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Letter to the Editor: Legalization removes fuel from the fire

Jail is not going to make addiction go away. Addicts don’t need jail time, they need therapy.

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A few issues ago, The Cascade published an opinion article about how legalization would make drug trafficking worse. The question Paige Hoblak asked was, “How would decriminalizing drugs act as a solution (to drug trafficking)?”  Well, the idea is that the results would be the same as alcohol prohibition. When alcohol was illegal, it was sold on the black market and smuggled across borders just like drugs are today. But now that it’s legal, do we still buy booze from the black market? No, we buy it from BC liquor stores where is it regulated and taxed. More importantly, gangs aren’t profiting from those sales.

I don’t like how drug abusers are looked upon in society. I can honestly say that I have never taken an illegal drug in my life, but drug abusers are not criminals. It’s true that some people do commit crimes and abuse others under the influence of drugs, and I have no intent of defending those people. The elephant in the room is marijuana use specifically, but I’m talking about abusers of all drugs. I fail to see how jail time is supposed to cure someone with a chemical drug addiction. Why are drug addicts thrown in jail and forced to make contact with real criminals?

More importantly, jail is not going to make that addiction go away. Addicts don’t need jail time, they need therapy. Not only is therapy a more humane and effective treatment, it’s cheaper to send someone to drug rehab then it is to prosecute and jail them.

And so far our methods of combating drug trafficking are simply not working. When a government catches and locks up the producers and distributors of illegal drugs, the supply goes down. That makes the market more valuable and tempting for new people to enter. Not to mention fighting these gangs is extremely dangerous and life risking for our law enforcement. When a government catches and locks people up for taking drugs, the tax payers spend millions of dollars to lock up their fellow citizens who have arguably done nothing to actually harm the establishment.

Is drug legalization an ideal solution? Of course not. It comes with its own set of problems. But there are two ways to make laws: for how the world should be, or for how the world is. There will always be demand for drugs, and the people buying them need help, not punishment. We could take away a large source of income from the black market by legalizing, or we could continue to spend millions of dollars and thousands of lives playing gang whack-a-mole in the drug wars.

Greg Stickland

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