Pubdate: Sat, 19 Jun 2010
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Russell Barth
Author: Russell Barth


Re: Paying panhandlers feeds the drug problem on Ottawa's streets, community
group told, June 17.

Although I am in favour of not giving a single penny to panhandlers, I
am sick and tired of our governments at all levels implementing the
same failed policies which caused the problems in the first place.

Police chief Vern White said, "There's not a 14-or 15year-old ( in
Ottawa) who can't buy drugs. I have yet to see a school that doesn't
have drug dealers." This has been around for decades and is a direct
result of prohibition.

The problem is that we only gave the police a hammer as a tool so, to
them, every problem is treated like a nail. We need to stop listening
to only the police officials' assertions, and critically examine the
evidence and history available on the subject of drug policy.

Once we do that, we will quickly realize that by legalizing and
regulating these drugs - like we do with far more dangerous and deadly
things like alcohol and tobacco and junk food - we can mitigate most
of these problems.

If we gave every addict in the city clean, pharmaceutical versions of
the drugs they are addicted to - like we do now with methadone - they
would not have to do crimes so they could get money to buy poison off
of some creepy dealer.

Legalize crack, you ask? No. We are talking about pharmaceutical
cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and substitute medications. Which,
when administered by a clinic nurse or taken at home as a
prescription, are about as safe as any other pharmaceutical on the

This policy would get users off the pipe, away from needles, away from
the street adulterations, doing fewer crimes, and right there every
day getting a warm look from a nurse. Evidence shows that this system
will bring them steps closer to sobriety. We also need to break our
thinking that drug use is somehow more bad or immoral than anything
else that people do. Drugs are just substances, and they possess no
magical powers. Our ridiculous, outrageously counterproductive drug
laws are the problem. But we almost never hear police admit that.

Russell Barth, Nepean

Educators for Sensible Drug Policy
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