Canadian drug policy will take centre stage Monday, February 4th. In Vancouver, representatives from one hundred Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will meet as part of a United Nations consultation on worldwide drug policy. In Ottawa, the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy will hold a lobby day urging MPs to consider drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue and to reject criminalization of drugs.
Meanwhile, Parliament will debate Bill C-26, the Conservative’s attempt to more closely align Canadian drug policy with that of the United States by enacting mandatory minimum sentences and ramping up the war on drugs.
In Vancouver, representatives from NGOs from across North America are meeting for two days to discuss the future of global drug policy. The UN, which in 1998 set the goal of having a drug-free world by 2008, is having a special assembly in Vienna in 2009 to revisit the issue.
“What a confluence of events,” commented Kirk Tousaw, the Executive Director of Cannabis Law Education and Reform Society (CLEARS). “I think the students and NGOs have it right. Drug prohibition hurts our society in so many ways. Parliament really needs to reject C-26 and send a strong message that we will not subject Canadians to the horrors of a US-style war on drugs. And the UN needs to recognize that prohibition is and will always be a harmful and failed policy.”
Reform is long overdue. The social costs of prohibition are staggering, and people are taking notice. Every government study, from Le Dain in 1972 to the Senate in 2002 has recommended reform, yet the status quo prevails.
Tousaw continued, “The public is way ahead of the politicians on this one. A majority of Canadians think we should be taxing and regulating the marijuana industry instead of letting organized crime run it. The real question to ask is why are our elected representatives ignoring the evidence and the voters?”
– Beyond Prohibition Coalition: www.BeyondProhibition.org
– BC Civil Liberties Association: www.BCCLA.org
– Educating Prime Minister Harper: www.EducatingHarper.com