Harper’s broad-brush drug policy absurd

Re: “Harper government has no love of science”, April 17-24

The hostility of Stephen Harper’s government to science—and the damage this hostility may cause—are, of course, not restricted to its desire to shut down Insite but includes other areas of drug policy. The repeated assertion of Health Minister Tony Clement that we must teach our youth that there are “no safe drugs and no safe amounts” will effectively encourage our youth to engage in reckless experimentation with hard drugs.

Ignoring the absurdity of insisting that there is no significant difference between, for example, drinking a gallon of whiskey every day and drinking a glass of beer once a week, countries whose drug policies emphasize the critical difference between soft drugs and hard drugs find this policy effective in discouraging use of hard drugs. Many proponents of marijuana prohibition are aware of this reality but attempt to neutralize it by insisting that, while true in the past, the allegedly more potent strains available today have erased that distinction. The scientific reality, of course, is simply that fewer puffs are required to achieve the desired effect, thus reducing any potential damage to the lungs.

Perhaps these problems can be traced to Harper’s drug-policy guru, Colin Mangham, who stated: “I prefer not to get into rank-ordering drugs in their potential for harm,” and, “Know precisely whom you want to reach. Campaigns are most effective when messages and materials are designed with the characteristics of a specific target audience in mind.”

> George Kosinski / Gibsons




May 5, 2008 at 8:33am

The Ottawa high school kids who started smoking hash about 1968 (40 years ago) had choices; drink like their older brothers and sisters, smoke hash, drop acid, do cocain or etc. It was an opportunity to make informed choices wrighing benefit and considering risks, like the real world. Hash was the opposite of a gate way drug, I made a decision not to risk using stronger drugs. Hash allowed me to avoid what I appreciated as risky behaviour, for me. Life is not a puzzle with a right and a wrong answer, life is mystery.