Tomorrow, Liberal Health Promotion Critic MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Dr. Keith Martin, will stand in the Canadian House of Commons to introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
“The “war on drugs” approach, characterized by zero tolerance, has been a complete failure. It has not reduced the rate of violent crime or drug use, nor has it saved money or lives. To realize meaningful change on our city streets, we must decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot. This will cause drug abuse to be addressed in the public health system, rather than through the courts. It will sever the connection between organized crime and drug users. This bill is bad news for criminal gangs because it would collapse of the demand for drug products,” said Dr. Martin.
Dr. Martin has worked as a doctor in detox programs and has seen firsthand the effectiveness of harm reduction structures such as decriminalization and drug substitution programs. His Private Member’s Bill would introduce fines for the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana instead of criminal charges.
Nationwide studies and House Committees have found that federal drug and crime policies are not working to reduce drug trafficking and they overwhelmingly point to this course of action. Drugs and drug trafficking would still be illegal, but drug users would be brought into the public health system instead of being tried in court and sent to jail, where users often come out dependant on more serious drugs. Additionally, the monies now allocated to law enforcement for possession of small amounts could be redirected to youth awareness programs and public policies that discourage drug use.
“In the medical profession our first principle is ‘do no harm’. We are actually doing terrible harm if we continue to address substance abuse uniquely as a criminal issue from the federal level. The blinders have to come off; we have to take a medical perspective if we are going to turn this thing around.”
Dr. Keith Martin is the Member of Parliament for Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca and the Health Promotion Critic for the Liberal Party. He is a physician who worked in detox, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers for 14 years.
For more information:
Office of Dr. Keith Martin