Pubdate: Thu, 19 Aug 2004
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) 
Copyright: 2004 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Stephen Heath


Re: Don't make it harder for police to do job, Aug. 10.

Letter-writer J.A. Turner says that the recent Supreme Court of Canada
ruling that prevents police from inspecting the contents of a
citizen's pockets without probable cause of a crime "seems to be just
one more step towards making it more difficult for those who we expect
to enforce the law to do their jobs."

Police are unable to enforce drug laws because doing so usually
requires them to invade the privacy of citizens who are otherwise
law-abiding and whose privacy is therefore protected by the Canadian
Charter, and in my country by our Constitution.

In short, the contents of my pockets are none of the police's business
as long as I do not use those contents to harm others and/or their
property. It is no more urgent that anyone detect pot in my pocket
than it is for them to know if I have alcohol in my cupboard, provided
I do not use those substances to harm others.

Drug-law violations have no complainant. Since no one has been
damaged, police have no "witnesses" who can provide evidence of a true
"crime." Lacking such a witness, police can only adopt tactics which
are usually questionable under Charter and constitutional laws.

The simplest way to end this conundrum is to legalize drugs and move
them into a regulated marketplace. Legal drug dealers can be easily
monitored and inspected by government officials, including police if
necessary. This is different from trying to regulate drug dealers
under a system of prohibition, since illegal dealers operate secretly
and behind closed, private doors.

Freeing our police from trying to operate in such a covert system
would give them all the time they currently lack to better identify
criminals who would harm others and correctly bring them to justice.

Stephen Heath

Clearwater, Florida

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
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