Lawyers battle over marijuana laws, pending legalization
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Ralph Klein: prohibitions don't work
- 5,534 posts
Posted 09 December 2005 - 11:51 AM
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Address: P.O. Box 5020, 1101 Baxter Rd., Ottawa, ON K2C 3M4
Fax: (613) 596-8522
Copyright: 2005 The Ottawa Citizen
Provinces can opt out of Liberals' handgun ban
"Gun registration has done absolutely nothing" to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, he said. "A ban. That's fine, you can say ban handguns. That's like saying ban sugar, ban coffee, ban cigarettes, ban anything. You can say 'ban it.' You can pass legislation to ban them. But it's not going to stop the bad guys from getting a handgun and shooting someone."
- 2,689 posts
Sask. Freedom Fighter
Posted 09 December 2005 - 12:03 PM
- 21,780 posts
Posted 09 December 2005 - 04:41 PM
December 9, 2005
Clearing the smoke over marijuana
By Geoff McMaster, ExpressNews Staff
Print story | Email story
June 4, 2001 - After quietly smoldering on the back burner for years, the marijuana debate is back on the public agenda. The country is once again open to discussion on whether simple possession of the drug should be legalized, or at least decriminalized.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal came out in support of decriminalization in an editorial last month, arguing the "minimal negative health effects of moderate use would be attested to by the estimated 1.5 million Canadians who smoke marijuana for recreational purposes. The real harm is social fallout."
The federal justice and health ministers announced it was time for a "frank" and open discussion, and all five parties have agreed to strike a committee to examine drug laws over the next 18 to 24 months. Even Premier Ralph Klein has weighed in, saying while he personally doesn't like pot because it made him "paranoid," he's ready to talk about changes to the law.
The country's police seem divided on the issue, with the Canadian Police Association claiming marijuana is a dangerous "gateway" to harder drug use, and the RCMP and Canadian Police Chiefs saying money spent prosecuting those caught with small amounts--half of all drug arrests in Canada are for simple possession of small amounts of pot--would be better spent on more serious crime. The most recent public opinion survey shows a majority of Canadians do not support treating simple possession as a criminal offence.
To begin the long process of clearing the smoke on this issue, we surveyed a few people on campus for their views, just to stoke the embers, so to speak.
Dr. David Cook - pharmacology
When we look simply at the physiological consequences to the body that we know about, clearly not using any drugs is the preferred option. But it's hard to see a lot of massive problems looming up with marijuana.
The drug is not without some adverse effects. It does impair co-ordination, and it has effects on memory. Also, it is frequently smoked when used--and putting smoke into your lungs isn't a terribly smart thing to do. However, one would have to say it's less hazardous than many medications we don't really think twice about.
On the "gateway" drug argument. I have some trouble with it... If you ask what proportion of marijuana users wind up addicted to heroin or cocaine, the figure is very small. My own view is we have more problems as a result of criminal prosecution than we would have by decriminalizing it. But I am concerned this will be seen as giving the drug a clean bill of health--it doesn't have, no drug does.
[It also bothers me that] you get a politician who says, 'Ya, I smoked pot when I was a teenager. I didn't like it--I didn't inhale, or it made me paranoid or whatever. But you didn't catch me with the stuff.' Then you get some unfortunate and not very bright person who gets caught with their stash and they end up in deep trouble and with a criminal record. It strikes me that it's an expensive mockery of the principles of justice.
If I had a kid of my own, I would probably rather they smoked pot than drank. I'd rather they didn't do either, mind you. And the only reason I might reverse that, is in this environment, there's a very significant adverse effect [to smoking pot]--it can cause your body to be thrown in jail.
Dr. David Gifford - botany, teaches course called "Drugs of the World."
Everything I read says there is no reason why marijuana should be criminalized. Scientific evidence would argue against it. I can go further and say we don't criminalize smoking (tobacco) and alcohol and I would say those are much worse activities. The effects of smoking a few joints are quite minimal... If you're a heavy user it can lead to problematic behaviour, but the same could be said of alcohol use.
If you asked if marijuana is carcinogenic, I can't answer yes or no. But is it as carcinogenic as nicotine? Definitely not. Is marijuana poisonous? Tests haven't shown definitively one way or another, but nicotine is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet. Is marijuana addictive? If you look at literature, you will find studies that will say if someone takes a significant amount over a significant amount of time, yes, it is, but compared to nicotine, no, it's not as addictive. If you were to say to me, 'what should we be banning,' there's no doubt in my mind that tobacco leaves should be banned before marijuana.
