Canada

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Kids Will See Laughable Drug Video As 'not4me' (Letter to Editor)

Location: 
Canada
Russell Barth of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy opines that Canada's new "drugsnot4me" campaign video is a total embarrassment due to the over-the-top rhetoric which generates fear rather than educates youth.
Publication/Source: 
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Kids+will+laughable+drug+video+not4me/3846553/story.html

Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes Are a Giant Step Backward for Canada (Opinion)

Location: 
Canada
Erika Sasson, a former federal prosecutor in Toronto, opines that when Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament last December, at least one good thing happened: Bill C-15 was temporarily put to rest. That bill sought to introduce mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug offenses, in order to tackle “organized crime and serious drug offenses.” Now in its newest iteration as Bill S-10, the draft legislation has already survived a second reading and has a very good chance of becoming law.
Publication/Source: 
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/mandatory-minimums-for-drug-crimes-are-a-giant-step-backward-for-canada/article1801674/

Fraser Health Authority Urged to Push Needle Exchanges Into Hostile Cities

Location: 
Canada
Injection drug addicts are at much greater risk of catching and spreading disease in the Fraser Health region because health authority officials have failed to deliver on the promise of their harm reduction policy, reform advocates charge. They say access to needle exchanges, safe injection sites and methadone clinics is much poorer than in the Vancouver area – largely due to opposition from hostile city councils and police forces who think an abstinence policy is best.
Publication/Source: 
Hope Standard (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.bclocalnews.com/fraser_valley/hopestandard/news/106728428.html

Doctor Calls Ontario's Methadone Program Oppressive and Discriminatory

Location: 
ON
Canada
A Toronto doctor says Ontario's methadone program for addicts is "oppressive" in the way it discriminates against patients and forces them to give up their privacy. Patients who are prescribed methadone for addiction to drugs such as heroin or morphine are shackled to the health-care system and must sign away their privacy rights in exchange for treatment, Dr. Philip Berger told a legislative committee.
Publication/Source: 
Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/life/health/doctor-calls-ontarios-methadone-program-oppressive-and-discriminatory-105215519.html

Guns and Grow-Ops: Conservatives Should Be Consistent (Opinion)

Location: 
Canada
Tom Flanagan, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and a former Conservative campaign manager, opines on why he thinks conservatives should be more consistent, and re-examine their views about an issue that is more important than the long-gun registry – prohibition of mind-altering drugs.
Publication/Source: 
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/guns-and-grow-ops-conservatives-should-be-consistent/article1712802/

6-month Delay for Medical Marijuana Permits Stressful: MD

Location: 
Canada
Patients seeking to use medical marijuana are being forced to wait as long as six months by Health Canada because a backlog of permit applications, says British Columbia's Dr. Gwyllyn Goddard. Because of the delays many patients buy pot illegally while they wait for the official government permit.
Publication/Source: 
CBC Radio-Canda (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/08/31/bc-marijuana-medical.html

Canadian Medical Association Journal Article Sides with Drug Injection Site

Location: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada
An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal slams the federal government for its efforts to shut down Insite in downtown Vancouver, Canada's only safe injection site for drug addicts.
Publication/Source: 
CBC Radio-Canda (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/08/30/con-insite-cmaj.html

Canada's Conservatives Try Again with Mandatory Minimum Drug Bill [FEATURE]

Canada's Conservative minority government hopes the third time is the charm for its controversial measure to increase sentences for marijuana cultivation and introduce mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses. Now known as S-10, the measure will be taken up by the Senate when it returns from recess at end of next month.

Parliament Hill, Ottawa (math.nist.gov)
The bill is designed to "send a message" that "if you sell or produce drugs, you'll pay with jail time," Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said when re-filing the bill in May.

Under the bill, anyone growing six or more plants for the purpose of drug trafficking could face a mandatory minimum six month jail sentence, with a one-year mandatory minimum for up to 200 plants and two years for up to 500 plants. Hash makers also face a one-year mandatory minimum.

The mandatory minimum sentences could be increased by half if any of a number of aggravating factors are claimed. These include whether a weapon was found on the premises, if minors were involved, if the location was unsafe, and whether pot production posed a danger to the public in a residential area.

The Conservatives' bill comes even as crime rates in Canada have fallen to a 30-year low and with majorities supporting marijuana legalization in recent polls.

"This is a terrible bill," said Jacob Hunter of Why Prohibition?, a web site set up by opponents of the bill to encourage online activism and social networking to defeat it. "I think the single worst provision is the 18-month mandatory minimum for making one pot brownie if the police can show you shared it with friends."

"The Conservatives have less than a third of the popular vote, and they think they have a mandate for these draconian measures," said Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa law professor and head of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy.

Last year's version of the bill, known as C-15, made it through the House of Commons with the support of the Liberals, but was softened slightly by Liberals in the Senate. But before the amended measure could pass, Prime Minister Harper ended the parliamentary session, killing the bill for the year.

In power since the 2006 elections, the Conservatives have been unable to win enough seats to form a majority government. Right now, the Conservatives hold 143 seats of the 307 in the House of Commons, with the Liberals holding 103, the Bloc Quebecois 51, and the New Democrats (NDP) 51.

That means the Conservatives are once again going to have to win over members of other parties to pass S-10. With the NDP and the Bloc both in solid opposition, the Conservatives will have to pick up support from the Liberals, but whether they will be able to do so remains to be seen. Last time, Liberal support got the bill over the top in the House, but this year, the Liberals are preparing for a possible called election in the fall or winter and may have had an infusion of spine-stiffener on the issue.

