Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jun 2001
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 The Province
Author: John Gordon


It has been demonstrated in countries like Holland and Switzerland, which 
have decriminalized cannabis and separated cannabis from heroin, that 
decriminalization reduces the consumption in both drugs.

It reduces crime and allows those countries to redirect the funds that 
would otherwise have gone into prisons, courts, unnecessary police and 
other related costs to such useful things as education, health care, 
fighting homelessness and other pressing social issues.

After Switzerland switched to a harm-reduction strategy on heroin, the 
crime rate dropped by 60 per cent. By one estimate, 70 per cent of Canada's 
crime is addiction-related in some way.

It has been shown in strong marijuana prohibitionist countries that 
hard-drug use increases. Where there is the least availability of 
marijuana, in countries like Sweden, youth are even turning to solvents. 
Cannabis is less addictive than caffeine and not physically addictive at 
all. Ask people who know real addictions like cocaine, heroin, 
methamphetamines and alcohol -- they'll tell you marijuana provides solace 
and keeps them off the hard stuff.

The only "gateway" occurs when prohibition does not distinguish between 
drugs and there is no safe place for people to acquire and enjoy their 
intelligent preference. The real harm is the legal and social fallout.

John Gordon
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