Fact check: Harper's statements on illegal drugs
Marijuana plants are grown in Seattle, Wash., on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper outlined his reasons for opposing the legalization of marijuana and safe-injection sites for drug users at a campaign stop in suburban Toronto on Tuesday.
Here’s a look at how his statements stand up to current research:
“Most Canadians (when) you actually ask them, do not want the full legalization of marijuana.”
A 2014 survey by Angus Reid Global found that 59 per cent of the 1,510 Canadians surveyed supported legalizing marijuana and 41 per cent were opposed.
However, in a survey where Canadians were given a third option -- decriminalization for possessing small amounts – only 37 per cent supported legalization, while 33 per cent chose decriminalization and 14 per cent supported the current laws. That survey included 3,000 people and was conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the federal government.
“I think the statistics in places like Colorado are very clear on this. When you go down that route, marijuana becomes more readily available to children.”
Marijuana has only been legal in Colorado since Jan. 1, 2014, so extensive research has not been conducted.
However, drugs have been decriminalized in the Netherlands since 1976, and past-year cannabis use among young Dutch citizens appears to be declining. Among those aged 15 to 24, past-year use dropped from 14 per cent in 1997 to 11 per cent in 2005, according to a study in the journal Addiction.
That said, a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated in a 2014 report that “although research has not conclusively established the impact of more lenient laws on cannabis consumption, an increase in prevalence of cannabis use from recreational use sales is expected.” The report’s reasoning was that legalization leads to lower prices and that “the lower price will probably lead to higher consumption.”
The report also noted that “for youth and young adults, more permissive cannabis regulations correlate with decreases in the perceived risk of use.”
“Marijuana use has actually been declining (in Canada).”
A recently-published report by Statistics Canada noted that about 12 per cent of Canadians surveyed in 2012 said they had smoked marijuana in the previous year – the same proportion the agency found when it did the same survey in 2002.
However, the results did vary by age. Past-year marijuana use declined over the decade by nearly one-third among those between the ages of 15 and 17, was stable among those aged 18 to 24 and went up among those 25 or older.
“Thomas Mulcair’s NDP and the Trudeau Liberals would support heroin injection sites and would welcome their establishment in more neighbourhoods across the country. Well, we Conservatives and most neighbourhoods simply don’t agree.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told UBC students in March that he wants to see more safe injection sites opened around the country.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has previously expressed support for Vancouver’s safe-injection clinic Insite.
Public opinion polling suggests more Canadians are supportive of safe injection sites, but many remain undecided, so it’s difficult to say whether “most” do or do not agree.
For example, an Angus Reid Public Opinion survey in 2010 found that 43 per cent of Canadians supported Insite, 24 per cent were opposed and a 33 per cent were unsure.
“Providing programs that do not provide treatment, in our view, is just throwing away the key and writing off somebody’s life. Trying to manage their decline, that’s not what we want to do. Our anti-drug strategy is based on prevention, enforcement, but most of all treatment.”
Insite does, in fact, provide addictions counselling in the hopes that users will opt to enter the on-site detoxification program, which is the first step in treatment.
Studies published in the journals Addiction and the New England Journal of Medicine have shown that Vancouver opiate drug users were more likely to enter detox programs after Insite opened.