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Debates of the Senate (Hansard), 1st Session, 36th Parliament, Volume 137, Issue 68,

Thursday, June 4, 1998, 1520.

Hon. Duncan J. Jessiman:

. . .

I would like to say a word about the war on drugs. I was at a NATO assembly in Spain last week. We were given a briefing by people involved with international crime. The amount of crime is unbelievable, and they told us that about 50 per cent of it is related to drugs.

We must find the answer to this worldwide problem. I believe that we are fighting this problem in the wrong way. I am not an advocate of legalizing anything in the way of drugs today. However, I strongly advocate that anyone caught in possession of a drug such as marijuana has not committed a criminal offence. We simply must do something about that.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Jessiman: The committee recommended, and the Senate agreed, that there should be a joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons to study drugs. That was never put in place. If I accomplish only one thing here, I would like it to be that I have persuaded honourable senators to consider setting up a committee to study this very serious problem. It is not something that can be done in a short time. It will be a big and very important study.

I believe that the Senate can do it, and that honourable senators should start. It will not be popular with all Canadians, but you must study this subject. I believe that if possession of marijuana were dealt with as a health issue, rather than as a criminal offence, we would be better off.