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Appearances by Lambton Families in Action and Council on Drug Abuse, two strongly prohibitionist groups.

(Note: These are the unrevised transcripts of the hearings in floor language (language spoken) ONLY. The final text will be available on the Parliamentary Internet site once editing and translation are completed.)

UNREVISED

RC\Legal\32035\April 24, 1996

THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

EVIDENCE

Ottawa, Tuesday, April 24, 1996

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-8, respecting the control of certain drugs, their precursors and other substances and to amend certain other Acts and repeal the Narcotic Control Act in consequence thereof, met this day at 3:30 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Chairman) in the Chair.

The Chairman: Honourable senators, we continue this afternoon with our consideration of Bill C-8. We have two groups of witnesses this afternoon. The first is from the Lambton Families in Action and the other is from the Council on Drug Abuse.

Charles Perkins who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lambton Families in Action will speak first. He will be followed by Fred Burford, President, Council on Drug Abuse.

Mr. Perkins, begin with your testimony, please.

Mr. Charles Perkins, Chairman, Board of Directors, Lambton Families in Action: Madam Chairman, you have received a copy of a summary of the concerns and recommendations regarding Bill C-8, which was previously Bill C-7, which the organization I represent has sent to you. I will not go over it.

Our biggest concern with Bill C-8 is with some of the parts which deal with cannabis and the lessening of laws regarding possession. For the purposes of this presentation, it does not matter whether cannabis is called hemp, marihuana, hashish or hash oil -- they all come from the same plant and they are all drugs.

What I am about to show you is a prime example of how things have been allowed to deteriorate in this country as far as illicit drugs are concerned.

I hope all senators can see what I am holding up. It is a flag on which is written, "Oh Cannabis". It is neither funny nor cute. It is an insult to all Canadians. This is how low people will stoop to promote illicit drug use in this country. It is most unfortunate that I have only a short period of time in which to draw for you a verbal picture of how the Canadian people, especially our youth, are being grossly misled about cannabis and

its effects. This bill is a prime example of how far this

misinformation has travelled. If this bill is passed as written,

it will be a selling out of Canada's youth and a giant step backward in the prevention of adolescent illicit drug abuse.

Cannabis has absolutely no redeeming social value. Any use of cannabis is abuse. People use it for no other reason than to get stoned out of their minds. The myth about cannabis being a "soft drug" must be dispelled. What is so soft about a drug that is a catalyst for violent behaviour, which triggers schizophrenia and marihuana psychosis, is fetal toxic and mutagenic and, as such, can have a negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of the unborn? Many children in this country have been born with deficiencies as a result of parental cannabis consumption. These children are the innocent victims of someone else's cannabis use.

Cannabis compromises the immune system, is more carcinogenic than tobacco, has an addiction rate three to seven times greater than alcohol, breaks down the genetic code in males and, in females, either injures or destroys the eggs in the ovaries. Cannabis slows down the function of the brain and makes a person unable to fulfil the demands of a high-tech information society. Cannabis causes impairment that can last for over 24 hours. The list goes on.

Is this what a "soft drug" is supposed to do? We are not talking about pancake batter here. If people would pay more attention to the findings of the scientific community and less to the philosophical community, they would be well aware that cannabis is the most misunderstood, the most invasive and the most dangerous drug available on our streets. We cannot allow probable conjecture and philosophical speculation to take precedence over scientific fact.

The marihuana research reports that were distributed to you along with my summary, Madam Chairman, are but a minuscule sampling of the scientific evidence proving how very dangerous cannabis can be. Since 1979, there have been over 12,000 documented scientific studies done on cannabis. Not one of those studies has proven cannabis safe or effective for anything.

If anyone tries to tell you differently, they are not being upfront and honest with you. When anyone suggests removing the criminality from cannabis, the question that they cannot answer is: Why would any society want to create and finance a system that leads to nothing but sickness and dependence?

In Canada right now it is almost impossible for any adolescent to receive in-service treatment for drug addiction, be it cannabis or any other drug. The only sure way to receive treatment is to be convicted and incarcerated for some other crime.

Of particular concern is this 30-gram nonsense in the bill. I will give you an example of that. In my hand is a facsimile of

30 grams of marihuana. When it is rolled into joints it represents the approximately 100 that are in this package. What this 30-gram business tells the youth of your country is, "It is all right to smoke dope, as long as you have less than 30 grams or 100 joints on you at any one time".

User-dealers will have a field day with this law as it establishes a benchmark for how much cannabis a person can have without being charged for trafficking. The wide variance in the THC levels which is anywhere from 1 per cent to over 30 per cent in this country makes this approach very dangerous. Hypothermia is a very real risk when people smoke cannabis with high levels of THC.

In the minds of our youth, diminishing the consequences of possession of cannabis also reduces the perception of risk. We have seen what a horrendous failure the 30-gram approach to cannabis has been for the youth of the Netherlands. Why do we want to inflict some other country's failure on Canadians, especially our youth?

After over a decade of a reduction in adolescent drug use, there has been a reversal in that trend. Since the reintroduction of the "failed" responsible use messages of the 1970s -- this is now called "harm reduction" -- and the media's obsession with beating the drum for decriminalization and/or legalization, adolescent drug use is now back up to where it was in 1980, which just happened to be the last time legislation was presented to soften our laws concerning cannabis.

Our youth are Canada's most valuable natural resource. We cannot afford to jeopardize the mental and physical well-being of this resource because of a perception about a drug.

The softening of any of our drug laws serves no useful purpose. Unclogging our courts is merely a perception, as most charges for possession rarely make it to court. As for the receiving of a criminal record for being convicted of possession, people have lost sight of the purpose of the Young Offenders Act and how it can protect youth from that stigma. For those too old to be protected by the Young Offenders Act, that is the consequence of deliberately breaking the law.

For the sake of Canada's youth, it is of the utmost importance that you not pass Bill C-8 or any other bill that promotes drug use by softening the laws, be it cannabis or any other drug.

In closing, I offer you this excerpt from a statement made by the Central Narcotics Intelligence Bureau of the Egyptian government in one of its annual reports. It states:

"-- the prepared product of the cannabis sativa plant ...is capable of profoundly disturbing the brain cells and of inducing acts of violence, even murder. It is in fact a thoroughly

vicious and dangerous thing of no value whatever to humanity and deserving of nothing but the odium and contempt of civilized people.

That statement was made in 1944. Scientific research has proven time and time again how very true that statement was and still is.

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Appearances by Lambton Families in Action and Council on Drug Abuse, two strongly prohibitionist groups.

(Note: These are the unrevised transcripts of the hearings in floor language (language spoken) ONLY. The final text will be available on the Parliamentary Internet site once editing and translation are completed.)

UNREVISED

RC\Legal\32035\April 24, 1996

THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

EVIDENCE

Ottawa, Tuesday, April 24, 1996

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-8, respecting the control of certain drugs, their precursors and other substances and to amend certain other Acts and repeal the Narcotic Control Act in consequence thereof, met this day at 3:30 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Chairman) in the Chair.

The Chairman: Honourable senators, we continue this afternoon with our consideration of Bill C-8. We have two groups of witnesses this afternoon. The first is from the Lambton Families in Action and the other is from the Council on Drug Abuse.

Charles Perkins who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lambton Families in Action will speak first. He will be followed by Fred Burford, President, Council on Drug Abuse.

Mr. Perkins, begin with your testimony, please.

Mr. Charles Perkins, Chairman, Board of Directors, Lambton Families in Action: Madam Chairman, you have received a copy of a summary of the concerns and recommendations regarding Bill C-8, which was previously Bill C-7, which the organization I represent has sent to you. I will not go over it.

Our biggest concern with Bill C-8 is with some of the parts which deal with cannabis and the lessening of laws regarding possession. For the purposes of this presentation, it does not matter whether cannabis is called hemp, marihuana, hashish or hash oil -- they all come from the same plant and they are all drugs.

What I am about to show you is a prime example of how things have been allowed to deteriorate in this country as far as illicit drugs are concerned.

I hope all senators can see what I am holding up. It is a flag on which is written, "Oh Cannabis". It is neither funny nor cute. It is an insult to all Canadians. This is how low people will stoop to promote illicit drug use in this country. It is most unfortunate that I have only a short period of time in which to draw for you a verbal picture of how the Canadian people, especially our youth, are being grossly misled about cannabis and

its effects. This bill is a prime example of how far this

misinformation has travelled. If this bill is passed as written,

it will be a selling out of Canada's youth and a giant step backward in the prevention of adolescent illicit drug abuse.

