Pubdate: Fri, 18 May 2012
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Sjeng Derkx
Author: Sjeng Derkx


Calls to end the infamous War on Drugs don't just come from the funny
dressed hairy crowd anymore. Over the decades a number of Canadian
senate committees have called for an end to it and the conservative
Fraser Institute has condemned it since 2001.

Last June the United Nations Global Commission on Drugs Policy put it
this way: "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of
people who use drugs but do no harm to others should be ended." Here
in BC, Stop the Violence, which consists of prominent BC police
officers, health professionals, legal experts and academics have been
advocating much the same.

While we have become used to ex-presidents expressing the sentiment,
just a few weeks ago sitting heads of state of Central and South
American countries expressed their frustration. They called the War on
Drugs a never ending and unwinnable war for which the US provides the
money and their citizens the many dead bodies. Last month BC mayors,
including Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and a unanimous city
council, joined the call to end the war on drugs.

According to a recent Angus-Reid poll only 12 per cent of British
Columbians think the current marijuana legislation is effective and 69
per cent agree that BC would be better off taxing and regulating the
use of marijuana. With science, politicians and the public on side,
one would think that shifting to a "tax and regulate" marijuana law
would be easy... but it is not. Our two large provincial political
parties lack the courage to stand up, and insist that this is a
"federal issue" which has nothing to do with them. The out of touch
Harper government is acting against international trends and the will
of a majority of Canadians by passing draconian mandatory
incarceration legislation for minor drug offenses.

The only way to end the madness seems to be from the bottom up, to
start change at the municipal level. Nelson, with its own municipal
police force and a healthy alternative culture has a unique
opportunity to start that ball rolling. All it would take is a
courageous act of municipal disobedience by a few citizens and local
politicians with the cooperation of the Nelson police.

That is how, back in the 1970s, the successful Dutch harm reduction
policies began in the city of Utrecht. A conversation between the
mayor, the chief of police and a local entrepreneur allowed the
opening of the first, tightly regulated Amsterdam style "coffee shop."
The now famous Dutch non-enforcement tolerance model quickly spread,
has been used for four decades in Holland and is adapted around the
world. Today, Dutch kids smoke less marijuana than Canadian kids,
Dutch coffee shop owners pay taxes on their profits, police protect
minors and keep out organized criminals and the Dutch judicial system
focuses its resources on serious crime.

After decades of carnage and failure there is now almost universal
agreement that the American War on Drugs has been an expensive,
ineffective, man eating experiment for which the public has paid the
cost while criminals have profited.

May courage and common sense prevail in Nelson and then spread across
the country - just do it Nelson!

Nelson-Creston Greens

Sjeng Derkx, spokesman 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D