Pubdate: Fri, 06 Mar 2009
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Emile Therien


The Harper government's proposed anti-gang legislation may very well
result in a national debate among Canadians that the so-called war on
drugs, at an outrageous social and economic cost, will not reduce the
use of illicit drugs and crime in our society.

The law of unintended consequences may very well come into play, to
the great disappointment of those in the criminal justice system,
politicians, policy makers and citizens who preach and practice that
prohibition is the "cure" to the lucrative drug trade.

This is a debate those individuals won't welcome, but in the interests
of effective and sound public policy, we should have it.

How many Canadians use illicit drugs? According to one source I've
heard, at most, four per cent of our population uses them and less
than two per cent of Canadians have a problem stemming from a hard
drug like cocaine or heroin.

That's hardly a scourge or an epidemic.

I don't deny that some of the consequences of using drugs are horrific
and place a heavy social and economic burden on society. But
considering these low numbers, should not the priorities be treatment,
rehabilitation, demand-reduction programs, etc.? These are much
cheaper and much more effective in dealing with Canada's manageable
drug problem.

The history lesson of the 1920s and 1930s clearly show that
prohibition, and its unintended consequences, simply doesn't work and
never has.

Emile Therien

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