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Canada's Drug War Faces Growing Risks

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Canada's war on drugs is facing a number of challenges, including insufficient funding and concerns about a Conservative government's commitment to some aspects of the national program, a government- commissioned evaluation reports.

The review of Canada's Drug Strategy highlights a number of "risks" since the program was renewed in 2003, beginning with an inability to hire, train and maintain sufficient staff amidst a proliferation of clandestine labs and grow-ops and other pressures.

According to the report, completed last October but only recently made public, the challenges led to at least one formal department request for more money.

"The Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) has drafted a memorandum to cabinet to increase funds to address capacity gaps around the growing problem of synthetic drugs," the evaluation states.

Under the lead of Health Canada, the drug strategy involves eight federal departments and agencies and a number of partners from other levels of government, law enforcement agencies, private sector organizations and international agencies including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

It now receives about $400 million a year in funding, which includes a five-year, $250-million boost made during the program's renewal four years ago.

The evaluation's findings were based on a review of files, interviews with various departments' officials, a web-based survey of stakeholders and a telephone survey of funding recipients.

The evaluation, conducted by Ekos Research Associates, does, however, find the drug strategy to be appropriately organized and able to effectively monitor program performance.

But along with a variety of financial pressures being highlighted, concerns were expressed that last year's change in government may lead to criticisms of the strategy's current approach.

"Conservative governments are sometimes associated with a preference for enforcement-based measures rather than, for example, treatment and harm reduction," the evaluation states.

"There had been proposed reforms to cannabis legislation (decriminalization), but these have since fallen by the wayside since the new government took over."

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Source: London Free Press
Contact: alan.findlay@sunmedia.ca
Copyright: Canoe Inc.
Website: Canada's drug war faces growing 'risks'
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