Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jul 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Kirk Tousaw


Re: The Solution Is Abstinence, Barbara Kay, July 28.

Barbara Kay postulates a false choice between harm reduction and 
treatment. This is a
popular tactic among prohibitionists: to suggest that somehow 
life-saving programs like
safe-injection sites and needle exchanges exist in opposition to, and 
instead of,
rehabilitation programs. Readers should keep in mind that we spend 
the vast majority of
our drug policy funds on enforcement, not treatment or harm 
reduction. And yet we have
no evidence that this investment is returning any positive dividends.

The "chemical gulag" and "municipal quagmire" of Vancouver's Downtown
Eastside came into being under prohibition. Yet Ms. Kay chooses not to
address this clear policy failing, instead citing a retired police
officer for the proposition that harm reduction has been a failure.

Can she see the irony here? We need to stop pouring money into the
criminal justice system and, instead, use those billions to address
treatment, homelessness and mental illness. Ending prohibition will
not solve Canada's drug problems. It will, however, solve our
prohibition problem so that we can begin to actually focus on solving
the drug problem.

Kirk Tousaw, Vancouver.
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