HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html China White Lightning
Source: Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
Pubdate: Monday 20 July 1998


One of the many ironies about making drugs illegal is the fact that it
guarantees drugs become more and more potent -- and increasingly
dangerous. That's because the smaller drugs are, the easier they are
to smuggle. The way to reduce their weight without reducing their
value is to make them more potent. That's dangerous to users, who
often aren't aware that a drug's strength has changed. Now the old
dose kills.

It's happening today in Vancouver. A new, stronger heroin has killed
201 people in the past six months. There were only 147 such deaths in
the same period last year.

For addicts who aren't killed by this side effect of drug
criminalization, another danger awaits. Making drugs illegal drives up
their selling price -- which is the point for enforcers, who assume
that if drugs are expensive, people will stop using them. Not only is
that demonstrably untrue for many non-addicts, it ignores the fact
that addicts will pay whatever it takes, often up to $200 a day, to
feed their habit. Bankruptcy is inevitable. Then come prostitution and
crime, which add more corpses to the death pile.

These are the worst harms of drug addiction and they are the result
not of the drugs themselves, but of their prohibition.

The lesson is being learned in Vancouver. Decriminalization of heroin
has been demanded by, among others, Vancouver MP Libby Davies,
policeman Gil Puder, and the Council of Health Officers, an
organization of public health doctors.

But it's a long way from Vancouver's skid row to Parliament Hill. So
far, the government has shown no sign that it hears B.C.'s pain.

Copyright 1998 The Ottawa Citizen

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Checked-by: "Rich O'Grady"