Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs

Proceedings of the Special Committee on
Illegal Drugs

Issue 8 - Evidence - Afternoon Session

OTTAWA, Monday, October 29, 2001

The Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs is meeting today at 1:30 p.m. to review Canadian legislation and policies on illegal drugs.

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


The Chairman: I would like to reopen the public proceedings of the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs.

This afternoon, we will first hear from Mr. Guy Ati Dion. Mr. Dion has been actively interested in the problems of drugs and drug addiction for some 15 years. He was trained as a psychotherapist specializing in drug addiction and worked in a Dutch therapeutic community in the 1980s; he returned to Quebec in the early 1990s after earning a psychology degree from the Humaniversity, an international university located in Holland.

After returning to Quebec, he studied criminology and drug addiction. He completed a multidisciplinary degree in humanities in 1994, a masters in criminology in 1996 and is currently finishing a doctorate in criminology at the University of Montreal focusing on Canadian drug policies. He is also working on a masters in psychology from the Humaniversity in Holland. He prepared various studies on how the police and court system deal with drug issues for the Quebec Standing Committee on Drug Addiction in 1997, 1999 and 2001, and published work in the periodical Psychotropes in the spring of 2001. Since 1999 he has also been director and clinical counsellor at a psychotherapy training centre in Quebec, at Humaniversity Quebec.

Mr. Dion, the rules are simple. You will have time to give your presentation and then there will be a question period. We have scheduled an hour and a half for your testimony, although some of my colleagues have to leave at 3:30. We will listen to your presentation and begin the question period, and if the second witness, Mr. Oscapella, arrives early enough, we will allow him to make his presentation and then we will ask both of you questions. Although the subjects are different, there is some overlap in your interests.

Mr. Guy Ati Dion, Ph.D. in Criminology, University of Montreal: Thank you for having invited me. It is an honour for me to be here.

I began my doctoral studies a few years ago on police practices for drug offences in Canada. We have legislation on narcotics - there used to be two laws - and I felt that there was a difference between the spirit of the law and how that law was enforced. That is what led me to do the study. Nineteen ninety-nine marked the 25th anniversary of the final report of the Le Dain Commission. I wondered what had happened since 1974 with respect to efforts to stop drug use in Canada.

My presentation contains five points. I will not be following my written document exactly but will be giving the gist of what is there. In point 1, I will lay out the various indicators of the drug issue in society. On what basis can we say that drug use is an epidemic? In point 2, I will briefly describe the measures put in place to combat drugs in Canada between 1974 and 1999. I will give some explanation about 1974, since there have been changes regarding the statistics. In point 3, I will compare how the legislation is applied differently in three Canadian provinces. It is not an exhaustive comparison but it gives a starting point for an analysis. In point 4, I will make a comparison between people charged with possession of cannabis and those who admit that they use cannabis, to show the extent to which the legislation is enforced. My conclusion will be a tentative one since I am still developing my hypothesis. I will not be producing cut and dried answers even when the research is finished. I imagine that, where drug policy is concerned, there are no cut and dried answers.

Let us first talk about the indicators of drug use in Canadian society. We often hear that drugs are a scourge. Between you and me, the various indicators used to characterize drug use in this way are often imprecise. Some of the sources are widely used by the media, which have an interest in selling newspapers. So they relay this information with a fair dose of sensationalism.

One source of information on illegal drug use is national surveys. There have been relatively few of these done in Canada. A number of provincial studies have been done, but the methodology is often different from one to the next. A great deal of care is needed in comparing them. The most recent Canadian survey dates back to 1994. That is the one that we will use, and it shows, among other things, that 7.4 per cent of Canadians 15 years of age and older said that they had used cannabis during the previous year. If that is used as a basis for calling drug use a scourge, it makes a pretty weak case. But we will come back to that in point 4.

Let us now deal with the number of charges laid by police under anti-drug laws. This is often one of the main arguments of those that say that illegal drug use is a scourge. In the next point, we will see that these statistics cannot be taken at face value.

Drug seizures are another indicator. The number of seizures and the amount of drug seized vary from year to year, but estimates are often given. We have seen that the police do the best they can, but it is impossible to get exact data on the amounts seized or the number of seizures.

Admissions to treatment centres is yet another indicator. The more people get treatment for drug addictions, the more obvious it is that there is a drug problem in our society. I have indicated drug addiction and methadone here because there are also methadone treatment programs. The more people there are taking this treatment, the more it appears that drug use is changing. Overdoses resulting in death and hospitalizations are other indicators that are rather imprecise because the data lack detail. The more needle recycling programs there are for intravenous drug users, the more it appears that the use of those drugs is widespread.

As for the visibility of users, for example, I do not know whether it is still the case, but in the 1970s, it was common to see people give each other drugs without much interference by police on Saint-Denis Street in Montreal. So one could get the impression that there were a lot of drugs around. Moreover, we hear a lot about the drug trade being controlled by the Hells Angels, the Rock Machine and other organized crime groups. The more we hear about it, the more widespread we think the problem is.

The issue of illegal drugs is tied up with all those factors. That is why I feel that the media play a crucial role by providing all this information. It is the media that tell us about police activities, drug problems and the role of organized crime.

I decided to concentrate on police activities because they are often the most carefully documented. When we hear about arrests under the drug laws, these are not estimates, even though they must be used with a great deal of caution. But they do give us exact numbers.

And finally, what has happened in Canada since the Le Dain Commission report was issued 25 years ago? The Le Dain Commission - which is your predecessor, in a way - recommended various measures to increase flexibility, but we will see what actually transpired.

As for how valid and representative these criminal statistics are, my basic assumption is quite simple. Police statistics are manufactured. They do not reflect the reality of drug use in society. They tell us more about police activities than about drug use and society.

There are various indicators, but people often use the number of reported offences to be able to say that there is more drug activity. I decided to look into whether that indicator accurately reflected the size of the drug problem in our society.

Philippe Robert developed this concept of using reported criminal offences and I have applied it in the area of drug laws. The three aspects involved are visibility, the reporting of crimes to the police and selection. I will go through these aspects quickly to give you an idea of how criminal statistics are manufactured, especially in the area of drug offences.

In order for an offence to be reported, it must be visible. Drug offences fall into four categories: possession, trafficking, importing and exporting, which together make up one category, and cultivation or production of synthetic drugs.

It is easy to understand that possession has low visibility. Except for young people taking drugs in parks, street trafficking has higher visibility and the number of offences registered will vary. Obviously, importing and cultivation will be done as secretly as possible, and offences related to this type of activity often result from investigations or proactive efforts by the police. Visibility depends on who is involved and where the offences take place.

In Canada, the act of taking drugs is not an offence. In France, using drugs is a crime, while in Canada, we just have the offensive possession. If the drugs are being taken in a private residence - unless the music is so loud that the neighbours call the police - there is relatively little chance that the police will find out and that an offence will be registered. So visibility is low.

The second aspect is the reporting of offences to police. Drug offences have a low probability of being reported because they are consensual crimes or victimless crimes. If someone buys drugs, the activity involves a buyer and a seller, and none of the two has any interest in telling the world about it. Prostitution crimes are somewhat similar, in that they are also what we call victimless crimes.

That does not mean that there is no one that suffers indirectly, but no one suffers directly from the offence, as would be the case if a theft or a murder was committed.

Some other offences, like trafficking using pagers, are increasingly difficult to detect. There is low visibility, the offences tend not to be reported and so there is little chance of an offence being registered.

As regards selection, the third aspect, police have to think about the reaction of their superiors. When police officers arrest someone, they do not automatically prepare a police report on the offence. By law, the police are supposed to report all offences, but in some cases, the substance may be seized and the person released with a warning that charges will be laid the next time. This selection depends on the quality of the evidence.

Where possession and trafficking offences are concerned, it is relatively easy, since someone is usually intercepted in possession of a substance, and if the police can at least prove that trafficking took place, then possession is quite easy to prove. Who is involved may also play a role, and the seriousness of the offence is another factor in the police decision on whether to register an offence. In practice, importing tonnes of cocaine is on a whole different level from dealing a small amount of cannabis.

With respect to available resources, there were budget cuts in the 1990s. Some people attribute the drop in overall crime levels to cutbacks in the various police forces. According to some theories, crime levels went down because there were fewer police officers and court staff to deal with arrests. The police do not like to register offences when they know that there will be no follow up.

These three aspects have to be taken into account when we look at crime statistics. It is true that statistics can be made to show whatever you want them to show, but with these three aspects in mind, we can understand that the reporting of offences by police, including those relating to drug laws, depends on a number of factors.

I will now present a few tables with data on drug offences. The figures are from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, which comes under Statistics Canada - and are provided through the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which covers all of Canada's police forces. The police provide the CCJS with a list of all offences, and this was one of my sources for the data on possession, trafficking, importing and exporting, and cultivation and manufacturing. These are secondary data. I did not collect this information, but I compared and analyzed it.

I would like to mention in passing that I got this document to you in a hurry. It is not perfect, but I wanted you to at least have something in writing. I replaced one of the tables because there was a calculation error. Before looking at drug offences, we need to look at crime reporting in general, since if overall crime levels are decreasing, one would expect to see the same trend for drug offences.

Beginning in 1974, the number of offences reported in Canada rose. The high point occurred in 1991, and reported crimes have been going down since then. This is the case in Canada and in most other industrialized countries.

Various theories have been developed to explain this decrease, but it is mostly break-and-enter offences that have gone down, and we will see that the trend for drug offences has been different. It is important to keep in mind that crime in general declined in the 1990s.

I am sorry that I did not have time to update these figures to include the year 2000, since we do have data available on overall crime rates, but when you need to do a breakdown of the various drug offences, it takes longer to get the data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. I promise, however, that I will send you this information as soon as it is available.

Let us look now at the number of drug-related activities for all substances and all offences. The number of drug offences varies from year to year. Between 1981 and 1983, there was a significant drop, which is probably related to the coming into force of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which restricted the search-and-seizure powers of the police.

The table shows that the annual number of drug offences has been on the increase since 1990. The figures for the year 2000 are 9 per cent higher than those for 1999. Some 88,000 offences are reported every year by the police. But there is an increase in the level of police activity around drugs.

The next table compares drug offences with offences under the Criminal Code as a whole. As we know, overall crime rates declined during the 1990s, and drug-related offences increased. In 1974, drug offences accounted for 4 per cent of all offences under the Criminal Code. There was quite a substantial drop from 1981 to 1983 when, as I already mentioned, the Charter came into being. The number stabilized during the 1980s, decreased in the late 1980s and began rising sharply as of the early 1990s. If we extrapolated the numbers for the year 2000, the increase would continue.

In 1974, drug-related offences accounted for 4 per cent of all offences, while in 1991, they accounted for 2 per cent, and that will probably rise to over 3.5 per cent in the year 2000. On the one hand, we have a drop in overall crime rates, and on the other, we have an increase in the proportion of drug offences. So the trends go in opposite directions.

The fact that an offence under the drug laws is registered by police does not mean that charges are laid. The courts have a limited capacity. Just because the police in Canada say that they register all cannabis possession offences and all offences under the drug laws does not mean that these reported offences will automatically be processed and that they will result in charges being laid.

This table shows figures for the period from 1974 to 1991. In 1991, something happened, and that year can be seen as a turning point in all the tables. Some 75 per cent of all reported offences led to charges. Perhaps you will want to explore this during the question period. There are various reasons why an offence may or may not be prosecuted.

Since 1991, the percentage of offences resulting in charges has declined, and beginning in 1997, fewer than 75 per cent of reported offences led to the laying of charges.

It is worth noting that the rate at which charges are laid went down mainly beginning in the early 1990s. Given that the number of reported offences increased over that period, the number of drug-related cases that come before the courts has remained relatively constant.

In the next table, I have taken the total of all drug-related offences and done a breakdown by type of substance. When we talk about drugs, we lump together a variety of very different substances. Since your committee has a mandate to focus on cannabis, it was important for me to make distinctions among the various substances. It is clear that a high percentage of drug offences still involve cannabis.

I would just like to take a moment to mention that the earlier tables covered the period from 1974 to 1999. The rest of the tables begin only in 1977 because the statistics were compiled differently before that year. It was not always possible to identify whether the offence involved cannabis, cocaine or another substance. Since an analysis was not possible, these tables deal only with the years 1977 to 1999.

To come back to cannabis, we see that 90 per cent of all drug offences involved cannabis in the 1970s, and that that figure dropped to 60 per cent in the early 1990s. The situation is fairly stable after that time, ranging from 70 per cent to 72 per cent.

The second-highest number of offences, represented by the blue line, involve cocaine. There was a strong increase in the 1980s and then a relative decrease beginning in the early 1990s. Cocaine-related offences still account for a considerable proportion of all drug offences. The category "other drugs" is a miscellaneous category that includes all substances other than heroin, cocaine and cannabis. So a number of substances are covered there.

Much research remains to be done in that category, since, as we saw this morning, Ecstacy and some synthetic drugs are now being used more widely and are leading to more seizures and arrests. So this "other drugs" category contains some surprises or might at least be revealing if the statistics were analyzed. That is one of the next sections of my thesis. About 10 per cent of all reported offences fall into that category.

Heroin, the small black dot at the bottom of the table, accounts for 2 per cent of all drug offences. The data on heroin for the year 2000, which are not included in my tables, show that this is the only family of substances in which there has been a reduction.

One theory is that since the introduction of the harm reduction program, there has been an effort to reach intravenous drug users. My impression is that police officers definitely have a different attitude regarding these users, but that remains to be confirmed.

In the next table, I once again took the total number of drug offences, but this time I sorted it by type of offence. Once again, we see that possession is the main offence of all drug-related offences.

At the end of the 1970s, the figure was around 80 per cent. There was a drop during the 1980s, to about 58 per cent. At that time, the police seemed to focus more on trafficking offences. There might not necessarily have been more trafficking going on and less possession. Given the inverse relation between the two, we might assume that in the 1980s, police officers were targeting more the traffickers or the people who sold drugs, rather than those who possessed drugs.

Subsequently, after 1991, we see a drop, and a levelling off as regards possession offences. They still accounted for about 60 per cent of the total number of offences. Trafficking offences dropped to 25 per cent of the total.

I would invite you to look at the small black dots which represent growing offences. In the time that you have been hearing from drug experts, you must have heard that since the 1990s, growing cannabis in Canada has been a flourishing industry. Quebec Gold and products from British Columbia are quite fashionable.

This is a growing industry, which is reflected in the increased number of offences related to growing cannabis. What percentage of the overall market does this represent? It would be interesting to find that out. In all regions, there are more and more stores specialized in selling hydroponic equipment. This is not necessarily to grow tomatoes. If there are two such stores in Saint-Jovite, and if there are relatively few growers of hydroponic vegetables and herbs in the region, this probably points to something else. This is one of a number of indicators of cannabis production. So there has been a fairly significant increase in cannabis-growing offences over the 1990s.

I have a table on offences related to cannabis possession. It might be thought that the relatively low cannabis possession rate is not that serious. The number of cannabis possession offences compared to the total number of drug-related offences was approximately 75 per cent of the total in the 70s. This percentage dropped to 38 per cent in 1991.

Since 1991, once again, we have seen an increase, and this levelled off to 50 per cent around 1995. So if I may summarize this table in one sentence, I would say that half of the drug-related offences involved cannabis possession. That is relatively significant in my view.

I wanted to sketch a picture of drug repression activities in Canada. Secondly, I wanted to see whether the federal legislation was enforced in a similar fashion in the various provinces.

In order to do this, I obtained data for each province. Drug laws are a federal responsibility. Law enforcement is a provincial responsibility of the Ministries of Justice and Public Security in each province. It is up to them to enforce the federal law.

I converted the absolute numbers, because sometimes they reveal the scope of the phenomenon. This does not work that well when we try to compare different populations, because there is no doubt that Ontario, whose population is larger than that of the other provinces, will definitely have a greater number of offences.

Using information from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics once again, I took the rates per 100,000 inhabitants. These figures allow us to compare offences within different populations and also to take population growth into account, because the population of Canada is growing every year. It is therefore reasonable that the number of offences reported tends to increase as well, but we do not always know the extent of the phenomenon. The rate per 100,000 inhabitants enables us to make this calculation.

For comparison purposes, I have shown the annual figures as a single average for the period. I reviewed a 22-year period. It becomes difficult to compare three provinces over 22 years. I used annual averages for the 22 years to try to determine whether there were any differences in the area of law enforcement. My question remains: is the act enforced uniformly throughout the country?

We see the rate of offences under the drug legislation per 100,000 inhabitants. In the middle, the wider blue line shows the Canadian average. Earlier, I presented the annual number of offences, which varies between 50,000 and 80,000. We now have the same indicator presented as an offence rate per 100,000 inhabitants. We find that if we take population growth into account, the rate of offences involving substances and all offences together was 300 at the end of the 1970s. The rate dropped to 200 offences and then increased to 260 offences per 100,000 inhabitants. There was an increase at the end of the 1990s. I showed the same rate for the three provinces. So we can see that there has been an increase in Quebec, which is shown as the small pink square on the chart. Over the 1970s and 80s, Quebec was significantly below the Canadian average, but the rate became the same as that of the other provinces and actually exceeded the Ontario rate. Proportionately, more drug-related offences are now reported in Quebec than in Ontario. This was not the case formerly, when the Ontario rate was almost three times higher than the Quebec rate. The Ontario rate is quite representative of the Canadian trend, because Ontario accounts for 37 per cent of the population of Canada. The Canadian rate and the Ontario rate tend to be relatively similar. The Quebec rate reflects approximately 25 per cent of the population of Canada. We see a rate of 400 or more drug-related offences in British Columbia. This is much higher than the rate in other provinces. As a result, the Canadian average falls somewhere in the middle. British Columbia accounts for about 13 per cent of the population of Canada, and its figures increase the Canadian average.

Police practices in British Columbia are different, but there may be more cannabis there as well. We cannot rely solely on the number of offences reported to estimate the size of the drug phenomenon within a province.

I have tried to simplify things by using an average of the annual rates. The left-hand column shows the average rate for all illegal drugs in Canada. Earlier, we saw in table 2 that the Canadian average, shown by the blue line, is between 200 and 300 offences. The average rate of drug-related offences is 235 per 100,000 inhabitants. We see that the majority of these offences, 177.8, are related to cannabis. This followed by cocaine, heroin and the other drugs. These are average rates. I have shown in red and blue the rates that are different from the Canadian average.

In Quebec the rate is average. The previous table shows that Quebec is close to the Canadian rate. Over a 22-year period, cannabis-related offences in Quebec were only half of the Canadian rate. Repression focused more on cocaine where the overall rate is 144.9. When all substances are taken into account, our rate is much lower than the Canadian one. Over the years, Quebec has been getting closer and closer to the Canadian average.

Ontario is pretty close to the Canadian average. In British Columbia, however, the rates are higher than the Canadian average, that is twice as high for all drugs combined, 429 offences as opposed to 234. Once again, we can see that the cannabis-related offences come first. Cocaine is also more important in British Columbia than in the rest of Canada and heroin accounts for 15.8 per cent of the Canadian average. In other words, the 3.8 per cent rate for Canada compares to a 15.8 per cent offence rate in British Columbia. There is obviously a greater presence of heroin, as is confirmed by the facts, particularly in Vancouver.

In the next table, I took the annual rate and calculated an average which was then broken down according to the substance. We can see that in Canada, cannabis accounts for approximately three quarters, namely 73.5 per cent of all drug-related offences, cocaine 13.1 per cent, other drugs 6.5 per cent and heroin 1.7 per cent.

When we compare this breakdown with the situation in Quebec, we can see that Quebec shows a smaller number of cannabis-related offences, namely six out of 10 as compared to 73.5 per cent in Canada. We also see that in Quebec 23.4 per cent of the offences were related to cocaine, which is far above the Canadian average. This is almost twice as high with respect to the other drugs as well. It is supposedly due to the fact that in Quebec the production and consumption rate of PCP is higher than in the rest of Canada, particularly in the Quebec City area, and it is controlled to a large extent by organized crime. The subject is documented. As far as the heroin level is concerned, the situation is quite similar. Ontario is pretty much in keeping with the Canadian trend. As for British Columbia, it is important to note that there are variations where other drugs are relatively insignificant, that is 3.6 per cent of the total, but heroin accounts for 3.7 per cent of the total number of drug offences, compared to 1.7 per cent in Canada as a whole. The presence of heroin is clearly confirmed here as well.

In table three, we look at the same data. Once again, the annual rate and the average are for a 22-year period, but in relation to each kind of offence. In Canada, almost seven out of 10 offences are for drug possession. A quarter of the offences, that is 26.3 per cent, are related to trafficking. Importing and growing are relatively minor. As far as growing is concerned, we can see that there was an increase starting in the 1990s, it now accounts for 12 per cent. This is something that is shown in the 22-year average. We can see that growing was fairly minor compared to the present situation.

At the bottom of the document, for your information, I included a column and a line indicating the rate of cannabis possession offences out of the total number. On the average, 56 per cent of the drug offences in Canada were related to the possession of cannabis.

In Quebec, we can see that this figure for possession is not as high as elsewhere in Canada. Repression focuses more on trafficking, to the rate of 37.1 per cent compared to 26.3 per cent for Canada. There are twice as many cases of importing. If we look at all the offences, there are proportionately more trafficking and importing offences in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada. As for possession of cannabis alone, the rate is of 37.2 per cent of the total and all average offences over 22 years, compared to a 56 per cent rate in Canada. Proportionately, it is not as significant.

Lastly, in British Columbia, it can be seen that the figures for trafficking and importing are lower than average. Cultivation is slightly higher and these figures are more in keeping with the Canadian trend.

Let me now explain each of the columns of a table I put together. I have attempted to determine the number of people charged with possession of cannabis as opposed to the number of people who say that they have consumed cannabis, in order to measure the effectiveness of the Drugs Act. With official data I calculated the population of 15 years and older for Canada, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. The figures are shown in the first column.

I then used the data from the national Canada health survey of 1994, where it is noted that in Canada 7.4 per cent of Canadians 15 and older admitted to consuming cannabis at least once in the year.

This survey shows the same percentage for the provinces, and in Quebec the figure is 8.6 per cent, in British Columbia 11.6 per cent and Ontario 5.1 per cent.

I applied this percentage to the population of 15 and older and that is what is shown in the middle column. The individuals who admitted to consuming cannabis at least once in the course of the previous year account for 7.4 per cent of 22 million Canadians. That is the potential number of cannabis consumers. The reference to at least once in the course of the year means that they are not regular consumers, that is one of the limits of this survey.

If someone is asked in a telephone call whether he or she has consumed cannabis at least once in the previous year, I am not sure whether the person will answer yes, even if it is true. In the circumstances, 7.4 per cent is quite a high proportion. It may be a bit higher, but we will stick to this data. In the fourth column, we have data that comes from the Canadian Centre for Legal Statistics indicating the number of people 15 years and older charged with possession of cannabis.

In the last column, we see the percentage of people who were charged, as opposed to the total number of persons who admitted to consuming; according to the sample this was 7.4 per cent. If we assume this survey to be reliable, we can make the appropriate transposition and the result would be that out of 100 Canadians admitting to the consumption of cannabis, only one person would be charged with possession of cannabis. We are not talking about arrest but merely charges.

In actual fact, it could be said that a person who consumes the substance once a day is guilty of the offence of possession every day. The percentage of 7.4 per cent relates to those who consume at least once in the course of a year but in actual fact, the cases of possession of cannabis would be higher than the number of 1,687,000 in Canada since this offence would normally have been committed several times.

This 1 per cent average for Canada is similar to the average for British Columbia. In the case of Quebec, the figure is only half of the Canadian average whereas in Ontario, it is 150 per cent higher or 1.5 per cent as compared to 1 per cent.

Let me now read a quotation from the Le Dain Commission in 1974:

The drawbacks resulting from the application of the law against the offence of mere possession outweigh the advantages. Because of the above-mentioned difficulties, this law is, of necessity, applied randomly and has an uneven impact on users, thus giving rise to a quite understandable feeling of injustice. Society cannot afford the personnel or the means required for a thorough application of the law against the offence of possession.

If that was true for the 1970s, it is probably also true today, and even more so. I would like to refer you to the percentages in the right column of the previous graph. When legislation only applies to 1.5 per cent of the population, its effectiveness is put into doubt.

Today, pot smokers are unimpressed with the strictness of the law. They wonder whether they should not stop smoking up because they may be accused of possession. Today, many Canadians are allowed to smoke marijuana without necessarily being prosecuted.

I have summarized the preceding graphs on two slides. First, there was a decrease in the recorded crime rate in Canada in the 1990s, after it peaked in the 1970s and 1980s. So, as you can see, the recorded crime rate is falling.

The second point, however, is that drug offences recorded by the police in Canada decreased in the 1980s and picked up again in the 1990s, both in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of each slice of 100,000 citizens. The percentage of drug offences, which represented 4 per cent of total offences under the Criminal Code in 1977, fell to only 2 per cent of that total in 1991 and then climbed up to 3.4 per cent.

Third, although the number of drug offences increased in the 1990s - as indicated by the figures - to over 80,000 recorded offences, the rate of indictments in relation to those offences has steadily fallen each year since 1991. It stood at 57 per cent in 1999, compared to 81.3 per cent in 1977.

Fourth, the breakdown of drug offences recorded by the police in Canada from 1977 to 1999 is as follows: on average, 73.5 per cent of offences were related to cannabis, 13 per cent to cocaine, 7 per cent to other substances which need to be determined and 2 per cent to heroin. The remaining offences are related to restricted drugs and controlled substances. Until 1997, Canada had two laws dealing with drug use, but since 1977, there is only one. There has been no change in the recorded number of offences. The other drugs include all other substances excluding heroin, cocaine and cannabis.

The fifth point shows the total number of drug offences recorded by the police. On average, approximately 70 per cent were related to possession. In other words, five out of ten offences are related to possession; 26 per cent to trafficking, 1.6 per cent to importation and 3.7 per cent to cultivation.

In the 1990s, offences related to cultivation rose markedly and represented 12 per cent of all drug-related offences in 1999. This is why the number of recorded cultivation-related offences increased.

Point six shows that the number of offences related solely to possession of marijuana, which stood at 77 per cent of the total in 1977, fell proportionately to 38 per cent of all drug-related offences in 1991 and subsequently climbed to 50 per cent.

Despite the recommendation made by the Le Dain Commission in 1974, which was to abolish this offence, offences related to the possession of marijuana still represented half of all drug-related offences recorded by the police in Canada in 1999.

Lastly, the rate of drug offences per 100,000 citizens varied between 200 and 300 from 1977 to 1999. The rate fell in the 1980s and increased again in the 1990s, most markedly between 1995 and 2000 and even through till today.

To conclude, despite the existence of federal legislation, the law on drugs is not applied consistently in Canada from one province to the next. Further research is needed to determine whether this is due to the higher level of concentration of one substance or another within each province. It is something to look into. The inconsistency amongst provinces depends on the drug situation in each province and its cultural, demographic, geographic and social characteristics.

I would briefly like to add that the number of people between the ages of 15 to 24 fell during the 1990s. The population is aging. This may also explain the decrease in the recorded crime rate, because young people are heavier users and more visible. They do not have as much to lose if they smoke or sell drugs in public. We might therefore conclude that the increase in the average age of the population and the lower degree of attention given 15- to 24-year-olds may have helped to bring down the crime rate.

I would like to conclude by raising a few questions. Does the police have the necessary resources to fight drug offenders under Canada's drug legislation, and should it be a priority? You may guess that my answer is no. I believe that this morning, even the police admitted that they were not in a position to intercept all the drugs on the market.

Is drug use really a bad thing? This is the official line, but the average citizen holds generally relatively moderate views on the subject.

Studies have revealed that between 10 and 15 per cent of drug users have a drug problem or are addicted, but that most people do drugs on a moderate basis. Is the problem due to the fact that the law treats people differently? Based on my studies and several analyses, I believe that is the case.

Would it make sense to invest in drug rehabilitation programs? Marijuana possession represents half of all the offences committed under our law on drugs. If only one person out of 100 is caught and charged with possession of marijuana, this sheds doubt on the effectiveness of the law.

The Chairman: You have pinpointed the conclusions we reached after hearing from many witnesses. You have provided us with a very exact assessment of how the situation evolved over the last 25 years. This information will be very helpful to us. I would like to thank you for having accepted our invitation. Your presentation and your research will help us greatly. Indeed, it is quite interesting to see what the role of health care workers was from the moment prohibition was imposed and in the ensuing years on the national and international fronts. By the way, could you tell us what happened in 1991?