Cannabis has absolutely no redeeming social value. Any use of cannabis is abuse. People use it for no other reason than to get stoned out of their minds. The myth about cannabis being a "soft drug" must be dispelled. What is so soft about a drug that is a catalyst for violent behaviour, which triggers schizophrenia and marihuana psychosis, is fetal toxic and mutagenic and, as such, can have a negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of the unborn? Many children in this country have been born with deficiencies as a result of parental cannabis consumption. These children are the innocent victims of someone else's cannabis use.

Cannabis compromises the immune system, is more carcinogenic than tobacco, has an addiction rate three to seven times greater than alcohol, breaks down the genetic code in males and, in females, either injures or destroys the eggs in the ovaries. Cannabis slows down the function of the brain and makes a person unable to fulfil the demands of a high-tech information society. Cannabis causes impairment that can last for over 24 hours. The list goes on.

Is this what a "soft drug" is supposed to do? We are not talking about pancake batter here. If people would pay more attention to the findings of the scientific community and less to the philosophical community, they would be well aware that cannabis is the most misunderstood, the most invasive and the most dangerous drug available on our streets. We cannot allow probable conjecture and philosophical speculation to take precedence over scientific fact.

The marihuana research reports that were distributed to you along with my summary, Madam Chairman, are but a minuscule sampling of the scientific evidence proving how very dangerous cannabis can be. Since 1979, there have been over 12,000 documented scientific studies done on cannabis. Not one of those studies has proven cannabis safe or effective for anything.

If anyone tries to tell you differently, they are not being upfront and honest with you. When anyone suggests removing the criminality from cannabis, the question that they cannot answer is: Why would any society want to create and finance a system that leads to nothing but sickness and dependence?

In Canada right now it is almost impossible for any adolescent to receive in-service treatment for drug addiction, be it cannabis or any other drug. The only sure way to receive treatment is to be convicted and incarcerated for some other crime.

Of particular concern is this 30-gram nonsense in the bill. I will give you an example of that. In my hand is a facsimile of

30 grams of marihuana. When it is rolled into joints it represents the approximately 100 that are in this package. What this 30-gram business tells the youth of your country is, "It is all right to smoke dope, as long as you have less than 30 grams or 100 joints on you at any one time".

User-dealers will have a field day with this law as it establishes a benchmark for how much cannabis a person can have without being charged for trafficking. The wide variance in the THC levels which is anywhere from 1 per cent to over 30 per cent in this country makes this approach very dangerous. Hypothermia is a very real risk when people smoke cannabis with high levels of THC.

In the minds of our youth, diminishing the consequences of possession of cannabis also reduces the perception of risk. We have seen what a horrendous failure the 30-gram approach to cannabis has been for the youth of the Netherlands. Why do we want to inflict some other country's failure on Canadians, especially our youth?

After over a decade of a reduction in adolescent drug use, there has been a reversal in that trend. Since the reintroduction of the "failed" responsible use messages of the 1970s -- this is now called "harm reduction" -- and the media's obsession with beating the drum for decriminalization and/or legalization, adolescent drug use is now back up to where it was in 1980, which just happened to be the last time legislation was presented to soften our laws concerning cannabis.

Our youth are Canada's most valuable natural resource. We cannot afford to jeopardize the mental and physical well-being of this resource because of a perception about a drug.

The softening of any of our drug laws serves no useful purpose. Unclogging our courts is merely a perception, as most charges for possession rarely make it to court. As for the receiving of a criminal record for being convicted of possession, people have lost sight of the purpose of the Young Offenders Act and how it can protect youth from that stigma. For those too old to be protected by the Young Offenders Act, that is the consequence of deliberately breaking the law.

For the sake of Canada's youth, it is of the utmost importance that you not pass Bill C-8 or any other bill that promotes drug use by softening the laws, be it cannabis or any other drug.

In closing, I offer you this excerpt from a statement made by the Central Narcotics Intelligence Bureau of the Egyptian government in one of its annual reports. It states:

"-- the prepared product of the cannabis sativa plant ...is capable of profoundly disturbing the brain cells and of inducing acts of violence, even murder. It is in fact a thoroughly

vicious and dangerous thing of no value whatever to humanity and deserving of nothing but the odium and contempt of civilized people.

That statement was made in 1944. Scientific research has proven time and time again how very true that statement was and still is.

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

The Chairman: Let us hear now from Mr. Burford, honourable senators.

(Take 1540 follows with Mr. Burford in full)

MP-Apr24-take1540-legal-32035

Mr. Fred Burford, President, Council on Drug Abuse: Madam chair and honourable senators, I thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-8 on behalf of the Council on Drug Abuse or CODA. We may be speaking in support of Bill C-8 but I agree with most things that Charles Perkins has said about the seriousness of cannabis.

CODA was founded in 1970 as a non-profit, preventive-education organization relative to alcohol and other drugs. Our programs are mainly with youth, their parents and their teachers.

We believe in youth and we believe that responsible senior youth leaders can be more effective than most adults in teaching prevention programs for alcohol and other drugs. In fact, for the last seven years our peer education program has been implemented successfully in 60 secondary schools across Ontario. Senior students are trained by our consultant, Don Smyth, to teach a 130-minute curriculum to their younger peers in grades 9 and 10.

We have wonderful youth in Canada. They care deeply for others and have a highly developed social conscience. Canadian decision-makers and influencers have the responsibility to foster an environment in which youth can have the best opportunity to reach their potential. Also the safety and health of youth should be prime concerns.

I am representing CODA here today for the sake of our country's kids.

The main controversy regarding Bill C-8 seems to swirl around the status of cannabis under the bill. Keeping youth in mind, the three main adverse effects of cannabis that are conclusive are the following. There are many, and Charles Perkins has listed many, but there are three that are conclusively agreed upon by the experts: First, short-term memory and cognitive learning; second, affects on coordination, judgment, perception of time and space, and speed of reaction; and, third, the respiratory system.

It is very important to note that the percentage of THC in marihuana was seven times greater in 1994 than it was in 1975. I repeat: Seven times greater. This is according to Health Canada. When you receive your copy of the presentation, it will be listed in Appendix "A".

I will briefly mention some studies or references that support these three areas.

First, for short-term memory, you received in advance this information here. In it, on page 9, there was a write-up about a study called "Short-Term Memory Impairment in Cannabis-Dependent

Adolescents". I will not take the time to read it but it shows that cannabis-dependent adolescents do have their short-term memory adversely effected.

Concerning cognitive learning, recently, in 1995, in Australia, a very important study was completed. The main worker on it was Nadia Solowij, who had two other professors working with her. It is called "Differential Impairments of Selective Attention Due to Frequency and Duration of Cannabis Use". Again, this was sent to you in advance so that you might have a chance to read it.

This study is especially important because:

The results suggest that a chronic buildup of cannabinoids produces both short- and-long-term cognitive impairments.

It is receiving widespread recognition, for example, from Dr. Harold Kalant of Addiction Research Foundation, ARF. It is also an example of the more recent studies about the effects of cannabis that are bubbling up across the world outside Canada. The truth about cannabis is starting to emerge.

As to the effects on coordination and judgment, also in our presentation package, there is a write-up about a study done by Leirer and Yesavage called "Marihuana Carry-Over Effects on Aircraft Pilot Performance". This study shows beyond a doubt how coordination and other related effects are very serious for aircraft pilots. Obviously, that carries on to other studies -- you see this on pages 9 and 11 in this information -- including a study out of which comes the conclusion that for vehicle crashes, 10 to 15 per cent of them are mainly due to marihuana impairment. What is startling development! Of all the vehicle crashes, it is not alcohol being the main cause exclusively now but 10 to 15 per cent because of marihuana. That represents a large number of tragedies.

There is a hangover effect that not too many people have heard about. It appeared on page 12 of ARF's "Marihuana, Answers for Young People and Parents." I sent some copies of this to you in advance. It states:

However, a hangover effect, muscle incoordination, and drowsiness may last after the "high" has passed, making it risky to drive or engage in other potentially dangerous tasks for at least several hours - even if the user believes that he or she has recovered completely.

I can guarantee that there are very few of our youth who are aware of this effect.

For the respiratory system, Dr. Harold Kalant of ARF did a review of the literature and came up with the following as the most serious effects: First, chronic obstructive airway disease with chronic inflammatory changes, at least additive with the

effects of tobacco, for example, chronic bronchitis; second, damage to the lung's defence against infections; and third, decreased oxygen uptake.

Next, as to the conclusions that apply to youth with regard to learning, Nadia Solowij's study on the impairment of cognitive learning confirms the observations by educators and CODA consultants since 1968 that teenage marihuana use results in diminished academic performance for far too many using students and, consequently, these students do not reach their potential. These are human tragedies.

