Cannabis and Conservatives

Rory Leishman
July 22, 2009
Conservative leadership frontrunner Peter MacKay has said that as prime minister he would not re-criminalize pot. There is a non-partisan case against weed legalization, however. As Rory Leishman explains, science points to serious health risks associated with the recreational use of cannabis, including growing evidence of a link between its use and psychosis.

Cannabis and Conservatives

Rory Leishman
July 22, 2009
Conservative leadership frontrunner Peter MacKay has said that as prime minister he would not re-criminalize pot. There is a non-partisan case against weed legalization, however. As Rory Leishman explains, science points to serious health risks associated with the recreational use of cannabis, including growing evidence of a link between its use and psychosis.
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According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Canada is the pot-smoking champion of the industrialized world. No fewer than 17 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 64 admit to having smoked marijuana during the past year.[1] The United States ranks second with a corresponding rate of 12.2 per cent, while Germany, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the majority of other industrialized countries record substantially less than 5 per cent.

For some Canadians, Canada’s leadership in cannabis consumption might be a matter of indifference, if not national pride. Such complacency is misplaced. With millions of Canadians already suffering from the evils of alcohol abuse and tobacco addiction, no one should be indifferent to the growing menace of cannabis abuse and addiction.

In a recent review of the scientific literature on the effect of cannabis on health, Ted Leggett, a UNODC expert, succinctly concludes: “Cannabis is not harmless.”[2] For one thing, the “stoner,” like the alcoholic, is all too apt to get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence and cause a serious accident.[3] Leggett warns, “Numerous studies find an association between cannabis use and psychosis.[4]” The risks of these and other adverse psychological reactions could increase because of the substantially greater potency of the cannabis consumed in Canada and elsewhere in recent years.[5]

For people who use cannabis regularly, one of the most common health risks is addiction. Leggett warns that despite claims to the contrary, cannabis dependence is a reality:

… many people who consume cannabis (several studies indicate just under 10 per cent) find it difficult to stop, even when it interferes with other aspects of their lives, and more than one million people from all over the world enter treatment for cannabis dependence each year.[6]

Aristotle Would Understand Our Problem.

There is no scientific dispute over the serious, sometimes lethal health risks posed by the recreational use of cannabis, cocaine, opium and most, if not all, of the other drugs governed by Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.[7] Are the addictive and dangerous aspects of these drugs sufficient reason to ban their recreational use?[8]

Aristotle would have thought so. In The Politics, he argued,

It is clear … that the state is not an association of people dwelling in the same place, established to prevent its members from committing injustice against each other, and to promote transactions…. The state is an association intended to enable its members, in their households and the kinships, to live well; its purpose is a perfect and self-sufficient life.[9]

Immanuel Kant took the same view. He specifically argued that the state should protect its citizens from the harmful effects of

… stupefying agents such as opium and other products of the plant kingdom [because] these agents are misleading in that they produce for a while a dreamy euphoria and freedom from care, and even an imagined strength. But they are harmful in that afterwards depression and weakness follow and, worst of all, there results a need to take these stupefying agents again and again to increase the amount.[10]

While holding that the state should permit the drinking of wine in moderation, Kant favoured a legal ban on other addictive drugs.

“The use of opium and distilled spirits for enjoyment is closer to baseness than the use of wine because the former, with the dreamy euphoria they produce, make one taciturn, withdrawn, and uncommunicative. Therefore, they are permitted only as medicines.”[11]

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, is one of the leading conservative philosophers in the United States. Like Aristotle and Kant, he, too, supports criminal sanctions for immoral acts such as drug abuse. George explains:

The immoral actors themselves are benefited, whether the acts from which they were deterred harmed others or only themselves. For, by deterring such acts, the law may prevent people from habituating themselves to corrupting vices which will more or less gradually erode their character and will to resist. Even people who might, in the absence of the law, wish to perform the immoral act may benefit from the law by being gradually habituated to resist, freely and willingly, the very vice which they would not have attempted to resist prior to that habituation.[12]

