Study of Studies: Drug Prohibition Key Source of Violence and Crime

CANNABIS CULTURE – An extensive study by Canadian researchers has concluded that “tough on crime” prohibition laws proposed by Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party will have no effect on drug supply and may boost rates of violence in the country.

In “a systematic review of all available English-language scientific literature”, researchers at the Urban Health Research Initiative, a program of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, examined “the impacts of drug law enforcement on drug market violence”, according to a media bulletin released today.

“Widespread drug-related violence in places like Mexico and the US, as well as the gun violence we are increasingly seeing on Canadian streets, appears to be directly attributable to drug prohibition,” said co-author Dr. Evan Wood, a BC-CfE researcher. “Prohibition drives up the value of these substances astronomically, thereby creating lucrative markets exploited by organized crime. Any disruption of these markets through drug law enforcement seems to have the perverse effect of creating financial opportunities for organized crime groups, and gun violence often ensues.”

The peer-reviewed study analyzed 15 international reports examining “the impact of drug law enforcement on violence”, according to the UHRI. “Contrary to the prevailing belief that drug law enforcement reduces violence, 87% of the studies (13 studies) observed that drug law enforcement was associated with increasing levels of drug market violence,” the group reports.

The study, which confirms what drug policy reformers have been repeating Ad nauseam for years, appears just days after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared on YouTube defending his harsh drug policies and answering questions about marijuana prohibition, which dominated an online poll of reader-submitted questions.

Harper admitted that the drug trade leads to “unimaginable violence and intimidation” and “the destruction of social systems, of families, of governmental institutions, the corruption of police forces”, and said he was “frustrated by how little impact governments have been able to have on the drug trade internationally.”

But instead of recognizing the simple fact, repeated in study after study, that drug prohibition creates the illegal market that fuels this violence and corruption, Harper said we should keep pouring millions into a system that doesn’t work because “drugs are bad”.

“Now, you know, I know some people say if you just legalized it, you know, you’d get the money and all would be well,” he said. “But I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they’re illegal. The reason drugs…it’s not that. The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad. And even if these things were legalized, I can predict with a lot of confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people.”

The new study shows that Harper and his Conservative Party goons are, yet again, on the wrong side of the scientific debate. Researchers at UHRI pointed directly to the Conservative government’s proposed crime legislation in their announcement of the study:

The review notes that drug prohibition has created a massive global illicit drug market, with an estimated annual value of US$320 billion. Several of the studies reviewed suggested that violence stems from power vacuums created by the removal of key players from the illicit drug market by law enforcement. As police use increasingly sophisticated methods to disrupt drug distribution networks, levels of drug-related violence may rise.

The report’s findings are also significant in the context of Bill C-15, which is currently before Parliament and would introduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions. Research shows that similar sentencing policies in the United States have been ineffective in curbing the drug trade and have imposed a staggering tax burden through the escalating costs of incarceration. Despite the renewed emphasis on law enforcement in Canada’s new National Anti-Drug Strategy and the proposal to implement mandatory minimum sentences for drug law violations, the evidence base to support these measures has not yet been articulated.

“In the era of evidence-based public policy, it is remarkable that the federal government is proposing extremely costly interventions, such as mandatory minimum sentences, without any discussion of their costs or likely impacts on crime,” said Dr. Thomas Kerr, a BC-CfE researcher and co-author of the report. “This review clearly demonstrates that while these interventions will place an enormous burden on the taxpayer, they are unlikely to reduce crime and may actually increase violence in our communities.”

The report recommends that alternative models of drug control be considered if drug supply and drug-related violence are to be meaningfully reduced.

Read the entire study or a one page summary.

Comments

15 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    And NDP has a much better chance of getting into office right now than the Green Party. I wouldn’t be surprised if NDP got in next election just because Liberals have been lackluster at best and every time the Harper government seems to turn around more idiocy ensues.

  2. Troy Campbell on

    Actually the NDP party which advertises on this site is also in favour of legalization of marijuana

  3. Troy Campbell on

    As stephen harper mistakenly stated “that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people.” Well they could easily make sure that respectable business owners would run them by simply adopting a by-law from York region ontario that prevents any person who has been convicted of any federal offence, from owning,operating or investing in an exotic entertainment club. This by law could easily be made into a law to prevent a person wishing to enter into one of these buisnesses from having any criminal record that would make bring there credibility as legitimate businessmen into doubt. And as far as cartel’s becoming involved if cannabis was legalized across north and south america the inflated value of it would drop substantially and would therefore take the large profit incentive away not to mention in a regulated industry not only would the value drop but they would not be able to use there customary violence to control there share of the market. Therefore the only businesses that would be viable would be the ones which produce the highest quality and most economical product. Also when considering if cannabis was legalized the combined govt’s of the countries which would be producing this product could enforce laws preventing any persons currently on the DEA’s most wanted list from forming one of these businesses. Or buying stock in these companies that would allow them a seat on its board of directors. There are many many ways they could pull this off firstly by just allowing those who wish to grow there own to do so and anyone wishing to form a large cannabis production company to undergo a series of investigations into where operating capital came from a name of all investors and background checks. Or better yet to offer grants to current medicinal marijuana designated growers to start large scale operations. There are many ways to keep undesirables out of such an industry but the one thing that comes to mind is if it was made legal today the undesirables like the cartel members most of whom are wanted for crimes far more serious then smuggling pot. But it would be far easier to offer tax incentives to tobacco growers who choose to switch to cultivating cannabis not only would the industry be filled quickly with reputable farmers but there would be a lot less tobacco available which in my own humble opinion would be much healthier in general if the amount of tobacco available for cigarette production were to be cut down.

