Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Supports Renewal of Canada's Drug Strategy
For immediate release -- May 27, 2003 Toronto --The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) supports the legislation announced today converting cannabis possession to a civil violation under the federal Contraventions Act. CAMH also supports the announcement of a national drug strategy to situate the response to drug use within a broader health framework.
"The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health supports the movement away from the criminalization of cannabis use. While CAMH does not encourage cannabis use, research indicates that most cannabis use is sporadic or experimental and not likely to be associated with serious negative long-term consequences. Based on the research on other jurisdictions that have reformed their cannabis laws, CAMH believes that the current criminal sanctions for cannabis possession are an inappropriate control mechanism. We are encouraged to see that an alternative approach will be implemented," said Dr. David Marsh, CAMH's Clinical Director, Addiction Medicine.
CAMH also believes it is important to continue to penalize people involved in the supply and sale of cannabis, making cannabis available to minors, or engaging in behaviours that are endangering to others, including driving.
Based on supporting evidence from other jurisdictions, CAMH also believes that eliminating criminal sanctions for cannabis possession for personal use will not lead to its increased use.
Marsh said that it's important that decriminalization of cannabis be implemented within the context of the newly announced national drug strategy to ensure an overall framework that recognizes addiction as a health issue. "The strategy should be one that recognizes the four "pillars" -- treatment, harm reduction, prevention and enforcement. It is critical that an appropriate level of funding be provided and maintained for prevention and treatment programs to minimize the prevalence of cannabis use and its associated harms. It will also be critical to evaluate the overall impact of the newly introduced alternative control mechanisms introduced to inform future policy discussions," he said.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is a Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization Collaborating Centre and a teaching hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
For further information contact: Anne Ptasznik, Media Relations Coordinator (416) 595-6015.