Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Legalize pot but get over 'harmless' pipe dream

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How many of your friends or colleagues at work like to "sneak out for a toke" during the day? At lunch or during a coffee break?

Or friends who come over to watch a movie and always slip outside for a "tug on the pipe."

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Like many other people, I used to believe that grass isn't addictive. After observing the behaviour of some of my friends, I've changed my mind.

Of course, my pot-smoking friends deny they are hooked on the weed. After all, they never miss work because they are too hungover. They don't go into withdrawal or even the mild shakes if they are deprived of their drug of choice.

"We're not like alcoholics, who miss work and get violent and stuff," they chant.

True, but anybody who likes to have a joint on his way to work to "set the day up," has at least a few tokes at various times throughout the day, then a joint on the way home and before and after dinner would seem, to me, to have a problem. Don't we frown upon employees who have cocktails at lunch? And if they slip into the washroom for a few swigs from a flask throughout the day they certainly do have a problem.

I've noticed that far too often we overlook similar kinds of behaviour if it involves marijuana, a soft drug that many people want legalized.

Count me in, because I believe we should legalize most drugs so we can control their use, take all those profits away from criminals and use the taxes we collect to provide treatment programs for drug addicts who hurt themselves and the rest of us through heartache, harm and heinous acts.

But legal or not, grass is as readily available as booze and I think it's time we started to take this supposedly mild, recreational drug more seriously.

I used to smoke marijuana during my college days and I enjoyed the giggles and the munchies with my friends, but our use was usually restricted to parties on the weekend and we didn't think of smoking up while studying for an exam and absolutely not if we happened to be working at some job.

I had to give up the weed because I find the stuff they make nowadays simply too damn strong. Nobody enjoys a babbling idiot or a paranoid freak at a party and I certainly wouldn't be able to work while high on the modern, hybrid, inbred, grafted, cloned or whatever it is they do to make "maui" so "wowie" these days.

But I have noticed friends and colleagues toking up during the day and I bet many of you have, too. They certainly are not as sharp after a toke and I have taken car keys when somebody tries to float out of my office or home after their last flint of the evening.

It's easy to imagine more than a few less productive people in the workplace and a toker wrapping his car around one of those beautiful trees they stop to admire on their way home (just not the way they intended to).

The debate over marijuana used to be more focused on whether it leads to harder drugs. Instead of worrying about whether Mary Jane is a gateway drug, I think it's time to get a grip on the effect this drug has all by itself.

They used to say cocaine wasn't addictive because there was no physical withdrawal when the user stopped using. But we have learned that "Peruvian marching powder" has a control over the individual that borders on the military.

It doesn't make any difference if you slip out for a drink or a toke during the day. When it happens every day, you have a problem.

marksonthings@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2012 A11

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