Pubdate: Tue, 07 Aug 2001
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Langley Advance editorial comments follow letter.


Eyes are watching - even from the United States' capital. And those eyes 
caught our story about the promotion of a Langley police officer.

Dear Editor,

As the new Superintendent in charge of B.C. drug enforcement, Langley RCMP 
Operations Officer Insp. Carl Busson is faced with a sisyphean task in 
taking on B.C.'s lucrative marijuana trade [Busson B.C.'s top drug cop, 
July 31, Advance News].

The drug war's distortion of basic supply-and-demand dynamics makes an 
easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold.

With money practically growing on trees, any operations destroyed will be 
replaced. Canadian tax dollars are being wasted on anti-drug strategies 
that only make marijuana growing more profitable. And let's not kid 
ourselves about protecting children. The thriving black market has no 
controls for age, making it easier for teenagers to buy illegal drugs than 
beer. Politicians need to stop worrying about the message drug policy 
reform sends to children and start thinking about the children themselves.

There are cost-effective alternatives to the failed drug war. In Europe, 
the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by replacing 
marijuana prohibition with regulation. Separating the hard and soft drug 
markets and establishing age controls for marijuana has proven more 
effective than zero tolerance.

As the most popular illicit drug in Canada, marijuana provides the black 
market contacts that introduce users to drugs like heroin. This "gateway" 
is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. Given that marijuana 
is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no sense to waste tax 
dollars on policies that finance organized crime groups like the Hells 
Angels and facilitate the use of deadly hard drugs.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A. Program Officer The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy 
Foundation Washington, D.C.

Editor: On the topic of of "fundamentally flawed policies", let's talk 
about the possibility of legalizing the possession of small amounts of 
marijuana for recreational use.

Marijuana may be safer than legal alcohol, as the writer suggests. But the 
long-term effects of marijuana use include memory loss, short term 
task-learning loss, and in extreme cases, psychosis.

Moreover, legalizing marijuana creates a slippery slope. How will it be 
regulated? Even if the government regulated marijuana as it does alcohol, 
it wouldn't snuff out the drug trade. Dealers will have easier access to 
the drug than ever before - and then they'd act as middlemen . . . the 
bootleggers of marijuana for our children.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens