If you haven’t taken a stab at skimming through C-45 (aka. The Cannabis Act), the new draft-bill being handed down by the Canadian government in preparation for next year’s proposed legalization, here’s a small spoiler; it stinks. Some might say it’s better than nothing, but in many ways, it’s actually far worse than the status quo, in terms of the restrictions it aims to impose and the millions of citizens it will continue to criminalize. While they may be calling it “legalization”, most members of the Canadian cannabis community have already dubbed it “prohibion 2.0”. If you recall, Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to end the harmful arrests of otherwise peaceful people (as his late brother experienced), and to take a scientific, evidence-based approach to forming Cannabis policy moving forward. Well, like most (read: all) politicians, that promise vaporized as quickly as the ballots were counted, and like much of politics, you can follow the money to figure out why. Meanwhile, the reefer madness continues. So, to save you some time…
Here are 7 alternative facts we’ve heard about cannabis, debunked:
1. Cannabis Impairs driving
One of the most unsettling (and frankly, scary) parts of the new legislation surrounds their proposed restrictions on driving. Currently, there is no scientifically supported roadside test, that can accurately measure impairment. The reason being that unlike alcohol, the levels of THC present in one’s blood and/or saliva, do not correlate to impairment. In fact, it is well-known that cannabis compounds, being fat-soluble, typically remain in our system long after we’ve consumed it. Imagine being charged with a DUI for that joint you smoked last month? Well, the new bill proposes a violation of our Section 7 Charter Rights by imposing mandatory roadside testing (regardless of why you were even pulled over), and recommends up to 10 years in prison when you are found driving under the influence of a large quantity. For comparisons sake… remember that billionaire guy Marco Muzzo who drove drunk and killed an entire family last year? He was also sentenced to 10 years. Here in Canada, an average of 4 people are killed per day due to drunk driving. Just let that marinate for a minute, while you consider this: In a recent study, published by the American Journal Of Public Health on July 12th, researchers found that recreational Cannabis had no effect on the rates of automobile crashes in US states with legal pot. Furthermore, a 2015 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggested that “drivers who tested positive for marijuana were no more likely to crash than those who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to driving.”
2. Cannabis use will lower your IQ
One of the main Liberal talking points throughout this legalization saga, has been their promise to keep our kids safe, by repeatedly suggesting that Cannabis has detrimental effects on the developing brain. From setting age limits, to regulating packaging (to make it appear visually undesirable to youth), to restrictions on advertising, the Libs have been doing backflips trying to ‘protect our kids’. But are they? Well, according to Science Magazine, the answer is no. In a ground-breaking twins study over ten years, scientists found no evidence that marijuana lowers IQ in teens. But what happens if your rebellious teen finds your stash and steels a nug? You guessed it… you could be looking at 14 years in prison for serving a minor. Interestingly though, there is in fact a sneaky culprit that has been repeatedly proven to actually lower IQ, cause drastic cognitive impairments in developing brains, and is linked to memory loss and even brain damage. Shockingly, it’s a substance that can be found anywhere, anytime, with zero restrictions or legal consequences… Sugar. According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation of Canada, approximately 60% of adults and 30% of children are overweight, a number which has tripled since 1978 and is now widely considered an epidemic. And yet, our government has done literally nothing to protect our children from the horrific dangers of consuming sugar. There is no sugar bill before parliament, there are no age limits for purchasing sugary snacks or drinks, which can be found in every corner store on every block in every neighbourhood… everywhere (with no zoning implications), there are no government controlled sugar dispensaries, and there are no limitations on packaging or marketing sugar-containing products to ensure that this toxic scourge does not appeal to our most vulnerable demographic. And no, there is no hefty prison sentence for serving sugar to a minor either. Can you taste the sweet hypocrisy yet?
3. The effects of smoking Cannabis are similar to the effects of smoking Tobacco:
While it has long been known that smoking tobacco increases one’s chance of developing lung cancer, the evidence for smoking cannabis suggests otherwise. In fact, studies have shown that even the heaviest pot smokers had no increased risk for developing lung cancer (despite the carcinogens present when combustion occurs). So why is that? The answer is simple; Cannabis compounds have been shown to actually cure cancer by inhibiting and reversing tumour growth through cellular death (while leaving healthy tissues unharmed).
4. Cannabis is a gateway drug
We’re all a little too familiar with the lingo, as we’ve been indoctrinated since grade 5 health class to be fearful of rowdy house parties where that pesky peer pressure might happen. We were warned about that so-called friend who might pass you the doobie, as innocent as it may seem, because it could be a “gateway drug” opening the door to more harmful substances like crack cocaine and heroine. But once again, we’ve been duped. In fact, new scientific and empirical evidence suggests that the exact opposite is true; Cannabis is currently being praised worldwide by harm reduction workers for it’s ability to help stop opioid addiction, and is being offered at safe-injection sites and addiction centres as a safe alternative to curb cravings for those far more dangerous (and fatal) drugs.
5. Cannabis is a dangerous household plant
One of the main arguments for limiting the number (and size) of household Cannabis plants that will be permitted under the coming law is, you guessed it, keeping it away from our children. But is a living Cannabis plant really a threat? First of all, some growing 101; when a Cannabis plant is eventually harvested, before the buds are suitable for smoking or consuming, there is an important step which involves carefully drying and curing the flowers. During this gradual metabolic process, cannabinoid compounds increase in potency, remaining chlorophyll is broken down (changing the colour, appearance and even flavour) and decarboxylization occurs. Simply put, eating a raw cannabis plant will not get you “high” as the necessary psychoactive compounds aren’t fully developed yet. On the contrary, raw cannabis plant matter is extremely high in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, powerful antioxidants, and fibre, making it an incredible addition to your morning green smoothie. But while we’re on the topic, there are (in fact) many common household plants that can be deadly (or result in anything from vomiting, to dermatitis, to liver failure) if ingested by your kids… Poinsettias, Daffodils, Lilies, Oleander, and Ivy, just to name a few. Shockingly, none of these are illegal or heavily regulated, and they certainly don’t appear in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Prohibition 2.0 is really starting to have a nice ring to it!
6. The law is the law
Despite Trudeau’s campaign promise to end the unjust arrests of Cannabis users, and the wasteful spending of our tax dollars (it’s estimated that a billion dollars is spent annually in Canada on drug enforcement), more peaceful (and otherwise law-abiding) Canadians have been arrested and charged in the last 18 months of Liberal rule than under the previous Harper government. So what happens when the law blatantly contradicts science, morals and public opinion? According to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”, which was effectively the case for Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who performed countless illegal abortions for Canadian women until he ultimately won support of the Supreme Court of Canada (R v. Morgentaler) in a landmark constitutional challenge and a human rights victory.
7. Parliament is taking an evidence-based approach to legalization
Please refer to points 1 through 6.
*Disclaimer: As per current Canadian law, cannabis is considered an illicit substance and should only be used responsibly and in moderation under the explicit recommendation and guidance of a medical practitioner.*