Monday, March 20, 2006

BBC NEWS | Americas | Canada's growing marijuana problem

*It's Opposite Day*

I'm stealing this idea from some bloggers I read once in a while and the concept is rather simple. Argue for something you would normally argue against, or argue against something you would normally argue for.

And speaking as a debater, it really isn't all that hard. The only thing you need to remember is this. Can you lie convincing/persuasively for the 7-8 minutes that you need to speak for?

If you aren't that comfortable with that approach (and sometimes that approach is just suicide e.g. demonising homosexuality in a debate is a near sure-fire way of losing against any decent team) what you could do is to rephrase the issue such that it suits you. So the classic example would be you support gay rights etc. but you oppose their right to marry or adopt a child. That's where a policy with a sunset clause comes in very useful....

So why should we continue to criminalise marijuanna despite the abject failure of the general war on drugs?

1. You don't take a defeatist attitude much less an irrational one whereby as long as you cannot totally eradicate it, you do not bother to combat it. It's analogous to the argument that because you cannot prevent crime, you should just legalise everything.

2. The need for a bright red line. Alochol and tobacco are already harmful enough, you don't want also deadly/harmful narcotic thrown into the mix. The impossibility of abolishing either of the two products is not good enough grounds for then turning around and arguing for legalising marijuanne

3. The need for a paternalistic attitude. The notion of individualism, individual rights and autonomy are predicated on a person having full mental and rational capacity. Often the largest groups using marijuanna tends to be teenagers who by law aren't considered to have full capacity.

Even amongst adults who do have full capacity, the fact that people still continue drinking and smoking despite the huge public education and often obvious deadly effects is testamentary to the fact that people simply need to be protected from themselves in these circumstances, especially when it comes to narcotics.

4. Cost-efficiency. In a liberal welfare state, the tax payers are the ones who are paying for the medical bills and cost of these smokers and drinkers and the associated harms inflicted upon themselves and on others.

In a manner of speaking, we are in effect already subsidising fool-hardy and irrational choices. Throwing in another legal narcotic will simply make matters worse, especially seeing as how marijuanna is smoked and causes the exact same types of harms that cigerette smoke creates.

5. Reality. It's one thing if the entire world decides to decriminalise or to legalise marijuanna but quite another if only a few states decide to do so. This raises hell for other countries who may not have extra-territorial laws to combat drug usage overseas. Not to mention the posssibility of drug cartels now using such legal fronts as the basis for running other illegal and dangerous narcotics.

And that's about all that I can think of without having to lie about the facts. =P




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