In terms of toxicity, nicotine is by far the worst. If you take pure nicotine and rub it on your skin, it can kill you. A good Havana cigar has enough nicotine in it to kill two adults, but doesn't because your body doesn't absorb all the smoke in its most toxic form. With marijuana, THC doesn't get into the blood stream as easily as nicotine does.
Chris Samuel - president, Students' Union
It's a value judgment--that's what it boils down to. In our society we allow things like alcohol, we allow things like cigarettes, which contain nicotine--which has been proven to be a deadly toxin--but we don't allow other things like marijuana, which has been deemed a soft narcotic.
They haven't been able to prove the negative side effects of marijuana consumption. The [Canadian Medical Association] has said there are minimal effects--such as loss of memory and respiratory problems--but they're not conclusive as of yet. Me, personally, I'd probably have to see the facts. Are there negative effects or not? What are the long-term implications of moderate marijuana consumption? For alcohol and nicotine, we do have those studies.
You can't say you don't want students to have a record, therefore we should be lenient with those people who are caught with marijuana. What's so special about marijuana? Getting the facts, especially at this stage, is so necessary. What would be unbelievably detrimental would be for the government to move on this issue without realizing that marijuana is one of the most addictive narcotics out there.
Dr. Malcolm King, pulmonary medicine
I certainly think it should be decriminalized. I'm not so sure about legalization. It's mainly young people who get hurt by having a criminal record follow them for years or the rest of their life, and I don't think it's appropriate for society to act that way for something that generally doesn't do any harm to anyone else.
It's probably got some [medicinal] use, but I think it needs to be seriously studied, which means the government should be prepared to put some real money into funding some research on it. There's enough evidence that it might work, and therefore the government should pay for research to find out whether it's helpful or not.
There have been a number of studies looking at marijuana--the associated effects of smoking tobacco (since many users smoke both) are probably its major side effect... but my general impression is that it's probably not a whole lot different than the equivalent tobacco use. But then anybody who smokes 20 marijuana cigarettes a day is probably going to be overwhelmed by the effects of the drug and not the other health effects.
As part of decriminalization, I think the government ought to put further resources into testing. Then we'd be prepared to decide whether it's of any use or not.
Dr. Bob Sinclair, psychology
One of the things I've noticed in the newspapers, especially with the Canadian Police Association coming out contrary to the police chiefs and RCMP with respect to decriminalization, is the use of flawed logic [in the "gateway drug" argument]. It's probably true that 99 per cent of heroin users started out using marijuana, but only about one per cent of marijuana users go on to use heroin. I heard John Diefenbaker use the same argument 35 years ago or something. The analogy is that mother's milk leads to alcoholism.
I also believe that the more you can do to take things out of the hands of organized crime, the better. It makes sense to me that decriminalization would be reasonable.
As a scientist, it's important to explore the potential for medical benefits in a systematic order... It would be really nice to have some actual, well-executed studies addressing this issue.
It doesn't make sense to me that people should have a record for possession of pot. Some people have argued that one of the reasons pot was made illegal in the U.S. and has remained illegal is that liquor lobbies are very powerful... and if people could grow this themselves and it were inexpensive, the liquor lobbies would see this as a threat. The government licenses distilleries and gets a lot of tax revenue from it... If they did that with marijuana they could still make it illegal for people to grow it themselves, and then they would get the tax revenue.
Related links - internal
* The U of A Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Web site: http://www.pharmacy.ualberta.ca/
* The U of A Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Web site: http://www.med.ualberta.ca/
* The U of A Department of Biological Sciences Web site: http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/
* The U of A Department of Psychology Web site: http://matrix.psych.ualberta.ca/
* The U of A Students' Union Web site: http://www.su.ualberta.ca/
- 21,780 posts
Posted 09 December 2005 - 04:45 PM
Without the feds' willingness to change the Criminal Code, Hancock's plan is dead in the water. But Premier Ralph Klein said yesterday the idea is worth looking at.
Klein said he's honestly not sure if people should get criminal records for being caught in possession of minor amounts of marijuana. But he won't be one of them.
"I was asked the question if I ever smoked dope and I said 'Yes and I inhaled,' " he said. "But it made me paranoid and I don't want to be any more paranoid than I am right now."
- 841 posts
Posted 09 December 2005 - 06:02 PM
The date dec 9 2005 is mentioned,
but both articles you refer to appear to be from 2001 and 2000.
Is there an article from dec 9, 2005 ?
- 21,780 posts
Posted 09 December 2005 - 07:17 PM