Pubdate: Sun, 15 Dec 2002
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Mack Mcleod
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor, headline by newshawk
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Our attorney general and health minister here in Ontario have been making 
childish remarks about the issue of drug law reform. Obviously they've been 
ignoring the state of the nation as it pertains to their offices. There 
have been parliamentary and Senate committees studying the issue for years. 
The harm reduction principle is in practice throughout Europe and has been 
presented in Canadian courts in constitutional challenges to marijuana law. 
Surely our esteemed Mr. Young can't be so ignorant of the state of his own 
area of governance as to be surprised when harm reduction is recommended.

A recent statistic showed slightly more than 70,000 drug arrests each year, 
presumably for all of Canada; 70% of those were marijuana-related and a 
further 75% of that number for simple possession. That yields 37,000 
Canadians facing a criminal record each year, marginalizing their 
employment and travel abilities for life as a result of engaging in a 
behaviour which most Canadians feel should not be criminal. If Ontario's 
attorney general doesn't feel that the injustice of charging 37,000 of our 
citizens with a crime for a behaviour which is no more criminal than 
drinking beer isn't a priority, he should adjust his thinking or his choice 
of career.

The same goes for Mr. Clement. We don't promote healthy lifestyles by the 
use of criminal law. I suppose we'll have to criminalize fast food outlets, 
candy, alcohol, tobacco, television and combustion engines. Our health 
minister should wake up and promote the "criminal exemption scheme" 
proposed by the Senate. We already have the laws and institutions for 
alcohol that could simply extend their franchise to marijuana. Collect the 
taxes, do the research and education to extract medicines from the plant 
and dissuade people from smoking. Public drunkenness and smoking are 
becoming less socially acceptable every year not because of criminal law, 
but because of education and its subsequent social pressures.

The simple fact is that marijuana should not be criminal, not for its use. 
It then follows that leaving production in criminal hands is illogical and 
harmful. Listen to the Senate, they got it right this time.

Mack Mcleod

(We're hardy soft on crime, but we can't see the point in keeping our pot 
laws as they are)
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MAP posted-by: Jackl