POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 75 Police do not target marihuana users. Police do not target those who possess minor quantities of marihuana for personal use. A recent study conducted in Ottawa, by the RCMP Drug Awareness Service, confirmed that over 90% of marihuana related offences were secondary charges to more serious primary charges of trafficking, possession of other drugs, weapons offences, fraud, assault, and most commonly, court/parole breaches. For example, a police officer stops an impaired driver and during the search finds marihuana in the car or on the person. A warrant is executed to arrest a Break and Enter suspect and when arrested, is found to be in breach of parole and having marihuana in his possession. Both charges are laid, but there is no data base to show how they were linked, or that the possession of marihuana charge was only laid, after the person was arrested for another criminal offence. At present you can only identify the link by examining court records. To presume that police set out and target people for possession of small amounts of marihuana is inaccurate. (RCMP Drug Awareness Service, 1999) Police continue to advocate enforcement to stem the importation, cultivation and distribution of marihuana which is controlled and fuelled by organized criminals, including outlaw motorcycle gangs. Medicinal marihuana The CACP supports research into medicinal uses of any currently illicit drug. We accept that it is the responsibility of Health Canada scientists and Federal Legislators, through their research and regulatory approval process, to safeguard the interests of all Canadians. Pertaining to the issue of the medicinal use of marihuana and any and all other current illicit drugs, the CACP, as with all Canadians, are concerned with the potential hazards, the health care costs, safe storage, misuse and a host of other issues. Health Canada scientists and our Federal Legislators will take the necessary action in the best interest of all Canadians to assess, through their research and regulatory approval process, if marihuana or other current illicit drugs and their derivatives should be approved for medicinal use, in a similar vein that currently enables tranquillizers, morphine and other drugs to be legally prescribed, despite their potential for addiction. (1999 CACP policy) The Ontario Court of Appeal has recently ruled that existing legislation regarding the use of marihuana for medicinal purposes is unconstitutional. They have requested that legislation be enacted by the federal government by July 2001 to allow sick persons easier access to marijuana to treat their symptoms, over and above the current exemptions from law (ie. Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) offered by the Minister of Health toward selected individuals. The Minister of Health recently announced that his department will take the steps necessary to develop regulations in response to the Court's decision. c) Harm reduction The stated goal of Canada's Drug Strategy is to "...reduce the harm to individuals, families and the community at large caused by the use of substances such as alcohol, pharmaceuticals, solvents and illicit drugs...." Because there is no single definition of harm reduction, the term should always be defined in context, and any debate on harm reduction should be entered into carefully. For example, the reduction of harm has been effected through designated driver programs that prevent drinking drivers from getting behind the wheel; as a result of public education and sensitization, people were challenged to think about the consequences of driving drunk. As such, this public awareness initiative was a successful harm reduction measure. Methadone maintenance and needle exchange programs are two of the examples most commonly associated with harm reduction. Police fully support these measures, in principle, to save lives. We believe that once lives are saved, the quality of that life should not be forgotten. The view of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) in that no treatment can be effective if it involves the addict's continued use of drugs; the effectiveness of harm reduction efforts (...Substance Abuse Issues continued) (continued...)