The Program is watching — a confirming view

Contrarian reader Denis Falvey, a physician and retired Armed Forces Major, responds to our curmudgeonly friend’s tale of abuse at the hands of the province’s doctor and patient monitoring program prescription monitoring program:

Your curmudgeonly friend is correct, on pretty much all points. The so-called war on drugs, like any war, is having serious consequences for innocent bystanders. And, like most wars, it has devolved into destructive nonsense.

Drugs are illegal as a result of a misguided attempt to impose morality, back in the early 20th century. After a generation of murder and mayhem, alcohol prohibition was seen by virtually everyone to be so obviously wrong that alcohol and its use were largely legalized. The abuse of alcohol is now recognized as the medical and social problem it is. The money for this arises in part from the taxes on the sale of the product. People support this.

Who in 2012, excepting only criminals and wardens, believes in their heart and soul that having drugs and drug use illegal, prosecuting users and dealers, is a good thing? We should perhaps accept the appallingly obvious facts that:

  • Drugs exist, and will proliferate;
  • Criminalizing them or their use has not stopped their use;
  • Our approach to date may have increased drug use, and;
  • Locking up drug users and dealers is equivalent to facilitating a professional conference on the exchange of ideas about how to better abuse.

People do not support this.

Speaking as a medical professional, I think drugs should be legal and controlled – all drugs. And control should not involve loss of patient/doctor confidentiality. Drug users should be thought of as patients – not criminals. Patients. Not criminals.

Legalization could also help take away the monetary incentives that drive criminal drug behaviour. It could facilitate the treatment of people in need – all to the betterment of public health. By analogy, one study has shown that there has been a 35% reduction in overdoses as a result of Insite needle exchange in Vancouver. Other studies show that there has been a reduction in drug paraphenalia litter, as well as an increase in users seeking treatment of their addiction. All good things. But needle exchange is against the law, and the current feds would like to shut Insite down.

To be frank, the cops and the legal system know bugger all about drugs, and have nothing like the training necessary to deal with the problem. For that matter, neither do politicians.

As Maj. Falvey points out, this is really a market issue. The WOD introduces an artificial imbalance between supply and demand, which causes prices to soar unnaturally, and the pimps and gangsters rush to fill the gap. Right wingers like Stephen Harper have the ideological tools to understand this, but they take too much pleasure in instructing the rest of us on how to live. After years of this insanity, a huge, increasingly draconian but inevitably ineffective drug suppression industry has arisen, giving thousands of cops, guards, prison contractors, prosecutors, and politicians their own financial stake in keeping the WOD, and the human degradation it is supposed to combat but actually perpetuates, going.

Contrarian would legalize all drugs in heartbeat.

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