Pubdate: Fri, 27 Oct 2006
Source: Guelph Mercury (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 Guelph Mercury Newspapers Limited
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


Dear Editor - Re: 'Drug Problem Must Be Known' (Guelph Mercury, Oct. 23).

I agree that the public would benefit from knowing when crimes are 
"drug linked." However, the relationship between drugs and crime can 
be confusing.

Some drug-related crimes are aggravated by the effects of drugs. For 
example, alcohol is implicated in half of all homicides, half of all 
traffic fatalities and one-third of all suicides. In contrast, 
cannabis, sedatives, hallucinogens and opiates are not criminogenic.

Heavy use of stimulants, like cocaine and methamphetamine, can lead 
to violent psychosis, but most drug-related violence is systemic. 
With no recourse to the law, drug traffickers and users are reliving 
the wild west. The case you mentioned of a shooting last April at a 
Bagot Street apartment was likely systemic, a drug deal gone bad.

Most drug-related crime is economic compulsive. Heavy users often 
fund their habits through fraud, theft, prostitution and trafficking. 
Economic compulsive crime is more a consequence of the price than the 
chemistry of drugs. Drug profits and laundering corrupt our police, 
courts, politicians and financial institutions.

The crime we associate with alcohol is mainly caused by the effects 
of alcohol, but the profits, corruption, systemic and predatory 
crimes we associate with illicit drugs are chiefly caused by drug 
prohibition. For example, opiate-related crime was unheard of until 
we passed the Opium Narcotic Act of 1908, shutting down Chinese opium 
dens for openly racist reasons.

The police and the media would advance public awareness and 
understanding by reserving the labels "drug-linked" and "drug 
related" for crimes that are actually caused by drugs, and adopting 
the term "prohibition related" for everything else.

Matthew M. Elrod

Victoria, B.C.
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