Mr. Dion: There was a combination of several factors. We are impacted by what happens in the United States. In the 1980s, crack arrived on the American market and its use was extremely widespread. This was also due to the media. For instance, two basketball players died of cocaine overdoses at the end of the 1980s and their deaths made headlines. There was a movement to fight drugs. President Reagan and his wife declared war on cocaine. This happened at the same time as the fall of the Berlin Wall. Cynics said that because the United States did not have an enemy, they decided to fight a new cause, which was the war on drugs.

Since the events of September 11, America's goal has become to get rid of terrorists as well as those who produce heroin. This cause speaks to many people, so Americans are approving huge budgets because they are fighting for a moral cause. What happens in the United States influences Canada.

Something else happened in 1991. Hydroponic cultivation also changed the way the drug industry worked. It is possible that organized crime became more involved. Cocaine use dropped. Statistics show that in the 1980s more people did cocaine because work was very important for yuppies and they used cocaine as a means of improving their performance at work and also as a way to redefine themselves. Statistics show that in the 1990s cocaine use dropped. Statistics show that when the use of one type of drug subsides, people automatically do other drugs. So, on the one hand, more people started smoking pot and on the other, hydroponic cultivation developed new markets. Marijuana imports fell, but local markets sprang up. If you produce cannabis in Canada, you can ship to the other provinces. It is fairly easy to do this without getting caught.

Customs officers say that they frequently see cocaine shipments from the south to Canada and cannabis exported from Canada to the United States. If I were a cocaine exporter, I would not necessarily export to Canada, because the exchange rate is not so good. The cannabis market is no doubt chiefly aimed at the United States, and when the trucks come back, they could be transporting cocaine. Routes have been identified.

The year 1991 also coincided with budget cuts in various government organizations which led to a decrease in processing reported offences. There is something to note here. It is a combination of factors that is not yet clear to me. Statistics tell us that in 1991 the patterns of repression changed both for possession and for trafficking. Trafficking was more prevalent in the 1980s. There was less trafficking in the 1990s, possession and cultivation were up. Nineteen ninety-one was the beginning of a new period that should perhaps be more closely analyzed.

Senator Maheu: Your second table shows that the total of offences for Quebec, with the other drugs, was almost twice the number in other provinces and almost double the Canadian average. Have you compiled any statistics about ecstasy, this fashionable drug that the FBI and Interpol consider as the drug of the future?

Mr. Dion: This drug contributes to the growth in the number of offences related to other drugs. When offences are registered, however, no particular mention is made of this drug. In a sampling of police files, we could see when the offences were possession-related. We could see what substances were involved in the file. Clearly, the declared rate of consumption of ecstasy has increased in the past years. This is why if we want to repress drugs coming from the south on one hand - because drug repression is traditionally aimed at cocaine, heroin and cannabis that grow in southern climates - the market may shift and synthetic drugs could be easily manufactured.

The solution does not lie in stressing the repression of these substances because locally, new substances may surface. These are merely rumours, but there are several recipes already waiting in case there were a shortage of heroin, cocaine or other substances.

These are chemical substances that involve greater risk, because we do not know how they are taken. People swallow these drugs and hope that they will not get an overdose. The risk is considerable. To stem a resurgence of this consumption, we could follow the example of the Netherlands. The State makes laboratories available to the young where they can test substances before taking them, so as to determine the amount of active ingredients that might be of varying strength. The procedure is fairly quick.

I worked on drug abuse with youth, and they take chemical substances like LSD, PCP or ecstasy without knowing what they are taking. If they are not very happy with their first try, they will try a double dose the next time to get a better effect. This is dangerous for them because there is no way to measure dosage. The dosage of cannabis can be measured by taking one puff at a time. This way of ingesting the drug is dangerous, and there might be harmful consequences for youth. Especially for them, because they often get their supplies from unknown sources. Older drug takers make sure that the dealer knows what he is selling. Young people buy the stuff in school basements and from unknown sources. There is a greater risk with this kind of a substance than with cannabis.


Senator Banks: Thank you for being here. You said that in Holland they are manufacturing some of the drugs that Senator Maheu was talking about in a controlled environment. Are they making them available in the same sort of under-the-table wink-wink nudge-nudge way they make cannabis available?

Mr. Dion: No. I was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago. There are now shops in which magic mushrooms are sold. It is tolerated. With regard to Ecstasy is that there are laboratories that send people to bars to have the patrons in those bars test the pills or the capsules they provide.

Senator Banks: They do that to ensure that it is okay; is that what you mean?

Mr. Dion: Yes. It is harm reduction. They say, "We will not prevent you from taking it. If you want to take it, it is your business, but here is what is in it." When you take medicine that your doctor prescribes, you do not always know what is in it. The government of Holland recognizes that it happens and would like to limit the consequences.

Senator Banks: You undertook a very valuable exercise for us. You took a set of data and made many different comparisons that we will find useful. When you were talking about the infractions, are those charges laid or are they convictions?

Mr. Dion: They are arrests, which is the first step. The police arrest someone and then write a report. After that, they transmit that information to the prosecutor. I was referring to the proportion of charges. It is not 100 per cent.

Senator Banks: Are you saying it is not convictions?

Mr. Dion: Yes. Since 1997, it has been possible to decriminalize some charges. Therefore, the proportion of people accused has decreased steadily since that time. We would like to process those people who are arrested in another way than through the courts.

Senator Banks: I am not a statistician. You talked about the dichotomy between the fact that crime is going down and the percentage of drug-related crime is going up. I was thinking that that is a sort of a statistical inverse relationship. Theoretically, at least, if crime generally is going down, for example, and drug-related crime stayed exactly the same, then its percentage would increase. Is that right?

Mr. Dion: It would increase, but less so.

Senator Banks: It would increase as a percentage but the number of incidents may not be increasing.

Mr. Dion: Yes.

Senator Banks: I would like your comment on something the RCMP said to us this morning. You referred to the fact that we may have grown inured to seeing drugs down on St. Denis Street, for example. They said that it is everywhere and that every city has such a street. Whether it is right or wrong, the general impression seems to be that cannabis in particular is a less harmful drug than once was thought to be the case. Is that fact colouring the inhibition that young people in particular have with respect to using that drug?

You mentioned research. I know the research you are dealing with is not specifically medical research. However, practically everyone who has spoken to the committee has suggested that, among other things, we need more research as to the medical facts about cannabis in particular. Do you agree with that or do you think that we know enough already? Do we know enough now to arrive at conclusions as to what we ought to do; or do we need more research?

Mr. Dion: People's perception towards the repression of drugs tends to be that they are becoming less afraid. In fact, many people now think it is legal to have less than 30 grams of cannabis. That is because in the new law there is a different category. Young people do not know the law, but they do know that the consequences are quite insignificant. For a first offence, they will be referred to a drug addiction centre or something.

Yes, people are less afraid of doing it publicly. People have smoked joints openly at many demonstrations for the legalization of drugs and it is tolerated.

It is different in big cities than in rural areas. In big cities, where are many people are using heroin and cocaine, repression of cannabis is not a priority. However, in the rural areas where there is not so much happening, if someone smokes a joint in the street, the response might be different.

I would like to analyze more the repression in the cities versus the countryside. In a sense, it is two different worlds. On Sunday afternoons in Montreal on the mountain there are big drumming jams. People openly smoke there. The policemen who are on patrol walk around and smell it. They could not arrest everyone.

In this sense, on both sides there is a more lenient attitude that says that if you do not make trouble, we will let you go. The trouble is that if the policemen do not like you because of your clothes or your skin colour, then they could take you away. This is the 1 per cent I mentioned - it is not fair. If I am arrested, I must go through the whole judicial process that is not applied to the 99 other people who were smoking with me. In this sense, the law is not really respected any more.

A great deal of research has already been done. In the United States, there are reports that when the results were not going the way the government wanted them to go they kept them from the public. They have now started to come out. In The Lancet a few years ago there was something published about the United States, in concert with the United Nations, trying to hide some research.

For many years some people have been saying that they use cannabis for medicinal reasons. Yet, we still do new research. We could listen to these people. If it alleviates pain, why not take their experience instead of starting all over with government-grown products and big research? Of course we can always refine the research, but we could also listen to people who use cannabis for medicinal reasons. They could teach us a great deal.

Senator Banks: Should we listen to the people who use cannabis for recreational purposes as opposed to medicinal purposes?

Mr. Dion: Yes, I think so. Millions of people are using cannabis, so sometimes we want to think for them that the drug is bad. However, if millions of people are using cannabis, there must be a reason.

Perhaps we think that if we increase the money that we invest on repression, we can eliminate all use of cannabis. That is impossible because they will turn to other drugs. For thousands of years it has been in people's nature to experiment with different kinds of consciousness.

As far as cannabis is concerned, it is not so dangerous. I would prefer that my children experimented with this drug instead of taking ecstasy or LSD when they do not know what is in it.

In this sense, I would also listen to why people use it. I would listen more to people who use it in a moderate way. We always listen to people who abuse drugs, and we find out they use it for dealing with stress or bad self esteem. This we know. However, we never ask moderate users why they use it so we could develop real educational and informative programs.


The Chairman: Mr. Dion, at the very beginning of your submission, you explained the fragility of statistics. You named three important elements. I would like to look more closely at the third element, which is selection.

I gather some of your colleagues are studying, among other things, police attitudes with regard to drug crimes. The items used for this selection element are: the quality of the evidence, the identity of the offender, the seriousness of the offence - we have seen four broad categories - and the nature of available resources. This is a more subjective item.

