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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ending the war on drugs should be part of Conservative strategy to avoid deficits: eNDProhibition

Jacob Hunter with eNDProhibition, the anti-prohibition wing of the New Democratic Party, thinks ending the war on drugs could save the federal government billions in program and enforcement spending, and generate another $10 billion in taxes from $40 billion in economic activity from the now-illegal drug trade.

Here are his assumptions:

-- $10 billion in forgone taxes in the drug trade from $30 billion in market activity in BC, Quebec and Ontario, with the rest of Canada offering another $10 billion. (With is corporate tax rate at 38%, this number makes sense.)

-- $3 billion in taxes are spent annually on the drug war by federal, provincial and municipal governments. (The only federal figure I’ve seen for drug war spending is $500 million, but I believe this figure excludes enforcement activity.)

-- $7 billion in opportunity costs. (I don’t know what this figure represents.)

In an email sent today to eNDProhibition members, Hunter wrote:

Last week the Conservative Party announced that they will be posting $34 and $30 billion dollar deficits for the next two years. Jack Layton and the NDP announced that they will oppose the budget but failed to mention that ending prohibition would add more than $10 billion per year to government coffers while adding $30 billion in market activity to the economy.

Instead of listening to the majority of Canadians and legalizing marijuana, our government is instead burdening future generations with $64 billion in additional debt.

Harper is increasing taxes on future generations to the tune of $64 billion, and using that money to cut taxes today. Raising taxes tomorrow in order to save today from the same fate. Lowering taxes while increasing spending is the very same failed ideology that led to this economic crisis in the first place.

There is a lot of wisdom in Hunter’s statement. The war on drugs has been a costly failure, and ending prohibition could eliminate billions of dollars of wasteful spending and create economic activity. Also, cutting taxes while running a deficit is a criminal practice that shifts the burden of taxes from one generation of the next. It’s taxation without representation or compensation.

The problem with NDP thinking is that while they often oppose deficit spending, they also oppose reducing the size of government. What they seem to want is big government and high taxes, a recipe for economic ruin.

Given NDP Leader Jack Layton’s demonstrated willingness in the recent federal election to abandon NDP candidates who advocate drug policy reform, including eNDProhibition founder Dana Larsen, Hunter and the other activists with eNDProhibition would likely do more good working with the Libertarian Party, or even lobbying from within the ranks of the Conservative Party membership, which still harbours grassroots libertarians and anti-prohibition MPs like Scott Reid.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on January 24, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

For conservatives searching for a Faithful sign of change,
consider Genesis 1:11 the next time the Flat Earth Society wants to prohibit cannabis.

If Jesus was more concerned with what came from
mouth than what went in them, maybe he was right.

If scientists say some forms of cancer are cured with
cannabis, it sounds like a miracle I'd like available, if
it wouldn't be too much trouble.

Posted by: Karen Yung | 2009-01-24 9:26:58 PM


The mothership will be ready to pick you and the wipehead superstars up at 4:20.. April 20..

Klatu

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-24 11:37:17 PM


Much of the marijuana grown in Canada is destined for export to countries where it is still illegal. The oft-quoted $30-$40 billion figure for the drug economy is therefore misleading, since the export portion would continue to operate underground. There are also several international drug-control treaties, of which Canada is a signatory, to consider.

As for deficit spending, don't make me laugh. The NDP has zero credibility when it comes to the economy. In fact, it's a party whose very platform is an oxymoron. It claims to champion jobs for the "working" man, but also casts itself as defender of the environment. Blue-collar jobs are the very ones which place the highest burden on natural resources.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-25 12:11:14 AM


Shane is correct that the NDP has zero credibility when it comes to the economy. Why not push for downsizing the government and bureaucracy and the total elimination of so many departments and programs that are worthless other than providing jobs for civil servants? I think that would be a good and much more acceptable choice for most Canadians.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-01-25 12:53:17 AM


Well, not sure how much we would really save, but criminalizing a bad habit is more than insane. Do we send people to jail for alcohol usage?

Posted by: Faramir | 2009-01-25 2:26:53 AM


I'll support legalizing drug use just as soon as users/addicts start paying for their own healthcare and are cut off from all forms of state provided welfare. Unless and until that happens, their drug use has a direct affect on the average taxpayer.

