Keeping Pot Illegal Leads To Bad Brew

As federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson puts it, coffee is “the currency that is used to bring other more serious drugs into the country.”

Accordingly, the government has tabled legislation to, among other things, impose one-year mandatory jail time for selling coffee.

Oops . . . did I say coffee? How embarrassing. Of course, it’s quite ridiculous to suggest that we would criminalize the sale or consumption of coffee. Oh sure, prohibiting the sale of coffee would immediately make it the purview of organized crime, thus making it a “currency” of sorts. No doubt such criminal elements would employ violent tactics in obtaining and protecting supply and territory.

Fortunately, such a scenario is confined to the vivid imagination — no one for a moment would dare suggest including caffeine alongside other illegal drugs. But what makes caffeine an unlikely candidate for criminalization is an honest assessment of what it is and the impact of its consumption.

What the federal justice minister was actually referring to was a different drug: marijuana. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to equate caffeine with marijuana. Nor, however, would I equate caffeine with alcohol or nicotine. Such determinations are, of course, largely evidence-based.

By the same standards, it would be foolish to lump marijuana in with cocaine or heroin. The only basis for such a comparison is the fact that all three are illegal. So therefore, by this logic, if we were to ban caffeine it could then be equated with cocaine and heroin.

In other words, it becomes a circular and irrational argument: why is marijuana illegal? Because it’s dangerous. Why is it dangerous? Because it’s illegal.

Which brings us back to Minister Nicholson. In describing marijuana as a “currency” for harder drugs and suggesting it “lubricates” the business of the underworld, he is absolutely right — we’ve made it that way. The same would be true of illegal coffee, alcohol, or cigarettes.

Instead, Nicholson is in-advertently making the case against his government’s own policy: marijuana is a threat, but that threat has nothing to do with marijuana. Therefore, the rationale becomes the rationale: we need to get tough on marijuana because its illegal.

I can appreciate that in lieu of an actual conservative agenda, a tough law-and-order approach can help satisfy the hunger of a most famished conservative base. Certain elements of that approach are commendable: there is much wrong with our justice system and it’s encouraging to see a government willing to address that.

And contrary to some of the government’s many critics, there are certain areas of crime that are getting worse, even though overall crime would seem to be on the decrease. We have seen increases in gang violence and violent youth crime — two areas this government has singled out for attention.

However, it is drug prohibition which is at the root of so much of the violence we are trying to address. Which then begs the question: does “getting tough on crime”mean we want less crime or merely more criminals on whom we can “get tough”? The government’s ongoing commitment to the war on drugs would seem to ensure that it’s the latter.

It is time for a rethink. More of the same policy only means more of the same result on the streets. A good place to start would be the private members bill tabled by Liberal MP Keith Martin which would decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana.

Decriminalization does not go far enough, however. A bolder approach would be to revisit the 2002 report of the Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs which recommended the legalization of marijuana.

Any honest assessment of marijuana should indicate that it belongs not alongside cocaine and heroin, but rather alongside alcohol and tobacco: legal, regulated, and restricted to adults.

And if we really want to stop marijuana from being used as a “currency” by organized crime, then the simplest and most logical means by which to do so is to take it out of their realm.

In defending this new bill, Nicholson argued that Canadians remain confused about the legal status of smoking marijuana. What confuses me is why the government remains intent on pursuing an illogical and counterproductive course of action.

Rob Breakenridge Hosts The World Tonight, Weeknights From 6:30 — 9P.m. On AM770 CHQR

– Article from Calgary Herald on April 28, 2009.



  1. Anonymous on

    just to clarify the “big leader” that the NDP is worried about is Harper’s government and not her majesty up above. :)

  2. Anonymous on

    Remember the Red Army from Russia? Well that’s history, it’s ancient, it was like a whole 60 years ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mussolini apparently defines fascism as when a government starts making laws with the businesses rather than for its people. Hmm. Is NDP really the solution or are they power mongers? Are they wannabes to perhaps the National Socialist Party of 60 years ago? Do you really trust them after what they have done to Mr. Tousaw or Mr. Larsen? Can you ever forgive and really open your heart to such a government regime, after seeing the radio show that Mr. Layton has done, albeit even if there is maybe one good apple within the whole stack/bundle. They haven’t even spoke transparently on the issue of Mr. Tousaw or Dana Larsen! They never admitted it was a big mistake nor did they issue any apologies. And why? Because they are worried about what the “big leader” might say. Let’s defend freedom! Defend democracy! They have also not supplied the opposition or the voice that Canadians need when it comes to issues regarding marijuana and drugs, etc.. Our voice has not been heard by the people. Let’s bring back the spirit of the defenders of freedom that we know all too well, before millions suffer even further. It could be people like Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, many Canadian “rebels” that turned out to have been doing “good deeds”, the great American revolutionists, even Bob Marley’s spirit, let’s bring them back to defend ourselves against the strife caused by satan.. Let us stand united on these issues! :) … Rest assured, the higher forces will hear our plaint and justice will be restored against this evilness and corruption.

    fas?cism? ?/?fæ??z?m/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [fash-iz-uhm] Show IPA
    –noun 1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
    2. (sometimes initial capital letter) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
    3. (initial capital letter) a fascist movement, esp. the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.


    1915–20; < It fascismo, equiv. to fasc(io) bundle, political group (see fasces ) + -ismo -ism fas·cism (f?sh’?z’?m) n. often Fascism A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. Oppressive, dictatorial control. [Italian fascismo, from fascio, group, from Late Latin fascium, from Latin fascis, bundle.] fas·cis’tic (f?-sh?s’t?k) adj. Word History: It is fitting that the name of an authoritarian political movement like Fascism, founded in 1919 by Benito Mussolini, should come from the name of a symbol of authority. The Italian name of the movement, fascismo, is derived from fascio, “bundle, (political) group,” but also refers to the movement’s emblem, the fasces, a bundle of rods bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power. The name of Mussolini’s group of revolutionaries was soon used for similar nationalistic movements in other countries that sought to gain power through violence and ruthlessness, such as National Socialism. fascism noun a political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism) fascism [(fash-iz-uhm)] A system of government that flourished in Europe from the 1920s to the end of World War II. Germany under Adolf Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco were all fascist states. As a rule, fascist governments are dominated by a dictator, who usually possesses a magnetic personality, wears a showy uniform, and rallies his followers by mass parades; appeals to strident nationalism; and promotes suspicion or hatred of both foreigners and “impure” people within his own nation, such as the Jews in Germany. Although both communism and fascism are forms of totalitarianism, fascism does not demand state ownership of the means of production, nor is fascism committed to the achievement of economic equality. In theory, communism opposes the identification of government with a single charismatic leader (the “cult of personality”), which is the cornerstone of fascism. Whereas communists are considered left-wing, fascists are usually described as right-wing. Note: Today, the term fascist is used loosely to refer to military dictatorships, as well as governments or individuals that profess racism and that act in an arbitrary, high-handed manner.

  3. Jonny Blazze on

    Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is an asshole! The only way to stop the gangs from profitting from drugs is to legalize them. Take a real bite out of crime.
    Legalize Marijuana, tax it, use the money for Health Care.
    We are going to need the money for the Boomers who are retiring and getting old.

  4. Anonymous on

    coffee is MUCH more addictive.