Officer calls for truce in drug war
Prohibition failed with alcohol and gambling and doesn't work with drugs, says cop
Millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted supporting a losing war on drugs, an off-duty Victoria City Police officer told Vancouver Island University criminology students this week.
Joanne Simister, VIU criminology department chairwoman, invited David Bratzer to speak to second-year students about why making drugs illegal only feeds organized crime, creating a costly vicious cycle with a heavy social price.
Bratzer told students preparing for jobs as crime-fighters that he supported the war on drugs "100%" before becoming a Victoria beat cop.
He changed his tune after carefully studying the evidence gathered by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
He is now a speaker for LEAP. He has gone as far as Hawaii to carry the message of how European countries have reduced the harm caused by drug addiction simply through decriminalization.
While acknowledging "drug legalization is messy," Bratzer told students it is the "least bad" solution since it takes a business away that feeds organized crime and the violence associated with gangsters, while freeing up resources to address homelessness and health care.
When Portugal legalized limited quantities of heroin, "the United States went ballistic," Bratzer said, but soon HIV transmission plummeted and drug treatment numbers doubled.
"It turns out when people don't fear criminal prosecution they are more likely to engage in the health care system," he said.
When Switzerland started prescribing heroin, many junkies got jobs. "It turns out when you're not worried where your next fix is coming from it brings stability in your life," he said.
Canada spends $500 million on the war on drugs yet governments that have dabbled in decriminalization quickly found they had more resources for social and health programs, according to Bratzer.
The fact wasn't lost on students. Peter Tiel, who plans to be a probation officer, found it "pretty informative, just how much is being wasted."
Bratzer speaks Wednesday to a senate committee looking at Bill S-10, which gives minimum sentences for growing marijuana.
By Darrell Bellaart, Daily News, November 2, 2010
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