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2009-01-25 9:55:06 AM


Why don't we jail druggies and drug dealers and use them as slave labor?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-25 10:57:52 AM


Great idea, ZP. Perhaps you could provide us with a complete list of peaceful people you'd like to enslave so we can dispense with all the legal Mumbo Jumbo.

Richard, as far as I'm concerned, you're now a convert to the cause of drug policy reform. But why let one bad policy (socialized medicine)entrench another (prohibition)?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-01-25 11:41:52 AM


Zeb,

Really, do you think drug addicts would make good slaves?

Maybe if you made them work for more drugs, but then you'd probably have to legalize drugs to do that.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-01-25 11:53:31 AM


How about we flog them mercilessly like back in "the Good Old Days"? 39 lashes will bring anyone to heel.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-25 12:12:11 PM


A couple things I would say about legalizing drug use. If drug habits move someone to committ a real crime - say breaking and entering - a good idea could be sending people to rehab jails. Also we should probably have laws against drug dealers who deal to minors.

Posted by: Faramir | 2009-01-25 12:34:36 PM


How about we flog them mercilessly like back in "the Good Old Days"? 39 lashes will bring anyone to heel.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-25 12:12:11 PM

Good ol days?
Only in your deranged mind.
What a complete and total asshole.
Why don't you go back in your cave and beat your wife some more...

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-25 7:13:18 PM


They're just druggies! They won't even notice their wounds...at first.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-25 8:28:37 PM


People addicted to beer generally don't become sociopathic thieving animals like heroin addicts, Faramir. Granted, the same could be said for marijuana, but on the other hand alcohol can be used in moderation to no ill effect, or even intoxication.

Nobody takes one puff of grass and says, "That's it; I'm driving." Dope smokers are not noted for the kind of self-discipline such an approach requires. Moroever, those who smoke marijuana are much more likely to graduate to truly dangerous drugs, whereas those who are denied the opportunity to "get their fee wet" with a comparatively benign drug are less likely to.

Some bad habits are strongly predictive of criminal behaviour; some aren't. There's a good argument for outlawing those habits whose likely outcome is serious enough to offset the rather abstract issue of personal liberties, which like any idea can be taken too far. Examples of such habits include speeding, drinking and driving, and yes, getting stoned.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-25 9:29:24 PM


Matthew wrote: "Great idea, ZP. Perhaps you could provide us with a complete list of peaceful people you'd like to enslave so we can dispense with all the legal Mumbo Jumbo."

No one who has spent any time observing heroin or crack addicts would ever describe them as "peaceful people." They are among the most mindlessly and relentlessly predatory creatures on this planet. If offered a choice of being left alone, unarmed, with either a great white shark or a drug addict, I'd pick the shark.

"Richard, as far as I'm concerned, you're now a convert to the cause of drug policy reform. But why let one bad policy (socialized medicine)entrench another (prohibition)?"

Whether he's a convert or not is for him to decide, not you, Matthew. As for one policy entrenching another, all government assistance comes with an attendant loss of freedom. Want firefighters to come save your house, no questions asked? They'll ask you to use sprinklers and smoke detectors. Want a police force to handle the bad guys? They will require power to coerce citizens, since the bad guys are citizens and won't cooperate otherwise. Want to benefit from socialized medicine? You assume a higher level of responsibility for your personal health, since it's not just you who pays if you screw up. And let's face it, drug abuse is unhealthy.

Let's be clear--almost NONE of these drugs is a "casualty of war"; it is possible to receive prescriptions for all of them, including marijuana and opiates. They are not prohibited; they are controlled, as all drugs are controlled, commensurate with the risk associated with improper use. In the case of Rolaids and Clearasil, that risk is small. In the case of heroin and crack, the risk is HUGE.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-25 9:45:38 PM


Actually, Terrence, putting them to hard work in another environment, far from the place they used to get high, would probably work at least as effective a cure as a regimen of methadone. A little vocational training on the side would be an excellent supplement. Once they're clean, you can release them.

Let's be clear here--we don't want to sentence drug addicts automatically to death (although I admit it's tempting sometimes). If we have a choice of killing them or getting them off the stuff, I think the better choice is clear. For those who simply can't or won't get off, lifetime isolation from the general population is probably the only solution. Drug addiction, in itself, does not merit execution, so that leaves the work camp.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-25 9:53:56 PM


Eighty percent of the crime in Vancouver is committed by drug addicts scoring for their next fix, Faramir. A jail to hold them all would be too expensive. A work camp in a remote location is probably more cost-effective. The inmates could earn their keep and have something to think about besides drugs. Oftentimes an abrupt change in environment can help with the cure.

