Pubdate: Wed, 08 Apr 2009
Source: Goldstream Gazette (Victoria, CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Black Press
Author: Amy Dove
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Severing the connection between casual drug users and organized crime
is the only way to end the "war on drugs," says Dr. Keith Martin,
Liberal MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.

Martin introduced a bill in Ottawa last Thursday calling for the
decriminalization of marijuana possession under 30 grams or two
plants. Decriminalization has been discussed before, but never with
the inclusion of actual plants, he said.

"(The current system) only enables the real parasites, which are the
organized crime gangs, to profiteer off the status quo," he said. "The
war on drugs has proven to be an abysmal failure."

By allowing people to grow their own pot, drug dealers and associated
criminal gangs would lose business, he said.

The drug would still be illegal, however, those found in possession of
small amounts would be fined rather than brought into the court
system. Addiction is a health issue first and foremost, not a criminal
one, he said.

Money generated from fines could be used to fund education programs,
as well as rehabilitation facilities and narcotic substitution
programs such as the NAOMI project in Vancouver. The ultimate goal is
to discourage use, he said.

As to whether such a policy could be applied to harder drugs, Martin
replied that Canadians would be understanding of marijuana at this
time. In B.C. particularly, pot is big business, he said. Major law
changes, nationally and internationally, would be needed to expand
decriminalization to other narcotics.

"What I hope that the bill does is actually opens up the debate for us
to have a rational, mature discussion on drug policy," he said. "And
implement a policy that works. Society is being hurt by the status
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin