It Just Makes Sense To End The War On Drugs

Just as we ended the alcohol prohibition in the face of gang violence and mounting social costs, we need to end the drug prohibition.Just as we ended the alcohol prohibition in the face of gang violence and mounting social costs, we need to end the drug prohibition.Marijuana and drug trafficking are the central catalysts in the current Lower Mainland gang war, yet we are discussing everything except the obvious solution — an end to the continental prohibition on illicit drugs.

If U.S. President Barack Obama can frankly admit his past illegal drug use, hasn’t the time come for us to start talking seriously about an end to the so-called War on Drugs launched by his disgraced predecessor Richard Nixon?

I believe we are about to undergo a rather abrupt cultural change around marijuana as its medical use becomes common instead of novel and the public learns more about the drug.

Two recent separate appellate court judgments in Canada have set the stage for a revolutionary change to the federal medical marijuana program by ordering Ottawa to loosen the marijuana-production rules.

With between 400,000 and one million potential patients from sea unto sea, the general familiarity that should follow will breed a far more educated public than the one that now is easily misled about pot and its effects.

We should take advantage of that attitudinal shift. As people learn more about marijuana and become more educated about addiction and drug use, saner policies should become more salable.

U.S. drug policy is already seeing radical change for those reasons.

Those who continue to offer the hoary shibboleth that Canada can’t consider legalization without offending Uncle Sam haven’t kept up to date.

Massachusetts voters last year passed a statewide initiative to decriminalize marijuana. Thirteen states already have laws permitting medicinal use of pot.

New Mexico, the most recent to liberalize its laws in 2007, is trying to figure out how to supply the roughly 200 patients it has licensed to possess up to six ounces of marijuana.

Those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, AIDS and certain spinal cord injuries can qualify. Eight additional conditions have been recommended for the list, including Lou Gehrig’s disease, fibromyalgia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Hospice patients are also eligible.

California has a dispensary system — dozens of outlets that sell cannabis products. The former Bush administration actively tried to subvert these state initiatives by having federal agencies continue to enforce the national marijuana criminal law.

Obama indicates he wants to see state wishes respected and has repeatedly promised a change in federal drug policy in situations where laws allow use of medical marijuana.

“I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” he said.

Obama, 47, is my contemporary and our generation has had plenty of exposure to pot and drug-law hypocrisy.

In his memoir, Dreams from My Father, the new president admits using marijuana and cocaine in the context of trying to find himself. Imagine if he had been busted — no more future, no more audacity of hope; he would have had trouble getting a job with a criminal record, forget about running for office.

Obama’s candour promises real change.

Let’s face it. The current drug laws are not working. Too many lives have been lost, too many families shattered and too many futures ruined by the War on Drugs. It is too expensive and it is socially corrosive. It is time to end it.

With its own mounting sanguinary gang problem, Mexico already is debating sweeping drug-law reform at a national level.

Just as we ended the alcohol prohibition in the face of gang violence and mounting social costs, we need to end the drug prohibition. Drug use should be a medical issue, not a crime.

Donald MacPherson, the city’s drug policy guru, says a sanctioned discussion is needed about what the end of prohibition might look like.

The city’s 2005 anti-drug strategy called for a national dialogue, but the political will has been lacking. Mayor Gregor Robertson is of the same generation and likes to draw comparisons between himself and Obama. He should lead on this issue.

The shootings and the deaths of the last few weeks underscore the need to reform our drug laws. Let’s “officially” start to talk about it.

[email protected]

– Article from The Vancouver Sun.