As for the many addicts who are mentally ill, send them to Riverview. Mental institutions are about as politically correct as residential schools, but even that is an improvement over life in the street.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-25 9:57:49 PM


P.S. All I've said above, applies only to drug addicts, end users. Drug growers, pushers, and smugglers should be sentenced to death, without exception. Starting with Marc Emery.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-25 10:00:16 PM


I have no problem with the work camp idea (as an alternative to prison), but only for drug users whose behaviour directly affects others. In the case of addicts on the downtown east side who commit several thefts a day, and don't care about getting caught, you'd probably be doing them a favour.

But the simple act of ingesting a substance (particularly a naturally-growing one like marijuana) should not be punishable by law. The existence of a public medical system (which, in itself, is an affront to liberty) should not be used as an excuse to impose even more laws.

If you want to save the medical system money, it would make sense to allow the sale of marijuana through properly-supervised channels, then impose reasonable taxes to cover the medical cost of marijuana (which taxpayers are currently on the hook for anyway).

As far as hard drugs go, each individual should be allowed one free "OD"-related visit to the hospital. Before they are released, they should make a choice: 1.) sign up for long-term rehab/work camp duty, or 2.) waive their right to use public medicare in the future.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2009-01-25 10:33:01 PM


Shane: "Those who smoke marijuana are much more likely to graduate to truly dangerous drugs, whereas those who are denied the opportunity to 'get their fee wet' with a comparatively benign drug are less likely to."

Laws against marijuana don't deny anybody the change to "get their feet wet" if they want to (marijuana is more popular than tobacco among Canadian high school students). They do, however, force basically law-abiding teenagers to form ongoing commercial relationships with criminal thugs.

Because marijuana is criminalized, it is sold by many of the same people who sell hard drugs. Smoking marijuana doesn't make you more likely to try heroine. Hanging out with drug dealers, on the other hand, makes it significantly more likely.

If you outlawed chocolate bars tomorrow, a lot of chocolate-lovers would turn to the black market. And a lot of dangerous crooks would cater to this demand, then tempt their "customers" with other, more dangerous products. Chocolate would become the ultimate gateway drug, and prohibition would be 100% responsible.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2009-01-25 11:09:01 PM


"Richard, as far as I'm concerned, you're now a convert to the cause of drug policy reform."

Ummm... Not so much... You've got your cart before your horse. I want guarantees that no drug addict/user will adversely impact another taxpayer before I even consider promoting the legalization of currently illicit drugs. If that guarantee can't be made, then the taxpayers have the right to shield themselves from said adverse impacts (undue expropriation of their property)through prohibition laws.

Let me make this very clear... There's no way in hell that I'd promote the legalization of illicit drugs at the expense of myself, my family, my friends, or the taxpayer in general.

Those who ask that we do so are simply dopers who are asking that society (the taxpayers) allow them to do as they please while society (the taxpayers)picks up the cheque...

Sorry pal, that's not my game...

Promote the abolition of taxpayer-funded health-care and welfare first and then we'll play...

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2009-01-25 11:30:57 PM


I trust you'll support imprisoning fat people then, Richard. They are, after all, a burden on our healthcare system and taxpayers.

Until we get rid of public healthcare, send fat people to jail?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-01-25 11:55:40 PM


"I trust you'll support imprisoning fat people then, Richard. They are, after all, a burden on our healthcare system and taxpayers.
Until we get rid of public healthcare, send fat people to jail?"

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-01-25 11:55:40 PM"

'Richard' Open your eyes! You are brainwashed!
Under your ideology of jailing those who create
their own illnesses, we have to jail almost everyone! The drinkers, the smokers, the eaters, the recreationists.
Imagine the following scenario!
I went to a house party last night. I drove my car! Whoops, I'll have to go to jail for I spewed the environment with toxic substances which will make myself and others sick and in need of health care.
While at the party I ingested alcohol, junk food.
The alcohol and junk food will cost the health care system and my health some negative effects.
Should I be jailed as a criminal?
According to your way of thinking, I should be jailed.
Just stop and think about the things that all humans do every day, willingly and purposefully, that will eventually cost the public health care system, at some time in the future, a great deal of money.
We cannot incarcerate our way through our problems
like you suggest. Hell, we'd have 75%+or- of our entire population in jail.
This kind of bass ackwards approach to human weaknesses is what got us in the mess that we are now in with drug prohibition.

