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Ending the unwinnable war

“Though the war on drugs is often touted as a way to improve society, it seems to do the exact opposite.”

Author: scott pettigrew | contributor

Trudeau Celebrating Drug policy
Credit: Vladimir via Flickr

 

Bluntly, the war on drugs is a total and abysmal failure. The initial goal of the war on drugs was to decrease their harm on society; yet, today drugs play a far more toxic role than they ever have. An atrocious paternal absence epidemic in the United States, bloodthirsty gang wars in South and Central America turning liveable communities into war zones, and billions of dollars of taxpayer money is being wasted to make little to no impact on the drug market, are all products of the war on drugs; and, as far as the actual effectiveness of getting drugs off the streets? Embarrassing. Illegal drugs, in many cases, are several times easier to get compared to legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. Drugs are so pervasive and available that they are frequently consumed in public freely, without fear of legal retribution.

People are finally catching on to the fact that laws designed to enforce “morality” violate the core principles of liberal society…”

Drug laws are not only ineffective, but they make a parody of the legal system as a whole. Our legal system should exist solely for the purpose of protecting the inalienable rights of our citizens, and acting as a preventative measure toward transgressions against them from harmful factors, not as a source of moral authority with the intent to police our personal choices. We are now seeing this tide turn slowly, issue by issue. Not only does this war never accomplish the end goals used to justify the legislation, but they infringe on what ought to be our rights as human beings to make choices for ourselves. People are finally catching on to the fact that laws designed to enforce “morality” violate the core principles of liberal society, and the ability to do whatever you want with your body and your life as long as it does not harm others in the process. By enforcing laws that simply do not work, and are not respected or understood by vast numbers of people, you create a macabre equivalence between selling plants and rape. Before you accuse me of hyperbolizing the situation, understand the reality that rapists and pedophiles often receive far smaller sentences than their drug-trafficking counterparts. That is the frightening reality that we live in.

Though the war on drugs is often touted as a way to improve society, it seems to do the exact opposite. Drugs no doubt play a negative role in the lives of many; the law can often make that pale in comparison. In many cases, selling drugs is quite legitimately the fastest way out of poverty, so it is incredibly easy to sympathize with why somebody who was deprived of opportunity in life would turn to the black market to make a living. Since buying and selling drugs carry such harsh penalties both in Canada and the United States, our prisons are full of young, underprivileged, minority men, guilty only of trying to improve their life and the lives of their families. Once in jail, these men are often turned into hardened criminals who will go on to create far more harm to society than if they were never sent there in the first place. Many of these men are fathers, and when sent to jail, they leave children to be raised in a single-parent household, which is one of the greatest statistical indicators for poverty in adulthood. Plus, while these men are in jail, they are costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. In other words, the taxpayer is paying money to do something to somebody that will cost the taxpayer more money, and that kind of math just does not add up to me.

With the introduction of marijuana legislation soon on the horizon, Canadians seem now more than ever ready for a change about how we think about drugs, and the laws surrounding them. Legalizing marijuana, as far as I am concerned, is a total non-argument. The substance causes far less harm than alcohol and tobacco and has been proven to possess medicinal qualities. The real argument is whether or not we should scrap drug laws altogether. I think we should; the evidence seems to point rather decisively in that direction. Either way, this is a conversation that the world will be having someday soon. If not by choice, then by the sheer reality that the way we deal with drugs today is unhealthy, unsustainable, immoral, and ineffective.

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