Pubdate: Fri, 15 May 2015
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Steve Finlay
Page: B7


History shows big drug busts don't threaten heroin supply

Re: Police bust international heroin-smuggling ring, May 12

The Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP have done good police
work in arresting 28 drug traffickers, and deserve recognition and
appreciation for their persistence, diligence and competence.

Unfortunately, the RCMP's Cal Chrustie is completely wrong when he
boasts that the operation has "prevented a large quantity of heroin
from reaching the streets of Vancouver." Logically, a "large quantity"
would mean that this seizure will increase the price of heroin or
cause a shortage.

Will the seizure have this effect? No. In 2000, police seized over 100
kilograms of heroin in the port of Vancouver, nearly three times the
37 kg seized this week, and only 13 kg less than the total seized
along the U.S.Mexico border that entire year. It was believed then the
seizure would increase prices and discourage heroin use.

But that did not happen.

The price and availability of heroin in Vancouver had been tracked
since 1996 as part of a multi-year research study into injection drug
use, and continued to be tracked after the seizure. The results,
published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2003, showed
heroin availability and purity did not change after the seizure, and
the price may have even gone down.

If a 100-kg seizure in 2000 did not reduce supply, neither will a
37-kg seizure in 2015. The reality is that even when we devote tens of
millions of dollars and two years of conscientious work from several
police forces to an interdiction operation, the supply of drugs
remains the same. No matter how much we spend, and no matter how well
our police do their jobs, drug prohibition simply does not work.

Steve Finlay

Secretary-treasurer, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Canada)
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