Canada

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Tommy Chong Lights Up Canadian New Democratic Party Campaign

Location: 
BC
Canada
Other contenders for B.C.'s NDP leadership race might be making campaign promises and rolling out platforms, but candidate and pot activist Dana Larsen is bringing out actor and comedian Tommy Chong. The celebrity marijuana user — one half of the former movie duo Cheech and Chong — has publicly endorsed Larsen for the leadership.
Publication/Source: 
CBC Radio-Canda (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/03/07/bc-larsen-ndp-tommy-chong.html

Health Canada Proposes Ban on Salvia Divinorum

Salvia divinorum extract (Image via Wikimedia)
In an official notice published Saturday in the Canada Gazette (scroll down), Health Canada has proposed banning the potent, fast-acting hallucinogen salvia divinorum and its active ingredient, salvinorin A. It wants to add both to Schedule III of Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, making it illegal to possess, produce, sell, import, or export the substances.

Although the notice was dated February 4, it was not posted in the Gazette until February 19. Interested parties, or stakeholders, have 30 days from the date of publication to comment.

Salvia is currently considered as a natural health product in Canada. Natural health products are not legal to sell in Canada without authorization from Health Canada. Health Canada has never authorized the sale of salvia, but neither has it taken any steps to enforce that regulation.

Salvia and salvia extracts are widely available in Canadian head shops and via the Internet. The Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey in 2009 found that 7.3% of 15-to-24-year-olds had tried salvia at least once. [Editor's Note: Given the powerful, even scary, nature of the salvia high, it is probably safe to assume that many of them tried it only once.]

Salvia-inspired art (Image via Wikimedia)
Salvia is "reported to be one of the most prevalent herbal products used as an alternative to illicit drugs," Health Canada said. "Health Canada is concerned that the ready availability and use of salvia divinorum poses a risk to the health and safety of Canadians, particularly youth." Adding it and salvinorin A to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act would "enable law enforcement agencies to take action against suspected illegal activities involving these substances," it added in the notice.

Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden are among countries that have already regulated or banned salvia, as have some dozen states in the US. The DEA has considered salvia a substance of interest for nearly a decade now, but has not yet moved to classify it as a controlled substance.

Ottawa
Canada

Liberals Block Canada Mandatory Minimum Bill

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been thwarted once again in its effort to pass a bill that would impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. The opposition Liberals announced February 10 that they will not support the legislation.

Tough luck, Mr. Harper
Because Harper's Conservative government is a minority government, it needs the support of opposition parties in the House of Commons to pass the crime bill, S-10. But the other opposition parties, the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, have been staunch opponents of the measure. With the Liberals announcing they will vote against S-10, Harper's government doesn't have the votes to pass it.

The bill would have enacted mandatory minimum sentences for growing as few as six pot plants. The Liberals took their stand against it after Conservatives refused to say how much it would cost.

"This bill isn't tough on crime, it's dumb on crime," said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. "We're all in favor of cracking down on serious criminals, but this bill doesn't distinguish between massive grow-ops and a first-time offender with a small amount. What's more, the Conservatives won't tell us what the fiscal implications of this bill are. How many billions will it cost? How many mega-prisons will have to be built? For these reasons, we just can't support it," he said.

The bill had already passed the Senate, where the Conservatives hold a majority, but opposition had been growing as it headed for the House of Commons. Earlier this week, more than 550 health professionals signed an open letter opposing the bill.

"The scientific evidence shows that mandatory minimum sentences will not cut violent crime, reduce drug use or improve public safety," said Dr. Thomas Kerr, co‐director of the Urban Health Research Initiative, one of the groups behind the letter. "To turn the tide on organized crime and drug use in Canada we need illicit drug policies based on the best available scientific evidence. Unfortunately, Bill S‐10 turns its back on evidence‐based research in favor of misguided political appeal."

Canadian anti-prohibitionists welcomed the move by the Liberals. "We are extremely pleased that the Liberal Party has made its decision on the basis of evidence," said Kirk Tousaw, executive director of the Vancouver-based Beyond Prohibition Foundation. "This punishment plan would not have reduced crime, nor would it have made Canadian safer from the influence of gangs. In fact, the foundation has long argued that the evidence is clear that ramping up a war on drugs has the perverse effect of making drugs more available, cheaper and more potent while simultaneously increasing the profitability and violent tendencies of organized criminals. Today the Liberal Party of Canada decided to be smart on crime."

This year's effort to pass the crime bill was the third by the Harper government. Perhaps now the Tories will give it a rest.

Ottawa, ON
Canada

Canada: Grits Block Jail Time for Growing Marijuana

Location: 
Canada
The Canadian government bill that would impose mandatory jail time for offenders caught growing a handful of marijuana plants appears doomed. The Liberals announced they will not support Bill S-10, which has already been passed by the Senate.
Publication/Source: 
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/National+Grits+block+jail+time+growing+marijuana/4254926/story.html

Beyond Prohibition Foundation Commends Liberal Party of Canada for Opposing Bill S-10 (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2011

CONTACT: Jacob Hunter at 604.803.4085 or jacob@jacobhunter.org, or Kirk Tousaw at kirktousaw@gmail.com

Beyond Prohibition Foundation Commends Liberal Party of Canada for Opposing Bill S-10

Today the Liberal Party of Canada announced that it would vote down Bill S-10, a cornerstone of the Harper Conservative’s incarceration agenda, which would have imposed mandatory jail sentences on non-violent minor drug offenders. The Beyond Prohibition Foundation commends the Liberal Party for standing up to Mr. Harper’s false “soft on crime” slurs and defeating this dangerous, enormously expensive and ideologically-driven legislation.

