Pubdate: Fri, 13 Dec 2002
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Christina Blizzard, Queen's Park Bureau


ACcording To The Feds, Tobacco Is Bad But Marijuana Is Now Good?

It was Health Minister Tony Clement who first pointed out the hypocrisy of 
recent suggestions by a federal justice committee that simple marijuana 
possession should be decriminalized and "safe" injection sites should be 
set up for drug users.

This is, after all, the same federal government that pays millions of 
dollars every year for advertising campaigns discouraging young people from 
smoking tobacco.

Doctors' groups will tell you that it's not the nicotine in tobacco that's 
so bad for you, it's the dirty method of delivering that drug to your body 
- - the smoke. The same holds for smoking dope.

"This is another type of pollution of one's body, quite frankly, and if we 
want to concern ourselves with health and wellness, this seems to be going 
the other direction," Clement said on Tuesday.

London Fanshawe MPP Frank Mazzilli, a former London police officer, says 
there are serious law enforcement issues around the decriminalization of 
pot and "safe" injection sites.

"There is huge demand in the province for all kinds of drugs, from 
steroids, to marijuana to Ecstasy," says Mazzilli. He believes once kids 
experiment with marijuana, it's not such a big step to move on to other, 
more dangerous drugs, like Ecstasy, which is no longer just used in clubs. 
It's now showing up at high school dances. And there have been numerous 

Former Canadian heavyweight champion George Chuvalo, whose three sons died 
of heroin abuse, recently joined the campaign against drug abuse.

Mazzilli points out that Chuvalo tells kids his sons' addiction wasn't 
something that happened suddenly.

"His kids didn't wake up one day and decide to stick a heroin needle in 
their veins," he says.

"They started smoking, they started using alcohol. His message is once 
you've done one, it's easier to go to the next step," says Mazzilli.

"That's the message we have to get across if we are going to get the 
consumption numbers down.

"They didn't start out as heroin addicts."

RIDE programs effective

Mazzilli says drunk driving campaigns have been highly effective, not just 
in reducing the number of people who drive while impaired, but in reducing 
the degree to which they are impaired.

"I can remember 25 years ago, you'd stop a car and they'd fall out of the 
door, or they'd pass out at a red light. They weren't impaired, they were 
drunk," he says.

As for impaired driving, he says the federal proposals set the province 
back 50 years, because there's no easy way to test if a driver has been 
using drugs.

"Drunk driving can be dealt with because there's an instrument you blow 
into and it gives you a reading. There is no instrument you can blow into 
that gives you the reading of marijuana," he points out. The only reliable 
method of detection is a blood test, and it's unlikely you'll see fleets of 
cop cars ferrying suspected doped-up drivers to an ER for a drug test.

As for "safe" houses for intravenous drug users, Mazzilli says the term is 
an oxymoron. There is no safe way to inject drugs. Studies in the UK showed 
no benefits, although it did reduce the number of drug dealers, since the 
government was dealing drugs, thus putting pushers out of business. The 
issue then becomes this: do you really want your government in the drug 

"You are into some real moral and ethical dilemmas when the state does 
that," says Mazzilli.

'Lock and key'

"If the Crown is going to inject somebody, they had better have authority 
to keep that person under lock and key and don't dare let them out into 

"Who is going to take responsibility if that person kills someone, or 
whatever else they do under the influence of drugs like heroin or cocaine?"

Odd, isn't it, that if the feds have their way, we'll become a country 
where you can't smoke a cigarette in a family restaurant, but the 
government will inject you with hard drugs. You could smoke marijuana with 
the government's blessing but risk becoming a social outcast if you dare 
smoke tobacco. Are the feds hoping to cash in on taxes from pot sales? Will 
we have an MCBO to distribute pot here?

Look, they're all unhealthy addictions and the government shouldn't be 
encouraging the use - or abuse - of drugs, booze or cigarettes.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom