Pubdate: Mon, 09 Feb 2004
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Vancouver Courier
Author: Kirk Tousaw


To the editor:

Allen Garr's story was quite well done ("Break-in proof of need for
harm reduction," Jan 28). I commend Mr. Garr for not using his
victimization to spread the typical message-that we need to "crack
down" on drugs. He's absolutely correct-harm reduction needs to be the
key focus in our public policy approach to drug use.

But harm reduction alone will not get the job done. You see, we are in
a bit of a paradoxical situation. We want to implement harm reduction
for drug addicts, yet we have a prohibitionist approach to drugs that
actually causes more harm than it prevents. The ills of prohibition
are legion, and inarguable: inflated prices (causing addicts to steal,
prostitute and sell drugs to support their habits), adulterated
products (causing adverse reactions and overdoses), organized criminal
involvement (with associated violence and turf wars) and, among many
others, the creation of new and more dangerous drugs like crack and
heroin (both created post-prohibition).

And the good done by prohibition? Well, it is not reduced demand. Not
reduced supply. Not savings of law enforcement, judicial and prison
resources. Not a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into
society. Not decreased use rates. One wonders if there exists any
evidence that prohibition has done any good whatsoever. It certainly
didn't prevent Mr. Garr's home from being robbed and, indeed, it just
may have caused it.

Kirk Tousaw

Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association
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