Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jun 2004
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2004 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Kevin O'Connor, Leader-Post
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


The law on marijuana possession was one of the hot topics at a Regina high 
school political forum Wednesday -- but not all students believe loosening 
drug laws is a good idea.

"There's definitely other things we should be talking about," said Beth 
Clark, 16. "As soon as marijuana is legalized, cocaine is going to get 
bigger and then people or going to want to legalize that."

Students at Sheldon Williams Collegiate quizzed Conservative, Liberal, NDP 
and Green Party candidates about such topics as same sex marriage and 
student loans.

Still, it was the debate over decriminalizing marijuana possession that got 
the biggest response from the crowd.

A student asked the party representatives for their views on marijuana.

Before the election was called, the Liberal government had introduced a 
bill that would decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana.

The bill died on the order paper when parliament was dissolved, but 
according to Palliser Liberal candidate John Williams, there's no reason to 
think it won't be brought back.

Williams said he supports decriminalizing possession of small amounts of 
marijuana. That way, possession would still be illegal, but the offender 
would receive a ticket rather than a criminal record, he said.

Also supporting decriminalization for small quantities is Palliser NDP 
candidate Dick Proctor and Conservative candidate for Regina-Qu'Appelle 
Andrew Scheer.

"Our party would certainly look at that," said Scheer, who later added he 
supports decriminalizing less than five grams of marijuana.

Fiorindo Agi, Green Party candidate for Regina-Lumsden-Lake-Centre, 
received applause when he said his party wants to go beyond 
decriminalization to legalize marijuana.

"It would be great, because we could all have a party," he said.

Proctor said he has some concerns about the health risks of marijuana, 
adding it's somewhat strange that the government is looking at loosening 
the marijuana laws at the same time governments are cracking down on 
tobacco use.

However, the NDP caucus supports decriminalization as part of a broader 
anti-drug policy, he said.

Following the forum, some students said they wished there was more time to 
talk about other issues.

"I thought it was ridiculous," said Katherine Reichel, 17. "I was more 
wanting to hear about gay marriage, the drinking issue, the AIDS epidemic, 
but we didn't get to that."

Ariel Bryant, 16, said she took offence at the Green Party's Agi making 
light of drug use.

"It's really kind of offensive," she said.

" 'Let's go smoke a joint?' That's not the way the government should be 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D