Libertarians, of course, do not trust even a democratic state to enact laws to protect its citizens from vices. In an often-quoted passage from On Liberty, John Stuart Mill held that “men should be free to act upon their opinions – to carry these out in their lives, without hindrance, either physical or moral, from their fellow-men, so long as it is at their own risk and peril.” In sharp contrast to Aristotle, Kant and George, Mill insisted that the state should not interfere with “purely self-regarding misconduct,” even if it might potentially harm others. Mill explained:

Drunkenness, for example, in ordinary cases, is not a fit subject for legislative interference; but I should deem it perfectly legitimate that a person, who had once been convicted of any act of violence to others under the influence of drink, should be placed under a special legal restriction, personal to himself; that if he were afterwards found drunk, he should be liable to a penalty, and that if when in that state he committed another offence, the punishment to which he would be liable for that other offence should be increased in severity. The making himself drunk, in a person whom drunkenness excites to do harm to others, is a crime against others. So, again, idleness, except in a person receiving support from the public, or except when it constitutes a breach of contract, cannot without tyranny be made a subject of legal punishment; but if, either from idleness or from any other avoidable cause, a man fails to perform his legal duties to others, as for instance to support his children, it is no tyranny to force him to fulfil that obligation, by compulsory labour, if no other means are available.[13]

By such reasoning, Mill would oppose a legal ban on even hard drugs such as cocaine that “can cause severe agitation, paranoid thinking, erratic or violent behaviour.”[14] Still less would he endorse any constrictions on the consumption and sale for recreational use of soporific substances such as cannabis and heroin, even if he were persuaded that the result would be a catastrophic increase in the number of addicts living on welfare at huge cost to taxpayers.

Milton Friedman, an icon among those who advocate the legalization of drugs, argued that it is very likely, but less than certain, that legalizing drugs would increase the number of drug users. He explained in an interview:

The one adverse effect that legalization might have is that there very likely would be more people taking drugs. That’s not by any means clear. But, if you legalized, you destroy the black market, the price of drugs would go down drastically. And as an economist, lower prices tend to generate more demand.[15]

Quite so. He added:

However, there are some very strong qualifications to be made to that. The effect of criminalization, of making drugs criminal, is to drive people from mild drugs to strong drugs…. Marijuana is a very heavy, bulky substance and, therefore, it’s relatively easy to interdict. The warriors on drugs have been more successful interdicting marijuana than, let’s say, cocaine. So, marijuana prices have gone up, they’ve become harder to get. There’s been an incentive to grow more potent marijuana and people have been driven from marijuana to heroin, or cocaine, or crack.[16]

Milton Friedman was a great economist. Surely, no one other than a proponent of legalizing drugs can take seriously his argument that legalization could reduce the consumption of heroin, cocaine and crack because consumers would prefer cheaper marijuana.

Anyone who doubts the potentially devastating consequences of legalizing recreational drugs should reflect upon the experience of China with opium after the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin when Britain, France and other allied powers compelled China to legalize the importation and sale of opium.[17] Most leftists were outraged. Karl Marx denounced this intrusion into the internal affairs of China as a capitalist, imperialist imposition of “free trade in poison.”[18]

The prime beneficiary of this outrage was the British Empire. By 1880, India’s opium exports to China yielded 14 per cent of the Indian government’s annual income.[19] China responded in 1890 by legalizing the domestic production of opium with the result that imports from India promptly collapsed. By 1906, it was now China that had opium revenues equivalent to 14 per cent of the annual income of the central government. In that same year, annual opium production in China was four times greater than was the total annual global production in 2007.[20]

The impact on the people of China was devastating. Writing from Shanghai in 1855, a Western observer, C. M. Medhurst, wrote:

Besides the cases of death arising from the excessive use of opium among the higher classes who can afford to gorge themselves with it until they die, … in the case of those who are in middling circumstances, and get inured to the habit, the enervating effects are such that they become after a time unable to attend to their ordinary avocation…. Their business fails…. Gradually they part with their little property, furniture, clothes etc., until they come to the level of the labouring poor.