I gather some of your fellow researchers have studied police attitudes with regard to similar offences. Could you elaborate on this? Why do some policemen decide to report the offence whereas others decide not to?

Mr. Dion: This is not my field of expertise.

Senator Nolin: If you have information or a written report available in support of what you are about to say, please do not hesitate to send it to us.

Mr. Dion: I will transmit your request to Nicolas Gagné. He will be pleased to send you his master's thesis. It is difficult to make a pronouncement and I do not want to over-generalize. Each police officer has his own set of values, his own expectations and interests. In the research that Nicolas did with patrollers from the Montreal Police Force, among others, some people wanted to specialize in the drug squad. It was for them a way, by arresting small consumers, small dealers, to establish a data base in order to infiltrate that milieu. Once they had this information, it was easier for them to get promoted within the drug squad, that has sizable budgets and somewhat more sophisticated methods of investigation. This is one of the avenues they found.

The presence of community police is an important factor. Community police officers set up shop in certain parts of town to keep in touch with the people. If they arrest an individual as soon as they see him taking drugs, or if they arrest everybody for possession of cannabis, it will not create good relations. The presence of this kind of police in various parts of town will also change the nature of repression, especially with regard to possession. An individual arrested by the police might wind up with a criminal record and a $100 fine. Thus, the officer has antagonized a part of the neighbourhood where he wanted to establish a rapport. This element will give rise to drug squads that are specialized in trafficking networks. It will be another kind of relationship. This distinction will become more and more apparent as the community police system develops. These officers perhaps think that if they arrest someone for possession of cannabis, and the individual is in possession of one gram, he will be told once again: "Why are you bugging me about this?" All police officers do not have this attitude. They realize the consequences of making a report for one gram of cannabis, when, in some cases or in most cases, nothing will be done about it.

A Montreal policeman noted that he had patrolled with police officers in Vancouver, and during the patrol he realized that when drugs were seized, policemen put the drugs in a big bag without opening a file. The Montreal police officer asked them why. They replied that if they opened a file each time they seized some drugs, there would be no end to it.

During our research, we discovered that the rate of reported offences is very high in Vancouver. For possession of cannabis, 20 per cent of cases are prosecuted. Police officers are reporting so many offences that courts are overwhelmed and the officers are saying: "Why open a file and initiate prosecution if they will only drop the matter?" A very high rate of reported offences does not guarantee a high rate of prosecutions. When courts are overwhelmed, prisons are closed, there are fewer prosecutors, etc. Cases have to be selected. This explains the drop during the 1990s.

The Chairman: Please feel free to ask Mr. Carrier to send us his research results.

You said that, at one time, cocaine consumption was high during the yuppie years, when career advancement was the priority. Today, we have ecstasy. What are the real sociological reasons underlying cannabis use?

Mr. Dion: We are living in stressful times. Cannabis - marijuana - is a natural anxiolytic which has been used for thousands of years. American Indians used marijuana as part of sacred rituals. Sharing a marijuana cigarette, or a joint, is a very social activity. Marijuana use is higher among young people aged 15 to 24. They like to share, and they need to socialize. Marijuana meets a part of those needs.

However, the use of ecstasy in raves is something different altogether. People take ecstasy in raves to lose themselves within a mass of people who dance all night. That need has its roots in the large, sacred assembly of indigenous people on many continents. In a broader context, there are specific reasons for taking each type of drug, and even for taking it in specific ways. Among other things, injection is a solitary activity - people who inject drugs do so alone.

This is very different from the social aspect of a group of young people who share a marijuana joint. That is something very cultural. I would separate substances and consumption modes into subgroups, and study each separately. I believe that research can tell us a great deal about the individual drugs used, and the individual ways in which they are taken, as it already does. There are thousands, perhaps even millions, of people using these drugs, and we should not underestimate their reasons. People are not entirely stupid. They take drugs because they get something out of it. There are of course risks associated with drug-taking, but there are benefits as well. When the benefits, or positive aspects, are greater than the negative aspects, people continue taking drugs. When the negative aspects are greater than the positive aspects, drug users are motivated to change their habits. No human being will continue taking drugs for years when they get absolutely nothing positive out of it. We have to take that negative-positive balance into account.

We could prohibit every drug under the sun, but people will still want to take drugs. If we take away their access to marijuana or other drugs, they will find something to replace them. This is what we see in the North, where Inuit become addicted to gasoline and correction fluid, because they are desperately unhappy and want to escape their unhappiness any way they can.

The Chairman: Mr. Dion, thank you for accepting our invitation. As I have told other witnesses, I am sure that we will have further questions after reading your testimony. I will send you those questions in writing, and I hope you will have an opportunity to answer them.


Our last witness this afternoon is well known to this committee. Eugene Oscapella is executive director of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy. He has been twice a witness in front of our committee. He first appeared during the previous Parliament, and he appeared a second time on the first day of hearings under this mandate. Mr. Oscapella will today talk to us about terrorism and drugs.

Mr. Eugene Oscapella, Executive Director, Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy: I would like to state my appreciation for being allowed to return to speak to this issue. When I appeared before this committee October 16, 2000, I did briefly discuss the issue of how drug prohibition is financing terrorism, but I do not think the issue had the immediacy it has today. Thus, I am very thankful to be allowed back here.

We all recognize the need to attack the financing of terrorist groups. Economist magazine said that even terrorists need money. Earlier last month on September 19, the Justice minister said that terrorism has a certain similarity to organized crime, and money fuels it. Therefore, we have to strike at the ability of terrorist organizations to raise money.

Mr. Chair and members of the committee, I would like to speak today about the ability of terrorist organizations to raise money, in this case, through the prohibition of drugs. You will be hearing much in the media about how the drug trade is funding the Taliban, the Columbian left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries.

I would like to convey one simple message today. The drug trade alone is doing it; it is the criminal prohibition that makes drugs so lucrative for organized crime and for terrorists. That is my fundamental point. If nothing else gets across from my presentation today, that would be the point I would want to make.

We all know that some terrorism does not cost a lot to accomplish. Estimates are that the attacks on September 11 may have cost from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars. They certainly did not need massive amounts of funding to carry out those attacks in the United States.

However, many of the most feared forms of terrorism, those associated with biological weapons, chemical weapons and nuclear weapons - so-called weapons of mass destruction - are much more expensive to carry out. In that case, the money gained through the drug trade fostered by prohibition can be so important.

Governments have essentially taken two measures to deal with the financing of terrorism. One is to eliminate the sources of financing and the other is to reduce the capacity of terrorists to keep and move their money around the globe. Therefore, we have money laundering legislation and reporting requirements and things like this to try to deal with those issues.

I am dealing with the first issue: eliminating the very sources of financing. The paper that I prepared for this committee specifically explains how drug prohibition is assisting terrorists. I go again to the point that the drug trade under a system of criminal prohibition has become a major - if not the major - source of funding, for many terrorist groups around the world.

I thought I would start by discussing the importance of illegal drugs for terrorists and criminal organizations. The RCMP in its criminal intelligence reports has said that most criminal organizations in Canada receive most of their funding through the drug trade. They do not say that it is the drug trade created and fostered by prohibition, but we certainly know that the drug trade is a major source of income for organized crime in this country.

In May of this year, Mr. Alain Labrousse appeared before the committee, as members will remember. He is with the Observatoire français des drogues et des toxicomanies in Paris. He explained the links between drugs and terrorism. Mr. Labrousse reported to this committee that about 30 countries now have terrorists that are financing their activities through the drug trade. He explained how it had become a particularly important source of funding since the end of the Cold War because there has been a decline in the level of state-sponsored terrorism.

With the diminution of state-sponsored terrorism, terrorists had to looks for other sources of financing. What was the major source of financing they found? Drugs.

I have cited Mr. Labrousse's testimony frequently in my paper. I would like to point out one particularly salient statement and that was by the chief drugs officer of Interpol in 1994. He said that drugs have taken over as the chief means of financing terrorism.

Mr. John Thompson of the McKenzie Institute - the Canadian think-tank on organized crime and terrorism - suggested that the extent to which terrorist groups finance themselves through drugs varies considerably. Obviously, it would, because some terrorist groups have greater access to drugs than others. He suggested that 25 to 30 per cent of the funding for Islamic extremists might come from drugs. He suggested that it was probably their biggest single source of income.

A witness from Interpol testified appeared before a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in December 2000. They were talking about the links between organized crime and terrorism and the drug trade. He also described the increasing reliance of terrorist groups on drug trade profits. He said that a significant part of the drug trafficking activity in central Asia is taking place in conjunction with terrorist activity.

We are beginning to paint a picture of the extent to which terrorism relies on the drug trade as a source of financing. Another witness from the Congressional Research Service made the same point about Colombia. He said that the left-wing guerrilla group - the FARC in Colombia - probably receives between $400 million and $600 million U.S. tax free a year from the drug trade by either taxing or protecting the cocaine trade within Colombia.

This is not just an issue of the Taliban. Many insurgent and terrorist groups in multiple countries around the world are getting funding from the drug trade.

The witness from the Congressional Research Service said before the committee - and I would like to stress this point - that funded by drug trafficking, organizations can develop the resources, roots and networks to engage in a whole series of other forms of criminal activity including illicit arms trading and possible proliferation of chemical and nuclear weapons. I am pointing again to the whole issue of how terrorist groups have come increasingly to rely on the drug trade as a source of financing.

