Legalization tied to bottom line

Put the marijuana out there alongside the lettuce and green beans

Legalization of marijuana has been a recurring theme which has popped up every few years since the hippy dippy days of the 1960s.

Until recently the topic has never enjoyed the widespread support of many government officials, but that seems to have changed now that so many old dope-smoking hippies have gained access to the corridors of power.

It’s not such a big deal, except that so many proponents of legalization base their support on the bottom line.

The battle cry has become let’s legalize the people’s favourite mood-altering chemical, then tax the hell out of it.

Everyone knows how well that worked with alcohol.

First, make it illegal, then make it legal again, but turn it into a cash cow for government instead of organized crime.

A good idea, but with the same chaotic ruinous and often violent results.

Instead of doing something about whatever it is that drives people to the tragic depths of alcoholism, the government just keeps heaping more taxes onto the sale of liquor, treating it like a bottomless pit.

Of course, governments have paid lip service to dealing with the problems.

Even here in little old Maple Ridge, we have treatment centres and other facilities, left to cope with the social tragedies created through alcohol abuse.

These pitiful measures designed to deal with alcohol-related problems are frequently not successful. You can see the pathetic results on our streets and back alleys every day and every night.

Violence and dysfunctional families are all too common a result of alcohol abuse.

Once again, the government does little but pay lip service in vain attempts to lessen the impact on our communities and families.

And now we stand on the threshold of legalizing marijuana.

Politicians at every level of government are tripping over themselves to offer their proposals on how this could be accomplished.

There are even suggestions for zoning bylaw amendments to make sure the cultivation of marijuana will not take place in our nicer neighbourhoods.

It leads me to believe that the politicians supporting this goofy approach have already been doing a lot of firsthand research into the subject.

If, as so many elected proponents of legalization claim, marijuana is relatively harmless compared to alcohol, why not just legalize it without all the nonsense about zoning, licensing and taxation.

The semi-legal medical grow ops that have sprung up in recent years in various locations  have not really solved the general issue of marijuana usage.

And some of these operations have become thoroughly offensive to their neighbours and sometimes the police.

Why not simply let those who have a green thumb, so to speak, just grow a few plants on their own without government regulation, taxation and monopoly.

Put the marijuana out there alongside the lettuce and green beans where it can thrive in the warmth of natural sunshine.

Of course, if it is simply legalized without the incentive of increased government revenues and bureaucratic controls, support for legalization will likely go away.

And before anyone accuses me of evil deeds, I can assure you that I don’t drink and I don’t smoke anything, legal or otherwise.

Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.

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