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  1. The war on drugs : a failed experiment (eBook, ) []
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Elsewhere in the world, there has been a sea change. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton agree with legions of public health officials, scientists, politicians, and police officers that a new approach is essential. Paula Mallea, in The War on Drugs , approaches this issue from a variety of points of view, offering insight into the history of drug use and abuse in the twentieth century; the pharmacology of illegal drugs; the economy of the illegal drug trade; and the complete lack of success that the war on drugs has had on drug cartels and the drug supply.

She also looks ahead and discusses what can and is being done in Canada, the U. Sparkingthe Debate.

Prohibition Prohibition Lite or Legalization? Most opponents of legalization simply ignore the issue. Yet the pursuit of this outcome must be central to any discussion of the drug war. Of course, it is probable that a certain amount of black market activity would continue even after legalization -- much like the smuggling of cigarettes that still occurs across the Canada-U.

I would argue that if we can price the product right, gangsters will decide it is not worth their while to pursue the trade. Even if a residual amount of underground activity takes place, we will have broken the back of the illegal industry.

The evidence is overwhelming that drugs should be controlled and regulated by governments; that is, by the people. Governments already preside over the regulation of many addictive and potentially harmful drugs. After all, governments are elected to look after the common good, and they are supposed to have our best interests at heart. We entrust them with helping us care for our health and safety. When they fail in this, we have the opportunity to replace them. Some feel legalization of drugs would lead to a "free-for-all.

When young people are asked how hard it is to obtain illegal drugs, they say it takes about ten minutes to buy just about anything they want. This cannot be what Canadians want, especially given the millions of dollars we spend on law enforcement and incarceration. The failure of 50 years of suppression demands a thoughtful and sensible search for alternative solutions.

The war on drugs : a failed experiment (eBook, ) []

It is disheartening in the extreme to watch Canada regressing in its approach to illegal drugs while the rest of the world moves on. Not only has our prison population increased by Much of this increase is due to drug offences. What does this say about who we are as a people? We have been wholly unwilling or unable to prevent the entrenchment of a discredited and biased approach to controlling illegal drugs.

And this despite the fact that even the United States is showing signs of retreating from the tough-on-crime model by beginning the process of pardoning non-violent offenders who were unjustly sentenced to long prison terms for using drugs and ensuring no imprisonment for small-time users.

The U. Attorney-General has even recognized the shocking disparity in the way drug laws have been applied to incarcerate disproportionate numbers of African-Americans and Latinos: "This over-reliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable. It comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate. We have much to learn from Evo Morales's staunch defence of culture and tradition as he convinced the United Nations to allow his people to continue using coca.

Unlikely jurisdictions like Kyrgyzstan and the Chinese province of Guizhou put us to shame by adopting more compassionate approaches.


It is not expected that the sky will fall in Uruguay any more than it has in Colorado and Washington after legalization. Colorado has been dealing with a legal marijuana regime since January 1, Even though it's early days, the state has reported no increase in crime or traffic accidents since the new regulations came into effect. In fact, there has been a spill-over tourist boom. Bakeries are reporting that business is up more than 1, per cent.

One medical marijuana dispensary that used to make a thousand dollars a day is expecting to make one hundred times that much by autumn. These are encouraging figures for those who have been advocating for marijuana legalization. However, we still face the obstacle of convincing the public that harder drugs deserve similar treatment.

Indeed, I am convinced that those are the very drugs that most require control and regulation by responsible governments. The production and distribution of heroin and cocaine should not be left in the hands of criminals. For the sake of our own health and that of our neighbours, we need to take charge. There remains a stubborn belief that harm reduction efforts such as safe injection sites somehow encourage more drug use. Yet the evidence shows the opposite: drug use tends to remain the same or decrease while health and mortality statistics improve.

Switzerland's heroin maintenance program is a good example. In twelve years — , the number of new heroin users fell by 82 per cent, while the overall population of users was down four per cent.


The number of injection drug users also dropped. In Canada, our current government has made its choice.

