- Kris Lotlikar

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse issued a report recommending decriminalizing marijuana possession to a civil violation.  "The current law prohibiting cannabis possession and trafficking appears to have had a very limited deterrent effect, yet it entails high social costs and diverts limited police resources from other pressing needs," says the study.

Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in the US is not surprised by the findings.  He told The Week Online, "Canada seems to be leading the way in opening up debate on the issue."

"Occasional use often occurs with relatively little or no subjective negative effects for the user," the study found.  "The available evidence indicates that removal of jail as a sentencing option would lead to considerable cost savings without leading to increases in rates of cannabis use."  A civil violation approach would entail a fine and no criminal record for the offender.  Debate started after the decision to temporarily take away Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati's Olympic gold medal for having trace amounts of marijuana in his system.

"It's about time," Eugene Oscapella, director of the Canadian Foundation on Drug Policy, told The Week Online.  Mr. Oscapella felt that this report was past due and that certain forces in the CCSA were trying not to raise debate about current legislation.

The study points out that decriminalizing marijuana would be within the boundaries of Canada's international treaty obligations to prohibit marijuana.  The current penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana is up to six months in jail and/or a $1000 fine.

The Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy can be found online at http://fox.nstn.ca/~eoscapel/cfdp/cfdp.html.  The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has a web site at http://www.ccsa.ca.

-- END --
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Issue #46, 6/19/98 McCaffrey Calls Legalization Movement "a devious fraud" -- Senator Biden Proposes Hearings | Republican Drug War Amendment to Tobacco Bill Passes Senate, but Legislation Will Likely Fizzle | Pain Patients Protest at Capitol, Blast DEA and Medical Boards | Report on the Heroin Maintenance Conference in New York | Money Laundering Sting Sparks International Incident | Royal Canadian Mounted Police Aided in Money Laundering | Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Recommends Decriminalization | French Government Report: Marijuana Poses Less Danger Than Alcohol | District of Columbia Medical Marijuana Initiative Seeking Volunteers, Petition Deadline Coming Up | Editorial: A Marker on the Path to Sanity
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