Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jun 2003
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2003 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: J. Ann Ross


It appears that many are highly unimpressed with our prime minister's 
decision to decriminalize marijuana use in Canada. For all intents and 
purposes (a non-user and non-condoner myself), I can empathize with 
people's disapproval. However, I don't necessarily see this decision as an 
entirely bad one. The fact of the matter is that personal possession of 
marijuana for individual consumption is still illegal for everyone, and 
those who disobey the law will be punished accordingly. This message 
remains unchanged.

I don't see it as inevitable that decriminalization will result in an 
increase in young people (or others) choosing to use. There are likely many 
reasons why people use marijuana -- desire to and availability no doubt 
among these. So, in addition to decriminalizing marijuana possession for 
personal use, the Liberals want to redirect resources (i.e. taxpayers' 
dollars) toward developing preventive programs aimed at youth, and to 
punish the dealers and traffickers with harsher sentences. I may be 
completely off in my assessment of what the changes in law amount to, but I 
feel that the implementation of prevention drug programs and the 
utilization of police and Crown resources for the aforesaid goals will do 
much more to address the issue of illicit marijuana use than targeting 
adult recreational users for expensive and unnecessary criminal court 
processing -- a huge waste of time and resources.


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