Pubdate: Wed, 05 Jan 2005
Source: Medicine Hat News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 Alberta Newspaper Group, Inc.
Author: Russell Barth
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


Some newspapers have decided the sponsorship scandal is the biggest 
Canadian news of 2004. Although the sponsorship scandal is pretty big news, 
we need to put it into perspective. So far it has cost about $200 million 
and promises to cost more as the investigation unfolds. To many, a much 
bigger story of government mismanagement is still the colossal failure of 
the war on drugs.

Let's take into account the $900 million for enforcement every year, 
hundreds of millions in stolen electricity, court costs, law enforcement 
costs, property damage to homes used for grow operations, increased 
insurance rates for robberies and property damage, the immeasurable costs 
of children ending up on welfare or on the street because they got kicked 
out of school for petty possession, the loss of tax revenue because people 
with petty convictions can't get better employment opportunities, and 
increased health-care costs. Then let's look at prostitution and weapons 
trade as a trickle-down effect of prohibition, the increased profits to 
organized crime which funds, among other things, terrorism and the 
importing of cocaine and guns, the many crimes that go uninvestigated 
because so many cops are too busy tearing down gardens, plus admissions by 
police they have no resources to tear down even a fifth of the grow 
operations they actually know about.

For a single year, the cost of all this must be more than $2 billion 
(almost 10 times the cost of Adscam), not to mention the $2 billion in 
annual tax revenue that could be generated from taxing cannabis.

All prohibition has accomplished is providing more money for organized 
crime, and has made cannabis more popular and widely used than ever.

If anyone can think of a more useless, corrupt and economically 
irresponsible scandal than this, I would love to hear it.

Russell Barth

Ottawa, Ont.
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