Among the lower classes those who indulge in the use of opium are reduced to abject poverty sooner than the preceding. Having no property, furniture or clothes to dispose of, … as soon as they are unable by begging to obtain the half-burnt opium [pipe scrapings] on which their very life depends, they droop and die by the roadside and are buried at the expense of the charitable.[21]

In 1906, the British government estimated that 13 per cent of the adult male population of China was addicted to opium. The government of China put the figure at 27 per cent.[22] Both figures are only guesses. Professor Griffiths Edwards of Britain’s National Addiction Centre notes:

What may, however, confidently be concluded is that the damage done to individuals by opium was in some localities common, obvious and appalling. The fact that such huge quantities of opium were available made that sort of outcome likely. Witnesses may have exaggerated, scares may have been got up, but the consistency of the eyewitness accounts, coupled with the import figures, support the conclusion that the British opium trade did significant harm to China. The problem was not just a fuss got up by missionaries and such-like troublemakers.[23]

Chinese nationalists feared that opium was sapping the vitality of the nation. With the support of Protestant missionaries in China, they persuaded the British government in 1907 to phase out the sale of opium to China over a 10-year period. Correspondingly, the Emperor of China directed his government to eliminate domestic opium production. By 1911, opium production in China was just 4,000 tons, down from 35,400 tons five years earlier.[24]

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Arab countries were in the throes of a different drug crisis brought on by the legalized sale of cannabis. Malcolm Muggeridge witnessed the devastating consequences first-hand. In his autobiography, he recalled that the students he taught in Munia, Egypt, in 1927 “seemed to be far away, lost in some distant dream of erotic bliss; a consequence, no doubt, in the case of many of them of their addiction to hashish.” [25] He added:

The deleterious effects of this addiction were, in those days, universally taken for granted; and the Egyptian authorities … spent a lot of money and effort in an attempt to stamp it out…. At the League of Nations, too, the suppression of the traffic in hashish was one of the few things the member states unanimously agreed about. If anyone then had suggested that all this endeavour was misplaced because hashish did little harm, and was anyway non-addictive, the suggestion would have been received with incredulity and derision. To the best of my knowledge no one at all reputable, or for that matter disreputable, ever did make such a suggestion. I had to wait 40 years to hear it made, and then not just by crackpots and wild libertarians; but by respected citizens, clergymen, purported scientific investigators, and other ostensibly informed and enlightened persons. When I hear or read their apologies for hashish, I recall the Zaffaran Palace and the stupefied faces and inert minds of so many of the students there; the dreadful instances of the destructive effects of this drug on bodies and minds which any resident in the Middle East was bound to encounter. I know of no better exemplification of the death wish at the heart of our way of life than the determination to bring about the legalization of hashish so that it may ravage the West as it has the Middle and Far East.”[26]

Egypt and China illustrate the potentially catastrophic effects of the legalization of recreational drugs. No one can be sure that a similar catastrophe would not overtake Canada if Parliament were to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, opiates or cocaine.

Proponents of legalization argue that it makes no sense for Parliament to ban a drug such as cannabis that is relatively harmless in the current Canadian context while allowing the production and sale of alcohol and nicotine, which are known to rank among the most lethal and debilitating of recreational drugs. In the case of tobacco, King James I of England would have seen some merit to the argument. In 1604, he imposed a 4,000 per cent increase in the import tax on tobacco in an attempt to curtail tobacco smoking, which he denounced as “a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, [and] dangerous to the lungs.”[27] This first attempt at tobacco prohibition failed. Although tobacco smoking was introduced to England only a few years earlier, nicotine addiction was already so widespread that it was practically impossible, as it is now, to eliminate the production and consumption of tobacco by legislative fiat.

Much the same goes for alcohol. Following the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcohol for consumption in the United States in 1919, popular support for the reform measure quickly faded, and it was revoked in 1933. Wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks are so much a part of the culture of all Western countries that, for better or worse, it is impossible for any government to eliminate the widespread consumption of alcohol.

