Pubdate: Tue, 20 May 2014
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2014 Robert Sharpe
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re: "Food shoppers paying price for war on drugs," Kevin Brooker, Opinion,
May 12.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to catch up with the 21st century.
Even Americans have turned their backs on mandatory minimum prison
sentences. If harsh penalties deterred illicit drug use, Canada's
southern neighbour would be drug free. The U.S. drug war has done
little other than give the land of the free the highest incarceration
rate in the world.

Putting non-violent drug offenders behind bars with violent criminals
provides them with a taxpayer-funded education in anti-social
behaviour. This can backfire when inmates are released years later
with a PhD in criminality and no means of gainful employment. If the
goal is to discourage unhealthy choices, there are cost-effective
alternatives to mandatory minimum prison sentences that destroy lives
and tear families apart.

Thanks to public education and use restrictions, legal tobacco use has
declined dramatically, without any need to criminalize smokers or
further enrich violent drug cartels through tobacco prohibition. This
drop in use in one of the most addictive drugs available has occurred
despite widespread tobacco availability. The drug war is a cure worse
than the disease.

Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C. Robert Sharpe is a policy analyst with
Common Sense for Drug Policy.
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