Why do you support the legalization of marijuana

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Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Response To My Open Letter - Irene Mathyssen

Irene Mathyssen MP for the London-Fanshawe riding responded to my open letter sent on 4/20. Her letter was excellent and pretty much what I expected from an NDP member. She expressed nearly identical views to my own on the issue of marijuana. I thank Irene for taking the time to write such a thoughtful letter.

The Letter:

Thank you for your email concerning Canada's ban on marijuana.

Canada should move marijuana out of the criminal legal framework and eliminate punitive measures for responsible adult marijuana use. We must move forward to a discussion on the best system of rules and public health education. For instance there should be rules about age, strong rules about impaired driving and rules to tackle disruptive illegal industrial grow- ops.

The federal NDP believes the federal government must move beyond decriminalization and examine and introduce a non-punitive, rule-based, approach to adult marijuana use with an emphasis on prevention, education and health promotion. Marijuana policy needs to eliminate the criminalization of users and focus on reducing harms and preventing crime. The federal government should be putting resources behind public education rather than criminal prosecution. Taking the example of tobacco, consistent and strong messaging on the health risks of tobacco has helped greatly reduce tobacco consumption. It is not necessary to use criminal law to discourage harmful forms of drug use. In many cases it is counterproductive.

We must also recognize that organized crime around the world finances violent activities at home and abroad through the profitable black market trade in drugs. The trade in these drugs is profitable because the blind reliance by governments on prohibition creates that black market. Even the extensive law enforcement resources devoted by countries like the United States to enforcing prohibition cannot make any appreciable dent in the drug trade as long as prohibition continues. The economic incentive created by prohibition to sell drugs is so powerful that law enforcement has no chance of stopping the trade.

Canada needs to look beyond our closest neighbour and come up with a comprehensive and safe marijuana policy. The U.S.-driven "War on Drugs" is not a Canadian made solution. Canada must not be intimidated by U.S. rhetoric. Canada should look instead to the United States as an example of a country with a disastrously failed drug policy - a failed policy because of its perennial reliance on prohibition.

There are serious flaws in the federal government's current medical marijuana program. The current regulations of the program are very restrictive, overly bureaucratic and severely limit access by Canadians who have a legitimate need for medical marijuana. These restrictions should be lifted immediately. The recommendations of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs present a reasonable, workable and non-bureaucratic means of ensuing access to marijuana for therapeutic purposes.
Sincerely,

Irene Mathyssen, MP
London-Fanshawe

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