MP COLUMN: Vigilance required

I will be referencing people that are experts on the effects of marijuana regarding the health and social well-being of users

I am writing on a subject that I do not have personal experience with, nor am I an expert on.

In fact, I have never used this illegal drug. I will be referencing people that are experts on the effects of marijuana regarding the health and social well-being of users.

One of the problems our government is dealing with is the medical use of marijuana. Canadians can grow marijuana for medicinal reasons if the drug is prescribed by a physician and a growing permit is acquired.

The permit only allows the cultivation of quantities needed for the single user. Very few permit holders abide by the guidelines. In Abbotsford, the producer does have a medical marijuana permit in 70 per cent of the illegal grow operation busts by police.

So what to do? Should doctors be disciplined for not being more conscientious in prescribing the drug?  Should there be better monitoring of the permit holders by a regulatory body, (this would be expensive)?  Well, the answer might be in classifying marijuana the same as any other drug.  For example, contract private enterprises to supply the drug and have it dispensed through local pharmacies.

In this way, those that have a prescription for medical marijuana can only obtain the drug through a controlled supplier. Any other sale of marijuana would still be illegal.

There are side affects to marijuana as there are in many drugs that are used to address various health needs. Here is a quote from Dr. Henry Chuang:  “As a psychiatrist who has been practising for more than 30 years, I have seen the extensive harm smoking pot has done in terms of mental well-being for countless people and their families. Many small marijuana growers share or sell their crop with others, whose brains became poisoned, resulting in paranoia, psychotic behaviour, amotivation and many of these damages become chronic and long lasting, contrary to what most people think.” Wow, these are serious side effects!

Brian Hutchinson, a journalist, in one of his articles states: “The facts are, cannabis products are laden with harmful chemicals; marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and damages respiratory systems; consumption impairs cognitive functions, especially among youth, who are more susceptible to serious psychological and physiological effects than adults.”  Wow, that is dangerous to our youth!

So the question I have is, why would the NDP and Liberals wish to legalize this drug?  I thought that our responsibility as elected representatives was to provide policy that would protect the health and safety of Canadians, especially youth. I think anyone that believes in organic foods, natural health products, healthy lifestyles or social responsibility, but supports legalizing marijuana, for anything other than medicinal purposes, is hypocritical.

Using marijuana has negative effects on the health of the user and under minds the social well-being of society.

By the way, citing other products that are legal but have negative effects on society, does not justify legalizing marijuana.

Colin Mayes is the MP for Okanagan-Shuswap