Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jun 1999
Source: The Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 1999, The Globe and Mail Company
Contact:  http://www.globeandmail.ca/
Forum: http://forums.theglobeandmail.com/
Page: A18
Note: These 3 articles were included in a June 21, 1999 reprint of the June
20, 1970 front page of The Globe And Mail (a nationwide Canadian newspaper),
featured as part of a retrospective series entitled "Century of the
Millennium".  The headline of the first article was the main headline for
that day's edition. Title by Newshawk.

FLASH BACK TO: JUNE 20, 1970

OTTAWA TO EASE MARIJUANA LAW

June 20, 1970-Ottawa promises to end jail terms for the possession of
marijuana, a central recommendation of the revolutionary LeDain Commission
on the non-medical use of drugs.  Almost 30 years later, possession is still
a criminal offence in Canada.

OTTAWA TO EASE MARIJUANA LAW

LeDain Opposes Jail Sentences

Fines Proposed For Possession

Report Critical Of Police Stand

By JOHN BURNS Globe and Mail Reporter

OTTAWA -- The Government responded to the Interim report of the LeDain Drug
Inquiry Commission yesterday by promising an end to jail terms for the
possession of marijuana.

In a brief Commons statement, Health Minister John Munro announced that
legislation would be brought forward establishing a scale of graduated fines
for the offense.  He said outside the House he hoped the legislation would
be ready before Christmas.  The stiff penalties for the more serious
offences of possession for the purposes of trafficking and trafficking
it-self will be maintained.

While agreeing to relax the penalties for the possession of marijuana, the
Government rejected the commission's call for an early end to jail terms for
the possession of other mind altering drugs such as opium, heroin and LSD.

In addition, the Government made it clear in its statement that the change
in the marijuana law would have no affect on the possession of hashish -- a
stronger form of marijuana -- which will continue to be punishable by
imprisonment.

Mr. Munro said that the more sweeping legislative changes called for by the
commission are not justified by "current medical and sociological
information."

However, he hinted that the ... [end of available text]

GENERAL LIBERALIZING OF ATTITUDES URGED

By NORMAN HARTLEY Globe and Mail Reporter

OTTAWA -- An end to all jail sentences for drug possession and a general
liberalization of society's attitude to drug use are recommended by the
LeDain Drug Inquiry Commission in its interim report tabled in the Commons
yesterday.

The commission urges a completely new approach to drugs based on the careful
exercise of free choice by the individual rather than on repression.  It
calls for national drug education programs based for the first time on
frankness and honesty and research carried out in total freedom.

The report stops short of recommending the legalization of marijuana on the
grounds that not enough is known on its long term effects.  It recommends
instead a series of mild penalties for drug offenses -- especially
possession mainly to insure that the generation gap does not become fixed
irrevocably by excessive repression.  One major recommendation is that the
control of cannabis -- marijuana and hashish -- should be removed from the
Narcotic Control Act and placed under the Food and Drugs Act.

The report is highly critical of the current attitude of the RCMP and other
enforcement agencies and suggests that measures currently being used to
control drug use may be doing far more harm than good.  As an interim
measure until the full social and medical implication of drug use can be
weighed, the commission recommends that "no one should be liable to
imprisonment for simple possession of a psychotropic drug for non-medical
purposes."

The term psychotropic means mind-altering and this category covers all drugs
usually used illicitly including methamphetamine (speed) and heroin. The
report rejects a moratorium on drug prosecutions as impractical and anyway
tantamount to legalization.

It proposes that possession of any drug should be subject to a maximum fine
of $100.  The only dissenting opinion registered in the report is a minority
statement by criminologist Marie Andree Bertrand who advocates the immediate
removal of the prohibition of possession of cannabis because of its
widespread use, the difficulty of enforcing the law and its social
consequences.

It also recommends than offenders should not be jailed for nonpayment of
fines and the Crown should rely on civil proceedings to recover payment. It
recommends that trafficking in marijuana and possibly in other drugs as well
should be punishable by a maximum of 18 months imprisonment.

Passing around small quantities of cannabis produce should not be regarded
as trafficking, the report adds.  This is an important exception since many
trafficking prosecutions are currently based on giving for example one
marijuana cigarette to another user.