Let us now look at the size of this trade in illegal drugs. The United Nations has estimated that the global trade in illegal drugs is worth about U.S. $400 billion. The figures I am using are in U.S. dollars because most of the research on this refers to U.S. dollars and not Canadian dollars. Economist magazine has suggested that that estimate is high and that it might only be about $150 billion per year. By comparison, the U.S. defence budget is just under $300 billion per year. Therefore, on an annual basis, the global trade in illicit drugs is probably somewhat more or less than the annual U.S. defence budget.

The enormity of the profits flowing from this prohibition can be seen in a report about Afghanistan and Pakistan in a recent issue of the Economist. The magazine reported that UN officials believe that about 2,800 tonnes of opium - which would be about 280 tonnes of heroin - are in the hands of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Afghan and Pakistani drug lords. They suggest the wholesale market is worth about US$ 1.4 billion. UN officials estimate the total retail value of this trade at between $40 billion and $80 billion. Obviously, not all of that money will go back to the Taliban, al-Qaeda or to groups in Pakistan. People take off their cut along the way. However, you can see this is an extremely lucrative source of financing for both criminal and terrorist organizations.

A former high court judge of Colombia reminded us that the income of the drug barons is greater than the American defence budget - which may be a bit of hyperbole. However, he points out that they can subvert the instruments of the state. We have seen that happen in Colombia. I see no reason to think that it cannot happen in societies that are even more robust. This sort of money gives an enormous capacity to corrupt and influence the organs of government.

Researchers and observers of this phenomenon are also saying that there is an increasing alliance between terrorist and criminal organizations. Were the acts in New York and Washington on September 11 criminal or terrorist? Were the organizations behind them criminal organizations? Was the organization that led to the bombing in Oklahoma City several years a criminal organization or a terrorist organization? There is a blurring of the distinction between these two. Increasingly, they are working together.

Neal Pollard, director of the Terrorism Research Center in the United States speaks of this growing interaction between criminal and terrorist organizations. What he says is quite frightening. He says that if terrorist interaction with transnational crime syndicates is successful enough - especially with narcotics traffickers - the infrastructures of these interactions might be robust enough to provide terrorists with real opportunities for weapons of mass destruction proliferation, including the introduction of a weapon of mass destruction into the United States. He says that the implications of such an infrastructure are obvious.

What we in Canada, the United States, the U.K., Western Europe and many other countries around the world are worried about right is that these organizations now have the financial power to go ahead and engage in activities that could lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction.

One thing we often forget and do not talk a lot about is why the criminal prohibition of drugs makes drugs so profitable. I believe the members of this committee are fully aware of this. However, I should like to raise it again for the members of Canadian public who may be reading the transcript of this hearing or watching it on television.

Consider the example of poppies. The figures I will use are United Nations figures. The important thing to remember is that without criminal prohibition these drugs would be much, much less valuable than they are now. If we take a look at the example of opium - and again I go back to the UN figures - the price that the farmer gets for a gram of opium is between three and seven cents. According to UN figures, the retail price in Canada of that same gram is $39. That is a multiple of between 550 and 1,300 times the cost of production of that drug. In percentage terms, that is from 55,000 to 130,000 per cent more than the cost of production of that drug. That is the nature of prohibition. If we prohibit something that people want, the retail price explodes. The cost of production remains minimal in the whole equation.

We have created this enormously lucrative market. I have figures about heroin and cocaine as well. Independent figures on the value of cocaine show that the retail price of a kilo of cocaine produced in Colombia and sold in the United States is between 180 and 275 times the cost of its production. The criminal prohibition of drugs has created this enormously profitable scheme.

Unfortunately, we see the media, the police, policy-makers and, in particular, some American politicians describing the problem as the financing of terrorism through the drug trade. Everyone is acknowledging that drugs are involved in the financing of terrorism. They may or may not be to a greater or lesser extent with the particular form of terrorism that appears to have come out of Afghanistan. However, everyone acknowledges drugs are implicated with the trade.

What they do is completely ignore the role of prohibition in this. Thus, we are hearing from the United States that we need more efforts to clamp down on the drug trade. We need to tighten up the criminal prohibition of drugs. That has not worked before, and it will not work. Prohibition alone is what makes the drug trade so profitable.

None of the statements I mentioned earlier made by those who testified before congressional committees or in media reports drew the link between the profitability of drugs and their prohibition. It is a very simple point. It is not very complex, as members of this committee well know. Prohibition inflates the price of drugs enormously, but no one is talking about that. That is what is fundamentally wrong because that will dictate different responses to the problem if we ignore the role of prohibition. Prohibition is being ignored as a cause of the problem.

We even saw this in a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. I refer to the dissenting opinion of two judges in a 1998 decision in Pushpanathan, an immigration case. The two dissenting judges said that:

The financial and military power of these organizations [essentially propped up by drug trafficking] threatens to undermine the political and economic stability of numerous countries, and indeed the entire international community.

They went on to say that:

Illicit drug trafficking now threatens peace and security at a national and international level. It affects the sovereignty of some states, the right of self-determination and democratic government, economic, social and political stability and the enjoyment of human rights.

These statements are accurate. Yes, drug trafficking is problematic. However, nowhere do these dissenting judges discuss the role of prohibition in making drug trafficking so lucrative. Nowhere do they appear to recognize that the prohibition of drugs is behind the profits, the power, the violence, the corruption and the terrorism associated with the drug trade.

We must recognize that the profits derived by terrorists from opium, heroin and other illegal drugs are purely a consequence of their criminal prohibition. As one of my colleagues said, the Taliban are not selling baby food. They are not selling baby food because there is no money in selling baby food. They are selling drugs because there is money in selling drugs. Prohibition greases the wheels of terrorism, just as it greases the wheels of organized crime.

There are other implications as well of drug prohibition for terrorism. One such implication is that these enforced prohibitionist foreign policies can have terrible consequences for countries. Colombia is perhaps the best example. We are defoliating parts of the Colombia. We are creating an environmental disaster by going after crop eradication programs. We are enriching the fighting groups, the paramilitaries and left-wing guerrilla groups through the drug trade as well. However, we are defoliating areas of Colombia, causing tremendous environmental consequences and adverse health consequences.

We are, I believe, also tolerating some horrific human rights abuses by organizations simply because they seem to be on the side of suppressing the drug trade. We are willing to accept what they do much less critically than we otherwise would, simply because they are working on the side of prohibition.

For several years now, we have seen Colombian politicians and policy-makers speaking out about what prohibition has done to their country. Prohibition is doing tremendous harm to countries such as Colombia and to many other countries around the world.

These people want us to move away from prohibition. If we do not, if we keep ramming these prohibitionist policies down their throats, we will continue to create hostility. This allows them to perpetrate human rights abuses. It creates enormous hostility in the country. Sometimes these people will attack. Our prohibitionist policies may actually lead to hostility against the countries that impose these policies.

We are also diverting enormous resources from where they might do some good to where they are not doing any good and, in fact, causing positive harm. In recent weeks, you have probably seen reports of the U.S. government shifting the activities of its drug enforcement administration people away from drugs and into counter-terrorism. That is exactly what I am speaking of. They have focussed on drugs and perhaps have not put the resources they needed into dealing with counter-terrorism. Now, that is not to say that had they put those resources into counter-terrorism, September 11 would not have happened. No one can say that. However, many people argue we are wasting our resources.

Five years ago, Professor Arnold Trebach, one the founders of the American Drug Policy Foundation, spoke at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He said the following:

All of us would be infinitely safer if the courageous efforts of anti-drug agents in the U.S, Israel and other countries were focused on terrorists aimed at blowing up airliners and skyscrapers than at drug traffickers seeking to sell the passengers and office dwellers cocaine and marijuana.

This was a rather prophetic comment five years ago.

I am making the case for dismantling prohibition. I think it is quite apparent. Other people have come and will come before this committee and say, "We do not need to dismantle prohibition. We can take other steps to reduce the harms associated with drugs to get at the financing. We can beef up our money-laundering legislation." However, that has not worked to date and I still do not have any real reason to believe that money-laundering legislation will have a significant impact on the flow of money from the drug trade to criminal and terrorist organizations. We have all learned much about the financial transfer system known as "hawala," which is not amenable to money-laundering legislation.

The traditional measures that we have chosen to deal with drugs have been, I believe, a colossal failure. Let us take the issue of reducing the supply of drugs through more effective policing. The United States - the most powerful nation on earth - is hoping, according to an Associated Press report, to get 18 per cent of the illegal drugs destined for its shores in 2002. That is less than one-fifth. Its goal is to get one-fifth of the drugs coming to its borders. Right now it is getting about one-tenth of the drugs destined for its borders, according to the Associated Press.

On October 1, a representative from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, when Mr. White pressed him on the issue, said law enforcement in Canada was only able to stop about 10 per cent of the Cdn. $7 to Cdn. $10 billion annual trade in illegal drugs in Canada.

We have the most powerful nation on the earth stopping maybe between one-tenth and one-fifth of the drugs coming into the country; and ours is stopping one-tenth. That is not a significant inhibition on the financing of terrorist organizations through the drug trade. What we call supply reduction does not work.

Crop substitution does not work. It may temporarily get farmers to plant different crops, but the long-term history shows that crop substitution does not work. Crop eradication, fumigation efforts and things like this also do not work in the long run. They cause tremendous hostility amongst the local inhabitants who are subject to this. As well, there are serious environmental consequences. The traditional measures people will talk about before this committee do not have the capacity to affect the profits flowing to criminal and terrorist organizations. Money-laundering clearly, as I said, does not work.

The other problem is that these things deflect attention from the real issue. We say, "We will put more effort into policing. We will do more crop eradication. We will do more drug education. We will do more demand reduction. We will do more drug testing." However, this simply deflects attention from the hard issue we must face, and that is the impact of prohibition of drugs. These other measures nibble around the margins of the problem but leave the core issue of prohibition still intact.

