Trudeau and pot

Everyone over 16 and younger than 70 has smoked marihuana, and some more recently than 1975, or whenever you graduated from university.

My feeling is that Justin Trudeau is on the right side of public opinion on this issue.

From a libertarian perspective, prison terms are an absurd over-regulation of marihuana, employing police and crown prosecutors, court time, judges, and prison guards in useless work and the condemned in pointless punishment. Illegality drives up prices and exposes the home grower to draconian penalties, made harsher by this Conservative government.

To the socially conservative, I ask, why is dope more illegal than cigarettes? One is effectively controlled by taxation and regulation. The other is not controlled so much as repressed by semi-random prosecution, the way the Chinese deal with crime: draconian punishment hides ineffective enforcement.

The chief arguments against legalization are mainly directed to the form of over-regulation that will accompany it; William Watson of the  Financial Post described the absurd marihuana control boards, unionized workers, provincially owned stores, and federal marihuana state farms to a tee. There is a serious concern that legalization will drive down the supply and raise the price and inconvenience of getting one’s annual ounce or two of crop from up the Valley.

I suspect that Justin Trudeau has launched himself correctly into the popular and vote-getting side of this debate. There are a lot of people out there who smoke weed, including many in the Tories’ mythical “base”, that assumed group of hard-liners who, in my estimate, are sensible and hard-working, yes, but who long ago figured out that way too much is made of smoking dope.

In addition, since many have concluded (wrongly I still believe, but on less and less evidence) that the there is little significant difference between the Liberals and the Tories, it is entirely possible that the legalization of dope is a wedge issue against the Conservatives.

Trudeau may be an amiable dunce, as Clark Clifford described Ronald Reagan, but you may recall the political success of the last person to be so called. Canadians may be ready for a complete change of flavour in their government, as they have repeatedly done in the past, and legalizing dope is an important difference of flavour for many otherwise Conservative-voting people.