Ensure that the net good exceeds the harm


I don’t smoke anything and I have no prejudice for those who do. For me, it was perhaps a degree of fate that prevented me from being a smoker.

I, just like so many schoolboys back in the Sixties, sneaked away to have a draw on what was then a new mentholated cigarette that had just come out, called Kools. I drew on it and my fingers and lips went numb. That was the end of that curiosity.

OK, here she comes. I tried weed, but, I believe I have a biological intolerance that causes me to become higher than high. In fact, I become illusional and a bit paranoid in that things appear quite different from what they really are. So, basically for me, it was two strikes and out of the game of smoking. Those episodes ended the notion and appetite to smoke for me while I was still a teenager.

However, my experience is not the benchmark for all experiences. I have friends who I can see visibly benefit from smoking weed.

One such friend has, as he thinks, an ulcer and can’t eat unless he smokes weed first. Somehow marijuana stimulates the appetite and alters taste while suppressing pain.

I have other friends who teach or are artists, and they would say smoking helps them particularly with art.

I am sure that there is a range of benefits, including for things such as post-traumatic stress or for pain relief.

The debate between the harm or good of marijuana use may never be satisfactorily argued to alter the opinion of either side.

However, there are issues arising regarding the lawfulness of its use. I am against intoxication from any form of stimulant.

I don’t think that getting high on marijuana is more dangerous than getting high or drunk on alcohol. And yet, alcohol is not illegal and marijuana is.

I can embrace there being an age restriction on persons who can purchase alcohol and would want similarly to be cautious about the ability of minors to access marijuana.

In that regard, if an individual is carrying just enough weed for personal use, it is not like they are a walking drugstore.

You don’t walk around with a half-pound of weed to go on a hillside to have a personal smoke, but, I suppose, one could always claim they are the rocket man tying to reach Mars.

The criminal justice system needs review and the decriminalisation of marijuana is just one area that needs a serious look. Understandably we need to move in tandem with international law, and, in particular, the United States. I am a moralist and do respect religious opinion. In any case, rational morality would want to see that with any law, the net good exceeds the harm.

It is difficult to rationalise that under our existing criminal system that penalises many young men, destroying their option to travel to many countries, and radicalises them through incarceration by exposing them to hardened criminals.

Let no one believe that I am advocating decriminalisation as a panacea for youth violence, but it is one spoke in the wheel.

I am not astute in criminal law and will not say, like Peter Tosh, “Legalise it, don’t criticise it”.

I will say, yes, criticise it and observe the balance and adopt a legal posture that is socially and personally beneficial.

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Published Aug 7, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 7, 2019 at 8:00 am)

Ensure that the net good exceeds the harm

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