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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume 2 - Policies and Practices In Canada

Chapter 18 - Observations on practices


Conclusions of Chapter 18









Co-ordination of approaches





Costs of cannabis

















Under-funding of the CCSA

      The lack of any real national platform for discussion and debate on illegal drugs prevents the development of clear objectives and measurement indicators.

      The absence of a national platform makes exchange of information and best practices impossible.

      Practices and approaches vary considerably between and within provinces and territories.


      The conflicting approaches of the various players in the field are a source of confusion.

      The resources and powers for enforcement are greatly out of balance compared with those of the health and education fields and the civil society.


      The costs of all illegal drugs had risen to close to $1.4 billion in 1992.

      Of the total costs of illegal drugs at that time, externalities (social costs) represented 67% and public policy costs 33%.

      We believe both the social costs of illegal drugs and the public policy costs to be underestimated.

      We estimate the cost of enforcing the drug laws to be closer to $1-1.5 billion per annum.

      The principal public policy cost relative to cannabis is law enforcement and the justice system; we estimate this to represent a total of $300-$500 million per annum.

      The costs of externalities attributable to cannabis are probably minimal (no deaths, few hospitalizations, and very little loss of productivity).

      The costs of public policy on cannabis are disproportionately high given the drugs social and health consequences.


      The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse is seriously under-funded; its annual budget amounts to barely 0.1% of the social costs of illegal drugs alone (alcohol not included). Its budget should be increased to at least 1%; that is, approximately $15 million per annum.


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