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Let’s see pros and cons of marijuana decriminalisation

April 29, 2013 Dear Sir, I read John Barritt’s column on the decriminalisation of marijuana debate. I would have preferred he come clear and take a position on a direction even though we can extract from his article what can be considered as tacit support for decriminalisation. Interestingly, immediately after reading his column, I was entertained by a conversation with a young cousin with in-depth knowledge of Bermuda’s drug scenario. He felt so passionate about the problems facing our youth and thought not only should marijuana be downgraded from being criminal, but that its supply be facilitated. I confess I have no tolerance for marijuana and I have told my children I believe my intolerance is genetic, so any opinion I have will not make marijuana look any better to me. However when you look at the toll it’s having on our youth the criminalisation and the turf wars, we have to think of every way possible to make our country a safer place to live. In Nova Scotia alcohol is controlled by a body called the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. The alcohol sales and distribution operation is run by a Crown cooperation, Nova Scotia Liquor Cooperation NSLC otherwise understood as a government owned company. Nova Scotia, like Bermuda, is a religious country but has met what it considers as its vices head on. Gambling is state owned and the sale of all liquor is controlled by the state hands on. I am beginning to take the view of my young cousin of developing a BNC Bermuda Narcotics Commission and develop a Crown cooperation to deal with the distribution. Anything not coming through the BNC will be contraband. The same health rules will apply to all establishments and will essentially keep most places, which include restaurants and bars, as smoke free. The fear is naturally that if it becomes easily available more people will smoke. There is no evidence that will happen where persons suddenly decide to smoke marijuana because it is legal. The upside is we end the turf war, we end incarcerations for an offence seen increasingly by major jurisdictions as not criminal. We have no control over international rules, but persons who come here will no longer be penalised for what is already a liberty in their own country. I believe in “rational morality” and support practices where the greater good is achieved. I will continue to advocate that for the vast majority, smoking marijuana has serious health risks and smoking it should be avoided and that any real benefits may be in using it as a tea or eye wash, but as a public policy I will support the decriminalisation and public control over distribution. So if there is to be a discussion I think we need to have flip charts to list the pros and cons, I am beginning to believe there will be more pros than cons on those boards.