Justice Minister, Police, Gangs Support Same Policies?

Senate delay on drug bill risks lives: justice minister

Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson slammed the Senate Wednesday for not pushing through new legislation implementing mandatory jail terms for drug producers, smugglers and traffickers.

Nicholson toured a mock Vancouver marijuana-growing operation with police and firefighters at his side before telling reporters that the holdup in passing Bill C-15 was risking the lives of Canadians.

“Drug labs and grow-ops are a sign of gangs and organized crime activity and their presence threatens the safety of B.C. neighbourhoods and in particular our children,” Nicholson said.

There was a lot wrong with this story (not least of which was that police mouthpiece Kim Bolan did her usual bang-up job of “journalism” by regurgitating police propaganda without bothering to question it or present any other viewpoints) but my LTE focused on the irony of police and gangs being on the same side of the policy debate:

Justice Minster Nicholson’s recent attack on the Senate for doing its constitutionally-mandated job – providing a sober second look at legislation – was illustrative of the current government’s political tactics. It also, unintentionally no doubt, revealed some grim truths about drug prohibition.

Putting aside the facts about Bill C-15 (it won’t target high level dealers and won’t reduce drug supply or demand) as this government regularly does, I found the most interesting part of the story was the implicit admission, by the Minister and police officials, that drug prohibition actually endangers our communities and benefits organized criminals and violent gangs. The Minister says that black-market marijuana production is the “currency of organized crime.” Inspector Desmarais admits that black-market drugs make significant profits for organized crime. They are right.

What went unsaid, should be apparent to any thinking Canadian, is that until we end drug prohibition this scenario will not change. While demand for drugs exists, people will sell them. Bill C-15 ups the risk a bit, which will simply up the cost of drugs and therefore the profits made by those who sell them. It may also make the marketplaces more violent, resulting in greater damage to our communities and greater risks to our children. Bottom line: gangsters like drug prohibition, just like Al Capone like alcohol prohibition. Prohibition makes gangs money, lots of money.

Isn’t it ironic, and tragic, that the Justice Minister, police and gangs all support the same policies?

Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director
Beyond Prohibition Foundation
Vancouver, BC