Proceedings of the Special Committee on
Illegal Drugs

Issue 14 - Evidence - March 11, 2002 (afternoon meeting)


OTTAWA, Monday, March 11, 2002

The Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs meets today at 1:01 p.m. to reassess Canada's anti-drug legislation and policies.

Senator Pierre Claude Nolin (Chairman) is in the chair.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Colleagues, I see there is a quorum. As a result, I declare the public deliberations of the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs open. This afternoon we will receive a first panel of doctors representing the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine.

Allow me to present Dr. Henry Haddad properly. He is a professor of medicine and former chief of gastroentorology and vice-dean for professional and student affairs at the University of Sherbrooke, Québec.

Dr. Haddad was born in Sherbrooke. He was educated at Bishop University and at the University of Ottawa, where he obtained a medical degree in 1963 (gold medal). He completed postgraduate training in internal medicine and gastroentorology at Montreal General Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively.

Dr. Haddad has been on the faculty of the University of Sherbrooke since 1969 and was appointed a full professor in 1982. He has represented the University of Sherbrooke's faculty of Medicine at the Medical Council of Canada. He was President of the Quebec Medical Association (QMA) from 1997 to 1999, and a member of long standing of the Board of Directors of the QMA, including Chair of the Board, and has also chaired its education committee.

On the national stage, Dr. Haddad has been a member of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) since 1994. He was elected to the CMA executive Committee in 1997. He has been chair of both the CMA's Leadership Conference Program Committee since 1995 and the Project Advisory Group on Flexible Post-MD Systems since 1998.

He has been a member of the Committee on Physician Resources and has represented the CMA on the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools. Dr. Haddad also chaired the working group that produced the CMA's Health Information Privacy Code, which focuses on protecting patient information in the electronic age.

At Bishop University, Dr. Haddad was until recently a member of the executive committee and chair of the building committee. At the University of Sherbrooke, he has presided over a number of committees, including the medical faculty's committee on health and security in the workplace and undergraduates promotions.

Dr. Haddad has certain passions aside from medicine, but I will not make them public today.

Welcome, Dr. Haddad, and thank you for accepting our invitation. We thank you for your interest in the important work of this committee. With you is Dr. Bill Campbell.

[English]

Dr. Campbell is also a medical doctor. He is president of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine. Dr. Campbell was born and raised in Alberta. He obtained his MSc. from the University of Alberta at Calgary and his MD degree from the University of Alberta. Following that, he did a rotating internship at the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary, followed by two years of internal medicine at the Foothills Hospital. He then started a family medicine practice and developed a special interest in addiction medicine in 1980. He was certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine in 1986 and was recognized as a fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine in the year 2000.

Dr. Campbell has been a member of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine since its inception in Calgary in 1989 and he has served as secretary and as a board member from Alberta. He is a clinical associate professor in family practice at the University of Calgary. He practises addiction medicine privately and is a consulting physician at the Foothills Medical Centre Addiction Centre, the Calgary Non-Medical Hospital Detoxification Centre as well as being a part-time medical examiner.

Dr. Campbell, thank you for accepting our invitation. We welcome both of you and your testimony. You have all together an hour and a half for both presentations, followed by questions by my colleagues.

Please proceed.

[Translation]

Dr. Henry Haddad, Chair, Canadian Medical Association: As president of the Canadian Medical Association I am here today representing our members, more than 53,000 physicians from across Canada. As you noted, I am a practising gastro-entorologist. I have an expertise in digestive disorders. My expertise is not in addiction medicine but as a gastroenterologist I am in daily contact with the complications resulting from various addictions such as cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis B and C and AIDS.

I am pleased that my colleague, Dr, Bill Campbell of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine, is appearing here with me today to represent his Society's point of view and to help me answer questions.

[English]

Policy and positions on the use of illegal drugs are extremely broad, multidisciplinary and can be controversial. Those on both sides of the decriminalization debate have creatively cited the position of the Canadian Medical Association. With today's, appearance we hope to clear up any confusion regarding the CMA's position on the non- medical use of illegal drugs and decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana.

In consideration of the areas of particular interest of the committee, our brief — a public health perspective on cannabis and other illegal drugs — focuses on four questions: What are the health effects of cannabis and other illegal drugs?; What has been the impact of law enforcement on Canada's illegal drug use?; What experience has there been with decriminalization?; and, what changes need to be considered in Canada's approach to cannabis and other illegal drug use, including the potential of decriminalization?

My primary focus today will be the health aspects associated with the use of cannabis and other illegal drugs and how we can more effectively treat and discourage illegal drug use.

While our understanding of all the possible long-term health effects that prolong Canada's use is still evolving, what we do know is troubling. The health risks range from acute effects such as anxiety, dysphoria, or the feeling of being ill; cognitive impairment to the chronic effects such as bronchitis, emphysema and cancer. Canada's youth have also been subject to pulmonary damage comparable to that produced by tobacco use but the effects are much more acute and rapid. Evidence suggests that smoking two or three cannabis cigarettes a day has the same health effect as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Therefore, the potential long-term health effects of cannabis use could be quite severe.

The CMA's concerns regarding the impact of cannabis are in part why we are opposed to the federal government's current medical marijuana access regulations. In our May 7, 2001, letter to the Minister of Health, the CMA noted ''lack of credible information on the risks and benefits of medical marijuana.''

During discussions on the government's medical marijuana regulations, we highlighted the health concerns and research that indicates that ``marijuana is an addictive substance that is known to have psychoactive effects and in its smoke form is particularly harmful to health.''

We have concluded that while benefits of medical marijuana are unknown, the health risks are real. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for physicians to prescribe marijuana to their patients, a position that was supported by the Canadian Medical Association.

One of our objectives in appearing before this committee today is to send Canadians a clear message about the health risks associated with cannabis. The CMA strongly advises Canadians against cannabis use and encourages those who are addicted to seek medical assistance.

[Translation]

As committee members know, cannabis use in Canada is relatively common and it use is increasing, particularly in teens and young adults. Considering these trends, and the health risks associated with cannabis use, a comprehensive approach to discourage use is required.

The current approach to discourage illegal drug use is the threat of criminal sanctions. However, findings from several studies indicate that perceived health risk and social disapproval are much more important disincentives than legal threats, especially in the use of cannabis.

Therefore, the CMA believes that less coercive ways to discourage illegal drug use need to be examined. When you consider all of the facts, illegal drug use is primarily a health and social issue, not a criminal problem.

Unfortunately, expenditures by government do not reflect this and are heavily skewed towards a criminal justice approach. The vast majority of expenditures related to illegal drugs are on law enforcement. A portion of these resources, especially those currently being devoted to combatting simple marijuana possession through the criminal law system, might be better utilized if they were diverted to public health strategies.

[English]

In spite of the criminal justice approach where the bulk of all illegal drug charges are cannabis related and the majority of these are for possession, use is increasing. Each year, thousands of teens and young adults receive criminal records for possession to the degree that having a criminal record limits or handicaps employment prospects. The impact of health status is profound. Poor employment prospects as a result of drug use and/or a criminal record may lead to poor economic status and this leads to poorer health.

It must also be stressed that prisons are not an ideal setting for treating addictions. The likely outcome of imprisonment of addicts is the use of harder drugs that will only serve to intensify the problem and could lead to other serious diseases and infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and AIDS. Drug abuse and dependency is a chronic, relapsing disease for which there are effective treatments. Unfortunately, these treatments are not available throughout this country.

The criminal justice approach to a disease is inappropriate particularly when there is an increasing consensus that it is ineffective and exacerbates harm. Law enforcement activity should, therefore, target distribution and production of illegal drugs instead of simple possession of marijuana for personal use.

While the available evidence from other jurisdictions suggests that decriminalization would not result in a substantial increase in use, in our opinion, the evidence is not definitive. Therefore, decriminalization should only be considered as a part of a comprehensive national strategy on the non-medical use of illegal drugs that would include a youth-oriented cannabis cessation program. Because of these potential harms, it is critical that changes to the criminal law affecting cannabis neither encourage nor promote the normalization of its use.

The CMA is concerned that this debate concerning decriminalization and the medical marijuana issue has, to some extent, legitimized its use for recreational purposes. It is important that our message to you regarding decriminalization be clear and understood. Decriminalization must be tied to a national drug strategy that promotes awareness and prevention and provides for comprehensive treatment in addition to research and monitoring of the program.

Only with such a multi-dimensional approach would the CMA endorse decriminalization.

A rigorous monitoring and evaluating process is also essential to the decriminalization issue. A systematic evaluation of the impact of changes should be planned and conducted in parallel to any changes made. The CMA believes that any changes regarding illegal drug policy should be gradual. Like any other public health issue, education and awareness of the potential harms associated with cannabis and other illegal drug use is critical to reducing drug usage.

Equally important is educating Canadians about addiction to remove its stigma. Not unlike mental health, there exists the negative view that those who suffer with addiction are somewhat weaker than others. Let us be clear: Addiction is a disease and those who suffer from it need medical assistance just as those who suffer from heart disease or cancer. We are very concerned that this stigmatizing effect may be preventing individuals with addiction from seeking help.

[Translation]

In the executive summary of our brief, you will find recommendations that echo what I have presented today. These recommendations focus on: prevention; treatment and rehabilitation; research; surveillance; national leadership and coordination.

To conclude, the CMA believes that the goal of government policy on the non-medical use of illegal drugs should be to discourage the use of cannabis and all other illegal drugs and provide those who are addicted with treatment and rehabilitation. It must be recognized that addiction is a disease and therefore, individuals suffering from drug dependency should be diverted, whenever possible, from the criminal justice system to treatment and rehabilitation.

[English]

Dr. Bill Campbell, President, Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine: Honourable senators, CSAM is an organization of physicians and scientists who have an interest in substance abuse and dependence. I am pleased to be able to present jointly with Dr. Haddad of the Canadian Medical Association and wish to thank the Senate committee for being allowed the opportunity to present CSAM's opinions.

The Canadian Medical Association has presented an overview of the medical concerns that arise when considering changing the status of any drug that has the potential to be abused or cause addiction. Much of what I am to say expands the principles found in our statement on a national drug policy.

Those who promote the decriminalization of marijuana have many valid points about its relative harmlessness when compared with drugs such as nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and heroin. However, individual stories describing the positive aspects of the use of marijuana are anecdotal. They do not describe and are not representative of the problems that part of the population will have when exposed to the drug.

Marijuana has the potential to cause harm to some individuals. I wish to mention some of the important facts that are known and problems associated with marijuana to the committee.

Medicine's knowledge of marijuana's effects on the brain has lagged behind our understanding of that of alcohol, narcotics and cocaine. Only within the last six to eight years has research shown where and how the active ingredients of marijuana affect the brain. For this reason, the answers needed to adequately assess the medical safety of marijuana are often not yet available. To understand the effects of marijuana adequately, more funding is urgently required for research, surveillance, prevention of associated social problems and treatment for that part of the population that uses marijuana.

