Thursday, September 9, 2010

Criminal Behaviour

I get tired of outrages committed in the name of the war on drugs -- specifically the war on cannabis. This is a substance that has been in common usage by people around me or people I have known my entire life. It speaks to our collective complacency that we allow people to be given criminal records that can affect them for their entire lives for possessing this same substance. Today I find  a story that comes from British Colombia about an elderly couple who were investigated for two weeks by the RCMP, and that included aerial surveillance, prior to a nighttime raid on their home for the possible crime of growing marijuana. Well, it turns out they were growing dahlias and tomatoes and yet this raid resulted in a woman, who is in her sixties and suffering from tendinitis, being manhandled by police, briefly handcuffed and made to experience  "considerable pain."

 All in the name of Stephen Harper's war on cannabis -- and make no mistake, it is a war.

 The incompetence of the officers who conducted the investigation needs to be accounted for, but this is a federal jurisdiction and the orders come from the top to engage in this activity in the first place. Why a nighttime raid? Did the two weeks of investigation not at least reveal they were dealing with an elderly couple and maybe just a knock on the door and a few well aimed investigative questions might do the trick? Why was this kind of over-zealousness necessary?  Perhaps Stephen needs more people to fill the new prisons he wants to build at a cost of $10-13 billion dollars to the Canadian taxpayer? A self-serving apology ten days after the fact from the incompetents in question is not nearly enough either.

The time to put an end to these kinds of outrages has come. We need a government that is willing to step up and decriminalize drug use as has been done in Portugal with great success. It is a far more effective, more humane strategy than the absurd war on drugs that began whose genesis began with an American actor elected President back in 1980. We know the Conservatives don't care about the human costs in such actions but what do the nation's marijuana laws cost taxpayers annually? What did that failed two week investigation cost Canadians? What about the diversion of billions from the taxable economy into the illicit economy, how much does that deprive taxpayers of?

The benefits of the extra revenues from ending the war on drugs could be used for better educating Canadians about drug use and for more and better programs to help those addicted. We all know the societal costs of alcohol are so much greater than marijuana use and yet nothing changes. It is clear as this government has ratcheted up the pressure on prosecuting marijuana use and the penalties for growing small amounts for personal use -- witness the new American style minimums proposed by the Tories for growing as few as six plants. We are in need of a more enlightened and reasoned policy which will not come from this government, so we need to get rid of them and replace them with people who have the courage to speak to Canadians as adults and do the right thing.

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