Canadian Medical Association Journal Calls for Marijuana Decriminalization 5/18/01

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


"Mr. Justice Minister, let's decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use."

That's the final line -- and the bottom line -- of this week's editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Written in response to Health Canada's announcement last month of new medical marijuana regulations, the editorial called Health Canada's move "a step in the right direction," but said "a bolder stride is needed."

"Our view is that the government should probably take a little bit more bold step and decriminalize it," the journal's editor, Dr. John Hoey, told the Toronto Star. "It turns out that it is really quite an innocuous drug, probably with the exception of tars and things, which then make it similar to tobacco," the editorialist explained.

In the editorial, Hoey elaborated: "The possession of small quantities for personal use should be decriminalized. 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 the legal and social fallout. About half of all drug arrests in Canada are for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana: about 31,299 convictions in 1995 alone. Many lead to jail terms or fines, and all result in that indelible social tattoo: a criminal record. This means that for anyone who's ever been caught with a stash in his or her pocket, the question 'Have you ever had a criminal conviction?' during a job application or medical school interview can force higher aspirations to go up in a puff of smoke.

"The decriminalization of marijuana possession for personal use does not mean making marijuana 'legal' or letting it be sold in every schoolyard. It does mean that possession of small amounts for personal use would become a civil offense, like a traffic violation, not a criminal one. The provisions of Canada's Contraventions Act make this a relatively simple legislative task."

Hoey told the Star he expected no negative fallout from Canadian doctors, which is not surprising given that the Canadian Medical Association, the journal's publisher, has already endorsed the decriminalization of marijuana.

"My hunch is that doctors would generally agree, and certainly public health doctors, who would worry about this, that the harms of criminalizing marijuana use far outweigh the harms of smoking a bit of marijuana," Hoey said.

Hoey also used the editorial pulpit to urge his fellow physicians to move quickly on medical marijuana. "About 400,000 Canadians use cannabis for medical reasons," he wrote. "Professional organizations such as the CMA must move quickly to issue guidelines for physicians who, increasingly, will be asked for advice by their patients."

(Visit to read the editorial online.)

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #186, 5/18/01 Editorial: Supreme Fictions | Supreme Court to Medical Marijuana Movement: Drop Dead -- Movement to Feds: Get Real | Study Finds Seattle Drug Arrests Target Blacks, Suggests Decrim Dialogue, Police Chief Suggests Arresting More Whites | In US First, South Carolina Court Finds Drug-Using Woman Guilty of Murder in Death of Fetus | Colombian Coca and Poppy Production Up Last Year Despite Heightened Drug War, Market Crash Ahead? | Thugs Kill New York City Marijuana Retailer, Two Others, Police Blame Marijuana | DEA's Caribbean Office Lied About Arrests, GAO to Investigate | Two Steps Forward, One Step Back in Indiana Sentencing | Canadian Medical Association Journal Calls for Marijuana Decriminalization | Media and Resources: Arianna Huffington, Village Voice,,, U. Miami Law Review, CDC | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]