Saturday, April 15, 2006

Former cop says drug war a flop: Prohibition vs. Regulation

24 Hours Vancouver

The U.S.'s war on drugs is a losing battle and it's time to surrender, according to a former Seattle police chief.

Speaking at Vancouver's Fraser Institute yesterday, Norman Stamper shocked some and affirmed others with his theory that legalizing and "rigorously regulating" now-illicit drugs such as heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine is more productive and socially responsible than American-style prohibition.

"A heroin addict needs his or her heroin and I think it's cruel to deprive them from that heroin ... it's like depriving a diabetic of insulin," said Stamper, who argued a regulated-government model of drug production and distribution with "hard-to-get and easy-to-lose permits" is a "just, reasonable and compassionate solution to the drug problem."

"The beautiful thing about Canada is that people are talking about it and saying the decades-old way of doing things isn't working.

"We need to find something new," he added.

And while Vancouver's once controversial four pillars program is still young, Stamper said the city is taking positive steps forward by combining enforcement, prevention, harm reduction and treatment in their efforts to combat drug use.

Calling Stamper a "thinker ahead of his time," B.C. Attorney- General Wally Oppal wouldn't say whether he thought the Canadian government should legalize and regulate illicit drugs or not, but he did say that when it comes to deciding how to handle our own drug problems, government should consider a dangerous American trend that shows the U.S. spends more money on prisons and incarceration than education.

By Robyn Stubbs


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