1. Drug laws are unconstitutional.
Yeah, you're reading right. Courts at every level have ruled on the fact that drug use and addiction are health issues, not legal infractions. It's image-conscious politicians who have chosen to wilfully ignore those rulings. Yet the courts have been unwilling to hold lawmakers accountable. It's a vicious circle - a conspiracy even.
It's not clear how marijuana even got on the list of prohibited drugs back in 1923. It mysteriously appeared on the schedule without a debate in Parliament.
2. Drug laws are rooted in racism.
Drug use has been used to demonize whole races of people. From musings about "lazy" Hispanic migrant farm workers partaking of the weed to Chinese opium dens and the accusation by suffragist Emily Murphy - she claimed pot smoking renders users "completely insane... raving maniacs liable to kill" - the earliest drug laws were sold as solutions to a crime problem created by blacks and browns. The ripple effects are being felt today. The 1995 Commission on Systemic Racism in the Justice System identified a continued pattern of racism in drug enforcement: blacks are 27 times more likely to end up in jail to await trial on drug charges than whites, and three times more likely to be charged with trafficking than whites.
3. Drug laws = war, corruption and terrorism.
Think the war in Afghanistan is about the Taliban and al Qaeda? You're only half right. The war on drugs and the war on terror are often one and the same.
The propaganda fed us by the self-interested, i.e., cops and politicians, is that drug use is what fuels the drug trade. Reality check: smart policy-makers know it's prohibition that creates the black market that makes the drug trade so lucrative. See Colombia, where the illegal cocaine trade has fuelled a five-decade civil war. And what about 9/11?
According to a report by John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute, money from drugs is "probably the single biggest money earner" for Muslim fundamentalists.
4. Drug laws encourage the spread of disease.
Nearly two-thirds of offenders entering the federal corrections system have drug abuse problems. Sending addicts to jail on minor drug charges is a death sentence for many. The spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases like hep C only accelerates behind bars.
About 15 per cent of the jail population reports injecting heroin or cocaine behind bars. Former inmates say they've seen as many as 40 fellow inmates sharing one needle. If that isn't a recipe.... The feds' proposed mandatory minimum drug sentences would only jail more people who shouldn't be there and increase the spread of disease, says the Canadian HIV/AIDS Network.
5. Drug laws are compromising our sovereignty.
DEA agents stationed in Canada, U.S. drug czars threatening trade sanctions for all that BC bud making it over the border.
The U.S. propaganda machine hasn't stopped snorting about our liberal enforcement of drug laws.
Blame our own lawmakers for pushing the big lie that we can't reform our drug laws because international conventions keep us tied to the will of other countries (read the U.S). Canada is under no obligation to continue criminal prohibition of drug use. The stated goal of Canada's Drug Strategy is to reduce harm. The feds have been lying to us.
6. Drug laws have been a complete failure.
Alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs and certain prescription drugs are linked to more than 47,000 deaths and many thousands more injuries and disabilities every year in Canada, according to the Health Officers Council of British Columbia paper Regulation Of Psychoactive Substances In Canada: Seeking A Coherent Public Health Approach. That's not counting the $40 billion blown every year on what the report terms "inadequate, inappropriate and ineffective regulation." Bottom line: we're blowing it.
7. Drug laws are killing the economy.
The feds estimate total sale of drugs in Canada at about $18 billion annually. BC's annual marijuana crop alone, if valued at retail street prices and sold by the cigarette, is worth more than $7 billion annually, according to a 2004 study by the Fraser Institute. That's bigger than mining, logging, manufacturing, construction and agriculture in that province. Do the math. Canada spends $2.3 billion on enforcement every year and another $1.1 in health care costs directly related to illegal drug use - when $1 spent on treatment will achieve the same reduction of flow of cocaine as $7.3 spent on enforcement.
8. Drug laws amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Sending people to jail for the relatively benign act of taking drugs, a victimless "crime," only exposes them to physical and other forms of abuse behind bars. Now the Harper Tories want to introduce new mandatory minimum sentencing that will only fill prisons with more small-time addicts. Prison admission trends for drug offences are showing dramatic increases. Ontario's crime rate is comparable to Quebec's, but our incarceration rate is about one-third higher.
9. Drug laws are not reducing drug use.
Governments are slowly coming around to the view. Portugal's experiment with decriminalization, which started almost a decade ago, has resulted in decreased drug use among teens and a marked reduction in HIV/AIDS infections caused by the sharing of contaminated needles. Portugal's rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 is now the lowest in the EU: 10 per cent. The EU seems to be coming around on decrim. More than a dozen countries have agreed on a draft resolution urging the UN and its member states to establish a "system for the legal control and regulation of the production, sale and consumption of substances which are currently illegal."
10. The majority of Canadians oppose drug laws.
Calls to end prohibition aren't just coming from weed advocates. The Globe and Ottawa Citizen called for the decriminalization of drugs more than a decade ago. The right-wing Fraser Institute has advocated legalization, calling the war on drugs a "complete failure." A majority of Canadians support the legalization of pot, according to an Angus Reid poll last year. More than 90 per cent believe it should be legal for medical purposes. The powers that be are messing with the will of the people.