Some critics of the war on drugs maintain that prohibition can be no more successful in eliminating the use and abuse of cannabis, opiates or any other recreational drugs than it was in eliminating the consumption of alcohol. In a position paper calling upon the United States Congress to repeal the Controlled Substances Act and shut down the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Cato Institute argues that in the 1930s:

Congress recognized that Prohibition had failed to stop drinking and had increased prison populations and violent crime…. Today, Congress confronts a similarly failed prohibition policy…. Since 1989, more people have been incarcerated for drug offences than for all violent crimes combined. There are now about 480,000 drug offenders in jails and prisons, and about 50 percent of the federal prison population consists of drug offenders.

Yet, as was the case during Prohibition, all the arrests and incarcerations haven’t stopped the use and abuse of drugs, or the drug trade, or the crime associated with black-market transactions.[28]

True enough, but the same criticism can be directed at laws banning everything from murder to littering: These laws have also not succeeded in eliminating the evils against which they are directed, but no one would suggest that they should all be repealed.

Besides, Prohibition in the United States did not altogether fail. It succeeded in curbing some of the worst ravages of alcohol abuse. Mark H. Moore, professor of criminal justice at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, sums up the evidence:

Alcohol consumption declined dramatically during Prohibition. Cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 in 1929. Admissions to state mental hospitals for alcoholic psychosis declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928. Arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct declined 50 percent between 1916 and 1922. For the population as a whole, the best estimates are that consumption of alcohol declined by 30 percent to 50 percent.”[29]

After these gains were achieved, Prohibition was repealed. Governments in the United States, Canada and many other countries impose special taxes and a variety of other restrictions on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages to prevent a recurrence of the soaring rates of alcohol abuse that fed the clamour for outright prohibition.

In a recent report, A Century of International Drug Control, UNODC documented the success of the international effort to restrict the use of other recreational drugs. In the preface, Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC Executive Director, writes:

For those who doubt the effectiveness of drug control, consider this. In 1906, 25 million people were using opium in the world (1.5% of the world population) compared with 16.5 million opiate users today (0.25% of the world population). In 1906/07, the world produced around 41,000 tons of opium – five times the global level of illicit opium production in 2008. While opium used to be produced in a huge belt, stretching from China to Indochina, Burma, India, Persia, Turkey and the Balkan countries, the illegal production of opium is now concentrated in Afghanistan (92%)….

Illicit drug use (mostly on an occasional basis) has been contained to around 5 percent of the adult population or 3.2% of the world’s total population – a much lower prevalence than less regulated drugs like alcohol and tobacco. Deaths due to drugs are limited to perhaps 200,000 a year which is one tenth of those killed by alcohol and twenty times less than those killed by tobacco.

It makes no sense to unravel this achievement that has been a century in the making, by loosening controls on drug use.[30]

Liberal Member of Parliament Keith Martin disagrees. In April 2009, he introduced a private member’s bill to decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana under 30 grams and the possession of two or fewer plants. In speaking to this motion, he repudiated the entire war on drugs. He said, “Mr. Speaker, the war on drugs has been a complete failure. It has not reduced the crime rate, it has not reduced drug use, nor has it saved lives or money. The status quo only benefits organized crime gangs and the insurgents in faraway Afghanistan.”[31]

Martin assured the Commons that passage of his bill on marijuana possession “would sever the ties between the casual user and organized crime gangs. It would eliminate demand for their product and significantly undermine the financial underpinnings of organized crime gangs in Canada.” Yet, there were organized criminal gangs in the United States both before and after Prohibition as there were before and after the legalization of gambling. There will always be organized criminal gangs. If Parliament were to decriminalize not just cannabis, but also all recreational drugs, gangsters would be sure to shift their focus to other illegal activities such as extortion, prostitution, pornography and selling dangerous and addictive recreational drugs to minors.

Martin maintained:

The status quo only increases harm and drug use. What I hope happens through this bill is that we can move toward a rational and mature debate on substance abuse so that people who have substance abuse problems are treated as a medical problem and organized crime gangs are treated as a judicial problem.

With this statement, Martin implies that there is no need for laws to curb substance abuse, because it is essentially a medical problem. However, this argument does not hold true even for alcoholism. It is generally understood that until an alcoholic recognizes that he has a serious problem and wants to end his addiction, there is virtually nothing a physician can do to help him kick the habit. It is only after the alcoholic has summoned up the will to stay sober that a medical doctor can help by gradually weaning the addict off the drug to avoid the potentially lethal consequences of delirium tremens.

