Pubdate: Tue, 24 Aug 1999
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (Canada)
Contact:  Matthew M. Elrod


Drug doomsayer Ken Lane needs to do some research, (Simplistic
solutions to illicit drugs won't solve the problem, Voices, Aug. 21).
Contrary to his assertion that jurisdictions that have abandoned the
failed war on drugs are going to hell in a hand basket, drug usage
rates in the Netherlands are significantly below usage rates in the
United States, a country with the most draconian drug laws and the
highest incarceration rate in the west.

South Australia, the ACT and Australia's Northern Territory have
decriminalized cannabis, yet a recent government study found "there
was no evidence that the introduction of expiation (on the spot fines)
for marijuana use has led to any increase in the prevalence or
intensity and frequency of marijuana use."

Drug law reformers need not dust off the report of the Le Dain
Commission to find support. In 1998 the Canadian Centre on Drug Abuse
recommended cannabis decriminalization. (2) Just last spring the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, whom Mr. Lane cites,
endorsed cannabis decriminalization and the RCMP quickly concurred.

Simplistic solutions may not solve "the problem", but
decriminalization would dramatically improve the situation. Drug
warriors like Ken Lane mistake public discussion on cannabis policy
for an argument over whether or not cannabis should exist. As we do
not have a drug-free prison, it seems unlikely we will ever have a
drug-free Canada. It is time we faced that reality.

Matthew M. Elrod
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