Pubdate: Tue, 8 Jan 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Larry Campbell, Special to the Sun
Note: Senator Larry W. Campbell is a member of Law Enforcement 
Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international, non-profit educational 
organization made up of current and former members of law enforcement 
who believe the existing U.S. drug policies have failed.
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


The Harper Government's U.S.-Style Tough Line on Drugs Benefits No 
One but Criminals and Their Syndicates

Is there really anyone anywhere in Canada who believes that U.S. drug 
policies are working? Or that they are deserving of being copied here?

This is the direction Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have us go.

More prisons and more people in prisons has not worked for our 
southern neighbours, and there is no logic behind the move to 
increase criminal penalties for drugs.

In fact, logic dictates that we move away from criminalization and 
focus instead on a policy that emphasizes medical intervention for 
those Canadians who abuse drugs.

What about our teens? In the pique of a rebellious phase they grow a 
few plants, get arrested and end up getting their higher education in 
prison rather then university. And the burden of a criminal record 
makes them pariahs in the job market.

Can we afford -- either financially or socially -- to emulate a 
system that has created in the U.S. the most incarcerated population 
on Earth? Or should we continue to distinguish ourselves from our 
neighbour by continuing to exhibit humane and socially profitable 
measures that make our citizens some of the healthiest and most 
compassionate people on the planet?

This Conservative government refuses to look at the science, or even 
the simple facts.

Minimum sentences for non-violent offenders may play well with a hang 
'em high crowd, but it will do nothing to solve drug problems in this 
country. The Conservatives have spread their "big lie" for so long 
that they have begun to believe it, despite overwhelming evidence to 
the contrary.

We should be putting our efforts into increased treatment for 
addiction, education and increased medical treatment for those with 
mental disabilities. We should also legalize marijuana in this 
country to keep the profits from being funnelled into criminal hands.

Did you know that in the U.S. the government produces and distributes 
about half a pound each month in marijuana cigarettes to medical patients?

The Canadian government could produce it like cigarettes, put the 
derived funds straight into health care and addictions treatment and 
programs. The pot could be sold in liquor stores where children will 
not have easy access and the quality can be monitored.

When drugs are produced by regulated industries, they cost a mere 
fraction of the price of the products produced and marketed by 
clandestine criminal organizations.

By leaving some drugs in the hands of criminals and their syndicates 
we leave control of the purity, dosage and pricing totally in the 
wrong hands. Why not take away their motivation for involvement in 
the drugs trade?

Regulated industries all have motivation for legitimacy. They hire 
working people who live in our communities and spend their income in 
our stores and shops. We all have an investment in the task of 
reducing drug harms and that investment is one that can either prove 
to be profitable, or costly.

Criminals have control of these substances only because we make the 
drugs illegal. Through legalization we have regulation and we remove 
the death grip the gangs and cartels have on the drugs black market.

If a poll were to be conducted among these drug dealing thugs and 
gangsters, asking if they prefer prohibition or legalization, 
prohibition would be the unanimous choice. Legalization runs counter 
to their needs.

It is truly prohibition that continues to line the pockets of those 
criminals who are the real threats to all our communities.

Prohibition is a failure that bears no resemblance to any logical 
solution to our drug problems.

We must end prohibition, not expand it.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake