Pubdate: Fri, 25 Nov 2005
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2005 The StarPhoenix
Author: Ken Sailor
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


In the story Martin announces measures to curb gun, gang violence (SP 
Nov. 10) the prime minister's plan to make us safer is remarkably 
lacking in content. He apparently intends to increase jail terms and 
give more money to youth programs. There is nothing new in this 
prescription, nor has it proven successful.

Although well-run youth programs may have some impact, increasing 
jail time doesn't work. Is American society less crime-ridden, even 
though two per cent of its adult population is in jail or on parole 
due to long jail terms and mandatory minimums? If anything, harsher 
penalties lead to harsher crimes committed by people with little to lose.

The way to reduce crime is to end the prohibition of marijuana and 
other drugs. Stop pumping billions of dollars into the underworld. 
Why would someone go to school when hundreds of dollars a day can be 
earned working in a gang delivering drugs? Where that many dollars 
are floating around, guns and violence are sure to follow. When the 
U.S. repealed prohibition, the murder rate fell by almost half over 
the following five years.

Prohibition has not reduced drug use. Rates of drug use are typically 
lower where drugs are legally available. People who use drugs under 
prohibition do so with greater health consequence, because of unknown 
drug purity and disease due to dirty drugs and paraphernalia. Health 
costs are less where drugs are legally available.

A fundamental principle of democracy is that by giving people the 
freedom to make their own choices, they will do a better job than by 
following coercive laws.

If prohibition is repealed, some people will make bad choices, but 
the great majority of people will do what is right for themselves -- 
and for those who make the wrong choices, help will be quicker and cheaper.

Ken Sailor

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