Plan Floated To Ignore Some Prison Drug Use

Plan Floated To Ignore Some Prison Drug Use
Posted by CN Staff on May 12, 2002 at 16:08:42 PT
By Victor Malarek, Investigations Unit
Source: Globe and Mail 
The Correctional Service of Canada has put together a proposal to turn a blind eye to some positive tests for marijuana and hashish use among prisoners and offenders released in the community, The Globe and Mail has learned.The correctional service, which has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol, would continue to test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. But it would act on positive tests only when the drug use is considered to be a problem for an offender and there is concern about increased criminal risk. 
The proposal might, for example, lead to fewer people returned in prison for using marijuana after their release, and fewer disciplinary measures against prisoners who test positive.The paper describes THC as a soft drug that sedates prisoners, reduces their propensity for violence and does not impair cognitive function and perception as other drugs and alcohol do. It says THC use does not lead to dependence, has few side effects, even with heavy use, and is not a gateway to more serious drugs such as cocaine and heroin. It also says there is only a weak relationship between THC and criminal activity.But the discussion paper also notes that THC is still illegal in Canada, that the correctional service might be perceived as condoning the use of an illegal substance, and that ending THC testing entirely might be political untenable for the service and the federal government. And it says offenders have to come into contact with other criminals to get marijuana and hashish and not testing for it might increase its use in prisons and enhance the illicit drug trade inside the institutions, which often includes violence and strong-arm tactics.The proposal is among a number of ideas circulated in a recent discussion paper aimed at overhauling drug testing of prisoners and offenders on release.The union representing prison guards says the proposals are a blatant attempt to hide the rampant drug problem in federal penitentiaries.The discussion paper notes that removing THC from drug tests would cut the rate of positive tests by half.And it says drug use by offenders has been rising -- the rate of positive tests increased by about 20 per cent over the past five years, and more offenders refused to be tested, meaning illegal drug use is even greater than urine testing suggests.The document, called Proposed Modifications to Urinalysis Program, was sent to wardens, deputy wardens and district directors for comment by Jan. 18 of this year. "A non-response by the end of the 18th will be regarded as agreement with the proposed changes," says an internal correctional service e-mail dated Dec. 28.Sylvain Martel, national president of the Canadian Union of Correctional Officers, said the correctional service is trying to hide the drug problem and save money by not doing tests."This is a manipulation of the statistics and one way to make the situation look good is to drop testing for marijuana and hashish," he said. "We have a serious drug-abuse problem in the penitentiaries, a big-time problem, and the union is totally against this."The union leader said the proposal makes a mockery of the CSC's stated zero-tolerance policy and brings into question the rehabilitation process for inmates."If an inmate tests positive, then he's not following his rehabilitation plan and that whole process just goes out the window if the CSC says we're not testing for THC any more."During 2000-2001, the corrections service spent about $600,000 on urinalysis of prisoners and another $1.55-million testing offenders on release in the community.The corrections-service document criticizes outside testing because parolees know in advance when they are to be tested. It says there are no surprise tests because of "practical reasons" such as the availability and schedule of the contractor who collects samples."Clearly this is a serious problem given that offenders are aware of when they will be tested and is a poor usage of urinalysis resources in the community. Hence, the approach does little, if anything, to monitor and deter offender drug use in the community and requires major revision."The proposals suggests dropping fixed-interval testing on the outside in favour of letting parole officers decide when to have an offender tested.This approach would lead to a 60- to 70-per-cent decrease in the number of urine samples collected. Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: Victor Malarek, Investigations UnitPublished: Saturday, May 11, 2002  Print Edition, Page A1Copyright: 2002 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Canadian Links On Pot Pushed Wonders of Weed Present Petition To Reintroduce Pot Bill The Debate Over Decriminalization We Treat Pot Like Tobacco? Senators Ask 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #5 posted by restless on July 17, 2002 at 09:59:46 PT:
ive actually just stumbled onto this website and this is a very interesting topic....what exactly does anyone propose as a solution. every day people realize that marijuana legalization will someday become a big issue. the problem is that the next day we forget once again. we need to make the issue known and make sure people realize it once a day.
just like im told to drink coke and buy certain clothes. we as pot smokers have well more than enough of a following to not make a move on society. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on May 13, 2002 at 08:15:46 PT:
Yes, one for the books, indeed
but not for the immediately obvious reasons.Mental patients are 'treated' by any number of what I refer to as 'anti-noetics'; drugs that inhibit the thinking process...and incidentally are powerful sedatives. If you've ever been unlucky enough to see someone doing the "Thorazine Shuffle" you'll know what I mean.But look at this:The paper describes THC as a soft drug that sedates prisoners, reduces their propensity for violence and does not impair cognitive function and perception as other drugs and alcohol do. It says THC use does not lead to dependence, has few side effects, even with heavy use, and is not a gateway to more serious drugs such as cocaine and heroin. It also says there is only a weak relationship between THC and criminal activity. (Emphasis mine -k.)They practically sing it's praises...while providing the obligatory caveat of it's illegality preventing them from using it in precisely the same way.Some African tribes force lawbreakers to smoke strong dagga until they pass out. Oddly enough, few such lawbreakers become recidivists. Makes you wonder, no?Given the continually boiling levels of violence present in US prisons, you'd think that cannabis would be a God-send, wouldn't you? The guards and wardens know that without the cannabis and harder drugs in prisons, the situation would be so explosive they'd have riots every month. This is why they've played down the obvious about "How can we create a drug-free society if we can't even keep drugs out of prisons?" They know that to 'really get serious' about cracking down on illict drugs in American prisons is to make a barely tenable situation rapidly escallate to disaster.The cops like busting us because we don't shoot back. The prison guards like us because when we have weed in prison we are mollified. They prey on us because we are basically non-violent. So why do we 'belong' in prison - with murderers, rapists and child molestors? Who get out on time served for good behavior...when the cannabists gets 20 years to life?Maybe the cops, the judges and the guards should use...they'd have their answer in a heartbeat, if they were honest. But with a judicial system which depends upon the lies of a long-dead and discredited racist bigot for it's rationale against cannabis, honesty is in short supply.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by goneposthole on May 12, 2002 at 20:03:56 PT
A perfect script for anarchy
An increase in crime to get into prison so one can smoke cannabis legally. You must turn yourself into a criminal to legally ingest cannabis. Some things are hard to explain.One for the books.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Lehder on May 12, 2002 at 19:06:10 PT
EJ stole my thoughts! i was gonna say: some of these people were put into prison for using weed. ah, but once they're in prison it's okay! and once they're out it's still okay!if one assumes that these policies make sense and accomplish what's intended, then what must be their purpose?? i guess it's to throw a mandatory party where cannabis smokers can meet other cannabis smokers! right? that seems a very circuitous route to an answer; but now that we have it, it can be simplified and made a wee bit prettier: legalize!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on May 12, 2002 at 17:47:19 PT
Orwell could not have written it better!
Legalizing marijuana inside prison but not outside prison really gets to the point of prohibition, doesn't it?
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment