To the editor,
Congratulations to Ethan Baron for recognizing that cannabis should be legally regulated, however, he needs to do his homework on illicit drugs and drug policy. ("Hard drugs are the source of B.C.’s notoriety," Oct 15.)
The “hard drugs” Baron mentions; heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine, are also orders of magnitude less harmful than tobacco and alcohol when used as directed in a legally regulated environment.
Meth is available by prescription, ecstasy (MDMA) is being clinically reconsidered for psychotherapy, pharmaceutical heroin, used as directed, in no worse than any other opiate, and coca tea is healthier
than coffee and other caffeinated energy drinks.
Most of the crime and violence we associate with hard drugs is made worse by, if not caused by, criminal prohibition. The three evidence-based pillars of our drug control regime; prevention, treatment and harm reduction, are fettered and grossly outspent by the fourth, drug law enforcement.
The vast majority of drug users are not low-income, nor disadvantaged, nor under-educated, and consume drugs moderately and non-problematically. Most who become addicted are self-medicating
preexisting psychological problems that cops, courts and criminalization exacerbate.
The more harmful the substance, the less it makes sense to abdicate control of it to unaccountable criminals who sell drugs of unknown potency, purity and provenance, on commission, to anyone, of any age, any time, anywhere, no questions asked. We have more control over cat food than we do the so-called “controlled drugs and substances.”
Matthew M. Elrod
Hard drugs are the source of B.C.’s notoriety
Solution: We need to cut consumption of heroin, pot, coke, meth, ecstasy, but legalize marijuana
By Ethan Baron
Whether or not you give credence to the assertion in Maclean’s magazine that B.C. is home to half the top 14 crime cities in Canada, it’s clear that we do have a crime problem.
And the root of the problem is drugs. Pot, coke, heroin, meth, ecstasy and other illicit substances fuel property crime, gang wars and street violence.
We pay for these social ills with loss of peace in our communities, with policing costs, with the expenses of putting drug dealers and users through the justice system and in some cases housing them in jail.
We can blame the drug producers, we can blame the traffickers, we can blame the consumers, and we’d be right on all counts. We can’t do much to change the first two.
No matter how much anti-gang education is instilled through schools, no matter how many drug dealers and traffickers are fined or sent to jail, selling illegal drugs is lucrative and there will always be people too lazy and selfish to contribute to society through legitimate jobs.
And no matter how much money is spent screening for contraband at border entries and ports, enough drugs to meet the demand will always get through.
Like coke, heroin, meth and ecstasy, marijuana is frequently abused. But unlike those more dangerous drugs, the abuse appears to do little more than make people stupid in the short term and fuzzy-headed in the long term.
Cutting consumption of hard drugs requires a more complex response, focused on reducing the poverty that drives much of the use of heroin, meth and crack, and educating children and young people about the risks of drug abuse.
Legalization is not an appropriate response to drugs for which the price of experimentation can be a devastating, lifelong addiction.