By Evan Wood
Citizens from across the political spectrum have largely considered illicit drugs such as cocaine and marijuana a grave threat to Canadian society. Accordingly, promises to get tough on drugs are proven vote-spinners for politicians coast-to-coast.
Not surprisingly, the mandatory minimum sentences for drug law violations proposed by the Harper government prior to prorogation received unconditional support from the federal Liberals. However, in more than four decades since former U.S. president Richard Nixon first declared America’s “War on Drugs,” researchers from across scientific disciplines have been closely examining the impacts of law enforcement strategies aimed at controlling illicit drug use. The findings clearly demonstrate that politically popular “get tough” approaches actually make the drug problem worse, fuel crime and violence, add to government deficits, rob the public purse of potential revenue, help spread disease and divide families.
In fact, the tough on crime approach takes its biggest toll on the traditional conservative wish list of fiscal discipline, low crime rates and strong families.