The same goes for other addictions. A physician can do little to help a patient give up an addiction to tobacco, marijuana or heroin until the patient resolves to do so. Moreover, contrary to popular stereotypes about heroin addiction, withdrawal from this drug is not especially dangerous or even harrowing. British psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple is an authority on this subject. In his book Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy, he draws upon 14 years of experience working in a large hospital in a slum in England as well as in a nearby prison. With reference to heroin withdrawal, he cites quotations from some major medical textbooks, all of them agreeing that “[a]lthough opiate withdrawal is not life threatening, patients can become extremely dysphoric.”[32]

Dalrymple comments, “‘Dysphoric’ means, of course, unhappy or disgruntled, though ‘dysphoric’ sounds very much more precise, technical, and medical: in other words, they are unhappy or disgruntled because [33] they are not getting what they want. But, to adapt P. G. Wodehouse slightly, which of us is gruntled all the time?[

Dalrymple is scornful of clinics such as Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site where clinicians help addicts to inject themselves safely with clean needles. He notes:

This policy certainly seems to reduce the chances of an addict contacting HIV or Hepatitis B and C. If a person persists in taking opiates, and in committing crime to obtain the money to pay for them, you provide him with free opiates so that he commits no more crime. And so on and so forth, always in the direction of accommodation of the habit, of course.

The addict is not to be confronted directly with the consequences of his own actions; in modern society, we want our risk and our safety too. It is the modern equivalent of eating one’s cake and having it.[34]

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the personal possession and use of all drugs, including cocaine and cannabis.[35] Using and possessing are still prohibited, but violations are considered administrative rather than criminal, and the great majority of drug users are no longer brought before the courts. Instead, they are assigned by police to special commissions composed of health, legal and social work professionals who counsel abusers on the availability of treatment for addiction and other problems related to drug abuse. Criminal sanctions remain for drug trafficking.

Martin urges Canada to follow Portugal’s example in the case of cannabis. He claims that Portugal’s experiment with decriminalization has “significantly undermined organized crime gangs and reduced the use of both hard and soft drugs, which in turn has reduced crime.”[36]

The Cato Institute’s Glenn Greenwald likewise lauds the Portuguese reforms:

Decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although post-decriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies – such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage – have decreased dramatically. [37]

Such claims are difficult to square with data compiled by the authoritative European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which indicate that during the first six years of Portugal’s experiment with decriminalization, the number of people who had used cannabis rose 54 per cent, while the number of

[38] In 2006, 216 “direct drug-related deaths” were reported in Portugal, up from 156 in 2002. Clearly, decriminalization on the Portuguese model is not a proven success.

Cocaine users nearly doubled.

On one point, Martin is clearly correct: Canada has a serious and growing drug problem. The percentage of Canadians aged 15 to 24 who used cannabis during the past 12 months reached 41.4 per cent in 2004, up from 26.8 per cent in 1994.[39] The question is why.

Chuck Doucette, a former RCMP officer who spent 12 years as head of the drug awareness program in British Columbia, told the House of Commons Justice Committee:

Things have changed from when I first started in drug enforcement in 1977. Over those 30 years, I saw the sentences for drug offences getting progressively weaker. At the same time, I saw the problems related to drug abuse getting progressively larger. I also saw the drug scene in downtown Vancouver increase as the enforcement efforts in that area decreased. From my perspective, I do not see how anyone could possibly examine the past 30 years and make a case that weaker sentences lead to less damaging social consequences. My experience is that the more lenient we got, the more problems we got.[40]

Compared to the war on drugs in the United States, the Canadian effort is a mere skirmish. During 2006, only 10,450 persons were brought before the adult courts of Canada on charges of drug trafficking, down from 12,563 in 2002.[41] In 2006, 6,051 were convicted of trafficking, but only 2,896 were sentenced to prison for an average of 280 days.[42] In contrast, during 2004, 282,592 adults were arrested for drug trafficking in the United States, 201,760 were convicted, and 139,214 were consigned to prison for an average of five years.[43]

