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?

  1. Jesus Christ November 5, 2015 at

    While one can appreciate that an effort was made to preface this article with an understanding that the reality of marijuana bears no resemblance to the negative characterizations the Harper government has bestowed upon it, the fact remains that the every argument against legalization made within it only hold up so long as they are examined from a singular perspective and, in one occasion, entirely out of context.

    Let’s start then with the one which throws context entirely out the window in favour of an almost prototypical post hoc ergo propter hoc argument: the Washington statistic regarding THC levels in fatal accident victims. In other words, by trotting out that single statistic without a contextually relevant big picture to contrast it against, in this case the number of fatal car accidents as a whole, it is by and large statistically irrelevant. It only stands to reason that an increase in marijuana consumption among the general populace leads to an increase in marijuana consumption among a sampled selection of that larger group, but pointing out that incredibly foreseeable correlation by itself is precisely as relevant as saying something along the lines of “100% of accident victims were found to have consumed water immediately preceding their untimely demise” to support prohibition of water.

    Owing to the fact that the latest publicly available data for annual car accident fatalities in Washington state dates back to 2013, I cannot with any degree of certainty state that there is no causation whatsoever in the aforementioned statistic, and I’m not about to request that data from the state simply to prove my point. Inversely however, with an equal absence of evidence to support that claim there is no reason to use it as an argument for OR against legalization – at this point it is simply a fact. Do not take this as my being naive about the logical conclusion that any drug which impairs or augments cognitive function in any capacity would have a measured impact on your ability to operate a vehicle, I simply don’t expect that we’ll see anything even remotely approaching the direct correlation between drunk driving and vehicular fatalities when marijuana is put under the same microscope. I’m not saying that we definitely won’t, it would be impossible for me to know at this point in time, but in my opinion it’s highly unlikely.

    Even in the event that we see precisely the same degree of correlation, alcohol has benefited significantly from many decades of research and awareness campaigns warning of the dangers of drunk driving, whereas marijuana simply hasn’t enjoyed the same prolonged period of societal acceptance and understanding. Is driving higher than a kite more dangerous than driving sober? Almost definitely. Have accepted maximum THC dosages for operating a vehicle, along with readily available guidelines on how to moderate and gauge consumption become common knowledge the way they have for alcohol? Not really, no. Have awareness campaigns appropriately informed the public about the dangers of driving high in a meaningful capacity? No. The fact is this whole paradigm shift is still in its infancy, and once well established within mainstream society will continue to develop the same way alcohol regulation has post-prohibition. To cast final judgment now would be, frankly, silly and irresponsible.

    As an aside, if one considers that only recently have any states seen the full realization of legal casual consumption, and one also assumes a reasonably widespread degree of overindulgence (in light of an extended prohibition) then the first few years will be significantly less statistically relevant over a run of say, 30 years or so.

    As for the other arguments outlined in the article against legalization, they are much simpler to address.

    Keeping marijuana out of the hands of kids is more achievable in a state of regulation than prohibition, it’s as simple as that. Why? Because under the current system of prohibition, and teen can purchase marijuana easily from a friend, their school, etc. It simply doesn’t work the same way for alcohol, when is the last time you heard of shady source looking to offload illegal alcohol to whomever might be willing to pay for it? Oh yes, I remember now, during the height of alcohol prohibition in the US. For kids and teens, it’s usually much more difficult to undertake the convoluted process of recruiting a member of the general public as a go-between and using them to purchase beer or liquor for them than it is for that same child or teen to simply take some from their parents liquor cabinet and be done with it. So what are we advocating here, that marijuana storage should be more strictly controlled and enforced? I honestly don’t think anyone would have a problem with that, provided their own consumption as a consenting adult would not be affected. Let’s change the liquor laws while we’re at it, so it can only be stored under lock and key in the homestead and can therefore never be accessed by minors ever again. Ever.

    Look, the sad reality is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s not a defeatist attitude – it is a realistic one. Does anyone realistically expect to stop dead the trend of minors experimenting with substance they’re not supposed to have access to? Not a chance. The very off limits nature of the stuff will continue to draw them in like moths to a flame, but even so effective regulation and mandatory age requirements have proven themselves to work to deter and impede consumption far more effectively than outright prohibition does. This falls in line with the next statement regarding edibles and children – the onus is squarely on the shoulders of the parent or purchasing adult to ensure this does not happen. Kids can drink drain cleaner, if someone gives them easy access to it, should we also outlaw Drain-O? The fact of the matter is, as long as marijuana is dealt with in a responsible manner all the way down the line to the end consumer, it will pose an exposure risk no greater than alcohol or tobacco and a significantly smaller risk of lasting harm or damage from said exposure.

    Should edibles/tinctures/etc have packaging that doesn’t appeal to kids? Sure, that’s a great start. Should care be taken in how these products are stored within the home, and anywhere else it is likely to be found? Absolutely, without question. Should there be a mandate on how it can be transported and stored in the home, more similar to a firearm than a bottle of booze? Personally I wouldn’t care if that were the case, throw alcohol in that same mandate while you’re at it, but I think you’ll have a tough time getting the general public to go along with it. But until any of this happens, marijuana will be readily available on the playground, within the school itself, at a friends house, and so on. It’s just the sad reality of the current system, and it doesn’t work, I’m sorry.

    Legalize it, tax it, put a damper on organized crime, eliminate the vast majority of it from schools and places frequented by kids, and allow adults the freedom of choice without fear of prosecution. It’s the only thing that makes any sense.

    • jacobhribljan November 5, 2015 at


      Thanks for commenting, and it’s great to have you back. I completely agree with all of your arguments. I chose to make my case from a view that’s not regularly discussed in the mainstream media as I felt many of the other pro-legalization arguments have been extensively covered. Obviously, I would have liked to cover all the bases but I was only allotted 600 words of copy.

      Just to add on to your point about driving under the influence of cannabis and testing THC levels, a National Drug Court Institute study from 1985 found that occasional users of marijuana test positive for THC 1-3 days after consumption. And regular users can test positive after as many as 67 days after consumption. (Source: Therefore, merely testing a driver’s THC levels could tell you nothing about the driver’s sobriety. Obviously new techniques will need to be used in cases of smoking and driving.

      Anyway, keep preaching and fighting the good fight. – Jake