MP REPORT: Drug use a concern

Colin Mayes provides his views on substance abuse and government's response

I am always puzzled by the national media’s focus on trivial issues and missing the more important challenges facing society and governments. Our society is being under-minded by substance abuse and very few people are talking about it.

One in five Canadians (21.6 per cent ) has a substance or alcohol abuse problem. Substance abuse costs us $40 billion per year in Canada. Eighty per cent of federal offenders have a history of substance abuse issues. Six million Canadians are in recovery. Contrary to the solutions of the NDP and Liberals to legalize marijuana, because they say it is just a soft drug, studies found that 40 per cent of people that start using marijuana move on to harder drugs.

Marijuana is proven to cause physiological side effects such as schizophrenia and paranoia.  Smoking one joint has the same impact on the health of your lungs as smoking twenty cigarettes. We all know families that have lived these realities with their children.

The leader of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau, needs to ask these parents if legalizing marijuana is a good public policy.  Both terrorists that murdered Canadian soldiers had substance abuse issues. It is easier to radicalize a person that is not mentally stable due to substance abuse. A large percentage of crime committed is linked to substance abuse and the cost to our health system is immense. A nurse told me that 70 per cent of emergency room cases in a Calgary hospital were related to substance abuse.

Our Conservative government has funded money for more drug enforcement and for programs to help people kick their addictions. The RCMP’s DARE program to educate school children is to the credit of members willing to take time to organize this program. We as citizens must take this seriously and start educating our children and work at the community level to reach out to our friends and neighbours.

I have heard of grandparents taking care of their children’s children because the parents had drug addictions and could no longer take care of their own children. They thought that after raising their own children they would now have time to relax and enjoy their grandchildren.  Instead, they now have to be parents again. I was surprised to hear that a number of families in the riding have to deal with this issue.

Legalizing marijuana or any drug addiction is just going to manifest this problem. The solution lies with our society to take a stance and work together in becoming a drug-free community. I believe we can do it one person at a time.

Colin Mayes is MP for Okanagan-Shuswap.