Pubdate: Fri, 24 Oct 2003
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003, Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Matthew M. Elrod
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor, headline by newshawk


Liberal MP Dan McTeague has not done his homework ("Treaty forbids pot
plan: Grit," Oct. 21).

While it is true that international treaties require signatory
countries to criminalize the possession of illicit drugs, the treaties
only mandate criminal penalties for possession for the purpose of
trafficking. The International Narcotics Control Board declared in
1992 that none of the conventions force governments to convict or
punish people who use illegal drugs.

Yes, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs "prohibits
parties from permitting the possession of drugs except for scientific
or medicinal purposes;" however, the proposed cannabis
decriminalization bill would not "permit" anyone to possess anything.
It would merely downgrade simple possession from a criminal to a civil
offence. If decriminalizing cannabis possession violates UN
agreements, then a number of signatory countries have already violated
those agreements, including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Holland,
Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. Britain
also intends to decriminalize cannabis later this year.

Of course, McTeague would know all of this if he had bothered to read
the recent House committee report on drug policy or the Senate
committee report on cannabis policy, both of which include chapters on
our international treaty obligations. Surely these reports should be
required reading for members of Parliament.

Matthew M. Elrod

Victoria, B.C.

- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin