Russell Barth – Should Marijuana Should Be Sold To Kids Like Chocolate Or Cola? June 26, 2014

russell barth 2013CFN – When we look at the science and history of cannabis, we see that it is safer than cola, coffee, or chocolate. When one considers that cola and chocolate products almost always have a lot of sugar in them, and coffee sometimes has sugar, we realize that cannabis is much safer. And when we factor in the myriad medical benefits of cannabis, we see that our public policy is downright absurd.

Anyone who says that sugar isn’t a drug has never seen a kid eat a lot of sugar. Same with caffeine. But then I guess it is ok to have kids jumping around high on sugar… but not lying around laughing because they are high on pot…? That is a weird culture you have there…

In my opinion, people should avoid sugar and caffeine like poison, but it is also reasonable to suggest that letting a kid have a can of Mountain Dew or an Aero bar once in a while isnot a big deal. The problems come when the kid is doing it too often, and it leads to other problems like diabetes, obesity, dental decay, and stupidity.

Sadly, Canadian parents have dropped the ball over the past 30 years. With about one third of Canadians (of all ages) being obese, and another third being merely overweight, Canadian parents have – in my view – lost all of their “Hey, you can’t let kids have that!” priviledges. I see them in the food courts and grocery stores, feeding their families garbage. I see their chubby, whiny brats as they have their sugar-crash in the department store or on the bus. I see them buying giant chocolate bunnies at Easter. The worst part is – they know what they are doing. It isn’t like parents think McDonald’s is real food, they know perfectly well that they are doing at least some harm.

Now, obviously no sane person wants to see little kids (or teens) lying around stoned on the lawn, all red-eyed and giggling… any more than we would want to see them all fat and lazy from junk food, or bouncing off the walls from too much caffeine. Responsible parents would teach and monitor their kids so that they would know how much chocolate, cola, or marijuana was enough, or too much.

As it stands now, we could literally sell pot from corner stores to any kid of any age, and they could not possibly have any more access than they do already. Just about any kid of any age can find pot in Canada in under a day. There is a glut on the market. The more clever ones can even buy it on line.

Further, we are only talking about 15-20% (of the 10-18-year-old population) who are using pot more than once in a while, with maybe 3-4% who are using it weekly or daily, and a fraction of 1% who are doing it too much and having problems at home or at school.

That is nothing compared to the fifty to sixty percent of Canadian kids who currently have weight issues. The notion that allowing pot to be sold next to Hershey bars is somehow going to endanger the public is pretty absurd. Kids who want pot, get pot. No one has obeyed the law in decades. The kids who don’t use pot now, will probably not start if the rules changed.

This raises an important question: If kids have ubiquitous access to pot now, and selling it in stores would not increase their access or the danger posed to them, then why bother? Why not just make it 18 and over like tobacco and booze?

Well, for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that if Old Man Corner Store doesn’t sell your kid a clean pot cookie or a clean and bar-coded 2-gram baggie, some 20-something creepo will sell him something outside.

That guy deserves no customers. His product will likely come from some gang-grow, or his own crappy indoor or outdoor shwagg, and he will overcharge your kids, taking your hard-earned money and giving it to people who possibly also deal in who-knows-what?

Secondly, kids can smell hypocrisy a mile away, so telling them pot is too dangerous forthem, while adults use it like the health supplement that it is, will not sit well with them. Whether they want to use marijuana or not, they will resent being lied to, and especially so badly!

Third, having police not bother with pot use at all will help restore some public faith in law enforcement. People of all ages have lost respect for police and even police work as a whole, because the police not only waste endless time and resources trying to stop pot from being grown and sold and used, but because they lie about it. They lie about marijuana, they lie about their busts, they lie about the merits of prohibition. They no longer deserve any say in marijuana policy, periodThey lost all their privileges too. The only time a cop should be involved in a marijuana issue, is if someone stole some pot.

This raises another important question: If, in the future, kids have ubiquitous access to pot in corner stores like chocolate, how do we keep them from using it?

You don’t. You teach them the facts, you instil in them a sense of moderation and humility and grace, and you monitor their behaviour so they don’t get the chance to abuse pot any more than they would chocolate or cola. Keep them busy. Get involved in their lives. Give teachers the tools to teach to these issues honestly, and begin public information campaigns urging sensible use.

And no, you don’t need to be a parent to figure that out.

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  1. Just a small note
    It would be nice to see a brief bio on writers so I can save a google click
    thank you
    Russell Barth is a writer, artist, animator, activist, public speaker, spoken-word artist, antitheist, and (occasional) comedian living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

  2. Russell has a way of pointing out the obvious to a population not ready to see it. It’s been forty-two years since Le Dain Commission released it’s report, and here we are still mired in the same mess with our BS “war on drugs”.

  3. Author

    Furtz it’s not such a war on drugs as a pension plan for defense attorneys, crowns, and other members of the justice and police systems.

  4. You nailed it Jamie. And add to that the need for more people to occupy our expanding prisons.

  5. Your kidding me, Marijuana creates adverse psychiatric effects on the brain that are permanent and prevents a youngsters brain from forming into a properly functional brain if use chronically through their child hood, and you have the nerve to say coffee is worse? Already deaths have been reported from marijuana in Colorado, and things are out of control their. I am against the war on drugs but at the same time I do not glorify marijuana use to kids and say that sugar is worse.

  6. all debunked, Mish. All of it.

    Pot actually stimulates neurogenesis in the brain.
    Pot is good for brains, especially children and old people.

