RSS 2.0RSS 1.0Losing the War on Drugs
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1 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, IntroductionTue, 05 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:167 Added:09/05/2000

Uncle Sam's global campaign to end drug abuse has empowered criminals, corrupted governments and eroded liberty, but still there are more addicts than ever before.

On June 6, 1998, a surprising letter was delivered to Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations. "We believe," the letter declared, "that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself."

The letter was signed by statesmen, politicians, academics and other public figures. Former UN secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar signed. So did George Shultz, the former American secretary of state, and Joycelyn Elders, the former American surgeon general. Nobel laureates such as Milton Friedman and Argentina's Adolfo Perez Esquivel added their names. Four former presidents and seven former cabinet ministers from Latin American countries signed. And several eminent Canadians were among the signatories.

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2 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 1aTue, 05 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:456 Added:09/05/2000

continued from Part 1a:

The precedent for international drug prohibition had been set in conferences in 1909 and 1911. At the time, a few nations, notably Canada and Britain, were interested in international regulation of opium, but it was the United States that instigated these conferences and prodded the talks away from mere regulation toward total criminal prohibition. The First World War delayed this process before prohibition could be made internationally mandatory, however. American plans were further hampered in the inter-war period by the refusal of the U.S. to join the League of Nations.

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3 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 1bTue, 05 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:126 Added:09/05/2000

Billions Spent, But Drugs Still Sold, Used

Every society in history that could grow plants had drugs. These drugs weren't just for stanching wounds and healing the sick. They were also psychoactive drugs for altering sensation and consciousness. Few things can be said to be practically universal among human societies. Psychoactive drug use is one of them.

The Incans chewed the leaves of Erythroxylin coca, the coca bush, to release the cocaine within. Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and many others grew the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, which oozes the sap that becomes opium, morphine and heroin. Buddhist Indians celebrated what we call marijuana. Some North American aboriginals had peyote; others had tobacco. Europeans had alcohol.

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4 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 2Wed, 06 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:564 Added:09/06/2000

The U.S. boasted that defeating Colombia's cartels would end the illegal drug trade. Instead, things got worse.

BOGOTA, Colombia - They are only dark memories now, but in the 1980s and early 1990s, Colombia's drug lords loomed large in North American nightmares. Pablo Escobar, the ruthless chief of the Medellin cartel, was the most infamous of all, the personification of the cocaine plague.

In 1989, pressed hard by Colombian authorities, Escobar declared "total and absolute war." A horrified world watched as the drug lord launched an unprecedented campaign of terror. The Colombian government responded with its own brutal force. For the first time, the "War on Drugs" became a literal war.

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5 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 3Thu, 07 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:380 Added:09/07/2000

Politicians try to solve the drug problem by destroying the source plants. Here's why they always fail.

Cocaine, heroin, opium, marijuana: as strange and threatening as these illegal drugs appear to most people, they are made from quite ordinary plants. Why not destroy those plants in the field and therefore stop dangerous drugs from ever being made?

That's a beguiling idea, and a very old one. In the 16th century, the Marques de Canete, the Spanish viceroy of Peru, was bothered by the extent to which Indians were chewing coca leaves, a practice that delivers a small amount of the same drug users take when they snort cocaine today. The Marques ordered a limit to the amount of coca that could be planted. He even set up financial incentives to get farmers to substitute food crops for coca.

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6 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 4Fri, 08 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:421 Added:09/08/2000

Mexicans call the violence and corruption spawned by illegal drug trafficking 'Colombianization.' And they fear it could undermine their country's progress towards becoming a developed nation.

Dan Gardner The Ottawa Citizen

TIJUANA, Mexico - Driving to work one morning in 1997, Jesus Blancornelas entered a scene from a Quentin Tarantino film.

A car had wheeled around and blocked the street ahead of him.

As Mr. Blancornelas, a renowned Mexican newspaper editor, watched from the passenger seat, the windows of the blockading car were rolled down.

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7 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 5Sat, 09 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:305 Added:09/09/2000

U.S. Customs agents at the world's busiest crossing have an impressive record in busting smugglers. But, the U.S. admits, 'drugs still flood in.'

SAN YSIDRO, California - The broad sidewalk is filled with pedestrians streaming north. Alongside, across 16 lanes, hundreds of cars are lined up to drive in the same direction.

Uniformed agents pick their way through the idling vehicles, their dogs sniffing for the drugs that are almost certainly here, somewhere, in this river of machines and people.

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8 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 6Sun, 10 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:425 Added:09/10/2000

WAR ON DRUG SMUGGLING 'DESTRUCTIVE' AND 'SENSELESS'

A Former U.S. Drug Warrior Says The Billions Spent Battling Traffickers Should Go Toward Treatment For Addicts And Community Development.

NEW YORK - When retired Lt.-Cmdr. Sylvester Salcedo decided to protest the American War on Drugs, he wasn't quite sure how to go about it. No American veteran of the fight against drugs had ever before done what Mr. Salcedo wanted to do. So, taking his lead from veterans of the Vietnam War who protested by returning their medals, Mr. Salcedo last November dropped his navy Achievement Medal into a FedEx envelope and mailed it to U.S. President Bill Clinton.

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9 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 7Mon, 11 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:537 Added:09/11/2000

DO OUR DRUG LAWS HARM US MORE THAN THEY HELP?

A growing number of doctors and public health officials say criminal law is, at best, useless in stopping the damage to health caused by drug use.

Early one morning in 1993, Alan and Eleanor Randell were startled by the sound of the doorbell in their Victoria home. At the front door were two police officers. "As soon as I saw them," Eleanor Randell says, her voice shaking even now, seven years later, "I knew that there was something wrong."

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10 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 8Tue, 12 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:507 Added:09/12/2000

Wiretapping, 'Reverse-Stings' All Diminish Citizens' Rights

Patrick Dorismond probably never knew that the men who killed him were police officers. Standing on a New York City street corner one night in March, Mr. Dorismond and his friend, Kevin Kaiser, were approached by three men who, Mr. Kaiser later recalled, looked like "derelicts." They asked Mr. Dorismond if he had any marijuana.

The men were undercover police officers. They didn't know Mr. Dorismond or his friend. They had not seen him do anything suspicious. They were simply approaching people based on a vague "profile" of where pot dealers might be found and what they might look like. Mr. Dorismond, a black man, fit the profile.

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11 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 9Wed, 13 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:479 Added:09/13/2000

Banning Drugs Inflates Their Value. As A Result, Organized Crime Grows More And More Powerful

On Feb. 14, 1929, three men in police uniforms and two others in civilian clothes approached a Chicago garage known to be a shipping centre in the illegal alcohol trade. They found seven men inside. Pointing their machine-guns, the police ordered the men up against a wall.

As the seven stood with their hands in the air, the officers opened fire, killing them all.

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12 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 10Thu, 14 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:325 Added:09/14/2000

Trying To Enforce Drug Laws Can Sometimes Bring Out The Worst In Even The Best Officers

One of the worst police corruption scandals in American history began with 3 1/2 kilograms of cocaine.

That's what Los Angeles police officer Rafael Perez stole from a police evidence room. When he was caught, in August 1999, he agreed to talk, not just about the theft, but also about the shootings, robberies, ferocious beatings and other corrupt practices that were standard operating procedure for many of the officers of his police station.

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13 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 12Sat, 16 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:275 Added:09/16/2000

Evidence shows no link between the law and rate of drug use.

Most Canadians, I am sure, strongly support the criminal prohibition of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. I am equally sure those Canadians share one assumption about drugs that, more than anything else, is the reason they want drugs banned. It is the idea that criminal prohibition keeps the rate of drug use and addiction down.

Prohibition may not stop all drug use, people think, but if it were lifted, drugs would be much cheaper. Users wouldn't fear arrest. Inevitably, drug use and addiction would soar and society would suffer.

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14 Canada: Column: Losing The War On Drugs, Part 13Sun, 17 Sep 2000
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Gardner, Dan Area:Canada Lines:256 Added:09/17/2000

Legalization isn't perfect, but it's better than a drug ban.

Humans have used psychoactive drugs in just about every society in every time in history. There has never been, and can never be, a "drug-free world."

If drug use will always be with us, it follows that the harms drugs can cause will also remain. There is no "solution" to the drug problem.

That might sound resigned, but it's not. We still can, and must, make important choices: Which drug-related harms will society cope with? Some are worse than others. Given the range of possible drug policies we could adopt, which policies will produce the fewest and least destructive harms? We can't choose solutions, but we can, and do, choose our problems.

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