Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 OSPREY Media Group Inc.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Recent results about marijuana use raised more than a few eyebrows in 
this nation: Canada is tops in the industrialized world in terms of 
marijuana use.

We beat places such as The Netherlands, where pot smoking is legal. 
In fact, our pot smoking is more than four times the global rate, 
according to a United Nations report.

The world drug-use study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said 
that almost 17 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 64 smoked marijuana 
or used other cannabis products in 2004, the most recent year for 
which statistics were cited.

The study used the most recent statistics available from each country.

It estimates global pot use at less than four per cent for people 
between the ages of 15 and 64.

Canada placed fifth in the world, behind New Guinea and Micronesia 
(29 per cent), Ghana (21.5 per cent) and Zambia (17.7 per cent). The 
Netherlands was well back at 6.1 per cent, while Jamaica, stereotyped 
for its ganja, sat at below 11 per cent.

So, we are tops among Western countries in terms of pot use. It could 
be worse. We could be the biggest cocaine snorters on the planet. 
That dubious honour goes to Spain. Iran wins out for heroin, 
Australia for ecstasy and the Philippines for amphetamines.

These are much more dangerous drugs than dope. Marijuana is still 
considered among the "least addictive of all psycho-active 
substances," Jurgen Rehm, a senior scientist with the Toronto-based 
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said in an article in the 
Montreal Gazette.

We are a progressive nation in many ways, yet not quite so bold as 
yet to follow The Netherlands in legalizing pot. Pro-dope advocates 
continue to push for marijuana's legalization; the previous federal 
government was making strides towards decriminalizing the possession 
of small amounts of pot.

Certainly pot can be harmful in large quantities and over long 
periods of use. So too can cigarettes and alcohol, legally 
distributed to anyone over the age of 19 in Canada. Some studies show 
both booze and tobacco are more harmful than dope. Yet marijuana is 
the illegal substance.

Perhaps it is time to seriously consider decriminalizing a 
recreational drug that one-in-six Canadians from age 15 to 64 used in 2004.

If dope truly was for dopes, then this country wouldn't be able to 
function with such high usage rates. But we're doing just fine.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom