Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jan 2018
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Joan Bryden
Page: A6


OTTAWA - The war on drugs may move to a new battlefield in Canada, if
Liberal MPs get their way: the 2019 federal election campaign.

They're pushing the Trudeau government to go much further than
legalizing recreational marijuana. In a priority resolution they hope
will be adopted at the Liberals' policy convention in April for
inclusion in the next election platform, the national caucus is
calling on the government to eliminate criminal penalties for simple
possession and consumption of all illicit drugs.

Newly-minted NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has taken a similar

But the Conservatives, who have opposed many elements of the plan to
legalize pot by July, are signalling they would object to
decriminalizing the use of other, harder drugs even more

"The Conservatives haven't been satisfied or in any way pleased with
what they're doing in the area of marijuana. I think it's going to be
a complete mess in this country," Conservative justice critic Rob
Nicholson said in an interview.

"That being said, to expand this … to do anything that does anything
except discourage people from taking opioids and strong drugs I think
is a mistake," he added.

"If you're saying it's OK to consume this, you're not sending out the
message here that this is a huge problem that tears families apart,
destroys peoples' health, decreases the safety within this country.
Because who's going to be providing them with this? These are the
criminal elements."

Many Conservatives feared legalization of pot would be just the first
step toward legalizing other, harder drugs. But Nicholson said he's
surprised that Liberal MPs aren't even waiting to see how legalizing
cannabis works out before starting down that slippery slope.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly ruled out legalization of
drugs other than cannabis. He has not so far commented on the
resolution advanced by his own caucus, which does not actually go so
far as to advocate legalization of other drugs.

Rather, the caucus is proposing that Canada adopt the model that has
proven successful in Portugal in significantly reducing overdose
deaths, decreasing illicit drug use and reducing the social cost of
drug abuse.

Since 2001, Portugal has expanded treatment and harm reduction
services, such as safe injection sites, and eliminated criminal
penalties for simple possession and consumption of all illegal drugs.

A person found in possession of a drug for personal use is no longer
arrested but ordered to appear before a "dissuasion commission" which
can refer the person to a treatment program or impose administrative
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt