Pubdate: Wed, 18 Sep 2002
Source: Medicine Hat News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002 Alberta Newspaper Group, Inc.
Author: Devin Olmstead


re: Dr. Colin R. Mangham's letter published Sept. 16.

Mangham says a lot of things. Like most prohibitionists he spews little 
more than meaningless hot air. Nobody is saying that abusing marijuana or 
any substance is a good thing. What we are saying is that the restriction 
of law has not improved the situation.

The law has not reduced either demand or supply. In fact it has caused 
dealers to push drugs harder in order to profit from the unnecessarily 
valuable substance, thereby creating more users and more demand.

Up until about 100 years ago when we decided to persecute racial segments 
of society by restricting their drugs of choice, all drugs were as 
available as baking powder. Opium and marijuana have been used for 
thousands of years for many different reasons. Heroin was invented by Bayer 
as a cough suppressant. Morphine and cocaine were commonly used without any 
concern because it was never a problem before prohibition.

People become addicted to many things that feel good whether it is a 
skydiving adrenalin junkie or someone who is sexually promiscuous. The 
criminal and social problems surrounding addiction are created and 
amplified by prohibition. Serious problems that otherwise would not exist 
have arisen as a result of prohibition and prohibition's inflation of the 
value of otherwise valueless substances, including the rise of violent 
gangs, government corruption, disease from markedly increased needle use 
and death.

The reason the Senate choose this cause to focus on is that the House of 
Commons has refused to hear anything that might suggest that prohibition is 
the complete failure that it is. Normally in our democratic process the 
Commons would weigh the evidence and formulate a decision. This has not 
occurred and so the Senate has chosen to listen to rather than ignore reality.

Perhaps Mangham should focus on the dangers of drugs released without 
thought of patient safety and pushed by doctors all in the name of profit, 
drugs that replace tested and effective drugs that are no longer profitable 
due to patent expiry. Or focus on the epidemic of untreated and improperly 
managed pain by the medical profession, leading to assisted suicide, all 
because of an irrational fear of addiction and a complete misunderstanding 
of proper pain management techniques.

The Senate should be applauded for having the backbone to do the right 
thing. In spite of powerful American threats to impede trade, uneducated or 
scared MDs and years of prolific propaganda, the Senate did the right 
thing. The senators are not guilty of expressing mindless opinion. They 
conducted a study that was all encompassing spanning years and costing 
millions, resulting in a summary more than 1,000 pages long that Dr. 
Mangham says we should ignore because in his opinion the result of the 
study is "cop-out realism to the extreme?" It must be understood that Dr. 
Mangham is truly a professional prohibitionist. He is not interested in 
reality. His paper Harm Reduction and Illegal Drugs: The True Debate 
advocates prevention. Prevention through law is the real pipe dream. An 
utter failure proven by the current state of affairs. A situation caused by 
years of lies and prohibition.

Devin Olmstead
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