Conservative party's marijuana stance 'complete nonsense'
Advocates say lives shouldn’t be ruined over marijuana use
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Stephen Harper’s recent comments on marijuana have drawn ire from community advocates and medical users of the drug.
While speaking at a campaign stop in Montreal Saturday, the Conservative Party leader said cannabis is “infinitely worse” than tobacco.
He insisted his government would continue to apply tough laws against its use, a stance he’s maintained even during candidate debates. Keith Fagin, founder and director with Calgary 420 Cannabis Community, an advocacy group that looks to legalize the sale of marijuana through regulation, much like alcohol, said Harper’s comments are “complete nonsense.”
“It’s ridiculous,” he said.
Fagin said the government’s current drug policy can ruin young people’s lives, where some end up in jail for having a pipe and a bit of residue in it.
“Just because they consume a bit of cannabis doesn’t make them bad people,” he said. “Kids tell me they feel like they miss out on job opportunities after they get a criminal record for minor incidents.”
Pot can also be abused and affect people’s health negatively, Fagin added, but alcohol, for example, is no different.
“Anything can be abused,” he said. “But marijuana is a lot less harmful when used normally.”
The Conservatives have long linked the use of marijuana to the increase in risks of mental health problems. However, medical research on that issue is divided.
Details from a 2014 report on the issue from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health drew specific conclusions.
While the use of cannabis carries significant health risks — especially for people using it frequently or begin to use it at an early age — criminalizing it heightens these health harms and causes more social harms, the report concluded.
On a scale of 0-100, both tobacco and cannabis were rated 0 on lethality. Tobacco was rated 100 for damage to physical health, while pot was 20. Marijuana however was rated 30 for impairment of mental functioning, while tobacco was rated 0.
“At the levels and patterns of use reported by most adult cannabis users, the health risks are modest, significantly lower than tobacco or alcohol,” the report said.