As to coordination problems, marihuana use increases unnecessary injuries and deaths because of its adverse affects on the user's coordination, et cetera. Safety in schools is in jeopardy, in gyms, labs, shops, swimming pools, vehicles on and off school property. The "hangover effect" that I referred to increases this safety problem.

With regard to health, we have to treat very seriously any drug that weakens and causes problems to the respiratory systems of youth. In summary, it is obvious that out of concern for the health, safety and futures of youth, no change in the cannabis law should be made that could result in a major increase in teenage use of cannabis.

If Bill C-8 were given Royal Assent without any amendments that would soften its application to the possession of small amounts of cannabis beyond the extent to which they have been softened, then these cases would proceed much as they have in recent years under the Narcotic Control Act. The cases would proceed summarily with a court appearance and with the same range of consequences. However, if amendments to Bill C-8 were brought in such that youth viewed the consequences as trivial and tantamount to removing the legal restrictions on cannabis, then this would be a major change. An example of this kind of change would be a traffic-ticket type summons approach. This has been in use in Ontario for years for minor liquor violations without any positive effect on the alcohol problem.

(Take 1550 follows, Burford continuing).

April 24, 1996/Legal/32035/lp

(Mr. Burford continuing)

**Both CODA and ARF information can give you some idea of the results such an approach would have on an increase in the use of cannabis among teenagers.

When a secondary school decides to introduce CODA's Peer Education Program, we request that they conduct an informational and attitudinal survey with the younger students who will be taught by senior students trained by our consultant. One item reads: "If legal restrictions on cannabis were removed I would begin to use or use more."

Over the last two years, in 14 schools, 1333 students agreed with this statement out of a total of 4386 students surveyed. This means that 30 per cent more students would begin to use or use more and be at greater risk. The information which we provided with our presentation shows, by school, the breakdown which gives those final figures.

This, prorated across Canada, means that 750,000 students aged 12 to 18 would be at greater risk. This would be a major increase and would be disastrous. Those kids would fill approximately 650 average-sized schools.

Question 74(a) of the 1995 ARF Ontario Student Drug Use Survey read:

If cannabis were legal to buy in small quantities, which of the following would you be most likely to do:

2. Try it once or twice

4. Use it more than I do now

Fifteen point nine per cent of respondents checked point 2 and 5.7 per cent checked point 4. Combining those, 22 per cent of students would be at greater risk, or 550,000 youth across Canada. Once again, this would bring terrible human and economic costs to Canada.

I suggest that the traffic ticket type summons would result in a similar major increases in use. The traffic ticket type summons makes no sense from an epidemiological standpoint nor is it consistent with the function of the criminal law in Canada.

Berman of Harvard and the late Professor Desmond Morton stress the uses of the law as a social institution. Part of its function is to control, as Berman says, tendencies and acts "which we may never really master ourselves." In other words, the use of the law for its denunciation of a behaviour is important as a declaration of things we as a society do not

condone. A traffic ticket summons does not make such a declaration.

Requiring a court appearance for the first-time offender may well prevent an experimenter from becoming an addict or habitual user, especially if a variety of meaningful consequences are available which allow an educative or counselling component to be part of the procedure. Only a court appearance will make this positive approach possible. We must get a look at the possessor -- caught for the first time is not the same as possession and/or use for the first time -- to see whether the person is in need of counselling, education or family therapy.

We know of cases where the above method was used, with positive results, for cannabis possession under the provisions of a conditional discharge. At the same time, the seriousness of the infraction was stressed without any danger of imprisonment and without the youth having a criminal record.

One of the most fundamental principles of successful intervention is to intervene personally as early in the harmful behaviour as possible. A traffic ticket approach violates this principle in every case. We strongly urge that no consideration be given to this ill-advised suggestion. We do strongly urge that Bill C-8 be used in a flexible, compassionate and educative way in cases of possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use.

In general, with Bill C-8, in cases where circumstances warrant it, we recommend that sentencing options that focus on prevention and rehabilitative measures be utilized. This would be a continuation of a trend over recent years that should be enhanced by Bill C-41, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to sentencing.

Specifically for youth, we recommend frequent use of the conditional discharge so that there could be conditions chosen from a variety of meaningful consequences of an educative or counselling nature.

We strongly recommend that clause 5 of Bill C-8, Part I, be amended to read as follows:

(a) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule II in an amount that does not exceed the amount set out for that substance in Schedule VIII is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both;

(b) any record regarding a youth or an adult, save and except for an Information, will only include a reference to the possession of 30 grams or less of Cannabis (marihuana), or of 1

gram or less of Cannabis (resin), and will specifically exclude any reference to a penalty or a sentence.

This wording was arrived at in discussion with one of the best criminal lawyers in Canada with much experience in drug cases.

If this change were made, a youth who made the mistake of experimenting with cannabis and was caught and charged would not have a penalty recorded on his police record sheet or CPIC. Consequently, his record sheet would not show a conviction and a potential employer, for example, or an educational institution, would not consider this to be too serious.

This approach is consistent with our view that, for youth, there should be an educative component to the consequences.

Soon, Madam Chair and honourable senators, you will make your decision on Bill C-8. Many compromises have already been made which soften the bill relative to cannabis. We have shown you that further softening could bring disastrous results. The nation, including countless parents, families and teachers, awaits your responsible and accountable judgment.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Burford.

Can you both tell me what your opinions are on the use of tobacco and alcohol?

Mr. Burford: It is my opinion that the word "drug" in Council on Drug Abuse refers to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. The peer education program to which I referred relates to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

The Chairman: Mr. Perkins, does Lambton Families in Action have a policy on this as well?

Mr. Perkins: Yes, we do, and it is very similar to what Mr. Burford has stated. We consider alcohol and tobacco to be drugs. The sad thing is that they are legal. We do not advocate any under-age use of either of those products.

The Chairman: I understood that that was the position, but I thought it was important for the other senators to know that there is a consistency in position here.

Mr. Burford: As matter of fact, my work in Ontario is more on alcohol than anything else.

Senator Gigantès: I share your feelings about drugs. However, we had prohibition of alcohol and its main effect was to enrich and enlarge the criminal element. We did not manage to control it at all in the United States.

As Senator Bryden asked the other day, if we cannot control drug

trafficking in prisons, how can we control it outside prisons? I should like you to address this.

(Take 1600 follows)

(We have an overload of criminal activity...)

MA Take 1600 Legal 32035 Apr.24

(take 1550 ends--Gigantès cont...outside prisons? I should like you to address this.)

We have an overload of criminal activity related to various drugs. We were told that the courts in Vancouver do not even prosecute such charges any more. They just cannot cope.

How do we address that? Is your suggestion any good? Or will it simply leave the situation unchanged with traffickers getting richer?

Mr. Perkins: I should like to respond first to your comment about alcohol.

According to my learning, Prohibition did work and it worked quite well. The Hollywood version did not, however. During the period of Prohibition, we must understand that the only prohibition was the retail sale of beverage alcohol. During that period of time, DUI went down; abuses went down from consequences of alcohol; alcoholism went down. All those things went down.

There was conjecture as to why it was repealed. One theory is that it was a tax grab for the American government. Regardless, as far as I am concerned, Prohibition did work and it worked quite well.

Senator Gigantès: That is the first time I heard that.

Mr. Burford: I would certainly support that. Prohibition did work well. The occurrence of cirrhosis of the liver in North America went down. There were fewer family problems caused by alcohol. All problems related to alcohol went down. Organized crime did not develop because of Prohibition. Organized crime was developed before Prohibition.

Senator Gigantès: I said it grew.

Mr. Burford: I should also like to carry on with your reference to British Columbia because we witnessed, from 1979 on, a very steady decrease in the use of all drugs among youth. That would be carried on to beyond those ages as they got older, with less use by the 20 to 30 age group.

Senator Jessiman: What area are you speaking of? Ontario, Toronto, all of Canada?

Mr. Burford: Right across Canada.

Senator Jessiman: Do the statistics show that?

Mr. Burford: That is right.

Senator Jessiman: That is not the information we are getting from other witnesses.

Mr. Burford: Just a moment. I am talking about 1979 down to 1991. In 1991, the trends started to change.

We must analyze why trends started to change. The educational system is quite influential with the amount of time spent and the numbers of effective programs involving students in elementary school and early high school. A lot of weight is thrown on to schools. When a new issue comes along -- such as AIDS, that is a very sexy issue -- it gets a lot of attention. Now the schools must spend time on AIDS. Since drug use is going down, they spend less time on drug education. Perhaps there is a little complacency growing.

