Drinking to destruction

Brian
Brian Jones
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It's been a bad week for the booze business.

Not "bad" in that sales suddenly plummeted - this week featured St. Patrick's Day, after all - nor bad in the sense that the culture of imbibing and inebriation turned sober, but bad in terms of news reports making the link between drinking and destruction.

On St. Patrick's Day, a vehicle with five occupants veered off an embankment, rolled over and landed among some trees.

It's been a bad week for the booze business.

Not "bad" in that sales suddenly plummeted - this week featured St. Patrick's Day, after all - nor bad in the sense that the culture of imbibing and inebriation turned sober, but bad in terms of news reports making the link between drinking and destruction.

On St. Patrick's Day, a vehicle with five occupants veered off an embankment, rolled over and landed among some trees.

"The driver of the vehicle, a 22-year-old male from the Mount Pearl area, is under investigation for impaired driving," the RNC news release read.

Luckily, no one was killed and the injuries sustained by the five people were "non-life threatening."

Parade tragedy

Not so lucky was a 20-year-old man who last Sunday fell off a float in Montreal's St. Patrick's Day Parade and was crushed to death under the wheels of a flatbed trailer. In the parlance of police, "alcohol played a factor."

In Ontario, alcohol-fuelled destruction led to even more tragedy.

An 18-year-old, after engaging in a drinking binge with buddies, allegedly set out to murder his ex-girlfriend. She was only wounded, but her mother and 14-year-old sister were killed.

The carnage created by alcohol consumption is as regular and as certain as beer in Bavaria.

Sometimes, there are mere accidents rather than full-fledged tragedies, but the tone of official announcements is fairly standard: "The police thus far have determined that alcohol was a factor in this crash and the investigation is ongoing." That's from a news release issued last week by the RCMP, about "a single motor vehicle collision" on the Baie Verte peninsula - resulting in injuries, but no fatalities.

Occasionally, a judge will make headlines by actually tossing a convicted drunk driver in jail.

But you'd have to be soused to the gills and incapable of coherent thought to believe society is thus on the verge of finally just saying no to tolerating drunk drivers and the havoc and death they wreak.

Blowing smoke

It was predictable that federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff would pontificate to a crowd of Mount Pearl high schoolers about the evils of marijuana.

Visiting O'Donel High School, the lead Lib was asked by a student about legalizing marijuana.

As quoted by The Telegram, Ignatieff replied, "If I had to tell you as a parent or as someone who has spent his whole life working with young people, the last darn thing I want you to be doing is smoking marijuana.

"I want you to be out there, digging a well, digging a ditch, getting a job, raising a family ... doing stuff, instead of parking your life on the end of a marijuana cigarette."

Only a response

Unfortunately, the student's exact question was not quoted. We are only left to wonder whether the kid said, "Mr. Ignatieff, will your party legalize marijuana so that I can waste my life, quit school, never get a job, never fall in love or reproduce, and do nothing but forevermore park my lips on the end of a joint?"

Give it some sober and serious thought, and it is clear that far more problems arise from marijuana - and other banned drugs - being illegal than would arise from it being legal.

There was yet another news report proving that this week. Three more people - including two Americans connected to the U.S. consulate - were murdered in Ciudad Juarez, victims of Mexico's ongoing drug war, which has killed 18,000 people since 2007.

The question of legalizing marijuana is a legitimate issue of justice and public policy.

It would have been more encouraging if the O'Donel students had given their peer loud and long applause, and greeted Ignatieff's banal and insipid comments with boos.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by e-mail at bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: The Telegram, RCMP, Visiting O'Donel High School

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Montreal, Ontario Bavaria Baie Verte U.S. Mexico

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  • Marc
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    I want you to be out there, digging a well, digging a ditch, getting a job, raising a family ... doing stuff, instead of parking your life on the end of a marijuana cigarette

