'The War On Drugs is Lost': Analysts

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Aug 23, 2001.

  1. 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 Post
    Published: August 23, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Southam Inc.
    Contact: letters@nationalpost.com
    Website: http://www.nationalpost.com/

    Related Articles & Web Sites:

    The Cato Institute http://www.cato.org

    Canadian Links http://freedomtoexhale.com/can.htm
  2. The war on drugs was lost before it even started. How they thought they could win that one is beyond me... But then again, we only need to look at places like Iraq and Vietnam to see how popular wars that "can't" be won are. :D

Share This Page