As the semester resumes, the intoxicating scent of marijuana begins to waft across the quad. Sadly, this aroma is overshadowed by the reek of shit that rolls across the country from Ottawa.
When Liberal MP Scott Simms posed an order paper question, the government responded that they spent $7,026,822 on the 12 week anti-marijuana campaign, which critics suggests was a partisan jab at the Liberal’s policy to legalize and regulate it. In the Tories defence, the ads feature no Tory symbols (except the annoying notes they’ve appropriated from our national anthem) so our tax dollars aren’t clearly being spent on partisan purposes. Nevertheless, when you compare this expenditure to Health Canada’s average spending of 5,000,000 per year, you realize that the government has spent more money on a single limited campaign than it gave to Health Canada (who should be handling the health repercussions of weed anyway) altogether.
Perhaps Health Canada couldn’t air the ads for the same reason the Canadian Medical Association refused to endorse this or previous distinctly partisan Tory ads, such as those launched during the summer by-election season. CMA refuses to endorse anything that is remotely partisan, like those by-election ads the ads that just wrapped up! Those ads suggested, incorrectly, that the Liberals wanted to make marijuana available to children. Perhaps ads’ creators were a bunch of pot smoking Tory staffers in such a haze that they zoned out when the Liberals explained they want to legalize it and regulate it, same as alcohol and tobacco. It would be a likely scenario—after all, I have seen young Tories use weed regularly. And we know MPs don’t make their own attack adds, only their own stupid statements.
Regardless of potential partisanship, the government’s campaign is certainly biased. Yes, marijuana use is particularly detrimental to the developing brains of teens; we do not know enough about its effects on the teenage mental state to levy anything more decisive than that. That’s what the ad got at. What it didn’t get at is that most teens only use marijuana experimentally—in most cases, once is enough to complete their act of rebellion against their parents (as their parents had done at their age). The article also doesn’t mention the recent acknowledgement by the CMA that marijuana is indeed less addictive and detrimental to the health of a developed individual than tobacco and alcohol. Tobacco is twice as addictive, and gets more kids hooked. Alcohol is three times as addictive and, as many 17 year olds with a beard will tell you, the Beer Store workers don’t always check for ID. They don’t have to if the person looks older than 25.
So where is the 7 million spent on tobacco and alcohol warning ads? If Harper was concerned about the children, there should have been ads warning against underage drinking and tobacco use alongside his anti-marijuana missive. Hell, in some provinces children are allowed to drink under the age limit if their parents or guardians give them permission and supervision! If they ask nicely, sometimes their older cousin will even buy them their first six pack (of beer).
Canadians aren’t stupid. Try as they might to allow only bits and pieces of facts out, politicians can’t hide the truth forever. If they think they can, I’d like to know what they’ve been smoking!