Should Trudeau legalize pot?

The Trudeau Liberals captured a majority government two weeks ago, primarily on the wave of support for their many campaign promises. One, the legalization of marijuana, has been hotly debated for many years. Is legalization a victory for personal liberty, or an act best left undone?


The late, great philosopher Terence McKenna once said, “If the words ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.”

While we don’t have a Declaration of Independence in Canada, and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms only covers life, liberty and security, the point still stands. If we as citizens in a supposedly free and democratic society aren’t the final arbiters over the dominion of our own minds, then what kind of freedom can we really claim?

On its most fundamental level the issue of legal cannabis has little to do with issues of health or safety. It’s an issue of whether we as a society agree with the notion that the state should have the right to decide how legal, taxpaying adults should choose to think, within the constraints of not bringing harm onto others.

Besides, the state, or any authority for that matter, can hardly make an authentic case on behalf of public health and safety.

We hand out massive tax subsidies to breweries, car manufacturers and tobacco farmers (Ontario has given out over $300 million since 2008 alone). Obviously the federal and provincial governments aren’t opposed to supporting products that are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.

Meanwhile, there has never been one directly related case of marijuana-induced death. In a 1988 United States case, Drug Enforcement Administration official Francis Young argued cannabis should be removed as a Schedule 1 drug because researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to kill them. “In order to induce death, a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette,” stated Young. “A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response.” Compare this to the stories of teenagers who drank themselves to death with merely 40 ounces of vodka.

In fact, the relative harmlessness of smoking marijuana is part of the reason it has been legalized in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The U.S. National Cancer Institute lists cannabis as a potential cancer treatment (would we ever see beer or cigarettes given the same classification?). The organization also cites numerous studies showing pot’s potential in treating anxiety and depression.

So as the new Trudeau federal government stands on the verge of legalizing cannabis nationwide (a campaign promise), the Liberals needn’t worry about opponents who cry danger.

If anything, moving the marijuana industry out of the hands of gangs such as the Hells Angels and into government-regulated, taxable businesses would make it much less dangerous. The old joke goes that the most dangerous thing about smoking pot is that it might get you arrested.

It’s time Canada moves forward into the rational, evidence-based future. The Reefer Madness memes have been debunked. A green El Dorado awaits us if we do. Some economists have estimated legalization could create $3 billion in tax revenue every year, with estimates as high, no pun intended, as $7.5 billion. Not to mention saving $500 million on enforcing marijuana laws every year, according to a 2002 University of Ottawa report.

Regardless of all these factors, the freedom to explore one’s mind is the deepest issue. If we’re allowed to get lethally drunk on booze, wired on coffee, obese on sugar and lobotomized on television, then we should at least be able to rise above the madness on a joint.



Canada’s newly elected Liberal Party has campaigned on some big promises. Promises that if delivered will bring about a great deal of change to our country.

Arguably the party’s biggest promise was legalizing marijuana, the drug that only seems to make the good things in life a little better and the bad things in life a little less bad.

This is not your typical blowhard conservative anti-pot article that insists marijuana ruins lives. It would be foolish to say the negative effects outweigh the positives when smoking pot, so why not legalize it?

Here’s why.

Pot is already easily accessible and it’s easy to smoke it and get away with it. However, our laws are strict enough to make one think twice before using it but are laid back enough to make it attainable. So if you can already get away with smoking pot, why change what we already have going?

Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau claims that legalizing and regulating marijuana will keep the drug off the streets and out of the hands of kids. He told Metro News that it’s all about “allowing adults to make their choices while protecting kids much better than we are now.”

That sounds nice but Trudeau fails to tell us how he plans to keep pot away from kids.

Simply putting a legal age limit on the drug does not stop people who are underage from indulging it. It has failed to work with alcohol and tobacco so why will it work with pot?

A couple more questions regarding regulation come to mind. How do we keep edible products away from children and how do we regulate driving while under the influence of pot?

Let us begin with the former.

Edible marijuana comes in the form of candy and treats that appeal to kids. According to the National Post, nearly half of marijuana poisoning calls in Washington State over the last year have involved children. Washington is one of the first four states to fully legalize marijuana.

Mikhail Carpenter of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board recently told the National Post that “it can’t be especially appealing to children, which is admittedly subjective. So each of those products is actually submitted for review prior to going on the shelves.”

So how does the new Canadian government really plan on keeping the drug away from children? Who knows?

Back to the latter, it is hard to completely crack down on drug-impaired driving. You can use Washington as another example. The percentage of drivers involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for THC doubled to 12 per cent in 2014 from six per cent in 2010.

Both Canada and the United States have yet to come up with plan to accurately test a driver’s THC level. There are breath and saliva tests for alcohol but the best available method to test for THC is a blood test. This is a process that can take up to a couple hours and by then, THC levels may have dissipated.

“That’s why in a general traffic-stop situation, where, say, a person was smoking it as they were driving down the road, there’s a time aspect where we want to try to get the test done as soon as possible,” Washington State Patrol Sgt. Brandon Villanti told the National Post.

These are questions that have yet be answered regarding the legalization of marijuana and until they are answered it is unconvincing that Canadians are ready to legalize it.








2 Responses to Should Trudeau legalize pot?