By Jonah Kondro
If my readers haven’t figured it out from the few and small passive remarks I left in some of my recent columns, I’m against the legalization of marihuana in Canada.
I’ve read a few magazine articles, a few social media posts, and a few newspaper columns that address the questions of the legal sale of marihuana. I’ve also chit chatted with many college kids and listened to numerous opinions. I find that there are two primary arguments that are pro-pot. One, the taxes generated from sales could be used to support government initiatives; and two, the legalization would remove stress from the police and court systems.
If marihuana becomes legal, in theory, the criminal activity that surround the illegal sale of pot would drop. Thus, less offenders would be put through the court system and potentially the prison system in Canada. The provincial and federal court costs, that are associated with the legal apparatus, would drop. And it would follow that if less criminals are charged and found guilty, less criminals would be placed into incarceration facilities; operational costs of those facilities would therefore also drop.
I’m going to object to the notion that the legalization of pot would lower the costs of the court and incarceration systems. The police and court apparatuses are already in place; if pot were to become legal, attentions would simply shift from one evil to another. If it isn’t the criminal activity of pot, it would be the criminal activity associated with the illegal sale of cocaine or fentanyl that would be the targets of the police and court systems. The stakes are quite higher when addressing the harder drugs: police investigations into those matters would increase in sophistication; the court proceedings would be lengthier; and the incarceration terms will increase for more severe offenses. The cost of focusing on the harder drugs would be more expensive to address.
The primary argument for pro-pot is the influx of new tax dollars the government would receive from the legal sale of the substance. It seems to me the opinions that posit the potential tax benefits also quietly suggest there is already a large portion of the population that use marihuana illegally; and that this portion of users would begin to purchase pot legally if it were made so.
I question what is actually being taxed. Certainly legal pot sales would add some new shiny loonies to the government’s change purse; however, there is human psychologically that is also being taxed. Sometimes a person is smoking a spliff to enjoy bad television, but other times a person is smoking a spliff to forgot about first world sorrows: overdue bills, job loss, or the price of oil. To suggest that the legal sale of pot would add tax dollars to the government’s bank account is to also suggest that Canadian citizen psychology is up for taxation. I feel that the legalization of marihuana would tax anxiety, tax depression, and tax unhappiness. Real human psychological needs would not be addressed.
There are greater concerns to consider that supersede debates about the legalization of marihuana.