Marijuana does cause social problems. Apart from the issues of legality of marijuana, there is a social cost associated with marijuana use. Those who claim that marijuana has not resulted in deaths ignore the evidence that marijuana use impairs the ability to perform normal motor and executive functions.

Marijuana has been shown to be associated with reckless drivers and motor vehicle accidents. Evidence suggests that marijuana may contribute to an appreciable number of traffic deaths and injuries in Canada. It has been shown to negatively affect the academic and social development of some adolescents. Marijuana can cause emotional and medical problems. Chronic use may be associated with lung diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and cancer. A psychosis may develop in some individuals while other psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, depression and panic do occur.

Marijuana is known to be addictive. Although the rate of addiction varies, it is between 5 per cent and 10 per cent. I should like to stress that addiction is a disease and marijuana has the potential to be addictive to a genetically predisposed group of individuals.

Addiction is a brain abnormality that is due to the genes that the individual is born with plus exposure to the addictive substance in the individual's environment. Any social or political changes that increase the availability of a drug with addictive potential will have the risk of increasing the chance that addiction will develop. Marijuana has been shown to produce withdrawal symptoms and marijuana is a reason that people present for addiction treatment. It is not realized that addiction may not only produce negatively valued moral and social consequences, it can also produce consequences that have no obvious negative physical effects or social disapproval.

Even with those addictive substances that cause dramatic and often horrific consequences, the saddest result of addiction is the loss of an addicted individual's ability to achieve his or her maximum potential when actively addicted. Lack of aggressiveness is associated with marijuana. For this reason, it is thought to be a drug with minimal consequences and a relatively safe drug, when compared with other addicting drugs. However, marijuana does damage when it interferes with any individual's ability to achieve his or her full potential.

Marijuana does have the potential to harm a subgroup of Canadians. Although its effects are not as dramatic as other addicting drugs, the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine wishes to reinforce the concept that the use of marijuana will have adverse consequences for a subgroup of those who use it. CSAM, is not opposed to decriminalization of marijuana, but we do ask that the committee be aware of the emotional and physical problems and the addiction potential that marijuana use will cause for a group of susceptible Canadians.

Dealing with the larger problem of addictive drugs, of which marijuana is but one, CSAM suggests that Canada must have a clear drug strategy for dealing with the cultivation, manufacture, importation, distribution, advertising, sale, possession and use of psychoactive substances, regardless of whether they are classified as legal or illegal. Drug possession for personal use should be decriminalized and distinguished from the trafficking or illegal sale/distribution of drugs to others that must carry appropriate criminal sanctions. The individual and public health impact of substance abuse, substance use, and substance dependence must be taken into account at all times with people associating with or being involved with the legal system.

An assessment to ascertain the extent of a substance use disorder and screening for addiction must be an essential part of dealing with someone identified as an illicit drug user or possessor. Appropriate funding must be made available for supply reduction, demand reduction and treatment of various psychoactive substances that carry abuse or addiction liability.

National policies and regulations must present a comprehensive and coordinated strategy aimed at reducing the harm done to individuals, families and society by the use of all drugs of dependence, regardless of the classification of legal or illegal. Prevention programs need to be comprehensively designed to target the entire range of dependence- producing drugs to enhance awareness and affect social attitudes with scientific information about the pharmacology of drugs and the effects of recreational and problem use on individuals, families, communities and society. Outreach, identification, referral and treatment programs for all persons with addiction need to be increased in number and type until they are available and accessible in every part of the country to all in need of such services.

Law enforcement measures aimed at reducing the distribution of illicit drugs need to be balanced with evidenced- based treatment and prevention programs, as well as programs to ameliorate those social factors that exacerbate addiction and its resulting problems. Any changes in laws that would affect access to dependence-producing drugs should be carefully thought out, implemented gradually and sequentially, and scientifically evaluated at each step of implementation.

There are perceived negative moral and social consequences toward all addictions, and so funding for research and treatment is often the first to suffer when money is limited. However, addiction is a disease. Those with it suffer greatly and deserve to be treated like any other Canadian with a medical disease. That is the message I hope to deliver to all Canadians.

The Chairman: Before I open the floor to questions, I have a comment to prepare this session of the committee. We did not receive your brief in advance, and so we have looked at both of your Web sites to prepare our questions. Some of the answers may be in your brief, and so we will read it thoroughly after the meeting. However, I will write to both of you to express our additional questions and I will receive your answers for the committee. Those questions and answers will be posted on the Web site of the committee.

[Translation]

During the last year and a half the committee has been sitting, we have heard a number of experts from various fields. The health field is certainly one on which the committee has consciously and voluntarily focussed. I will summarize for you what we have found so far in terms of the use of cannabis and I will ask you for your reactions.

We have learned that in Canada people who use cannabis for recreational use are temporary and occasional users and that about 10 per cent of them — and that affects 90 per cent of Canadian cannabis users — will, in the course of their use, become chronic consumers. We identify them as users of one gram per week, or five joints per week. That is our definition of a chronic consumer. Still in the 100 per cent of consumers, the experts agree that from 2 to 5 per cent will develop a weak dependency.

That is information we have collected over a year nd a half. What is your reaction to what I have just said?

Mr. Haddad: Am I surprised? No. We know that the data is more favourable, if I can use that term, than the data on the use of tobacco and alcohol, which is much more widespread.

The Chairman: You mean in terms of dependency?

Mr. Haddad: Yes. Will that change our submissions? No. We still have 10 per cent of consumers who are chronic consumers.

There is a point that Dr.. Campbell raised and that worries me. Studies, especially in Quebec, show that teens smoke chronically at school, about five joints per week, have a lower performance than their peers, and this will therefore have an effect on the rest of their lives, for example in terms of their ability to get a job.

This consumption of five joints per week and the 2.5 per cent dependency rate, even if it is weak, will nevertheless have an effect socially, on health and on the family. In addition, as stated in our brief, there is a danger when driving.

So that does not change our recommendation. If we ever go ahead with the decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana, it must be done in conjunction with a comprehensive program of prevention, treatment, monitoring and research. As Dr.. Campbell mentioned, there is still a lot to learn about marijuana. We know that there are studies underway on the medical use of marijuana. However, I am not convinced that such studies, rather limited in scope, will be able to help us significantly.

The Chairman: In reading your bibliography, I see a number of studies quoted to support your brief. One of my questions is: on which specific studies is your opinion based? We will know more by examining your bibliography, but if there is anything missing we will write to you.

Mr. Haddad: Our position is also that of many other organizations such as the medical organizations in the south of the United States. It is a North American position.

The Chairman: During the preparation of your briefs, did you examine what is being done in Europe in the health field?

Mr. Haddad: Yes, I did not mention it during my presentation. However our brief mentions European and Australian references.

The Chairman: In November 2001, a few months ago, the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale de France published a document entitled Cannabis: Quels effets sur le comportement et la santé? Are you familiar with that study?

Mr. Haddad: I am not sure. I will have to consult my staff at the CMA to see is they have examined that document.

The Chairman: That will be part of the questions that will be sent to you. The neuropharmacological studies to which the committee has had access show first that cannabis is not a narcotic but a sedative and second that it is barely a drug, that it creates only a mild dependency and that the symptom are rather negligible. What is you opinion of those two statements.

Mr. Haddad: We do not agree. My colleague spends his life treating the harmful effects of marijuana and will tell you that is a drug that creates a dependancy. In my very limited gastroenterology practice, some of my patients, who have chronic diseases such as inflammations of the intestine, use marijuana. It's miserable to treat these young men and women who have a dependency on marijuana. They are barely treatable. It's both miserable for me, as a doctor, and for their parents and loved ones that see them go downhill because it is simply not compatible with their treatment. It is a drug that creates dependency, that has harmful, acute and chronic effects on health. In our opinion, we should treat it as a disease and the approach should not be centred on criminal law but on treatment, rehabilitation and prevention, especially in our teens' school environment.

The Chairman: I would like to talk to you about education. You are a Quebecer. Are you familiar with a short document published by the Quebec department of health a few weeks ago?

Mr. Haddad: In the schools?

The Chairman: It's for distribution to the general public. The title is Drogues: savoir plus, risquer moins. You are not familiar with this document?

Mr. Haddad: No, Mr. Chair.

The Chairman: The French health department authorized a similar document on which the second one is based. It was published in 2000. Are you familiar with the French document?

Mr. Haddad: I don't think my staff is familiar with that document.

[English]

Senator Christensen: Dr. Haddad, your organization states that drug possession for personal use must be decriminalized. What do you mean by ``decriminalized''? What would be the sanctions on a person if that were the case?

Dr. Haddad: Persons should not have a criminal record for simple possession. We make it clear that taking marijuana is a serious event to us. It has to be considered for its potential addiction effects. The senator mentioned 2 per cent to 5 per cent.

Dr. Campbell: I have the figure of 5 per cent to 10 per cent of addiction.

Dr. Haddad: This is significant when 10 per cent of takers can end up addicted. It has serious psychoactive effects and physically harms health. It affects performance in school.

We feel it should be decriminalized, yet at the same time ensure there is a comprehensive program that looks at prevention, education, awareness, proper rehabilitation and treatment, and Dr. Campbell can speak to what is happening across this country in rehabilitation and treatment. We are not doing the job we could. There is an access problem to medical care in this country. The access problem to adequate care for our addicted population is magnified compared with the general population.

We have to look at research, rehabilitation treatment and monitoring of opinion. Any change to the law should be done gradually and monitored carefully. The last thing we want is to leave the impression that smoking marijuana is something normal to do. It is not normal; we must dissuade our young children and adolescents from smoking marijuana, as we dissuade them from smoking. It is serious and can have short- and long-term effects, not only on one's physical health but on one's social well being.

Smoking marijuana should be looked at as a public health and social issue rather than a criminal issue.

Senator Christensen: How do you see those programs being implemented if there is no legislation saying it is a prohibited substance? Do you see it being dealt with similar to alcoholism? If someone breaks a law and becomes charged under impaired driving or something similar and marijuana is the cause, then the next step is treatment.

Dr. Haddad: We looked at civil violations. There could be a fine for marijuana, the same as if you are driving drunk. It would depend on the seriousness of the event.

Senator Christensen: Marijuana is the not the vehicle for getting a fine.

Dr. Haddad: Marijuana has to be taken very seriously. If we are going to decriminalize it — and we have kind of legitimized it for medicinal purposes — we must be careful that smoking marijuana is not seen as a normal societal behaviour.

I have seen newspaper reports indicating that there has been a loosening of public attitudes towards it since we have said marijuana is okay for medicinal purposes. We must be careful not to leave the impression to our youth that smoking marijuana is all right. It is not all right. No more than smoking tobacco is all right.

Senator Christensen: There are many drugs out there for medicinal use that are not for any other sort of use.

Dr. Campbell, in your presentation you said that marijuana is known to be addictive and 5 per cent to 10 per cent of users would suffer from addiction. How does that compare with other drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes?