    These jobs are what great expectations political leaders have for cookie cutter produced students. At the least, every student knows basic math. What gives the most financial reward for newly minted students, fast food workers, or pot dealers? What makes it 10x more profitable to sell pot than to work at ditch digging? Prohibition itself is far worse for our society than cannabis use is. Prohibition makes it easier for minors to buy cannabis than alcohol or tobacco. It would be harder for minors to get cannabis from licensed merchants who successfully prevent them form getting alcohol & tobacco 90% of the time. The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit cannabis from being regulated & fairly taxed. Why is underage drinking up? Because, regulatory controls like adequate education, peer pressure, societal pressure, & advertising have been dismantled. What industry gives massive campaign contributions to politicians to ease alcohol restrictions? What industry is a major funder of Drug Free America? What industry doesn't want competition from cannabis & funds efforts to keep it illicit? What plant is widely & readily available right now, in spite of it's prohibition? Wake up people. Cannabis isn't the enemy. It's 'Gateway Policies' that encourage increased alcohol consumption. That expose cannabis seekers to hard core drugs. Because, only drug dealers sell cannabis. Thank God most cannabis users don't go on to hard core drug use or we'd have 200 million heroin addicts in North America. Licensed merchants wouldn't expose cannabis buyers to Heroin, Meth, etc. We're squandering $ billions/yr in tax dollars on the losing war against cannabis users. Plus, we're losing all the taxes on cannabis sales. Because, drug dealers don't pay taxes. Cannabis prohibition is a lose/lose/lose proposition. We need to regulate cannabis via legalization as soon as possible.

  • Yvonne from da big lan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    What is so funny about the whole marajuana issue is that it is a gigantic business in this country. The CBC documentary Canabiz was a real eye opener for me. More people work in the cultivation of marajuana in Canada than mining and farming combined. As well, marajuana production in Canada turns over more money in this country then all of our wheat production. Just imagine, with a signiture on a peice of paper, we could have the mill in Grand falls going 24 hrs. a day, three shifts, booming. With the nearby power plant to supply the electricity, the mill would be an ideal place to grow the plant. If a company came in with a proposal to grow tobacco in the mill, a plant which kills millions every year, the gov. the police, and the churches would be all over it, but mention marajuana, and everthing changes. Of course the police derive much of their funding from pot busts, and it is fairly easy work, so they don't want to upset the cart. The mafia are laughing all the way to the bank, so they really hope it is never made legal. Nope, the gov. says go out to the store and buy a pack of smokes, and go to the licquor store and chug a bottle of rum, but this gentle herb that is used for medicine, and helps people relax is forbidden. Such a crazy mixed up world we live in.

  • Calvin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Sorry Yvonne, you are right, these scandanavian countries have not passed legislation legalizing pot. However, when you can buy it in stores and smoke it on the street without fear of being arrested, that sounds like a legal drug for all intended purposes. Also, check the list of top countries in the world to live. Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Norway all rank above Canada on those lists, and they are the countries who hold the outlook on weed that mentioned above. Of course, if you want to get into it, you can buy weed in stores in California, and we all knoe the shape American society is in.

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Mr. Ignatieff's does realize that he is the leader of the LIBERAL party, does he not?
    An extreme case of biteing the hand that feeds you IMO. Lets hope for the sake of the party that he rethinks his response should this question arise on the national stage.

  • Margaret
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Obviously the O'Donel students got something from Ignatieff's talk that you did not. Perhaps you're getting old and missing the boat.

    We all know about the violent effects of alcohol, in both car accidents and behaviour. However, I don't know very many drunks who go out and murder their girlfriend's family; I would have to wonder what other factors are at play in this case, such as a combo of drugs and alcohol, or brain damage.

    Yes, alcohol results in more violent behaviour; we all know that. However, Ignatieff is quite right when he says that a life is put on hold by being stoned on pot all the time. I've seen it time and time again. Even if one succeeds in getting ahead job-wise, there's usually a problem with personal relationships - because it's really not that easy to be emotionally intimate in any relationship when you're stoned a lot. Just ask any parent who loses connection with a child who's smoking up regularly.

    So, you could find something more worthwhile to write about - like the pointlessness of wearing helmets to protect yourself from head injury while cycling. After all -- car accidents cause more brain damage, and we don't wear helmets in cars now, do we?

