Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jul 2008
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Harvey Davey


Re: The fly on the elephant, July 20.

In his book, Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear, columnist Dan 
Gardner wrote: "To
protect ourselves against unreasoning fear, we must wake up (the) 
Head and ... We must
learn to think hard."

As a journalist, Mr. Gardner has been demonstrating for years that he
practises what he preaches. Some of us thought he had made a
convincing case in his Citizen series Losing the War on Drugs.
However, his research and hard thinking then and now have not dented
the "drugs kill" and "zero tolerance" sound bites of the
prohibitionists. They require no hard thought. They ignore anecdotal,
historical and scientific evidence that is irrefutable.

Anyone who has had the devastating experience of knowing a chemically
dependent person, knows that the war on drugs has and is failing.
Anyone who has examined the history of Prohibition knows that it
created more problems and solved none. Anyone who reads the scientific
data on drug use, the reasons for use and the consequences of
criminalizing use knows that spending money on enforcing our
unenforceable laws is cost ineffective and counter-productive.

Drug policy is, as Mr. Gardner points out, an enormous mess. Fixing
the mess will require politicians, police and care givers to think
hard. More importantly, it is going to require the citizenry to think
hard about the issue of drugs. It will require that we stop taking the
easy way out, chuck the slogans and put the sound bites in a museum of
failed solutions.

We have failed with prevention, prohibition and enforcement. That is
why there is a mess.

Harvey Davey, Ottawa
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