Alberta and Legal Pot
A recent Calgary Herald survey, revealed that 50% of Albertans agree with the complete legalization of marijuana. This isn’t a vote for the decriminalization or ticketing approaches favored by some, but going all in. Legalization generally implies government managed production, distribution and retail sales, similar to alcohol control. For many Canadians, the results came as a surprise given Alberta’s reputation as being full of redneck, U.S. Tea-Party-ish wannabees. One would think Albertans would beat up hippies, not share a puff with them.
Given some thought, however, it’s plain why this attitude is popular here. For starters, Alberta is the youngest province on average, than many other. The national median age in 2011, according to StatsCan, was 40.0. Alberta’s was 36.1. Only the two northern territories of Northwest Territories with 32.1 and Nunavut at 24.7 are lower.
Numerous surveys show younger people are often more relaxed about marijuana use. Alberta, being very much a blue collar province, is peopled by the young and healthy; capable of the demands of the types of physical labour in the province. This is a place where twenty-somethings have come to, from all over the country, to enjoy the prosperity of the region.
But they don’t retire here. They go to BC, jacking up their median age to 41.4. or back home to Newfoundland, which tops their median age out at 44.2, almost eight years older on average than their Alberta brethren.
The people who flooded into Alberta have changed the statistical averages in many areas, including diluting the once intolerant and somewhat racist attitudes some people still apply to the province. These biases towards Albertans, often expounded upon by armchair pundits on comment boards under online news stories, are no longer applicable, since natural born Albertans are becoming a rarity, much like politicians who haven’t tried pot.
These new Albertans have brought new attitudes and new perspectives to this province, but they’ve in no way diluted one strongly held Alberta sentiment in particular. Albertans, as a general rule, are more suspicious than most regarding government intrusions in their life. One need only see the RCMP gun confiscation debacle in High River to understand why. Most Albertans see marijuana use as only marginally unhealthy and largely victimless. If a person wants to destroy his body with pot, tobacco, strong drink or even with ski-doos, others don’t care, as long as they show up for work on Monday ready to put in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.
Albertans also understand that since the weed is widely available through, ahem, grassroots sources, it makes sense to legalize and control it for the benefit of society. Whatever ill effects that legalizing produces, as opposed to its current underground use, will have a brand new revenue stream of sin tax to draw from to deal with them. It’s not like the “War on Drugs” worked particularly well for curbing either supply or demand, anyway. Some estimates for the profit that could be realized from a government-controlled marijuana industry are in the billions. Better in the government’s pocket, say Albertans, than the criminals’.
Albertans aren’t even the nation’s biggest weed enthusiasts, nor are, surprisingly, BCers. In another survey, more Nova Scotians admitted to smoking pot in the last year than any other province. Alberta was middle of the pack. The legalization issue is not going to go away.
Still, despite healthy support for legalization, there’s still 39%; a fairly large chunk, against such a move. They don’t want the use of the herb to proliferate and certainly don’t want to be in proximity to anyone “smoking up”. Given its current grey area status, where punishment for simple possession is often just confiscation or a warning, the use of the drug is still done discretely, generally. One might catch a whiff of the tell-tale, pungent aroma outside a rock concert or rest areas on walking paths, but it’s mostly kept out of sight.
If the drug is legalized, will people be able to light up wherever they want? What limitations will be placed on it? Is there a breathalyzer-like device for pot to keep our roadways safe? Is there a way to separate those who have recently smoked and those that are past the generally-agreed three hour maximum effectiveness window? Do they really know how much THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, actually causes impairment?
Before they legalize marijuana, these and many other questions must be answered.
Unfortunately, despite its popularity and the recent admissions of use by various politicians, few are studying the plant. Drug companies won’t spend research dollars on something people can grow in their back yards, no matter how efficacious it might be. If we decide as a society that we will allow this substance, shouldn’t we really know a lot more about it? It is incumbent on governments to invest in studies of the effects, both positive and negative of marijuana before we approve it officially for our citizens. For all we know, it may be the cure-all wonder-drug the enthusiasts all assure us it is via reams of anecdotal evidence. If anecdotes were proof however, no one would question the existence of UFO’s, ghosts or any other paranormal activities.
There is a even chance those against marijuana will still win the day. Although there was an uptick in use in Portugal after legalization, it ended up not being “cool” anymore. People just stopped smoking it. Not only did use by adults plummet, but the age at which kids had their first experience with the drug dramatically increased.
Legalization of marijuana, while it may have positives, will no doubt create issues never expected. It’s not something we want to rush into, no matter how popular the concept. Serious study of the ramifications is required.
other articlesLiving in Fear
Just What Is Our Right To Know?
LInes in the sand
A Question of Trust
Senate Scandal Strips Harper’s Teflon
Tailgaters, Back Off
Rise of Military Robots
High Ideals - Lousy Execution
Who will it Be??
Canada Democracy Week
Syria, A Question of Responsibility
Absenteeism Policy Unhealthy
Trudeau...Up in Smoke
Did We Spare The Rod & Spoil A Generation?
A Hall of a Party
Help Wanted – US Ambassador To Canada
Up with Mari Jane
Young NS Libs Must Come Clean