Wednesday, May 25, 1999
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA FOR HEALTH AND MEDICAL PURPOSES
Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party to thank the member for Rosemont for bringing the motion forward.
It was interesting to hear the government side speak about the fact that we must concentrate on health care and health care matters when it was the Liberal government that took $21 billion out of health care spending and replaced only $11.5 billion after five years. In many ways I wish the
government would back up its statements and arguments with the resources that are required.
It is also ironic the Minister of Health recently said that there would be studies and clinical tests on the medical use of marijuana for those who have serious illnesses. It is just being done now. Marijuana has been around for thousands and thousands of years and in 1999 the federal
government is to conduct studies and clinical tests on the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
I do not think any one in the House could actually dictate to people who are seriously ill, who have AIDS and other ailments of that nature, what they should and should not do to feel better. Yes, we have to put precautions in place. Yes, we have to make sure that the safeguard of all Canadians, especially when it comes to their health, is paramount in any decisions that the House makes or in any recommendations from individuals.
However, we have to take ourselves out of our suits once in a while and place ourselves in the position of those people who are severely disabled through various diseases, especially, for example, when it comes to the issue of AIDS.
In the United States 36 states out of the union have passed legislation endorsing the medical use of marijuana despite a federal U.S. ban. I am sure that ban is in place as the member from the Liberal Party indicated. There are cross-country obligations and international treaty organizations
which have to be adhered to in the legal matter. If the Canadian government really wished to and if the people of Canada were really behind it, ways could be found to speed track the issue forward so that relief could be found for those people.
As the father of two young girls there is no question I am very concerned about the future of Canada, what substances will be adhered to, what will be in the schools and playgrounds and everywhere else. The relaxation of any concern when it comes to their health is very serious.
We should try to assist people who are seriously ill and have relied on alternate means of remedies to achieve relief from their pain and suffering. This is one reason the motion brought forward by the member for Rosemont is very appropriate at this time.
I wholeheartedly encourage the government to go forth with its studies in terms of the medicinal use of marijuana. I encourage the member for Rosemont to continue the debate to bring this very serious issue to the forefront.
These are issues which a lot of people do not like to talk about because they give the perception of being seedy subjects. People think we should not be talking about issues of this nature. The House of Commons is exactly where issues of this nature should be discussed and where regulations and legislation should be passed. This is where people on all sides of the debate should have an opportunity to discuss such an important subject.
I trust we will have a pleasant time in the House for the next four weeks as we debate this issue and many other important issues brought before the House.