Pubdate: Wed, 10 Feb 2010
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2010 The Telegram
Author: Randy Lieb-Warmsworth


That an RCMP officer would fire with his handgun at a suspected drug
dealer in a store parking lot, during business hours, highlights
starkly just how wrong the approach of governments to illegal drugs
is. The police are permitted to engage in a "war on drugs" and they
find this a lot more thrilling than dealing with complaints about a
burglarized summer cabin, a barking dog, boys spraying graffiti.

The police love drug cases and will say anything to keep the show
going. In the 1960s, police claimed that there were hospital wards
full of individuals whom the use of illegal drugs had reduced to
"human vegetables." Now the police claim that marijuana is a "gateway
drug" that pulls people toward the use of harder drugs which
ultimately make derelicts out of the individuals.

But I witnessed the use of marijuana and hashish and cocaine already
in the early 1970s in Newfoundland outports and such drugs have been
widely available all over Newfoundland during the almost 40 years since.

No statistical evidence was ever produced which shows that more
Newfoundlanders ruin their lives with illegal drugs, than those who do
so with gambling (legal), and drinking (legal), or overeating (legal)
or, for that matter, using far too many legal over-the-counter drugs.

What is needed is honest research. Let's start by establishing just
how many university professors, CBC personalities, high school
teachers, senior civil servants and other community leaders have
actually consumed illegal drugs in their lives. If it is found, as
anecdotal evidence indicates, that the great majority of our elite
have used illegal drugs at one time or another, without ruining
careers and families, then let's call the police off their cowboy
chases after drugs, which clearly have never reduced significantly the
consumption and supply of illegal drugs in the province.

Our society didn't collapse when homosexuality and abortion were
legalized and it is highly unlikely that an end to the war on drugs
will cause much damage to society.

The current approach, which is the U.S. approach, to try to catch ever
more drug dealers and jail them, is untenable in a civilized
democratic nation.

The Americans have now 2.3 million convicts in jail, a large part of
them from drug cases. That is about the population of Newfoundland,
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and P.E.I. together.

Randy Lieb-Warmsworth

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