The inglorious career of Marc Emery, Canada’s self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot,” illustrates the laxity of law enforcement on the Canadian side of border. After migrating from Ontario to British Columbia in 1993, he established a thriving mail-order business in marijuana seeds. Crown prosecutors in British Columbia ignored the operation until July 29, 2005, when, at the request of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, they ordered his arrest for extradition to the United States to face charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. After years of fighting extradition in the Canadian courts, Emery announced on June 9, 2009, that he had instructed his lawyer to attempt to negotiate a plea bargain whereby he would voluntarily surrender to authorities in Seattle in August in exchange for a guilty plea to a single charge of drug distribution and a maximum penalty of up to eight years instead of the possibility of life imprisonment.[44]

Granted, despite tough law enforcement, the United States has a huge drug problem. During the eight-year tenure of former United States president Bill Clinton, teen drug use increased by close to 100 per cent.[45] To reverse this trend, George W. Bush initiated an ambitious new National Drug Control Strategy, which featured stepped-up drug treatment and prevention as well as greater enforcement. Subsequently, youth drug abuse declined by 11 per cent within two years and 23 per cent over five years. While marijuana use has soared among Canadian youth over the past seven years, it has fallen by 25 per cent in the United States.[46]

Meanwhile, in October 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced a National Anti-Drug Strategy for Canada, which called for $111-million in new and ongoing funding for treatment of drug abuse over the next five years as well as $30-million for prevention and $102-million in new funding for enforcement.[47] On February 27, 2009, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson followed up with Bill C-15, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that would provide mandatory jail time for producing and selling illegal drugs as well as increased penalties for drug offences that involve youth or that are carried out for the benefit of organized crime.[48] Under this bill, anyone convicted of trafficking in marijuana near a school will be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.[49] In addition, the bill stipulates that grow operators with as few as one or as many as 200 marijuana plants will be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of six months subject to the proviso that a Drug Treatment Court can suspend the sentence while an addicted offender takes an approved treatment program. If the growing operation is used for trafficking, the offender will be subject to a maximum sentence of 14 years.

The Harper government’s National Anti-Drug Strategy represents a step in the right direction. It aims to reverse the increase in the use of cannabis and other recreational drugs before they take on the calamitous dimensions of alcohol abuse and tobacco addiction. To this end, the strategy steps up treatment and prevention programs for drug abuse. It proposes to reverse the lax enforcement of the law on drug offenders during 14 years of rule by the preceding Liberal governments. If Parliament goes along with these measures, the Harper Conservatives will have set Canada on the path to a substantial reduction in the number of Canadians afflicted with drug addiction and abuse. It is a realistic and compassionate policy with a worthy objective that Aristotle would surely have approved.

Rory Leishman is a national affairs columnist for The London Free Press in London, Ontario, as well as for Catholic Insight magazine. As a freelancer, he also writes commentaries from time to time for other Canadian newspapers and magazines.