Dr. Campbell: The rates vary with societal norms, distribution access and legal complications. That is probably average for alcohol. What is significant with marijuana is that it is not as obvious that a person may be addicted because the behaviours are not as negatively evaluated or socially inappropriate as they are with cocaine, heroin or alcohol.

It was already mentioned that it is not a very addictive drug. It is not obviously addictive because we do not look for marijuana dependency or marijuana use in some of the things we associate with addiction. It is not like alcohol where it can be smelled. It is involved in some of the things we do associate addiction with but it is not identified often.

That is one the biggest problems with marijuana. It truly is a drug that has a potential to be addictive. It is working on a part of brain that we are just beginning to understand. The problem we have had with studying addiction is we have not understood how it works.

The newest research from the 1990s is starting to show that marijuana affects the brain in certain deep areas and can cause significant changes for certain groups of people.

Senator Christensen: What are the symptoms of addiction for marijuana use and what are the withdrawal symptoms?

Dr. Campbell: Withdrawal is a bit difficult. They are not as dramatic; you get a bit high. An addiction is continued use in spite of evidence of harm. The issue is that when you get drunk and fall down and break your leg, we know that is harm; but when you do nothing, when you feel happy inside and do not achieve your potential, that is harm also. Our definition of addiction will vary over the next while.

That is where marijuana is a bit subtle and baffling because we do not perceive it in the same light of addiction as a drug like alcohol, heroin, cocaine or cigarettes. It does not present as an obvious drug but causes harm when you start to measure changes in young adolescents or people who have been using marijuana for a long time. It is there. There are signs of withdrawal where a person is agitated and feels irritated. The phrase ``increased signs of hostility'' was in the last paper I read. We do see some withdrawal signs but they are not as obvious as what we see with other drugs.

Withdrawal is not a good indication of whether a drug is addictive or not. Cocaine has minimal withdrawal symptoms but is massively addicting, whereas alcohol is addicting and has withdrawal symptoms.

Senator Maheu: We have heard from many people that the use of cannabis will disrupt their capability of studying and, as Dr. Haddad insinuated, thereby increasing the possibility of such people having difficulties later on in life. I am trying to reconcile what you have said with what the majority of people we have heard from have said: that the dangers from the use of cannabis are minimal in comparison to many other things. You seem to be putting a negative impact on the use of cannabis and not many other witnesses have done that.

Could you try to explain the difference between your findings on the issue and the findings of many other professional medical people who have not indicated quite the same level of apprehension?

Dr. Campbell: I understand your question to be if you compare marijuana with the other drugs, are we putting it in the same level.

Senator Maheu: No, mostly they have been talking about marijuana. Some feel that there is not a big danger and we should decriminalize right away simply because police are not doing very much about simple possession and, as we heard this morning, lawyers love handling drug cases because they do not have to deal with murderers and rapists, et cetera. You seem to be saying something totally different, what you are saying seems to be totally different — unless I misunderstood both cases.

Dr. Campbell: I do not think we are negating the severity and the problems associated with other drugs of addiction but we are saying is that, in spite of what people may say, there are problems and risks associated with the use of marijuana for a subgroup of people. It may not be as severe in the social sense but for the addicted individual who has not achieved his or her potential in life, it does not matter how bad that drug is. If it has done that to them, that is a bad drug. Anything that changes the ability to get that drug will have an effect of increasing the risk of potential addiction and problems. The problems may not be socially obvious but they will be there at some level for a subgroup of individuals.

Senator Maheu: It is for a specific 5 per cent or 10 per cent. Is that what you are saying?

Dr. Campbell: Yes, that is the issue we are getting at. We are not negating the difference in the social and moral behaviours of some of the drugs; we are not questioning that at all. Certainly, an alcoholic who is drunk behaves differently from a marijuana addict who is high. We are not trying to compare the two; we are discussing only the issue of the effects of marijuana on the population and not comparing it to other drugs of addiction.

Senator Maheu: I was not comparing it; I was talking about marijuana in both instances. I think we have agreed to agree upon the necessity for education of our young people. However, if we are talking about the adult population — let us put the youth population aside for now — do you see as big a problem with marijuana being dangerous to our health as you do with smoking and obesity, for example?

Dr. Campbell: If you are looking at demographics, I suspect maybe not. However, when I see an individual who has used marijuana to his or her detriment, it does not matter what the rate is. I go back to what I said about the risk for not achieving potential. The worst thing I see with marijuana addiction is that people wonder what happened to their lives. Well, it just got smoked away.

Dr. Haddad: What guides me, as a physician is the idea of what causes harm. Marijuana has the potential to cause harm. We may say it causes harm in 2 per cent to 5 per cent, or even 10 per cent of those who smoke — that is not important. As physicians, we have a duty to advocate for policies that do no harm. That is where I am coming from.

[Translation]

The Chairman: I assume that your last answer means ``that does not create health problems.''

Mr. Haddad: Yes, that does not create a social and physical problem. Marijuana can also cause social problems from a family and employment point of view, as well as a road hazard, but also acute and chronic health problems such as those that we have told you about.

We often emphasize the health problems but forget the upheaval that it can cause within a family or in the workplace. That is why we should not look at the simple possession of marijuana as a criminal act. We can impose a fine but we should look at it more as a public health and social problem.

The Chairman: If we compare this problem to that of alcohol, which, based on the information we have on the subject, generates a dependency rate of 12 to 15 per cent among users, or to tobacco, which generates a dependency rate of 35 to 40 per cent among users, we note that there is no infraction related to use in those two cases, even under civil law. There are criminal infractions for the illegal manufacture of these products, I grant you, but how can you reconcile the two realities? In the two cases I have stated, they are two completely legal products whose use is permitted, among adults at least; we know that minors use them a lot, but it is illegal. Let's concentrate on the adults. In the case of cannabis, you say that it creates problems. Proportionally, I believe it is closer to 2 per cent than 5 per cent, but I am ready to read your documentation. You talk about 5 per cent of users, so how can I reconcile your opinion with what is happening? We know that the damages caused by alcohol are enormous.

[English]

Dr. Haddad: My mother taught me a long time ago that two wrongs do not make a right.

[Translation]

I believe that our entire policy is based on alcohol. Every day I deal with complications from alcoholism, whether it is cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis or digestive haemorrhages. The complications are horrible, not only from a physical standpoint, but also socially. It is well known that tobacco addiction is the same.

I hope that we will learn, given the problems we have with alcohol and tobacco, to not repeat them with marijuana. There are social problems that we are trying to correct as well as we can. We know about quitting programs or tobacco use prevention among teens. Perhaps we aren't using them adequately and should use them better. I agree. We know that we have removed Molson ads from television. However, very little is being done about alcohol and teens.

I have children who go to college. No one ever comes to talk to them about how to prevent alcoholism and its consequences. I hope we will learn from these deficiencies in terms of prevention and education about alcohol and tobacco and will not make the same mistakes with marijuana.

The Chairman: That is the reason I asked you the question about those two documents.

Mr. Haddad: I would like to consult them.

The Chairman: I will leave them with you at the end of the meeting.

Mr. Haddad: Thank you. I appreciate it.

The Chairman: These documents are for the general public. The French have concluded correctly — as you have just demonstrated — that there are educational deficiencies. People have to be adequately informed about substance abuse. These documents talk about tobacco and alcohol like other drugs. In Quebec, we decided to adapt this document to the Quebec reality. I will come back to the regulation of medical use.

[English]

I want to ask you, Dr. Campbell, on what basis is dependence on marijuana evaluated?

Dr. Campbell: Drug dependence is based upon an assessment of whether a person can stop when it becomes obvious that they should. That is how one would assess marijuana dependence. One looks for symptoms of tolerance or dependence. ``Dependence'' is a word implying a description of what we see with an addiction or a person that is using a drug inappropriately. So it is an artificial construct, in one sense.

The Chairman: The committee is familiar with DSM-IV. To what extent are criteria for dependence defined in DSM-IV?

Dr. Campbell: If you were to use the word ``dependence,'' you would have to consult DSM-IV because those are the criteria by which one uses it. Marijuana can meet the criteria for dependence.

The Chairman: We are aware of that. That is why I want to ensure that we were talking of the same thing.

[Translation]

Dr. Haddad, your colleague Dr. Campbell talked to us at length about individuals who could, because they had consumed cannabis for long periods during their youth, miss a life opportunity. If I told you that more than a third of doctors have consumed cannabis during their youth, would you say they did not succeed in life?

Mr. Haddad: No, I would not say that, but you know that doctors are not sheltered from health problems. They are not immune to mental health problems. Dr. Campbell can tell you that there is a good percentage of doctors who have drug or over-consumption of medication problems. We are no different from the rest of the population.

I was vice-dean of student life for 11 years at the faculty of medicine and believe me, the psychological problems are no different from those of students in law, engineering or biology. If we look at the statistics, it's the same thing.

The Chairman: Let us now turn to the new regulation on the use of cannabis. Many have been witnesses at the press conferences held by your organization. You are opposed to being the guardians of the system. Throughout the process, when we look at the regulation closely, doctors are called upon to play a determining role that leads to an authorization by Canadian authorities to grant an exemption to the individual requesting one.

Does your association know of doctors who prescribe medication for purposes not indicated on the label? In other words, do you know of doctors in your association who prescribe a medication even if that is not covered in the Canadian pharmacopoeia? I am thinking about Aspirin, among others, that has been used for headaches for a long time and that is suddenly used for the heart.

Mr. Haddad: I am really not aware of that situation. You are entirely right, you have described our position as a medical association correctly on the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Chairman: Your association has expressed concerns about appropriate doses. Because of the lack of proper information, doctors cannot prescribe a dose of cannabis more than another. Could it happen that doctors who are not familiar with the dosages go about it in an empirical fashion, saying ``we will start with 5 mg and if we see that that is not working we will increase it to 10 mg''? I can talk to you about my personal experience with Zocar. My doctor started by saying ``We will start with 5 mg and if it doesn't work we will try 10 mg.'' It can go up to 15 mg.

Mr. Haddad: There is a well-established scale, through studies, that allows us to have an idea of the side effects of medication. For example, when I have a case of an inflammatory disease of the intestine and I start treatment with what I call 5 ASA — 5 milligrams of acetacylic acid — I always start with a small dose to see if the patient tolerates the medication well and then increase it to the maximum effective dosage. However, I have a very good idea of the possible secondary effects of that medication. If the patient has not exhibited side effects at 500 mg three times a day, he will not exhibit them at 500 mg eight times a day. The clear studies that have been done on this medication before it came on the market will give me indications on doses, side effects and beneficial effects.

When I prescribe medication to a patient I describe my reasons for recommending it, the perceived benefits and the possible risks and side effects, based on probative data. I agree with you completely. Probative data is not available for everything we do in medicine.

