In June, Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolan announced his intention to form a Senate Committee to determine which drugs should be legalized. “I would like to legalize the drugs that aren’t harmful,” said Nolan.
The Senate won’t vote on Nolan’s proposed committee until the fall, giving Senators time to study the issue. If the Committee is formed, it will be Canada’s first major drug policy review since the Le Dain Commission of 1970.
When Parliament passed the restrictive Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in 1996, it promised to form a joint Commons/Senate committee to do a comprehensive review of Canada’s drug policy. But instead a Commons-only committee was formed, which did superficial hearings and then dissolved without reporting before the 1997 election.
Senator Nolan has already received a report from drug policy expert Dr Diane Riley, which examines the origins of Canada’s drug laws, the costs they inflict, and alternatives practiced in other countries.?The report, Drugs and Drug Policy, concludes that criminalization inflicts more harm than drug use itself.
Canadian arrest statistics for 1997 show that possession of marijuana made up half of all drug-related offences in Canada, with almost half of the remainder being charges for trafficking marijuana. Thus almost 75% of drug charges laid in Canada are marijuana related.