Mr. P. B. Rynard (Simcoe North):
Mr. Speaker the fact that the minister has made a statement is indeed most welcome. The contents of the statement, however, must be subject to careful scrutiny. Back in August the minister, when speaking in Regina, discussed the possibility of taking marijuana out of the category of narcotics and placing it in the category of restricted drugs, which would automatically have the effect of reducing penalties. He was quoted as follows by the Canadian Press:
The teenager who tries pot at a Saturday night party because someone has some and passes it around and everyone else tries it, may be very foolish but he isn't a criminal, at least not in the sense that I think of criminals.
He was also quoted as saying:
Nor does it seem to me that giving criminal records to several thousand curious kids each year serves any worth-while purpose.
The minister noted a huge increase in the use of marijuana as an argument in favour of a step in the direction of permissiveness. Others may view it in an opposite light. I am prepared to concede the validity of the minister's argument that curious kids, as he describes them, should not be turned into criminals on account of that curiosity; and whether the answer lies in lessening the penalties for possession is certainly worth considering.
The major offender in the increase in the use of marijuana is, of course, the distributor; and in relation to the distributor, the individual who deliberately sets out for profit to "hook" young people on the use of dangerous drugs, there should be no lessening whatsoever of penalties; they should in fact be tightened up.
We have been witnessing in recent months a tremendous increase in the use of marijuana
resulting from a tremendous increase in distribution on an organized basis, through the use of teenagers as distributors. Some of these were marijuana users who, having been introduced to this drug, have been persuaded to introduced it to others. I am sure that not even the minister will assert that it is a beneficial thing for our society to condone the widespread use of marijuana or other drugs, nor to encourage the spread of such drugs. Yet that is what is going on. Young people are being introduced in a systematic way to these drugs. They are being used to "hook" others, and then in many cases they are induced to try for a bigger kick with a bigger drug, such as heroin and others.
The only ones to benefit from this procedure are the behind the scenes peddlers working on behalf of the international crime syndicates for whom the illegal distribution of drugs brings in many millions of dollars annually, and who in pursuit of financial returns do not hesitate to destroy a whole generation of young people.
I am sure the minister must know something of the ramifications of this subject. He must know that he is playing with a force in some cases more explosive than dynamite. He must know that the accumulated experience of the ages in every country has been that these drugs, once released, cannot be controlled, and that each user is automatically a proselytizer of others. He must know that the distribution is carefully and systematically organized to create as many users as possible and to introduce them to progressively habit forming drugs. He must know that behind the teenage pusher of a few sticks of marijuana is the syndicate operator and organizer.
In August the minister talked about Saturday night parties where someone had marijuana and passed it around and everyone tried it. Does he think this is socially constructive or useful? Is this what he is trying to condone or perpetuate? We have had any number of teenagers picked up for both using and peddling marijuana. We have had teenagers picked up in increasing numbers for using other far more serious drugs. We have had an increasing number in our criminal courts destroyed mentally and physically by drug addiction at below 21 years of age. For these there must be pity and indeed some sympathy and understanding. But what of those responsible for making these drugs available to the teenagers? What of those who for gain deliberately set out to destroy young minds? Surely we are not going to make life
Oclober 17, 1968 COMMONS
easier for them. Surely the government is going to do more to deal with this situation than simply making it easier to have access to marijuana.
I assume the minister must toe aware that the use of marijuana is the classical entry into the addiction category. Not all those who use marijuana end up using destructive narcotics, but a great number using narcotics such as heroin began with marijuana. Is it a chance worth taking? It is the distributors and syndicate agents whom the government must bring to book and upon whom very heavy penalties indeed must be inflicted if we are to accept our responsibility to the young people of this nation.
A report of the United States treasury department dealing with the effect of marijuana upon the mind says:
Its continued use produces pronounced mental deterioration in many cases. Its more immediate effect apparently is to remove the normal inhibitions of the individual and release any anti-social tendencies which may be present.
Few of us are without such tendencies in one form or another. It is not enough to lighten the penalties imposed on marijuana users. If the penalties are to be lightened, then distribution must be rigorously curtailed. To lighten the penalties without taking steps to halt distribution can benefit only the international drug peddlers. Distribution can only be halted by exacting severe penalties on those who make marijuana available and who engage or hire others to distribute it.
We must face the fact that marijuana is a drug the use of which divorces the mind from reality and produces personality changes as well as a tolerance and willingness for further narcotic experimentation and sometimes addiction. To expose young people to its effects while at the same time neglecting to put a stop to the operations of those who purvey marijuana for the purpose of creating a market for this and for more destructive drugs would be an indefensible failure in carrying out our responsibility.
To control the use of marijuana we need, as the minister has stated, educational and control programs. There are four interrelated approaches to the problems created by the use of marijuana. They are research, education, treatment of the addict and legislation. Legislation or education of themselves do not constitute effective answers. There must also be treatment of the chronic user. But we need far more than this. We need a medical research committee which will come up with
Control of Incresead, Narcotics Traffic answers concerning the effect of marijuana on the individual. The evidence we have to date points to a conflict in the assessment of the effect of this drug on the personality.
The law courts desperately need scientific guidance in the handling of the victims of marijuana, and this is a municipal, provincial and federal problem. It is not acceptable to the Canadian people for the federal government to slough off even part of the problem by saying it is a provincial matter. The fact remains that no government agency has yet set up a medical research committee to investigate the matter and report on it.
The findings of such a medical research committee should then be brought before a meeting of the provincial-federal authorities for discussion, evaluation and joint action at all levels. Then and only then will we be attacking this serious and distressing problem with all the forces at our command.