When I was a young doctor, it was not available in more than 5 to 10 per cent of the cases. Now we probably have probative data in perhaps 70 per cent of what we do. Regarding marijuana, as Dr. Campbell said, we have little data on side effects. We know its harmful effects from a physical and psychological point of view but we have little data on its beneficial effects. I spoke to doctors specialized in marijuana who say that the effects are psychoactive. The rest is just blowing smoke.

How can a doctor be a guardian and prescribe marijuana if he has little knowledge of the beneficial effects and the appropriate dosage for the condition?

When the first regulation approved the use of marijuana for patients in terminal phase, we did not object. We know that patients in terminal phase have 12 months or less to live. We thought that if it had an effect on people who were already in a deplorable state of health we were ready to live with that. As a scientist, I deplored that we had 250 to 300 patients who took the medication within the initial regulation and that I have seen no data.

The Chairman: When you talk about the initial regulation, what do you mean?

Mr. Haddad: It is the first regulation that allowed the use of marijuana for medical use. It was limited to group A, patients in terminal phase. Now there is more than group A.

The Chairman: The Ontario Court of Appeals decided that article 56 allowed the Minister to grant exemptions was not valid. Is that what you are referring to?

Mr. Haddad: Yes, I believe it started in 1997.

The Chairman: You are talking about the ministerial exemption under section 56?

Mr. Haddad: For patients judged to be in terminal phase, therefore who have an life expectancy of 12 months or less.

The Chairman: The Minister never elaborated on the conditions he attached to granting the exemption. Moreover, that has been the problem before the courts. They decided that the Minister had a latitude that needed to be circumscribed more specifically. We now have a much more detailed regulation that has three categories.

Mr. Haddad: In categoric A, the use of marijuana also allows its possible use under chronic conditions where patients have a life expectancy of several years. In this situation we have problems. We had less problems with patients using marijuana in terminal phase, when the life expectancy is 12 months or less.

Now we can use marijuana for chronic prolonged conditions, and with little knowledge of what we have. We have had a lot of problems with the long-term physical and social effects of marijuana.

The Chairman: For discussion purposes, let's forget side effects and think about therapeutic possibilities. You are telling us that the treatment is no good, and that even in the second category of patients with epilepsy, cancer, appetite problems, and even if the literature compiled by the Health Department in a document, which you have surely read, and which is an information document that was published before the regulation. There is a document — very well made by the way — that examines in detail the state of knowledge in terms of a series of diseases.

Mr. Haddad: We have to look at what that knowledge is based on, whether the data is probative or not. I will give you an example. I am a professor at the University of Sherbrooke and we use marijuana to treat pain.

The Chairman: Isn't that category two? There is research at McGill University on that point.

Mr. Haddad: Let's take, for example, marijuana for patients in terminal phase, category A. A great deal of Canadians have used marijuana. The problem in Canada is the treatment given at the end of a patient's life, what we call ``compassionate care at the end of life''. Experts say that there are only 10 to 15 per cent of cases where it is well done.

At the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre it is done well and I am proud of it. I talked about it a few months ago to our team of experts in palliative care: nurses, pharmacists, doctors and social workers who see hundreds of patients. There is a network of 250,000 people who come to Sherbrooke. Have you ever been asked to prescribe marijuana? Have you ever felt the need to prescribe marijuana? No, no and no, because palliative care is well done. The team's care can relieve pain well and provide spiritual and family support.

It is important to look at he entire context in which marijuana was offered for medical use. We have to look at whether we have done well in Canada and what we need to offer our patients given what we know. That is what we do not master.

The Chairman: In a legal case, Mr. Parker's story led to the implementation of a specific regulation setting aside section 56. In that case, it was an individual suffering from epilepsy. The courts heard a series of experts. On both sides some said that there are proven means of curing these problems. On the other hand, Mr. Parker and his experts were saying that cannabis would give a therapeutic result that existing medication on the shelves from pharmaceutical companies could not give him. The courts agreed with Mr. Parker twice.

Mr. Haddad: Unfortunately I am not familiar with the details of the case.

The Chairman: the Health Department reviews scientific knowledge of the therapeutic uses and establishes, in the first category of those who are in terminal phase, the people with a life expectancy of 12 months or less, the rules for specific illnesses for the second category of patients.

When we read the document supporting its regulation, we see that the scientific and technical knowledge shows that the patients who have specific illnesses can be helped. I assume they did not invent that.

Mr. Haddad: You know that they work with placebos. There are therapeutic results even with placebos. As scientists we must be careful.

The Chairman: It is still the basis for a regulation in general use across Canada. I understand that you do not agree with it but it is there. I am trying to understand your opinion.

Mr. Haddad: I very much respect what you have just said but there remain exceptions to the rule. We must not be short-sighted. When I question people who encourage certain patients to take marijuana, as I said earlier, they are convinced that its only effect is psychotropic.

I was telling my colleagues that Sir William Osler was one of the great Canadian doctors who created medical teaching at the patients' bedsides. He was one of the CMA's presidents. He was also at Johns Hopkins and Oxford universities. He prescribed marijuana for vascular headaches. He was convinced at the time that marijuana was effective for vascular headaches, migraines. No one talks about it anymore. His prescription was not based on probative proof.

The Chairman: If you read the documentation on migraines, you will find that people treat migraine with cannabis. We find that in the medical literature. The cannabis issue is not anecdotal. We, as members of the Special Senate Committee on illegal drugs, are very rigorous in our approach because we eliminate outright testimony based solely on opinions. We really concentrate on probative results.

I agree with you, but in the matter of cannabis, if there is an area where research has been exponential in the last 40 years, it is that of cannabis. There is a range of information.

Mr. Haddad: Perhaps Dr. Campbell would have an opinion ``on the research on the medical use of marijuana''?

[English]

Dr. Campbell: You wanted to discuss medical research.

The Chairman: All research.

Dr. Campbell: I am confused. The research in the medical journals has been equivocal, in most cases, about marijuana. There are certainly some indications for its use.

The Chairman: Not in the ones that we are reading, and we are reading them all.

Dr. Campbell: It is in the ones we follow. The medicine that I practice is based on certain journals and a certain method of doing things that requires looking at wide studies and things like that. There are indications for marijuana. The issue that I have not heard about is that of smoking versus non-smoking.

The Chairman: We have heard the concerns on that. No one argues with the fact that it causes cancer and other lung complications. We know that the tar content is higher.

Dr. Campbell: There are medical indications for the use of the pill, but I do not have much to do with that. The fact remains that the kind of clear methodology that doctors try to follow has not shown up in the literature that I look at or where I go for my information about the drug marijuana — things like the British Medical Journal and the Institute of Medicine from the United States.

The Chairman: Lancet is quite clear on marijuana.

Dr. Campbell: What does it say?

The Chairman: The harm is benign.

Dr. Campbell: The harm may be benign for some people, but not all. That is the issue I wish to stick with. Certainly, many drugs do not cause harm. Some people use heroin and do not experience harm. That does not mean we approve of it. Many people drink and do not experience harm. Some people argue that drinking helps a certain subgroup of people with respect to heart disease. That does not necessarily mean that I will prescribe it in my practice, because the overall view, from my perspective, is that it does cause harm.

There might be a short-term gain with some use of marijuana. I certainly believe that people who use it for chronic pain do get some relief. We are concerned about the long-term effects. One of the problems I mentioned in my presentation was that our understanding of drugs of addiction, and their effect on the brain, has only changed significantly in the last 10 years, as functional MRI and PET scans have enabled us to look at what is actually occurring at the cellular level.

We did not find the anandamide receptor site for marijuana and the leptons in the brain and how they affect the appetite and emotions until about eight years ago. I think we are just beginning to understand how marijuana might affect the brain.

Not knowing what marijuana does leaves us in the position of having to say that until we have more evidence, we will not be recommending this drug. Unless I see very large studies that show conditions like epilepsy can be treated with marijuana, I will not recommend it because I do not believe it works. I will not prescribe it on the basis of anecdotal findings.

The Chairman: I was asking about Mr. Parker, from Ontario, who was able to convince two levels of courts about the effect of the medical use of marijuana on his epilepsy problem. He was able to convince the two courts that he was right.

Dr. Campbell: My problem with that is that he did not convince the medical profession. I am responsible as a physician for doing what I think is the best thing and not doing harm. Until I am absolutely certain of that, I will not act. I appreciate the significance of the courts, but I do not think the courts can decide how we practice good medicine in this country. That depends upon a medical tradition that goes back to William Osler and beyond.

[Translation]

Mr. Haddad: The rationale for the existence of the Collège des médecins du Québec is to protect the public. The College has also strongly recommended that doctors not prescribe marijuana. Based on their studies, they felt that it was an error for doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical use. Our position is not there to remove a treatment that helps patients but to protect the population from a treatment that we believe has undesirable side effects from a physical and social point of view. God knows that as doctors if a treatment is effective and there are few negative consequences we will surely be if favour. The position set forth by our two associations, by certain colleges across the country and by the Canadian Medical Protection Association all converge towards this opinion that it is not desirable. We can supply studies for both sides of the issue but the question remains. I greatly respect what you have given me as information but the medical profession is not convinced by the data.

The Chairman: One of our organizations's concerns is about the legal responsibility of doctors who prescribe marijuana. Could you elaborate on that?

Mr. Haddad: We have no position on the legal aspects. The one that does that is the Canadian Medical Protection Association, located in Ottawa, where the vast majority of doctors have civil liability insurance. That association has also recommended that Canadian doctors not fill out parts 3 and 4 of the form where the doctor must attest that he has discussed the risks and benefits of the medication with the patient and informed him that this substance has not received the full conformity approval of ordinary medication. They have recommended the same thing regarding part 4, in which the doctor must recommend an appropriate dose, given the insufficient information about doses. The Canadian Medical Association did not say that, but the association for physician's insurance did.

The Chairman: Should the fact that a patient has signed a waiver because there is no conformity notice not come under this civil liability concern?

Mr. Haddad: I am not a lawyer but a gastro-entorologist. From the point of view of that association that has all the lawyers and judicial expertise available, the recommendation to the doctor is to leave parts 3 and 4 blank. I must trust this association, which is there to provide legal protection to doctors.

The Chairman: I would like to ask a question, but feel free to answer or not. What is the relationship between the pharmaceutical products companies and the doctors in terms of cannabis?

Mr. Haddad: To my knowledge, there is none.

The Chairman: There is no drug-producing company that has isolated certain cannabis elements, no pharmaceutical company that informs you or participates in your discussions?

Mr. Haddad: I am not aware of any but I can certainly find out.

The Chairman: Agreed. We will look at your briefs and will examine them closely. We will compare them to our notes and write to you hoping for answers. We will publish your answers as well as the questions that we will ask.

We will conclude our session tody by welcoming a panel of police officers representing the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police . This panel includes Mr. Michael J. Boyd, Chair of the Committee on addiction and Deputy Chief with the Toronto Police Service, and Mr. Barry King, former Chair of the Committee on addiction and Chief of the Brockville Police Service. With Mr King is Mr. Robert G. Lesser, Chief Superintendent of the RCMP.

