The end of the war on drugs -

The end of the war on drugs


Rob Silver wonders if the Liberals might have an opportunity to do something bold on drug policy.

When Bob Rae said Tuesday, in a clear statement of the obvious, that the “war on drugs has failed,” he is also stating that consistent Liberal Party policy (with a minor interruption when we supported decriminalization of marijuana) was a failure. But if we are really reinventing the Liberal Party then why are we in any way bound by the past. Why wouldn’t we take the statement the “war on drugs has failed” to its only logical conclusion, namely that “the Liberal Party of Canada would therefore end the war on drugs. We will legalize and regulate drugs. We were wrong in the past to support policies that based on objective evidence do not work and only have destructive consequences domestically and internationally but we have learned from our mistakes and if Canadians trust us to form government again, we will do things differently.”


The end of the war on drugs

  1. The ‘war on drugs’ was insanity from the beginning.  Prohibition never works.  By all means let’s end it.

  2. They’d get my vote on that one. Frankly I’m sick of watching government’s waste money on failed prohibition tactics.

    Teens regularly report that they have a far harder time getting access to cigarettes and booze than they do drugs and sex. That should tell us something don’t you think?

    It’s quite obvious why this is the case. To get alcohol or cigarettes one has to walk into a store in which one can be called upon to produce ID at any time. The industries are heavily regulated for quality and taxes are applied.

    If this is really about protecting children, you’d think the government would step up and regulate rather than handing a multi-billion dollar industry to the most unscrupulous people in our society: organized crime.

    I mean, how is this rocket science to anyone at this point?

    I would add too, that taking this industry back from criminals would also boost the legal economy by billions of dollars.

    We could use that right now.

  3. Like +Phil King just said, boosting the coffers of organized and independent criminals to the tune of CAD$billions/annum is wasteful lunacy. To take that money and invest it in education and, primarily, rehabilitation, would be a beneficial move.

    How to end the unwinnable war on recreational drugs is somewhat more complicated, however. Marihuana/hashish could be sold in liquor stores, perhaps also magic mushrooms and peyote, without cause for concern. All have long histories of safe use by humans for millennia. Maybe even coca leaves (but how to prevent the criminal element from into turning it into crack or powder cocaine?). Dr. Andrew Weil wrote a compelling book regarding modern society’s dysfunctional relationship with the basic human need to commune with the divine, which has historically often been facilitated with the use of psychoactive plants.

    The rest of the stuff hitting the streets is not suitable for distribution, due to the serious health consequences. So, there would still be a need for some kind of prohibition. It is difficult to bypass it completely. However, having legal options would go a long way toward making the illegal drugs less attractive.

    • Agreed, though I’d still decriminalize the nasty stuff and focus on outreach and drug rehabilitation practises.

      A lot of crime is generated by users of heavy drugs and they often avoid getting help because of the legality issues surrounding their addictions. Jail isn’t helpful in these severe cases. Intervention-type scenarios make far more sense IMO.


  4. The return of the marijuana party!
    Nothing says “family values” like appealing to junkies and drug dealers.

    • Same thing they said during Prohibition in the 20s and 30s.  Do you people never learn?

    • That sonic boom you just heard was the sound of common sense flying overhead Turd.

      The entire point of regulating would be to take control OUT of the hands of junkies and drug dealers.

      Sheesh bud, keep up!

      • I’m sure that one will have wings when put before the electorate. I honestly hope the Liberals move forward with this.

        • Honestly, TF, stick to precious metals speculation. You have credibility there. Sane policy decisions, not so much.

      • “The entire point of regulating would be to take control OUT of the hands of junkies and drug dealers.”

        I support legalization of drugs but I am curious – if government did regulate drugs, how many do you think Government would provide. 

        Would gov’t offer full buffet of drugs or would only a few be available? 

        Offering people legal access to heroin or meth would be wildly controversial, much more so than allowing people to buy gunja or mushrooms. 

        • This is true, but there is a societal pressure element that we gain when we narrow the boundaries. 

          If doing illegal drugs is sort of winked at and tolerated because we know that most of the “illegal” drug use isn’t really hurting anyone, then it’s harder for people to really get up in arms against just the dangerous stuff.

          Basically, the guy who’s doing marijuana right now doesn’t have a lot of firm ground to stand on when he says that the guy doing meth is in the wrong.

