Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2002
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


In Claiming That Drugs Are A Common Foundation Of Many Crimes, B.C. 
Solicitor General Rich Coleman Confuses The Drug War's Collateral Damage 
With Drugs Themselves.

Dear Editor,

The crime, corruption, and overdose deaths attributed to drugs are all 
direct results of drug prohibition. With alcohol prohibition repealed in 
the U.S., liquor bootleggers no longer gun each down in drive-by shootings, 
nor do consumers go blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant 
only increase the profitability of drug trafficking.

In terms of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices leads 
desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits.

The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

Rather than waste resources waging a counterproductive war against 
consensual vices, Canadian policymakers would be wise to follow the lead of 
Europe and embrace harm reduction, a public health alternative to the drug war.

Harm reduction acknowledges that both drug use and drug prohibition have 
the potential to cause harm.

If politicians like Coleman are serious about treatment alternatives to 
incarceration, they are going to have to tone down the tough-on-drugs 
rhetoric. Would alcoholics even seek treatment for their illness if doing 
so were tantamount to confessing to criminal activity?

As for Coleman's commitment to fighting grow ops and organized crime, the 
drug war makes an easily grown weed like marijuana literally worth its 
weight in gold in U.S. cities. The organized crime syndicates that traffic 
in marijuana and cocaine are financially dependent on the tough-on-drugs 

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a 
cost-effective alternative to the failed drug war.

Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana use, and 
frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records.

What's really needed is a regulated market with enforceable age controls. 
Right now kids have an easier time buying pot than beer.

More disturbing is the manner in which marijuana's black market status 
exposes users to sellers of hard drugs. Marijuana may be relatively 
harmless compared to legal alcohol - the plant has never been shown to 
cause an overdose death - but marijuana prohibition is deadly.

As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, 
consumers will continue to come into contact with hard drugs like cocaine.

Robert Sharpe

The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation
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