[English]

Thank you for accepting our invitation and for the interest you have shown in our committee.

Please begin with a statement, which we will follow with questions. We will also take the opportunity to write to you if there are more specific or technical questions we want to ask. The questions and your answers will be posted on the Web site of the committee.

Mr. Michael J. Boyd, Chair of the Drug Abuse Committee and Deputy Chief of the Toronto Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: I would like to begin today by thanking you, on behalf the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, for inviting our participation. Our former chair, Chief Barry King of the Brockville Police Service, joins me today on my right. On my left is vice-chair of the committee, Chief Superintendent Robert Lesser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Together, we have over 100 years of police experience.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has 932 members, representing the leadership of 350 police services in Canada with 55,000 police officers. Our motto is: ``To lead progressive change in policing.''

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we are certain that you know at this point in your inquiry that the issues around illegal drugs are extremely broad in scope and multi-faceted. We received two important questions from the committee regarding the impact of drug laws and the evaluation of resources expended, and I will provide our responses near the end of our presentation.

Of course, we will make our best efforts to provide answers to your questions today. If you have questions that we are unable to answer, we want you to know that we will sincerely endeavour to provide those answers in the days following.

In policing, we are exposed to all aspects of both the supply and demand sides of the illegal drug spectrum. On the supply side, we investigate and we understand the cultivation and/or production facet; and we investigate and understand the importation or, as we are now seeing in Canada, the exportation of illegal drugs.

We investigate the high-level, mid-level and street-level trafficking, and we understand those facets. We investigate the violence associated with the illicit drug trafficking at all levels. We investigate and understand the connection between illicit drugs and organized crime and the link to terrorism.

On the demand side, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police sees the experimentation with, and investigates the use of, illicit drugs by our young people. We see first-hand the increased threat to our youth at risk. We see the impact and influence of illicit drugs on their education and development and the peer pressure placed upon them to engage in their use. We see the effects of addiction and the need to feed the habit. We investigate the violence and victimization. We investigate the crime and disorder in our neighbourhoods and respond to our communities' pleas for help.

While we recognize the involvement of other groups in society in facets of the spectrum, the police are the only group that is a constant in all facets. From being up close to each of these facets, we see clearly the impacts of each. With the knowledge gained from our involvement, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has the unique opportunity to step back a little and see the big picture. We see how each facet connects with the other, the domino effect that changes in one have on another and, of course, the overall impact of illicit drug use and drug abuse on Canada and Canadians.

It is from this perspective and this experience that we make our respectful submissions. Our presentation today focuses on three core themes: one, that illicit drugs, including cannabis, are harmful; two, that we need to find effective solutions together; and three, that we need leadership to champion our efforts.

Message number one is that drugs, including cannabis, are harmful. The cannabis used today is up to 500 per cent higher in THC — that is a range between 5 per cent to 31 per cent — than the cannabis most adults remember from the 1960s and 1970s. There is considerable misinformation about the physiological consequences of cannabis use. There is no doubt that heavy use has negative health consequences. The most important are in the following areas: respiratory damage, physical coordination, pregnancy and postnatal development, memory and cognition, and psychiatric effects. We are aware in this country of the harm to health from cigarette smoking. Does it not follow that there is the same type of harm from smoking cannabis, plus the negative health consequences previously referenced?

There is much obvious harm to the users of other illicit drugs such as cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, to name but a few.

Cannabis use is on the rise and approaching levels not seen since the 1970s. We make the point that our current prevention efforts are insufficient to counter the factors driving the escalation in use seen in the late 1980s. A student survey conducted in Ontario by the Addiction Research Foundation, now known as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, in 1995 found that 23 per cent of students reported use in the past year, up from 13 per cent in 1993. The centre did a more recent study in 1999 and found the percentage was up to 29 per cent.

Rates of use can vary in different parts of the country. For example, reported rates of cannabis use are particularly high in street youth, ranging from 66 per cent in Halifax to 92 per cent in Toronto.

It logically follows that more people using drugs will increase the number of people being harmed by them. Cannabis is believed to be the foundation upon which most young people begin experimenting with illicit drugs. It is therefore essential to understand cannabis in context, within the drug use continuum, and not solely in isolation. Although there is no definitive evidence, recent developments suggest an acute withdrawal syndrome associated with cannabis use and a strong indication that continued use would avoid the return of those symptoms.

The ``gateway'' concept has been around for a long time, and again, although there is no definitive evidence, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that neuro-toxicological research suggests that marijuana ``may alter the brain in ways that increase the susceptibility to other drugs.''

Many believe that cannabis use provides the impetus for those people looking to increase the psychotropic effect a drug has on them. The 1999 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey also showed increases in the use of ecstasy, from 2.9 per cent in 1997 to 7.3 per cent in 1999. There were increases in the use of cocaine, from 2.7 per cent in 1997 to 6.4 per cent in 1999. There was an increase in methamphetamine use, from 2.1 per cent in 1997 to 7.2 per cent in 1999.

Treatment counsellors reported increasing trends among youthful clients of use of cocaine and heroin. The Addiction Foundation of Manitoba released the results of a study known as the Manitoba Student Survey. That study indicated 81 per cent drank alcohol and 40 per cent reported using drugs in the past year. Of those students reporting their use of drugs, 58 per cent indicated they do so in cars, and 48 per cent reported using drugs during regular school hours.

Deaths from heroin overdoses are high. While the statistics from across the country indicate that in some areas, deaths from heroin overdoses have declined, the rates are still unacceptable. In some areas, such as the City of Toronto, the average number of heroin deaths annually is between 36 and 40. In 1994, there was a spike upward, to 67 deaths, and due to various factors, deaths have decreased since then. Risk managers would say, ``If it is predictable, it is preventable.'' With the increasing use of ecstasy, deaths associated with it are also on the increase.

Social harm from illicit drugs is suffered by our youth in their development, especially vulnerable youth or youth at risk. As individuals move through the continuum of use or abuse, the impact on them and on society is greater, as are the costs. The social harm from illicit drug use is not only to the user, but also to innocent victims, their families and communities — for example, from cannabis users impaired while driving a vehicle or operating machinery.

Although occasional use often has relatively few negative effects, it is a myth to consider cannabis a benign drug. In the Manitoba Student Survey, most students indicated they do not condone drinking and driving, but are less concerned about the use of cannabis and driving. A recent Centre for Addiction and Mental Health study found that it is now more acceptable among young people to toke and drive than it is to drink and drive. This speaks to the weakened perception of risk while also attesting to the positive benefits of an anti driving-while-impaired campaign.

In the Manitoba Student Survey, 9 per cent of students reported having experienced moderate or serious problems as a result of family members using drugs, and over half the students in the study considered alcohol and drug use to be a major problem at their school.

The social harm from other illicit drugs presents a different picture. In some communities or neighbourhoods across the country, the harm caused to innocent victims of violent crime and property crime is very great. Victims of violent crime are often physically hurt and psychologically scarred. This results from drug-addicted users committing crimes to get money to feed their habit. Often, addicts will frequent an area where a supply of drugs can be purchased. Sometimes these are areas of high crime and high victimization, where the supply meets the demand. These areas often suffer from disorder, sometimes both physical and social. In many cases, communities and neighbourhoods are in decay. The result is an elevated level of fear, a real or perceived drop in the level of safety, and a diminished quality of life for everyone living and working there.

The economic harm from illicit drug use generally has an impact on social services. Many times, areas frequented by drug-addicted people will experience falling property values. We also need to consider the costs incurred by the police in responding to and working with communities demanding, and in some cases, pleading, for assistance in reducing crime, victimization and disorder. That, of course, activates the criminal justice process, which adds to the costs.

Given the existing research on the escalating rates of cannabis use in the general population of young people, our street youth and our youth at risk, coupled with knowledge about the harms associated with drug use, we know that our problem is growing. We know that our collective efforts at drug use prevention, enforcement, rehabilitation and research are not achieving the results Canada requires. This is not the time to consider backing away from the problem. In fact, now is the time to lean into the problem. Legalization is not the solution. We must not consider legalizing any illicit drugs just because some say that the penalty is too harsh or we are spending too much money. Now is the time to mobilize and maximize our collective efforts and enhance our work together by doing what is effective.

According to the 1996 Monitoring the Future study by the University of Michigan, today's teens are less likely to consider drug use harmful and risky, are more likely to believe that drug use is widespread and tolerated, and feel more pressure to try illegal drugs than at any other time in the last decade.

The 1999 Ontario School Survey revealed some of the same results. It showed the weakening perception of risk of harm, an important factor. With respect to trying cocaine, the numbers diminished from 43 per cent in 1991 to 34 per cent in 1999. It showed a weakening moral disapproval of drug use. Another important factor in cocaine use was the percentage decrease from 55 per cent in 1991 to 42 per cent in 1999. The same study showed an increased perceived availability of cocaine, from 14 per cent in 1991 to 20 per cent in 1999, and an increased perception of availability for cannabis, up from 29 per cent in 1991 to 53 per cent in 1999.

The implication of these perceptions is that these factors influence an increase or decrease in the levels of drug use. Legalization of illicit drugs would only weaken these perceptions further. It tells our children that adults believe drugs can be used responsibly. It suggests that there is less risk and that drugs are more acceptable to society. This conclusion is based upon the level of sanction of a drug. If a drug is considered legal, then there is no sanction, and that would lead to a weakened perception of risk.

Another influence is the media and the power of communication. Media coverage of individuals smoking marijuana in cannabis clubs tells kids that drug taking can be fun. Within this atmosphere, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to reach children and convince them that doing drugs is harmful. Increased drug availability and drug use will worsen our crime problems. Increased drug use has terrible consequences for our citizens.

Message number two is that we need to find effective solutions together. No group working in isolation can solve the problems associated with illicit drug use and abuse.

Effective solutions will only be achieved if the various groups in society work together, taking a problem-solving approach to the issues. As police leaders in Canada, members of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are committed to problem solving, partnership and working on the issues of illicit drug use.

In our model of policing, we have identified the following five category groups that are essential to problem solving on matters involving society: first, political leaders; second, the social and government agencies; third, the community, both business and residential; fourth, the media, because of the power of communications; and fifth, the police. We refer to this group as ``The Big 5.''

The CACP believes that an integrated approach that includes the five partner groups at all three levels of government is essential. We further believe that the approach must be multi-faceted to achieve the desired outcomes.

We believe that problem identification is an essential step in the success of that process. Simply put, the voices of informed people, from the appropriate agencies or groups selected from the respective ``Big 5'' categories, are necessary to ensure problem identification and problem solving.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has been, is now and will continue to be at the table as a partner in this process. We have been partners with other groups working on drug-related issues and these partnerships work. Take, for example, the change in attitude and behaviour since the drinking and driving campaign some years ago. It has not eliminated the problem, but it has achieved a dramatic reduction in impaired driving.

