[h1]Legalization needs study[/h1]
This newspaper has traditionally opposed the legalization of drugs. The arguments for that viewpoint are well known, shared by many people and radiate out from the central premise that drug addiction is a blight on the person, families, neighbourhoods and society as a whole.
One only need witness the dreadful squalor of the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver and similar neighbourhoods throughout B.C., or listen to the heart-wrenching stories of addicts or their families to learn about the devastating price exacted by addiction.
But perhaps it's time legalization was given due consideration by our governments.
Headlines over the years, and alarmingly so in recent days, describe the shocking violence stemming from the illegal and literally cut-throat drug trade. And experts such as Simon Fraser University criminologist Robert Gordon warn that midday gunplay and other examples of extreme violence are only going to get worse due to the increasingly high prices -- and profits -- from that trade, particularly of cocaine, which has doubled in price in the past year, largely inflated by reduced supply from increased policing.
Desperate police more or less have been reduced to asking the gangsters that if they must shoot each other to at least not do it in public places where innocent people may die. They've died before and will again.
There is mounting evidence the so-called War on Drugs can't be won -- and too many people are dying while it's being fought. Even many police believe this.
Legalizing drugs, and putting their production and distribution in the hands of legitimate businesses that could be taxed would end the huge drain on the public purse for policing and free up cash to treat addicts.
Our current approach to the drug problem isn't working. It's time for Ottawa to seriously consider new ideas.
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