Stop the violence; stop the stigma
will be the first to admit that I'm not usually up to speed on the latest political topics.
I am interested in society at large; how we decide to treat our neighbours within our cities, provinces, countries and the world. I believe in equality and respect for all citizens.
However, when going to vote on that, I'm usually faced with the task of overlooking glaring issues in campaigns, then feeling hypocritical in my choice, and being so confused about what everyone was saying in the first place – it really is a frustrating experience.
So, I tend to go with my gut. What feels right? What feels honest? Perhaps in the political world, 'right' and 'honest' are not necessarily words that can be taken seriously. Everyone is promising to do the right thing, honest, but there are so many opinions to satisfy, even the greatest integrity has to bend somewhere.
It can't be easy.
There is this political guy in Vancouver named Kash Heed. He used to be with the Police Department, then became Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, had a few controversies, and now he's a Member of the Legislative Assembly for BC and advocating to stop the prohibition of marijuana.
There's mixed press about Kash Heed. He's been called a 'dirty cop', and his campaign manager was criminally charged for campaign violations. I don't know first-hand of his history, except what the papers have said, and like I've admitted to previously, I'm not politically savvy. So this isn't about Kash Heed.
But Mr. Heed has recently lent his voice and his knowledge of drug and gang activity in Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Region to Stop The Violence BC.
“Stop the Violence BC is a coalition of law enforcement officials, legal experts, medical and public health officials and academic experts concerned about the links between cannabis prohibition in BC and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province.”
As an MLA, and former police officer, (police chief, too), Heed can discuss some very real aspects of why marijuana prohibition has to go.
When something is out of reach, it usually gains notorious fame and becomes much more wanted. People risk money, reputation, and safety for the dangers of illegal items. And those that can get their hands on these items are more than willing to exploit the wants of others.
In this video, Heed discusses the violence associated with, and financial reasons, why cannabis should not have such a notorious reputation.
Although it's clearly for one purpose (the end of marijuana prohibition) it does make a great point about alleviating criminal activity surrounding cannabis, alleviating wasted tax money and extraneous police efforts.
However, what's missing is the very important alleviation of stigma that surrounds cannabis for those who wish to use it as a healing medicine.
So often patients walk into Westcoast Medicann Society with either the question, “Can we really buy our medicine here without getting in trouble?” or the relief-filled statement, “Thank goodness we can buy our medication here without getting in trouble.”
Understanding, knowing that medicinal marijuana is a valid and very helpful form of pain, anxiety, and nausea relief (among other fabulous effects) should be a top argument in the fight against the prohibition.
Yes, decriminalizing cannabis will deflate gang activity (for this particular substance), save valuable time and money in unnecessary arrests and court dates, and regulate use – which means those who need will have greater access and feel comfortable achieving it.
It is just as important to recognize the increase of positive effects that ending marijuana prohibition will have on people who use the medicine properly as it is to identify the decrease of social issues surrounding cannabis abuse.
“About Kash | MLA Kash HeedMLA Kash Heed.” Home | MLA Kash HeedMLA Kash Heed | Vancouver – Fraserview. N.p., n.d. (online). 26 Oct. 2012. http://kashheedmla.bc.ca/about/.
“B.C. solicitor general Heed resigns again – British Columbia – CBC News.” CBC.ca – Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. N.p., 5 Oct. 2010. (online). 26 Oct. 2012. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/05/05/bc-kahs-heed-resigns-again.html.
Rankin, Eric. “Kash Heed's manager alleges $40K more in spending – British Columbia – CBC News.” CBC.ca – Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. 28 Oct. 2011. (online). 26 Oct. 2012. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/10/28/bc-heed-campaign-overspending-sall.html.
“Stop the Violence BC | About Us.” Stop the Violence BC | . N.p., n.d. (online). 26 Oct. 2012. http://stoptheviolencebc.org/about-us/