1 World Drug Report 2008: Statistical Annex Consumption,
2 UNODC – Bulletin on Narcotics – Volume LVIII, Nos. 1 and 2, 2006,
3 There is no scientific consensus on the extent and seriousness of this problem, because there is no practical means outside of a controlled laboratory setting to determine accurately the level of cannabis intoxication in a driver at the time an accident occurs. Even so, there is enough other evidence to suggest that cannabis intoxication poses a serious driving hazard, Ibid., 115-6.
4 Ibid., 133.
5 Ibid., 132-133 and 103-4.
6 Ibid., 133. In Canada, almost 26,000 people were treated for the abuse of drugs other than alcohol in 2001, and almost one-quarter (24.7 per cent) of those were struggling with cannabis. The comparable percentages for cocaine and opiates were 25.6 and 8.1 per cent, respectively.
7 CanLII – Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19,
8 For a summary of the health risks posed by each of these drugs, see Straight Facts About Drugs & Drug Abuse – The Charts,
9 Aristotle, Thomas Alan Sinclair, and Trevor J. Saunders, The Politics (Penguin Classics, 1981), 197-8.
10 Quoted in David Richards Sex, Drugs, Death and the Law (Rowman & Littlefield, 1986), 173.
11 Ibid., 173-4.
12 Robert P. George, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (Oxford University Press, USA, 1995), 226- 7.
13 John Stuart Mill and Gertrude Himmelfarb, On Liberty (Penguin Classics, 1985), 110-1.
14 Straight Facts about Drugs & Drug Abuse – The Charts.
15 Drug Library Drug News, Interview with Milton Friedman on the Drug War,
16 Ibid.
17 A Century of International Drug Control,, 23.
18 “Karl Marx in New York Daily Tribune,”
19 A Century of International Drug Control, 24.
20 Ibid.
21 Quoted in Griffith Edwards, Matters of Substance: Drugs – and Why Everyone’s a User, 1st ed. (Thomas Dunne Books, 2005), 88.
22 A Century of International Drug Control, 25.
23 Edwards, Matters of Substance, 90.
24 A Century of International Drug Control, 46.
25 Malcolm Muggeridge, The Green Stick [autobiography], Chronicles of Wasted Time v. 1 (London: Fontana/Collins, 1975), 168.
26 Ibid.
27 James, A Counterblaste to Tobacco (By R[obert] B[arker], 1604),
28 Cato Handbook for Policymakers, Cato Institute,, 337-8.
29 “Actually, Prohibition Was a Success,” The New York Times,
30 A Century of International Drug Control
31 Keith Martin’s bill to decriminalize marijuana possession,

32 Jay H. Stein, Internal Medicine (Elsevier Health Sciences, 1998), 2297.
33 Theodore Dalrymple, Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy, 1st ed. (Encounter Books, 2006), 20.
34 Ibid., 41.
35 For an overview of the Portuguese program, see Decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal: a current overview,
36 Martin on Portugal Official Report * Table of Contents * Number 001 (Official Version),
37 Cato Institute, Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies,
38 EMCDDA Country Overview: Portugal, The lifetime
prevalence of cannabis use reached 11.7 per cent in 2007, up from 7.6 per cent in 2001. Over this same period, lifetime use of cocaine soared to 1.9 per cent, up from 1.0 per cent.
39 Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS): A National Survey of Canadians’ Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs: Substance Use by Canadian Youth,
40 House of Commons Committees – JUST (40-2) – Edited Evidence – Number 023 (Official Version),
41 Statistics Canada, Adult Criminal Court Statistics, 2006/2007,
42 Ibid.
43 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drugs and Crime Facts: Drug law violations, pretrial release, prosecution, and adjudication,
44 “Vancouver pot activist Marc Emery to plead guilty to U.S. drug charge,”
45 Office of National Drug Control Policy – 2009 National Drug Control Strategy,
According to this report, the rate of drug use among high school students in the United States was down to 22.8 per cent during 2008, about half the rate during the peak years of 1978 and 1979. The rate of positive tests for illegal drugs
in the workplace was just 3.8 per cent in 2007, down from 13.6 per cent in 1988.
46 “Drug Legalization Isn’t the Answer,”
47 National Anti-Drug Strategy,
48 C-15,
49 Mandatory prison sentences for serious drug crimes,

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President Trump recently named Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat made vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, triggering a heated debate on the clash between legislative and judicial powers. Rory Leishman evaluates former prime minister Stephen Harper’s attempts to rein in Canada’s activist judiciary.

Unlike the West, Egypt’s president calls for a revolution in Islam

Rarely do mainstream Muslim leaders acknowledge a link between Islamist extremism and the core teachings of their religion. But the President of Egypt has done so, and called for a “religious revolution” to save Islam from self-destruction. It’s a message that must be echoed by Muslims in Canada and elsewhere to end the spiralling violence and oppression being committed around the world in the name of Allah. Rory Leishman explains…

Innocence lost

The world is supposed to need more Canada; peaceful, tolerant and inclusive. Digging through the murky networks of global terrorism, however, Rory Leishman argues that what Canada is offering the world is a soft touch for radicalisation that leads to further.

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