note also that adolescents who are excessive users or become long-term users are a tiny minority of all users of cannabis. Once again, we would add that a public policy must prevent use at an early age and at-risk behaviour."

"The [Ledain] Commission was also concerned that legalization would mean increased use, among the young in particular. We have not legalized cannabis, and we have one of the highest rates in the world. Countries adopting a more liberal policy have, for the most part, rates of usage lower than ours, which stabilized after a short period of growth."

"[Since the Ledain Commission]
- Billions of dollars have been sunk into enforcement without any greater effect. There are more consumers, more regular users and more regular adolescent users;
- Billions of dollars have been poured into enforcement in an effort to reduce supply, without any greater effect. Cannabis is more available than ever, it is cultivated on a large scale, even exported, swelling coffers and making organized crime more powerful; and
- There have been tens of thousands of arrests and convictions for the possession of cannabis and thousands of people have been incarcerated. However, use trends remain totally unaffected and the gap the Commission noted between the law and public compliance continues to widen.
It is time to recognize what is patently obvious: our policies have been ineffective, because they are poor policies."

"Some vulnerable people should be prevented, as much as possible, from using cannabis. This is the case for young people under 16 years of age and those people with particular conditions that might make them vulnerable, for example those with psychotic predispositions. As with alcohol, adult users should be encouraged to use cannabis in moderation."

"[Proposed] Amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)
(Production and sale of cannabis for non therapeutic purposes)
A. General aims of the bill
· To reduce the injurious effects of the criminalization of the use and possession of cannabis and its derivatives;
· To permit persons over the age of 16 to procure cannabis and its derivatives at duly licensed distribution centres; and
· To recognize that cannabis and its derivatives are psychoactive substances that may present risks to physical and mental health and, to this end, to regulate the use and trade of these substances in order to prevent at-risk use and excessive use."



The original Opinion piece:


I was a teenage pothead
Pot may not be worth fighting against, but is it worth fighting for?
By Mike Winters

I realize that when a Senate report advocates the legalization of pot, it’s supposed to be a big step forward. And advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana do have a long list of worthy arguments.

You’ll hear about the wasted millions in enforcement, and how pot’s not physically addictive, and how alcohol is way worse, and how convicted users are unfairly punished. Great stuff. I couldn’t agree more. Except for one problem: pot sucks.

I want to encourage the REDUCTION of the number of potheads that litter our social landscape. And before you accuse me of Nazi-Darwinism, let me state that I have plenty of "cred" in this debate. You see, I was a pothead in high school, and a colossally dumb one at that. Yes, I have a personal bias, and it might not hold up in the court of public opinion, but it’s a worthy point.

I didn’t find the drug physically addictive, but it may as well have been. Instead of humping girls or reading books, my interests were reduced to getting high and watching Star Wars.

I remember wasting my time in cafés with friends, only talking about pot/drug-related stories; you know, the ones that start off "This one time we got SO high..." or "It must have been B.C. weed, ’cause...."

Things reached a climax when, on one of many half-baked nights in my room, I lit my hair on fire trying to smoke from a pipe. Lame.

Once I quit smoking up I realized how little I had progressed. Apparently, if all you talk and think about is drugs, not much else gets in. Of course, I realize that not everyone who smokes up becomes a chronic user. And yes, if anything, alcohol should be the drug criminalized for wrecking a gazillion lives.

I also agree that people should be able to choose without "the man" getting in the way. But something about pot advocacy bugs me. Maybe I was tipped off by seeing a photo of a Marijuana Party booster in front of a pot-leafed Canadian flag. I couldn’t get over how lame it is to base a whole political party around a drug.

How can such a narrow fixation, like the one my friends and me shared in cafés, not be the work of total chronics? It goes beyond just liking something. I mean, would you start the McCain Pizza Pops Party? How about the Acid Wash Jeans United Alternative? Not unless you’re insane.

Add those people who wear those idiotic green, pot-leafed Dr Seuss hats, and it just gets unbearable.

So will pot be legalized? Well, I doubt the federal government will legislate all of the Senate committee’s recommendations. They’re too controversial.

I figure the Liberals will find some typically Liberal middle-of-the-road solution somewhere just short of out-and-out legalization.

Whatever. Call me a big snob. Either way, I liked the mild discouragement that criminalization provided and would like to keep it that way.

I loathe the thought of increasing the chances that I’ll enter a bar and meet anyone like me when I was 17, totally baked and proud of it. Although when I say "proud of it," the high version of me wouldn’t be able to actually say this because I was usually a speechless, quivering giggleman when I was stoned.

Maybe it’s not worth fighting against, but I still wonder why marijuana has become a drug worth fighting for.

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