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JuicyLesson 279 : In Tel Aviv, Israelis are Getting on with Their Lives … The New York Times Comes Out With an Editorial Calling on the American Government to Repeal its Ban on Weed …

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Debate heats up over marijuana legalization
Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The political debate over marijuana legalization in Canada could soon intensify following a New York Times editorial that calls for the U.S. federal government to repeal its 44-year ban on pot.

The influential newspaper, which says the question of legalization should be left up to individual U.S. states, is running a six-day series on the issue and has reignited a hot debate among Americans.

It concluded the ban has inflicted “great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The editorial comes as some U.S. states reform pot laws. Marijuana for recreational use went on sale in Colorado Jan. 1 and Washington followed suit this month. Oregon and Alaska will vote on the matter in November.

Nonetheless, because a federal ban on the drug is still on the books, those states that legalize it do so in direct contravention of federal law.

Here in Canada, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau favours a system of legalization that regulates the sale of pot and keeps it out of the hands of minors. The Liberals argue it’s a “smarter” way to deal with the issue because it would take away the pot market from organized crime and gangs, while also ensuring a better system of addressing the effects of marijuana use on individual health and communities.

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A man smokes a joint at the Fill the Hill marijuana rally on Parliament Hill on April 20.
Justin Tang, The Canadian Press Files

Deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale said in an interview Monday he welcomes the Times editorial. “It’s one more serious comment with a lot of intellectual heft behind it that makes the point that the current regime of absolute prohibition doesn’t work.”
Most notably, he said, the central objective of keeping pot from youth is not working. “All of the profit is ending up in the hands of gangs and society is no healthier and no safer. So surely there is room for intelligent discussion about how to do it better. ”

But the governing Conservatives are firmly against legalization and have claimed in flyers distributed in some ridings that Trudeau wants to make marijuana available to kids – an example, they say, of why he lacks the judgment to be prime minister.

The issue is slowly bubbling away and could emerge as a hot issue in next year’s federal election.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2014

In Tel Aviv, people are getting on with their lives
By Justin Peimani

TEL AVIV — We are now three weeks into Operation Protective Edge. Regardless of what one thinks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the reality of life in Tel Aviv is quite different from how it may appear from the outside.

First-time visitors to this city will discover a vibrant melting pot of cultures and cuisines, topped off with the trademark chutzpah of its 400,000 inhabitants. How has all this changed, under the constant threat of rocket fire? Not much.

Israelis are well prepared. The Iron Dome has worked well and all citizens, with the exception of minority groups, including the Arab-Israelis and the Haredi, are conscripted to the military.

In my own case, a co-worker at the solar-energy startup firm where I am working this summer saw it as his duty to enlighten me on the procedure to follow should a rocket siren sound.

“Go to the nearest shelter — and don’t forget to pray!”

The entire office burst out laughing.

There were two events in Tel Aviv worth noting this past weekend, both on Saturday.

The 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire made for crowded open areas. Everybody was outside. The beach was filled with tourists and locals, in particular families with young children because they were not worried about having to get their children to a shelter quickly in the event of a siren.

Second, there was a large pro-peace protest in Rabin Square at night. There were many Israelis, of all backgrounds, in attendance. Many of them were waving Israeli flags. There was no violence and the crowd dispersed peacefully.

Yes, some rocket debris has fallen on Tel Aviv, including the debris that landed near Ben Gurion Airport and caused international concern; but things are far from bad.

Regarding those cancelled flights by international carriers, opinion here has been divided. Some will say that Hamas does not have rockets capable of tracking an aircraft. Others will tell you that it is not worth running the risk that a plane is hit at all. By contrast, most will agree that a touring musical or entertainment group cancelling a visit, as Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil did, is a smart idea. In the event that a siren goes off during the performance, there is not enough time or space for several thousand people to take shelter.

Tel Aviv is not Ashkelon or Ashdod, two cities in the South and closer to the border with Gaza. In those cities, inhabitants have 30 and 60 seconds respectively to take cover. The risk is immediate, as are the physical and psychological effects of rocket attacks.

Since July 8, more than 2,500 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel. The overwhelming majority of the rockets that are not intercepted by the Iron Dome land in the South, quite removed from the sun, sand and beach that make Tel Aviv an attractive locus for business and pleasure alike.

Ask any Tel Avivan why they do not live in fear and they will respond with the same chutzpah: “I have a life, and I need to live it!”

Justin Peimani is a McGill law student and Plateau-Mont-Royal resident who is working this summer in Tel Aviv.

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Israelis and tourists enjoy the Mediterranean Sea beachfront during a humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza war, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, July 26, 2014.
Photograph by: Oded Balilty , AP Photo

Hope your day is fine.

See ya.

Peace. Out.

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