Let science lead pot policy

Editor:

Re: Board of Trade rebuffs reefer rethink, Sept. 3.

Editor:

Re: Board of Trade rebuffs reefer rethink, Sept. 3.

How disappointing to read that the Surrey Board of Trade and its CEO, Anita Huberman, has taken such an outdated, outspoken and uneducated position on this topic.

At a time when federal party leaders like Justin Trudeau, medical experts like CNN’s Dr. Sunjay Gupta, periodicals like Maclean’s and, indeed, a growing swell of popular support in B.C. at 70 per cent for legal changes, our SBOT has chosen to remain with old wives’ tales.

A few points to ponder: the illegality of cannabis has not made it less available in B.C. The product is cheaper and more readily available due to its illicit status. Prohibition ensures management and safety of this product remains in the hands of the criminal element. And it is an expensive and unmitigated disaster from a law-enforcement perspective.

In April, a World Health Organization survey indicated Canadian children and youth are the heaviest users of cannabis in the developed world. So what we have done so far has not worked, and yet Huberman wants more of the same.

If cannabis was indeed a ‘starter’ drug, then global jurisdictions with more liberal cannabis laws would have higher uptake of hard drugs, which is empirically not the case.

Indeed, following decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal in 2001, there has been a reduction in all drug use, including cannabis.

A 2002 Canadian Senate report noted that “early drug legislation was largely based on moral panic, racist sentiment and a notorious absence of debate.” The LeDain Royal Commission in the 1970s concluded criminalization of cannabis had “no scientific basis.”

Unfortunately, in B.C.’s second-largest city, we have some that will not allow science to direct policy.

No one should operate machinery under the influence of cannabis, which is one point SBOT correctly made. However, to state that marijuana use would negatively impact health is laughable, as Health Canada has observed an exponential rise in the number of its medical-marijuana patients prescribed by doctors for a wide array of medical conditions.

Furthermore, to indicate “attention is diminished” misses the point. Perhaps Huberman should refer to cases of Clinton, Bush and Obama, who all inhaled to some extent.

I’d love to see SBOT’s justification for “potential” absenteeism and loss of production. Certainly the Dutch seem to have a vibrant and healthy work environment, and Washington State seems to be surviving.

It was perhaps not unexpected when I read that the SBOT is in support of a new coal terminal, as it was for the South Surrey casino. Perhaps they could take a stance on capital punishment, gay marriage and abortion, for which they are no doubt equally qualified to postulate?

David Hutchinson, Surrey

 

 

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