Is Mississauga Ready for Legalized Marijuana?
"It's one thing to spark up a doobie and get laced at parties, but it is quite another to be fried all day."
That's a dated and simplistic but ultimately thoughtful line from Clueless -- that amazing mid-90s comedy that's so coolly vintage you can buy the soundtrack on vinyl at Urban Outfitters.
Marijuana usage has almost always been as politically contentious as it's been ubiquitous and now, with parts of the U.S. and Europe having formally legalized the "herbal refreshment" (that's another Clueless reference, for those who have been keeping track), it looks like newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on track to pursue his much-lauded (and criticized) pot legalization plan.
According to a recent Vice article, Trudeau has called on Canada's Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to get the ball rolling on the risky but effective (and, ultimately, popular and reasonable) campaign promise. He recently issued a mandate letter that calls on the minister to work with other appropriate governing bodies to “create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”
The move to legalize marijuana was a long time coming.
The drug, more controversial than alcohol but less than, say, crack, has always held a special place in public consciousness. Not typically associated with severely anti-social behavior (does anyone know anyone who's stolen expensive goods to fund a weed habit?), concerns about the availability of the drug seem to center on listlessness, low ambition and lung disease. While you might find some anti-drug advocates who liken it to heroin, most people understand that pot does little to harm the fabric of a functional society. It's readily available despite prohibition (much like alcohol was) and costs society a lot more in terms of, frankly, unnecessary policing.
Regulation and legalization won't open access to children and teens.
Their access is most likely more unfettered now, as it's sold by local dealers who have no governing or regulatory bodies to answer to.
As for the impact on mental and physical health, many experts say that the detriments don't outweigh the benefits of legalization.
CAMH, which has studied the drug's impact on motor vehicle skills, mental health and habit forming tendencies, thinks it's better to legalize than stick with the current prohibition model. They aren't arguing that it's harmless or that it has miraculous health benefits (check out any pot aficionado's page and you'll find dozens of junk science articles crediting pot with curing cancer, ending climate change, eradicating terrorism and producing non-stop orgasms during more evolved and earth-shattering post-party lovemaking sessions), but that the cost of keeping it legal is too high. Too high for government and police and too high for casual users who pose no threat to society.
In terms of Mississauga, pot -- at least when used for medicinal purposes -- isn't so frowned upon at the municipal level.
Earlier this year, the city became the first in Canada to license and regulate medical marijuana. Back in March, Councillor Jim Tovey said, "The federal government legalized these operations, but we're the ones eventually responsible for where they're located and the enforcement of them," as reported by The Star.
While medical marijuana is a different beast from recreational pot, the city has shown reason and maturity thus far. There's been no hand-wringing from on high about "the children" or the inevitable zombification of a once-thriving metropolis. Perhaps some city officials -- like most Mississauga residents -- understand that those who smoke will continue to do so regardless of who's selling and that kids who could easily buy weed before might actually find the process a little more onerous and difficult.
Pot philosophies aside, it looks like legalization is coming.
So, Mississauga, how do you feel about it? Do you think it'll benefit the people of the city? Or do you worry about negative consequences?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments.