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The Auditor General of Canada

By Hempology | December 6, 2001

By Lenard Simon

Helper, CBC Canada

Thursday, December 6th, 2001

The Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, released her annual report on the
government on Dec. 4, 2001. The Office of the Auditor General is
independent of government and responsible to Parliament. Their job is to
examine the federal government’s operations and provide objective information
to members of Parliament who can then hold the government to account for its
stewardship of public funds and its delivery of programs and services.
One section of the report dealt with the illicit drug problem in Canada.

You could ask anyone in the whole government, in any area at any level,
if their current drug strategy is working. Guess what? Not one person,
even at the highest level, is able to give you a qualified answer. The
government has no current information on the problem of drug use:
“The information (they have) of the extent of the drug problem is
sparse, outdated, or not available,”
to quote our Auditor General.
How does the government feel that they can make informed decisions about their
policies that affect 35 million Canadians if they have no relevant information?
The report stops short of telling the government that their plan is not working,
but only because there is no conclusive information being collected by the
government to prove this. This lack of statistical accountability is very dangerous
because it makes the government completely unaccountable for this enormous part of
their budget that we, the people, fund. They have a responsibility to the people to
inform us whether or not our drug strategy is working. The government also has a
responsibility to change and improve their drug strategy so as to benefit the
health and well being of the majority. Legalizing Cannabis can do this.

The Government allocates around 450 million dollars each year for drug enforcement.
two thirds of all drug arrests are for cannabis. This means that by decriminalizing
cannabis, the government could free up around 300 million dollars of our tax money.
300 to 450 million taxpayer dollars go towards cannabis offences each year.
The government needs to look at their priorities in this matter. The money could
go towards our under funded health care system, or any number of government
organizations that could benefit the public, and improve the standard of life for all

“The economic costs, including health care (for example, HIV/AIDS
and hepatitis), lost productivity, property crime, and enforcement are
estimated to exceed $5 billion annually.”

Cannabis has no responsibility in the spreading of HIV or Hepatitis and is not a
carcinogen, so the economic costs to health care are minimal.

“Cannabis is less associated with property crime than other drugs.”

Other than the government’s own costs of busting people for possession
and investigating indoor cultivation sites, there is little cost to the
enforcement agencies. In other words, the only cost of cannabis to society is the
cost of law enforcement, which could be eliminated today with decriminalization.

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