“We are extremely pleased that the Liberal Party has made its decision on the basis of evidence,” noted Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Foundation, “This punishment plan would not have reduced crime, nor would it have made Canadian safer from the influence of gangs. In fact, the Foundation has long argued that the evidence is clear that ramping up a war on drugs has the perverse effect of making drugs more available, cheaper and more potent while simultaneously increasing the profitability and violent tendencies of organized criminals. Today the Liberal Party of Canada decided to be smart on crime.”

The legislation had previously been the subject of intense criticism during two rounds of testimony before committees of the Senate and House of Commons. Experts from Canada, the United States and abroad testified that other jurisdictions using mandatory jail terms have worse crime and drug problems than Canada, and that these experiments have been expensive failures. Despite this, the Harper Conservatives have been pushing for the legislation for years.

“The Foundation knew that the Conservatives would not listen to expert advice and, therefore, we made a strategic decision early on to appeal to the Liberal Party,” explained Jacob Hunter, the Foundation’s Policy Director. “We believed that the Liberals would understand that making economically and socially smart decisions with Canadian’s tax dollars would be a political benefit, not a liability. Everyone knew that Mr. Harper would attempt to fool Canadians with ‘soft on crime’ rhetoric but the Foundation believes that our citizens are smarter than that. We are very pleased the Liberal Party agrees.”

Earlier this week, the government refused to tell the House how much its incarceration agenda would cost Canadians. “Mr. Harper tried to use fear to sell Canadians on a multi-billion dollar legislative boondoggle by hiding the costs and falsely describing it as targeting only major criminals.

Instead, it would have almost exclusively punished non-violent small time drug offenders. Now that the legislation appears doomed, we urge all Parliamentarians to conduct a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of drug prohibition. Its time to reject the failed approaches of the past and, instead, to work toward putting criminals out of business by ending the war on drugs,” Tousaw continued.

Location: 
Canada

Canadian Doctors Decry Crackdown on Drugs

Location: 
Canada
A large group of doctors, HIV researchers and other public health officials has just released a letter lambasting the Canadian government’s bill S-10, which would overhaul illicit drug laws. The principle target of the 564 signatories – which includes doctors, nurses, social workers and law professors – is a provision that would impose minimum prison sentences of at least six months for a variety of drug offenses, including operating small-scale marijuana grow operations.
Publication/Source: 
National Post (Canada)
URL: 
http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/02/07/blackwell-on-health-doctors-decry-crackdown-on-drugs/

Canadian Patients Ask Ottawa to Fix Flawed Medical Marijuana Program

Location: 
Ottawa, ON
Canada
A group of medical marijuana patients traveled to Parliament Hill to draw attention to the government's "wildly dysfunctional and onerous medical marijuana regulations" and the effects they are having on sick Canadians. "Ten years ago, we put in place a government program, a legal government program, that would allow sick patients to have access to a medicine that worked for them," said Member of Parliament Dr. Carolyn Bennett. "We now are seeing a perfect storm of administrative delays that have these patients with a licence waiting four to six months till the point that it expires – and then they are criminalized because they don't have a licence because the government's backlogs and lack of resources have put them there."
Publication/Source: 
Cannabis Culture (Canada)
URL: 
http://cannabisculture.com/v2/content/2011/01/31/Patients-Ask-Ottawa-Fix-Flawed-Medical-Marijuana-Program

War on Marijuana Grow-Ops in British Columbia Has Unexpected Casualties

Location: 
BC
Canada
In the war on marijuana grow-ops, municipalities across the Lower Mainland are slapping homeowners – including those with no link to illegal drugs – with a hefty bill for an inspection of their property, saying the fees cover the costs involved. Critics say the safety inspections are a substitute for police raids of suspected grow-ops. Police cannot enter a home without reasonable grounds for believing that they will find illegal activity. However, safety inspectors can just go in and look around. If they find a grow-op, they call police, who are usually waiting at the curb.
Publication/Source: 
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/war-on-grow-ops-in-bc-has-unexpected-casualties/article1866458/

Canada: Voice Your Opposition to Costly Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Drug-Related Offenses (Action Alert)

The federal government of Canada is currently considering Bill S-10, which proposes legislative amendments that, among other things, would introduce mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain drug-related offenses. Research clearly demonstrates that mandatory minimum sentences are extremely expensive to the taxpayer and do not meaningfully improve public health and safety nor reduce drug use or crime in communities.

The Urban Health Research Initiative is inviting concerned health practitioners, scientists, researchers and academics in Canada to join it in supporting evidence-based drug prevention and treatment initiatives and opposing the introduction of costly and ineffective mandatory minimum sentencing legislation.  Please see the sign-on letter at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6452/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY....

Location: 
Canada

Sixth Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Vancouver

Location: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada
The new dispensary is the first in south Vancouver. Jacob Hunter, director of Imedikate Medical Cannabis Dispensary, said the shops operate "on the edge of the legislative law" because Health Canada refuses to issue a dispensary license, but the country's judiciary has ruled people have a right to medical marijuana.
Publication/Source: 
United Press International (DC)
URL: 
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/01/10/Sixth-marijuana-clinic-opens-in-Vancouver/UPI-60451294683110/

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