We have had some small successes in the four key target areas where we focus our efforts — namely, prevention, enforcement, rehabilitation and research. Each of these areas has subcategories.

Canada is doing many things right. Many of the groups in our society have done and are presently doing the right things. What we need to do now, though, is tweak the things that are working and make them even more effective. We also need to combine our efforts. We need to multiply our effectiveness together through problem solving. The following are just some examples of ways to improve on the present.

The legislation currently in place has both a preventive and a deterrent effect. Due, however, to a lack of strategies, resources and programs, the present prevention phase is not adequately addressing the escalating number of young people starting or continuing to use illicit drugs. The existing Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is necessary in its current form to support prevention and deterrence, as experienced with laws used to support behaviour changes in impaired driving and the use of seat belts and infant car seats. The charges laid for possession of cannabis average less than one for each police officer in Canada on an annual basis. A significant number are laid incidental to an arrest on another charge under the Criminal Code.

The legislation must convey the right message to the public, that there is no tolerance of illicit drugs, including cannabis. We need to work on the problems that arise from perceptions about the likelihood of offenders getting caught or the lack of consequences when they are. We also need to put our priority on the potential of prevention, because stopping illicit drug use before it starts is the best point in the continuum at which to intervene.

We need to improve our efforts to warn of the harm caused by using illicit drugs, including cannabis. It is important to advise of the harm to individuals, families, communities and society at large.

We need to develop and communicate more powerful messages with the kind of impact seen in the drinking and driving and anti-smoking campaigns and explore the use of effective vehicles of communication that reach our target audiences.

We need to implement the lessons learned from recent research conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, advising our educators about what works and what does not when it comes to the design and delivery of effective drug education. We need to ensure that we are not wasting valuable resources on programs that are ineffective.

We need to explore ways to encourage people abusing illicit drugs to get treatment without relying on police enforcement to apprehend and stream abusers into programs of alternative measures. These programs need to be properly resourced and treatment needs to be timely.

We need to implement more programs such as the drug court in Toronto to divert offenders who are suitable candidates for treatment and other forms of rehabilitation. We need to achieve better outcomes in the areas of adequately funded diversion programs and post-treatment integration and support.

We need to enhance treatment programs for incarcerated offenders, complemented by a strong community reintegration strategy. This is necessary to prevent offenders from returning to a life of crime, forcing the criminal justice system to repeat the cycle. Further studies need to be conducted in areas not yet sufficiently explored to identify best practices for diversion programs.

We need to find ways to offer training to people in enforcement and rehabilitation when new techniques, such as the drug recognition expertise, are identified. These are just some areas where we can be even more effective.

Our third message is that we need leadership to champion our collective efforts. Some people see illicit drug use and drug abuse as a law enforcement problem. Other people see it as a health problem. Actually, both perspectives are correct. However, each perspective relates to different aspects of the illicit drug spectrum, and no single leader has emerged.

We need a champion at the federal level and in Parliament, someone who sees the connection between both perspectives, can merge the interests, and who will carry the torch and take a leadership role on this issue. We need someone to set the vision for Canada and lead the development of a new national drug strategy with a clear policy targeting prevention, one that sets clear, short-term and long-term goals and makes clear the importance of the ``Big 5'' groups working in collaboration. We need a drug strategy that reinforces the importance of taking a problem-solving approach that is properly funded for action.

Many of us have come together in partnership because the need was self-evident. We need Parliament's leadership and a compelling vision.

I should like to return to our core themes: first, illicit drugs are harmful; second, we need to find solutions together; and third, we need leadership to champion our efforts.

Mr. Chairman and honourable senators, we applaud the leadership the Senate is demonstrating by establishing the Special Committee on Illegal Drugs. We should like to make the following recommendations for your consideration.

First, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police recommends that the Government of Canada retain cannabis as an illegal substance. We do not support the legalization of any currently illicit drugs.

Second, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police strongly urges that the Special Committee on Illegal Drugs form a partnership with the House of Commons committee to set the foundation for a revitalized Canadian drug strategy, bringing together federal, provincial, territorial and municipal levels of government for a safer and healthier Canada and championed through federal leadership.

Third, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police strongly recommends that a new Canada drug strategy receive the necessary profile and dedicated resources to deal with the illicit drug problem in Canada by reducing the demand for and supply of drugs based on the four pillars of prevention, enforcement, rehabilitation and research.

This concludes our remarks. The committee did request that we address two questions. First, how are our drug laws impacting police services? Second, could we evaluate the resources expended on enforcement of the drug laws?

In response to the first, we believe that the drug laws are fine as they currently are, with one exception. We question the 30-gram limit. Problems with legislation are arising out of recent and not-so-recent case law. Those have created a number of challenges for policing.

The second question, regarding the evaluation of the resources expended on the enforcement of these laws, is always a difficult one for us. It depends on whether importing, exporting or cultivation is at issue. We know that more obviously needs to be done. The resources that we are putting into it never really keep abreast of the amount of illegal drugs being imported into the country.

However, let's look at another example of law enforcement efforts in the community. Certain cities and communities need the help of police, and other people, to prevent deterioration of their neighbourhoods. The people who live there demand a response from the police. They will plead for assistance.

When we work with other partners in neighbourhoods and communities, we do make a difference. We are not sure how to measure that on an evaluation scale, but the communities have told us that our efforts do make a difference.

We are involved in so many aspects of the drug spectrum. All the work that we are putting into our drug enforcement and crime prevention efforts with our partners is obviously not enough.

We fall back to the position that research is required in order to develop methods of evaluating our effectiveness. Research could help us in policing as well as in rehabilitation, treatment, prevention and other facets of our focus on illicit drugs.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Boyd. Do your colleagues have other comments?

Mr. Barry King, Former Chair of the Drug Abuse Committee and Chief of the Brockville Police Service, Canadian Association of Police Chiefs: Honourable senators, I should like to talk for a moment about the role of prevention. We handed out one small keepsake that resulted from a partnership with Canada Post and the United Nations. Commemorative stamp kits were originally made for the millennium. There were some left over that were obviously not marketable after January 1, 2001.

The kits were provided to us. We decided that most importantly, we needed to get out a clear message to our young people across this country in both official languages. We decided to do that because, since 1997 with the drug strategy that is in effect now, very few resources have been allocated for proactive education and awareness.

Think of the last time that you saw a drug prevention message on television. Probably one that many of us would recognize is the fried egg commercial representing what happens to your brain. Unfortunately, that was an American ad. I cannot recall a recent anti-drug ad on television.

We have produced proactive materials on many other issues in our country. There are campaigns on tobacco and breast cancer. We really have very little material in the drug prevention area.

We are not saying that we want more money for policing and arresting people. We agree with the current balance. We think that not only crime prevention, but also drug awareness is a vital tool in making a difference.

Canada Post and the United Nations provided 2.3 million stamp kits. The message to the young people is, ``You are 100 per cent of Canada's future.'' We went to every Grade 4, 5 and 6 class in Canada. This month and next month, police officers will deliver the kits with the message that not only are the children 100 per cent of our future, they are only 20 per cent of our population.

We want them to have that simple, clear message. There are so many confusing and negative messages out there that children do not know what to think any more.

As honourable senators probably know, our committee came out with a drug policy using alternative measures in 1999. It was taken to be decriminalization. Since then, it has been misinterpreted around the world. Our message is difficult to communicate at the best of times.

We believe, first, that there is a role for police in prevention and awareness as well as in enforcement. We have excellent partnerships with teachers, parents and community groups. Community policing has really started to come together in the last 10 years.

We have not only opened the doors of our police stations for people to walk in and make a complaint; we have opened our minds to listen. We are trying to give you the reaction from our officers, who go into 17,000 schools throughout the country, five days a week, to talk with parents, teachers and students about what they want.

One of our problems is that some of our programs are dated. Very little effort is put into the prevention aspect. I do not want to be quoted exactly on dollars. However, a report about a year ago indicated that the United States spent about $12 per capita on prevention and awareness. In Canada, the comparative figure was less than $1. I think it was in the area of 20 cents or 30 cents.

Substance abuse negatively affects our quality of life. We want safer and healthier communities. We want informed young people. We believe that they can better make appropriate decisions if they have positive and factual information, not scare tactics.

We use a revised, Canadian version of DARE, which is not the program most people have been hearing about for years. We are achieving success and acceptance with it.

One of the biggest problems is that our programs have never had an evaluation component. Whenever we had the opportunity to implement new programs, it was done ``quick and dirty.'' There was very little money. Our only approach was to pump something out and see if it worked.

We have all learned that if you are going to do something, do it properly. We should set up new programs with evaluative components in order to know that we are doing the right things at the right time for the right people. In other words, programs should consider the message, the messenger and effectiveness.

Is there a value in prevention? Obviously, we cannot, with scientific accuracy, measure every single response of police officers. Mr. Chairman asked that question of our chairman. How do we evaluate this?

We assign an officer to work in the area of drugs.

After a while, the work involves drugs and intelligence, and soon we are so busy that it includes terrorism. Over the course of the year, how do you determine how that person is actually doing? That is one of the problems that arise.

As for prevention, we will only be able to get a complete handle on the subject over time. It will be a 5-, 10-, 15-year time frame once the right evaluation components and research have been put into play. The Canadian Institute for Health Research was established only recently. We do not believe that the federal government, or anyone, should be making changes to the law without effective research, first and foremost. We need the best information to make the best recommendations.

We want to talk about partnerships. Policing in Canada is, without doubt, about new partnerships. Our drug committee began about 17 years ago with seven or eight chiefs of police. Until 10 years ago, there were only 10 or 12 chiefs of police, one from each province, and that was it. We now have 25 members encompassing the areas of health, justice, the Solicitor General, private researchers, medical doctors and lawyers.

People provide advice. That is one reason why, in the last five to seven years, you have possibly seen a more open approach from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to this issue. Ten or 15 years ago, we would have been sitting here saying that we needed more money and more police officers. That is not what we need today. We have police officers and we have legislation that, while never perfect, does provide the tools that we require.

However, we are saying, let's not lessen those tools; we still require them. Much like on the seat belt issue, we need the legislation for enforcement, when required. We do not want to over-enforce or over-police, but we also do not want to under-police. We believe that people's lives and community safety are our concern. Two of our three recommendations deal directly with the need for a revitalized drug strategy, with the proper resources and potential for action and that is not just a document describing a philosophy.

Mr. Robert G. Lesser, Vice Chair, Drug Abuse Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: Honourable senators, I should just like to pick up on what Deputy Chief Boyd and Mr. King talked about regarding the importance of working with the community, with all the different partners. As Mr. Boyd was making his comments, I happened to look through the presentation by the Canadian Medical Association. Much of what they said is similar to what we are saying. It is interesting that the CMA and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, unbeknownst to one another, are giving such similar messages.

I know that committee members have been working diligently for a number of months, and that numerous themes are beginning to emerge.

