author: john loeppky | editor-in-chief
Truly a danger?
Despite the fact that the legalization of marijuana is on the horizon, Saskatchewan police officers, particularly in Regina, have shown zero leniency toward those who us the drug for health reasons.
The zero-tolerance policy being facilitated by those who wear the badge in this province is at odds with sense, with health practitioners, and with those who need marijuana for medical reasons. The lack of understanding toward those who are currently running afoul of the law is shortsighted and increases the stigma faced by those who use marijuana.
For context, I have a disability that means I have chronic pain. I made the pain from said disability significantly worse in my first year of university, and have tried a multitude of remedies since. Massage, acupuncture, pain pills of all shapes and sizes, chiropractic work, yoga, various forms of stretching, and the list goes on.
I was once offered the chance to pursue the use of medical marijuana. I decided not to, because I was playing sports at the time, because I didn’t really want to try the drugs that had ravaged my hometown, and I was still drawn into the stigma of marijuana use.
Now, at first glance: the police service’s argument appears to hold water. For a start, those they are arresting are in violation of the laws of Canada. But, I have to ask, at what cost? All we’re doing is filling our courts with people who are not dangerous. Can we spend less time debating the criminal records of those who have smoked pot or provided medicine to those that need it and spend a bit more time discussing outrage in terms of hate crimes against minorities or claims of harassment against a certain MP?
Laws are made to be changed, and we have decided to change them. Just because a deadline has been pushed does not mean a police department’s priorities cannot change. Our priority should be rehabilitating youth stuck in the system, providing necessary supports to prisoners, and ensuring them the opportunity to reintegrate back into society. Those who use marijuana are not dangerous. I’m not advocating that those driving high not be arrested, I’m not saying those who sell to young children who are still developing shouldn’t be either, what I am saying is that, as a society, we need to reevaluate how we perceive those who use drugs. Labeling someone a criminal (in the darkest, most stigma-laden way possible) for violating a law this soon to be changed beyond previous recognition is as inefficient as it is nonsensical.
Violent drug dealers are not those being targeted by the lawmakers of this land and we need a new strategy to tackle the drug issues that have strangled much of Saskatchewan. Raiding businesses catering to those who need medicine for health reasons is going to do very little to actually tackle the problems of this province and only further stigmatize those few who truly need the drugs benefits. Weed is no wonder drug, but for some it’s the only way to have some form of relief. A criminal justice system that views said person as a hindrance to society is the one in the way.