Roughly every six months the same controversial topics jump into the limelight, there’s a big uproar of debate, little changes and things quiet down until six months later the cycle repeats. The latest to jump back into the limelight is the topic of marijuana, where Senator Burch laments the fact that people skirt laws to smoke it and harm their opportunities for jobs. As usual, he advocates a vicious crackdown on all offenders in an attempt to curb use, suggests police shouldn’t be cherry picking which laws to enforce and rather ironically pledges to resign from politics if the PLP promotes decriminalization. Let’s take a moment to hash out his argument, shall we?
Let’s begin with Senator Burch’s pledge to resign from politics. This in itself is a rather idle threat that may well be geared to get more publicity than anything. Let’s remember for a moment that the people have never supported Senator Burch enough to elect him as a politician and that he’s only held his political stature as an appointee. Thus, who really is all that concerned by his threat to resign from politics? Let’s then recall that as an appointee he’s at risk of being replaced if he falls out of favor with the leadership of the day. With the present Premier out of favor and on his way out his replacement may well not have any interest in reappointing Senator Burch so he may well be on his way out as well. Thus Senator Burch’s threat may be rather idle and ironic as the people haven’t shown enough interest in having him in politics in the first place and the next leadership may not either.
Next up we can consider the so called cherry picking by police of which laws to enforce where Senator Burch has been known for spouting catch phrases such as “No one is above the law” and preaching that police must enforce all laws to the best of their ability. This is all fine and good until the humble Senator turns a blind eye to the various examples of his party and our government skirting the laws for their own gains. It is really hard to take the man seriously when he apparently holds a double standard for when laws should be enforced but then is outraged when the standards are not upheld. If Senator Burch wants the people to have more respect for the laws then shouldn’t Senator Burch and his colleagues be the ones to start by setting a good example? Otherwise, why is it any surprising the people would sooner listen to Collie Buddz than an unelected politician?
Finally we can look at the job argument. Senator Burch advocates a crackdown on all marijuana users because use is so high that few are available for job opportunities in the police, fire and corrections services. This argument is rather meek given that it is highly likely that individuals convicted and given criminal records for marijuana possession would also be ineligible for these jobs. Admittedly the logic is that crackdowns would act as a deterrent and yet they haven’t proven effective in the many different times they’ve been tried. Cracking down only further limits the pool of available individuals and near guarantees those that are convicted are left with fewer alternatives to a life of crime. This as opposed to working with the community to promote healthier and more active lifestyles while encouraging the reduction of marijuana use such that eligible applicant numbers can improve.
So it seems we’ve been launched back into the marijuana debate with Senator Burch’s recent comments. While it is great that Senator Burch has the resolve to stand firmly behind his principles, his resignation threat doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight. The condemnation of cherry picking laws to enforce falls as a rather weak argument considering the source. Finally, should we be doing more to work with the community to promote healthy alternatives to marijuana use rather than cracking down as a quick fix to a problem not easily solved? Regardless is it highly likely we’ll see a brief fervor of opinionated discussion on the topic with little changing and a return to the lull that precedes the next time this issue bubbles to the surface.