Friday, May 25, 2007

We Be Jammin

As the government prepares to unleash its war on drugs strategy, it will waste taxpayer money in another exercise in futility:
Joanne Csete, the network's executive director, recently wrote in a letter to parliamentarians that the Conservatives are contemplating "a U.S.-style war on drugs, an approach that has proven time and time again to be counter-productive and a tragic waste of public funds."

Of the new money allocated in the federal budget, $22 million would go to law enforcement efforts to crack down on marijuana grow operations and to catch and convict drug dealers.

Another $10 million would be spent on a prevention campaign for young people and their parents.

Tony Cannavino, president of the Canadian Police Association, said a national "say-no-to-drugs" campaign would counter a perception among young people that marijuana is legal, in light of a failed Liberal bid to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of the drug.

Another day, another massive bust, that will do absolutely nothing to curb drug availability and/or organized crime, as it relates to marijuana. Every year, I watch in amusement as the rural sky greets the annual visits of the OPP aircraft, searching cornfields for pot. Theater of the absurd.

The Liberal government was finally starting to get sensible when it came to marijuana. I saw the proposals as the first steps toward complete legalization and regulation, ala alcohol. Now, the Conservatives seem content to go in another direction, with more enforcement, endorsing the idea of wasted resources chasing a problem that is easily rectified.

There are a lot of dangerous drugs out there, that people should be concerned about and society should reject, marijuana just isn't one of them. Anyone who contends that marijuana is a menace, must also conclude the same about alcohol. The only way to stop organized crime, grow-ops, etc is to regulate and legalize. The Conservatives can spend money telling people that marijuana is illegal, but unless this generation is different from mine, the effect will be nil. What a waste of time, not to mention a regressive mentality.


Canadian Tar Heel said...


I’d be interested in reading your suggestions on how Canadian laws and law enforcement should address narcotics.

Honestly, I haven’t really fleshed out my thoughts on the subject, as they seem to scatter. However, there seems to be a few themes. First, we cannot simply permit the use of all drugs, because some are worse than others, which brings me to the second point. There is a spectrum of harm, ranging from bad-for-you to awful. For example, one might place tobacco and alcohol at the bad-for-you end of the spectrum, and heroin at the awful end. Arguably marijuana fits somewhere in the spectrum just after tobacco and alcohol, but still considerably far from heroin.

How do we determine which ones to prohibit and which ones to permit / regulate, so that it isn’t completely arbitrary? The degree of harm seems like a good basis.

If you’re suggesting that we concentrate on the hard drugs instead of wasting time, energy and money on the lesser drugs, then anyone will be hard pressed to argue with you. It’s common sense to focus our efforts on the most detrimental elements, and not to spread ourselves too thin. But I’d also like to add that we need to spend money, time and energy on education (eg, DARE) and rehabilitation for the lesser drugs, and not completely ignore them.

Again, I’d like to read your thoughts as I find that I agree with you often … at least in principle.

Steve V said...

"If you’re suggesting that we concentrate on the hard drugs instead of wasting time, energy and money on the lesser drugs, then anyone will be hard pressed to argue with you."

Tarheel, that is exactly what I'm saying. One quibble, I don't think marijuana fits in the spectrum just after alcohol- more on par.

KC said...

Marijuana is not even 'on par' with alcohol. In terms of its health and social consequences alcohol puts pot to shame. As unfortunate as lack of ambition and respiratory problems may be, they pale in comparison to the violence, liver disease, and personal suffering caused in whole and part by alcohol.

Steve V said...

For arguments sake, I say on par, because it confronts the societal and legal hypocrisy.

knb said...

Is there nothing this government does that isn't regressive?

Even when confronted with facts, (though in this case they have not let all the facts come in), they ignore and to back to your other thread, resort to ideology.

They in fact are doing everything re drugs and crime that has been proven to not work...way to go!

Koby said...

