Pubdate: Thu, 12 Dec 2002
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Dan Palmer, Edmonton Sun
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Senate Report On Marijuana

If provincial justice ministers closely read a Senate report on marijuana, 
they will no longer argue pot is a gateway drug, says the report's 
committee chairman.

"Definitely," Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, chairman of the Special Senate 
Committee on Illegal Drugs, said yesterday.

The report, released in September, cites studies contradicting theories 
linking marijuana use to drugs like cocaine.

"It's not a gateway drug," said Nolin. "There's nothing in the substance 
that leads to other drugs."

And the "gateway," he said, is the drug dealer who can give the user access 
to other substances. "The gateway is not the substance. It's the black 
market," said Nolin.

The senator is not, however, disappointed if most provincial justice 
ministers have not read the report.

"We're adults and pragmatic," he said.

Alberta Justice Minister David Hancock has said the province's position has 
been consistent on marijuana.

"We don't see any rationale behind decriminalizing or legalizing," he said 
Tuesday. "The police have indicated - and I certainly believe them - that 
it's a starter drug and it's part of the organized crime scenario. By 
allowing any more latitude in our community we're really feeding organized 
crime and the criminals who make a profit from it."

Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa lawyer and a founding member of the Canadian 
Foundation for Drug Policy, said he's tired of hearing politicians use that 
argument and added "unfortunately your minister is ill informed."

Oscapella said he believes Hancock made the comments out of "ignorance, but 
in good faith."

"I would be pleased to discuss it with him," said Hancock.

Sanjeev Anand, a law professor at the University of Alberta, said if 
marijuana is legalized, it would hurt organized crime.

"We would be taking an illegal earning opportunity away from them," said Anand.

"The example is Prohibition where organized crime was involved in 
bootlegging during Prohibition.

After Prohibition was over, this took away more or less a lot of financial 
resources from organized crime."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jackl