To Decriminalize The Use of Drugs - Part II

To Decriminalize The Use of Drugs - Part II
Posted by FoM on August 21, 2001 at 08:35:07 PT
Source: Globe and Mail 
Ask police officers to guess how much drug traffic goes undetected, and many will roll their eyes. Whatever the benchmark -- the number of charges laid, the quantity of drugs seized, the property crimes committed to feed drug habits -- only a fraction of the full picture is ever visible.Perhaps 5 per cent of the heroin, cocaine and designer drugs smuggled into this country each year is intercepted. A similarly dismal success rate probably applies to Canada's massive hydroponic marijuana industry, which each year dispatches hundreds of tonnes of the drug across our porous southern border.
The illegal-drug industry, in short, has become a behemoth. The United Nations calculates that globally it is worth up to $400-billion (U.S), an astonishing 8 per cent share of world trade. Estimates of Canada's share start at around $7-billion (Cdn.). At street level, the RCMP has placed the value of sales at about $18-billion.As for the cost of chasing all those drugs, that too is guesswork. In the United States, the annual cost of paying for police, courts and imprisonment has been pegged at about $30-billion (U.S.); the price tag in Canada is probably about one-10th of that.As most police will also tell you, those resources often end up being directed not at major-league drug dealers, but at much smaller fry and their customers far down the drug chain. Often such charges happen by chance -- incurred during the investigation of a driving offence, for instance, or a domestic dispute. Sometimes they happen by design, as in a police sweep through a drug-ravaged public housing complex.But after the police leave that complex, the problem remains. Low-level drug sweeps are akin to stepping on a soft balloon; the dealers simply scurry elsewhere for a while. In the meantime, the individuals who have been netted will be on their way to court, and possibly prison, where they can learn new criminal skills.That's not the entire picture. Toronto's special drug-diversion court, still one of a kind in Canada, strives with some success to spare hard-core non-violent drug users that prison experience, by substituting treatment and counselling. Yet all estimates are that this worthy program, to be emulated in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa, can do no more than scratch the surface.What if the police had different marching orders? What if buying and using drugs, as opposed to selling them, were no longer a criminal offence, but were treated as a health issue and accorded all the necessary funding? What if simple drug possession were reclassified as a misdemeanour, regarded with the same seriousness as speeding or jaywalking? What if the long-term strategy were grounded in a blend of first-rate health care, drug education and community policing?Law-enforcement priorities would change radically. Instead of arresting hapless drug-takers (whose lives are often already difficult enough), police could rechannel their resources into the vastly more meaningful task of catching the big players, including the organized crime figures who control much of the hydroponic marijuana trade.Indeed, the sheer scale of that marijuana-export industry has already helped create such a shift. For several years, police in Canada have not been required to fingerprint pot possessors found with less than 30 grams. In some parts of the country, notably British Columbia's Lower Mainland, the tolerance goes further, with small-scale possession of marijuana and hashish routinely ignored by police or shrugged at by the courts. Elsewhere, such leniency remains patchwork, which is why thousands of marijuana-smoking Canadians still get saddled with criminal records each year.The laissez-faire attitude toward cannabis possession offers a model that could be extended to all other drugs, including those much more dangerous than cannabis. Such a move would stir the accusation that the people most vulnerable to drugs were being abandoned to predatory drug dealers. Yet for those drug users who want to snort cocaine or inject heroin, the real hazards might be no greater than under the status quo. Why? Because most empirical evidence indicates that if a person really wants drugs, of whatever type, he or she will be able to get them.If it is accepted that drugs are a social ill that can never be eradicated, the door opens to a much more selective brand of law enforcement than currently prevails. Drug dealers would remain subject to harsh, highly specific penalties. Plenty of them would be deterred from selling even small amounts of hard drugs to minors, for instance, if such an offence automatically meant a 10-year penitentiary term.That said, there is no avoiding the possibility that decriminalizing personal drug use might lead to wider experimentation. We would argue, however, that for most drug users, greater damage is incurred through being arrested, fined and possibly imprisoned. A bad drug experience may last only a day or two. The same is not true of a criminal record, or of the lasting damage incarceration commonly inflicts.Tomorrow: the medical implications Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2001  Print Edition, Page A14Copyright: 2001 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Canadian Links Decriminalize The Use of Drugs - Part I Articles - Canada 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on August 21, 2001 at 20:57:03 PT
Does this help?