  • Maggie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Alcohol is the drug that should be illegal or at least controlled in some way.
    Answer me this:
    How many reports have there been of accidents or murdering sprees because the perpetrator had a buzz from weed??? It certainly won't escalate the rage in someone's heart. If anything, it will calm the raging beast.
    How many reports of people dying from diseases directly related to marijuana use versus alcohol use? Has there ever been one documented case of someone dying from a marijuana overdose? If there is I can't find it.
    Please someone tell me why the people in charge of our laws are so afraid to defend this herb?

  • Yvonne from da big lan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Calvin no Scandiavian countries have legalized pot. Even in Amsterdam it is tolerated by law enforcement not legalized. As well, Canada is, and has been recognized as one of the best places in the world to live. I fully support the legalization of pot, just to wrench control from criminals who use it to fund their operations. I think all the lumber mills, and paper mill in Canada should be converted to gigantic grow ops. It would be such an amazing win win for all concerned. The market will always, and I repeat always get the product. No matter how many petty drug busts the police try to impress us with, they don't even make a dent in the amount of grass that is trades hands each day. So who should benefit from this business, us, or the criminals? that is the question.

  • Tina
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Meanwhile, Harper is on Youtube singing the exact same song as Iggy... Where's your scorn for him, Brian?

  • Calvin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Man, what's going on with the crowd at the Telegram today? This is the second story I have read in the past 5 minutes that made sense. Que the Marijuana is a gateway drug and leads to worse problems!! opinionators. Speaking from personal experience, I tried drinking before I tried weed, and a lot more problems arose from the first time I was drinking. Come to think of it, if I hadnt been hanging around with the crowd back in high-school who drank, I never would have encountered weed (same crowd for the most part, drunks and stoners), so alcohol was my gateway drug to pot. Food for thought, the top countries in the world to live in the last 5-10 years, mainly scandanavian countries, have legalized pot. The reason they were voted the best places to live was low crime rates, high education rates and the things like economic superiority and personal freedom that stem from educated law-abiding citizens. Funny how countries who have legalized weed are doing so well dont you think?

  • Marc
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    I want you to be out there, digging a well, digging a ditch, getting a job, raising a family ... doing stuff, instead of parking your life on the end of a marijuana cigarette

    These jobs are what great expectations political leaders have for cookie cutter produced students. At the least, every student knows basic math. What gives the most financial reward for newly minted students, fast food workers, or pot dealers? What makes it 10x more profitable to sell pot than to work at ditch digging? Prohibition itself is far worse for our society than cannabis use is. Prohibition makes it easier for minors to buy cannabis than alcohol or tobacco. It would be harder for minors to get cannabis from licensed merchants who successfully prevent them form getting alcohol & tobacco 90% of the time. The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit cannabis from being regulated & fairly taxed. Why is underage drinking up? Because, regulatory controls like adequate education, peer pressure, societal pressure, & advertising have been dismantled. What industry gives massive campaign contributions to politicians to ease alcohol restrictions? What industry is a major funder of Drug Free America? What industry doesn't want competition from cannabis & funds efforts to keep it illicit? What plant is widely & readily available right now, in spite of it's prohibition? Wake up people. Cannabis isn't the enemy. It's 'Gateway Policies' that encourage increased alcohol consumption. That expose cannabis seekers to hard core drugs. Because, only drug dealers sell cannabis. Thank God most cannabis users don't go on to hard core drug use or we'd have 200 million heroin addicts in North America. Licensed merchants wouldn't expose cannabis buyers to Heroin, Meth, etc. We're squandering $ billions/yr in tax dollars on the losing war against cannabis users. Plus, we're losing all the taxes on cannabis sales. Because, drug dealers don't pay taxes. Cannabis prohibition is a lose/lose/lose proposition. We need to regulate cannabis via legalization as soon as possible.

  • Yvonne from da big lan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    What is so funny about the whole marajuana issue is that it is a gigantic business in this country. The CBC documentary Canabiz was a real eye opener for me. More people work in the cultivation of marajuana in Canada than mining and farming combined. As well, marajuana production in Canada turns over more money in this country then all of our wheat production. Just imagine, with a signiture on a peice of paper, we could have the mill in Grand falls going 24 hrs. a day, three shifts, booming. With the nearby power plant to supply the electricity, the mill would be an ideal place to grow the plant. If a company came in with a proposal to grow tobacco in the mill, a plant which kills millions every year, the gov. the police, and the churches would be all over it, but mention marajuana, and everthing changes. Of course the police derive much of their funding from pot busts, and it is fairly easy work, so they don't want to upset the cart. The mafia are laughing all the way to the bank, so they really hope it is never made legal. Nope, the gov. says go out to the store and buy a pack of smokes, and go to the licquor store and chug a bottle of rum, but this gentle herb that is used for medicine, and helps people relax is forbidden. Such a crazy mixed up world we live in.

  • Calvin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Sorry Yvonne, you are right, these scandanavian countries have not passed legislation legalizing pot. However, when you can buy it in stores and smoke it on the street without fear of being arrested, that sounds like a legal drug for all intended purposes. Also, check the list of top countries in the world to live. Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Norway all rank above Canada on those lists, and they are the countries who hold the outlook on weed that mentioned above. Of course, if you want to get into it, you can buy weed in stores in California, and we all knoe the shape American society is in.

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Mr. Ignatieff's does realize that he is the leader of the LIBERAL party, does he not?
    An extreme case of biteing the hand that feeds you IMO. Lets hope for the sake of the party that he rethinks his response should this question arise on the national stage.

  • Margaret
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Obviously the O'Donel students got something from Ignatieff's talk that you did not. Perhaps you're getting old and missing the boat.

    We all know about the violent effects of alcohol, in both car accidents and behaviour. However, I don't know very many drunks who go out and murder their girlfriend's family; I would have to wonder what other factors are at play in this case, such as a combo of drugs and alcohol, or brain damage.

    Yes, alcohol results in more violent behaviour; we all know that. However, Ignatieff is quite right when he says that a life is put on hold by being stoned on pot all the time. I've seen it time and time again. Even if one succeeds in getting ahead job-wise, there's usually a problem with personal relationships - because it's really not that easy to be emotionally intimate in any relationship when you're stoned a lot. Just ask any parent who loses connection with a child who's smoking up regularly.

    So, you could find something more worthwhile to write about - like the pointlessness of wearing helmets to protect yourself from head injury while cycling. After all -- car accidents cause more brain damage, and we don't wear helmets in cars now, do we?

  • Maggie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Alcohol is the drug that should be illegal or at least controlled in some way.
    Answer me this:
    How many reports have there been of accidents or murdering sprees because the perpetrator had a buzz from weed??? It certainly won't escalate the rage in someone's heart. If anything, it will calm the raging beast.
    How many reports of people dying from diseases directly related to marijuana use versus alcohol use? Has there ever been one documented case of someone dying from a marijuana overdose? If there is I can't find it.
    Please someone tell me why the people in charge of our laws are so afraid to defend this herb?

  • Yvonne from da big lan
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Calvin no Scandiavian countries have legalized pot. Even in Amsterdam it is tolerated by law enforcement not legalized. As well, Canada is, and has been recognized as one of the best places in the world to live. I fully support the legalization of pot, just to wrench control from criminals who use it to fund their operations. I think all the lumber mills, and paper mill in Canada should be converted to gigantic grow ops. It would be such an amazing win win for all concerned. The market will always, and I repeat always get the product. No matter how many petty drug busts the police try to impress us with, they don't even make a dent in the amount of grass that is trades hands each day. So who should benefit from this business, us, or the criminals? that is the question.

  • Tina
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Meanwhile, Harper is on Youtube singing the exact same song as Iggy... Where's your scorn for him, Brian?

  • Calvin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Man, what's going on with the crowd at the Telegram today? This is the second story I have read in the past 5 minutes that made sense. Que the Marijuana is a gateway drug and leads to worse problems!! opinionators. Speaking from personal experience, I tried drinking before I tried weed, and a lot more problems arose from the first time I was drinking. Come to think of it, if I hadnt been hanging around with the crowd back in high-school who drank, I never would have encountered weed (same crowd for the most part, drunks and stoners), so alcohol was my gateway drug to pot. Food for thought, the top countries in the world to live in the last 5-10 years, mainly scandanavian countries, have legalized pot. The reason they were voted the best places to live was low crime rates, high education rates and the things like economic superiority and personal freedom that stem from educated law-abiding citizens. Funny how countries who have legalized weed are doing so well dont you think?