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Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs - report summary

The following is a summary of the recomendations made by the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs in their final report...

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the position of National Advisor on Psychoactive Substances and Dependency be created within the Privy Council Office; that the Advisor be supported by a small secretariat and that the necessary staff be assigned by federal departments and agencies involved with psychoactive substances on request.

Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada mandate the National Advisor on Psychoactive Substances and Dependency to call a high-level conference of key stakeholders from the provinces, territories, municipalities and associations in 2003, to set goals and priorities for action on psychoactive substances over a five-year period.

Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada amend the enabling legislation of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse to change the Centre’s name to the Canadian Centre on Psychoactive Substances and Dependency ; make the Centre accountable to Parliament; provide the Centre with an annual basic operating budget of $15 million to be increased annually; require the Centre to table an annual report on actions taken, key issues, research and trends in Parliament and in the provincial and territorial legislatures; mandate the Centre to ensure national coordination of research on psychoactive substances and dependency and to conduct studies into specific issues; and mandate the Centre to undertake an assessment of the national strategy on psychoactive substance and dependency every five years.

Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that, in the legislation creating the Canadian Centre on Psychoactive Substances and Dependency, the Government of Canada specifically include provision for the setting up of a Monitoring Agency on Psychoactive Substances and Dependency within the Centre; provide that the Monitoring Agency be mandated to conduct studies every two years, in cooperation with relevant bodies, on drug-use trends and dependency problems in the adult population; work with the provinces and territories towards increased harmonization of studies of the student population and to ensure they are carried out every two years; conduct ad hoc studies on specific issues; and table a bi-annual report on drug-use trends and emerging problems.

Recommendation 5: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada adopt an integrated policy on the risks and harmful effects of psychoactive substances covering the whole range of substances (medication, alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs). With respect to cannabis, this policy should focus on educating users, detecting and preventing at-risk use and treating excessive use.

Recommendation 6: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to create a criminal exemption scheme. This legislation should stipulate the conditions for obtaining licences as well as for producing and selling cannabis; criminal penalties for illegal trafficking and export; and the preservation of criminal penalties for all activities falling outside the scope of the exemption scheme.

Recommendation 7: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada declare an amnesty for any person convicted of possession of cannabis under current or past legislation.

Recommendation 8: The Committee recommends that the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations be amended to provide new rules regarding eligibility, production and distribution with respect to cannabis for therapeutic purposes. In addition, research on cannabis for therapeutic purposes is essential.

Recommendation 9: The Committee recommends that the Criminal Code be amended to lower permitted alcohol levels to 40 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, in the presence of other drugs, especially, but not exclusively cannabis; and to admit evidence from expert police officers trained in detecting persons operating vehicles under the influence of drugs.

Recommendation 10: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada create a national fund for research on psychoactive substances and dependency to fund research on key issues, more particularly on various types of use, on the therapeutic applications of cannabis, on tools for detecting persons operating vehicles under the influence of drugs and on effective prevention and treatment programs; that the Government of Canada mandate the Canadian Centre on Psychoactive Substances and Dependency to co-ordinate national research and serve as a resource centre.

Recommendation 11: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada instruct the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to inform the appropriate United Nations authorities that Canada is requesting an amendment to the conventions and treaties governing illegal drugs; and that the development of a Drugs and Dependency Monitoring Agency for the Americas be supported by the Government of Canada.

Senate Summary Report: View HTML version, or download PDF document (208k)
Listen to the Press Conference ( RealAudio)
Senate Committee Home Page (www.parl.gc.ca)
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