Pubdate: Fri, 17 Mar 2006
Source: Whitehorse Star (CN YK)
Copyright: 2006 Whitehorse Star
Authors: Russell Barth and Christine Lowe


Stephen Harper must have a lot of friends who are drug dealers.

He plans to implement mandatory minimum sentences for people who grow
marijuana, and he should have no problem getting enough Liberal and
Bloc votes to push that policy through.

History, science, and common sense show us this policy would act as no
deterrent, drive up the street price, drive up the dealers' profits,
and therefore drive up the competition. This will inevitably lead to
more gun-violence, more robberies, and more ruined properties.

Even putting more police on the streets will have little to no effect,
since police can catch barely a fifth of the growers and dealers as it

Even if we catch three times as many, there will always be a long line
of guys waiting to fill every one of these vacancies.

There are already more than 600,000 Canadians with criminal records
for drug offences, and Harper would like to raise that number to three

He also wants to continue pressing charges for simple possession on
teens. This will dramatically reduce their ability to get into good
schools, get good jobs, travel, and maximize their earning potential.
This hurts all Canadians.

Then, the taxpayers will have to pay billions more - every single year
- to arrest, hold, prosecute, and incarcerate these people in
yet-to-be-built prisons. One wonders how many pedophiles and violent
sex offenders will get out early to make room for all of these smokers
and gardeners.

Harper's policy will also increase the danger to the estimated one
million Canadians who use marijuana for medical purposes.

Health Canada's fiasco of a medical marijuana licensing program will
likely be shut down, or revamped to make access even more difficult
for these sick and dying Canadians.

On the other hand, regulating marijuana like alcohol would generate an
estimated $3 billion in annual tax revenue, settle the medical
marijuana issue once and for all, and reduce children's access to marijuana.

It would also offer quality-controls, reduce criminal profits, reduce
gun violence, and save Canadian taxpayers an additional $2 billion in
annual costs for enforcement, prosecution, home insurance, stolen
hydro and corrections.

Harper's marijuana policy could easily lead one to conclude that he is
deliberately trying to subsidize organized crime, while making things
more expensive - and dangerous - for average Canadians.

But Harper's policy will make George W. Bush very happy, and that is -
apparently - much more important to him.

Russell Barth

Christine Lowe