Pubdate: Wed, 08 Feb 2012
Source: Sooke News Mirror (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Sooke News Mirror
Author: Steve Finlay, Secretary/Treasurer, LEAP Canada


Corporal Scott Hilderley surely cares about the future of our youth,
but his comments about cannabis and legalization simply miss the
point. Cannabis, in some forms, can be harmful to some people, but
there is no question that alcohol is significantly more toxic and
addictive. So by Hilderley's logic, if cannabis should be prohibited
because it is sometimes harmful, then alcohol must be prohibited as

That conclusion is clearly untrue, so we know that something is wrong
with the logic -- but what? The mistake lies in thinking that
prohibition is an effective way to manage any substance that is
harmful (or that could be harmful to some). On the surface, this
sounds as if it ought to be true. Unfortunately, it is absolutely false.

The reality is that prohibition of a drug, whether it is alcohol or
cannabis, does nothing at all to reduce its usage. The statistics
prove this at every level. In North America, 40 years of the so-called
"war on drugs" has increased the supply of illegal drugs; reduced the
prices; and increased the usage rate. Countries which have reduced the
level of prohibition, such as the Netherlands and Portugal, have
consistently lower usage rates for all drugs than the U.S., where
prohibition is aggressively enforced. And finally, the only drug for
which usage has significantly decreased in North America is nicotine --
which is not prohibited.

Those are the facts; Corporal Hilderley is not entitled to his

If prohibition merely did not work, that would be bad enough. But
prohibition also creates crime, violence, disease and death (including
the unnecessary deaths of police officers). These effects are usually
blamed on "drugs", but in fact they are caused by prohibition. Which
was more dangerous to your health in Chicago in 1928: Getting between
a drunk and his bootleg rotgut, or getting between Al Capone and his
money? This is not a hard question to answer, and the same principle
applies to drugs and prohibition today.

The history of alcohol prohibition also disproves Hilderley's claim
that gangs will "continue to thrive" when we take the cannabis
business away from them. When alcohol re-legalization took the alcohol
business away from the gangs in the 1930s, the bootleggers did not
"continue to thrive" as criminals. Some stayed in crime, but with far
less money and far smaller organizations. Others continued producing
alcohol, but legally and under the control of government regulation.

Both in the 1930s and now, some criminals will try to find other
criminal businesses after prohibition ends. But how does that justify
not taking away their biggest cash cows?

Finally, it is quite comical to describe the men and women of Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) as "beaten down by the horrors
they've seen as a result of drug use." LEAP's members and leaders know
that most of these "horrors" are not the result of drug use alone, but
of prohibition. And as a civilian who works with LEAP's law enforcers
day in and day out, I can assure Corporal Hilderley of one thing:
"Beaten down" they are not. They are intense, committed, and active
and they will not go away until prohibition is no more.

Steve Finlay


LEAP Canada
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