Mr. Boyd: One of the documents in our package is a joint statement on illegal drugs from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association. This is a very significant step for us, because it unites officers at all levels of policing in Canada on a shared position on illegal drugs.

This was recently agreed to and we wanted to include it. As well, there is a document that provides a history of drug abuse awareness, prevention programming in schools and the work of the CACP, as well as a list of our drug abuse committee members. That shows you the diversity of professionals with whom we have been working, as Mr. King mentioned moments ago.

Senator Maheu: I should like to deal with the 2001 report of the Auditor General of Canada, entitled ``Illicit Drugs — the Federal Government's Role.''

It points out that 95 per cent of the federal government's expenditures to address the problem of illicit drugs were aimed at supply reduction, enforcement or interdiction. This money went to your forces. Are you now requesting additional funds? Do you believe that you have met the government's commitment to drug reduction with the allocations that you have received to date?

Mr. Lesser: First, as we said in our presentation, many of our recommendations closely support those of the Auditor General for a new and revitalized drug strategy that looks at performance measurement and those kinds of issues. That figure of 95 per cent refers only to federal resources. There was about $170 million for the RCMP costs, $170 million or so for Corrections Canada, $70 million or so for Justice Canada and only $15 million for Health Canada. That is really only one pillar. Education is not reflected in those figures because it is a provincial jurisdiction.

Senator Maheu: Did you not receive money from the provinces as well as from the municipalities?

Mr. Lesser: Do you mean for enforcement?

Senator Maheu: Yes.

Mr. Lesser: Yes, but not for education. The police do educational programs in schools and those costs have not been captured. The health costs have not been captured, other than the small amount that Health Canada, as a federal oversight department, spends.

My point is that I believe that 95 per cent figure is skewed. What is happening out there is not reflected in much of the funding. There are undoubtedly additional provincial and municipal enforcement funds, but that does not capture any education funds.

Senator Maheu: If I could interject, I have one question. Do you mean that the provinces are not funding any of the education?

Mr. Lesser: I am suggesting that the Auditor General's report did not reflect what municipalities spent on their education and health care services. The Auditor General's report did not reflect — and this was not intended — what the province has paid. I am suggesting that to say that 95 per cent of all money spent to deal with drugs in Canada is for enforcement is inaccurate because of federal mandates versus provincial mandates.

Do we need more money or do we have enough or too much? There is always more to be done. The first step, though, is to take a look at what we have now, not just in policing, but also in prevention, education, treatment and rehabilitation, and coordinate that better.

We have said in this presentation, and I believe other presentations have also said, that we need leadership that will bring the three levels of government together — federal, provincial and municipal. There are many good activities happening, but they are not coordinated. A significant amount of money is being spent without knowing what other money is being spent by other levels of government. The challenge for this committee, and for the country, is to develop a strategy that brings together the four pillars and the different levels of government.

As a starting point, we could probably manage with the money that we have — certainly for enforcement. There is need for other money for coordination and health and education. Our country does not have a national prevention education program in every school. That is in major difference between us and other countries that we heard about, such as Australia and the Netherlands.

There is a need for better use of the existing resources. Once we have identified the gaps and what is happening, we will be in a better position to see where more money is needed.

Senator Maheu: In any event, you are asking for additional funds. When you say that there is not enough money being put into education, do you not feel that is a provincial responsibility? We cannot intervene. Will you ask the provincial governments for additional funds for education?

Mr. Lesser: We addressed all levels of government in our resolutions, as well as the Prime Minister, federal ministers and their provincial counterparts.

Senator Maheu: A lot of money is being put into drug programs. Police prefer to handle drug cases, from what we have heard, rather than robbery, murder, rape, et cetera. Is that because of additional funding you have received, or is it easier to pursue young children in school and arrest them for simple possession rather than go after the bigger picture?

Mr. King: I mentioned that there are 57,000 police officers and less than one drug charge per officer per year in the entire country. We did a study in Ottawa two years ago and found that 92 per cent of those possession charges were incidental to another crime. For example, people were arrested in a stolen car and had drugs on them at the time, so they were charged with stealing the car plus possession. In other cases, they would be arrested for break and enter and found to have drugs on them.

As I am from a smaller community, I can see what we are doing on a daily basis. We have approximately 150 charges a year, which is less than one every two days, from the officers on bike patrol who get a complaint about liquor, noise or something else. They are not stopping people on the street and searching them.

In British Columbia, before a charge is laid, the evidence is put together and analysed by the federal prosecutor, because of court timing and other factors. In Ontario or Alberta, someone may be charged with possession for the purpose, but in British Columbia, it would show up as a possession charge because they want to deal with it in a summary conviction manner.

Officers want to keep control of the drug situation because parents, teachers and students are worried. However, when it comes to robberies and crimes of violence, we must put our resources there because they will be on the report card from our communities.

The number of drug charges could be much higher if we dedicated more resources to that. We have so many other priorities that change on a regular basis that some people look at the number and say it is a ridiculous. It is a high number, but from our experience, the charges are usually incidental to other charges.

Senator Maheu: Is there an inordinate number of arrests of young people under 21 for simple possession, with no trafficking or other crimes involved? Do you keep statistics? I am thinking of Ontario.

Mr. King: Statistics Canada has the stats for each province. It is not that an officer will drive by if you are over 21, but will stop you and take your drugs if you are not. It is usually because of involvement in another event that you end up with these charges. In some cases, it could be something as simple as a skate boarding complaint, which neighbours are making all the time. A young person gets stopped and another problem develops, or they are wanted for something, or they have breached a condition from another incident before the court. They are then arrested and searched and found to have drugs with them.

The Chairman: Mr. King, you mentioned the $12 the U.S. is spending on prevention. Do you think it helps?

Mr. King: I am not party to their evaluations, but I can tell you that 10 or 15 years ago, Health Canada put significant resources into putting out a consistent message across the country. This was in partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart and many others and cost about $1 million a year for five years. There was spaced repetition in the media, including TV ads.

This type of proactive information and expenditure is now missing. Young people need a tool kit, they need information that they can absorb and turn over in their minds, so that they have something to draw on when challenged by their peers. Nancy Reagan started a program to ``just say no'' to drugs. If you cannot, and so many other people cannot, what do you do? You have to do something.

Is it worthwhile to spend money on public awareness on a consistent, national level? I would say yes. I could not give you an evaluation of its value in comparison with other strategies, but certainly its absence is a very negative force.

The Chairman: We are firm believers in proper education for the entire population. That will be a strong recommendation. However, do you think it affects the level of use? If people are informed of the consequences of abusing a substance, will they limit themselves to more recreational use? No one here can tell me that in the U.S., even if they are spending $12 per capita on prevention, it has a direct effect on the level of use. Their level of use and ours is the same.

Mr. King: The United States is spending that money, but I believe they are much further down the problem road than we are. We do not want to get to that point. If you compare the number of prisons and the number of people arrested and locked up, our crime rate is not at that level.

The Chairman: We are concerned with looking at pre-judicial numbers, such as the prevalence of use among the general population. We have studied other countries' programs, laws and policies, and we are almost convinced that these do not affect use. If we compare heavily prohibitionist states such as Sweden or the U.S. with liberal countries like France, the Netherlands, Germany or Switzerland, the levels of drug use are the same. Something else is influencing it.

Prevention includes the education of the population, and we all agree with that, but what is the effect on the prevalence of the substance? It would be fine to spend $12 per capita in Canada on education if it helped the population to understand what they were doing. If we think it will create a drug-free country, then we are dreaming in technicolour.

Mr. King: I do not think we said that. Almost every document we put out in the last five years talks about research. We believe there should be appropriate research on the impacts before the decisions are made. As you say, I do not think you can zero in and say if you spend so much, you will get particular results.

The vast majority of young people in this country are good people. There are some that are already over the edge, some fence sitters, but many are terrific people. A combination of approaches is needed, just as with drinking and driving, infant car seats and seat belt use. If some of the links in the chain are missing, then you are not going to have any success. However, if it can deter my grandchildren, I will be happy.

Mr. Lesser: I do not have the figures with me, but within the last six months the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the States came out with statistics that showed a significant decrease in the use of certain drugs in the States.

The Chairman: It was 1 per cent.

Mr. Lesser: One per cent in the size of the United States population, if it is your child or mine, is significant. I do not think anyone will see a change in a two-, five- or ten-year study. A $15 million study over 15 years on tobacco smoking in the United States found at the end of that study that it made no difference whether this particular program existed or not, that the whole community will be affected. Both the parents and the kids will have to be educated.

Kids can be exposed to the best programs in the world, about safe driving, about smoking regular cigarettes or about doing illegal drugs, but if there is a certain environment at home or if they are genetically predisposed to addiction, the behaviour will not change inside one generation. These are multi-generational challenges that we have to face.

We have to start somewhere, start doing something. It is easy to say, ``We have a problem. Let's legalize it, and it will no longer be a problem.'' It is a much more difficult challenge to look at how to answer this problem in the long term. We may not see a difference for our kids, but our grandkids, I would hope, will see a difference. It is long-term change that we need to look at.

Mr. Boyd: When we look at what we are doing with our prevention programs, I do not think we as a country are satisfied that we have been making our best efforts — however you would measure that — and that the kinds of programs we have in place right now are effective. Part of the reason I hold that view is that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is just concluding some research about determining what does and what does not work. Right across the country we have been making our best efforts to give our young people some kind of training, education and awareness, but much of this deals with training in the affective domain, that is, changing attitudes and changing behaviours. That is a tough area of training and education in the first instance.

Right now, everyone is sitting on the edge of their chairs waiting for this report from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to tell us what it is we are doing. When we get the report, I know that educators, teachers, health officials, treatment counsellors and police officers will likely rejig the existing programs to try to start doing things that will be effective. It gets back to research and using that research to change what we do and make it more effective.

Senator Maheu: How much education is given to police officers dealing with youth? I get back to simple possession: What type of education are police officers given? Are police officers simply taught to throw the book at a youth because it is illegal to have joints in your pocket? I am not talking about anything attached to other crimes. They have bought the joints, yes, but is anyone educating the police on simple possession?

Mr. Boyd: Our police officers are so busy responding to calls for service and responding to crimes of violence that they just do not have the time to be able to focus in on possession of marijuana.

Going back to what Chief King said, when police officers are investigating other types of crimes and make an arrest, they may be confronted with people who are found to be in possession of marijuana.

I can definitely speak for police officers in Toronto. They just do not have time to focus in on possession of marijuana charges. The one exception to that is officers who work in local divisions, local communities, trying to respond to the needs of that community. Those officers go in and spend time trying to bring that community some relief. However, by and large, we do not have the time these days to focus on possession.

Nevertheless, I hear time and again that people in various areas have this perception that the police really want to do this. Frankly, we are stretched to the limit and we are fighting fires out there.

Senator Maheu: That is in our very large cities. I wonder if Chief King could tell us something about some of the smaller cities.

