Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jan 2007
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Tony Smith, LEAP


As a retired 28-year member of the Vancouver Police Department and 
founding member of the pawnshop detail, I am a little concerned with 
the direction being taken by Vancouver city council.

I wholeheartedly agree that it should be simple for pawnshops to 
identify thieves, who supply a reasonable percentage of their goods, 
and to refuse to purchase things from them.

The problem, however, comes at the next step. The individuals who 
supply these stores are almost all drug-addicted and often 
non-violent. If their source of income is cut off, their addictions 
will not go away. Instead I suspect that many will turn to much more 
serious offences to support their habits. It is likely the armed 
robbery and purse-snatching rate will soar.

The only solution is to change the way we regulate drugs. We know 
through the work in Switzerland that 50 per cent of heroin addicts 
who have a steady supply of drugs are able to hold down steady jobs. 
Another lower proportion kick drugs entirely.

I suggest that we treat addiction as a medical not a legal problem. 
Once this path is set and drugs are no longer a way by which criminal 
organizations amass huge profits, the turf wars such as the recent 
Richmond shootings will cease to be a part of daily life in the Lower Mainland.

To give some examples of the muddled way we deal with affairs at this 
time, I would like to ask:

Knowing that crystal meth is bad, why do we give the same drug, 
Ritalin, as therapy to our children?

Why is gas sniffing legal, but cannabis use illegal?

Why did we consider the Chinese heroic as builders of our national 
railway, but outlawed their relaxant of choice, opium, which I 
understand only causes sweet dreams, not the violent anti-social 
behaviour caused by alcohol?

There are many such anomalies which make nonsense of our present policies.

Tony Smith

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Drugs)

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