I would also suggest that, at around that time, came the emergence of the harm reduction movement. Kids across Canada started to hear about Holland and what a wonderful place it was. I was in Amsterdam in 1988 and I could not believe that such a beautiful city could be so damaged through liberalization. However, our kids started to hear that marihuana is just an herb that grows out of the ground and, therefore, cannot harm you. All sorts of propaganda came from authorities and from people who were allowed by the media to have a platform.

We combined less focus on preventive drug education, including alcohol and tobacco with an increased attention from the media on the benefits of legalization. There is no doubt that those were very important factors.

Another factor is the worsening economic situation. Kids in high school have begun to develop some sense of hopelessness with regards to the future. When that happens, the kids are more vulnerable to becoming involved in activities such as smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol and taking marihuana.

B.C. is the worst province that you could possibly mention.

Senator Jessiman: There may be some people from B.C. who would disagree with you.

Mr. Burford: I love to visit there. Vancouver is beautiful. However, in terms of leadership in the area of drug policy, I would not want any of my children or grandchildren to live in that province because of the atrocious messages they would be getting from leadership there.

B.C. is a maritime province. It has traditionally picked up the trendy things associated with harm reduction and with the trends in Holland and Germany. B.C. pays no attention to what is happening in Sweden, quite a sensible country. We should pay more attention to Sweden.

Senator Gigantès: It is a maritime country, too.

Mr. Burford: Somehow it is a different kind of maritime situation. It is a little colder there, I think, and life is a little more stern.

The Swedish people have been able to come together against alcohol. Their blood alcohol limit for driving in Sweden is .02. That is an idea of how sensible they are.

Senator Gigantès: They drink like fish in Sweden. I have been there many times; I have never seen so many drunks.

Mr. Perkins: To add to what Mr. Burford is saying, in Sweden they have been able to reduce their adolescent drug use from 17 per cent to 3 per cent. They have very strict drug laws. When you get arrested for drug abuse or drug possession, drug testing is mandatory and treatment is mandatory. There is no getting out of it. This is the type of thing that we should be looking at in Canada instead of ignoring it.

Right now it is disgusting the way we treat our children when they get into problems with drugs. We would rather set them loose on the street than do anything to help them. That must change.

Senator Doyle: Do you include alcohol when you say "drugs"?

Mr. Perkins: I include alcohol, sir.

Senator Doyle: What about when you speak of drugs in Sweden, with the 3 per cent?

Mr. Perkins: No, sir, it is .02.

Senator Doyle: Does that apply to alcohol as well as other drugs?

The Chairman: He was referring specifically to your figure of teenage use going from 17 per cent down to 3 per cent. He asked if it included alcohol.

Mr. Perkins: Sorry. No.

Senator Milne: Thank you, gentlemen; you have made a good presentation. I should like to step aside, though, from the main thrust of your presentation and ask you another question about a type of marihuana.

We have had several agricultural groups come to us, for example, the Canadian Industrial Hemp Lobby and the Hemp Research Institute. These groups are recommending that industrial-type hemp be allowed to be grown as an agricultural crop.

You should know that the amount of THC, the psychoactive substance in marihuana, is about .5 per cent in industrial hemp. Apparently, it is not worth smoking. What would be your approach to allowing that to happen?

Mr. Perkins: First, I have investigated this claim about the THC content of hemp and its effects. According to my sources, .25 per cent can affect a person's brain. From the information that I have received from the Government of Canada, the allowable amount of THC in the so-called hemp is .3 per cent. This is why I call it a drug.

First, from that low THC content, a person who has never smoked cannabis in their life can get the psychological effects.

(Take 1610 begins--Perkins continues...Second, with a hemp or marihuana, whatever you want to call it)

24April96-Legal-32035-DM

(Mr. Perkins continuing - person who has never smoked cannabis in their life can get the psychological effects.)

(1610 starts here)

Second, hemp or marihuana, whatever you want to call it, is exactly the same plant. You can take the THC content of one-tenth of one per cent or less, and, through a very simple procedure, create a paste of 40 per cent THC or more. This is being done right now. That paste is then used similarly to chewing tobacco or is mixed with vegetable oil, put into a capsule form and taken orally. The drug culture knows how to do this. The sad part of it is that it also carries the carcinogens with it. In California, they destroyed several thousands of acres of hemp because kids were breaking into the fields and stealing the tops of the plant. To say that it is not a drug is not true.

Its usefulness as an industrial product is questionable. Every country in Europe that grows it for industrial purposes is required to subsidize the crop. Is that what we want to do in this country?

Mr. Burford: I have been trying to have a Canadian authority, a government official, speak to Professor Robinson of the University of Minnesota, who is one of the few people who knows what he is talking about when it comes to the assessment of hemp. He has had years of experience in the related industries.

When hemp was legal to be grown in the United States, it did not prove itself on the market. The people who brought it forward on the market are the pro-marihuana people. This was part of a campaign that they developed in order to try to legitimize marihuana and to say, "Because it can be made into shirts and shorts, and because it can be made into paper, then it must be all right to smoke." That is the rationale they are using, which does not hang together very well. They seem to think that they will get somewhere with it and that they will influence governments to soften marihuana laws. Their hopes are to have it legalized.

Senator Milne: Are you claiming this for this Canadian industrial hemp lobby? Is this one of the groups you are talking about?

Mr. Burford: There is a connection.

Mr. Perkins: When I learned about this business of extracting the THC from hemp or cannabis, whatever you want to call it, there was representation there from Canada's drug secretariat at the same time, plus several remembers of the RCMP. It is not something that is new. I do not know whether they informed you

of this or not.

Mr. Burford: In any case, I am sure you would like to have an official from the Canadian government go down and visit Professor Robinson. They spend money doing other things relating to hemp. Why not send someone done there and sit down and talk to him? He is very hard of hearing. I have talked to him on the telephone. You would have to be there to talk to him in person. He is one of the greatest resources on hemp in the world, but no one from Canada has gone down there to talk to him.

Senator Pearson: The consideration of this bill has raised quite a number of interesting issues for those of us concerned about young people. I have no problem believing that marihuana is not a particularly useful thing to inhale. I have been through this for many long years and with many children. It is the same as alcohol and drugs. I agree that children should not be involved in this.

The issue that you raise is slightly inconsistent. On the one hand, you talk about how wonderful young people are, and on the other hand you talk about how easily corruptible they are. I liked your position, Mr. Burford, working with the peer group with young people. Obviously this bill will not solve a moral problem in the world, whichever way which it goes. Clearly, there is an issue out there. Young people are saying that if they have more opportunity, then one out of three of them would engage in this activity.

This is not a problem of accessibility of drugs. The challenge in our society is that young people are clearly feeling rebellious, not that there is anything new about that.

While I would agree with all the work that people do with young people involved with drugs, we need to put tremendous resources into assisting them to get out. What do we do to prevent these problems, aside from making it unavailable? No matter what the legislation is, as Senator Gigantès says, it is unlikely we will get rid of it. What kind of things should we be doing?

Mr. Burford: I can understand why you are expressing those views. I was a secondary school principal back when drugs started to come into the high schools in 1968 and over that period of time from 1968 to 1982. My feeling is that we have failed the young people in this country because society did not come to grips with marihuana. Society did not take the trouble to find out about the adverse effects of it. Society waffled all over the place. As a principal of a 2,000-student high school, I could not waffle all over the place. I had to be very clear, and I had to take stands that I felt were in the best interests of those kids. Canadian society has never done that relative to marihuana.

Our consultants involved in treatment say that they have never

met someone who is an addict who really was not a very fine person. These are people that we have failed in so many ways.

Senator Pearson: I see that, but your approach is, "Us old people must do everything." I do not see you giving to the young people the empowerment to do things on their own behalf. That is why I commended your peer control program. I am concerned.

Mr. Burford: I believe in that strongly. The last three years I was principal, the staff and I had a program called Positive Peer Culture. The indigent leaders in the school were identified by the kids, bad and good. They worked together in groups of nine, and the kids could come to them with any kind of problem, bar none. Each group was working with a trained teacher. Those kids were empowered. They were given a license to handle any problem whatsoever. They took care of drug problems, not with violence, but just by keeping drug dealers away from the school. I believe in giving kids responsibility and giving them license. This is why the peer education program is so important.

