Canada: drug abuse Essay

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Introduction
Drug use and abuse is as old as mankind itself. Human beings have always had a desire to eat or drink substances that make them feel relaxed, stimulated, or euphoric. Wine was used at least from the time of the early Egyptians; narcotics from 4000 B.C.; and medicinal use of marijuana has been dated to 2737 B.C. in China. But it was not until the nineteenth century that the active substances in drugs were extracted. There was a time in history when some of these newly discovered substances, such as morphine, laudanum, cocaine, were completely unregulated and prescribed freely by physicians for a wide variety of ailments.
Canada’s Drug of Choice: Marijuana
Contrary to popular belief the rate of illicit drug use is actually on the decline. The most commonly used drug in Canada is Marijuana. According to the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey, 44.5% of Canadians surveyed said that that used pot at least once in their lifetime.14.1% reported that they have used marijuana in the past twelve months. Those individuals that have used in the past year varies greatly, with 20.8% not having used at all in the past 3 months, while 204.9% claiming that they have used only once in the past 3 months. 16% reported that they used monthly, 20.3% was weekly, with only 18.1% reporting to be using daily. The province with the highest usage is British Columbia with an average that is significantly higher than the national level, at 52.1%. British Columbia also has the highest past year usage compared to the national average at 16.8%.
As with alcohol, men (50.1%) are more likely than their female counterparts (39.2%) to have used marijuana during their life time. The same sample of men (18.2%) and women (10.2%) have used marijuana in the past year. This is up from 5.7% for men and 2.4% for women in 1993, over three times higher for the men and four times for the women. The younger generations, like men, are more likely to use marijuana, with approximately 70% of those between the ages of 18-24 years old having tired it at least once. The youngest age group sampled, 15-17 years old, almost 30% of them used cannabis in the past year, peaking at 47% with the age group18 ; 19 year olds. After this point usage within the past year tends to decline with only 10% of the population surveyed claiming they still use marijuana.

One pattern that is constant with marijuana usage is that the less the individual has of something, the lower their usage rate is. Pertaining to education, those without a high school diploma, 34.9% claim they have used at least once in their life, while this number increases to 52.4% for those with some post secondary education, and then declines with the obtainment of a university degree. This pattern continues into an individuals income bracket, with 42.9% if those with low income using marijuana within their lifetime. This number increases to 44.6% for those with a moderate income and continues to increase into the high income bracket with 54.8% for lifetime experience with pot.


Other Drugs
With marijuana taking the number one spot, one in six Canadians has used other forms of illicit drugs. After cannabis, the second most used drug among Canadians is hallucinogens at 11.4%, followed by cocaine with 10.6%, claiming that they’ve used this substance during their lifetime. Coming after cocaine is speed (6.4%), then in a distant forth is ecstasy, with 4.1% reporting to have used these illicit drugs at least once. Last on the list are injectable drugs, such as heroine and steroids, and inhalants. According to those who participated in the CAS less then 1% of those used injectable or inhalant drugs. Unlike marijuana, the remaining illicit drugs have a low usage rate, with only 1% of the survey population having used these substances within the past twelve month, with the exception of cocaine use (1.95). All together, 14.5% of those surveyed reported to have used cocaine, hallucinogens, LSD, speed, heroin, ecstasy, inhalants, or steroids the past year.

As with cannabis, men have the tendency to have a higher rate of consumption of illicit drugs than women. 18.7% of the men in this survey had done the drugs listed above in the past year, while the women in this had a rate of 10.6%.
Drugs and Crime
Canada’s Drugs Laws
Although the Controlled Substance and Drugs Act is the most modern drug law in Canada, there was the Narcotic Control Act (NCA) and parts three and four of the Foods and Drug Act (FDA) were the first acts pertaining to illicit drugs. The Narcotic Act covers illegal drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, and heroine. Under the NCA there are six convictable offences. The six includes possession, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, cultivation, importing, and exporting. Sections three and four of the Food and Drugs Act pertains to the non medical drug use. Section three of the FDA has power over “controlled drugs” such as amphetamines, barbiturates, and depressants. Under this act an individual can be charged with trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and prescription shopping, which is obtaining several prescriptions from several different doctors, but not for possession. While section three dealt with controlled drugs, section four pertains to the other “restricted drugs” such as LSD, psilocybin, and DMT. The offences under this section are trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession.
The controlled Drugs and Substance Act was first introduced in February of 1994 as Bill C-7. The Bill C-7 centralized many of Canada’s already existing laws, plus it created a number of new drug offences. With the enactment of the Controlled substance and Drugs Act, both the Narcotic Act and sections three and four of the Foods and Drugs Act were both repealed, while the Drug Paraphernalia laws are still in the books. The Drug Paraphernalia law. This law is actually under the Criminal Code of Canada in section 462.2. This law states that it is a summary offence to import, export, manufacture, promote or sell instruments, or literature for the use of illicit drugs. Canada’s main Drug law is the Controlled Substance and Drug Act (CDSA) which was enacted on May 14, 1997. The CDSA prohibits the importation, exportation, production, sale, and possession of illicit drugs and substances.

The latest attempt to amend the Controlled Substance act is the decriminalization of marijuana. Legislation has been introduced to change the way laws pertaining to marijuana are enforced. The Act to that will amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act was originally tabled in May 2003, and again in February 2004, but died when the 2004 election. The bill was recently re-introduced on November 1, 2004. The marijuana bill keeps possession and production illegal under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, with the penalties for traffickers remain the same, with a maximum sentence of life. This legislation introduces tougher penalties for growers and softer penalties for possession of small quantities of marijuana. The new penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana mean that casual pot smokers and young people who experiment with pot would not be faced with a criminal record that would follow them for life.

Other Control Factors
Although Canadian has laws regarding illegal drugs, the governments main long term goal is to reduce the harm that is associated with it. This includes the individual, their families, and the community in general. Because substance abuse is largely a health issue, harm reduction is considered to be the most realistic and effective approach. To obtain this goal the government of Canada has outlined five objectives.: 1. Reduce the demand for drugs, 2.Reduce drug related morality and morbidity, 3. Improve the effectiveness of and accessibility to substance abuse information and intervention, 4. Restrict the supply of illegal drugs and reduce the profitability of them, and 5. Reduce the cost of substance abuse to the Canadian society. Canada’s drug strategy involves reducing the drug supply as well as the demand for drugs.

Conclusion

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