Pubdate: Wed, 28 Feb 2007
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Page: A7
Copyright: 2007, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Steve Bennett


Letter to the editor:

The need for more police officers in Orillia sounds like something 
any good citizen would want - at first. John Chalmers recommends more 
officers to fight robbery, domestic violence and drugs.

Again, these sound like very noble causes worth paying more taxes 
for. However, with any problem we must address the root cause of the 
problems. In the case of drugs and robbery, the cause is almost 
always prohibition.

Current federal policies in Canada affect our local reality in a very 
direct way. The Conservatives are very clear that they want to be 
tough on drugs - period. United States drug "czar" John Walters's 
praise of the Conservatives last week in Ottawa proves that we are 
sadly going down the path of the U.S. DEA-style drug war, which has 
been an abject failure on every level. Despite spending billions per 
year for decades, the war on drugs has not reduced supply or use.

Just like in the 1920s with alcohol, prohibition drives the price of 
drugs sky high and causes violent turf wars between criminals over 
distribution and supply. Biker gangs and Asian gangs reap enormous 
revenue from prohibition by setting up cannabis grow houses. Without 
prohibition, grow houses would end immediately and these gangs would 
lose an enormous amount of their funding.

As well, a large portion of robberies are committed to fund expensive 
drug habits. If our police were not so tied up wasting resources on 
prohibition, they could be fighting the real crimes such as rape, murder, etc.

We must not lock people up for drugs as the U.S. does. Prisons must 
not become a growth industry in Canada as it has in the U.S. Law 
Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) are saying this and our 
leaders should be listening. Cops who have "been there, done that" 
are starting to come out of the woodwork and tell us about the game 
of drug enforcement and how it has only made drug dealers rich.

Countries such as the Netherlands have not seen rampant abuse nor has 
their society disintegrated because of their drug tolerance.

Canada needs to move forward with progressive policies such as those 
in Holland, not bowing to American right-wing pressure.

Following John Walters is a recipe for more violence, more cost to 
the taxpayers and ultimate failure. The people who want drugs will 
always get them. Prohibition did not work for alcohol and it has not 
worked for any drug, from cannabis to heroin.

In 2002, our own Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs 
recommended legalization of cannabis, yet this has not happened.

Intense pressure from the DEA in the U.S. is one reason for this.

We need to work on all levels of government to ensure that we do not 
follow the U.S. drug war. We need to lead in North America and 
legalize all drugs, and work with people in ways such as safe 
injection sites which are proven to work and reduce crime.

Orillia's problems are not unique. Prohibition needs to end.

Steve Bennett
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