Pubdate: Fri, 19 Oct 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Gillian Maxwell


Re: Maybe we can punish the pushers, Oct. 16.

In her opinion article, Kelly Roesler is willing to examine Stephen 
Harper's war-on-drugs policy approach. But Mr. Harper wants to come 
across as a tough guy with his government's crackdown on criminals 
when he said, "if you sell drugs, we'll punish you." Suppliers do no 
not drive markets: consumers do.

We can look at the U.S., with its astronomical prison population and 
still exorbitant drug, crime and violence problems, to see evidence 
that attempting to reduce crime by cracking down on drug dealers is 
preposterous in both theory and practice. In most jurisdictions, 
convictions are usually for petty dealers: the big fish are too smart 
to get caught or can afford good lawyers if they do. And every bust 
of a dealer is a job opening for another venture capitalist to step 
in and fill the market void.

Where is society's scorn for tobacco and alcohol "dealers," who also 
may not use their own products? If citizens are looking for 
alternatives to prohibition, they should check out the work of the 
Health Officers Council of British Columbia (, 
which advocates regulating the production and distribution of all 
psychoactive substances based on principles of public health. Who 
would you rather supply addicts: medical health officers or the shady 
crook on the corner?

Gillian Maxwell,


Chair, Keeping the Door Open: Dialogues on Drug Use
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