Pubdate: Fri, 18 Aug 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Mohammed Adam
Page: A9


Decriminalize or legalize crack and that will reduce the opioid crisis
and save lives?

The hare-brained idea from Toronto that the country should consider
decriminalizing or legalizing illicit drugs because current policy has
failed is not just "crazy," it is insane.

It would be laughable if the issue weren't so deadly

The worst of it is that Ottawa's medical officer of health, Dr. Isra
Levy, supports this, saying Ottawa Public Health backs "new
evidence-based approaches" on fighting drug addiction, including
decriminalization. Also on side is the councillor for Ottawa-Vanier,
Mathieu Fleury. "It's a crazy thought, but it is a crazy thought that
might actually have some merit," he said.

No sir, it is a crazy thought without any merit - and it has no place
in the discussion of the serious problem of opioid addiction that is
destroying many young lives in the city and around the country.

First proposed by a Toronto overdose panel in the wake of the deadly
fentanyl crisis, it was taken up by that city's medical officer of
health, Dr. Eileen De Villa, who said decriminalization of all illegal
drugs could be the answer to the failure of the current approach to
drugs. The key argument of the Toronto overdose action plan is that
current policy has reduced neither the drugs, nor the supply.

Instead, the policy on illicit drugs has forced addicts to turn to
criminal enterprises to satisfy their craving, which in turn, has
stigmatized them, put them in the crosshairs of the law and made them
fearful of seeking help. Consequently, they find themselves trapped in
a never-ending cycle of addiction.

The point, then, is that because society has failed to come up with
adequate measures to stop drug use, we should just throw the door wide
open - legalize or decriminalize all drugs and presto, the problem
would be solved.

We tend to think that experts know best when it comes to their field
of study, but in this case, one can't help wondering if they have
thought through what a dangerous path they are leading us on.

To avoid any doubt, I checked both the Health Canada and RCMP websites
to acquaint myself with which drugs are considered illegal in Canada,
and what decriminalization or legalization might mean. The list
includes cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, date rape drugs
such as Rohypnol, methamphetamine, amphetamine, PCP and ketamine.

The Toronto report, touting the revolutionary drug policy of Portugal,
tells us that the European country has decriminalized possession of
all drugs for personal use.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that when Ottawa and Toronto
public health experts talk about decriminalizing all illegal drugs,
they do mean the ones on the Canadian government's list of illegal

So, faced with a serious opioid epidemic, the best solution our
experts can come up with is the potential legalization of drugs such
as cocaine, heroin, meth, bath salts and magic mushrooms.

Apparently if we are all free to shoot cocaine or heroin - pick your
poison - there'll be no need for people to be hiding in back alleys
overdosing. And somehow, in this new world, drug use will come down.
Portugal did it with great success, the experts say, cherry-picking
statistics that reinforce their viewpoint, while ignoring the

As a country, we are on our way to legalizing marijuana, so hey, why
not invite crack and other drugs to the party? I don't know about you,
but I've never heard a more outlandish idea. I don't know why, at a
time of such a major drug crisis, this is where we are going.

Decriminalize or legalize crack and that will reduce the opioid crisis
and save lives? Really? And after that what's next? Legalize crime?

Toronto can have its debate, but there's no reason for Ottawa, and
indeed the rest of the country, to go down this pit. Let's make very
clear that we have no time to waste on such distractions.

This is the time for city council - which has been missing in action
lately - to exert itself and get Ottawa Public Health to focus on real
and practicable solutions to the opioid crisis.
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MAP posted-by: Matt