Letter: Legal or not, we need to talk about pot

Two Kwantlen Polytechnic University criminology students say it's high time we opened up public debate on legalizing recreational marijuana.

With the recent legalization of marijuana in Washington and Oregon, and with the confused and inconsistencies around marijuana dispensaries in this province, we are young citizens who have many questions about where our community is headed in regard to marijuana.

Should Canada move from legalization of medical marijuana to an inclusive legalization for recreational use?

Arrests for marijuana possession in this province have been increasing—although the number of arrests depends on the region of the province where people reside.

As criminology students at Kwantlen who hope to enter a career in law enforcement in the not too distant future, we have been looking at health and legal issues around recreational marijuana in the lower mainland for a writing course we have taken with Dr. Sue Ann Cairns.

We do not use marijuana, and thus we have no vested interest in whether or not marijuana is legalized.

However, we do hope that when we are enforcing laws in our community, that the laws are consistent and make sense.

As citizens of this province, and concerned citizens in the community of Surrey, we are concerned about the amount of police time and costs associated with enforcement of our current laws regarding possession of marijuana.

We have discovered both pros and cons regarding legalization of recreational marijuana.

The cons include the following points:

Possible gateway drug to other forms of more dangerous drugs such as cocaine

Health risks, especially for adolescents whose brains are still developing

Impairments in judgement and memory while under the influence

Likelihood that legalization will not be a cure-all for the illegal marijuana trade

The pros include these points:

Reduction of black market

Economic benefits associated with taxation and licensing

Cost savings for courts and police time

Potential reduction of illegal supply in black market

Economic benefits associated with taxation and  licensing

 

Recognizing that there will be a strong need to think this issue through carefully, we believe that it is high time that we have more public dialogue around this question.

Amritpal Jammu and Jasjot Mangat

Kwantlen Polytechnic University