#258 Please Help Canadians Understand What We Really Believe

Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002
Subject: #258 Please Help Canadians Understand What We Really Believe


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #258 Tue, 17 Dec 2002

Below we are requesting you write Letters to the Editor to Canadian
newspapers to help present the actual views of the public outside on
the question of decriminalizing cannabis. Dr. Joycelyn Elders in the
following OPED best described the situation:

Pubdate: Sat, 14 Dec 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Contact: letters@globeandmail.ca
Author: Dr. Joycelyn Elders
Note: Dr. Joycelyn Elders was U.S. surgeon-general from 1993 to 1994. She
currently is distinguished professor of public health at the University of
Arkansas School of Medicine in Little Rock.


On Dec. 12, the House of Commons special committee on the non-medical
use of drugs released a report calling for the decriminalization of
marijuana, and Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has said he plans to
put forth a decriminalization bill early in 2003.

It is a safe bet that the U.S. government reaction will be hostile,
just as it always seems to be when people talk about reconsidering
marijuana laws.

Canadians should understand that on drug policy, the U.S. government
is increasingly out of step with Americans. Canadians should use their
own good sense, make their own judgments, and disregard U.S. bullying,
as most of our drug laws were made on a racist foundation instead of

In September, when the Canadian Senate special committee on illegal
drugs issued a report that recommended replacing marijuana prohibition
with a system of regulation, the official U.S. reaction was swift and
blunt. John Walters, director of the White House Office of National
Drug Control Policy (commonly termed the Drug Czar) was quoted on both
sides of the border expressing his dismay. He even hinted at a border
crackdown that could strangle trade between our nations.

U.S. drug-policy leaders should spend more time talking with
knowledgeable Canadians such as Senate committee chairman Pierre
Claude Nolin to learn why they have reached such dramatically
different conclusions from the U.S. drug warriors. If they did, they
might learn that much of their rhetoric about marijuana being a
“gateway drug” is simply wrong. After decades of looking, scientists
still have no evidence that marijuana causes people to use harder
drugs. If there is any true “gateway drug,” it’s tobacco.

And tobacco, through its direct physical effects, kills many thousands
of people every year. So does alcohol. And it is easy to fatally
overdose on alcohol, just as you can fatally overdose on prescription
drugs, or even over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin or
acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol).

I don’t believe that anyone has ever died from a marijuana

This is not to say that marijuana is harmless. It’s not, and there are
good reasons not to use it — especially for young people.

But from a public-health perspective, there is a solid case to be made
that arresting marijuana users, giving them criminal records and
disrupting careers and families does more harm to more people than the
drug itself does.

Why do U.S. officials such as Mr. Walters so adamantly resist even
having this discussion? The answer lies in the numbers. We have a
massive antidrug bureaucracy that is largely fuelled by our war on
marijuana: Nearly half of all drug arrests in the United States are
for marijuana-related charges, and 89 per cent of those are for simple
possession. Take away those arrests and massive antidrug budgets are
much harder to justify.

But if our officials start making threats again, Canadians should
remember that those officials don’t represent the views of the
American public. A Nov. 4 Time magazine poll found that 72 per cent of
Americans don’t believe marijuana users should go to jail. Eighty per
cent believe seriously ill people should be able to use marijuana for
medical purposes, despite our government’s rigid opposition to that
humane and sensible idea.

If Canada needs guidance, it can look toward Europe, where many
governments have moved toward enlightened policies, and others are
conducting serious, thoughtful examinations of their marijuana laws.
If we are lucky, Canada will set an example that the United States
will eventually follow.


The above OPED contains facts you can add to your own to help drive
home your point in letters to as many Canadian newspapers as possible
to let Canadians know that the views of our Drug Czar are not the
views of either science or the public in the United States.


Thanks for your effort and support.

It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


email messages, etc.)

Please post a copy of your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org if you are not
subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list so others
can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit.

This is _Very_ Important as it is one very effective way of gauging
our impact and effectiveness.

Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to
review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or
approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing

To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm
and/or http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm#form



Since the House of Commons special committee report recommendations on
cannabis were announced MAP has archived over 100 news items related
to the announcement. Most of these items are worthy targets for your
Letter to the Editor efforts. To review these potential targets please
click this link:


This will provide a list of the headlines, with the most recent
printed first. A few of the items will be Letters to the Editor, and a
few not related to the announcement. But the majority are.

To obtain more details to help you select potential targets without
before reading the actual article go to the bottom of the page where
you will find the Power Search Drugnews webform. Simply use the Details
dropdown to change the details to High and click the search button. The
resulting pages (be sure to notice that you will be able to move
through ten pages, of which the first six or seven will contain good
targets) should help you select your targets. Then just go to the
actual article to obtain the newspaper’s Contact: line for sending off
your letter.

IF you choose to write to more than one newspaper, and we hope you
will, please consider modifying your letter at least a little for each
one. And email each letter to each newspaper by itself. This will
increase your chances of publication.

Please remember that even if your letters are not selected for
publication, they still have an impact on the newspaper’s editors as
they note reader interest which results in increased coverage of our



(Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please
modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive
numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author
receives credit for his/her work.)

To the editor of ??? Newspaper in Canada:

Noting the criticism by the United States Drug Czar towards Canada’s
proposed reforms in marijuana policies, I find it interesting that any
Canadian leaders are giving John Walters’ opinion serious attention.

Over the past 20 years as the U.S. federal government has escalated
the War on Drugs, I notice they didn’t check first to see what Ottawa

When we decided to increase drug arrests in our country to the point
where we became the planet’s largest jailer, no one in Washington
sought out Canadian viewpoints. When John Walters formed a plan to
deluge our media with his propaganda about pot smokers funding
terrorists, I’m sure he didn’t care one hoot what Canadians thought.

Why then are some of your leaders worried about whether or not Canada
chooses to follow in lockstep the draconian drug policies endorsed by
the United States? You are on the correct, common-sense track – a
track already in place in several European countries as well as
several U.S. and Australian states. Don’t be knocked astray by U.S.
government fueled hysteria about decriminalizing or even legalizing
responsible adult marijuana use.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen Heath

(Always include your address and phone number for newspaper
verification. Most papers will not print your letter otherwise.)


ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts, Please See:

Writer’s Resources http://www.mapinc.org/resource/


Prepared by: Stephen Heath, Focus Alert Specialist, Florida Cannabis