          If we narrow the prohibition, we’ve given those people room to be able to come out against harder stuff.

  5. Dif provs have dif rules but I am in Ontario and prov already operates a legal drug network – Beer Store and/or LCBO –  that can distribute even more product lines than it already does. 

    I agree with Silver’s proposal but I would be amazed if any major party supported this policy. For the past twenty years or so, Canadians have been on rampage to ban goods and services, not add to our selection. 

    Human beings are hard wired to want to alter their perception of reality –  drugs, alcohol, endorphin high from exercise, roller coaster rides, swings, teeter-totters …. etc. Human beings have been drinking alcohol, and taking other drugs, for thousands of years. It is pointless to try and ban drugs, should be regulated. 

    However, since we haven’t had a proper liberal party for the past 30-40 years protecting individuals interests, the war on drugs is likely to go on and on. Good luck to any party that says it makes sense to ban bottled water, shark soup and choc bars but here’s some heroin, kids.

    “Ontario’s self-proclaimed “education premier” is defending his ban of junk food in schools … ”

    “Students arriving for classes at the University of Toronto will find bottled water is no longer available at most locations on the downtown St. George campus …. ” 

    “A proposed shark fin ban in Toronto has some Chinese businesses around the city grappling … James Ko, the general manager of Casa Imperial Fine Chinese Cuisine, is skeptical of the effectiveness of a city-wide ban on shark fin. His restaurant is known for its dim sum and high-end wedding banquets finished with shark fin soup.”

    • Just f.y.i, “The Beer Store” in Ontario is a government-sanctioned corporate distribution oligarchy that is entirely foreign-owned  – Molson-Coors (American – About 49%),  ImBev (Belgium/Brazil – about 49%) and Sapporo (under the Sleeman marque – 2-2.5% or so).

      This is an unacceptable situation, especially considering the $ the hard-working guy at the corner store could earn if he/she were able to ply these wares in their operations.
      Wine, too. But that has other outlets for ‘local’ product (Weston stores, mostly).The LCBO rakes it in for GovOn.

  6. Hell, if any political party came out and publically said, “Yes, we were wrong about but we’ve learned from our mistakes and are taking steps to fix it”, at this point they’d be such a breath of fresh air I’d imagine a land-slide victory.

    I don’t even think it matters what the issue is, or even if they were wrong to begin with.

    Hah. Too funny. It sees the “issue” as a tag and puts the closer in for me at the end.

  7. Last time I was in London, UK, a few years ago, you could purchase “magic” mushrooms at pharmacies — they were advertised on big signs outside the doors.  I’m not for prohibition at all; it just doesn’t work and it benefits a horrible criminal element in our society.  As for pot, please — I know people with the Order of Canada who grow it on their windowsills.  It’s just a little green leaf that makes you feel nice.  Nothing wrong with that.  I’d be thrilled to see a federal party take a common sense stand on this.

    • Personally, I’d like marijuana to be heavily regulated, at least until we know more about it’s connection to anxiety disorders in the subset that’s vulnerable.  Primarily a ban against smoking it in public areas or letting smoke escape into public areas.

      • I know there is a theoretical link between very young users and the occasional development of anxiety, but that tends to be put out in an alarmist and not scientific way.  A few years ago, I was involved in the development of a TV series on all kinds of substances and their impacts on lives — we covered booze, party drugs, meth amphetamines, you name it — we searched the world over and found it impossible to find a well done documentary that just looked at pot, not as medicine and not as social evil.  It’s like there’s been a ban on research to go along with the prohibition. In the end, we chose a doc about a link between SOME young users and schizophrenia — and we were (rightly) criticized for airing it as part of the series.  I don’t  think children should be allowed drugs of any kind, including cigarettes, but I see no reason to ban it publicly as long as we allow public drunkeness, etc.  Truly Thwim, I’ve observed pot culture since I was 16 and I’m 50 now, and I’ve seen people who smoke too much and suffer from no motivation in their lives — ie they can’t get off the couch after work; meanwhile I’ve seen lives absolutely destroyed and of course, snuffed out, in the alcohol culture.  Truly the middle road is always best.  Prohibition only drives stuff underground.  The war on drugs has been a colossal and costly failure.

