Friday, 30 September 2011

Illegal Drug Traffic cannot be fixed by punishing its victims.

Real drug problems stem from tolerating heroin poppy fields in Afghanistan.

Harper's law and order agenda gets a hit from the Supreme Court of Canada. The battle to control heroin and cocaine crime cannot be waged at a safe injection site in Vancouver.

by Tom Thorne
The Harper Government's doctrinaire notions about drug addicts and safe injection sites got struck down today in a 9-0 decision by The Supreme Court of Canada.
The Harper government had been muscling a Vancouver and other Canadian safe injection potential sites threatening to close them using the heavy hand of federal criminal illegal drug control legislation. These safe injection sites were to be criminalized and closed as part of Harper's get tough on crime policies.
The people engaged in running these safe injection sites fought back with a number of arguments mainly based on the right of provinces to provide health care for their citizens whether they are involved in criminal acts or not. They also argued that the site's ability to control disease was a social good.
Watching over drug addicts as they inject, they argued, enables health authorities to control diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS/HIV which is rife among drug addicts sharing needles without proper sanitation.
Safe injection sites help to control disease

Since heroin and other injectable drugs are illegal, the federal government argued that the federal criminal law was being ignored at safe injection clinics. The Harper government wanted to bring down their federal jurisdiction for criminal drug control on the people offering safe injections.
Admittedly the drug problem in Vancouver and other metro cities in Canada is bordering on epidemic and it is also politically very visible when addicts shamelessly use alleyways and parks to shoot up. Spent needles are left on the ground in plain site. It looks bad and it is and remains a sore on downtown Vancouver. 
Even in my small Eastern Ontario town is not immune as we see our share of drug addicts on our downtown streets seeking their daily fixes.
We also see a methadone clinic on my town's main street operated by provincial authorities as a way to lure addicts off heroin and crack. It is an expensive tough fight that always teeters on failure as people marginalized by their addictions try to recover or simply survive between fixes.
The distribution of illegal drugs observe basic economics

So what way is right? Obviously the laws of supply and demand are working well throughout Canada for all illegal drugs. The criminals who provide these hard drug substances seem to have the distribution well organized as they fill the needs of the hooked addicts.
I can sympathize with the frustration of the federal government to control these drugs and the policing and court costs they mount up. In addition, the cost they bring to provincial health care budgets is gigantic. However it is not a problem that can solved with doctrinaire law and order policies as we see from the Harper government.
The human costs and wasted lives of drug addicts is incalculable as the monkeys on the backs of addicts ensure poverty and misery for their children and families. So what is to be done?
In Mexico they have been actively fighting drug cartels using the army and federal police in a shooting war and the violence they create has bodies in the streets and politicians fearful of saying anything for fear of being gunned down. It is a literal war on drug approach and it seems to be creating a no-win limbo for the Mexican authorities.
Drug lords are like a government unto themselves. In fact the goal of organized crime is to have the power of a government by graft and influence. They control low paid police and soldiers with bribes. They intimidate law enforcement and their drugs move north to American and Canadian cities as easily as if they were part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
In South America drugs form part of several countries GNP and in places like Afghanistan heroin poppies pay a lot more to farmers than growing vegetables or grain. Clearly the poppy fields exist to fund the Taliban and they are tolerated by the Karzai government and its imbedded corruption.
No incentive to stop. Drug crime is attractive to poor people.

There really is no incentive in the hard drug producing countries to stop producing drugs. The sale of heroin and cocaine fuels economic activity and the dollars associated with this market are so huge that the drug lords buy governments inactivity.
So besides the toll in the streets we see in our cities as more people get hooked the incentive to stop this trade is fleeting. In some ways it is a more pernicious form of terrorism than bombs and attacks. 
We know that terror organizations utilize drugs as a way to fund themselves but their reach into our daily life is very real when we see our addicts and the cost of their addictions to our government budgets. That is the real war.
The real war on drugs we can wage is stemming the financial channels drug lords use to launder their huge cash flows. How much drug money is invested into other legitimate businesses? I suspect a lot is in commercial real estate  buildings, resorts, legal casinos, malls and condo towers probably located in the cities where they sell drugs on the streets.
Organized crime and terrorists are symbiotic.

It is organized crime on a large scale. And when the money from these illegal activities is not used to invest in legitimate businesses it is used by terror organizations to buy arms and corrupt governments where they operate or hide.
When Stephen Harper talks about his law and order agenda and drug control I think there is a lot of smoke and mirrors at work especially on the control of heroin and cocaine markets. The people who operate these criminal organizations are as skillful as any legitimate multinational corporation.
The economic power of the drug cartels is everywhere. It creates untaxed dollars world wide and it saps government health and social programs as its profits mount.
The real war on drugs will not be fought on the streets of our cities, or with guns in the hills of Colombia or the poppy fields of Afghanistan. It will be fought with Swiss banks, real estate holdings and wherever the money for illegal drug distribution is invested.  Anything less is form without substance do nothing political grandstanding.

Evidence of industrial strength crime organization.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

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