Pubdate: Sat, 12 Aug 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Colin Whitworth
Page: IN 11


Re Rethink before decriminalizing drugs, DiManno, Aug. 7

When it comes to dealing with addictive drugs as a society, Rosie
DiManno misses the point entirely, partly because she based her
argument on a bad interpretation of the facts.

She cites Portugal, which decriminalized drugs in 2001, saying there
was a "40-per-cent increase in homicides related to drugs, even as
overdose deaths have plunged."

That number is illusory and ancient. The increase in homicides between
2001and 2006 was for all homicides, not just those related to drugs.
The statistics do not break homicides out by that category.

This stat gained some notoriety because the United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime speculated in a 2009 report that the increase "might
be related to (drug) trafficking." But it offered no evidence, just
speculation. Also, Portugal's homicide rate has since subsided from
its high 11 years ago.

Canada's war on drugs is a failure because it is the wrong approach.
People can get illegal drugs now but, when they have problems with
them, they have little recourse to seek help without fear of

We need to treat addiction as a public-health issue, not a criminal
one. Portugal has seen a drop in drug use and overdose deaths since
decriminalization, as well as an increase in people seeking

The people who sell illegal drugs would love to keep them illegal,
because that boosts the price by creating a huge risk for people
selling them. There's a lot of money to be made by people willing to
risk prison and it is these sellers who create the violence we
associate with the drug trade.

This is why there aren't gangs fighting over beer-selling territories
or gunning down rivals to steal cases of cigarettes.

We're spending millions each year fighting a battle we can't win. To
dismiss the alternatives outright as illogical and irrational is junk

Colin Whitworth, Toronto
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