Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harper Stacked Conservative Senate Dangerously Stupid On Crime

The Canadian (Conservative stacked) Senate has obviously disregarded all of the experts who testified against Bill S-10 during Senate Committee hearings, regardless of the evidence and research presented that proves that not only do mandatory minimums for drugs not work - they, along with draconian prohibition laws, cause MORE HARM than good to our society!

Senate Quietly Passes Bill S-10 and Mandatory Minimums For Marijuana

Parents, this is not a bill aimed strictly at cartel kingpins as the Tories would have you believe. No, this wolf in sheep's clothing will have our sons and daughters, aka "easy police prey", thrown in prison because they prefer to use cannabis, a much safer substance than legal alcohol and nicotine filled cigarettes. Many college students will grow a small amount of plants for themselves and a few friends so they don't have to come into contact with drug dealers, certainly this is not Organized Crime! Under Bill S-10 the "serious crime" of baking a batch of Pot Brownies will demand a judge hand down a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than 18 months imprisonment (Seriously.) and even the simple action of passing a joint is
deemed "drug trafficking".

I've stated many times throughout my blog that of course we would prefer our youth to not use any drugs at all, be it alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, cannabis, oxycondon, ecstasy, etc. But the reality is that many will experiment (as millions of us did in our youth) with different substances. In this case, we certainly wish that if they are unfortunately caught by police, they NOT be persecuted and sent to prison with violent criminals! And if your child fell victim to drug addiction, would you rather them receive counselling and rehabilitative help? Or be locked up and punished alongside dangerous felons?

Stand up, Canadian Parents! It's time to get educated - we must refute ideological drug war rhetoric and defend the civil rights and safety of our children! Prohibition legislation creates and causes violence in our neighbourhoods. Let's be the "Smart On Crime" Generation that demands our government put public safety and common sense first - we can start by defeating Bill S-10 in the House of Commons.
I ask that you please contact your Member of Parliament and request that they do the right thing by our kids and fellow Canadians and VOTE NO on Bill S-10!!!

U.S. Surgeon Gen
Joycelyn Elders: Legalize Marijuana!
"We Criminalize People At The Highest Rate In The World!"

"Incarcerex" - Steve's solution to fill Canadian taxpayer
prisons with cannabis consumers.

To learn more about Bill S-10, please visit http://www.WhyProhibition.ca/s10 , http://www.cannabisfacts.ca/mandatoryminimums.html , sign the Petition and also read another post I wrote "Look! Over There! A Shiny Thing!!!" - written before Stephen Harper stacked the unelected Senate with Conservatives. (so much for "Sober Second Thought!")


‎"When the public is provided with more information regarding the law and the circumstances surrounding the offense and the offender, the tendency is not to favour punitive sanctions such as mandatory minimum sentences." ~ "Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions: Some Representative Models"


"Cannabis use, however, was generally infrequent, with 45.7% of previous-year users reporting use two or fewer times during the previous three months. In addition, most users did not report experiencing serious harm due to their cannabis use."

"For the general population of Canadians, the use of illicit drugs was usually limited to cannabis only. About 28.7% of Canadians reported using only cannabis during their lifetime, and 11.5% used only cannabis during the previous year."

"According to a 2009 report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers. It states: “In terms of (health-related) costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.”

"The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) has also published a document outlining the relationship between the perceived seriousness and the actual costs of substance abuse in Canada. The study found that, while the total social costs associated with alcohol are more than twice those for all other illicit drugs, the public consistently rated the overall seriousness of illicit drugs as higher in the Canadian Addiction Survey.

The reasons for this misperception may relate to the fact that alcohol is a legal, socially accepted product that is regularly used by the vast majority of Canadians. While over 90% of Canadians have direct, personal experience with alcohol, only 3% of CAS respondents reported past-year use of the five most popular illicit drugs, so perceptions of risk will likely be inflated for these substances due to the unfamiliarity factor.
The CCSA also points to the police, concerned citizen groups, political leaders and policy makers as those involved in amplifying the perceptions of the risks associated with illicit drug abuse.**"

Mark Ertel, president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, has said that the measures would strip judges of the ability to apply discretion for mitigating circumstances and could turn Canadian correctional institutions and penitentiaries into US-style inmate warehouses.65 Mr. Ertel argues that automatic jail sentences, with no allowance for mitigating considerations, will inevitably prompt the kind of appeal that led to a 1987 Supreme Court of Canada decision (R. v. Smith) striking down a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence under the now-repealed Narcotic Control Act as cruel and unusual punishment. He also argues that the bill targets the wrong problem as almost all violent crime is alcohol-related, yet liquor manufacturers will not be prosecuted**.

Some opponents of the mandatory sentencing that is a feature of the drug bills have noted that the increase in costs to operate prisons will draw funds away from social programs, like those addressing improved education, health care and child poverty, which reduce crime. Incarceration is seen as poor stewardship of both money and human resources.**

Other opponents of mandatory minimum sentencing have taken note of the fact that the United States, which has championed the use of such sentences for many years, is, in some cases, moving away from them. The thinking is that by depriving judges of discretion and forcing them to apply rigid and arbitrary sentencing rules, the United States built irrationality into its justice system. Yet, even though American courts mete out sentences that are double that of British and three times that of Canadian courts, the US violent crime rate is higher than in those two countries.

