In Canadian cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, one of the most pressing priorities for police is combatting an illegal drug trade that has spawned a rash of gangland violence in recent years.
A provocative new report from a B.C. HIV-research agency, however, suggests that throwing more police resources at the problem will only make the bloodshed worse, not bring peace to the streets.
The majority of studies conducted on the issue over the last 20 years in the United States and elsewhere indicate that gang violence increases as law-enforcement activity against the drug trade steps up, says the report from the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.
The authors suggest that the Conservative government’s emphasis on law-enforcement to confront drug addiction, and a proposed new bill that would send more drug offenders to prison, are destined to backfire. […]
Alternative measures are needed to lessen narcotics-linked murder and mayhem, says the report, to be released today. For Dr. Wood, that means changing the status of illicit drugs ranging from marijuana to heroin, making them lawfully available to adults but under strictly regulated access to minimize their use. That way, he said, there is less incentive for criminal gangs to get involved in the trade, the way organized crime took over alcohol sales when liquor was banned during the Prohibition.
There are, of course, some who dispute this report. Do they have studies that show something different? No, they have… well, nothing, actually. They’re just sure it’s wrong. And they all work in law enforcement or pro-prohibition groups. Fancy that.
Some great stuff in this article:
“In the current situation of prohibition, which enriches organized crime, we are powerless to reduce the availability of drugs and meaningfully reduce violence,” said Dr. Wood.
Stephen Easton, an economics professor at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University who has called for legalization of marijuana, said the report’s findings should be heeded closely.
“I think this would certainly contribute to the debate in no uncertain terms,” he said. “I think it needs to be talked about … It’s not a question of whether you will have illegal drugs, it’s a question of who will make money off it.”
Easton’s right on the money.
Oh, and one more word: Mexico.