Pubdate: Tue, 27 Dec 2016
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Osprey Media
Author: Chris Nelson
Page: 10


Arguing that smoking dope is safer than drinking booze is akin to
stating that getting shot in the leg is preferable to taking one in
the head.

Yet that's the argument often used by pro-pot crusaders, as we debate
the minutiae about what age should Canadians be allowed to legally buy
weed. Well, folks, kids can already get a hold of dope with little

Don't get me wrong; let's legalize the stuff. In fact, we should
decriminalize every other drug, because the entire campaign to treat
addiction as a matter of legality rather than mental health is among
the deadliest and costliest exercises society has tried.

That failure is reflected in addiction rates in Canada that are truly
staggering -- designate all Manitoba as a federal penitentiary and
we'd still run out of room to jail sufferers.

It isn't just pot smokers and fentanyl seekers. The willy-nilly
production, prescribing and swallowing of legal opioids beneath the
banner of pain relief is at levels in Canada above anywhere in the
world. It's a cosy multibillion-dollar relationship among drug
companies, doctors and a population wanting a pill for every ache.

If that isn't enough, then the effects of the copious amounts of booze
we swallow is even worse for individuals and society. Make no mistake:
alcohol's a poison. That's why our bodies go into survival mode,
halting other digestion to immediately tackle the toxin at the first
sip. Yet criminalizing booze simply led to the ascendancy of Al Capone
and his ilk.

Sadly, we're surrounded by addiction. Many of us are addicts of
something -- of the four scars on my body, three arrived courtesy of
being tanked up on booze.

Meanwhile, in the ultimate farce, four of every five inmates are
addicts, and drugs in jails are a huge problem. So what possible good
arises from sending people hooked on a substance to a place where 80
per cent of new neighbours are in a similar position and narcotics
flow like the Nile?

Of course, the self-righteous (probably with a prescription for
painkillers on file and a bottle of scotch in the cupboard) believe
this is someone else's problem. If nine people OD and die in Vancouver
in a single day, so what? The world's better off without junkies.

Ignore such callousness and hypocrisy and instead consider the
billions of dollars of everyone's tax dollars spent policing,
convicting and incarcerating all the addicts we deal with through the
justice system.

Then add in damage from the rising crime rate in places such as
Calgary, which police lay directly at the door of desperation from
those hooked on opioids. Can people still think they're unaffected by

Locking people up isn't helping -- not when four out of five remain or
become addicted inside our jails. And giving kids criminal records for
carrying one drug while the advertising industry fills our screens
with similar youngsters merrily about to imbibe on a different one is
the ultimate in failed policy.

Sure, keep going after big-time dealers with all the state's powers --
and include those doctors who hand out painkillers willy-nilly like
Santa in a candy store -- but treat addiction for what it is: a mental
health issue leading to physical dependency.

Only the naive would think we're going to eliminate this entirely.
Something in our psyche desires the reality release such chemical
reactions in our brains provide.

But we can limit and reduce addiction's insidious grip.

Sixty years ago, half the population was hooked on another killer --
tobacco. We didn't declare it illegal and start filling the jails.
Instead, we offered education, methods to quit, ripped away its
glamorous advertising image, and limited places of usage.

It took time, but we made smoking uncool. In doing so, we dropped
those user numbers to almost one in five and added millions of
healthier years to Canadians' lives.

So let's legalize drugs. Then let's begin a war against them we might
actually win.
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