4/04/2006

Substance Abuse and
Drug Use

Yesterday I saw part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's address to the Professional Police Association. In his address, he made mention of the fact that the Conservative government will not be re-introducing the old Liberal legislation to decriminalize marijuana.
I was thrilled to hear that. Damian was disappointed. Damian, no offense, but you are totally wrong on this issue. Jesse has the right idea.
Marijuana is not a benign drug. It has long-term damaging effects on the brain, memory in particular. I am against it's use as a "recreational" drug. In fact, I am against all "recreational" drugs. What's more, I do not believe that any drug can possibly be "recreational." Narcotics aren't "fun;" they're deadly. If slowly (or in some cases, rapidly) killing yourself is your idea of a good time, then you really need some counseling. It is certainly true that some drugs are extremely useful as pain killers for chronic conditions. However, such usage arguably falls well outside the realm of "recreational" use.
The premise that drugs only affect the user is, at its most basic level, flawed. No man is an island. Every action you take, be it positive or negative, has an effect on someone else. In the case of substance abuse the effect is always negative. There will never be a positive emotional side-effect of addiction. I have seen the immediate physical and emotional effects of drug addiction. If you still cling to the libertarian argument that since it's your body, you can do whatever you want regardless of the effect it may have on those around you, then not only are you a blind and self-absorbed individual, but you are probably this way because you have an addiction and I feel sorry for you. If you are not an addict or have never used drugs but still believe the above lie, then you are a naive idiot who needs to get out more. No offense.
Some people will try to argue that "recreational" drug usage is no different from the occasional drink. Again, this notion is flawed. While a single glass of wine or a pint of beer can have some benefits to the body, most individuals know what their limit is (alcoholics accepted) and there are no known health benefits of narcotics. Regular sedation is not a health benefit, just in case you were thinking of mentioning it. Furthermore, in the case of crystal meth or speed, it is often sold to first time users under the lie of "not being addictive the first time." From experience, I can assure you that such is not the case, and it certainly can be addictive the first time. I realize it is not the same as marijuana, but the lies surrounding it and many other drugs are remarkably similar.
There is also the slippery slope argument to consider. If marijuana usage is permissible, then why is heroin forbidden? Why shouldn't people be allowed to use crack or meth? If one mind-altering substance is allowed, why not others? What line can we use to determine what is acceptable use and what is not? Far too many people discard slippery slope arguments because they are exactly that: a slippery slope that may not happen. The problem is that so often the slippery slope perfectly describes exactly what did happen only by then it's too late.
I, for one, am not willing to go down that slippery road.
I have a family to consider. I do not want my child to inherit a Canada full of druggies.

4 comments:

Sara said...

I completely agree rootle!

PGP said...

Your children have already inherited such a country and indeed world.

Guelph First said...

I've seen way too many people have their lives seriously messed up from drugs.

My guys are 13 and 16 and they tell me horror stories from school, stuff they just shouldn't be seeing.

Mark said...

What line can we use to determine what is acceptable use and what is not?

The determination of acceptable and unacceptable use is what the whole decriminalization debate rests upon, is it not?

If the line revolves around what has the least/most negative impact on society, families, work ethic and whether or not a particular vice has some arguable benefit, then there are a lot of other contentious addictions that enter into the fray and are just as worthy of criminalization. Gambling and alcohol to name but two. Yes, people are assumed to understand personal limits with respect to these "indulgences", but the number of people who underestimate the power of the drug or the high and spiral into addiction each year is staggering. So if the line is impact on society, then surely we should be criminalizing more behaviour, or at least making it illegal.

In essence that's the weakness I perceive in the slippery slope argument. I believe the SSA has merit insomuch as it is reasonable to believe that decriminalizing MJ might lead to the decriminalization of harder drugs. But I also think it is precarious because if we are going to argue that we must stop at this juncture just because we might go farther down the slope, then surely we must examine the allowable vices that have brought us to this point, those which have known and equally drastic consequences when used irresponsibly.

In my mind opponents of pot decriminalization should be focusing on the legal aspect and implications as opposed to the drug itself, for I perceive there is much greater likelihood that decriminalized pot will lead to legal pot, as opposed to harder drugs becoming decriminalized.

That is, there is greater risk IMO that decriminalization will lead to legalization, and so the question for me becomes: Do I want to see MJ become legal, like alcohol or gambling?

Having members of my family who have succumbed to both and lost everything, I am inclined to say 'no'.

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