(This column was published in the North Shore News on July 19, 2000)


Free drugs for addicts would be Kwan's folly

By Leo Knight

JUDGING from a brief sojourn into the world of television news last week, it now seems apparent that Jenny Kwan, NDP Minister of Municipal Affairs, has decided the only way to stop junkies from keeling over in their fetid mess is to provide them with safe injection sites and free drugs.  


Such is the measure of enlightenment emanating from Victoria. Drugs are the poison killing them, so let's give them easier access to the drugs.  


Kwan was out parading around last week, fresh from her recent brush with the law, a Minister of the Crown engaging in a little trivial graffiti during yet another protest, on that occasion demanding the property of others be given to those who haven't earned it.  


The "skids" in Vancouver, an area which used to be a few blocks along East Hastings, has now grown to include much of Chinatown, Gastown and beyond.  


Euphemistically called the "Downtown Eastside" for those eschewing the reality of "Skid Road," it has long been populated by the poor, the besotted, fallen whores and those who prey on those less able to protect themselves.  


But, what was once an area where omnipresent drug dealers used to hide from the enforcement actions of the police, it has now become a veritable downtown drug emporium. A street flea market for every type of mind altering substance imaginable, home to a battalion of Honduran crack dealers and Asian street thugs, not to mention our own homegrown white trash, the "Skids" has evolved into a bubbling cauldron displaying the futility of a justice system gone wrong and a government that just doesn't get it.  


On any given day, at any given hour, in any given alley, you can see the results of the permissive society tying up a bicep while spanking a withered arm trying desperately to coax a metal fatigued vein out of its slumber just one more time.  


Kwan's answer is to give them free drugs because that will somehow stop the dying and the despair in the poorest neighbourhood of the best country in the world to live in.  


What's next? Perhaps she'll order up a "safe drinking" house and give the winos she stepped over to get to her little protest, a bottle of the best B.C. wine. After all, they're dying down there too, drinking Chinese cooking wine and poking holes into cans of Lysol to "shoot" the contents (an act colloquially known as a Proctor & Gamble cocktail).  


The NDP have, for the nearly 10 years they have held power in Pitiful B.C., largely ignored these people, the very citizens of Kwan's own riding. There are so few treatment beds, that even if a junkie wanted to escape the needle, there's precious little in available resources.  


These people need help, not more drugs. They need places with warm beds and warmer hearts to help them escape the hell they are in. They sure as hell do not need a benevolent government adding to their life's misery by making it easier for them to get the poison that is destroying their lives and killing them by the hundreds.  


What is it with this lot? Do they somehow think they would be a better class of drug dealer?  


Drugs, whether the weekend pot smoker believes it or not, are killing our country. And, at the same time, are providing untold billions into the pockets of organized crime. Good God, marijuana cultivation has become the third largest industry in a natural resource rich province.  


No, I don't want to hear from the aging hippies who think it is a harmless drug. It isn't the drug of their youth. Not any more. The percentage of THC content in the hydroponic crop produced in this province outstrips the Woodstock version by over 600%.  


No one reading this would condone someone getting smashed on booze then driving a car. Well, why is it somehow acceptable with marijuana? Is the person they hit any less dead? Most women wouldn't think of having a drink while pregnant, but somehow the occasional toke is still okay?  


The argument for legalized drugs doesn't hold water at any level. The shallow thinker, or perhaps those who conduct their thought analysis while sucking on a "bong," believe that to make drugs legal will eliminate the ravages of organized crime. Really?  


Once legalized, are we going to allow a 14 or 15 year old kid to buy marijuana? Heroin? Crack cocaine? What about a little speed to get them through exams? Hell, we won't even allow them to buy cigarettes, which however unhealthy, is at least not mind-altering. Where a prohibition exists, so will a black market. This isn't rocket science.  


What about the U.S. or Europe, or South America, China, Korea, Japan? Are all these places going to jump on the legalization bandwagon as well? Or will B.C. Bud, produced illegally, still be the global toke of choice?  


I refuse to accept the arguments portrayed saying that we are criminalizing people for innocent activity. Talk to any police officer and ask them the last time they made an arrest for simple possession of marijuana. It just isn't done and hasn't for many years, unless the individual is such a belligerent yahoo they practically scream out to be arrested for something, anything. The truth is that the simple possession of so-called soft drugs has been decriminalized for all intents and purposes for the past 10 or 15 years.  


No, despite what the pro-druggies say, the police do not target the users. They are after the dealers. And the organized crime teams and drug squads are after the bigger fish, those who make millions trading in human misery.  


We have portrayed drugs and the drug culture as somehow harmless. Trust me, it isn't. Look at ecstasy. The media call it a "designer" drug as if it's haute couture. Ecstasy, or MDMA is, essentially, a vile chemical cocktail of LSD and methamphetamine. Great, you get to hallucinate at high speed. That sound you hear at raves is not music, it is the collected noise of neurons popping in kids' brains.  


This government is trying to outlaw tobacco and, at the same time, looking for ways to accommodate drug use all the while ignoring their responsibility to provide treatment for those whose addictions are leading them to the morgue.  


Maybe the lunacy of drugs will never end. Maybe the war against drugs cannot be won. But surely, for the sake of our kids, surrender is not an option.






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