Fed Watch!

News Across The Nation: Adult Learners Week, Senate Committee on Joint Legislation THE VOICE September 11, 2002

Adult Learners Week

This week is International Adult Learner’s Week, and is the first year that Canada has participated in the festivities. Events are happening across the country throughout the week and beyond, so check out what’s happening near you at the ALW web site (SEE: http://www.adultlearning.unesco.ca/actualites.php?faire=lire&identite=3). Some provinces are getting more into the spirit of the ALW than others, and some of the events can be taken advantage of no matter where you are. In particular, you may want to look at the Reading Dreams eBay Auction (SEE: http://www.projectread.ca/) where you can pick up memorabilia autographed by various Canadian Celebrities including David Duchovny, Margaret Atwood, the Bare Naked Ladies, David Suzuki, Anne Murray, and a number of others, all to support adult literacy programs.

A notable absence I see in the various schedule of activities is any mention of Athabasca University. It seems a shame, as Adult Learners Week would be an excellent time for AU to get some free publicity as helping adults to further their education no matter where they are in their lives.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I would expect that a university trying to attract attention to its MBA and graduate programs would take advantage of any free publicity they could come by. I guess the alternative is simply raising student fees every year to try and purchase their own publicity.

Fortunately, the Alberta press release suggests that the ALW is simply the kick-off to a yearlong national campaign to highlight the importance of adult learning (SEE: http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200209/13077.html).

Senate Committee on Joint Legislation

You may have heard that a Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs has put forward a report recommending the legalization of marijuana (SEE: http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/Committee_SenHome.asp?Language=E&Parl=37&Ses=1&comm_id=85). The report suggests that given the current research findings, marijuana could be decriminalized and put under such restrictions as alcohol and tobacco are under currently. Personally, I think this is a mistake, and we can use alcohol and tobacco to show us why.

Currently, the majority of cases that the police deal with are related in one respect or another to the consumption of alcohol. Drunk driving, fights, general stupidity, and even a large amount of petty crime are often the result of people consuming too much alcohol. Anecdotal evidence abounds, simply watch any episode of To Serve and Protect or Cops to get a half-hour helping of our police dealing with alcohol’s effects.

When we consider tobacco, we see that there are increasing calls for tightening of the legislation around it as we have found a number of effects that were not known – effects that even occur to those who never smoke a cigarette themselves. Do we really want to be legalizing marijuana before we have an extremely good idea of what kind of secondary effects we might see from the increased usage? The amount of research done, especially with regards to secondary effects from marijuana is extremely small, no doubt hampered by the illegality of the substance, but moving to a regime where marijuana is available to the general public before undertaking these types of studies strikes me as foolhardy at best.

Finally, there is the simple issue of those who do not enjoy the smell. Marijuana is worse than cigarettes for the amount of smell it creates, for how long the smell remains, and for how badly the smell clings to those who smoke it. When going into the local convenience store, if anybody has had a joint recently, it’s immediately apparent throughout the whole store. If, like me, you find the smell unpleasant (which is actually putting it rather mildly – personally, the smell makes me physically recoil and nearly gag, but that could just be me) then even if the smoker has been entirely within their own home previously, it still doesn’t stop the stink of it from affecting you.

Now, if people were content to bake the stuff into brownies or cake, I know that I personally would have considerably fewer problems with it, but I know the chances of that happening are low. For some reason we still have this primal fascination with being able to inhale burning products into our lungs and not die. Too bad.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

For further information, please contact ausu@ausu.org, or call 1-800-788-9041, ext. 3413.