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CN BC: Editorial: Legislators, Media More Addled Than The Potheads

Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: Sat, 18 Sep 2004
Source: Maple Ridge News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Maple Ridge News
Author: Tom Fletcher
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)

Once again we are treated to the spectacle of Vancouver attempting to lead the way in national drug policy, and once again it's a slapstick comedy.

Soon after Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell sheepishly announced the city's shoot-up site was a bigger "success" than expected ( meaning lots more junkies using this taxpayer-financed "service" ), it was "revealed" that there has been a plan all along to add a "safe" crack-smoking room, which has already been built. This aspect of the plan appears to have collapsed under the weight of its own ridiculousness, but not to worry, it will be back.

And then an Amsterdam-style pot retail shop called Da Kine was "revealed" on Commercial Drive. I couldn't help noticing the way the "news" coverage was handled. After a standard city media gang-tackle in the first two weeks of September, the public was eventually told that this high-volume trafficking operation has in fact been open all summer. The tourists knew, hundreds if not thousands of customers knew, the neighbourhood certainly knew, but in a city with two dailies, four TV stations and two news radio stations, the general public didn't know until the store sent out a press release!

( It might be a coincidence, but in the weeks before Da Kine was "revealed," a top editor of the city's largest daily wrote a long series describing the massage of different parts of his body. The same paper's city columnist wrote of how pretty his feet are, and included a studio portrait of his feet. A detailed description of somebody's navel may be next, but I digress. )

Once the city media were led by the hand to the story, the mayor found out, and shrugged it off. Then the police admitted they had known for some time. Then B.C.'s solicitor general felt moved to issue a statement that the Narcotic Control Act is still in effect, even in Vancouver, and that selling marijuana is in fact still illegal.

Regular folks, especially those seeing this store operate unmolested all summer, could be forgiven for concluding that marijuana had been legalized. Some of the young people I've heard from seem convinced it's legal now.

Why? Well, for one thing, the former Prime Minister said simple possession would be decriminalized. That legislation, launched with a fanfare, was left like other bills to die on the order paper, leaving the impression that the federal government was interested in a short-term publicity hit, not actual governing.

Some of these young people may also have seen a recent program on CBC's "all-news" channel called Play Goes to Pot. The host of this taxpayer-funded public television "news" program sported a custom-printed "Play Goes to Pot" t-shirt and microphone, both decorated with big green marijuana leaves. He gleefully interviewed pot activist Marc Emery and his guests as they took part in a marijuana tasting that involved smoking huge joints and making increasingly incoherent comments on the taste and "buzz" of the various strains on hand.

The striking thing about this show, aside from the use of plastic bags to deliver "supertokes" to the giggling participants and the enthusiastic approval of the host, was the sheer quantity consumed. It was the dope equivalent of guzzling Jack Daniel's out of the bottle, Keith Richards-style.

( This bit of "public" TV is just the latest proof that CBC television should be sold off or simply unplugged, but again I digress. )

What's a kid to make of a show like that, or of a Prime Minister who solemnly promises to "decriminalize" pot?

The kid, or for that matter adult, is likely to conclude that Canadian law is a joke, and he or she would be right. If young people don't show sufficient deference to police or teachers or others, perhaps it's partly because these attitudes trickle down from the top. They may conclude that only chumps drive the speed limit, or pay their taxes, or obey drug laws.

Like many Canadians, I support legalization of marijuana. Unlike more dangerous narcotics, evidence suggests it is generally harmless if used in moderation. As a practical matter, it's too easy to produce locally to be successfully banned, wasting valuable police resources.

Now if we just had a federal government that would take action in a serious, orderly way, and restore confidence in the law.

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