Editor, The Record:
Re: Taking responsibility, Nov. 1 edition.
In my opinion it is letter-writer Robert T. Rock who is deceiving himself and failing to take responsibility for an approach – prohibition – that causes the very problems he refers to.
It doesn’t matter whether the drug is a good drug or a bad drug as long as there is a demand. There are then two policy options: prohibition or regulation. Neither is a panacea.
Prohibition drives the market underground so there is no control over the quality of the product or the money made, and participants in the market resort to violence to resolve their disputes as they are precluded from using traditional peaceful means.
In a regulated market, the manufacturing and distribution of the drug are controlled by law and taxed and there are peaceful remedies for breaches between participants or the manufacturer and the consumer.
Alcohol remains our number one drug and no one suggests a return to prohibition of alcohol. We learned that that attempted cure was worse than the disease. Tobacco is number two and we have been quite successful using education and civil bylaws to reduce harms instead of the blunt instrument of the criminal law that only makes things worse.
Regulate and tax and bring the supply and demand under control of law, instead of leaving it out of control, and a gift to organized crime.
The courts are faced with the actual evidence and details of the problem on a daily basis, not a superficial armchair view based solely on media reports or other anecdotes.
Mr. Rock should stick to writing about something he knows something about, or at least do some current research before doing so (start with the 10-year old Senate Report by Conservative Senator Nolin) so as not perpetuate the deception that the policy of prohibition that has failed us for the last 100 years is now going to work.
The dealers are rubbing their hands with glee at the increased prices to the consumer that this week’s introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for growing more than six marijuana plants will bring! Of course this diverts the money to organized crime tax-free, and leaves the legitimate taxpayers on the hook for increased costs of investigation by the police, processing by prosecutors and the courts, including defense counsel and ultimately prisons. The more you prohibit, the more business you create for the criminal justice system. It is a stupid and very costly approach driven by emotional gut reaction without logic or reason.
John W. Conroy QC