Unpublished Letter to the Editor

Re: Up in Smoke Café
The recent media attention given to the pro-marijuana protest and the Up in Smoke Café raises some important questions about the proposed legalisation (or decriminalization) of marijuana.
Contrary to popular myths, studies have shown that marijuana is addictive, usually a gateway drug to harder substances (coke, etc), is dangerous both from a personal health consideration as well as motor-vehicle impairment. It is more physically dangerous than cigarettes, and has been shown to be very harmful to the unborn children of smokers.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that those who use marijuana can permanently impair their ability to think. Habitual users of marijuana will likely experience some irreversible brain damage. What does the future hold for these users? Or for that matter, what about the future of their children? Those who argue for the repeal of marijuana laws are condemning future generations to low income and diminished opportunities. Can a daily user adequately provide for their children? Will a child do as well in school when her parent(s) are regular users of marijuana? Will children of marijuana users be given the same chances to be drug-free later in life? Studies and evidence indicate that the answer to these questions must be “no.”
The current attitude seems to portray marijuana use as a strictly private affair, and that laws should somehow reflect this privacy. But when one considers the long-term cost to society of marijuana decriminalization, it true cost becomes clear. The reality is that the cognitive damage done to smokers will be the debt of our time and for future generations. There are many things that can cause brain injury: birth defects, accidents, disease, to name a few. Those who suffer from these must be compassionately cared for by the larger community. But must this same community be further burdened by those who so willingly bring this damage upon themselves? Habitual use of marijuana will create more dependents than social services can sustain. This will eventually result in more cruel cutbacks to welfare that affect all who rely on such services. The decriminalization of marijuana will be construed to bestow a new “right” –a right to injure oneself deliberately and permanently, and then to expect compensation at taxpayer expense.
Another argument for the decriminalization of marijuana is that it is no worse than alcohol. It is also asked if it isn’t somehow hypocritical to allow one substance and ban the other. Even if it were true that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, why would it be wise to make another legal-but-harmful substance available to the public? If we have one unmanageable problem, how would adding another help?
Politicians and the public need to carefully weight the long-term consequences of marijuana use and its decriminalization. Failure to do so is a lapse of judgement we cannot afford.
Marijuana use destroys lives, children, and our community.