What the Experts had to Say on Bill C-7

Selected exerpts from the testimony presented to the sub-committee on Bill C-7:

“…we are under a fair amount of pressure from our neighbours to the South, who see us a weak link in the chain…”
-Bruce Rowsell
-Director of the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs

“Our position is that Bill C-7 should be withdrawn completely.”
“this bill will neither stop the flow of drugs into Canada, nor the production of drugs within Canada… it does
absolutely nothing to address the multiple causes of drug use in society.”
“In the guise of complying with international drug control conventions, we are trampling all over international human
rights conventions.”
-Eugene Oscapella
-Canadian Foundation on Drug Policy

“Canada is already one of the world’s leaders in per capita drug arrests. About two-thirds of the convictions are for
cannabis possession.”
“A study has shown that only a year after their court appearances, 92% of cannabis users were again using the drug…
Users of any drug, in fact, tend to regard threats to their health by drug use as a greater deterrent that the risks
of getting caught.”
-Mark Taylor
-President, Addiction Research Foundation

“Decriminalization measures have had little or no impact on rates of use, but they have substantially reduced the
social costs associated with the enforcement of marijuana laws.”
-Dr Eric Single
-Director of Policy Research and Information
-Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse

“The prohibition approach to drug control is outdated and has proven ineffective in decreasing drug use, reducing
crime, or improving public or individual health. Bill C-7 will result in a significant increase in rates of
incarceration and in lengths of sentences, and will place additional stresses on an already overburdened criminal
justice system. It will not contribute to public health but will accomplish exactly the opposite.”
“Bill C-7 represents a misguided approach to drug control, one that is unnecessary and costly to Canadians.”
-from the Canadian Bar Association's submission on Bill C-7

“There is a concern… that cannabis remains classified with cocaine and heroin as the most serious of drugs.”
“To provide a seven-year maximum penalty for possession of cannabis makes no sense to us whatsoever.”
“In our view, six months in jail for possession of cannabis for a first offense is ludicrous, as is one year for
possession on a second charge.”
“The purpose of prosecuting someone who grows one or two plants at home for producing cannabis is beyond me.”
“we doubted that any political party would be prepared to advance or support a total decriminalization of cannabis…”
-Paul Copeland
-Former Vice-President of the Criminal Lawyers' Association

“We don’t see any classification in the various schedules according to the danger of the drugs or products that are
listed there…”
“[Bill C-7] allows officers to search any one found on the premises where a search is being carried out… If we are going
to search the Forum in Montreal, I think it would be considered an abuse to have the right to search the 16,000 spectators
at the Forum.”
“a certificate could be issued allowing police officers to violate the provisions having to do with searches…”
“…an officer could be authorized to deal drugs, and everyone working for him, as well as his informers, will be protected.”
-Michel Denis
-President of the Standing Committee on Criminal Law
-Quebec Bar Association

“Bill C-7 fails to strike a balance between controlling the illegal use of drugs and permitting legitimate medical
and other uses.”
“The CMA has grave concerns that Bill C-7 does not differentiate a practitioner conducting a legitimate practice from the
common criminal, does not protect the confidentiality of patient records, and does not protect the legitimate practitioner
from indiscriminate search without the authority of a warrant.”
“there are a number of substances that fall under this act that are extremely useful in treating the pain of terminal
illness and psychiatric conditions that would otherwise not be controlled.”
“The CMA recommends that section 4 of the Bill be amended by adding the following clause:

This act and its regulations do not apply to a physician engaged in an activity that falls within the legitimate practice
of medicine.”

-Dr Richard Kennedy
-President of the Canadian Medical Association

“Harm reduction is endorsed by the drug strategy but it is not found in Bill C-7.”
“We recommend that the Canadian government take time to fully discuss and consider the impact of its proposed legislation
across the country, allowing for debate from all citizens within the context of Canada’s drug strategy.”
-from the submission of the Toronto Department of Public Health on Bill C-7

“I think altering consciousness is a ubiquitous part of human activity. The key should be to first choose substances that
don’t harm or impose the least harm possible.”
-Neil Boyd
-Professor of Criminology

“It has always struck me as odd that Canada’s drug control policies are more like those of Malaysia, Singapore, and of
course the United States than they are like those of Great Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, countries whose liberal
democracies we profess to admire.”
-Jan Skirrow
-former director of both the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Commission.

 

You can also read an indepth analysis of Bill C-7 that was published in the January 1995 edition of
the Marijuana & Hemp Magazine.

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