Newsbrief: Canadian Senate Panel Hints at Marijuana Legalization 5/10/02

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The Canadian Senate's Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, which is reviewing possible changes in Canada's drug laws, on May 3 issued a discussion paper on marijuana summarizing the results of its research so far. While the solons agreed that people probably shouldn't use marijuana, they also found little harm in doing so. After 14 months of hearings and research, the committee concluded that the negative health effects of marijuana are "relatively benign," there is no "gateway effect," marijuana does not cause anti-social behavior or criminal conduct or hurt academic performance, and prevention and law enforcement efforts have had little impact on usage rates.

The committee found that an estimated 30-50% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 have used marijuana despite extensive and expensive suppression efforts, leading it to suggest that the millions spent fighting it have been wasted.

The committee made no recommendations on changing the law, but will issue recommendations in August after further consultations in communities across the country. But committee chair Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin hinted at the committee's thinking in remarks to the Toronto Globe & Mail last week. "We're questioning prohibition as an effective way or policy to control a substance," said Nolin. "It may be more appropriate to treat [marijuana] like alcohol or tobacco than harder drugs," he said.

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Issue #236, 5/10/02 Editorial: Unsafe Streets | Leading Education, Civil Rights, and Drug Policy Organizations Urge Congress to Repeal HEA Drug Provision in Full | Congressional Drug and Terrorism Expert Says Legalization Could Cut Crime | Needle Exchange Not Playing Well in Peoria | Philadelphia Trying to Quash Open-Air Drug Markets With Massive Police Presence | In Hartford, Neighborhood Drug Fighters and Drug Reformers Inhabit Parallel Universes | Million Marijuana March Hits 200 Cities Worldwide, Major Arrests Only in NYC | Patient's Hunger Strike for Medical Cannabis Enters Fourth Week | Newsbrief: FDA Okays Marijuana Hair Test, Would Detect Up to Three Months | Newsbrief: German Heroin Deaths Decline After Safe Injection Sites Introduced | Newsbrief: South Dakota Hemp Petition Signatures Submitted, Seeds Planted | Newsbrief: Philippine Official Asks End to Vigilante Killings of Drug Dealers, Users | Newsbrief: Canadian Senate Panel Hints at Marijuana Legalization | NPR and Reuters on HEA and SSDP | The Reformer's Calendar
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