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While newspapers fall over themselves to be scandalized by 100 grand going towards policing 4/20 once a year, they are silent about the much bigger expense of fighting the pointless war against cannabis. The fact is that Vancouver's cannabis activists have saved the city many millions of dollars over the years.
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The rise of Mexican cartels can have ramifications in Canada that exceed drug-related problems commonly associated with them. Cartel activities can have a direct impact on immigration, human trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime in Canada.
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They launch crusades of violence against the easiest of targets: the racialized Other, the immigrant, the slum dweller, the refugee. They promise a return to a Utopian past at the expense of their chosen scapegoats - each one of a certain colour, geographic origin or religion - only to guarantee an impoverished future for us all.
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As we urge the move to legalization and regulation, we also need to recognize that Canada has significant issues with drug consumption, both in terms of those that are legal, at present, and those that will become regulated as we shift away from criminalization.
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The War on Drugs has been a failure, and soon enough using drugs will shift from a criminal to a public health issue. But what if we paid people not to engage in harmful consumption? If we rewarded them for stopping damaging use? Couldn't the savings in all manner of costs greatly outweigh the comparatively small expense of any incentive?
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Treatment as Prevention (TasP), pioneered by the BC-CfE and implemented in British Columbia with support of the provincial government, has shown that bringing HIV services to those in need where they are at saves lives, prevents new infections and contributes to health care sustainability.
The War may suffer a slow and prolonged demise, but the end will surely come. Canada can be a leader on these issues. It can steadfastly promote the winding down of the War. Our country should reclaim its position on the international stage, not as a nation of power, but one of humanity.
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Over the five years I spent seeking treatment, my family and I encountered a seemingly endless series of obstacles -- from programs that couldn't accommodate me, to waiting lists that lasted much longer than my desire to get clean -- all of which combined to feel like the treatment system was designed for me to fail.
It's become clear that the way countries evaluate their drug policies dictates the kinds of outcomes that governments are seeking to highlight. Simply put, reform begins with taking a hard look at what governments themselves are prioritizing in their drug policy evaluations.
Before premiers, liquor unions and corporations start falling all over each other in an effort to cash in on legal cannabis sales, let's remember the real reasons we should be ending cannabis prohibition in Canada.
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Earlier this month, Francisco Flores and Efrain Campos Flores, nephews of Venezuela's first family, were arrested for trying to transport 800 kilos of cocaine through Haiti. Is it possible to move beyond ideological affiliations to target the greater problem of drugs smuggling?
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I was a true believer in the war on drugs, but at the end of the day, as a physician, I have believe in an evidenced-based approach. The evidence shows that incarceration doesn't work, and decriminalization with offers of treatment do. It's time to ignore dogma and act in the best interests of Canadians. It's time to end this war.
Why not show the seedy, disgusting underbelly and sickening adverse effects drugs have on us feeble humans? Images of a deviated septum, busted arm veins, chronic bleeding noses, rotten teeth, fetal effects, undernourished human bodies, etc. Horrifying images of what drug use has on the human body. Visceral images that make one think "that's repulsive, I'll never do that." We usher in a movement that illustrates and encourages dialogue about the revolting face of what drugs do: destroy the human spirit, decay our bodies, ruin families, and ultimately lead us to an early grave. There is NO glamour in drug use, no matter what Kanye is singing about.
Last week, MPs debated Bill C-2 -- an Act to Amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The primary purpose of the bill is to obstruct the establishment of safe injection sites in Canada, despite over a decade of successful harm reduction at Vancouver's Insite. This is just one example of how politicians of all stripes get drug policy wrong.