Drug education the answer

On May 4, 2009 Abbotsford held a forum on “Rethinking Health and Addiction: A call for action.”

On May 4, 2009 Abbotsford held a forum on “Rethinking Health and Addiction: A call for action.” Participants in this forum (65 per cent) would legalize marijuana, adding that enforcement makes criminals from law abiding citizens.

This kind of reasoning is simplistic, lacks common sense, denying a long standing problem criminally and socially. How can one talk about “law abiding citizens” who knowingly break the law? Simple solution: legalize the substance so as to avoid any consequence to the user!

Fast forward to 2012 when we read the cover page in “The News, Feb. 2,  Ecstasy: dueling with death”. It continues to say that 18 people died in BC, two of whom were from Abbotsford.

The news media paraded former Attorney Generals, former premiers and other politicians who, after their political career, are proposing the legalization of marijuana.

It is unfortunate that people are buying into this fallacious argument, because a drug, is a drug, is a drug.

Using terms of “soft” or “hard” drug is misleading and wrong.

By definition a drug, is mood modifying, changing the way a person thinks feels or acts. It matters little if we talk about taking heroin, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, or ecstasy the results are the same.

Legalizing a substance like marijuana will not make it safer to use.

Now the Abbotsford School District and other agencies want to set up a substance abuse review task force.

Forgive my cynicism, but how many studies and reports do we need, to recognize that we have a serous problem at hand? Legalizing is supposed to lessen the criminal activity, but will it? What makes us think that the criminal element will suddenly go away when marijuana will be legalized? As long as there is a market out there, and there is, criminals will seek to make their ill gained profits.

It is very strange that almost no opinions, recommendations, or plans are being discussed on prevention/education as this in fact may be the key to the whole problem.

The Canadian experience of prevention, treatment, education and enforcement worked very well in the 1980s; learning about the “Four Pillar Approach” model coming from Europe was very encouraging and promising.

Prevention does take time and is by no means a quick fix, but once in place it does work. For a few short years we, here in British Columbia, were encouraged with the results, until the funding from all three levels of government dried up, setting us back to square one again.

In the meantime we create more task forces, more forums, more reports, searching for the illusive “silver bullet”, while people are suffering and even dying. The drug situation requires an active concerted effort by appropriate agencies, involving moms and dads, youth, all levels governments (national, provincial and civic), as well as the judiciary and law enforcement.

Prevention/education needs to be an ongoing endeavor, it has to become a change of life style, similar to our smoking restrictions, only then can we expect a reduction of drug abuse and criminal behaviour in our society.

 

Fred Ursel

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