We are trying to give these kids the responsibility, but if the marihuana law is softened further, we are pulling the rug out from under their feet. They are going out on a limb in a high school when they come forward and say, "I want to be part of teaching a program to our kids in Grade 9 and 10 so that they will not make the mistakes that some other kids have made who are now in Grade 12 and OAC." They are going out on a limb, and they are willing to do it. In some schools, we have 100 volunteers taking part.

(Continuing with Mr. Burford - Usually it is around 35 or 40)

df\96\04\24 #32035

(continuing with Mr. Burford)

**Usually it is around 35 or 40, but we are able to get them because some kids have a quality in them. They really care about the younger kids in their community. We give them that responsibility. I am asking you not to pull the rug out from under them.

Senator Pearson: No one is proposing making it legal.

Mr. Burford: Well, as kids see it, tantamount to legal is the same thing.

I had to be able to recognize how kids would perceive things. Right now, across Ontario -- and I assume right across Canada -- we are in a critical situation with regard to kids and drug use. If this law is softened, as I have already told you, there will be an explosion of use.

Senator Jessiman: I would be on your side if you were the first to appear. I agreed with everything you said when I first sat here, but I have read a lot of this material and I have listened to a lot of people. You have given me something to think about regarding the opposite sides of the issue.

Mr. Burford, where were you in 1972? You were a school principal in 1968. Did you get involved in the Council on Drug Abuse after you were a principal?

Mr. Burford: No. In 1972 I was still principal of Northview Heights Secondary School. I looked around at what to do about this drug problem and where to get help in Ontario. The only place I found help was from a consultant at the Council on Drug Abuse. He was very direct with kids. He had paid the price by working with people and helping them in the area of alcohol and other drugs. The kids could see it when he stepped before him, and they listened to him. He was the one person who helped me as a principal and helped some other principals too.

The Council on Drug Abuse became known to me in 1970. February of 1970 was when I had this gentlemen into our school. After that, I had him into schools that I was in. The other school that I was principal of was called Downsview Secondary School. In 1980, I was asked to become a member of the board of directors on the Council on Drug Abuse.

Senator Jessiman: I should like to know about the Lambton Families in Action, but tell me first about the Council on Drug Abuse. How many members are there? What does the council do? How far across Canada does it stretch.

Mr. Burford: It is a non-profit organization. It has something

like 22 directors. Frank Buckley has been chair now for 22 years. He now runs Buckley Cough Syrup. I am sure you have heard of it.

Senator Jessiman: Where are you located?

Mr. Burford: Our office is in Toronto.

Senator Jessiman: Are there officers elsewhere or representatives anywhere else?

Mr. Burford: No. We have four consultants. They are very experienced in terms of their knowledge and experience in working as councillors.

Senator Jessiman: You said you heard about the council in 197O. Does it go back earlier than that, the actual council?

Mr. Burford: Have you heard of Murray Koffler?

Senator Jessiman: Yes.

Mr. Burford: He was the founder of the Council on Drug Abuse.

Senator Jessiman: How long ago would that be?

Mr. Burford: It started when Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

Senator Jessiman: Did you make representations to the Le Dain Commission in 1972?

Mr. Burford: No.

Senator Jessiman: Do the Lambton Families in Action go back that far too?

Mr. Perkins: No, sir, they do not. We were formed in 1982.

Senator Jessiman: Where are they located, and how far do they stretch across Canada?

Mr. Perkins: The actual organization itself is located in Sarnia, Ontario. We work out of that city. We are a parent, grassroots organization. We formed because we were fed up with young people getting into drugs and messing up their lives. In some cases, it was our own children. As parents, we did not know what was going on with this drug situation, and we felt that we had a responsibility to our community to get involved. That is what we have been doing ever since. I have been involved in community education for 15 years.

Senator Jessiman: How many people are involved in your organization?

Mr. Perkins: Six.

Senator Jessiman: There are between 32,000 and 37,000 lawyers at the Canadian Bar Association. I am a member. I am surprised that that organization, in total, is not only against criminalization, but it wants us to go the next step and legalize.

Some organizations are the size of the Canadian Bar Association. The Canadian Medical Association was not quite as strong here, but I understand that other members of their organization are also of a mind that the war on drugs that was started in full force with Ronald Reagan is not working. They are saying that we are going about things the wrong way. We are spending all this money, but we are not getting anywhere. We must try to reduce the use of it, but not in the manner we are doing it today.

Mr. Perkins: First, I would like to comment on the Canadian Bar Association. If what was quoted in the media by their leader is actually true, I can understand why they want to legalize drugs because they do not have a clue or an inkling with respect to what it is all about.

Second, we do not have a war on drugs in Canada. That was created in the United States. In fact, it was created in Texas and adopted by Ronald Reagan. Canada's drug strategy, if you want to call it that, is the opposite to what it is in the United States.

We have fallen down in that we have become complacent about this problem. If you follow the reputations of some of the organizations that have been represented here, you will find that some organizations living off of our tax dollars want wide open drug policy in Canada just to satisfactory their egos.

Mr. Burford: The lawyer to whom I referred -- the one who suggested the addition -- is Ben Fedunchak, one of the ten top criminal lawyers in Canada. He disagrees with the presentation that was made here. He is disgusted with it.

I first came to deal with this issue when I was a high school principal. I became chair of the Ontario Secondary School Principals Drug Education Committee. I was very much aware of the political philosophies of certain groups in Canada. The Canadian Bar Association supported legalizing drugs at the time. That was way back in 1979. The Canadian Medical Association was just as bad. I know now that the CMA has changed a bit. The Ontario Medical Association was always strongly opposed to the Canadian Medical Association. Perhaps they have been able to infiltrate their ranks.

These philosophies existed at that time. They are still hanging around. These people are not working directly with youths. They are not working directly with kids who have made a commitment to

try to help. They are sitting in a fancy office or an ivory tower. Your perspective is much different when you are working directly with the people.

(Take 1630 Follows -- Senator Jessiman: Did you read...)

RC\Legal\32035\April 24, 1996

Senator Jessiman: Did you read in the Globe and Mail of April 18, 1996 an article by John Barber which had to do with the Frankfurt experiment?

Mr. Perkins: Yes.

Senator Jessiman: They are going about it in a different way. They are trying. They claim that there will be a complete elimination of the open-air drug market that formerly blighted the downtown; a 20 per cent reduction in street robbery and robberies from cars; and a reduction in the number of drug-related emergency calls from three per day to two per week. That is because they have liberalized the approach somewhat. They have what they call "health rooms".

I honestly believe exactly what you are telling us, namely, that this will be the end of the world as we know it if we ever allow people to use these drugs. However, from what we understand, even if we wanted to we could not eliminate their use. We cannot even enforce the laws that we have now.

Mr. Burford: We will not eliminate their use. We are not so idealistic to think that we can possibly eliminate the use of these drugs. However, we can do the best possible job of trying to prevent their use.

As Charles Perkins has said, the term "war on drugs" is not a Canadian term. Our approach in Canada is to try to reduce the use by preventive measures. There are similarities between that and "harm reduction". We want to treat addicts in a compassionate way. We would like them to get good treatment.

In Ontario, we have methadone treatment programs and needle exchange programs. However, we do not say that it is all right to use drugs and what we have to do is teach people how to manage their use of drugs.

Do you know any alcoholics?

Senator Jessiman: I know many alcoholics.

Mr. Burford: You know that an alcoholic cannot be taught how to manage his use of alcohol. No one who is an addict or the wife of an addict, cocaine, heroin or otherwise, ever calls me and asks, "Could you please tell me where I can go to find out how my husband can reduce his use of cocaine or crack?" They all want to get off it.

Senator Jessiman: The same is true with respect to an alcoholic. An alcoholic should not touch an ounce of alcohol.

Mr. Burford: There are organizations which are successful in getting people off the use of these drugs. We are not compassionate enough in Canada. I agree with you that there are certain things about harm reduction that we can learn from. We must pay more attention to having the proper treatment facilities. We have line-ups of people trying to get in now.

Senator Jessiman: There are certain people who become alcoholics, just as there are probably certain people who become addicted to drugs. From what we are told at least some people can take marihuana and then leave it alone, just as some people can have a drink of scotch from time to time and leave it alone thereafter.

Obviously, neither of you would agree with the recommendations of the Le Dain Commission.

Mr. Burford: I understand that Mr. Le Dain does not agree with them either.

Senator Jessiman: Has he written to that effect since?

Mr. Burford: That is my understanding, yes.

Senator Jessiman: I have not seen that.

Mr. Perkins: When this bill was in committee in the House of Commons, the Le Dain Commission report was brought up. The then chairman of the committee was Mr. Szabo. The person who brought it up was a representative of the Addiction Research Foundation. Both agree that that particular report is obsolete and should not be used as a permanent term of reference.