Researchers have rightly noted that people who have tried marijuana are statistically more likely to have tried other drugs. This gave raise to the notion that there was something about marijuana that encouraged drug experimentation. This, in turn, was given as one more reason to keep the drug illegal. The notion is, of course, conceptually confused and has no basis in fact, but the notion of marijuana as a gateway drug has found new life, albeit in an entirely new form. According to the new version, in the process of illegally procuring marijuana, users are introduced to the criminal elements that supply the drug. These elements invariably introduce some marijuana users to other types of drugs or worse. In other words, it is Marijuana’s illegal status, rather than any of its inherent properties, that serves as a gateway to criminality and further drug use. Legalize the drug, so the Senate committee said, and the situation should improve.

As I been saying for quite some time, the Liberals could benefit by promising to legalize marijuana. It could give them some much needed sex appeal. Remember when the Economist pronounced Canada “cool” and The New Yorker pronounced Canada a “Northern light”. What caught their attention was Canada’s promise to legalize gay marriage, to stay out of Iraq and to decriminalize marijuana. What could be “cooler” than dealing a fatal blow to the US’s War on drugs? Besides what could be more Canadian then defining ourselves as not Americans.

The public is spilt, but what makes a issue a winning issue is not necessarily how popular an issue is with the public put what effect coverage of a particular issue will have on people’s perception of the major parties. SSM was great example. At the polls it was looser. Canadians were spilt on the issue, but the older one is the more likely one is to be opposed and to vote. What made it a winning issue is that it left the Conservatives defending a morally, legally, and intellectually untenable position and media and academics hammered them every step of the way. Where this relates back to the matter at hand is that should the Conservatives champion "reefer madness" they will again be pillared by the media academia and yes bloggers.

knb said...

koby, I see your point, but in this environment, it won't fly.

Decriminalising is the way to go. Legalising it, in this climate, is suicide.

Step by step. In doing that we are progressive, but not extreme and that is what most Canadians want to be. Oh and they want the facts too and that is what the con's are not providing.

Gayle said...

The reason youth have a perception marihuana is legal is because the police do not charge them when they find it on them, unless it is in an amount that suggests trafficking rather than personal use. The police are busy trying to catch dangerous people - they have no time for trivialities like marihuana.

However, the police do not support decriminalizing marihuana. I think that is because the discovery of marihuana on an individual permits the police to search that person, and possibly search their home and/or car.

Unlike many of you, I can speak from a level of experience with illegal drugs. Not my own personal experience, but rather experience dealing with youth who are addicted, or who traffic.

I do not think whether or not it is illegal has anything at all to do with drug use. In my experience, alcohol is the gateway, and young people who abuse drugs and alcohol usually come from homes where there is alcohol abuse. Most of those youth have suffered from physical and sexual abuse. In fact, the more abusive the childhood, the more likely the youth will have a drug addiction.

As for traffickers - most of them do not use drugs, except the low level traffickers who sell to support their own habit. It is the business of drug sales that is so harmful to our society. I have lost half a dozen of "my" kids in the past couple of years - they were murdered because of their involvement in the drug trade. The increased violence on our streets can largely be linked to that drug trade.

Personally I believe all drugs should be decriminalized and regulated. I do not believe it will result in increased usage, but it will result in decreased violence. Also, for those who do use drugs they will not have to hide, and therefore it will be easier to identify and assist the addicts.

Koby said...

"However, the police do not support decriminalizing marihuana. I think that is because the discovery of marihuana on an individual permits the police to search that person, and possibly search their home and/or car."

Yep and it allows the police to charge dealers who they do not have enough evidence to charge with trafficking with a lesser charge. It explains why BC always leads the country in arrests for possession even though it is the express policy of the VPD, for one, not to charge people for mere possession. It is also the reason why I support decriminalization even though what I want is legalization and regard the rational for decriminalizing possession well all the while cranking up penalties for possession as a fine example of politics trumping policy. I am hopping that without recourse to charging people with possession that the rotten edifice that is Canada’s marijuana laws with come crashing down.