Does this search help ekim? Gary is from Wisconsin. hope this is what you are looking for. search tool is good. You might want to see if some of the information is here on C News. That's a beginning.
What's New in Drug Policy Reform
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Comment #7 posted by ekim on August 21, 2001 at 19:27:14 PT:
What about Ann Argbor or Madison WI
This past April the Hash Bash was 30 years young. I think Madison has a ticket law like Ann Arbors 25$ ticket, up from the 5$ it started with. With Ann Arbor's 30 year record of thousands of tickets would't you think that someone from that School UofM or Ann Arbor itself would have done a cost benifit study of how less people being arrested and jailed and court time and probation and lost officer time booking said offender has saved that City. Please someone from Madison add to this discussion. Sign the Petition people 21 and over can have three plants and three ozs. In MI.
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Comment #6 posted by PoisonedFor4YrsSoFar on August 21, 2001 at 16:13:35 PT
how many publications have come out for legalizati
It seems like an awful lotof publications have come out for legalization.And they span thepolitical spectrum. Has anybodymade a list of those publicationsyet? Such a listwould in and of itself be worthy of butressing these arguments.( And its cool that Ethan takes time out ofhis practice and stops by here because he hasbeen very helpful to the cannabis freedom effort ).
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Comment #5 posted by Jose Melendez on August 21, 2001 at 15:07:00 PT:
supply and demand
"Making cannabis illegal has done very little if anything to lessen its demand and growth"Prohibition increases demand better than advertising.just my opinion,
Jose Melendez
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on August 21, 2001 at 13:20:49 PT
What about
Decriminalization should allow a person to grow their own. That would help I think. I know not everyone could grow their own but it would make Cannabis lose it's high cost at least a little. This is just a thought and I'm not sure if it would help or not. Decrim versus legalization is hard to figure out because there will always be controls to some degree. Like alcohol. 
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Comment #3 posted by J.R. Bob Dobbs on August 21, 2001 at 13:10:10 PT
>>A similarly dismal success rate probably applies to Canada's massive hydroponic marijuana industry, which each year dispatches hundreds of tonnes of the drug across our porous southern border.  This just a paragraph after he admits even the police don't know the total amounts! The only hard data is the seizures - and there's more seized coming in to Canada than there is leaving.  And I'll agree with JSM - that's the second point I wanted to make, actually. This guy is so narrowminded that he can't see a legal market for cannabis. No matter what social policy is pursued for the users, the big-time dealers still need to be fought tooth and nail. Well, then WHERE ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GET IT??? If you're successful, there'd be no cannabis, and then what? We'd then turn to something harder - and if you succeed in taking away all illegal substances, people will turn to solvents and other nasty but entirely uncriminalizable things like gasoline. Legalize it and treat it like alcohol - sell it in convenience stores for people of the proper age. Tax it, and save that $30 billion (actually closer to $40B) for things the people actually want, like education and cleaning up those low-rent housing districts.
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Comment #2 posted by JSM on August 21, 2001 at 11:52:39 PT
While decriminalization may seem better than the current situation, in reality it is no different for as long as the means of production are outlawed the black market with all of its accompanying ills will continue. Just like alcohol prohibition where production was outlawed but not consumption during the late 20's and early 30s', nothing short of complete legalization will solve this problem. Nonetheless, the ultimate issue is that this market is huge. Making cannabis illegal has done very little if anything to lessen its demand and growth and, furthermore, there is very little if anything any government can do to stop this market from continuing to grow whether seen on a regional or world wide basis. Decriminalization is simply a feel good measure that will not change a thing.
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on August 21, 2001 at 11:11:00 PT:
Canada, You Go, Girl!
Wouldn't it be lovely to have Canada lead the charge, and be the example that Amerika ultimately emulates? Things are happening in the world. Our politicians must decide if they will ride the crest of the wave of meaningful drug reform, or rather wipe-out and be snuffed in a sea of turbulent foam as the world relegates us to the likes of the despotic, irredeemable regimes in Asia. The choice is clear.
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