Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jul 2011 Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC) Copyright: 2011 Times Colonist Contact: http://www2.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/letters.html Website: http://www.timescolonist.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/481 Author: John Anderson, Chair, Criminology Department Vancouver Island University 'WAR ON DRUGS' DISTRACTS FROM FIGHTING CRIME Re: "Legal drugs and gangs," July 1. The editorial on the failed "war on drugs" is music to the ears of the criminal justice professionals who make up Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We know, from personal experience, that prohibition enriches criminal gangs and fosters criminal activity while doing nothing to reduce drug use and the attendant violence in our cities. Forty years of the so-called "war on drugs" in North America has actually increased the supply and potency of illegal drugs. Countries which have removed criminal penalties for drug use, such as the Netherlands and Portugal, have achieved declines in use and addiction. Prohibition is a threat to public safety. Making drugs illegal has created a profitable black market, and participants in the underground economy can settle their disputes only by violence. Uninvolved bystanders and police officers often pay the price. So many police officers and prosecutors are bogged down in drug enforcement that serious crimes go unsolved. In 1963, before the "war on drugs," all but 15 per cent of murder cases in the U.S. were solved. Today, 40 per cent of murders never lead to a conviction, even though law enforcement now has vastly better forensic tools and technology. Let's legalize drugs and bring the trade above ground where we can regulate and control it. John Anderson Chair, Criminology Department Vancouver Island University - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.