HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Policy Group Founder Cautions Smith
Pubdate: Thu, 09 Sep 2004
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Lori Coolican


If Mayor Bill Smith is serious about curbing drug-related violence, he'll
listen to people who see the law as part of the problem, says a founder of a
national drug policy group. "You need to ask why the drug trade is so
profitable. And if you're honest about it, you're going to realize that it's
because of drug prohibition," Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation
for Drug Policy said yesterday.

At a press conference Tuesday, Smith announced plans for a workshop to
develop a co-ordinated drug strategy aimed at Edmonton youth. The mayor
struck a committee and called on residents to wage a "war on drugs" after a
teen was shot in a drug-related incident last year.

The strategy's effectiveness will depend on who attends the forum - because
an "old boys" plan built around enforcing drug laws is destined to fail,
Oscapella said.

"I will be optimistic and say that I hope the (workshop) will recognize that
the problem cannot be solved by the criminal law. You need intervention
strategies aimed at asking 'why kids do drugs?' "

Bob Ritter, a local school principal who is co-chair of Smith's project, has
said the strategy would include prevention, treatment and harm reduction as
well as enforcement.

"That sounds like a very intelligent approach," Oscapella said, noting
after-school programs have proven effective at reducing the boredom that
leads some kids to experiment.

Oscapella said the city should consider a public health approach to drug

"I can guarantee the police are going to explode over this point ... but
there are far-better-informed people with less of an ideological agenda that
can talk to kids about that," he said.

"The police are law enforcers. They are not pharmacologists, and much of the
information they give students, unfortunately, is misleading and is not
believed by students." 
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