It's Time For Politicians To Get Off The 'Pot'

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Mar 25, 2001.

  1. Sunday, March 25, 2001
    By MINDELLE JACOBS, EDMONTON SUN When the Senate appointed a special committee a year ago to review Canada's anti-drug laws, it seemed almost too good to be true.

    Academics and health professionals had been telling politicians what Canadians have known all along - prohibition has failed.

    The war on drugs has neither prevented addiction nor resulted in an overall decrease in drug use.

    On the contrary, there are more casual users, more people with drug-related convictions and more addicts. Over the years, that has translated into skyrocketing costs for the criminal justice system, clogged prisons and health problems.

    So it appeared, when the Senate committee was set up last April, that the politicians were finally listening.

    Alas, it was too good to be true. The committee held one day of hearings in October before it was disbanded because of the federal election campaign.

    Last week, the Senate voted to renew the mandate of its committee on illegal drugs. Sort of.

    The committee's new role bears virtually no resemblance to the old one.

    Last year, the committee was given a broad mandate to review the federal government's policy on all illegal drugs.

    As part of that study, the committee was to conduct public consultations and develop a national harm-reduction policy to reduce the negative consequences of illegal drug use.

    Now, however, the committee is restricted to a much narrower mandate - cannabis.

    The original three-year time frame is gone. This time around, the committee has until August 2002 to present its final report. It also hopes to have an interim report ready within the next couple of months.

    The rush to put out an interim report, of course, is because judges in Alberta and Ontario declared Canada's pot law unconstitutional last year because it ignores the medical use of the drug.

    Both courts gave Ottawa a year to revise the law, otherwise pot possession will be legal in Ontario and pot-growing will be permitted in Alberta.

    This is what happens when politicians dither over important public policy issues. Marijuana should have been legalized for adult use long ago. Although pot is not an entirely benign drug, it was government-imposed morality - not health concerns - that led to its prohibition in the 1920s.

    If the state is so concerned about our health, why is it legal to smoke and drink when tobacco and booze kill thousands of Canadians a year?

    Committee member Senator Pierre Claude Nolin tried to put a brave face on his team's truncated mandate last week.

    Although he would have preferred that the committee examine the entire illegal drug scene, the Senate wanted the focus on cannabis alone, he said.

    "I have to respect them even though, like I told them, we can't slice the problem by substance," he told me.

    Once the pot report is finished, the committee will reassess Canada's laws on other illegal drugs, he added.

    Nolin may be overly optimistic. As it stands now, there is no mandate or budget to extend the review beyond the committee's look at cannabis.

    Will his committee ever get the green light to explore the social and health consequences of treating heroin and cocaine addicts as criminals? Or will it remain an untouchable subject?

    Eugene Oscapella, of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, who has been at the forefront of the call for more humane drug laws, blames the committee's shrunken mandate on political cowardice at a higher level.

    "The only thing I can conclude is that they're afraid of the truth," says Oscapella, who appeared before the original Senate committee last year.

    "They're afraid of honest, accurate information that's going to chip away at the propaganda and hypocrisy," he says.

    "This committee has the potential to do really excellent work," he adds.

    There's the rub. Will Ottawa let the committee do its job? Is that too much to hope for from politicians?

    Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership
  2. There afraid of honest, accurate information that is going to chip away at the propoganda and hypocrisy...he said...

    but...instead of chip...lets use the word smash...

    Personally...I think its time for a new game...The old one is rigged...hehehe...

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