Beware a wrong turn at cannabis crossroads
Bermuda is at a marijuana crossroads today and it is vital she not make a wrong turn.
We tend to be copycats and regurgitate unthinkingly the legal food fed by our neighbours and friends.
There is so much variation in the United States and Canada that whatever we do has almost certainly already been done over there.
In an article entitled, tongue in cheek, “The United States of Marijuana”, an American magazine described the chaotic picture of each US state making its own rules to match local sentiment.
One state has decriminalised it, a bold move that I recommend we follow. Other states are putting various laws into effect for the medical use only of marijuana. The use, possession and sale of marijuana would still be illegal.
In Canada, similar things have happened. Users of medical marijuana in Ontario had already been licensed to grow their own. Recently, the Ontario government went to the growers, got seed samples from them and set up its own agency, cancelled the individual growing permits, and licensed a company to sell marijuana to patients at the same price level previously demanded by criminal dealers.
Only governments can escape with a double-cross like that. The United States now has a patchwork quilt of marijuana laws that defy any simple, all-inclusive description. This is a problem for Bermuda.
If we decriminalised marijuana, other governments' laws would be no concern of our legal system.
Keep the sale of marijuana illegal and we will not be a concern to our neighbours.
Decriminalisation should allow freedom to anyone who wants to grow it. That will kill the local sale market. Addiction treatment for all permitted drugs should be left to the private sector.
When we do this, a load will come off quite a few government services. Use of marijuana will decrease. It will cease to support a negative lifestyle and to project a macho image of the user.
Let us not follow the example of Ontario in providing another feeding trough for politicians in government.
Yours truly, BERTRAM GUISHARD
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