  7. also, for Peter:

  8. Long term marijuana usage will lower dopamine production in your brain which in turn affects your motivation and reward systems. Like anything else, moderation is key. I can respect and hang out with the occasional tokers but pothead “chronics” are as annoying as alcoholics. Let’s not glorify this or purport it to be some magic elixir of life. Our brains are best when they aren’t pickled or smoked. Regulate it like booze and tax the hell out of it. Then it can benefit Canadians who don’t smoke it and cut down on the greasy dealers putting money into the biker gangs.

  9. @ Greg Reynolds. How does one regulate something that’s easier to grow than tomatoes?

  10. @Furtz. How does one regulate beer? Tobacco? Milk? I’m allowed to produce and consume at home but I can’t sell it direct unless I’m a licensed / registered taxpaying business. There are plenty of impatient people who would buy legal pot rather than sit around watching a plant grow. Especially the kids Mr. Barth think should be hitting the pipe instead of the candy bars. Kids are definitely impatient. Tax it!

  11. @ Greg Reynolds. Beer or wine.. Lots of work to produce relatively small amounts (I’ve done it). Tobacco.. Only grows in certain areas, and requires proper curing and processing. Milk.. Same as wine or beer. Lots of work and investment to produce a relatively small amount. (I have a small herd of dairy cattle}. Marijuana.. Anybody with a Rubbermaid tub and soil and water can grow as much as they want.

  12. No matter how much you insist pot is bad for kids – or worse than the shit we already sell them, anyway – it still won’t make it true.

    Keep saying pot causes bad things that it doesn’t. Keep going. It helps.

  13. He said, she said. The arguments continue. No one wins.

  14. “The only time a cop should be involved in a marijuana issue, is if someone stole some pot.”

    This is the most brilliant/hilarious thing i’ve ever hear anyone say regarding the topic! It’s simply,amazingly true. Jamie, would you mind if i use this quote as my signature somewhere online?

  15. Author

    Jerry the quote belongs to Russ. I can’t give out permissions on it.

  16. One other thing: What kid under the age of 11 is handed money and just told to go buy stuff?
    My impression is that kids up to about 10 or 11 ask for a specific thing, then are given money to get that item.
    “Mom, can I have a KitKat?”
    “Ok, but don’t eat it until after you ate your lunch, k?” (hands him a toonie).

    So, if by 10 or 11 years old, your kid doesn’t know about marijuana and how to use it responsibly… like chocolate or cola… then that is on YOU.

  17. You ask Russell how do we keep them from using it (marijuana)? As proven in other jurisdictions the answer lies in changing perception.

    In 2001 Portugal decriminalized marijuana. The issue at that time was considered to be one of the top ten issues facing the government (ultimately the people). Marijuana usage ceased to be a criminal act and became a medical issue. When an individual was found to be in violation of the changes surrounding the usage of marijuana they were/are required to undergo medical evaluation. Usage particularly amongst the youth has dropped virtually off the radar. The perception by teenagers is that marijuana use is not cool and that you must have mental issues if you partake.

    I invite you to take a closer look at the situation in Portugal so that you can reach your own conclusion. My conclusion is that legalization is not the answer.

  18. Legalization will never happen under our current government. The crime rate has been dropping year after year for quite a few years, and they need a way to keep our prison population up to justify the new prisons being built.

  19. Furtz are you being serious or facetious? The statement makes absolutely no sense.

  20. Not facetious at all David. Dear Leader is expanding our prison system, and has vowed over and over to carry on with the (failed) war on drugs. Even you must know that. Well, maybe you don’t.

  21. FURTZ Kingston is closed and Leclerc in Laval is being retired as well. These were old crumbling facilities that were no longer financially viable to maintain. New facilities have to be built, that is a no brainer and the approximately 1100 combined inmates have to go somewhere.
    With long overdue minimum sentences for certain crimes a percentage of criminals will face longer stays in correctional institutions. The no brainer here is that more space will be required even though we are experiencing a general decrease in the overall crime rate. Homicides however are up and this type of crime carries longer terms which ultimately means a greater need for cell space over the long term.

    Regarding the war on drugs, it has proven to have been costly and largely ineffective but even that of course is subjective. What value you place on a human life saved is the measuring stick. If as a society we stop fighting the tough issues that we face where will we end up? Better off? I think not. But as with Portugal I believe marijuana decriminalization in Canada would be a step forward. Narcotics, well that is quite a different story altogether.
    Even you must know that. Well maybe you don’t.

  22. David, just a quick internet search will show you that our federal incarceration rate is at an all time high. The federal budget for the Correctional Service of Canada has increased by 40% over five years. The number of cells has increased by 2,700. I could go on.

  23. Interesting “discussion” between Furtz and David Oldham. Even with the gov’t closing older prisons the new ones being built will have more capacity than needed. Harpoon Harper will proceed with his plans no matter what the true facts are. Hopefully in 2015 we can get rid of Harpoon Harper and his gang of clowns.

  24. If you shut down 1100 cells and then create 2700 cells the net gain is 1600 cells. The overcrowding in our prisons which led to riots in the facilities and the public outcry demanding prison reform has led us to where we are today. This correction to the system has been over 40 years in the making. Reading one biased article does not make one an expert on the issue. If the answers concerning crime and punishment were that simple this topic would not even be on the radar. People should not make broad misleading statements regarding subject matter they do not fully grasp. Further, if you only concern yourself with the demands of the day then you have either no concern or vision of tomorrow. This sadly is the major problem with the current mayor and council of Cornwall.

  25. Oh come on David. You are smarter than that, I thought. The increase in prison capacity is over and above the capacity before the shutdown of KP and Laval. Google is your friend.

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