"The Liberals are running around like the cowardly lion," said Oscapella, who expressed dismay at their lack of principle. "There is no sign yet that they are doing anything other than kowtowing to the government on this issue."

"Last time the Liberals did support C-15 in the House, but modified and delayed it in the Senate," said Hunter, who was slightly more positive about the Liberals. "They were terrified of being soft on crime. This time, I'm hearing the Liberals won't be so easily cowed. They feel they can counter the soft on crime attack by attacking the Conservatives on cost. It will be a purely political decision for the Liberals."

Noting that the parliamentary budget office has set the price-tag of S-10 at $10 billion, Hunter said the high cost would be a wedge to use against the bill. "This has emboldened the opposition to attack the Conservative's law and order crime agenda as too costly," he said. "Plus, crime is a historic low, and these mandatory minimum policies have been tried in the US to poor effect."

In the Senate, Conservatives do have an outright majority of 54 of 105 Senate seats -- if the two Progressive Conservative senators are counted. The Liberals have 49 seats, and there are two independents. Conservative strength in the Senate may explain why the Harper government decided to place S-10 in the Senate instead of the House of Commons.

Opponents of S-10 are gathering their forces. They will have months or perhaps even a year to mobilize opposition as the bill moves through the parliamentary process.

"There is a lot of opposition to this bill in the media, which is coming out strongly against mandatory minimums and in favor of ending the war on drugs," noted Oscapella. "Yet the government wants to plow ahead. Faced with strong opposition, the more adamant they are that they will succeed," he said.

"This is all the more depressing because for years, the excuse was that the US would never let us do drug reform," the Ottawa attorney continued. "Now the rhetoric and the attitude in the US is changing, and this would be a time for us to move forward, but we're set to move backward. It's like George Bush came to Canada."

NDP MP Libby Davies, the party's drug policy critic, has been a stalwart in the fight against earlier incarnations of the bill and is likely to do so again. While, the East Vancouver MP was out of the office this week, Davies spoke out against the new bill back in May when it was introduced.

"I have been working at every turn to stop this failed, George Bush style war-on-drugs Bill that proposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes," Davies said. "My NDP colleagues and I voted a resounding no when this bill was introduced in the House as Bill C-15, but it was passed with the support of the Liberal Party. Now we have a second chance to stop this wrong-headed and costly legislation. The Conservatives’ iron fisted approach that criminalizes drug users is taking Canada in the wrong direction."

Why Prohibition? and other activist groups are preparing protests across Canada on October 2, as well as bombarding parliament and the government with messages opposing S-10. And that will be just the beginning of the campaign.

It looks like the Liberals hold the key to whether S-10 passes or fails. In the months ahead, expect the pressure on them to increase dramatically. And let's hope for the Conservatives that instead of third time is the charm, it's three strikes and you're out.

ottawa, ON
Canada

What if California makes marijuana legal?

Location: 
Canada
California's Proposition 19 on whether to legalize marijuana has fueled a debate among bloggers and pundits over this question: Because Canada exports a large percentage of its marijuana to the United States, could legalization in the U.S. cripple the Canadian economy?
Publication/Source: 
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/What+California+makes+marijuana+legal/3375437/story.html

Police Raid of Medical Cannabis Dispensary Puts Patients at Risk (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: August 5, 2010

Police Raid of Medical Cannabis Dispensary Puts Patients at Risk

Yesterday, Cannabis as Living Medicine (CALM), one of the most well- established medical cannabis dispensaries in Canada, was raided by police in Toronto for the second time in five months. In the last couple of months, a dispensary in Guelph, another in Iqaluit, and several in the province of Quebec were also raided.

Canadians for Safe Access, a national patient advocacy organization, is denouncing these raids. The result is that thousands of Canadians suffering from MS, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, arthritis and other critical and chronic illnesses have lost an important source of their medicine, laments Rielle Capler, a researcher and co-founder of the organization. They will have to go to the streets or suffer without their medicine. Capler adds, Rather than leave these dispensaries vulnerable to police raids, CSA is calling on Health Canada to work with them to develop regulations that would ensure their protection as well as the highest quality of care for patients. Our government should be supporting patients to access the best possible medicine, and supporting the organizations that are providing this vital service."

While the use of cannabis for medical purposes is constitutionally legal in Canada, the Federal Governments program, which provides licenses to patients for legal possession of cannabis, does not provide an adequate legal source of this medicine. Government statistics show that only about 800 of the 4000 licensed medical cannabis users access the governments supply, which is considered by many to be inferior. Research indicates that over half of license holders acquire their cannabis from dispensaries, which currently supply high quality medicine to an estimated 20,000 Canadians with critical and chronic medical conditions.

Medical cannabis dispensaries, also know as compassion clubs, have played a vital role supplying safe access to cannabis for the critically and chronically ill in Canada for over 12 years. These organizations provide access to a variety of high quality cannabis strains and preparations that can effectively alleviate pain, muscle spasms, nausea, anxiety, and other serious symptoms. Compassion clubs are also at the forefront of academic peer-reviewed research on medical cannabis in Canada. Well-run dispensaries are appreciated by patients, accepted within communities, and their work has been lauded by various court  rooms across the country.

Contacts:

Rielle Capler 604-818-4082- rielle@telus.net Philippe Lucas 250-884-9821 phil@drugsense.org

Location: 
Canada

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