CANADA: The marijuana debate heated up again last week, when the Canadian Medical Association denied its support for a public service campaign that is to be launched by Health Canada warning of the dangers associated with use of the drug. Because there are conflicting views between the Conservatives and Liberals on the legalization question, the CMA said, it didn’t want to play politics.
This is more than a bit disingenuous: Warning of the dangers of marijuana usage, which is currently illegal, is actually no different that warning about the use of legal alcohol or tobacco, which Health Canada does with the CMA’s support. In other words: Regardless of whether marijuana is fully legal, decriminalized or fully criminal, the Health Canada public service campaign has nothing to do with the political issue.
In fact, one could argue that as Canada progresses toward some form of liberalized marijuana law, it’s a good thing that Health Canada is getting ahead of the game so that people who choose to use the drug are informed, as they are with tobacco and alcohol.
On the larger question of the legal status of marijuana, Justice Minister Peter McKay reiterated his interest in adopting the regime proposed by the police chiefs of Canada, namely that possession of small amounts be decriminalized and possibly treated under the Contraventions Act. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals continue to pledge that if elected they will legalize the drug entirely for recreational use.