Pubdate: Fri, 11 Sep 2009
Source: Niagara This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


Seemingly pleased with a 69-kilogram cannabis bust at the
Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, Minister of Public Safety, Peter Van Loan
remarked, "Seizures such as this are a clear sign that our efforts to
fight organized crime and keep illegal drugs out of our communities
are working." ("Officers commended for largest marijuana seizure ever
at Queenston-Lewiston border," Sept. 4)

One might as easily interpret seizures such as these as continuing
failure. Teens consistently report that cannabis is easier to obtain
than beer. More teens have tried cannabis than tobacco.

Annual Canadian cannabis production is estimated at between 1,399 and
3,498 metric tonnes. About 50 tonnes were seized in 2007, less than
five per cent, or less than traffickers would have paid in taxes if
cannabis were legally regulated.

Annual outdoor eradication efforts drive growers indoors. As with
wolves and their prey, police predation culls out the least
"organized" traffickers. Grow operations are getting bigger and
growers are becoming more sophisticated.

Large busts may cause other distribution networks to compete,
sometimes violently, for the unmet demand, or they may create openings
for new, more robust, distribution networks.

If all goes as planned, the value of cannabis rises. When the value of
cannabis rises, the incentive to grow and traffic rises. Consumers
substitute other drugs, primarily alcohol, causing domestic abuse,
emergency room episodes, traffic accidents and all the social costs
associated with alcohol to rise as well.

Further, the effort to interdict and eradicate cannabis diverts finite
resources away from the investigation and prevention of other crimes;
rape, murder, theft, etc. Studies have shown that communities that
increase relative spending on drug law enforcement experience higher
levels of crime and violence.

Given that "This government recognizes that illicit drugs are the
foundation of organized crime in this country," would it not make
sense to undermine their foundation by legally regulating cannabis?


Matthew M. Elrod

Victoria, BC
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake