BRITISH COLUMBIA

Decriminalize Drugs Report Gets No Love From Conservatives, Police

05/24/2013 01:41 EDT | Updated 05/24/2013 01:41 EDT
CP

Decriminalize drugs? Ha!

That about sums up the response that the federal government and police agencies are giving to a Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) report that calls on the authorities to take a new approach to drug laws.

The governing Conservatives have flatly rejected the report's recommendation to decriminalize all hard and soft drugs for personal use, rejecting claims that their National Anti-Drug Strategy is a failure, Postmedia News reported.

"Our government has no intention of legalizing or decriminalizing any harmful, illicit substance — including heroin or crystal meth," Sean Phelan, a spokesperson for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, told the wire service.

Phelan said the strategy has helped raise awareness of the dangers of illicit drugs and improved cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

The report issued Thursday called on the feds to replace their National Anti-Drug Strategy, which they claim has been ineffective as instances of cannabis possession have risen 16 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

But the Conservatives aren't the only ones rejecting the CDPC's recommendations.

Even if drugs were decriminalized, criminals would just find another way to make money, Sgt. Tom Hanson with the Calgary police drug unit told The Calgary Herald.

He added that police are already taking a more progressive approach to drug crime, with courts sending addicts to treatment instead of jail.

Drug decriminalization became a minor issue on the B.C. election trail this month, as party leaders were asked in the TV debate whether they would support easing restrictions on cannabis.

B.C. Premier-elect Christy Clark did not address the question of marijuana directly, saying that the province needs to focus on ways to grow the economy.

During the campaign, pro-legalization group Stop the Violence B.C. sent a questionnaire to all the parties asking whether they would support a taxed and regulated market for cannabis use. The B.C. Liberal Party responded that they would only support such a system if it were initiated by the federal government.

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