Monday, June 06, 2005

Compare and contrast

Canada takes added steps toward a productive drug strategy:

As part of their structured outpatient program, Drug Treatment Court participants attend both individual and group counselling sessions, receive appropriate medical attention (such as methadone treatment) and are subject to random drug tests.
Participants must also appear regularly in court, where a judge reviews their progress and can then either impose sanctions (ranging from verbal reprimands to expulsion from the program) or provide rewards (ranging from verbal commendations to a reduction in court appearances).
Drug Treatment Court staff work with community partners to address participants’ other needs, such as safe housing, stable employment and job training. Once a participant gains this social stability and can demonstrate control over the addiction, criminal charges are either stayed or the offender receives a non-custodial sentence. If unsuccessful, an offender will be sentenced as part of the regular court process.

Funding agreements are being finalized for each of the successful proposals from Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa, with each new court expected to begin operations in the coming months. In addition to this investment in new Drug Treatment Courts, the Government will continue funding existing courts in Toronto and Vancouver.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down any attempt by the states to do the same:

In a 6-3 vote, the justices ruled the Bush administration can block the backyard cultivation of pot for personal use, because such use has broader social and financial implications.

The court's reasoning strikes me as questionable. If states can't legislate on anything that has so much as an indirect effect on interstate commerce (and the argument in this case was based on an argument that 'garden patch weed would affect "overall production" of the weed' even though it wasn't actually sold), what precisely can they do?

That aside, the more significant difference is in the respective positions of the federal governments. While the Bush administration not only rejects positive policy but actively argues against the ability of states to do the same, Canada recognizes an individual-based problem and allows people to take responsibility for their own lives (with due controls in case an offender doesn't go along).

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