Pubdate: Fri, 16 Feb 2007
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2007 The StarPhoenix
Author: Ron Fisher


The editorial, Canada needs new policy on drug abuse (SP, Jan. 16) did
a good job of listing the problems of our current and past approach to
drug abuse. The enormous cost and the fact that it has not worked for
a hundred years should tell us that a change is overdue.

Stephen Harper's promise to intensify the failed strategy in the face
of empirical evidence that even a small pilot project -- Vancouver's
safe injection site -- is effective, says everything about the chances
of progressive thinking from this government.

The editorial pointed out that our past approach has been based on
enforcement. Enforcement of what? Prohibition. Prohibition did not
work with alcohol and obviously it has not worked with drugs.

Drug abuse is a medical problem. No sane society would countenance
criminal action against citizens who get the flu. No one intentionally
gets the flu, or sets out to abuse drugs or become an addict. No
amount of enforcement can proscribe becoming a drug addict.

If drug abuse is treated as a medical problem, two changes to the law
must be made. Drug use has to be decriminalized and legalized, as was
done with alcohol. The result? Former Seattle police chief Norm
Stamper suggests there would be a slight increase in drug use and no
measurable increase in abuse. Enforcement could then be focused on
such predatory crimes as domestic violence, rape, robbery and auto
theft, and on white collar, political and environmental crimes.

Ron Fisher,

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