  4. Ronz on

    I think that Mr. Harper should learn a bit about the country he “runs” before he starts talking. He tells us that we aren’t getting pot from our neighbours, but if he walked through a suburb in Vancouver and knocked on ten doors, chances are he’d find someone growing cannabis. This doesn’t lead me to believe that the majority of the people in Vancouver are members of a drug cartel, but that’s what my Prime Minister is telling me.

  5. man4 cannabis on

    why does he talk about drugs when the question was about marijuanna???? why

  6. Anonymous on

    When will politicians stop trying to impose their views of morality upon others? Jailing people for a victim-less crime is beyond absurd. Disagree with drug usage all you want, rail against the evils of marijuana from whatever pulpit you can find, educate your children, teach about the dangers of addiction; but never, ever take away someones freedom to live because you don’t agree with them.

    It’s time to end the war on drugs, not escalate it. We can’t afford to build the prisons required to house all the new “criminals” this bill with create. The United States has the worlds highest rate of incarceration; 25% of the worlds prisoners while only having 5% of the worlds population. That is not a statistic we in Canada need to compete with.

    Help fight the battle against prohibition. L.E.A.P. can use your signature in it’s fight to end the war. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5663/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2100

  7. Anonymous on

    When will politicians stop trying to impose their views of morality upon others? Jailing people for a victim-less crime is beyond absurd. Disagree with drug usage all you want, rail against the evils of marijuana from whatever pulpit you can find, educate your children, teach about the dangers of addiction; but never, ever take away someones freedom to live because you don’t agree with them.

    It’s time to end the war on drugs, not escalate it. We can’t afford to build the prisons required to house all the new “criminals” this bill with create. The United States has the worlds highest rate of incarceration; 25% of the worlds prisoners while only having 5% of the worlds population. That is not a statistic we in Canada need to compete with.

    Help fight the battle against prohibition. L.E.A.P. can use your signature in it’s fight to end the war. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5663/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2100

  8. Brian S on

    I know what you mean. i bring that up in every conversation about cannabis’ legal status. both hemp and “marijuana” should be ‘legal’. no one forces anyone to smoke cigs or drink booze any more than you would have if cannabis were legal.

  9. Same Anonymous Guy on

    Actually the 87/13 ratio has been manifested in that 13% of us are born with the genes we need to foster natural critical thinking in any environment… the exchange of and prevalence of this genetic material has been invariable since India fostered the caste system upon which hierarchical society has been based for 6000+ years.

    So 87/13 coming into play with a group of researcher’s ability to elucidate the truth in an environment designed to conceal and obscure it really isn’t a coincidence at all, it’s pure nature coming out of the woodwork.

  10. Anonymous on

    “…87% of the studies (13 studies)…”

    LOL
    This ratio is going to be manifesting within every dialectic relationship human ego maintains.

    I mean it’s a coincedence here but I want to say I said so.

  11. Anonymous on

    Harper is more then aware of mind boggling record amounts of heroin that where smuggled out of Afghanistan and I must add all during the Bush years as President. Yet, this man and his even further wrong then right political ideology gives a blind eye to this! This same twisted mentality wants to give a mandatory jail sentence to any one growing pot in Canada. It would help clear the path for Bush’s heroin????????

  12. merry jon on

    the reason kanadian politicians refuse to face the facts is because they are shebitch lapdogs of amerikan drug policy; fascists who deeply fear introspection, free thinking and intuition which the plant fosters.

  13. Interested Observer on

    Governments don’t ignore these studies because they’re stupid; they ignore them because they are paid to by Powerful Interest Groups (PIG’s, in short).
    Law enforcement, prisons, Big Pharma and drug cartels all have lots of money to spend on buying the allegiance of politicians on this issue. That’s never going to change. The only solution is to change the laws by voter initiative, if you can.

  14. Brian Kerr on

    Vote for the Green Party.

    If you vote for the Liberals, Conservatives or NDP you are voting to put your self in jail. You are voting to put you co-workers in jail. You are voting to put you family members in jail.

    The only party which has a platform plank to legalize Cannabis is the Green Party of Canada.

    Vote Green.

  15. Brad Dean on

    how long is it going to take for idiots like stephen harper and the like to stop ignoring these studies and actually get on the right side of things? for the intelligent, open-minded individual this type of crap is so god damn frustrating!!!!!