'The War On Drugs is Lost': Analysts

'The War On Drugs is Lost': Analysts
Posted by FoM on August 23, 2001 at 08:59:58 PT
By Michael Friscolanti, National Post
Source: National Post 
Not only is the war against drugs a complete waste of time and money, but it is to blame for most of the murders and robberies commonly associated with the drug trade, concludes a series of policy papers released yesterday by the Fraser Institute. The nine articles criticize world governments -- including Canada, which spends $2-billion a year enforcing the county's drug laws -- for siphoning money into a "failed war" that breeds violent crime, destroys neighbourhoods and corrupts law enforcement officials.
"I'm not necessarily encouraging the use of drugs," said Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa lawyer who wrote one of the papers. "We're just looking for a regime that doesn't import all these other harms that are currently associated with the criminal prohibition of drugs."Those harms, he said, include people prostituting themselves for drugs and dealers killing each other to gain control over a piece of the lucrative trade.Instead of using resources to arrest and prosecute these people, the papers suggest a series of other approaches, ranging from more addiction treatment centres to increased education to complete legalization."The war on drugs is lost," said Fred McMahon, director of the Fraser Institute's Social Affairs Centre. "It is completely lost. It is unambiguously lost. It is time to run up the white flag and start looking for more sensible solutions."Of the more than 64,000 drug-related crimes documented in Canada each year, the authors suggest most are people stealing to pay for their expensive addictions. If the drugs were legal, they argue, they would also be less costly, in turn saving people from resorting to crime in order to afford them."That type of crime would largely disappear," Mr. Oscapella said.In his paper, titled Witch Hunts and Chemical McCarthyism: The Criminal Law and Twentieth-Century Canadian Drug Policy, Mr. Oscapella also argues prohibition breeds corrupt police officers looking to cash in on the illegal drug trade.Canadians need look no further than Toronto, he said, where the RCMP is investigating allegations of perjury involving some drug squad investigations."If you're in Toronto," he asked, "do you trust your cops?"The collection of papers also highlights how the war on drugs works to destroy the poor nations of Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, where innocent people are caught in the crossfire between terrorists, militias and government forces. (Unrelated to the release of the papers, more than 100 celebrities, including actors Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, sent a letter to the United Nations asking for an end to the war on drugs because it targets minorities.)Patrick Basham, a senior fellow at The Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., said the Canadian government has historically focused its attention on fighting "the latest crisis" rather than evaluating the effectiveness of the country's entire policy."The politicians, like most of the general public, have never really been presented with an alternative take on the drug war," said Mr. Basham, who wrote the introduction to the papers. "Nobody's really sat down and really analyzed what we are doing now and how it is working. Because of that, all the solutions tend to be counterproductive."The papers are just the latest reports to criticize the worldwide war on drugs. The July 28 issue of The Economist, which was largely devoted to the legalization question, concluded "prohibition has failed" and "the laws on drugs are doing more harm than good."In May, an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said "there are no reported cases of fatal marijuana overdoses" and the "real harm marijuana users experience takes the form of lost educational, employment and travel opportunities due to the criminal record they acquire."And a recent three-part series in the National Post outlined the lucrative marijuana trade -- in the range of $30-billion a year -- that goes unnoticed by Canadian authorities.The federal government has a Senate committee looking into the pros and cons of decriminalizing cannabis, but Anne McLellan, the Minister of Justice, has said she has no intention of making any drug legal."The Minister has said that she realizes there are differences of opinion on this, and indeed that's one of the reasons why the government does not intend to legalize drugs," said Alexander Swann, a spokesman for Ms. McLellan.However, these latest papers could force politicians to rethink their stances on the issue."The papers are very sensible," said Diane Riley, a University of Toronto public health sciences professor who specializes in social policy related to drugs. "They alert us to problems which we're all too aware of -- that current drug policies in most countries are a failure." Note: 'Run up the white flag': Fraser Institute blames prohibition for violent crime.Source: National Post (Canada) Author: Michael Friscolanti, National PostPublished: August 23, 2001Copyright: 2001 Southam Inc. Contact: letters Website: Related Articles & Web Sites:The Cato Institutehttp://www.cato.orgCanadian Links in Canada - Gone To Pot Keep Blowing Smoke 
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Comment #5 posted by Dan Wood on August 23, 2001 at 15:11:43 PT:
drug warriors
VOTE against them in next election.