        • That lack of research is really the only reason I want it legalized to the point where it can be regulated. So that they can do actual research on it. As is it, all I have now is anecdotal evidence — the strongest of which comes from my partner who can trace an extremely severe anxiety disorder’s onset back to a first use of marijuana.

          Not saying it happens to everybody, or even a large number of people, but there is scattered evidence that for a small number of people, a single exposure to the stuff can, quite literally, ruin their entire life. And I’d love it if we could get some solid research on that together, to see what the drug actually does in the brain and, more importantly, to see if there’s any decent way to undo it.

          • I’m with you and in fact, would welcome the opportunity to work with some research and produce a doc on this.  The fact that we’ve talked back and forth about legalizing/decriminalizing pot since about 1968 yet still have no real research on the stuff is disheartening.  I guess as long as it remains illegal, scientists have no impetus to study it — yet that doesn’t make sense; how could we take any steps toward making it more acceptable in our society if we don’t have anything beyond anecdotal evidence.  Not that I discount that, but you know, that plus more…

          • The administration’s disconnect from science is shocking. A federally commissioned study by the Institute of Medicine more than a decade ago determined that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety “all can be mitigated by marijuana.” The esteemed medical journal the Lancet Neurology reports that marijuana’s active components “inhibit pain in virtually every experimental pain paradigm.” The National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, notes that marijuana may help with nausea, loss of appetite, pain and insomnia. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia, home to 90 million Americans, have adopted laws allowing the medical use of marijuana to treat AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other ailments. The federal government itself cultivates and supplies marijuana to a handful of patients through its “compassionate-use investigative new drug program,” which was established in 1978 but closed to new patients in 1992.


          • Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of the population. That percentage has held steady since the disease was identified, while the percentage of people who have smoked marijuana has varied from about 5% to around 40% of the general population.


            Kindly Google any of the following combinations:

            Nicotine and Schizophrenia
            Alcohol and Schizophrenia
            Chocolate and Schizophrenia
            Sugar and Schizophrenia
            Gluten and Schizophrenia

            So should we hand the market in any of the above substances to criminals (which is what prohibition effectively does) because its use is ‘associated’ with a certain minute part of the population? Many bipolar patients misuse caffeine and tobacco in an effort to bring on a manic state, thus becoming a danger to themselves or others. Should tobacco and caffeine or whatever works for each individual be prohibited to boost ratings or rhetoric also? Where does it end?

          • Nice one.  That always kills me — the way people confuse cause and effect vs. correlation.  Apparently drinking milk during childhood causes heroin addiction, because, remarkably, virtually all heroin addicts drank milk as children!

          • “That always kills me — the way people confuse cause and effect vs. correlation.”

            XKCD ~ Correlation:

            Man: I used to think correlation implied causation. Then I took a statistics class. Now I don’t.

            Woman: Sounds like class helped.

            Man: Well, maybe.


          • Kindly read. I didn’t say anything should be prohibited.

            So if you wouldn’t mind getting off your high hobby horse for a second, you might actually have something reasonable to say. Until then, I’ll just have to assume the air’s too thin.

  8. Isn’t it a happy coincidence that the federal drug action plan is suddenly back buying TV ads just as the Tory’s crime crime CRIME bill comes back to the House? Happy happy.

  9. Re: ‘Marihuana’ (as the current gov. press release Reefer Madness-ly dubs it):  A quasi- or fully- legalized status would mean less revenue to organized criminal elements, more to gov’t coffers, regulation for quality/strength (no more ‘wheelchair weed’ ), open discussion of possible harms in a family/home environment, less housing of user/personal growers in penitentiaries…and so on. Really, it’s all upside. If there is a downside it hasn’t been argued in a cogent or less-than-alarmist fashion.

    (The same might be argued for psilocybin, opium and other common, ‘earth-grown’ stimulants and hallucinogens, but these are far less widely used.) 

    Silver is on to something here.

  10. They’ll talk about it in hopes of siphoning back some soft NDP support. But it will never amount to anything.

  11. We are under a “government of laws”, not a “government of men”. But if someone can plant drugs among your belongings, and if you are then required to prove that the drugs are not yours (which you can’t), then you are under a government of men, namely of those who are willing to plant evidence. Therefore the reverse onus of proof cannot be valid in any jurisdiction.

    More: .