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The Toronto Center for Addiction and Mental Health has recently advocated the legalization of marijuana. According to the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse 40% of 18-30 year old young people use Cannabis on a regular basis which seems to be the highest in the developed world. Marijuana has become as much a part of Canadian youth culture as hockey.

Like it or not, your kids will probably try smoking "weed" so the question is where do we go with the knowledge that we have learned. Fear tactics-like the classic fried-egg commercial, "This is your brain on drugs tends to backfire".

Teenagers who smoke pot are at a higher risk for cognitive problems, depression, lung cancer, motor vehicle accidents, substance abuse, poor performance in school. Smoking marijuana hijacks normal brain functioning in teens and many scientists believe the drug may have permanent effect on brain development. Still, many young Canadians see marijuana as a harmless weed.

The Liberal Federal Government with Justin Trudeau as their leader has promised to decriminalize , not legalize the use of Cannabis. The government will licence, tax and control the growing and sale of marijuana taking the criminal element out of the equation. Read the headlines in the Globe & Mail: "Police can not keep up with the growth of pot farms." The London Police warns us that ten minutes from your home there is likely a "grow" operation. The growth of weed is the second largest cash crop in Canada surpassing the retail value of wheat and dairy products.

The war on drugs in Canada, trying to curtail the use of marijuana is a failure. Like the dandelion every time you dig one up another sprouts another weed to contemplate.

So the question we have to ask ourselves: Is the legalization or the decriminalization of marijuana less or more harmful to society, It is my hope that we choose to legalize with the hopes of reducing the harm related to smoking. Setting acceptable standards for monitoring the growing and sale of the product while educating our youth about the possible risks that they take to their overall health and well being is paramount to solving the problem.

As we learned, prohibition regarding sale and consumption of alcohol in the 1930`s did not work. The party went on with the speakeasies and bootleggers making a fortune while the Women`s Christian Temperance Union in Canada and the United States tried in vain to rid the land of the dreaded sin related to drinking of alcohol.

I have never agreed with the premise that our young people who are convicted of possessing pot should have a criminal record. The punishment for getting caught has had long term consequences. With a criminal record you can not attend law school, the military, teacher`s college or take up residence in the U.S.A.

The Addiction Research Foundation advises us : "to educate and tell the truth to our young people so they can make wise decisions. Exercising discretion when choosing to use substances is difficult without accurate information is difficult."

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com