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Comment #4 posted by Lehder on August 23, 2001 at 14:08:36 PT
let's address problems, not "solutions"
"It is completely lost. It is unambiguously lost. It is time to run up the white flag and start looking for more sensible solutions."It is time to start looking for more sensible problems. Drugs are not the problem. Marijuana, certainly is not the problem. But we don't have to look far: All the problems blamed on drugs have quite different causes. Those problems are racism, illiteracy, homelessness, poverty, education, violence and crime. Many of these problems will be ameliorated as soon as the war on drugs is ended. It has to end with legalization, not with decriminalization - replacing war with prohibition is not enough to restore peace and sanity to the world. All the problems can be solved when we stop listening to manipulative politicians who offer us the easy but absurd and hateful solution of imprisoning drug users. I think the Libertarians have a good start on the list of problems to be solved and some tenable ideas worth discussing by way of solutions. But discussions must be made possible - and public - and sensible for a change.More generally:We need to break the government stranglehold on the media so that fruitful and intelligent debates and discussions can be held in which the public can participate. When 100,000 people gather in Seattle to work for legalization, I want to hear their message on the evening news and on the Today Show etc.We need to get government out of education altogether. Education does not consist of lugging around the most inane "textbooks" on the planet and reciting ready-made, shallow values provided by government bureaucrats.We need to allow the licensing of low power TV and radio stations so that people can be empowered to solve their own problems on a local level. The federal government should butt out - must be forced out - of problems that can be solved on a state level. Maybe that means there will be fifty solutions - great, let's see which ones work best. The states should butt out of problems that can be solved by communities. Communities should butt out of problems that can be solved by families. Generally, we need to just reduce the power, budget and authority of the federal government according to the Libertarian or similar plan - a huge reduction.As for the antis - this is going to take some more thought, as will all problems above. For starters:1. maybe the tobacco lawyers can go to work on the government with civil proceedings. specific law suits for crimes against citizens, and class action suits too.2. trials of public officials for treason.3. war-crimes trials are going to be more difficult to pull off, but not impossible. such charges can be brought before the U.N. Court of Justice, formerly the International Court of Justice, only by one state against another state. the accused state must agree to participate. the main possibility here must await a legitimate government in Colombia and a radical change in government here. Certainly U.S. officials have committed many war crimes in Colombia. much can be learned about the exact procedures for bringing defendants before the Hague Tribunal by study the case of Milosevic ( note it was not possible to bring such charges until a new government was elected in Kosovo ) and by examining publications of the U.N. Here are some preliminary references, examples and the general proceedures on how the UN court really works to keep in mind for later as events develop: laughed at us when we said "war crimes" - thought we were crazy hippies. Milosevic laughed too.Can we really pull this all off? yes. there are a hundred million of us right here. just don't stop. And I want to keep in mind that this must be an international effort, as kaptinemo says. The U.S. has been a big pain for most of the world. We have many friends.finally, we don't need any mean spirited violence. we are here to make a better world, not to seek vengeance. if you get to feeling really nasty, then read up on the French revolution and what followed: Robespierre and then Napoleon. We don't need any more of them.pleasee excuse the rant. 
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on August 23, 2001 at 12:50:20 PT:
But what do we do with all the antis?
Because a great many of the citizens of the nations practicing prohibition are not ready yet to make the conscious leap of awareness: that their own governments have in effect declared war upon them.It's been mentioned before: what happens the day after re-legalization?Really, folks, we've so long at battle that we can't remember what it was like to live in a country that was not at war with itself on some level. Certainly the DrugWar can be construed as a civil war. It has all the elements of one: and overbearing centralized government using the instruments provided from tax revenues to prosecute hostile actions against a select group of it's own citizens.So what happens when Uncle cries "Uncle" he'll have to some day? (Or risk the the real thing.) Hutchinson, John Ashcroft, and all their ilk, for all their strident speeches about never giving up, have their backs against the same wall as Hitler had. Their carefully constructed tissue of fantasies and lies is being subjected to the fire hose of reality. Nation after nation is quietly repudiating the Federal Government's War on Some Drugs. And despite brave noises to the contrary, the antis feel the hot, rank breath of defeat on their necks, and are afraid to turn around and look it's source in the eye. Hutchinson's own remarks reflect the uncertainty of his position. He'll try to prosecute the war against cannabis consumers. He'll try to stop medical marijuana. He'll...try. Weasel words of a loser...and he surely knows it.We've got to start thinking, now, about what we'll do to clean the infection this has caused in the body politic. In my opinion, some legal action against those who have masterminded the torment and murder (remember Peter McWilliams, Esequiel Hernandez, Ismael Mena, Alberto Sepulveda, and all those others, known and unknown, who have fallen!) of so many of us is inevitable. They were deliberate acts; hiding behind the skirts of the law must not be allowed as an excuse, or we will stand accused as a nation no better than the Nazis we judged at Nuremberg. Such crimes cannot be allowed to go unpunished. But what about your local cop?As much as I would like to modernize the Code of Hammurabi and utilize it today (an eye for an eye, you b*****ds!) we cannot, we must not sink so low. But something will have to be done.Any suggestions?
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Comment #2 posted by Dave in Florida on August 23, 2001 at 09:59:16 PT
For your reading pleasure
The federal government has a Senate committee looking into the pros and cons of decriminalizing cannabis, butAnne McLellan, the Minister of Justice, has said she has no intention of making any drug legal.She had better read the latest...
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on August 23, 2001 at 09:38:05 PT:
Does It Get Any Clearer Than This?
"The war on drugs is lost," said Fred McMahon, director of the Fraser Institute's Social Affairs Centre. "It is completely lost. It is unambiguously lost. It is time to run up the white flag and start looking for more sensible solutions."Now, if the Canadian government will only listen. They can be a beacon unto the nations, and help lead a worldwide reform movement. Even if this is largely successful, Amerika is apt to be last, along with the likes of certain despotic Asian states. 
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