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Harm reduction is out. Punishment for drug users is in. Offenders convicted of victimless, non-violent drug offences face mandatory minimum prison terms. The idea of providing prescribed maintenance doses of heroin to addicts is anathema. Needle exchanges are frowned upon. Small children are denied the medicine they need. Medical marijuana users in general are targeted in the push to punish drug users, as Health Canada says failure to comply with new rules will result in a visit from police. There are ample templates available from those with deep knowledge about the drugs in question.

There is a wealth of information out there that we should exploit. We simply need the will to act. She is an executive member of the board of the national office of the CCPA, a life-long advocate of equality for women and author of several books. Paula comes from Western Manitoulin Island in Ontario, and lives and writes there now. May 31, Donna Davis rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , net-galley , reviewed , pol-sc , blogged , drc-dundurn. This is a dry read, but the content makes it worthwhile.

Mallea has some important things to say, and it's time to sit up and take notice. A big thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for a chance to read it early and free. It was and is a wake-up call for Americans who have not been paying attention to the fact that drugs are now the pretext for incarcerating an unprecedented proportion of young Black men in the USA. They emerge, This is a dry read, but the content makes it worthwhile. They emerge, Alexander points out, stripped of their citizenship rights, to vote, to hold office, and in some cases if they are convicted a third time, they are packed away for life.

Those who go back into the work force have a harder time finding a job and often settle for low-paying, menial jobs. Those whose pride cries out against it head right back into underground ways of making a buck, and the cycle continues. African-Americans use crack less frequently than Caucasians, but they are incarcerated for this offense far oftener than white people. I did not see statistics regarding other countries and their under-served minorities, in the cases were these exist, but Mallea is primarily making a case for what the USA should do, and she maintains her focus, avoids side issues.

When she mentions policy and practice in other nations, it is to show that the War on Drugs has affected other nations adversely, and that there is an international trend, with some exceptions, toward decriminalization or even legalization of what are now illegal drugs. If the US were to make changes, we'd have plenty of company.

The war on drugs is a failure if the object truly is to stop people from using illegal drugs.

The War on Drugs in Afghanistan: Another Failed Experiment with Interdiction

Mallea's documentation is nearly as lengthy as her narrative. It is clear that she understands her proposition will be a tough sell, and she has rolled up her sleeves and proven her case well. For this reviewer, teaching in high poverty schools and raising teenagers--white, Asian, and Black--in the city of Seattle has provided evidence enough. If I didn't value the privacy of my family and former students, I could write my own book.

So to be fair, I should mention that Mallea didn't have to convince me; I was already convinced. But for those more skeptical but willing to look at the data, she has painted an extremely compelling argument. Because in making drugs either a minor offense, punishable by a fine as many locales punish violations of open container laws, a great deal of money can be saved by federal and local governments.

If legalized, some sort of quality control can ensure that fewer people ingest rat poison when they think they are taking a barbiturate. Education and treatment plans are more effective if those who wish to be treated don't fear arrest when they come forward to seek help. The money saved in chasing America's Black youth and packing them off to become denizens of the ever-growing prison system could instead be used for treatment facilities. It's both economically sensible and humanitarian.

But what of those who don't want treatment? Again, it doesn't change anything in the long run for those people, just as Prohibition would not have kept your Aunt Millie from getting drunk enough to fall forward into the eggnog at holiday gatherings. But very few people--especially youth--are actually rehabilitated by prison. The data on this is thick on the ground, but Mallea's bibliography and footnotes should convince you if you don't already know this. Those of us who have legitimate prescriptions for controlled substances this is me speaking, not the author have noticed that we have to do everything except strip naked and write our name in blood when we fill those prescriptions.

In some cases, people who legitimately have the drugs and need them sell them anyway out of economic desperation: she cites the case of a truck driver who sold two Oxycontin to a woman he thought was a prostitute so that he could put fuel in his truck. Bad news for him! She was an undercover cop, and he was under arrest. The War on Drugs is more like a Frankenstein monster that has orbited out of control. It's time to seek a saner solution. Here in Seattle, Mallea's postulation has proved correct so far, at least in regard to decriminalization of marijuana. Let's be a little braver, probe a little deeper. Most huge social changes appear frightening at the outset, and yet later we look back, as we do now at the choice to end Prohibition, and wonder why the change wasn't made sooner.