Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said a couple of weeks ago during the Canadian election campaign that he opposes legalizing marijuana, adding, “marijuana is infinitely more dangerous than tobacco.”
Well, that one statement all by itself is a good example of how Harper was — and I’m sure continues to be — sadly out of touch with reality. And one of the reasons he is the EX Prime Minister of Canada. Harper added that “There’s just overwhelming and growing scientific and medical evidence about the bad long-term effects of marijuana.” He didn’t provide any examples of this “evidence.” The fact is, most of the studies out there show little evidence about the bad long-term effects of marijuana.
Incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize pot as part of his campaign. From what I’ve seen on the streets of Vancouver, I find it hard to believe pot is illegal there, but it is in fact, still illegal in Canada.
I don’t want to turn this blog into a pot advocacy blog, but I did want to address the sheer inanity of Harper’s boneheaded comment. Stephen, I really wish I could email you this post, you knucklehead. Here are the facts about pot and tobacco:
Deaths caused by tobacco in the U.S. each year: 440,000
Known deaths caused by pot in the U.S. each year: 0
Number of pot overdoses each year: 0
Number of people physically addicted to pot each year: 0
Wow, tell me again, Stephen, how pot is infinitely worse than tobacco?
The fact is, most studies that have been done on marijuana show no link between pot and lung cancer and no link between pot and COPD. The second bit surprises me, but I can’t argue with what studies have shown. The only studies showing a link between lung disease and pot are some that have shown that combining both pot and tobacco increases the risk of COPD more than just smoking cigarettes alone . Other studies completely contradict that conclusion. But, no study shows a hard link between pot alone and COPD.
I’m not a huge marijuana advocate, but I found Harper’s rhetoric really alarming and clueless, because I think it utterly downplays the shocking damage done to society by cigarette smoking. Not just deaths, but loss of quality of life because of the myriad other diseases we now know are tied to smoking — arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc. Cigarettes do more than kill people. They suck the quality out of people’s lives, too. The other interesting thing about Stephen Harper. When I went to Google images of him to get a mugshot, I found a LOT of photos of him drinking beer. He apparently really likes beer. But, beer is completely harmless in his little world, I guess — never mind the fact that alcohol kills at least 100,000 people every year in the U.S.
I personally don’t think pot is 100 percent, completely harmless; I’ve had some knock-down, drag-out arguments with pot advocates over that claim. I also don’t believe it is a miracle cure for every disease on the planet. Again, I’ve had heated arguments over some of the claims of its medical benefits, which I think some advocates tend to exaggerate. But, I would argue the biggest damage done by marijuana is the fact that it is illegal and people have had their lives ruined because of all the legal problems they have been forced to deal with, including real prison time, simply for possessing, using or growing pot because of antiquated laws that keep it illegal when tobacco and alcohol both cause far more addiction problems and death and damage to our society. Especially minorities. There’s black people in the South doing 5-10 years in prison for simple possession. There’s some real damage there.
So, good on you, Canada and good luck legalizing it.