Canada became the first Western country to legalize the medicinal use of cocaine today.
In a close 158-150 vote the House of Commons passed the Drug Policy Modernization Act (DPMA) ,which allows doctors to prescribe the drug to treat various medical ailments.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommended passage of the bill, arguing that cocaine has a long tradition of medical use that modern science has unfairly ignored. It especially made the case that the powerful stimulant is useful for treating mental health disorders.
“Depression is no match for cocaine,"says Minister of Health Rona Ambrose. "A few milligrams can help overcome the lows in an individual's daily life. We also find cocaine works twice as effectively as mainstream pharmaceutical drugs in treating ADHD.
“Obviously, it also helps enormously with glaucoma, back pain, acne and plenty of other everyday health issues. A patient will have to see his or her doctor to get the prescription. The dosage reevaluated each month so the patient’s health can be monitored. The process will be very professional.”
Canada has long been known for its progressive drug policy, with the country pioneering medical marijuana and needle exchange programs in the 2000s.
However, in recent years the nation has fallen behind countries like Uruguay and U.S. states like Washington and Colorado, which have all fully legalized cannabis for recreational use.
"This puts us back on the map," says Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who supported the government's legislation. "We used to be the coolest place in North America. But nowadays if you want to get loaded and go skiing you go to Aspen, not Whistler. That needs to change."
Canadian citizens have mixed opinions on the legislation, however. “I don’t know what to think about it yet. We’ll have to see what happens. All I know is we have the best democracy in the world and the people wanted it,” said Greg Clarke, self proclaimed sixth cousin to National Hockey League Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke.
Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis told the Winnipeg Sun that his police force will be prepared.
“We expect a little more fist fights but more focused drinking," he said. "We can handle it.”
With the average winter temperature in Winnipeg being −20 °C (−5 °F) the Chief is also excited to have a cocaine prescription during the cold, dark, and long winter months. “A little pick-me up in the morning is just what the doctor ordered.”
For popular travel destination cities like Montreal they plan on seeing a boost in tourism.
“We imagine more U.S. teenagers traveling to Canada. They already come up to enjoy our legal drinking age ranging 18-19 years, not like the conservative twenty-one in the States,” said the head of the Canadian Tourism Commission, Greg Klassen. “We predict an increase in hotel stays and bar revenue. We might see a slight slip in restaurant revenue because we all know it’s hard to do blow and then eat.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, for his part, lauded passage of the bill.
“Now people can get off my fat stinking ass,” he proclaimed to a crowded food court at the Eaton Centre. "Obesity is a disease and cocaine is the cure."
Canada's move to legalize cocaine is in direct violation of its commitments under United Nations drug control treaties, and will likely upset nations still committed to the failed War on Drugs.
“We don’t know what the hell the Canucks are thinking," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters from ABC News. "How can they think legalizing cocaine is going to help anything? Medicinal? Give me a break. Maybe they're just angry that all their hockey teams are dog-shit recently. Up really is down and down is up in Canada.”
There is also mounting concern from the U.S. Border Patrol about trafficking into the U.S.
“We already have tons of marijuana coming down from Canada every day. We don’t want to see more coke coming this way. We didn’t let Mexico pass any real drug reform laws, so I don’t see why we can’t bully Canada the same way,” said Border Patrol Agent Dolph Ziggler.
“It’s about protecting our children. Let them stick to Adderall and Ritalin,” adds Betty S. Sembler, chairwoman of Drug Free America “We will fight tooth and nail to have the law reversed. Think of the children, think of the goddamn children!”