Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 2009
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Sun Media
Author: Paul M. Roddick


Kathy Bauder's piece in Friday'sWhig ("It's time we stopped allowing 
pushers and drugs to destroy families") was one of the most 
enlightening and moving newspaper columns I have read in the past 
decade. Of course, the use of drugs is a familiar issue, because drug 
pushers and drug addicts occupy a kind of hidden ghetto in almost 
every Canadian community. The well-publicized Vancouver East Side 
centre of addiction exist, in varying degrees, in almost every 
community in Canada. But Kathy's column offers something different -- 
almost Shakespearian in its capacity to generate, at the same time, 
both an intellectual and an emotional response.

For example:

"An addiction to alcohol or drugs is like an alien taking over and 
consuming one's mind. Addiction has no conscience and is very 
selfish; it does not care if the person it is consuming is a mother, 
father, son, daughter. All it wants is to feed itself and destroy as 
many people as it can."


"Drugs are killing our children. We are allowing them to destroy our 
families. We need to see that the addict has been abducted by the 
power of the addiction. We need to force our governments to build 
treatment facilities and transition houses, instead of super jails. 
We need to band together as a society and destroy the power addiction 
has over our loved ones.

Now a personal perspective. I am the father of six children. Every 
one of them smoked "pot". They also, in their teens, drank more than 
I approved of. But they were young adults, and as I learned, 
teenagers reach a time when they must make their own decisions. But 
when Kathy is writing about drugs, I don't think she is writing about 
marijuana. There is an oft repeated story in my family, of the night 
a son at age 16 came home at 11 p. m. -- and 10 minutes later was on 
his way out again. I said: "Dave, it's too late; you're not going out 
again tonight." He looked me squarely in the eyes and said: "Yes, I 
am." I was silent for a moment, while he stood with his hand on the 
door-knob. Then I had an epiphany. I said: "Well, Dave, I guess you 
are. You're a man now. So all I can say is try to remember to act like a man."

I have my own perspective on drugs (and drug laws). In the United 
States, in 1919, a constitutional amendment was passed that 
prohibited the sale of almost all alcoholic beverages. This amendment 
was repealed in 1933. (After signing the amendment, President 
Roosevelt was quoted as saying, "I think this would be a good time 
for a beer.")

There were some positive consequences from Prohibition. It provided a 
treasure trove for novelists. For example Loren Estleman's Whiskey 
Riverwas written in 1931 when the end of Prohibition was fast 
approaching. The novel describes Detroit as a killing field where 
members of warring gangs slaughter one another over millions of 
dollars worth of liquor, smuggled to the United States over the 
Canadian border.

The prohibition of the sale of marijuana, in both Canada and the U. 
S., has fostered the same gang-driven illegal market that defined the 
Prohibition era. But in its social consequences, our pot-prohibition 
laws are far worse. A teenager buying pot in the black market is soon 
dealing with a guy who will offer him a "bonus" sample of cocaine, 
heroin, etc. These mind-mutilating drugs -- not pot -- are the drugs 
that destroy families. How long will it take us to learn the lessons 
of Prohibition? And how many families will pay the price of our 
stupid, irrational drug policies, before we finally realize that the 
cure is worse than the disease?

Paul M. Roddick
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