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Separation of pot from harsher drugs would make more sense

By Hempology | August 28, 2007

Victoria Times-Colonist, BC
27 Aug 2007


If the federal government is serious about starting a massive anti-drug campaign aimed at youth, it had best ensure the message makes sense. At this point, it doesn’t.

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement promised the campaign at the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, saying the aim would be to tell kids there are no safe amounts or safe drugs.

He made special mention of marijuana, reminding the doctors in attendance that pot today is more potent from any they might have smoked in their youth.

That’s where Clement’s message is troubling. Lumping in pot use with harder drugs is a tenuous link at best, and to build a campaign around it risks sinking the whole message.

A 2004 study found that 70 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 had used marijuana. Another survey, done this year, shows pot use in Canada is the highest in the industrialized world — four times the global rate and double that of the Netherlands, where it is legal to buy and sell the drug for personal use.

We’re not advocating the use of marijuana, but there are an awful lot of people smoking it out there, and they are presumably among the target group for Clement’s campaign. How much credibility are they going to give the government’s message when they have already tried one of the drugs and found it didn’t cause a crippling addiction or lead to a life of crime? ( Apart from buying it, that is. )

Crystal meth, heroin, crack cocaine — all are brutally addictive, all are deadly and we would applaud Ottawa if it would focus on these hard drugs that are a scourge of cities across the country.

It’s been almost 20 years since Canada had a serious, effective drug campaign, and it’s long overdue.

Pot is a different story.

When the Conservatives came to power, they dropped a Liberal bill that would have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. That bill would have freed up a massive amount of police and court time that is currently wasted on small-time users who otherwise would have no criminal record at all.

If Clement is advocating a return to a tougher stance against pot as well as harder drugs, it’s a discouraging sign. We urge the government to rethink this plan before it risks alienating the very group it hopes to educate.

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