Pubdate: Fri, 11 Oct 2002
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (MS)
Copyright: 2002 The Clarion-Ledger
Author: William E. Wallace


On Sept. 4, the Canadian Senate Special Committee released a 600-plus page 
report after an exhaustive and comprehensive two-year study of public 
policy related to marijuana. The report is the result of rigorous research, 
analysis and extensive public hearings.

The report states that "Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicated that 
cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should not be 
treated as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue." It 
also states: "Whether or not an individual uses marijuana should be a 
personal choice that is not subject to criminal penalties," and that "as a 
drug, it should be regulated by the state much as we do for wine and beer, 
hence our preference for legalization over decriminalization."

The report is very informative and may be viewed at

Deputy Chair Sen. Colin Kenny stated: "Though what we are recommending for 
our country has an impact on our friends and neighbors, Canada must make 
its own decisions in the best interest of its citizens."

Yet back at home we are spending over $10 billion annually, arresting over 
734,000 individuals per year. Some 85 percent of those are simple 
possession charges - far more than the total number of arrests for all 
violent crimes combined. According to the Department of Justice's own 
statistics, at the cost of about $3.1 billion in tax money, about 60,000 
people or 3.3 percent of our total incarcerated population are under lock 
and key for marijuana violations. This is wrong and must be stopped.

These are non-violent, innocent people who - once placed in confines with 
the true criminal element - become a product of their environment.

The Nevada Conference of Police and Sheriffs, which just voted to support 
the Question 9 initiative on the ballot in Nevada Nov. 5, want these people 
out of their jails, not taking up their space and time so they can 
concentrate on real criminals committing violent crimes.

Let's learn something from our neighbors to the north.

Let your elected officials know how you feel. This injustice against our 
society has gone on for long enough. For more information about what you 
can do and resources concerning marijuana facts visit the National 
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML),

William E. Wallace

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