Frank Discussion Oh Cannabis!

European Union Presidency Calls for Frank Discussion of Drug Laws





This site is intended as a resource for Canadians who are interested in learning more about the politics of cannabis prohibition and to become more involved in the cannabis law reform effort in this country.

Polls consistently show that we have public support on our side, and yet *our* politicians continue to ignore the facts and promote misinformation about cannabis.

The current policy of prohibition is causing more harm that it prevents and taxpayers are funding this expensive, counter-productive, society-degrading policy. We deserve much better from our government!

The idea behind the name "Frank Discussion" originated from a 2001 quote made by Allan Rock, then Federal Health Minister, regarding cannabis policy in Canada:

On May 19, 2001, then-Justice Minister Anne McLellan said she is "quite open" to a debate on both decriminalization and legalization. And the federal health minister at the time, Allan Rock, also said it's time for "frank discussion" on whether the laws should be changed. Source

Our politicians have not yet had an honest debate about cannabis.

An honest debate is critical before moving forward in a rational and effective direction. Until an open an informed discussion take place we will not see genuine law reform.

Decades ago (1972) Canada's own LeDain Commission recommended that the government decriminalize marijuana. That report was shelved and never acted upon.

Since that time more than a dozen government-appointed committees around the world have been conducted and these committees consistantly conclude... marijuana prohibition causes far more social damage than marijuana use, and the possession of marijuana for personal use should no longer be a criminal offense.

Canada's Senate Special Committee on Cannabis in 2002 spent two years of careful research of the cannabis issue and prepared a 600 page report. Their report is considered to be the most comprehensive to date.

Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, who oversaw the Committee's two-year inquiry, had this to say,

"Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue."

"Whether or not an individual uses marijuana should be a personal choice that is not subject to criminal penalties. [Therefore,] we have come to the conclusion that, as a drug, it should be regulated by the state much as we do for wine and beer, hence our preference for legalization over decriminalization."

In the case of the Senate Committee's report we see that an honest assessment of cannabis has been completed, but this has not yet taken place in Parliament. Unfortunately the Senate Committee's power is limited to giving recommendations. The power to actually change our marijuana laws is in the hands of Parliament, and that is where we must focus our efforts.

Public debate about marijuana has been increasing and if we want to see actual improvements in this situation we need to keep the momentum going! This is an important social justice issue. There needs to be much more widespread discussion of the issue.

1972 - LeDain Commission
In 1972 the Canadian Le Dain Commission conducted an exhaustive study of marijuana (at a cost of $4 million). Their recommendation was to decriminalization cannabis. That report was shelved and never acted upon (for other statements by the Le Dain Commission click here).

Now, over thirty years later, we have another opportunity for change. We can not afford to be spectators to this event, simply hoping things will go our way this time. Do you want to wait thirty more years for another chance? I certainly don't. This fall the forces keeping marijuana illegal will be the weakest they've been in a very long time. We have to take a strong stand at that time and put these unjust laws out of their misery once and for all.

Decriminalization might sound like a progressive step, but it's not a viable solution. Decrim will leave cannabis in the black market, and therefore will do nothing to eliminate the problems associated with it, like attracting organized crime with the high profits from illegal drugs.

Cannabis would still be illegal under the government's so-called "decrim" bill (Bill C-38). Cannabis users would still be punished, it would just not involve a criminal record. People caught in possess of a very small amount of cannabis would be issued a ticket instead of being arrested and finger printed.

I put "decrim" in quote marks because Martin Cauchon, our previous federal Justice Minister admitted that Bill C-38 is not a decrim bill when he was questioned by the House of Commons Committee on Illegal Drugs, just prior to the finalization of Bill C-38...

"We're not decriminalizing marijuana, to be technical, it will remain a criminal offense. What we are putting in place are alternative penalties, in using the Contraventions Act. I admit that using "decrim" at the beginning was not a good start, but over the past few months we have been quite clear about what we're doing."

