HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html It's Time to Change the Law
Pubdate: Thu, 15 Aug 2002
Source: Lindsay Daily Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Bookmarks: (Cannabis - Canada)


Canada's Justice Minister Martin Cauchon is wrong when he
states the federal government would be 'endorsing' marijuana by
legalizing the substance.

Legalization and the lesser goal of decriminalization aren't acts of
endorsement, they are merely an admission that Canada's existing
marijuana laws have failed.

These laws are wasting millions of dollars in court costs and using up
valuable policing budgets and barely making a dent in marijuana use.
To his credit, Cauchon states our country's drug laws deserve a closer
look and he didn't rule out decriminalization. He was speaking to the
Canadian Bar Association's annual meeting Monday.

Cauchon's own Montreal constituents have told him simple possession
shouldn't lead to a criminal record -- a conviction that blocks
access to borders and makes it harder to find a job.

Cauchon is calling a roundtable discussion for this fall to talk about
our country's criminal laws with a goal he states is a modernization
of the system.

Canada's drug laws are archaic and written for a time when marijuana
was viewed as a dangerous, addictive narcotic that led users to
stronger drugs like cocaine and heroin.

But science has refuted these misconceptions.

Unlike alcohol and tobacco -- both legal substances governments
profit from in the billions of dollars -- marijuana isn't physically
addictive. Consistent research has shown marijuana is not a 'gateway'
drug leading to harder drugs.

The fact is marijuana use is widespread in all communities and smokers
could be your next-door neighbour, doctors, lawyers, scientists,
business people, police officers, retired seniors -- just about all
the demographic of our society.

These people aren't criminals. To them, smoking marijuana is a
relaxing activity no different than popping the cap off a bottle of
beer while barbecuing or enjoying a social drink in a nightclub.

Society shouldn't encourage intoxication and certainly smoking
marijuana is harmful to a person's lungs and brain -- just like
alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana intoxication can impair a driver in a
similar way to alcohol and should be a crime.

But using the substance shouldn't be a crime. We endorse
decriminalization, not legalization, as a first step to a more modern,
fair society.

Responsible marijuana smokers exist and should not be shunned and
driven through the court system like common criminals.

Police dollars should be freed up to battle more insidious organized
criminals pushing dangerous drugs like crack, heroin, and designer
drugs infesting the lives of our young people.

Cauchon should limit his comments until all facts regarding the
marijuana issue are on the table this fall, particularly a report from
a Senate committee touring the country for input. 
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