Marijuana: no different than a tomato plant or something to be concerned about?
Several elements to the legalization of pot debate were discussed Thursday during a panel discussion at the University of Guelph.
The Legalization of Marijuana: Will It Happen? Should It Happen? was part of the ongoing political science speaker series.
It featured U of G professor and self-confessed pot smoker Andrew Hathaway and Wilfrid Laurier University professor and former provincial cabinet minister John Milloy.
"It's a plant, like a tomato, as far as I'm concerned. People should be allowed to grow as much as they want," said Hathaway.
"If marijuana legalization is our biggest social problem at this point in time, we're doing pretty good as a society."
Hathaway said that drug policy is about politics, not science.
He said that politicians are starting to realize that the votes of pot smokers, and the votes of those that don't see pot smoking as a moral threat, matter.
Milloy cautioned that he is not an anti-marijuana "zealot" but said that at the same time he is skeptical about the move towards decriminalizing or legalizing pot.
"Why are we doing this anyway?" Milloy said, adding that current laws certainly need to be looked at.
"I do question the roles that laws play in sending messages about what's acceptable and not acceptable," Milloy said.
He explained that people seem to be celebrating the fact that Canada is moving towards the decriminalization or legalization of pot, but that they shouldn't get too excited.
"What's being proposed is a very, very controlled, detailed bureaucratic approach," Milloy said.
Milloy said that government literature indicates the move is being done "to protect kids"
He said "the jury is still out" over how potentially unhealthy marijuana is, particularly for those under 25.
"Marijuana is not the most healthy choice in the world," he said, later adding that legalized marijuana, like alcohol, "is going to give us something else with which to struggle."
A man in the audience who identified himself as a 50-year partaker of the happy herb, said that rules are useless.
"The war on marijuana is over. We won. Deal with it," he said.
"It's easier to grow your own good pot these days than to make your own good wine," he added.
Milloy argued that making pot illegal does change the way some people view it and their willingness to use it.
Hathaway said that the prohibition of pot was one of "the most socially harmful and costly policies ever dreamt up. It led to bad product, high cost and more crime.
The U of G prof said even legalized and decriminalized marijuana could be a problem if the rules are too restrictive.
"If they make it too restrictive, people aren't going to want to play that game," Hathaway said.