Column: Our Pot Laws Accomplish Nothing

Column: Our Pot Laws Accomplish Nothing
Posted by FoM on April 19, 2000 at 12:17:05 PT
By Mindelle Jacobs
Source: Edmonton Sun 
It's been a long time coming but the Senate has finally agreed to launch a thorough review of Canada's drug laws.Senator Pierre Claude Nolin has been pressing for such a probe for a year and last week his colleagues in the red chamber unanimously voted to appoint a special committee for the job.
The question now is whether Canada will have the guts to shed the same prohibitionist philosophy that permeates the hysterical (and highly unsuccessful) anti-drug policies of the U.S., and implement a practical drug agenda.For now, though, it's business as usual. The pot busts along Highway 16 have become almost routine and numerous home growing operations in Vancouver have been closed down over the past couple of months. Even the police, however, acknowledge that the arrests have made barely a dent in the huge market for the highly potent B.C. bud. After yet another bust last month, a Hinton Mountie said his officers were only nabbing 3% to 5% of the pot circulating through his jurisdiction. So what exactly have the rash of busts over the past few months accomplished? Have we rid the streets of marijuana? No. Are there fewer social ills because of the arrests? No.Instead, the courts are more clogged than usual and the jails will be jammed with even more drug offenders whose incarceration will do absolutely nothing to curb Canadians' appetite for pot.At $50,000 a year per inmate, it's a painfully expensive way to perpetuate an unworkable drug policy.Part of the mandate of the Senate drug law review is to explore the health effects of cannabis and examine whether an alternative policy would lead to increased harm.There is already consensus in the medical community that moderate use of marijuana has little effect on health.And I can't see significant numbers of abstainers suddenly becoming pot heads if marijuana possession is decriminalized or outright legalized. Those who like the stuff are already using it, law or no law. Rather than banning pot, surely we ought to treat it like alcohol - with age restrictions and public education campaigns warning of the dangers of overuse.The U.S. would not be happy if Canada were to liberalize its drug laws, of course.We're talking about a country that's trying to extradite an American woman who fled to B.C. for her alleged involvement in a medical marijuana-growing operation.The woman faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail. This may give you some idea of why the U.S. federal budget for drug enforcement has jumped from $1 billion US in 1980 to more than $16 billion and why 60% of inmates in the U.S. federal prison system are non-violent drug offenders.We're not doing much better. Canada has the highest number of drug arrests per capita of any nation other than the U.S. The problem is not just Canada's unreasonable attitude towards pot but our policies regarding all illicit drugs.Three decades ago, the Le Dain commission recommended a gradual withdrawal of criminal sanctions against users.More recently, in 1997, a report on Canada's drug policy prepared for the Senate concluded that our drug laws are "soundly prohibitionist" and don't reflect the experiences of other countries. "The problems related to criminalizing drug users and its failure to reduce drug availability have not been addressed while the financial and human costs of criminalizing illicit drug use continue to rise," the report said bluntly.We would be smart to emulate some of the European harm-reduction strategies. In Switzerland, for example, where drugs are provided for long-term, dependent users, the crime rate dropped by 60% and unemployment fell by 50%. It's time to admit our war on drugs is a flop. Contact: sun.letters Published: Tuesday April 18, 2000Forum: 2000, Canoe Limited Partnership.MAP Posted-by: Doc-Hawk War On Some Drugs Article Courtesy Of MapInc. DrugSense, MapInc. Archives & Articles From Canada:
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Comment #5 posted by steve1 on April 20, 2000 at 18:53:21 PT
of course!
"The U.S. would not be happy if Canada were to liberalize its drug laws, of course."OF COURSE, THE US LIKES TO WAVE IT'S D*CK AROUND AT ALL THE COUNTRIES. It's because we have that military power and all bow down to the US government. If it was up to Canada to protect itself and set up an equivalent Military I don't think this crap would happen. Everyone fears the US. This almost justifies those sub culture militia groups we have here in the almighty US. There are people who don't agree with the government and there are the people who want their own government not big business's government. We can all thank Dupont for this sh*t.
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Comment #4 posted by SpLiF on April 20, 2000 at 18:34:17 PT:
FUCK the U.S. and there hoe ass drugs laws, smoke pot!!! its 420!! as peter tosh said "legalize it dont critisize it"Keep on blazing that funky herb ...P E A C E... 
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Comment #3 posted by mungojelly on April 20, 2000 at 08:28:27 PT:
you talk about political pressure...
If Canada legalized, Amerika would have just two choices: give up (for them this is "defeat"), or put whatever pressure is necessary on Canada to not let it happen. DEAland has already been sending our agents up to kick in doors in Vancouver (with "consent" from the Canadian government of course, the same way they got your "consent" to find that weed in your bag ol' buddy ol' pal). Canada has surely signed international treaties on drug control, & if they didn't follow those treaties to the letter Amerika would damn well find a way to "enforce" them (this coming from the same Amerika who probably haven't followed a single treaty they ever signed, even the ones they wrote themselves & forced onto other people, see the Native Americans). IMHO Canada is not going to legalize unless there is substantial pressure from the grassroots. They would rather try to make everyone happy by keeping DEAland style laws on the books, but only enforcing them half-heartedly (& only when mommy & daddy are looking). I understand their difficulty, but history has shown that decriminalization is NOT ENOUGH! Only legalization will stop the inevitable reversal of the pendulum of politics. At this point I strongly admire & support the work of Marc Emery. This is a strategy that could work: where they give us an inch, take a mile. Let's get some cafes open! Perhaps we should push not for repealing old laws (it's damn hard to get ANY law repealed, no matter how old, absurd or even unpopular) but for what the dutch have -- new laws that make clear the legitimacy of cannabis institutions. If there are laws on the books that say it's illegal to sell cannabis, but also laws that regulate how much a cafe is allowed to sell to each customer, the former will be as antiquidated as the laws on the books about sodomy. 
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Comment #2 posted by Kanabys on April 20, 2000 at 07:24:14 PT
Who Cares?
>>The U.S. would not be happy if Canada were to liberalize its drug laws, of course.Who the HELL gives a *^%$????? 
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo on April 19, 2000 at 12:24:38 PT:
Wow, what an enlightened attitude. Perhaps Mindelle might consider becoming a legislator in the USA and helping us to join the growing number of reasonable nations with respect to drug policy.
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