Panel urges Harper to reverse pot position

OTTAWA — The Global Commission on Drug Policy says it’s “very weird” that Canada is taking a tougher line on marijuana when governments across the globe are reconsidering the war on drugs.

OTTAWA — The Global Commission on Drug Policy says it’s “very weird” that Canada is taking a tougher line on marijuana when governments across the globe are reconsidering the war on drugs.

In an open letter Wednesday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Brazil-based commission calls on Canada to stop pursuing the “destructive, expensive and ineffective” prohibition of pot.

Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court of Canada judge, former Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso, former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson are among the signatories to the letter that warns Canada is repeating “the same grave mistakes as other countries.”

“Building more prisons, tried for decades in the United States under its failed war on drugs, only deepens the drug problem and does not reduce cannabis supply or rates of use,” says the letter. “Instead, North American youth now report easier access to cannabis than to alcohol or tobacco.”

The commission includes an ideological cross-section of world leaders, among them George Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state in the Reagan Republican presidency, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo and Paul Volker, the former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Their reservations are not theoretical, but are aimed directly at the Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill currently nearing passage in the Senate.

The letter states that “with the proposed implementation of mandatory prison sentences for minor cannabis-related offences under Bill C-10, Canada is at the threshold of continuing to repeat the same grave mistakes as other countries, moving further down a path that has proven immensely destructive and ineffective at meeting its objectives.”

Ilona Szabo, a spokeswoman for the commission secretariat, said in an interview that Canada is confounding an international community that considers the country a beacon of evidence-based policy.

“It’s a very weird message for Canada because they would be . . . discharging the evidence on the scene and they would be adopting policies that are outdated and that are actually much more harmful than the issues in question,” Szabo told The Canadian Press in an interview from Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

She noted governments across the hemisphere are finally starting to reconsider their approach to drugs, just as Canada moves in the opposite direction.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, through his office, declined to be interviewed on arguments made by the commission.

“The Safe Streets and Communities Act goes after the source of the illicit drug trade — the drug traffickers,” spokeswoman Julie DiMambro said in an emailed response. “The kinds of offenders we are targeting are those who are involved in exploiting the addictions of others for personal profit.”

The email noted that the legislation includes “drug treatment courts so that those who are unfortunately addicted can get the help that they need.”

But the commission argues that first-hand experience globally has shown that violent, illegal markets are the “inevitable” result of pot prohibition and can’t be fixed with tougher laws.

“This has been the experience internationally,” said the letter.

“In fact, among the things that are driving organized crime and violence in British Columbia and other Canadian provinces is, although on a lesser scale, just what is driving the violence in Mexico — demand for drugs in the United States. Tougher drug laws in Canada will not address this root cause.”

Just Posted

Man and dog dead after early morning house fire in Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Officials say a man and a dog are dead… Continue reading

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

OTTAWA — The federal government is fighting a proposed class-action lawsuit against… Continue reading

May says Greens will work with any party that has a serious plan for the climate

OTTAWA — With three months until Canadians vote in the next federal… Continue reading

Joe Hittel rappels down 12 storey building in Red Deer – again

Eighty four year old Red Deerian was not afraid to rappel down… Continue reading

Indigenous nation in Washington State seeks meeting with feds on Trans Mountain

VANCOUVER — The Lummi Nation in northwest Washington state is requesting a… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Thousands visit Illinois governor mansion after renovations

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Thousands of people have visited the Illinois governor’s mansion… Continue reading

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

VANCOUVER — High school students in Canada may not be getting the… Continue reading

‘Us and them’: influence of Quebec anglos on decline with new Coalition government

MONTREAL — Last March, Quebec Premier Francois Legault made a mocking remark… Continue reading

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

VANCOUVER — Japanese Canadians across the country are meeting to discuss how… Continue reading

Off Canada’s East Coast, a hunt to detect ‘beautiful’ great white sharks

HALIFAX — The great white sharks move torpedo-like through East Coast waters,… Continue reading

ESPN reasserts political talk policy after attack on Trump

NEW YORK — ESPN is reminding employees of the network’s policy to… Continue reading

Tentative agreement averts strike by Quebec provincial park employees

MONTREAL — A full-blown strike by employees at Quebec provincial parks that… Continue reading

Air Force will end search for missing Quebec businessman and his son

MONTREAL — The Royal Canadian Air Force said Saturday it will gradually… Continue reading

Most Read