In addition, while crime rates in both Canada and the United States have fallen by almost the same amount in recent years, the incarceration rates in the two countries have followed different patterns: in Canada, unlike in the US, there has been no substantial increase in the size of the prison population.

One editorial has noted that, despite 25 years of harsh mandatory minimums, disproportionate numbers of the poor, the young, minorities and the drug addicted have been thrown in US jails with no impact on the drug business itself, which has flourished**.

Opponents of mandatory minimum sentences point to two Department of Justice studies that conclude that such laws are not effective and are increasingly unpopular as crime-fighting measures in other countries. A 2005 study concluded: “There is some indication that minimum sentences are not an effective sentencing tool: that is, they constrain judicial discretion without offering any increased crime prevention benefits.”

A 2002 study, meanwhile, found that mandatory minimum sentences do not appear to deter crime. The reasons for this lack of deterrence include the fact that they bar judges from using their discretion to sentence individuals. As a result, prosecutors and police take up the discretionary role, often choosing not to charge people with offences that would automatically lead to a prison term. Mandatory minimum sentences also sometimes lower conviction rates, as juries refuse to convict accused people facing automatic but seemingly unfair prison terms. Furthermore, while these types of sentences show success in deterring firearms or drunk driving crimes, they appear to have no impact on drug crime. ~
No. 40-3-S10E Legislative Summary of Bill S-10: An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts


In terms of social costs, the vast majority of the social costs of cannabis are enforcement-related while the vast majority of tobacco costs are health-related. The social costs of alcohol are about evenly distributed between health care and enforcement.

In terms of costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user. On the enforcement side, costs for cannabis are the highest at $328 per user—94% of social costs for cannabis are linked to enforcement.** Enforcement costs per user for alcohol are about half those for cannabis ($153), while enforcement costs for tobacco are very low.

The harms, risks and social costs of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco vary greatly. A lot has to do with how the substances are handled legally. Alcohol and tobacco are legal substances, which explain their low enforcement costs relative to cannabis. On the other hand, the health costs per user of tobacco and alcohol are much higher than for cannabis. This may indicate that cannabis use involves fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco. These variations in risk, harms and costs need to be taken into account as we think about further efforts to deal with the use of these three substances in Canada. Efforts to reduce social costs related to cannabis, for example, will likely involve shifting its legal status by decriminalizing casual use, to reduce the high enforcement costs. Such a shift may be warranted given the apparent lower health risk associated with most cannabis use.**" ~ Cannabis, Tobacco and Alcohol Use in Canada, Comparing risks of harm and costs to society


" The evidence is clear, Cannabis has no lethal dose**, so you can't die from it. The impact on the brain structure for cannabis is nil, but there can be very serious brain function changes with alcohol abuse. Also, more dramatic liver functions are impaired with alcohol. Malnutrition, B-vitamin deficiency, and Korsakoff's Disorder are all linked to alcohol, but not cannabis." ~ Dr. Mitch Earleywine, University of Southern California psychologist, author of "Pot Politics: Marijuana and the Costs of Prohibition","Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence" and "Mind-Altering Drugs: The Science of Subjective Experience."

Please also watch this interview with Dr. Earlywine: SHOW 18: Dr. Mitch Earleywine - Parents' Guide to Marijuana.

And just a little more "fyi":

Kelly McParland: Stockwell Day’s criminal logic

I’m trying hard to take Stockwell Day’s warnings about unreported crime and the need for more jails seriously — I really am — but I can’t say I’m having much luck.

Maybe it’s the linkage that’s causing the trouble, as in, there isn’t any.

Mr. Day maintains that Canada needs more prisons. Specifically, he wants to spent $9 billion building more penitentiaries to hold all the criminals the Harper government intends to round up thanks to its tough-on-crime legislation.

But statistics show that crime is going down. The most recent report, released just a few weeks ago, shows a 17% drop from a decade ago, continuing a trend that has shown an ongoing decline in crime figures for the past ten years.

The data released by Statistics Canada … shows that the overwhelming number of criminal charges involved nonviolent offences. More than 45% of all offences reported in 2009 were for minor thefts such as shoplifting, or mischief. There were still nearly 50,000 people charged with possession of marijuana.

In contrast, homicides, attempted murder, serious sexual assaults and crimes against children, made up less than one quarter of one per cent of all reported offences.

Yet another indicator, the Crime Severity Index, which is a weighted average of criminal offences, is down 22% from the level in 1999.

So why spend billions building prisons when crime is decreasing? Because, claims Mr. Day, unreported crime is rising. And he knows this because Statistics Canada also has a measure that keeps track of crime victims, as opposed to crime reports, and calculates the gap.