"Quite clear" about what they are doing? Did YOU know that the "decrim" bill is not a decrim bill???

The stated intent of this bill is not to "relax" the laws. The government's motivation for proposing this bill does not originate from the reality that prohibition causes far more harm than the use of marijuana.

The government's stated intent is to make it more "efficient" for police to be able to punish those who are in possession of marijuana. Ticketing is a far easier and more cost effective approach for police, since it involves far less effort and paperwork. All we have to do to know the effect of a policy like this is to look at the experience of Australia where a ticketing approach has already been implemented. The result is MORE people being punished for cannabis "offenses".

It is important to push for legalization and regulation, just as the Senate Committee recommended. The committee stated, "Decriminalization is just another form of prohibition."

As the Senate Committee concluded, it is the effects of PROHIBITION that are causing significantly more harm than what they profess to be protecting people from.

Anything less than legalization would be an ineffective solution since it leaves supply in the black market.

YOUR support DOES make a difference!

On a CBC Radio call-in show (0721/02), Randy White (Vice Chairman of the "House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs") made the statement that legalization of cannabis is NOT going to happen, citing the following reasons:

1. He doesn't think that politicians will do it.
2. He doesn't think there are enough people in Canada who are committed to legalization

Notice how he didn't give any reasons that have anything to do with health effects or harm to society? Mr. White's second point is the key one. Let's prove him wrong! If there is enough visible support amoung the Canadians for legalizing and regulating cannabis the politicians would be forced to listen and take action!

Most people who enjoy marijuana long for the day it becomes legal, but at the same time are uncomfortable with the idea of publicly speaking out against current laws. Few are willing or able to accept the risks that accompany high-profile activism. I include myself in this category. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways a person can help the movement -- many involving little or no risk to a person's anonymity.

There are over 3 million people who use cannabis in Canada. If every one of us made just a small effort, the combined effect could not be ignored.

It will be very important for us to show substantial support for law reform at this time. The Supreme Court has stated they will not step in and change these laws so we must focus all our attention on Parliament.

We have truth on our side, and therefore we will succeed in bringing about rational cannabis policy. It will happen sooner or later... let's make it sooner.

Together we have the power to apply enough force to bring about change. Please look through the information and suggestions on this site and consider taking some action, no matter how small. Don't underestimate the importance of YOUR contribution. It all adds up!

To see examples of "low-risk activism" click here.

- FrankD

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June 20, 1970: The Government responded to the Interim report of the Le Dain Drug Inquiry Commission yesterday by promising an end to jail terms for the possession of marijuana. [more]

July 17, 2002
"Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has started what should become a major debate about the best way for Canadians to handle the marijuana question."

Chris Clay Case

Ontario Court of Appeal Judgment

"Findings of Fact"!:

These findings of fact have been accepted by the Ontario Court of Appeal and provide a standard for factual information about cannabis:

1. Consumption of marijuana is relatively harmless compared to the so-called hard drugs and including tobacco and alcohol;

2. There exists no hard evidence demonstrating any irreversible organic or mental damage from the consumption of marijuana;

3. That cannabis does cause alteration of mental functions and as such, it would not be prudent to drive a car while intoxicated;

4. There is no hard evidence that cannabis consumption induces psychoses;

5. Cannabis is not an addictive substance;

6. Marijuana is not criminogenic in that there is no evidence of a causal relationship between cannabis use and criminality;

7. That the consumption of marijuana probably does not lead to "hard drug" use for the vast majority of marijuana consumers, although there appears to be a statistical relationship between the use of marijuana and a variety of other psychoactive drugs;

8. Marijuana does not make people more aggressive or violent;

9. There have been no recorded deaths from the consumption of marijuana;

10. There is no evidence that marijuana causes amotivational syndrome;

11. Less than 1% of marijuana consumers are daily users;

12. Consumption in so-called "de-criminalized states" does not increase out of proportion to states where there is no de-criminalization.

13. Health related costs of cannabis use are negligible when compared to the costs attributable to tobacco and alcohol consumption.