Kudos to the police for trying, but the ‘war on drugs’ model is still a failure

It was interesting to learn in last week’s Castlegar News that the RCMP will be expanding their role by providing educational services in the public schools with their new initiative, the “Charter of Commitments and Principles.”

It was interesting to learn in last week’s Castlegar News that the RCMP will be expanding their role by providing educational services in the public schools with their new initiative, the “Charter of Commitments and Principles.”

Their effort to connect with the universities and become a more visible entity in our school system appears to be a benefit to communities. This format has been endorsed by school boards, business, and social organizations that would like to see some positive outcomes for integrating young people into our society. Considering the amount of “dysfunction” manifesting as violence, which the RCMP must deal with, it is not surprising that they would like to participate in the area of social development.

Educational programs are a primary way to teach people how to cope with new situations, change anti-social behavior, and reduce crime. Multiple studies have determined that the most cost effective and efficient way to deal with drug and alcohol abuse is through a prevention and treatment program. Contrasting this control and rehabilitation model is our present policy of drug prohibition that has proven to be the most costly and least effective way to address the issues of drug use.

The wisdom of using a prevention and treatment model of drug education is evidenced in the way our cultural view of tobacco has changed. When the cost of associated diseases caused by tobacco became unbearable, educational programs based on medical studies were published. Tobacco distribution was subsequently controlled rather than criminalized. People learned about the health hazards and took responsibility for their actions. Many stopped smoking and those that are still addicted are offered medical help

At the present time there is an effort being made to apply this model to managing other drugs like cannabis. There is also a growing understanding that the historical injustice of marijuana prohibition is based on false information. As a result, we live with a criminally controlled violent black market that is causing far more damage than any drug.

Young people are not blind to the obvious hypocrisy of allowing some dangerous drugs to be legal, while others that cause little harm are made illegal. Organizations like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and The Global Commission on Drug Policy are speaking out. Their message is simple and clear, “the war on drugs is a failure, a complete disaster, and should be brought to an end.”

The lack of clear honest definition between the two models has made the issue of drug abuse confusing for people to understand. Contrary to better judgment, the Conservative government’s “tough on crime” policy is promoting the failed model by propagating fear, making more laws, and using our tax dollars to build more prisons. This poor political leadership is unfairly forcing the RCMP into the position of facing unnecessary dangers and undermines their ability to improve their public image.

We commend the RCMP for their effort to keep our communities safe. Until we are willing to care enough to change the laws that criminalize personal choice, the RCMP will remain hampered by their required support of the failed prohibitionist model. I agree with Cpl. Kooiman’s statement, “If kids feel cared about by their parents and their community and school … they have a good possibility of succeeding in life.”

This is an invitation for us all to be more involved in the education of our children.

The negative results of drug abuse have been a concern for way too long. Like it or not, our society is saturated with many substances that can be defined as addictive. From the beginning of history, humanity has chosen to use alcohol and other drugs to achieve specific goals like stopping pain or enhancing pleasure.

As responsible adult care-givers, I believe we can work together to sort out the truth from the fiction and provide our children with the clear understanding and guidance they need for exercising good judgment when it comes to responsible drug use.


Steve Clement


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