The noise you hear is Absurdious, the God of Irony, being stomped to death under the jackboots of Stockwellian logic. First of all, as you may have heard, the Conservatives are in the middle of cancelling the collection of mandatory census data, arguing that voluntary data is just as good. But here we have Minister Day dismissing crime statistics — which are reported voluntarily — as unreliable. (Not all crime stats, mind, just the crime stats he doesn’t like. The crime stats he does like, the ones on unreported crime, are entirely trustworthy.)

Second, if the crimes are unreported, the perpetrators must be unarrested, and therefor the construction of prisons to hold them becomes just a little bit redundant, wouldn’t you say?

Mr. Day, who had managed to re-establish his reputation after his disastrous turn as Canadian Alliance party leader, is getting killed in editorial pages across the country. Montreal’s Gazette wrote that it was disconcerting to see him “scrape the bottom of the logical barrel -indeed, break right through the bottom of it” in trying to justify his prison budget. “Day’s interpretation of statistics is a crime,” said the Edmonton Journal, woy out there in Harper country. Several blogs quoted Mr. Day’s own convoluted words so readers could try to figure out or themselves what he was attempting to say.

Don’t bother. The answer is easy: The Conservatives think tough-on-crime sells well with voters, and if that means building prisons to house non-prisoners for unreported crime, well, who are they to argue? And never mind the eloquent case put forward by the recently-released Conrad Black, who made a powerful argument against following the U.S. down the road of prisons stuffed with oversentenced underlings wasting away at immense cost, with little benefit to the overall good of society.

Nope, logic isn’t going to get us anywhere on this one, folks. You just have to take it on faith. If, that is, you have that much faith in Mr. Day.

National Post
Shared under Educational Fair Use (See below)

**Cannabis has no lethal dose**:

"No acute lethal overdoses of cannabis are known, in contrast to several of its illegal (for example, cocaine) and legal (for example, alcohol, aspirin, acetaminophen) counterparts." - Stephen Sidney, M.D., associate director for clinical research at Kaiser Permanente, in an editorial published 9/20/03 in the British Medical Journal (Vol. 327, pp. 635-635)

"Unlike many of the drugs we prescribe every day, marijuana has never been proven to cause a fatal overdose." - Joycelyn Elders, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General, in a 3/26/04 editorial published in Rhode Island's Providence Journal

"The estimated lethal human dose of intravenous Marinol is 30 mg/kg (2100 mg/70 kg). Using this estimation of lethal dose, the equivalent inhaled THC would represent the smoking of 240 cannabis cigarettes with total systemic absorption of the average 8.8 mg of THC in each cigarette.

"Since absorption is much less than 100 percent, the amount of smoked marijuana required to reach lethality is on the order of one to two thousand cigarettes."

"The physical impossibility of a fatal overdose using smoked cannabis is obvious." - Denis Petro, M.D., in his 1997 paper "Pharmacology and Toxicity of Cannabis", published in the book "Cannabis in Medical Practice - A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana", pg 62

"Marijuana has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, going back to ancient civilizations in Egypt, India and Africa. In all that time, up to and including the present day, there has never been a report of a fatality directly due to the consumption of marijuana.

"In contrast, over 1,000 people die annually in the US from an overdose of our most common non-prescription drug, aspirin. In addition, many thousands of deaths result from the legal prescription drugs.

"After hearing two year's worth of evidence on the presumed dangers of marijuana, DEA Judge Francis L. Young said this: 'marijuana is the safest therapeutically active substance known to man ... safer than many foods we commonly consume.'" - Bill Zimmerman, Executive Director of Americans for Medical Rights

"Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage 50% of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity...

"At present it is estimated that marijuana's LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means in order to induce death, a smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette.

"NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately 0.9 grams. A smoker would have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity." - Judge Francis L. Young wrote in a 1988 decision

"A commonly used over-the-counter product like aspirin has a therapeutic ratio of around 1:20. Two aspirins are the recommended dose for adult patients. Twenty times this dose, forty aspirins, may cause a lethal reaction in some patients and will almost certainly cause gross injury to the digestive system...

"By contrast, marijuana's therapeutic ratio... is impossible to quantify because it is so high." - Judge Francis L. Young wrote in a 1988 decision

"No one has ever died of THC [marijuana] poisoning, mostly because a 160-lb. person would have to smoke roughly 900 joints in a sitting to reach a lethal dose." - Time Magazine in a Nov. 4, 2002 cover story

"Death by overdose isn’t the only danger that drugs present, but it is one important measure. In fact, a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente from 1979-1985 with a follow-up in 1991 found no correlation between marijuana use and death, evidence that even heavy marijuana use for decades does not appear to be associated with major health risks, whereas heavy alcohol users will develop cirrhosis and other potentially fatal conditions." - David Borden, Executive Director of The Drug Reform Coordination Network, wrote MedMJpro/con


Prescription narcotics cause more deaths than both heroin and cocaine

TORONTO, December 7, 2009 - Deaths related to narcotic pain relievers have doubled since 1991: Study

Statistics prove prescription drugs are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists

Side Effects May Include...Coma or Death?!

Big $$$, Big Pharma

I'm just sayin'...

**Bolding is mine