Obviously, there is no complete solution to drugs. Ending prohibition will not resolve all problems associated with drugs. I will not go into the presentation I made last year and the presentation that many other people have made before this committee about the futility and harm associated with prohibition.

One thing we can do is diminish the profitability of the drugs for terrorist organizations around the world. We cannot maintain prohibition and yet still hope to deprive terrorists and criminal organizations of the profits associated with the drug trade. It is as simple as that. Without prohibition, the drug trade would not be a factor in terrorism. Because of prohibition, the drug trade is now the major source of financing of terrorism, according to many people. We must decide which drug policy we want: one that fosters terrorism, and finances and enriches terrorists, or one that does not.

Ending prohibition will not end terrorism. There are other sources of financing for terrorism. However, prohibition has given terrorists a true cash cow. It is an easy source of income. Terrorist groups in Colombia will continue to kidnap people, but that is nowhere near as lucrative a source of income as the drug trade. They will continue to rob banks; they will continue to traffic arms; they will continue to extort money out of expatriates; they will continue to cajole people into giving to charities that are really fronts for terrorist organizations. Those things will not stop, but some of the anti-terrorist measures that governments are now considering might have a chance of dealing with those issues. However, they do not have a hope of dealing with the financing of terrorism.

I do not think there is anything more I can say, Mr. Chairman. I think I have beaten the issue to death. I hope I have made my points. I would be pleased to answer questions from members of the committee.

Senator Kenny: I think there will not be many people debating your thesis at this table, Mr. Oscapella. Could you enlighten us as to how one takes the profit out?

Mr. Oscapella: The question is how one takes the profit out of prohibition. As the Economist magazine has said, and as the Fraser Institute has said: legalize, regulate, discourage.

Senator Kenny: Everything?

Mr. Oscapella: Yes. You have to look at that. As you all know, drugs were legal in this country in the early part of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, through years of propaganda and misinformation, we have built up an enormous fear about what would happen if we dismantled prohibition. That ultimately is where we must go. There is no real middle ground because the other measures that are put in place to deal with drugs under a prohibitionist system cannot have a sufficient impact to take the profitability of the trade out.

Senator Kenny: How do you assess the control part? If you were legalizing, you would have a situation where Health Canada or a body like that, would take a look at the product and examine whether it was healthy thing for the individual to take or not. In all likelihood, none of the drugs that we see now would be deemed healthy. Thus, you are back behind the eight ball again because it is it is deemed legal but the process of introducing them into the market would be blocked.

Mr. Oscapella: I take the example of alcohol, a case where the United States had prohibition. It moved away from prohibition.

Senator Kenny: I concede that both alcohol and tobacco are here. We recognize that prohibition is not the right way to resolve problems with alcohol and tobacco. Having said that, if you are re-introducing something into a legal market, is it not going to have to go through certain tests? If you were introducing tobacco into the Canadian market, it would not get over the first hurdle.

Mr. Oscapella: It might not. However, look at the harms associated with prohibition. There will be some harm associated with the consumption of this drug by some people. Tobacco is probably the most egregious example because we know it is highly addictive for most people who use it. There is ample evidence of that.

As with many other things, there are potential harms associated with consumption of certain drugs. We know that. I am not by any means trying to argue that drugs are harmless. However, there are many other things that we allow in society that we have chosen to regulate rather than to prohibit.

Fatty foods are one example. We know that bad diet is a leading contributor to death in this country. Heart disease, with bad diet as a major contributor, is one of the leading causes of death, but we do not prohibit certain foods. We might warn people. We might try educating people, and we might try to figure out why people are eating so much of that bad stuff. That is what we really need to do with drugs, as well.

Senator Kenny: Could you characterize the extent of control? In your view, should it be warnings, education, or that sort of thing? You would not see a more regular rigorous control system than that?

Mr. Oscapella: There are multiple possibilities between absolute prohibition and total legalization, as you well know. One option might be a heroin maintenance programs. The vast bulk of heroin consumed in this country is probably consumed by a relatively small number of people who have dependency problems with it. You could probably eliminate at substantial part of that market through heroin maintenance programs.

Such a program would not be as extensive a legalization as we have with alcohol. It still boggles my mind that we have cannabis as an illegal substance, but nonetheless we have. That could easily be dealt with through a regulatory system similar to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. We could have rules and adult consumption regulations to encourage people who do sell it to sell it only to adults and have honest education.

Ultimately, with all drugs we must look at why people are using them. We need a legal regulatory regime. There is entire panoply of pressures from decriminalizing to legalizing to medicalizing, as the case of heroin. We must figure out why people want to use drugs in a way that is dangerous.

There might be an increase in use of heroin if we changed our laws, if we liberalized our drug laws. However, that drug use would probably become much safer. The role of the government in something like this should be quality control. That is, the government should assure that potential harms of the drug are reduced to the extent that it can be. We have quality controls on the production of alcohol so that people do not go blind from improperly prepared alcohol or do not die from alcohol poisoning the way they used to under a prohibitionist system. People still do die from alcohol overdoses but not from improperly prepared alcohol.

The role of the government should be in discouraging harmful forms of consumption. It is an educational role. It should be looking at why people are using drugs in a way that is harmful. Why can most us of in this room consume alcohol without significant harm, yet we know that 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the Canadian public cannot? Should we not be focussing on that 5 per cent to 10 per cent and worrying less about the people who use drugs with relatively minor harms associated?

Senator Kenny: What are the international consequences of the policy you are proposing?

Mr. Oscapella: If we go to a single border perimeter around this country, we could not do much independent of the Americans. That is one of my great fears.

Under international law, we have the right to withdraw from any of the drug control treaties. There are also international human rights instruments that say that we should not do things that violate the fundamental rights of people. I would at least try to argue that these international human rights instruments should trump the drug control treaties in any event.

We have capacity to back out of all these treaties. The politics of that is another issue, I agree. However, each one of these drug control treaties to which we are party says that we can back out of the treaty.

Senator Kenny: You have been talking costs. What are the economic costs of following the course of action that you are suggesting?

Mr. Oscapella: I cannot predict the economic costs. I can say that we are taking away that major source of financing from terrorists. I do not believe that there would be a significant increase in consumption of drugs.

Senator Kenny: That was not my question. I meant that in the event that we did not have a common border and the Americans continued with their approach, one could assume that we would see a significant change in their border control policies. Do you think that would have significant economic costs to Canadians?

Mr. Oscapella: Yes, that must be a concern. Look at the example in the Netherlands. They have the Schengen agreement in the European Union. The Netherlands for a long time has been dragging the rest of Europe along. It is hard to think of Canada as dragging the United States anywhere, but perhaps over time. There is a significant body of opinion in the United States that does not support the current system for dealing with drugs in that country, so there might be some hope.

Yes, the very real practical issue is the possible consequences for our borders. We could retain Draconian penalties as we now have for exporting drugs. Life imprisonment is the penalty for exporting drugs. Those are the penalties under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. I have no difficulty with retaining those penalties if people are concerned about that.

However, there is a practical matter if we went to a perimeter defence of North America. It would limit our options in the pursuit of an independent drug policy, as in the pursuit of many other independent policies, as well.

Senator Forrestall: I appreciate and understand what you are saying. Many have been listening to this argument for a long time and are still at a loss as to how to go about it. You suggested that we could reduce significantly the amount of money for terrorism activities from the illicit trade in drugs, but could we do it alone?

Mr. Oscapella: No.

Senator Forrestall: Would Canada not simply become a cheap source of the material that could then be sold in countries that did not have similar laws?

Mr. Oscapella: You would need international cooperation on this. It is difficult to go alone except to the extent that if you retain very strict penalties for the export of drugs. To the extent that we believe that the criminal law does any good at all, we would retain those things.

However, a regulated market in some ways might stand a better chance of controlling the flow of drugs than a market that is not regulated. Ultimately, we need international cooperation on this. Canada's withdrawal from prohibiting drugs would not, in and of itself, cripple the financing of terrorist organizations.

We need to look at the other countries that are the principal consumers of the drugs that are now financing terrorist organizations. Thus, we need to look at the United States, the $20 billion per year that Europe is generating for criminal and terrorist organizations through the purchase of heroin or opium.

It must be an international effort. It is not something that we can do effectively alone, although it is one more argument that we have to take forward. We created this international prohibitionist mess through international cooperation, unfortunately. We have to have international cooperation to move out of it. However, I believe there is a lot of opportunity for change coming through Europe.

This committee heard Peter Cohen last May. There is a lot of movement in Europe now to back away from prohibition and to rethink it. Europe can now be a substantial counterweight to the United States, where the government has very strongly retained its prohibitionist mentality, despite the fact that there is a very strong movement in the U.S. for change as well.

I believe we will see change. One of the things that myself and other people are trying to do is to raise the awareness of people in general, governments and citizens, of exactly the mechanism by which terrorists are getting their financing through the trade in prohibited drugs. That is one more argument that I hope the Europeans will look at. It is one more argument I hope the American government will look at.

Obviously, the terrorists do not want this. The terrorists love the cash cow of prohibition. That should be a signal to us. Organized crime loves prohibition. That should also be a signal to us. If these organizations that we are fighting love what prohibition gives them, perhaps we should rethink prohibition.

Senator Forrestall: Are you suggesting there is a lesson in the ending of the prohibition on alcohol?

Mr. Oscapella: Yes, very much so. Unfortunately, the prohibition of alcohol gave a tremendous boost to organized crime in the United States and Canada.

Senator Forrestall: I thought they did very well.

