What is it? Dried leaves, flowers and stems of the hemp plant from the genus
cannabis. It contains tetrahydrocannibol (THC) which can produce an
intoxicating sensation when ingested.

How is it used? Leaves and the concentrated resin known as hashish are
usually smoked.

How many people use it? A new Senate committee report estimates as many as
two million Canadians have used cannabis in the last year and as many as
100,000 use it daily. Police say as much as 800 tonnes of cannabis
circulates in Canada each year.

Justice issues:

Cannabis was outlawed in 1923, amid what the Senate report called a "panic"
over drugs.

About half of the 90,000 drug incidents reported each year involve cannabis,
and up to 600,000 people have criminal records for simple possession.

Cost of drug enforcement runs at $1 billion to $1.5 billion a year, with a
third of that related to cannabis.

Effects: The Senate report said cannabis use can cause short-term memory
loss and loss of co-ordination and concentration, but the effects wear off.
High-doses or first-time use can also cause anxiety, disorientation,
vomiting, even convulsions.

Other names: Pot, dope, Mary Jane, ganja, hemp, reefer, weed, grass.

Highlights of a Senate committee report yesterday recommending that Canada
legalize the use of marijuana and hashish:

Marijuana and hashish should come under a regulatory system for production
and sale under licence for legal use by any Canadian resident older than 16.

Looser rules for the use of medical marijuana should provide easier access.

The law should be changed for those who drive after using both alcohol and
marijuana, with blood-alcohol limits lowered to .04 per cent in such cases.

The government should erase the criminal records of 300,000 to 600,000
Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana.

The government should appoint a national adviser on psychoactive substances.

The government should call a conference of the provinces, municipalities and
other interested parties to set the ground rules for legal marijuana.

The government should finance research on drugs and on prevention and
treatment programs, financed by taxes on the sale of legal marijuana.

Pubdate: Thursday, September 5, 2002
Source: Daily News, The (CN NS)
Website: http://www.canada.com/halifax/dailynews/
Address: P.O. Box 8330, Station A, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 5M1
Contact: letterstoeditor@hfxnews.southam.ca
Author: Canadian Press
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