Pubdate: Wed, 24 Nov 2010
Source: Meliorist, The (CN AB Edu)
Copyright: 2010 Sean Desrochers
Author: Sean Desrochers


Canadian Students for SENSIBLE DRUG POLICY? is a Canada wide student
and youth led grassroots organization aimed at promoting drug policy
in line with public health, academic evidence and harm reduction.

This is the first year that the University of Lethbridge has had a
chapter and I recently had the great pleasure of representing
Lethbridge at this year's national conference at the University of
Toronto. The topic of the weekend revolved around the question "oewhat
is a sensible drug policy?" . Dr. Craig Jones, the former executive
of the John Howard Society of Canada, in his keynote address gave a
succinct summation of the problems facing drug policy today, and why
this is fundamentally a social justice issue which concerns all
Canadians. Dr. Jones argued for re-regulation as an alternative to

The entire concept of prohibition has spurred on an unrelenting drug
war, the consequences of which are felt from the mountains of Bolivia
and the poppy fields in Afghanistan to metropolises like Toronto, as
well as the streets of our very own Lethbridge. Prohibition is a
wholly idealistic and unpragmatic public policy which not only fails
to address the reality of drug use in our society, but which also
strips citizens of civil rights based upon entirely arbitrary
distinctions. Drugs, like alcohol and tobacco have massive social
costs and our government recognizes that people will use these drugs
regardless, so in order to offset these massive social costs they tax
these substances and provide regulations for their use (i.e. the
prevention of sale to minors). Marijuana however has very few
associated health or social costs and is legally prohibited. Our
government spends a far greater amount of money "'fighting' one of
the most resilient plants on the planet "" and one of its greatest
medicines "" than the costs to society associated with its use. Tax
dollars spent with no reasonable return except to throw more of our
youth in jail where they will be subject to physical and mental abuse,
as well as risk exposure to HIV/Aids and Hepatitis C. These costs are
footed by taxpayer, who finances those jails and supports the public
health care system which will eventually deal with these individuals.
In addition to the immediate costs, people with a criminal record are
subjected to a lower socioeconomic status through a barrier to decent
employment, education and living accommodations, all of which provides
an unnecessary burden on our social welfare system.

What is being called for is a science and evidence based re-regulation
of drugs and a realignment of drug policy with common sense.

The simple task of figuring out what we want in a drug policy and how
to best accomplish that goal is continually ignored in favor of
idealistic rhetoric which has time and time again proven to be
ineffectual and ridiculously harmful. Decriminalization, Legalization,
Medicalization are all possible options when compared the failed
policy of prohibition. And these three only scratch the surface of
possible public policy alternatives which would better address the use
of drugs in our society and reduce their overall harm. The definition
of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
So, after half a century of mashing our heads against the wall don't
you think its time for some public debate on what to try next? Because
prohibition as a policy has absolutely, unequivocally, irrefutably...

Sean Desrochers  
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