Mr. Oscapella: Yes, they did very well from it. When we look at the numbers, we see that the lowest estimate is $150 billion per year that goes to criminal and terrorist organizations, while at the highest it is up to $400 billion per year. Over a year, that amounts to trillions of dollars that are being diverted to an illegal market - something which empowers organizations tremendously. Yes, that is very much the lesson. The longer we perpetuate prohibition, the more damage we do.

It is enormously complicated and complex to go ahead and rethink prohibition. However, we need to do it. I hope that is one of the directions in which this committee will go. I hope you will start to ask how we can dismantle prohibition to reduce the whole myriad range of harms associated with prohibition now.

Senator Forrestall: Have you done any original research into this matter from the view of attracting to a common purpose the ending of prohibition? You speak in terms that I do not understand. I do not understand it in terms of the money, how they get it and how they transfer it.

Are there bodies within the United Nations, the World Health Organization or the international police movements, for example, that have been examining or looking at this structure or the process? If that kind of work is being done, how many countries would it take to make a significant impact?

Mr. Oscapella: First, I do not know if I have ever done any original research because all these ideas have been put out before. As to how much it would take to get a critical mass, as the Chair has suggested, I do not really know. I know that the wealthy countries certainly consume most of the illegal drugs. Currently, the United States, Canada and the European countries are the major markets for illegal drugs in the world. If the European Union and North America came onside, that would be a significant move. If we were to take the OECD countries, for example, we could do much through that.

As to whether any international organizations have been looking at this matter, I doubt it very much. No one seems to talk about prohibition being a problem. Everyone talks about the drug trade being the problem. They have not taken their analysis past the point of the drug trade being the problem to the point of admitting that, in fact, it is the prohibition that makes these drugs so attractive to sell.

If they have not even gone that far, then I doubt if they have done much work on what mechanisms we would use to dismantle prohibition. The prohibition of alcohol ended very quickly. It took a lot of politics to get it going; but, basically, in one day the law was changed.

Senator Forrestall: You make an excellent point. However, I would feel much more comfortable in supporting it if I felt that there were sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile. For us to change our laws and try to change our customs and habits in Canada by ourselves is futile.

Mr. Oscapella: You are right. However, there are some measures we can take that will resolve some of the problems associated with prohibition within Canada. Canada acting alone to stem the flow of drug money to terrorists will not work. There are certainly many other reasons for ending prohibition in Canada that are quite valid in and of themselves.

I would love to see more research done on this, but it is extremely difficult to get the money to do research on these issues. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on perpetuating the existing model we have. It is very difficult to get money to do the sort of research I would like to do.

I have approached the Department of Justice to see if they would consider funding a more extensive study on the links between prohibition and the funding of terrorism. I am waiting with bated breath on that one.

Senator Forrestall: That is a useful direction. That is, perhaps, what I was getting at. The sooner we talk about this in the universal sense and not in the narrow sense of the events in Canada, the better we will understand the situation. Our chairman wants to understand how Canadians feel about some of the lesser drugs and some the drugs that do not really contribute to espionage and terrorism at the levels you are talking about.

We are very tentative, however. We might be said to be nibbling at the edges, but we will only nibble at the edges until we know if there are other nations who are doing the same thing.

I order it the other way. I say we take 2 billion out - that is equivalent of the populations of China, India and Malaysia. Soon we will be looking at 2 billion relatively well-off people in this world who probably consume, in the proper sense, most of these drugs. It will be necessary to get those people onside.

Mr. Oscapella: I agree. It is important for this country to show some intellectual leadership. I realize we do not have the might that some of the larger countries have. However, Canada is one of the most respected democracies in the world - Jeffery Simpson's recent book on the "gentle dictator" aside - and we can show real leadership by speaking out on these issues. We may not have the power to implement some of these changes, but we certainly have the capacity to take our ideas forward. That is what I would like to see. That would be a role where Canada could be very useful in this debate.

The Chairman: We have homework if we come to the conclusion to build that critical mass.

Mr. Oscapella, I would like to agree with you, but I have a problem. It would be easy to say, of course, cut prohibition and thereby cut funding to terrorism, solving two problems. I do not think it works that way.

The RCMP told us this morning that there is, increasingly, a link between those two worlds. However, if we compare the price over there, the profit made there, and the cost in the street, they are two worlds apart. The terrorists are not in every step of the black market.

Mr. Oscapella: That is correct.

The Chairman: It is not true to say all the money in the black market goes to terrorism.

Mr. Oscapella: No, and certainly I would not want to be misunderstood as saying that.

The Chairman: When you give UN numbers on the size of the black market, ranging between $150 billion to $400 billion, of course it is a huge pot of money, but it is not all available for terrorism.

Mr. Oscapella: Absolutely not. The farmer gets some of it; the local wholesaler in Afghanistan gets some of it.

The Chairman: We are still talking about small money. Just to help you, this morning the RCMP told us about the Taliban with its various "taxes." The opium harvest was 12 per cent, so there was 12 per cent on the few cents you referred to earlier in your testimony. The heroin lab was U.S. $70 per kilo. The permit of transport was U.S. $2.50 per kilo. The aggregation of all those taxes on heroin in Afghanistan totals U.S. $75 million.

Mr. Oscapella: Yes, I read that figure as well.

The Chairman: If we compare that with the $1.2 billion street heroin market in Canada, someone must have had access to the pie in the middle between Afghanistan and Canada.

Mr. Oscapella: Absolutely. What has happened is the middlemen - the shippers going through the central Asian routes - are getting money. There are people taking their piece of pie all the way along. You are quite right. All this money is not going to the Taliban.

In Colombia, the funding may be a bit more direct. They may be getting substantially more. They are arguing it is around U.S. $600 million a year. For the Taliban, I have heard numbers ranging from U.S. $30 to $75 million a year that they are getting through taxing the trade. That is a small fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars this global trade is worth.

However, there are other organizations in other countries. The Albanians in Kosovo were trafficking in drugs to buy weapons through Switzerland. They were further down the pipeline, but they were using drug money. It is not the Taliban making all that money for themselves. The players in each of these countries along the way are skimming some of that money. They are building their own coffers that way. It may not go to one organization, but it is helping organizations in many countries.

If we go back to the testimony of Mr. Labrousse on May 28 before this committee, he presented a paper he had prepared for another organization. I think he mentioned that there were 29 countries where terrorist groups were profiting somewhere in the process.

Ultimately, all that money still is in the black market. It is just not going to one organization. Certainly, I would not want to leave the impression I am arguing the Taliban are making $75 or $100 billion a year - they are not. However, all the players along the way are making money from this. At the same time, as we establish trade routes for drugs, those same trade routes can be used for human or arms trafficking.

Even if the Taliban is not getting all that money, we are setting up the networks that help them distribute and receive things down the way.

The Chairman: On one fundamental point, I think we around this table all agree with you: Prohibition was probably the ignition of the situation, the result of which is the funding of those organizations wherever they are in the process. We agree with you on that point.

However, the huge amount of the magnitude of U.S. $150 billion to $400 billion per year will need to be refined. I am glad to hear you offering to the Justice Department to look into that problem, because we will need some answers. Of course, in the last six weeks it has become an interesting and serious concern.

Senator Forrestall: At what stage does this request or inquiry of the Department of Justice stand? Has the proposition been put to them?

Mr. Oscapella: I put in a proposal about a month ago and they were occupied with other things. I suspect they were occupied with the anti-terrorism bill. I am hoping they will move forward with it. Certainly, I will continue to press it. I do not know if I will be ultimately the person they will want to do it, but I would like to do it very much. It is important. These issues must be looked at.

Senator Forrestall: Do we have the capacity in Canada to carry out such a study?

Mr. Oscapella: I think so. If the RCMP are saying that at the source of production they get paid X dollars, the middleman gets this much, the guy down the line gets this much, and it is sold for this much on the street, we can piece together who is profiting where in the chain. We would want to know how much organized crime in Canada is receiving from the heroin it is getting from the golden triangle in Southeast Asia? How much are the Hell's Angels receiving of that pie? How much are the armies in Myanmar getting from that? How much does each player in the process receive? If there are eight or 10 people in the chain of production and distribution, how much does each get in the process? It adds up to a lot of money.

The Chairman: To be fair to the presentation made by the RCMP, they took those numbers out of the U.S. House Committee on Crime. It is not Canadian-made. Those numbers come from the U.S. At least, they are reliable.

Senator Forrestall: From your silence, I gather the United Nations is not doing anything specific to answer this question. If the prohibition on drugs were removed, would things change? Am I right in assuming that perhaps no one is doing this kind of work, because that would be scary?

Mr. Oscapella: I do not have the answer to that. I believe that there is a firm ideology within many of the UN drug policy organizations that we must retain prohibition. I do not mean to sound cynical but, unfortunately, I have worked in this area for about 15 years, and I get cynical. We must ask who profits from prohibition. It is not only organized crime and terrorist groups; it is also the huge bureaucracies that have been built around the issue.

Unfortunately, I believe that many of the large bureaucracies that control drug policy research and the development of drug policy internationally are self-interested organizations. They benefit from prohibition. It may seem a very cynical view, but I do not think that it is unrealistic.

Senator Forrestall: It is understandable.

Mr. Oscapella: Yes.

The Chairman: Before I close today's hearing, let me inform everyone that next Monday, November 5, 2001 we will be travelling to Vancouver to hear from local experts.


Before adjourning this meeting, I want to remind everyone interested in following the committee proceedings that they can read and obtain information about illegal drugs by visiting our Web site at www.parl.gc.ca.

On the site, you will find all our witnesses' briefs, their biographies, all supporting documents they felt we should have, as well as over 150 links associated with illegal drugs. You can also use the Web site to contact us by e-mail.

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

The meeting is adjourned.