Examining the Relationship between Cannabis Use and Criminality


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 Trustworthy and relliable sources tell us that cannabis users resort to crime…

 

There is a very noisy and effective lobby going on in Canada and the United States that is trying to persuade the general public that legalizing marijuana is a good idea.  After all, its proponents repeatedly tell us that it is “simply too costly” for the public to endure the tax costs to curb use of this dangerous drug.   I suggest that (a) no cost is too high when it protects children from criminal influences and (b) there are certainly alternative methods of sentencing that would be less costly (if that is a serious argument) .

 

I earlier produced several op-ed pieces that discussed health concerns as well as economic burden of dealing with the DRUG “Cannabis”.  The articles that I produced contained large amounts of research including examination of the very expensive looking web sites produced by the pro-cannabis lobby.  Thos e sites are open to access and generally contain testimonials from admitted drug users and a few “rather sketchy” endorsements from nebulous “experts”.  Where I have chosen factual information, I have always endeavored to avoid information coming from sources that were either pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis.

I believe that my earlier articles have effectively rebutted the notion that the DRUG (cannabis) is harmless and, as to the high cost of incarcerating persons arrested, tried and convicted of possession of the DRUG (cannabis) I suggest that there is an equally effective method of dealing with such offenders.  We must never lose track of the dual prongs of sentencing in any democracy.  Punishment must be sufficient to send a message that the state (Canada or USA) will not tolerate persons who would knowingly break the law (especially for recreational pleasure).

Sending a convicted marijuana user into full scale imprisonment is costly (indeed) but the second “prong” of the justice question relates to sentencing being equal to the crime.  As long as the crime does not involve a secondary crime (break and enter of similar property crime) a simple house arrest of a period of two years plus a day where the offender is compelled to wear a tracking device and obey a rigid curfew is equally effective as actual time in prison.  The message being that the offender may have future difficulty in employment and in international travel.

But, let’s turn our minds also to what international experts are saying about the connection between cannabis users and criminality. 

The Rand Corporation has been around since 1948 and is well regarded as “a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.’

RAND focuses on the issues that matter most such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. With a research staff consisting of some of the world’s preeminent minds, RAND has been expanding the boundaries of human knowledge for more than 60 years.  All told, over 19 Nobel Laureates have been involved in Rand’s research since the organization’s inception.   It is almost blasphemy to compare anecdotal opinions such as a public health nurse in Jamaica who (laughing) alleges that children born from a regular marijuana smoking mother fare much better than kids born from a drug free mom. Oh well (??) I did earlier write about permanent mental damage caused by cannabis use.

In my own research it occurred to me that there was a bit of a paradox in the procurement and use of the cost of regularly using the DRUG cannabis.  According to the medical research, I was hearing that mental disorders are not uncommon among its users.  Not the least of those disorders was a report from the U.S. Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine reports that were telling me that use of the Drug caused “psychoactive effects” as well as “cognitive impairment, anxiety, paranoia, and increased risks of developing chronic psychosis or drug addiction” Similar reliable reports spoke at length about anti-social behavior and a general feeling that “as long as one is high, everything is okay”.

I spoke with a number of police in order to get their take on the situation.  Police, after all are on the front line and are (therefore) most likely to come into contact with these criminals.  To an officer, I was asked not to quote them and also told that a marijuana user, like any other “junkie” is an addict controlled by an insatiable desire to get more cannabis but limited in his or her ability to maintain such employment as would financially support the “habit”.  As a result (according to the police) these people are likely to have been involved in “petty criminal that supports their habit.  Typically anti-property crimes such as break and enter are the quickest way to obtain funds for another kilo of the drug.

I then turned to the Rand Report for purposes of gaining a bit of clarity. Rand states that, “the European cannabis trade ranges between 13 and 15 BILLION EUROS/year. According to a Rand report (2003) that dealt with Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program and Uniform Crime Reports, “There is a positive association between self-reported use at the time of the offence and non-drug related violent, property and income-producing crime even after accounting for other substance use in the ADAM data. Reduced form equations using both data sets only provide evidence supporting a causal mechanism for property and income-producing crime.”

What it all means to society and especially potential victims of marijuana related criminality is that the user can quickly develop a dependence (addiction) to the Drug, most often is an unproductive member of his/her community and will resort to criminal acts in order to obtain sufficient funds to support his/her addiction.

Certainly, judging from a few of the comments that I have received as a result of speaking out against legalization of cannabis have been quite immature, downright anti-social and child like; amounting to name calling.  At times, it is almost like dealing with a child who is determined to get his/her way in a discussion.

The bottom line to me is one of demographics.  I am a senior and I live in a democracy.  Statistics Canada tells me that there are more people over the age of 60 than under the age of twenty.  How well those groups of over 60 year old voters choose to inform themselves will determine a final outcome in any potential election.  God help us all if senior just choose to stay home on election day and shame-shame shame on the politician who hooks onto this terrible drug as his/her platform in an election.

In the mean time, I am not happy about some of the childish reactions from the addicts that figure than can simply scare off opposition to their attempts to have open door use of cannabis in Canada. I do not scare easily and am a very stubborn old man.

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