Canadian Senate Calls for Marijuana Legalization

Canadian Senate Calls for Marijuana Legalization
Posted by CN Staff on September 08, 2002 at 20:16:09 PT
Weekly News Bulletin
Source: DRCNet
The Canadian Senate's Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, which has spent the last two years doing a comprehensive review of Canada's drug laws, called Wednesday for an end to cannabis prohibition and its replacement with a legal, regulated marijuana market. The committee's final report, while not binding, will increase political pressure on the Liberal government of Premier Jacques Chretien to address reform of Canada's cannabis laws, which have gone badly out of sync with popular practice and sentiment in recent years, the committee said. 
"Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue", said Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, Chair of the Special Committee, in an Ottawa news conference announcing the report's release. "Indeed, domestic and international experts and Canadians from every walk of life told us loud and clear that we should not be imposing criminal records on users or unduly prohibiting personal use of cannabis. At the same time, make no mistake, we are not endorsing cannabis use for recreational consumption. Whether or not an individual uses marijuana should be a personal choice that is not subject to criminal penalties. But we have come to the conclusion 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 call for legalization and regulation was greeted with cheers by cannabis advocates on both sides of the border. "Canada is moving in the same direction as Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The US is alone among developed nations in hanging on to marijuana prohibition," said Kevin Zeese, president of Common Sense for Drug Policy --  "The US has for years forced our drug war on our neighbors. Canada is finally just saying no." "Objective reviews keep debunking the thinking behind prohibition, but our government throws them on the trash heap every time," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project -- "We should be grateful that the Canadians, like the British, are trying to do the sort of honest, fact-based analysis that our government refuses to do. Americans should give this a serious look -- and reject the prohibitionist policies that have failed for two-thirds of a century." "This is a great report," said Marc Boris St-Maurice, head of Canada's national Marijuana Party -- "It's a recipe to legalize marijuana and make it work," he told DRCNet. "It's a must read for any self-respecting activist or advocate. We had an idea this was coming, but this is absolutely ideal. It will put pressure to change on Canada's institutions." "We are extremely pleased," said Eugene Oscapella, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy -- "These guys have thoroughly researched the subject and have the guts to tell it like it is," he told DRCNet. "We are pleased with the frankness and honesty. This has been a long time coming. This will make it safer for other politicians to talk about the issue in a rational way, and once the debate becomes rational, we will see change," he said. According to the committee report, only cannabis-related activity that causes demonstrable harm to others, such as impaired driving or selling to minors under 16, or is related to an export trade in the weed, should be prohibited. The Canadian government should introduce cannabis regulation legislation "stipulating conditions for obtaining licences, producing and selling cannabis; criminal penalties for illegal trafficking and export; and the preservation of criminal penalties for all activities falling outside the scope of the exemption scheme," the committee recommended. The committee also called for amnesty for all Canadians convicted of cannabis possession and recommended that Canada inform the United Nations it intends to seek to amend the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and related treaties, the legal backbone of the global prohibition regime. "There is a clear international trend to reassessing domestic drug policy such as recent initiatives toward decriminalization in the United Kingdom," the committee noted. Deputy Chair Senator Colin Kenny, glancing toward the south, added, "though what we are recommending for our country has an impact on our friends and neighbours, Canada must make its own decisions in the best interests of its citizens." While the committee report is a welcome addition to reform advocates' arsenals, it will not necessarily lead to quick or easy change in Canada's cannabis laws. "There is no guarantee the recommendations will be implemented," said St.-Maurice. While members of either chamber of Parliament may introduce non-financial bills, such as one to regulate cannabis commerce, the ruling Liberal Party would have to push such bills. It has shown little interest so far in doing so. Still, said St.-Maurice, it is one more straw on the camel's back. "In the context of cannabis in Canada right now, with the Justice Minister's recent comments, with widespread popular support, and with the Supreme Court cases on the constitutional right to use recreational marijuana coming in the next six or eight months, this just adds to the momentum," he argued. "This report could influence the Supreme Court, and if they rule favorably, that will put real pressure on the government to do something in the House of Commons." But the House of Commons also has a committee working on drug policy, with a report due out in November. According to Oscapella, the House report may not be as favorable to reform as the Senate report because, unlike senators, House members face popular election. At any rate, Oscapella said, it is unlikely that any action will take place before the House report is issued. Also notable, especially in contrast to the shrillness infecting the drug policy debate in the US, was the tone of reason and compassion reflected in the Canadian approach. "In a free and democratic society, which recognizes fundamentally but not exclusively the rule of law as the main source of normative rules and in which government must promote autonomy as far as possible and therefore make only sparing use of the implements of constraint, public policy around psychoactive substances must be structured around guiding principles respecting the