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Canadians Say No To 'just Say No'

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A New Poll Suggests Ottawa's Anti-Drug Plan Should Focus on Treatment and Prevention.

Just say no to "just say no."

An Angus Reid Strategies poll released yesterday shows Canadians back some of the federal government's $64-million anti-drug strategy, but they say the plan needs to stress more than enforcement, treatment and prevention.

Three-quarters of Canadians support mandatory prison sentences for serious narcotics offences and 84 per cent favour plans to create anti-drug campaigns aimed at children.

But more than half of Canadians want the federal government to leave harm-reduction programs, such as needle exchanges and safe-injection sites, intact.

Vancouver's safe-injection site has been given an extension until next June, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he opposes these kind of programs.

Dr. Louis Gliksman, acting vice-president of research at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said safe-injection sites have proven successful in Europe.

"The jury is out in Canada. I think we need more research," Gliksman said, noting needle exchanges are working well here.

"You don't find as many needles lying around."

He said needle exchanges also improve the health of addicts and put them in contact with treatment programs.

While opponents may feel harm-reduction programs are an "endorsement of a drug lifestyle," Gliksman said "just say no" strategies, as coined by former first lady Nancy Reagan, are ineffective and unrealistic.

"I haven't seen any study that suggest the 'say no to drugs' ( strategy ) in the U.S. had any impact. It's a great slogan, many millions of dollars were spent, but I haven't seen any results."

The federal strategy is silent on alcohol and prescription drug addiction, he said.

The poll also found more than half of Canadians support the legalization of marijuana.

The founder of Cannabis As Living Medicine, a Toronto-based club which provides medical marijuana to 2,000 people, half with HIV, said previous polls have shown 89 per cent of Canadians back legalizing marijuana to help patients with cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and a host of other conditions.

"It's a done deal," said Neev, who only gave his first name.

Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The London Free Press
Contact: London Free Press: Letters to the Editor
Website: London Free Press
 
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