Why Stop at Pot? Legalize All Drugs

Why Stop at Pot? Legalize All Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on September 13, 2002 at 08:14:37 PT
By Andy Lamey, National Post 
Source: National Post 
Three cheers for unelected senators! Last week they released a report stating that Canada's marijuana laws waste enormous resources, destroy the lives of drug users, infringe on civil liberties, foster organized crime and do absolutely nothing to stop people from getting high. Inevitably, critics were quick to offer the usual objections in response to the senators' call for legalization.
"As a parent," Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper observed, "I simply don't share the view that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana." For their part, The Globe and Mail and National Post published cringing, wishy-washy editorials calling for decriminalization rather than outright legalization.The sole problem with the committee's recommendations is that they apply only to cannabis. When it comes to drugs, the only humane policy is to legalize them all. Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, PCP; prohibition has failed in equal measure for all of these substances. Prohibition has enormous social costs and does more harm than good. It's time to junk the entire approach.Prohibitionists say legalization would trigger massive increases in drug consumption and addiction. This reflects an extremely simplistic understanding of the relationship between legalization and usage. As the Senate committee notes in regard to cannabis use among the young, "we have not legalized cannabis, and we have one of the highest rates in the world. Countries adopting a more liberal policy have, for the most part, rates of usage lower than ours, which stabilized after a short period of growth." Similarly, heroin use is almost three times higher in the ultra-prohibitionist United States than in freewheeling Holland. The idea that legalization means epidemic consumption is mostly hysteria.Of those who do try drugs, many, perhaps most, experiment in their youth and then stop. Of those who do keep using, the majority do so without becoming addicted. Two years ago, Ottawa Citizen journalist Dan Gardner obtained a 1995 World Health Organization study on cocaine, the most extensive ever conducted, and quoted one of its key findings: " 'Occasional cocaine' use, not 'intensive' or 'compulsive' consumption, is 'the most typical pattern of cocaine use.' " Such findings so discredited America's drug policy that it threatened to withhold WHO funding, and the report was never released.As for actual addicts, prohibition only compounds their misery. Someone with a drug problem doesn't need a jail sentence, he needs help. The Senate report notes that 90% of government spending related to drugs is devoted to enforcement. That leaves only 10% for things like addiction treatment and harm-reduction programs, where anti-drug dollars would be better spent. Several studies have documented that when addicts overdose, other users who are present frequently don't call 911, out of fear they'll be arrested. Prohibition is a direct factor in such preventable deaths. Snipped:  Complete Article: Source: National Post (Canada)Author: Andy Lamey, National PostPublished: Friday, September 13, 2002Copyright: 2002 Southam Inc.Contact: letters nationalpost.comWebsite: Articles:Canada's Pot Policy Under Fire from U.S. Marijuana, Senate Committee Says Pot Less Harmful Than Alcohol: Senate Report 
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Comment #4 posted by Dankhank on September 13, 2002 at 13:51:45 PT:
Legalize ...
Within the context of the Libertarian perspective, calling for the legalization of all drugs is a perfectly reasonable position.It's all about HARM, who suffers and who causes the suffering. Medical and any other use of Cannabis is a case for special attention.That's what we're HERE for.
Hemp N Stuff
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Comment #3 posted by Ethan Russo MD on September 13, 2002 at 11:14:53 PT:
The Remainder
Here's the rest of the article:That's not the only area where prohibition kills. As Gardner wrote in 2000, "From 1920 to 1933, the years of [alcohol] Prohibition in the U.S., about 800 gangsters died fighting each other in the streets of Chicago. In just the last two years in Tijuana, 1,000 people have been killed fighting over the drug trade." Tijuana is only an extreme example of a phenomenon that takes place around the world. Prohibition creates a black market. That gives rise to organized crime and violence, from Quebec's biker wars to inner-city shootings in the U.S. to the destabilization of entire Latin American countries. Only removing the control of drugs from criminals will address the root problem.This is one reason why decriminalization doesn't go far enough. Decriminalization means getting caught with drugs results in the equivalent of a traffic ticket rather than arrest. But selling drugs is still illegal -- so criminal distribution chains remain completely untouched. Decriminalization also does nothing to address the massive resources that would still be wasted targeting traffickers and ticketing users, or the violations of civil liberties prohibition entails. Endless numbers of innocent people are subjected to the indignity of airport strip searches -- or worse -- thanks to the current drug hysteria.For many of these problems -- especially the carnage afflicting Latin America -- we can thank the United States and its tragically misguided "War on Drugs." The U.S. has consistently bullied other countries whenever they've considered liberalizing domestic drug laws. Aid packages have been withheld, official passports denied, threats of trade sanctions issued. In Canada, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency recently conducted a covert sting operation that involved "blatant acts in disregard of Canadian sovereign values and law," as a B.C. judge ruled in August. All this in the name of a policy that has consistently failed to eliminate drugs.Wars have victims, and the war on drugs is no exception. In recognizing this simple, crushingly obvious truth, the Senate has produced a rare government document that speaks in a voice of moral sanity. Prohibition will always fail. Why are we so afraid to try something else?
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Comment #2 posted by Lindy on September 13, 2002 at 10:08:42 PT:
           aocp, you are so right on....
Try anyway you can to help the Nevada initiative, people!!see . It's the biggest hole in the dike right now!! 
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Comment #1 posted by aocp on September 13, 2002 at 08:44:31 PT
i like the idea, but...
let's not muddle the waters with this sort of division just yet. Cannabis is the meat and potatoes of the drug war establishment. Get it legally regulated for adults and then see if the warriors can maintain their pathetic war attitudes. One step at a time, but who knows? Cannabis regulation could bring the whole house of cards tumbling down, too...
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