Senator Losier-Cool: As a secondary school teacher for over 30 years I appreciate your concerns about young people and the way that we should help them.

I sometimes have the feeling that we want to help them but that we patronize them with our way of helping. A law like this could be a punitive way of doing that.

Mr. Perkins, you mentioned that in Sweden it is mandatory to have treatment for drug abuse. If a young teenager feels that he has a problem with drugs, then by admitting that problem he is admitting that he is a criminal. After all, if we do not decriminalize marihuana, then he or she is a criminal. That is how we allow these youngsters the chance to go to ask for help.

Do you see any difference between decriminalizing soft drugs, such as marihuana, and legalizing marihuana; or is your position "no" to both?

Mr. Perkins: First, I do not agree that marihuana is a soft drug. I think that is a misnomer and that it drastically

underestimates what that drug will do to a person.

Second, you said that if a young person admits that they have a drug problem and seeks help for that problem then they are a criminal. As far as I am concerned, they are not a criminal until they are convicted of a crime. If a young person has a drug problem and is seeking help we should do everything we possibly can to help them. Right now, we cannot do that for young people. We simply do not have the facilities to do that.

I happened to meet two young people who were incarcerated for their drug problems. One of these people, a young lady, was incarcerated because she stabbed a man to death. The other young person was incarcerated for having been found guilty for his fifth charge of armed robbery. The only way they could get into the treatment facility that they were in was because they were convicted of a crime.

That is what is wrong in this country. We cannot offer young people anything else. That is the sad part of it. I do not think decriminalization or legalization will solve that problem. The reason more people do not use marihuana is because it is illegal. If we take that away, then we will have problems far worse than those associated with the use of alcohol or tobacco. You will add but one more drug to the count.

Mr. Burford: Madam Chairman, you are probably aware of Bill C-41. That bill will allow there to be an intervention with someone who is an addict. The word "criminal" is a word I never use. If you use the definition of "criminal" which is bandied about my pro-drug people, then I am a criminal because I know I have driven while I was impaired years ago when I was stupid. I am sure there are others around here who are criminals for the same reason. I do not think I am a criminal because I did that. I do not think a kid is a criminal because he uses marihuana.

Bill C-41 is a wonderful bill. It will legitimize and legalize a system that has been used many times over the years.

We have a consultant who does a lot of work with families around Toronto. He intervenes when a young person in difficulty goes before a judge. He intervenes in such a way as to explain the efforts the young person will make to do something about the problem, as well as the treatment place that is willing to take him. He is not looking on that young person as a criminal. I am not looking on him as a criminal. I am looking on him as someone who is in need of help and who seems to be on the way to making the right decision to get that help.

Senator Losier-Cool: I should like to ask you a personal question. As a secondary school principal, I am sure you have found two or three of those bags in the lockers of one of your students. What did you do?

Mr. Burford: I told you that I believed in making things clear. I made it very clear that I would uphold the law of the land and that if the law was broken, the police would be involved.

(take 1640 follows Sen Losier-Cool: He then had a criminal record....)

April 24, 1996/Legal/32035/lp Senator Losier-Cool: He then had a criminal record, did he not?

Senator Nolin: That is right.

Mr. Burford: There was only one case of a student having marihuana on school property. You may call him a criminal, but to me he was a young person who learned something from the experience. It is very important that we do not think of punishment but of something being meaningful as a result of a consequence.

Senator Losier-Cool: I agree.

Mr. Burford: That young man did not pay a fine. He received a conditional discharge and was required to help out with things around the school. That was far more meaningful. No one looked upon him as a criminal in our school. I did not. I know it is trendy for the pro-marihuana and pro-drug people to say, "You are making them criminals." I certainly do not agree with that.

These are young people who have made a slight mistake. If you show them that you are interested, that you care and that you are compassionate about them, the chances are that they will respond.

Senator Losier-Cool: I fully agree with you. However, many young Canadians will not meet a compassionate person such as yourself. They may not have understanding parents. The only thing they have is the law and they will be, under the law, criminals. That is my concern.

Mr. Perkins: What we lose sight of here is the effort to try to help young people. Unfortunately, we do not have the chance to help many young people until they get to court. That is where we fail.

Senator Losier-Cool: I fully agree.

The Chairman: There is no disagreement with that statement from any member of the committee.

Mr. Burford: May I add to that that when they get to court we should not be trying to punish them, but rather to help them.

Senator Nolin: We all agree with that.

Senator Doyle: In response to your remark about trying to help your children, when my young children had finally grown up -- or at least grown to an age where one would think they had grown up -- they told me, one hilarious evening, how they had protected me by not telling me what they knew about what was going on at their school, in their society and in their whole world; things that I thought applied only to people who lived south of the border.

The drug culture is pervasive to the extent that although not everyone uses drugs, the people in the age group that favours them do not think too badly of their fellows who do. They are not that upset until someone gets into some serious trouble, and that is usually over a sudden move by the law to interfere with what they are doing; either that or mixing their bad habits with automobiles.

We were talking about the Le Dain commission. I believe that the area in which Judge Le Dain said he would have second thoughts had to do with the effect that the drug could have on the health of youngsters, and not in any other area. He had reservations on cannabis and heavy use of marihuana.

I recall the Le Dain commission. I remember some of the very strong arguments that were made to the judge. One which he was never able to resolve, and to which I have never seen an answer, was what happens when you get 40,000 people in one stadium and 80 per cent of them are stoned. Do you send in the police to arrest them, or do you just wait until the principal of the high school finds one in his basement and calls the law?

What is your response to that problem, Mr. Burford?

Mr. Burford: You are talking about a rock concert?

Senator Doyle: It could be a rock concert, or it could be an olympic performance. Let us not write everything on rock.

Mr. Burford: I have been in the CNE stadium and the Sky Dome and I have not seen open use of drugs.

Senator Doyle: I dare say, sir, that if you were 40 years younger you would see it and you would know where to get it.

I will tell you one short story involving myself. Before I was in the Senate, I worked for a newspaper. I used to head up editorial conferences. We would decide what to view with alarm on any given day. One day we got on the marihuana problem and I said that I thought it was exaggerated, that I did not see it on sale everywhere. A member of the board who was not yet 30 said, "Give me 10 minutes."

Mr. Burford: I do not know why it would take 10 minutes.

Senator Doyle: He probably took 10 minutes because he did not want to make the contact within our own building. He went out and returned with several samples of different drugs for me to look at.

I would not have known where to look either, and I would not have seen what was going on as being the drug trade.

It is very difficult to say "thou shalt not" and attach

penalties to it with a young person who does know and sees the places where there are hundreds or thousands of people who are not facing any kind of effort by the police to control or to punish or to change.

Mr. Burford: I will have to go to one of those gatherings now and see if what you are saying is true. However, even if it is, I do not think that is a reason for giving up.

Senator Doyle: No, it is not, but it is a reason for coming at it from a different direction.

Mr. Burford: I am suggesting coming at it from a different direction. We have discussed that, rather than it being punishment, it be educative and that there be various options so that the result would be meaningful.

(1650 starts here)

(We are talking about a law)

24April96\Legal\32035\DM

(Mr. Burford continuing - various options so that the result would be meaningful.)

(1650 starts here)

We are talking about a law. There are other things that one can do in the way of preventive education in order to create a different situation so that people in their twenties are not going to rock concerts and smoking marihuana or taking LSD.

Senator Jessiman: Let us assume that it is illegal. It should not be any worse than, say, driving over the speed limit. You are fined for that, but you are not a criminal. That is what has happened here. You are saying to us -- and I agree with you -- that you do not consider it a crime. However, if they are caught and they are charged, they become a criminal. They are trying to say that they will not be a criminal and will not have a record, but they are a criminal. It does not matter.

Mr. Perkins: If you get caught for impaired driving and are convicted, you are a criminal.

Senator Jessiman: Impaired driving is not speeding. There are thousands of infractions of the law that do not make you a criminal.

Mr. Perkins: Maybe we should eliminate drinking and driving, because you get a criminal record for that.

Senator Jessiman: I am saying that there are many laws that are broken where fines are involved, and that does not make you a criminal.

If simple possession, not trading in it, but possessing it and possibly smoking it, is to be illegal, fine, it is illegal. I do not think it should be, but let us say it is illegal. They will be fined, but there will not be a criminal record. That is where I think we have to go.

Mr. Burford: I am glad you brought up the question of speeding because I see rampant speeding all over the place, but I do not hear one person say, "Let's make speeding legal. Let's not have any laws against speeding any more."

