Canadian Marijuana Legislation: Are pot smokers a forest fire risk?

Canadian Marijuana Legislation: Are pot smokers a forest fire risk?


candadian marijuana legalization are pot smokers a forest fire risk 2016 images

The debate over the legalization of marijuana has been alive and well in Canada for the last few years. The culmination of the debate appears to be on the near horizon. On Friday, the CBC reported that “Federal legislation to legalize marijuana will be ready in a year.”

Jane Philpott, a liberal from the Markham riding, stressed that efforts will be made to keep the drug “out of the hands of children” and that “profits” will be kept “out of the hands of criminals.” That’s all well and good in theory, but those plans could be put in the easier-said-than-done category.

Another thing that the federal liberals will likely fail at is ensuring that the half-baked pot smokers, once they’re done toking up, still have the presence of mind to discard their smelly stubs in a thoughtful manner. Given the situation in western Canada when it comes to fire hazards, that point is one that should not be taken lightly. After all, last summer here in British Columbia the conditions were incredibly dry and forest fires ran rampage throughout the province.

Speaking in 2015, a forestry expert in BC named Lori Daniels had this to say on the matter of forest fires:

“This summer has been a real wake-up call for British Columbia. We need to come up with some big picture changes to some of our forest management policies.”

How about one of those “big picture changes” being keeping fire hazards out of the hands of people with reduced mental capacities – like people that are high?

The problems with forest fires appear to be carrying over into 2016 already, something that isn’t surprising if they’re symptomatic of global warming. According to a Canadian Underwriter article, “BC Wildfire Service crews have responded to 59 wildfires since April 1, including 12 in the Prince George Fire Centre” (April 18th, 2016). “Almost all of the wildfires were human-caused,” perhaps the reason that fines for behavior affiliated with accidentally causing fires are on the rise. The same article notes that “Failing to properly extinguish a burning substance, such as a cigarette, will now cost an offender $575.”

I don’t know how much fighting a forest fire costs, but something tells me $575 doesn’t go very far. I’ve also had a suspicion that discarded cigarettes aren’t the only culprit in these human-caused forest fires, but discarded joints.

canada legalizing pot 2016 images

When it comes to pot smokers and their risk for causing forest fires, special legislation should be introduced that recognizes the less-than-sharp state of mind that pot smokers are in immediately after partaking in their soon-to-be legalized habit. Even people that aren’t high are stupid enough to throw their burning cigarettes into highly flammable areas of dry organic matter. When it comes to mellowed-out tokers, I think they are and will be an even greater risk for improperly discarding smoldering butts. In their wasted or semi-wasted state of mind, depending on their buzz level, those smoking grass might have a thoughtless moment and throw their burning butts into the grass. It’s probably happened a lot already, and I really wonder if cigarette smokers have largely taken the blame for the human-caused fires in western Canada when it’s their pot-smoking counterparts that are more to blame.

Apparently it only takes seconds for a fire to spread several meters, and don’t count on Joe Toker to save the day – his reduced reaction time will ensure that the fire has spread ten meters before he processes any sign of danger. So instead of fining a joint smoker for improper disposal of his still-burning butt, how about a $575 fine for smoking a joint near any outdoor dry plant material during the hot months instead (which, nowadays, start in April)? That puts the onus on the toker to make a smart decision before he inhales something into his body that sabotages his ability to do just that.

The legalization of the Wacky Tabacky, at best, is an effort to end the state’s curtailment of what could be viewed as a pretty harmless thing and an individual right. At worst, maybe the government is trying to tap into a source of tax revenue.

However, let’s not ignore for a second that a burning joint in the hands of someone who is high is especially a threat to the environment, property, and human life – I would say more than a burning cigarette is. Not only does Mary-Jane wear the most putrid perfume, but she might also prove herself to be an arsonist who operates shortly after 4:20. The legalization of marijuana, if we’re going to do it at all, needs to come with a whole bunch of asterisks to protect the public. But arguably society is better off if people that partake in this habit feel inhibited by law and not entitled by it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: While most of us here aren’t on board with this theory, we are proud that our writers aren’t afraid to take differing points of view on topics like this. If we surround ourselves with people who only agree with us, how do we learn and grow? Shane will gladly respond to the comments sure to come.

Frankly, in my years, I noticed more regular smokers tossing a still-burning cigarette in the woods and never once saw a pot smoker do it. They always saved the roach for later use. I know from much experience that the pot in Canada will knock you on your ass, but I’ll let you all discuss those points.

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Shane is a sports writer with a big interest in tennis, but he's also a noted writer about travel and fiction. Plus he can handle long walks in the cold Canadian tundra!

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