Pubdate: Mon, 14 Feb 2005
Source: Burnaby Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Russell Barth


Dear Editor:

Re: Green team on the job, Burnaby NOW, Jan. 29. Grow ops do present a
threat to the community, but then so did "bathtub gin mills" in the 1920s
and 1930s. There were gang shootouts and robberies and a full-fledged gang
war on the streets of many cities. Al Capone became the most powerful man in
Chicago because he had more money, more men and more guns than the police.

How was that situation fixed? Regulation. Alcohol is now produced by
professional companies who pay tax, not gangs. There is quality control and
age restrictions. There is billions in tax revenue.

Anyone who thinks that prohibition is a better policy than regulation is
either a criminal or a fool. Prohibition is a system that subsidizes
organized crime to the tune of about $12 billion every year, endangers
Canadians, makes for huge police budgets and sweeping police powers, makes
drugs easier for kids to get than either alcohol or tobacco, wastes valuable
police time and resources, reduces the civil rights and civil liberties of
Canadians, helps no one, clogs our courts, fills our jails, ruins tens of
thousands of lives every year, costs nearly $2 billion every year and seems
to have no end in sight. Prohibition has never worked and never will.

Regulation of cannabis growing would licence growers and subject them to
inspection, do far more to keep drugs away from kids, free up police
resources, give police increased powers of investigation and enforcement,
increase firefighter safety, increase general safety in the community,
eliminate hydro theft, generate $2 billion in annual tax revenue, seriously
damage the black market and make thousands of jail cells available for real
criminals. Grow-ops would be in greenhouses, industrial parks, or out on
farms, not in residential neighborhoods.

But our government doesn't want that. They want more of the same failed drug
war. It makes me wonder just which side of the law they are really on.

Russell Barth, Educators For Sensible Drug Policy, Ottawa
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