Mr. Perkins: If I was caught with this much marihuana on me and I claimed that it was for my personal use, how fast would I have to smoke it before it lost its potency?

Senator Jessiman: You would have to tell me. I do not know.

Mr. Perkins: It would lose it fairly quickly. If you smoked one a day, it would take you three months to smoke all of it, but

it would probably lose most of its potency by that time. What will I do with it? I have a little bag of 30 grams. I will deal it.

Senator Jessiman: We are not talking about that.

Mr. Perkins: You are saying that possession should not be a crime.

The Chairman: No, we are not staying that. What has been said by many of the committee members, and the question they are asking, is decriminalization, not legalization.

Mr. Burford: That was asked a bit earlier. Somehow we got waylaid and did not deal with it. With decriminalization, you can soften things to the point where there is no difference and it is inevitable you end up with legalization. Decriminalization sets the stage. Whether you call it legalization or not, it actually exists in terms of the use of the substance. That is the situation where it is rampant, and that is the situation from which we must stay away for the sake of our kids and for the sake of our country.

(French follows, Senator Nolin, 4:54, Monique)

Légal\24 avril 1996\32035\1650.fmr

Le sénateur Nolin : La plupart de mes questions ont été posées. Je veux revenir à la situation de la disponibilité des drogues. Le cas américain est patent, malgré tout les efforts tant financiers qu'en ressources humaines mis à la disposition des forces policières pour contrer la présence des drogues, qu'elles soient douces ou dures, cela n'a pas fonctionné. La disponibilité des drogues au États-Unis n'est pas uniquement semblable à ce qu'elle était avant, elle a augmenté au grand bénéfice d'ailleurs du monde interlope et les criminels contre lesquels on devrait mettre plus d'efforts.

Vous avez soulevé le cas de la Suède. Cela m'intrigue parce que c'est la première fois que quelqu'un nous parle de l'expérience suédoise. J'aimerais bien que nous puissions communiquer avec des gens qui pourraient être les meilleurs témoins pour nous informer sur la situation exacte de ce qui se passe en Suède. Avant que vous souleviez le cas de la Suède, je voyais deux types de pays: des pays qui son très prohibitionnistes, le Canada étant presque l'un deux; les américains menant sûrement la liste des pays prohibitionnistes. D'autre part, vous avez les pays qui adoptent des méthodes que vous catégoriserez de plus délinquante. Une méthode qui vise surtout à se concentrer sur la réduction des effets nuisibles des drogues, entre autres, l'Allemagne, l'Italie, l'Espagne et les Pays Bas.

Je met de côté le cas de la Suède parce que vraiment cela est nouveau. Vous n'avez pas réussi à me convaincre que la prohibition soit la solution. L'exemple américain devant nous, nous démontre que cela ne fonctionne pas. Les prisons sont remplies de criminels qui ont commis des offences criminelles en rapport à la possession ou au trafic des drogues. Entendons nous bien, l'effet des drogues si légères soient-elles est très nuisible au même type que l'alcool et le tabac.

J'ai l'impression, après avoir entendu plusieurs témoins, que l'approche suggérée par l'Angleterre, l'Italie l'Espagne et les Pays Bas, est beaucoup plus respectueuse de l'être humain.

Finalement, j'argumente avec vous et je ne vous pose pas de question. Mais j'ai l'impression que l'on ne se réconciliera jamais. Je dois vous dire ce que je pense.

L'approche des pays que j'ai mentionné plus tôt, est beaucoup plus respectueuse de l'être humain. La prohibition établit par l'État prend en compte que l'être humain à de la misère à se responsabiliser. On lui impose de respecter des règles. En matière de drogue, et je m'excuse pour vous si j'utilise le mot «légère» comme le cannabis, font des dommages à l'individu qui en fait l'usage. Je ne sais pas si vous avez exagéré ou si d'autres témoins ont sous-estimé la réalité, mais je pense que l'on s'entend pour dire que la consommation de ces drogues cause des dommages. A quel degré? Je l'ignore.

Les effets que cette consommation sur ceux qui entourent l'usager, est une autre paire de manche. L'individu qui conduit en état d'ébriété, définitivement, c'est un criminel. Il met en danger la vie d'autres personnes. L'usager de marihuana, s'il ne conduit pas son automobile, est-ce qu'il met en danger la vie d'autres personnes? Peut-être qu'il met sa santé en danger. Est-ce qu'il met en danger celle d'un autre? Je n'ai pas été convaincu de cela encore.

L'approche de ces pays me semble beaucoup plus respectueuse de la responsabilisation des individus que la méthode utilisée par les américains. J'aimerais avoir vos commentaires sur le petit discours que je viens de vous faire.

(anglais suit-1700) (Mr.Burford: I think you bring up a very important point, because you probably aren't aware of this. )

(Following French)

Mr. Burford: Several important points arise, because you probably are not aware of this. This is about a very attractive young woman who was driving a car while under the influence of marihuana. Six people died in that crash.

Senator Nolin: That is criminal.

Mr. Burford: You are suggesting that it does not hurt anyone.

Senator Nolin: That is not what I am saying.

Mr. Burford: Perhaps it was a problem with the translation, but that was the suggestion that came across.

(1700 follows - Senator Nolin - I will repeat that in English.)

MP-Apr24-take1700-legal-32035

Senator Nolin: I will repeat that in English. I am not suggesting that someone who is under the influence of cannabis can drive and perform like any ordinary citizen. Since it puts in jeopardy the health and safety and life of other people, that is criminal. However, if you take only that individual's health, his own life, it is his own business. That is why I refer to

(French follows, and it is Nolin, "responsibilisation de l'individu")

Legal\24 avril 1996\32035\1700.fmr

Le sénateur Nolin: Un témoin nous a dit, la semaine dernière, qu'il était plus dangereux de prendre de l'alcool que de fumer du cannabis. Vous semblez nous dire le contraire. J'avais l'impression que celui qui nous disait cela en avait déjà consommé. Dans votre cas, je ne suis pas sûr que vous en avez déjà consommé. Je lui donne, disons, un point de plus quant à la crédibilité de son affirmation.

(anglais suit) (Mr. Burford: Around every person there is a network of people who are close to them...)

Following French:

Mr. Burford: Around every person there is a network of people who are close to them. Whatever happens to one person, there is a ripple effect out to the others, so one cannot really say that if I do something that is not good for me or others, I am the only one who will suffer, because all my family will suffer, my friends will suffer. You cannot call this a victimless crime because the network of people around each individual is affected.

Senator Nolin: Those countries I have referred to have introduced parallel efforts to educate more people about the effect of using drugs. They are using a positive and proactive effort.

Mr. Burford: But it is not quite as cut and dried as you seem to think. In Europe, there is an organization called European Cities Against Drugs. There was a problem in Zurich, which was much the same as Frankfurt. They had the addicts in a park and they had to close the park because of all the problems. Then the addicts moved to a railroad station, and they had to close it. Of the 197 European cities that belong to European Cities Against Drugs, there are about 10 Swiss cities. It is not an all-pervasive movement across Europe. There are 197 cities that say they do not believe in harm reduction, but believe rather in trying to help people, trying to prevent problems, trying to treat them when they do get into problems. The suggestion that they are more humane in Holland --

Senator Nolin: I am not saying that.

Mr. Burford: -- or that they have more feeling for other people, I think that is something that is really difficult to measure, and I really do not think it is justified.

(French follows, Senator Nolin, "Je pense que le..." 5:02 and Monique is the reporter)

Legal\24 avril 1996\32035\1700.fmr

Le sénateur Nolin: Il y a entre 2 et 3 millions de Canadiens qui utilisent du cannabis, tout dépend des témoins que l'on entend. On a, je pense, aucun moyen de savoir combien il y en a, mais c'est beaucoup de monde sur une population de 30 millions. C'est énorme.

L'usage de ces drogues après une période de temps peut nous indiquer si la méthode utilisée était bonne ou moins bonne. De toute évidence, le cas américain qui doit nous aider à mettre un effet sur ce que j'appelle la méthode prohibitionniste, ne nous donne pas les effets. Regardons ailleurs quelles ont été les conséquences de l'application d'une autre méthode. C'est pour cela que je parle non pas de tous les pays européens, de toutes les villes européennes mais de quatre pays. Nous avons à choisir entre c'est deux approches.

Je suis conscient que vous nous suggérez une alternative plus humanitaire à la méthode prohibitive. Empêchons les drogues mais aussi investissons dans l'éducation et dans les méthodes pro-actives. Je pense qu'il faut faire cela quelque soit l'approche que nous allons prendre.

Lorsqu'il y a deux millions de Canadiens qui sont convaincus qu'ils ne commettent pas une crime lorsqu'ils le font ou que ce n'est pas un crime grave, même si l'on s'entête à vouloir alourdir les peines et mettre plus d'argent dans l'effort de policiers et de prohibition, on ne réussira pas. Tout ce qu'on va réussir à faire c'est de faire des criminels avec des enfants de 14, 16 et 20 ans. C'est le dilemme que nous avons. Je n'ai pas l'impression de vous convaincre. Vous ne m'avez pas convaincu que la méthode prohibitive était encore la voie à suivre pour une drogue comme le cannabis.

(anglais suit-1705) (Mr. Burford: You have not convinced me that it is a good thing for this country to have three quarters of a million kids. )

Following French:

Mr. Burford: You have not convinced me that it will be a good thing for this country to have three quarters of a million kids becoming more at risk because of cannabis, more at risk of losing their human potential, which is one of the greatest tragedies that can ever happen, and more at risk of becoming involved in fatal and serious-injury accidents and other health problems. You have not convinced me; you sure have not.

Senator Nolin: But the drug is already there.

Mr. Burford: It is not there to that extent.

Senator Nolin: Look at the U.S. It is there. Crack is cheap.

Mr. Burford: In Canada, we use a much different approach. We are more concerned about prevention than punitive enforcement.

The Chairman: Mr. Burford, I think perhaps Mr. Perkins would like to get into this debate.

Mr. Perkins: I am not really interested in debating decriminalization. You mentioned all this incarceration in the United States. On a per-capita basis, the Netherlands incarcerates more people than the United States does for drug offences. That is a fact.

Senator Gigantès: Not for marihuana.

Mr. Perkins: They do not prosecute marihuana, period. It is not legal in the Netherlands and it is not decriminalized in the Netherlands.

Senator Gigantès: He was referring to cannabis, not other drugs.

Mr. Perkins: The reason there is no incarceration in the Netherlands is that they have chosen not to enforce their drug laws, and they now have a tremendous problem with their youth. Their youth think that it is okay to do it, because they have not educated their youth.

Senator Nolin: That is not the evidence we received from other witnesses and from official publications from the Netherlands. We are going to assess all that evidence. However, the drug -- and this was Senator Bryden's point -- is available. Availability is a fact.

Mr. Perkins: Seventy per cent of the Dutch people right now are fed up with the drug policy in their country. They want the government to get tougher.

Senator Nolin: Do you have evidence on that?

Mr. Perkins: Yes. I have submitted it to you.

Senator Bryden: Seventy per cent of Canadians have asked for the death penalty too. The fact that there is a particular flavour of the day in public opinion does not necessarily mean to say that that is correct.

Senator Nolin: We are not trying to be trendy, by the way.

Mr. Burford: I am glad to hear you say that just because a certain number would like a certain kind of behaviour, we are not necessarily going to give into that behaviour, because I sure have seen in the last few years a complete ignoring of red lights by far too many people, and I am glad we are not going to suggest we do away with traffic lights. There is a way of reaching decisions on things, not through polls but by using commonsense and being concerned about our kids, and I have not heard too much concern about our kids in the last 15 minutes.

The Chairman: I have one final question I would like to ask both of you. It also comes from my experience as a high school teacher. When I was teaching in the late 1960s, I had students who were sentenced to two years less a day for simple possession of marihuana. That was in the period of time in which we were working with very tough drug laws.

(take 1710 starts):

It did not seem, however, to prevent an increase in the use of marihuana.

24April96-Legal-32035-DM

(The Chairman continuing - That was in the periods of time in which we were working with very tough drug laws.)

(1710 starts here)

It did not seem, however, to prevent an increase in the use of marihuana. When one looks at the usage figures, they went up until about 1979, and then they dropped off considerably. It has always been interesting to me that, at the time they dropped off, we had stopped sending young people to jail for two years less a day for possession of marihuana.

Now we see the figures between 1991 and 1996. Clearly, the use of marihuana is again escalating. You are obviously very involved in this field. What evidence have you come across that shows any decrease or, in fact, increase, in the use of a drug based on the penalty?

Mr. Burford: I gave you the results of our survey of high school students, the results of the ARF survey in Ontario which indicated that if the legal restrictions were softened, would they use, begin to use, or use more.

The Chairman: When one asks a group of students any number of things, one gets very interesting results, as you well know.

I can tell you my own experience with my own two daughters. They informed me that if one went up a certain set of stairs at Kelvin High, the one nearest Harrow, you could, in fact, purchase any drug you wanted: marihuana, cocaine, up to heroin. Their attitude about this was that, given a choice between marihuana and alcohol, they would probably prefer to use marihuana. They did not use marihuana because marihuana -- well, I should not say they never used it because I suspect they did. However, the drug of choice tended to be alcohol rather than marihuana because of the penalty.

Are those young people saying the same thing? They would increase their use of marihuana but perhaps decrease their use of alcohol?

Mr. Burford: There is an interconnection between the use of marihuana, alcohol, and tobacco, and the drug that is most closely linked with higher use is marihuana. That was in the information that was sent to you.

When you look at the percentage of students from the ARF 1995 study who used marihuana and the number who used alcohol and also tobacco, the percentage using tobacco is 75 per cent. The percentage using alcohol was up around 90 per cent. When you looked at the other two drugs, you did not find the same correlation. The percentages were lower. In other words,

marihuana is the linking drug, as far as Ontario students are concerned.

For that reason, we come back to our concern about the importance of not softening the marihuana law when we have been told by the kids that they will be using it in large, explosive numbers. All we can do is tell you about it, and you have been given that information. If you pay more attention to the lawyers who hardly ever see a kid outside of their own family, then that is a choice you have, but you are getting the information straight from people who are working directly with kids.

Mr. Perkins: I want to give you a example. I have five grandchildren. I should have six. Drugs killed one of them. My wife and I and my daughter, who was a recovering drug addict, all agree that somewhere in my daughter's drug use the law should have intervened. It would have helped her, and it would have helped us help her. That was the only way we could get to her. Unfortunately, it did not happen, and that child's life was lost because of it.

You are telling us that we should make it easier for kids to do drugs and do exactly that to unborn children. Is that the way we want to go in this country? When cannabis burns, it creates benzene. What does benzene do? It causes childhood leukaemia. Is that what we want to do to the next generation?

Senator Nolin: Is it that different from cigarettes?

Mr. Perkins: It is worse than cigarettes.

Senator Lewis: Would you go so far as to say, then, that increasing or decreasing the penalties will have any effect at all on the use?

Mr. Perkins: I am saying that when you remove the penalties, use will go up astoundingly.

Senator Lewis: Do you correlate that with penalty?

Mr. Perkins: Call it penalty, call it what you want. We have not come up with a better way of doing it yet, and I have not seen one that is better. I do not know what they have done in Sweden.

Mr. Burford: The word I get from our consultants in schools is that it is like the 1960s. The message that will come out of how you deal with this legislation will send the kids one way or the other. We are saying to you, on the best advice we get from the sense of those kids, if you soften this further, the use of marihuana will dramatically increase. There will be an explosion.

Senator Lewis: Would you go further and say that what we should

be doing is pushing for increased penalties?

Mr. Perkins: I do not think that is necessarily the solution. We need to make the system work better. Throwing someone in jail for drug addiction is not necessarily the best way to go, but it is the only way we have right now of trying to get them some help. If you take a person into court and they are convicted of drug possession, they are set free. There is no accountability for that drug user. They go right back on the street and do it all over again. However, if they were forced to get treatment, if they are forced into drug testing, if they are forced to become more accountable to society, perhaps we could get a handle on this problem.

Senator Lewis: That is another field.

The Chairman: I thank you very much for the presentations you have made to us today. You have given us a lot of food for thought. I do not think anyone on this committee has made up their mind about what they want to do on this piece of legislation, so we needed your input.

I must say that I particularly appreciate the work that you are both doing with young people, because I think that they do need that kind of counselling. There is always stress on curriculums, as you know extremely well. You made a comment about the fact that they are now getting AIDS education and less anti-smoking, anti-drug education. That is a tragedy. It should not be an either/or situation. They should be getting it all so they can lead healthy lifestyles. I thank you for your contribution to that, both of you.

Mr. Burford: My final plea is not to pull the rug out from under our kids who are willing to be peer educators. If you soften this law, they will be completely discouraged.

The Chairman: Thank you very much.

The committee adjourned.

Converted by Andrew Scriven

Updated: 24 Jul 2001 | Accessed: 23977 times