Pubdate: Thu, 06 Dec 2007
Source: Powell River Peak (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Peak Publishing Ltd.
Author: Dana Larsen, Federal NDP candidate for West Vancouver


The United States-style drug war being promoted by Stephen Harper's
neo-Conservative government is a failed policy that will result in
more crime, more disease, overcrowded prisons and clogged courts.

It is time for a new approach ["NDP declares federal candidate," April

During alcohol prohibition, violent gang warfare between rival
underground alcohol dealers was commonplace. Now, the same thing is
happening with rival underground drug dealers. Just as the police were
unable to stop the violence then, they will be unsuccessful now.

In natural plant form, herbs like coca, poppy, cannabis, peyote and
psilocybe mushrooms have been used safely for thousands of years for
medicinal, spiritual and social purposes. Historically, the
prohibition of these herbs began as a means of destroying the culture
and religion of those groups, which used them.

Just as the prohibition of alcohol resulted in only the strongest and
most dangerous forms of alcohol being smuggled and sold, it is largely
because of the prohibition against these herbs that they are now only
available in their strongest, most potent and most dangerous forms.

The philosophy of harm reduction is a realistic and successful
approach, which is already used with most other forms of potentially
risky behavior.

Shutting down Vancouver's supervised injection site to stop drug use
would make as much sense as banning condoms to stop promiscuity. In
both cases, it makes sense to encourage safety without condoning the
behaviour. There is no contradiction between promoting harm reduction
and encouraging abstinence.

The police are the wrong agency to deal with the health and social
issues around the use of psychoactive substances. However
well-intentioned the efforts, it is prohibition itself which creates
most of the problems it claims to solve.

Canada should legalize marijuana and introduce a national drug policy
based upon harm reduction, regulated access and responsible use. This
is the best way to reduce disorder, increase public health and
eliminate gang violence.

Dana Larsen

Federal NDP candidate for West Vancouver

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