November 1, 2003 : Canadians for Safe Access is pleased to announce that acting-Director Philippe Lucas, has been invited to address the controversial Cannabis Reform Bill before the House of Commons Special Committee on the Medical Use of Drugs next Monday (3rd of November) at 3:30p.m.
Bill C-38 - which would institute a system of high fines for minor personal possession and double the penalties for cultivation - has the unique distinction of being criticized by both drug warriors and drug policy reformers alike. Although the legislation was originally touted as an attempt to modernize Canadian cannabis policy, the poorly conceived Bill will only serve to re-entrench us in a failed and expensive U.S. style prohibition.
Mr. Lucas, a legal user of therapeutic cannabis, will focus on 3 issues for his presentation:
The questionable constitutionality of a cannabis law that doesn't account for medicinal use.
The negative effects of not allowing for small-scale personal cultivation, including the entrenchment of black market profitability and control of cultivation and distribution.
The questionable logic of allowing for police discretion while also considering mandatory minimums at the judicial level; and the net-widening effect of both.
When the territory of South Australia tried a similar experiment in the early 90's, the immediate result was an increase in police action against cannabis users (during the first year of fines, more than twice as many tickets were issued than the previous year's total cannabis possession arrests); in other words, it became a police „cash grabš. Since lower income communities are already targeted by stricter cannabis enforcement, this led to a 45% non-payment of fines. The experiment was terminated when the results showed more people coming into the courts under a system of fines than ever had under prohibition.
Canadians have repeatedly expressed a desire for a science-based drug policy, rather than one based on fear and misinformation. Frankly, we expect and deserve better from Justice minister Cauchon and the reigning Liberal Party. This Cannabis Reform Bill will inevitably lead to the arrest of more responsible adult cannabis users - both medical and recreational; to the wasting of precious police resources; and will only serve to increase the cost of cannabis prohibition, which the Auditor General of Canada has estimated at $340 million a year.
It's time for the federal government to start listening to Canadian public opinion, and to the good advice of our own Parliamentary Committees, who have been recommending a relaxation of cannabis laws for over 30 years now. Canadians are ready for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. We're ready and waiting for a drug peace.