Credits: JACK BOLAND/QMI AGENCY
If you want smaller government and you want the government out of people's private lives, you need to support the legalization of marijuana. It's the logically consistent viewpoint for a conservative.
I write this in the leadup to the annual 4/20 marijuana marches where otherwise law-abiding citizens who consume, grow or trade the substance will take to the streets nationwide to show their love of pot.
It's absurd that we have laws making it mandatory to toss someone in jail for six months if they have six plants or more. And that's one of the lighter sentences.
Let's look at some of the data from QMI columnist Thane Burnett's multi-part feature on pot last December. The piece was inspired by Washington State and Colorado voting in support of legalization.
In an Angus Reid poll done at the time, 57% of Canadians supported legalization. Only 39% opposed it.
According to Health Canada, more than 40% of Canadians have used cannabis. In a poll on the Sun websites - though not scientific, certainly informative - 81% of readers voted for legalization.
My view is the law criminalizes commerce. It criminalizes gardening. And it criminalizes your right to do what you want with your body so long as you're not violating anyone else's liberties.
All the arguments in favour of the status quo - or tighter laws - can be knocked aside with one hand tied behind your back.
They're mostly about how pot can ruin a person, their family or their wallet. Or they're arguments about organized crime.
The first puts pot on par with booze, gambling, or any other supposed vice people can be obsessed with. Should we make all those illegal? There are many things which, done to excess, can harm a person and their family. But it's up to individuals to moderate themselves, not the state. I believe in personal responsibility, do you?
Now, organized crime arguments are all tertiary. They're all, "But if we legalize pot then this other bad thing might happen..." Well guess what? After pot is legalized, drug-related gang fights in the streets will still be illegal. All the spinoff crimes that the underground drug trade produces will still be illegal. In fact, they'll likely decrease.
Many people who smoke, grow and sell marijuana do so in a completely peaceable way. It's wrong to make them criminals.
You can come up with all the technical arguments in the world to support the status quo. But ultimately all you're saying is you want to infringe on people's liberties because you don't like what's in their garden or pocket, or because they like a joint after a hard day at work instead of a beer.
Don't forget, billions of tax dollars have been wasted on big government pot intrusion. It's time to go from losing billions on pot to gaining billions via consumption taxes.
Some try to argue most drug laws aren't even enforced anyway so who cares? Two problems with that.
The first is it's incorrect. According to Statistics Canada, of the more than 113,000 drug crimes across the country in 2011, 54% were for cannabis possession. The second problem is we should always be striving to get bad laws off the books.
The NDP and Liberals want to decriminalize, if not outright legalize, the substance. But they're not in power. It's time for small government proponents to do the same. Calling all conservatives: Puff, puff, pass the legislation!