Iggy pot


in Canada, Law, Politics, Rants

As shown in a video from the Canadian Press, Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff was asked whether he had ever smoked marijuana. Here is what I think he said in response:

I have smoked pot as a young man, yes. I did not. And it’s one of the reasons. And I urge young people not to repeat the experience. It did not ruin my life. I just think there are a lot more important and interesting things to do with your life, including a glass of wine after dinner. I mean, let’s all relax here.

The Globe and Mail captioned the video: “Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff admits he smoked marijuana when he was younger, but he says, he prefers a nice glass of wine.”

If that’s what it comes down to – a matter of preference – I feel obligated to ask about the severe double standard that exists in the law now. Ignatieff’s drug of choice is available in all of Canada’s finest restaurants. They will bring it to you for free in first class on Air Canada. And yet if you prefer the other drug he has tried, you risk being branded as a criminal, fined, and potentially imprisoned.

It doesn’t make sense to apply a harsh legal regime to drugs that are less harmful than alcohol. If we grant adults the sovereign right to poison themselves with alcohol or nicotine or caffeine, we should acknowledge the same right with regard to marijuana, MDMA, and other comparatively benign substances.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon April 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm

From the look of things, Ignatieff won’t be in a position to influence policy any time soon.

Tristan April 30, 2011 at 7:30 am

I find this comment hilarious. I haven’t seen the video, but I can feel the awkward defensiveness through the text.

“I mean, let’s all relax here.”


Seriously, Milan is right – it is a matter of preference. The social appropriateness of the moderated consumption of other is opposed only by anachronistic fools.

alena April 30, 2011 at 10:41 am

I recently attended a lecture at North Shore Mental Health where the Head of Adolescent Mental Health services spoke about the impact of addictive substances on the not fully developed adolescent brain. Some of the consequences seemed quite severe to me. It seems according to him that the longer you wait before using an addictive substance, the less likely you are to have a life long addiction. Of course this does not apply to all people, but just those who are already “prone to addiction.” What age would we chose as an appropriate age to have access to illegal substances made legal?

anonymous April 30, 2011 at 10:52 am

Marijuana is much safer than alcohol:

“For Canada in 2001, 4,010 of all deaths in the group below 70 years of age were attributable to alcohol, 3,132 in men and 877 in women. This constituted 6.0% of all deaths in Canada in this age group, 7.6% for men, and 3.5% for women. The 4,010 deaths are a net figure, already taking into account the deaths prevented by moderate consumption of alcohol. Main causes of alcohol-attributable death were unintentional injuries, malignant neoplasms and digestive diseases. Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the biggest cause of death prevented by alcohol, with 78.7% of all alcohol-attributable prevented deaths in the age groups of 70 years and above. A total of 144,143 years of life were lost prematurely in Canada in that year, 113,079 years in men and 31,063 years in women.”

By contrast:

“A large HMO looked at 65,177 men and women age 15-49. Over 10 years, marijuana users died no sooner than nonusers.

The second study looked at 45,450 Swedish army conscripts. They were 18-20 years old when asked about marijuana use. Fifteen years later, the marijuana users were just as likely to remain alive as nonusers.

And since marijuana smoking can’t kill outright — there’s no such thing as a fatal marijuana overdose — short-term use isn’t deadly. Long-term use can’t be good for you. But Sidney notes that most marijuana smokers don’t become long-term users.”

anonymous April 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

It is also safer than many prescription drugs, such as anti-depressants and sleeping pills, which are more addictive and have more serious side effects.

. June 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Penn’s excellent rant against Obama’s ruinous drug policy that keeps 750,000 non-violent people in prison. He points out that if Obama had been imprisoned for his admitted drug use, his life would suck right now. And yet, Obama supports a policy that make good people’s lives suck, wastes billions of dollars, and nurtures a police state.

. November 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

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