Colby Cosh: Evidence-Based Talk About Marijuana — Dare to Dream?

Article by Colby Cosh, National Post

AndrieskiIn this Dec. 5, 2013 photo, workers process marijuana in the trimming room at the Medicine Man dispensary and grow operation in northeast Denver. Colorado prepares to be the first in the nation to allow recreational pot sales, opening Jan. 1.

When the federal Liberals set a Canada Day 2018 deadline for marijuana legalization last weekend, they erected a new landmark in our country’s history. I do not refer to the proposed changes to the law; you would, after all, have to be crazy to take a Liberal promise of this kind to the bank. But whether or not the Liberals make their Cannabis Day target, its mere creation is bound to change the way we talk about pot.

Legalization is a reality now, something that has a birthday. Old canards, theories, and dreads are destined to get a last airing before we become preoccupied with concrete policy specifics — and then, when the unthinkable actually happens, we shall start having arguments based on actual data.

Yes, fine, I’m probably kidding myself. But I am old enough to have seen several generations of dishonest, contrived arguments against marijuana legalization come and go. I’m not a big pot smoker, although it is a point of honour with me to admit in print that I have done it plenty of times. What I am is a news consumer. It will mean much more for my quality of life if we can progress one inch beyond the persistent bad faith and phoniness in the discussion — the disguised religious prejudices, the “I heard” and the “some say”, the endless pretending that marijuana isn’t socially ubiquitous.

On Monday the great and good Medicine Hat News published a short article outlining the views of Glen Motz, the fairly new (by-elected) MP for the city and its surrounding area. Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner is one of the most socially conservative ridings on the national map, and Motz is a retired policeman. He talked about the Liberals’ pot plan, and the results were about what you would expect. He allegedly made a point of “drawing on his policing background” for the interview: this is supposed to make it sound as though he has more information about marijuana than the rest of us, rather than having lived under a powerful taboo for his entire adult life as friends and neighbours and relatives nervously avoided the M-word.

Motz said something about traffic deaths increasing in Colorado and Washington since those states legalized marijuana for recreational use. As the News helpfully rejoined, overall traffic fatality rates in those states have not gone up significantly, and they remain low compared to the rest of the U.S., although in Washington they have found, for whatever it’s worth, that more fatally injured drivers had traces of THC in their bloodstream when the coroner got to them.

Read full article here.

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