Mr. King: I used to live in Toronto and Mississauga — which is just a collection of a number of communities. In areas like ours, smaller things might become more important to the community. For example, on a Friday night, 10 skateboarders downtown on the veterans' monument can cause as much ire as a major incident in a big city. We get calls from the community telling us to move the skateboarders on or to get down there and deal with them. While there was no intent in the first place of seeking out these kids and asking them whether they had drugs in their pockets, we end up finding drugs often.

You asked about education for officers. We must remember that drugs are an illegal substance. Are we telling our officers to go out and turn a blind eye? No, we cannot do that. If they find an illegal substance, they have to seize it and turn it in.

We have in our previous resolutions and in this statement indicated alternative measures. We have no difficulty with alternative measures if they are well thought out and comprehensive — not moving the line in the sand without the other things that support it. Our fear would be to have diversion to treatment or to counselling, for example, and then to find out that there is a seven-month wait for counselling. We all know they will be back in our system, maybe twice, before they ever get to counselling. Those are our concerns. We want to ensure a comprehensive assessment of what possibly can work.

We started to move the bar in 1999 with our policy. We are certainly not advocating legalization, but we all need a toolbox. We need other things that will work. One point that we have stated loud and clear for the last couple of years is that we do not believe a criminal record for a young person for possession or summary conviction is appropriate. We believe there are other methods of dealing with that pre-charge if there are no special circumstances involved in it.

Senator Maheu: Part of the reason I was asking the question is that some of these young people do end up with a criminal record on their file, and when, if ever, will they get rid of it?

Mr. Lesser: If we look at the RCMP training out in Regina, first, many of our recruits are in their mid-20s, up to age 27, so they have grown up in a society that is perhaps more liberal. They are not coming in necessarily with the mentality that they have to put everyone who smokes a joint in jail to begin with. I think they come to us with a different view.

All police departments as well as community-based policing in Canada are taught to look at a number of options. One of the scenarios that I know we teach out in Regina is a group of kids smoking joints in the local shopping centre. The recruits are taught that, while they can keep writing them up and sending them to court, they can also deal with the community, deal with the kids, deal with the stores and deal with the recreational centres. They can take a look at whether there are other ways in which the community as a whole can deal with that particular situation. That is how they are taught to deal with things.

We have talked about statistics, and I know that is a preoccupation with the committee and other people when looking at these areas. Many figures have been bandied about. I would caution anyone who look sat those figures to take a good look and understand what they mean.

For instance, these figures of 55,000 people charged with possession. When I looked at the Auditor General's report, he talked about cannabis possession in 1999 of just over 21,000. A figure of 21,000 in a country of 30 million is not a high number. However, of the 21,000, we know that there are significant numbers of people charged with cultivation of 200 marijuana plants, and the charges have been reduced to simple possession. There are also other cases that the gentlemen here have talked about, as well as people originally charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking reduced down to possession.

The fact is that if a youth is 17 or under he or she is being charged under the Young Offenders Act. At the end of the day, when that youth turns 18, there will be no criminal record. Hence, those people in high school who are convicted of simple possession will not have a criminal record, unless, once they are 18 and over, they repeat those kinds of offences. There is a lot of intentional and unintentional interpretation of statistics.

Senator Maheu: Are you saying that the figure is not 60,000, that it is more like 21,000?

Mr. Lesser: I am quoting from the Auditor General's report. The figure he quoted for 1999 was 21,381 possession cases.

The Chairman: In your presentation, Mr. Boyd, you talked about the 31 per cent THC content. What information do you have to support that figure? We have asked that question many times. In the U.S, the highest recorded level of THC is 15 per cent.

I recall asking Superintendent Lesser for evidence about the THC content.

Someone mentioned a problem with 30 grams vis-à-vis the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Is 30 grams too high? Do you want to reduce that to 5 grams?

Mr. Boyd: We think it is too high; however, we would probably benefit from some debate with others, with people outside of policing. Thirty grams is a lot for personal possession, and we think that needs to be revisited.

The Chairman: I presume when the government introduced 30 grams, it copied what was in Amsterdam. Since that time, it has been reduced to 5 grams. That is why I am suggesting 5 grams may be the proper level.

Superintendent Lesser, you said that the opinion of the chiefs of police on decriminalization was misquoted and then spread around the world. You suggested that that action backfired. What was the reaction of the Americans when they heard that their neighbours to the North were supporting the decriminalization of marijuana?

Mr. Lesser: Once our position was explained to the Americans, that we would consider, under certain conditions, alternate justice measures, in that case, decriminalization or possibly a ticket offence, it changed their understanding. The papers were full of stories that suddenly the chiefs of police support legalization or decriminalization. We placed a number of riders placed on that, and I believe Deputy Chief Boyd mentioned in his presentation that the riders have not been followed through — for example, the government has not increased education.

Mr. King has spoken with American colleagues specifically on some of those issues.

Mr. King: At the time, people were interpreting legalization of marijuana for medical purposes as meaning decriminalization. The reason we came up with the policy was to put a definition on — albeit our definition — legalization and decriminalization. The difficulty arose when one newspaper reported that we were in favour of decriminalization of all drugs. That was what caused the difficulty around the world. We are still feeling that.

Once it was explained to the Americans what it is we are talking about — what we are really talking about is contained within the statement we gave you today. It is no different than 1999, except that two of us are in agreement and we have elaborated upon it.

The most important aspect was to say that, first, as chiefs of police we have opened up our minds, expanded our options, and we concur that there are some other options that are reasonable and necessary. It is not easy in today's world to move the bar, because many of our own people are asking: ``Where is the track record? You have put many conditions on it, and if the other conditions do not hold, they will go ahead with one section of it. We really have not got a comprehensive strategy going forward.''

That is the reason conditions were put on it, and the conditions, unfortunately, never make the cut when they are reported. We think it is a responsible position. We thought it was then and still think it is today. We think it is reinforced now that the Canadian Police Association became a signatory this weekend. Their membership has agreed with that. We now have the Canadian Association of Police Boards, and we are looking to the FCM to support it as well. We think it will be supported.

We wanted a dialogue to enable us to meet with the people who will make decisions. We think a meaningful consultation and a meaningful opportunity to put forth the recommendations — we have two committees to do that with — is a tremendous opportunity for this country.

We appreciate the opportunity to be here.

The Chairman: Does the law have a deterrent effect on the use of drugs?

Mr. Lesser: Perhaps I can use a non-drug example first and then determine whether it can logically be applied to drugs.

Drinking and driving is a prime example. In the 1970s and early 1980s, it was quite acceptable to get drunk and then drive home. If you parked on the lawn and survived, you were a hero. There followed a program of education, including public service announcements. Over a few decades, there was little social acceptance for that type of behaviour.

There are still people who drink too much and drive home. For those people who do not get the message, there must be some deterrent effect. I believe we still need our drinking and driving laws, because as much as we have changed society's views as a whole some people just do not get the message. They need that stronger coercive persuasion to not drink and drive. For those who do drink and drive, there is the ability to take their licence and get them off the road, to save lives.

It is the same with seatbelts. There is still some kind of sanction. Even for smoking, as much as the Canadian government is going to great lengths to discourage people from smoking, there are certain laws at the municipal level, where you can and cannot smoke, that you cannot sell cigarettes to minors.

In many of those examples where we are able to change behaviour effectively, it has been a combination of prevention, understanding the health risks and that coercive deterrent effect. I would submit that logic would still follow with drug use.

The Chairman: So the missing component is the social reaction to an attitude?

Mr. Lesser: It is acceptance of that.

The Chairman: If there is no acceptance by the societal environment, the deterrent will work. If you lack that element, it is useless.

Mr. Lesser: It is important. People would argue that there is no use having a law just for the sake of having a law, that there must be a reason behind it, no matter what it is, whether it is driving 120 on the 401 or using certain drugs. Within the country, if there is no respect or validation of a particular law, then all the enforcement in the world will not be helpful.

We have seen that in Canada with tax laws, where getting paid under the table is pretty well accepted. Whether that was generated from a policy decision by the government or not is open for debate.

It is the same with smuggling liquor and tobacco. A number of years ago, that behaviour became accepted. What affected it more, then, was less taxation on cigarettes and alcohol. That resolved a lot of the criminal problems in that area.

The Chairman: It was not the smuggling; it was the issue of paying no taxes.

Mr. Lesser: People do not like paying taxes. I do not know why that is.

The Chairman: No one likes to pay taxes.

I am trying to focus on the importance of the attitudes of society towards a crime or infraction. If more and more people do not see a crime in an attitude, you can do whatever you want, but at the end of the day, you will catch 1.5 or 2 per cent of the users in a good year.

Mr. Lesser: If you are saying that if the population in general thinks that possession of cannabis is fine, then no law in the world will deter that, that is probably true. However, I would suggest that that population needs to be well informed. It needs to have the stuff that the Canadian Medical Association is putting out, as well as the stuff other groups of doctors is putting out.

There is no significant research out there that can in any way compare to what we have in tobacco. Right now, we have ads in the paper that say every year 45,000 Canadians die because of smoking. No one argues with that figure. It is well accepted.

Much research that you have heard is contradictory. No matter what one researcher says, there will be others who say the opposite.

Some simple questions that I as a police officer and a parent would have include: How many joints do I have to smoke at what level of THC to be impaired? When would I be too impaired to safely drive a vehicle, to operator a snow blower or a lawnmower? What is the combination effect of one or two joints and a few bottles of beer? Those are basic questions. Even now, as the law stands today, people are doing cannabis and smoking and drinking and driving. We do not know the effects of that. We are not really paying attention to that, either.

The Chairman: I would submit that there is a lot of research specifically trying to establish that. It is available. It needs to be distributed.

Mr. Lesser: We need the answers, I think.

The Chairman: There were small booklets available in France for the last year and a half, and now in Quebec for the last month, specifically informing the population of that. In France, after publication of that booklet, there was a shift in the attitude of the population, not towards more prohibition but towards understanding what is behind that and what should be in the law. An educated population will react intelligently.

That is why I return to saying that the social component of the attitude is very important towards the effectiveness of your work. If you do not have that social support, forget it.

Mr. King: We can only police with the consent of society.

The Chairman: Wisdom.

We will review your briefs. We would have preferred receiving your presentation in advance, in order to have prepared ourselves more thoroughly. We have accessed your Web sites, and have looked at your press releases. We will read your brief closely and look at the statement that you referred to.

I will write to you with any questions we might have, and we will post those questions and answers on the Web site. Thank you very much.

[Translation]

The Chairman: That concludes our work for the day. Before adjourning this meeting, I would like to remind all those who are interested in the committee's work that they can read about it and become informed about the use of illegal drugs by visiting our web site on the Internet at www.parl.gc.ca. There you will find the statements of all the witnesses, their biographies, all the supporting documentation that they deemed fit to provide to us as well as more than 150 Internet links on illegal drugs. You can also use this address to e-mail us.

On behalf of the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs, I would like to thank you for your interest in our important research.

The comittee adjourned.