The report is probably one of the most radical documents ever tabled in the
Commons.  It takes the view that drug use cannot be condemned in principle
or ended by prohibition.  While recognizing that the State has the right to
impose controls because of the harm effects of drug taking, the report
emphasizes that the damage to society and in particular to relations between
the generations must be weighed when choosing what controls must be exerted.

It urges a complete divorce between research and law enforcement and
attributes many of the gaps in existing knowledge of drug effects to
inhibitions fostered by RCMP and police controls.  The report rules out the
attitude that the problem of non-medicinal drug-taking can be isolated from
its social context and solved by dealing with the substances them selves.

The commission's call for frank education programs has sweeping implications
since the report indicates that almost every drug education program
sponsored by federal and provincial governments would have to be reworked or
scrapped.

"The conclusion we draw from the testimony we have heard is that it is a
grave error to indulge in deliberate distortion or exaggeration concerning
the alleged dangers of a particular drug, or to base a program of drug
education upon a strategy of fear," the report says.  "It is no use playing
chicken with young people, in nine cases out of ten they will accept the
challenge."

'SIMPLE PLEASURE' IS THE MAIN REASON FOR MARIJUANA USE

From The Ottawa Bureau of The Globe and Mail

OTTAWA -- "While pleasure, curiosity, the desire to experiment and even
sense of adventure are dominant motivations in drug use, there is no doubt
that a search for self-knowledge and self-integration and for spiritual
meaning are strong motivations with many."

This extract from the LeDain Drug Inquiry Commission's interim report sum up
one theme of a key chapter in the document which sets out the commission's
"preliminary impressions" of the reason for non-medical drug-taking.

The chapter, which contains the most forceful statement of the positive
aspect of drug use ever published in an official document, concludes that
motives vary from drug to drug.  "Time after time, witnesses have said to us
in effect; 'we do it for fun.  Do not try to find a complicated explanation
for it.' "

The report says it would be a serious error to regard the use of cannabis
(marijuana and hashish) as "symbolic or manifesting a pathological,
psychological or even sociological state.  "Simple pleasure, similar to that
claimed for the moderate use of alcohol, food or sex is frequently offered
as the general explanation for most current drug use."

Turning to its impressions of other drugs, the report notes that "LSD is
spoken of as a very profound experience, not to be lightly entered into ...
its profound character, the sense of venture into the unknown, the very real
risk of adverse effect make it a practice which seems likely to remain
fairly restrictive.  "It is cheaper than psychoanalysis but appears to carry
with it some of the same implications: the promise of greater self-knowledge
and self-acceptance... it is a foundational experience rather than a casual
one, as in the case of cannabis."

The report says the commissioners were "profoundly impressed by the natural
and unaffected manner in which drug-users have responded to the question of
religious significance.  Then are not embarrassed by the mention of God....
It may be exaggeration to say that we are witnessing the manifestation of a
genuine revival but there does appear to be a definite revival of interest
in the religious attitude towards life."

This report notes that young drug users are highly critical of many aspects
of modern life and in this they are not much different from the critical
minority found in any generation.

The distinguishing marks of this generation's attitude seem to be, according
to the report: "A generalised middle-class influence, a very rapid rate of
technological change; the repressive almost foreboding character of certain
problems or menaces which cast serious doubts on mans ability to
survive-nuclear power, overpopulation, environmental pollution, racial
hostility and the widening gap between wealth and poverty."

The report also records "a strong impression that young people are, as it
were, unconsciously preparing themselves for a time when there will be less
work to go around."

Other reasons mentioned include: the search for an hedonistic life-style in
which happiness and pleasure are taken as valid goals; rejection of the
roles of manhood and achievement; a search for authenticity in personal
relations.

In contrast the report sees the speed freak as "a casualty of the increasing
complexity of the demands for adaptation and survival of the technological
society."

The chapter ends by drawing a distinction between drug use by people who are
sick and by "neo-nonconformists".  It concludes that the sick individual
that relies on cannabis, speed and other psychotropic drugs as an escape and
a crutch and structures his life around them needs medical and psychiatric
treatment.  "On the other hand, the non-conformist who is using drugs but is
not sick in the medical or psychiatric sense may not need treatment.  If it
seems desirable to bring about a change to his behaviour, only a
philosophical and spiritual re-orientation, which would have to touch the
cultural roots of his values and existential attitudes, could achieve this
goal."

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