Pubdate: Fri, 21 Jun 2002
Source: Lindsay This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Lindsay This Week
Author: Chris Donald
Note: Parenthetical remark by the This Week editor.


To the editor:

Re: Local Cops Gear Up For War on Weed, by Marcus Tully, (KLTW June 14).

Ever since the RCMP and OPP declared war on cannabis growers a few years 
ago, the amount of heroin they have seized nationwide has dropped by MORE 
THAN HALF, as the RCMP's 2001 Drug Situation in Canada report shows (cited 
in National Post editorial: "A little khat won't hurt you," June 01, 2002).

According to the statistics from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse 
website (see 2000 report on Ontario teen drug use at ), in 
1999 one in 35 Grade 8 students in Ontario had tried heroin in the previous 
year, or 2.8 per cent. These are 13 and 14-year-old kids, and the 
equivalent of one student in every class had tried heroin in the previous year!

The situation was insane then, and since then the RCMP and OPP have more 
than halved their efforts against heroin in favour of pursuing a "War on Weed."

That is the stupidest public policy decision I have ever heard, and 
reporters like Marcus Tully only make the situation worse by mindlessly 
parroting whatever budget-pumping PR they are told by the police and using 
pejorative, "reefer madness" slang like "dope fiends" in their shallow, 
uncritical coverage of the issue. Tully could have easily found statistics 
(see news database) from Holland's Trimbos Institute for 
the same year (1999) that peg the Dutch rate for 15- and 16-year-old teens 
trying heroin as less than one in a 1,000 (less than point one per cent) 
having tried heroin in their entire lives (cited in The Observer: "Two 
countries took the drug test, who passed," by David Rose, February 24, 
2002, excerpts reprinted below).

It certainly looks like Dutch police have time to spend going after the 
criminals who sell junk to kids, while our police are more interested in 
raiding Compassion Clubs that provide medicine to the sick, and going after 
greedy gardeners inspired by all the police and press PR for the incredible 
profits that result from cannabis prohibition.

Notably, statistics from the CCSA and the Trimbos Institute show that 
approximately twice as many teens have tried cannabis in Canada as their 
peers in Holland in every age bracket under the age of 18. Looks like Dutch 
police have the resources to keep an eye on that as well, while ours 
obviously do not, despite our per capita spending on law enforcement being 
significantly more than theirs.

All the police efforts in the world have proven ineffective at keeping the 
black market out of schools, so maybe it is time to try eliminating the 
black market using the tried and true methods that put all the criminals 
who profited from alcohol prohibition out of business: legalization, 
government control, and ENFORCEABLE age restrictions.

With the cannabis black market eliminated by legalization, maybe police 
could actually find the resources to do more than pay lip-service to 
keeping teens away from alcohol and nicotine, not to mention cannabis and 

Chris Donald,

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

(Hey be careful, those bullets are killing the messenger.)
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