life, health, security, rights and freedoms of individuals who, naturally and legitimately, seek their own well-being and development, and can recognize the presence, difference, and equality of others," the committee explained. The committee made 11 formal recommendations for action to the Canadian government: * Create a "National Advisor on Psychoactive Substances," who would be less a drug czar than an inter-ministerial facilitator. * Hold a high-level conference with "key stakeholders" next year to set priorities for action for the next five years. * Change the name of the "Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse" to the "Canadian Centre on Psychoactive Substances and Dependence," fund it from Parliament, and mandate it to produce an annual report on drugs and drug policy, coordinate research on drugs and dependency, and undertake five-year assessments of the national drug strategy. * Create a Monitoring Agency on Psychoactive Substances to measure drug use trends on a biennial basis. * Adopt "an integrated policy on the risks and harmful effects of psychoactive substances covering the whole range of substances (medication, alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs)." Cannabis policy should focus on "educating users, detecting and preventing at-risk use and treating excessive use." * Create a cannabis production and licensing scheme. * Declare amnesty for anyone convicted of cannabis possession under current or past law. * Amend the federal medical marijuana program to ease rules regarding eligibility, production, and distribution, and do more research on medical marijuana. * Amend the criminal code to lower blood alcohol levels necessary to trigger drunk driving violations when other drugs are present. * Create a national fund for research on psychoactive substances and dependency. Key research topics would include therapeutic uses of cannabis, tools for detecting driving under the influence, and finding effective prevention and treatment programs. * Inform appropriate United Nations authorities that Canada "is requesting an amendment to the conventions and treaties governing illegal drugs." The committee report, along with proceedings, testimony, research, and general information can be accessed at: -- online. Complete Title: Canadian Senate Panel Calls for Marijuana Legalization -- Urges Regulation and Control, Rejects US Pressure Source: The Week Online with DRCNet (US Web)Editor: Phillip S. Smith Executive Director: David BordenPublished: September 6, 2002Contact: psmith drcnet.orgWebsite: Articles:Call to Legalize Marijuana Stirs Debate in Canada Cannabis Should Be Legal Chief Slams Legal Pot Plan 
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Comment #9 posted by kaptinemo on September 09, 2002 at 09:06:38 PT:
4D, to answer your question
I believe Question 9 will pass with one of the most narrow margins in existence...and will immediately be assailed by the antis in some sort of court proceedings. Which would not be terribly bright of them, given that a courtroom is the perfect venue for dragging out into the light the racist background of cannabis prohibition...which cannot possibly be ruled inadmissable because it forms the very heart of the matter. It would become part of the evidence found during the 'Discovery' phase of the proceedings. If they are so foolish as to do this, then they will lose big time in the next two years when the Question is again raised. But I don't expect the rank and file antis to understand that they are truly not on the 'side of the angels'. After all, they've consigned God knows how many to agonizing, ignominious deaths with their touching 'concern' for 'public safety'. They should take a good look at those angel's wings they think they shelter themselves from criticism with. According to the (excised) Texts from the Bible, plenty of the Fallen Angels went into the Pit with their Master rather than obey God. If I were an anti, I'd check those wings for scortch marks and wonder why they can't get that smell of brimstone out of their nostrils... 
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Comment #8 posted by Dankhank on September 09, 2002 at 07:37:15 PT:
Had a Dream
The more I listen to this song the more I believe it is a truly fitting fight song.  It inspires me to fight for sanity. I describes how I felt Friday, alone but not lonely, at the federal building. I got the Santa Cruz issue on local news that night, I got only a 10 second sound bite but the story was longer and the sheeple in SW Oklahoma that watched the news Friday night learned of the DEA terror tactics in California. Here are the lyrics, and if you want the excellent rendition (by Roger Hodgson of Supertramp,) search for Marijuana songs on WinMX find Dankhank and browse my song stash, come and get it.HAD A DREAM
(SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY) Had a dream I was born
To be naked in the eye of the storm
And now it's standing right in front of me
What's it going to do to me, who knows,
Had a dream it was time
To be taken to the front of the line
Well that is not a place you wanna be
Sleeping with the enemy, you know I don't care what the future brings
Give a damn about anything
I'd be fine if they'd only leave me alone.
But it's time - gotta take a stance
'Cause I won't get a second chance
And I know now I have to make it alone Had a dream it was war
And they couldn't tell me what it was for
But it was something they could lie about
Something we could die about, you know
Anytime, anyplace
When you look that man in the face
Well it is not a face you wanna see
Sleeping with the enemy, you know Mary, can you hear me
Can you tell me what it's all supposed to mean
Holding out a photograph of all that I have seen
I wish I could hold you
I wish I could hold you Had a dream it was time
To be a witness at the scene of the crime
Well, That is something you can analyse
Something you can criticise, who knows
So we wait, hesitate
And we're making such a mistake
Oh whatever can the matter be
Sleeping with the enemy, you know I don't care what the future brings
Give a damn about anything
I'd be fine if they'd only leave me alone
But it's time, gotta take a stance
'Cause I won't get a second chance
And I know now I have to make it alone 
Hemp N Stuff
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Comment #7 posted by VitaminT on September 09, 2002 at 07:35:14 PT
Hey phase!
Why not feel free to criticize any politician who deserves it. Being conservative doesn't make anyone good and it doesn't make them bad. The same goes for Liberals but the fact remains they BOTH are acting in perverted ways to control ALL of our lives!They're both are in cahoots with their corporate partners in perpetuating the War on Drugs.I have the greatest respect for conservatives who believe in Rights and Responsibilities - independent, rational-thinking not aggressive but willing and able to defend themselves when necessary! I think Goldwater fit that mold. On the other hand, Conservatives that owe their political lives to big corporate cash and/or the extremist "religous" hypocrite-right-wing aren't like that, I hope you'll agree.Conservatives shouldn't be under fire here but Drug Warriors are and should be! so whatever the political bent, IF THE SHOE FITS . . . 
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Comment #6 posted by dddd on September 09, 2002 at 06:56:06 PT
,,,you still havnt specified your prediction on Question 9 in Nevada....pass or not pass?,,,lemme know...dddd
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on September 09, 2002 at 06:46:59 PT:
Phasetheory, your comment was anything but
irrlevent.Many pols such as the Unholy Trio (Ashcroft, Towers and Hutchinson) who say they are "Conservative" (opposed to using governmental force in imposing arbitrary rules governing private, consensual conduct) are in fact "Liberals" (who use the power of the State to ram their ideas down the throats of the populace, 'for their own good', of course).The latest attacks on the sick and dying are proof of this. Ashcroft, of all things, is a star member of the 'Federalist Society', a coterie of hot-shot ostensibly "Conservative" lawyers seeking to - guess what? - roll back Federal power in favor of returning those powers to the State level.Doesn't look like Mr. Ashcroft is putting his organization's fondest wishes into play when it comes to California laws, now does it? Anything but. He is massively interfering with California State Law, in direct contravention of his organization's aims. In short, a complete volteface. A 180 degree turn.It is this flip-flop that constantly confuses the (mostly) poor, naive American people...but fools very few foreigners. Because they've been through all this before, and know where this kind of thing leads...tyranny. (Remember, Hitler said he headed the National Socialist German Worker's Party...but as soon as he was elected Reichkanzler, what's the first thing he did? Cozied up to Big Business by calling them all together and assuring them that he would smash the unions. Which is precisely what he did. Hardly the actions of a textbook example of a 'Socialist'. Our 'Conservatives' are no more conservative than Hitler was a Socialist prole. But they are just as slippery as he was...)Until these dweeb pols are publicly called on it, it will continue. I never pay attention to what any pols say...unless they've been made so angry that they let something slip that is quite obviously how they really feel. Then I listen. 
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Comment #4 posted by dddd on September 09, 2002 at 06:33:38 PT
...Right on Dankhank!...
...what does it mean to wear a "conservative",,or "liberal",,label?........It dont mean SHIT!,,, it's like saying;"they're good",,or;;"they're bad".!!,,,,..or how 'bout,,;"..them people are evil-doers".....
What kindof hillbilly logic makes it so we can get caught up in the absurdity of putting people into such catagries?,,,..???...
....dam liberal media is trying to come off as conservative while pretending to be liberals who are twisting the conservatives message of reform which the conservatives are trying to get across the point that the liberals are not telling the truth about what is really going on as the new liberal conservatives try to confuse the issue..............
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Comment #3 posted by Dankhank on September 09, 2002 at 05:36:17 PT:
Are the libertarians liberal or conservative?silly question to some, but the ediitor of the local rag told me once he believed that Libertarians were liberal. He may have been pulling my chain or not, but I surmise he believed it because of the position on the drug war and personal drug use.It seems to me that it is obvious that Libertarians are conservative, a moot point to some ... and they have the perfect position on the drug problem.I've been talking to Democrats in Oklahoma recently, pretty scary.No point here is pointless, some are ridiculous, but all have a point of some sort.Keep 'em coming!!Peace to all who educate ...
Hemp N Stuff
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Comment #2 posted by qqqq on September 09, 2002 at 02:38:41 PT
..Phasetheory,,My friend...why do you say your comment was "pointless"??? seems as if you have made a subtle statement that mildly commends the conservative side (?)....As I've said before,,I respect your views,no matter what they are,,but I am intrigued by your apparent defensive flavor in matters involving conservativness.(?).  In fact,,I admire,respect,and commend your commenting in support of your beliefs!
....dont be shy!... I am nicer than you may think!.....I'm kindof a Libservative.
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Comment #1 posted by Phasetheory on September 09, 2002 at 01:16:18 PT
Need to think one thing over
The Prime Minister of Canada, Jacques Chretien, is very liberal. 6 months ago he was quoted as saying he was against legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.The senators who outwardly support this are the conservatives. The last time I checked, legalizing marijuana was called "liberalizing" the drug laws. However when you think about it... removing the laws... taking the government out of the issue is conservative. I guess what is called the "liberal" part of it is that it's progressive... This comment was pointless I know... but I just wanted to point out that conservatives can back legalization as well. And to actually change the laws... include their points of view as well in this discussion.
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