Posted by: Chummy Anthony | 2009-01-26 6:34:06 AM


Jeremy, the canard of "marijuana is a natural substance" is just that, a canard. Marijuana is a natural substance. Opium is a natural substance. Cocaine is a natural substance. And cobra venom is a natural substance. Just because a substance is natural doesn't make it safe, any more than the fact that something came from a lab makes it dangerous. Nylon, for instance, is synthetic, but absolutely non-toxic (and not very tasty either).

As for addicts "waiving the right" to use public medicare, don't kid yourself. Even in the United States, people without a dime to their name will be rushed to emergency and stabilized. No paramedic is going to attend an overdose in the street, check the patient's medicare status, close his bag, and drive off.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-26 6:57:14 AM


First, Jeremy, no law can absolutely prevent any behaviour; it can only help keep it at tolerable levels. To say that a law is ineffective because it cannot prevent EVERY instance is like saying seat belts are useless because they won't save your life in EVERY collision. We both know that's not true.

Second, these laws do not FORCE anyone into anything. It requires a conscious effort to go out of your way to find an illegal dealer. And we are talking about a substance they absolutely do not need. The fact that teens are rebellious is no excuse for repealment of all the rules.

Since marijuana has never been legally sold in this country for recreational use, at least not in your lifetime, you don't know whether it's hanging out with drug dealers, or wanting a more intense high, that prompts the switch to the big H. You're just speculating. Again, no one is FORCING these kids into anything--and peer pressure does NOT count as "forcing."

Your chocolate straw man is ridiculous. There are no risks, apart from expanding waistline and damaged teeth, that result from chocolate abuse. Not many people would turn to crime to satisfy a sweet tooth, either. Honestly, if you want to compare something to an elephant, at least pick a hippo or a rhino, and not a hummingbird.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-26 7:04:59 AM


Matthew wrote: "I trust you'll support imprisoning fat people then, Richard. They are, after all, a burden on our healthcare system and taxpayers."

Actually, the greatest burden on the health care system is the "healthy" patient who lives into his eighties and requires extensive residential and medical care for many years, all of which are extremely expensive.

Fat people, on the other hand, save the system money by crapping out early from a heart attack, avoiding the extensive palliative care often required by the elderly. Ditto for smokers. But of course, it's easier (and more politically correct) to tax "sins" than it is to tax people for simply getting old.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-26 7:10:33 AM


Chummy wrote: “Open your eyes! You are brainwashed!”

The age-old cry of the professional malcontent.

“Under your ideology of jailing those who create their own illnesses, we have to jail almost everyone! The drinkers, the smokers, the eaters, the recreationists.”

We’re not jailing those who create their own illnesses. Just those who transform themselves into predatory dirtbags by huffing a substance they knew was forbidden to start with and didn’t give a shit.

“Imagine the following scenario!”

I’d rather not—if it follows typical activist form it’ll be absurd beyond words.

“I went to a house party last night. I drove my car! Whoops, I'll have to go to jail for I spewed the environment with toxic substances which will make myself and others sick and in need of health care.”

See?

“The alcohol and junk food will cost the health care system and my health some negative effects.”

Fatsos actually end up costing the system LESS in the long run; see above. And junk food by itself is not dangerous, unless you overdo it. Even if you do, it’s not often someone holds up a convenience store for the Twinkies and leaves the cash in the register.

“Should I be jailed as a criminal?”

No, you should be locked up as a loon.

“According to your way of thinking, I should be jailed.”

Proposed and rejected.

“Just stop and think about the things that all humans do every day, willingly and purposefully, that will eventually cost the public health care system, at some time in the future, a great deal of money.”

Like living into their eighties or nineties, for instance? Scumbags.

“We cannot incarcerate our way through our problems like you suggest. Hell, we'd have 75%+or- of our entire population in jail.”

Actually, the U.S. has managed to sharply curb its crime rate by incarcerating less than two percent. And that includes drug users as well.

“This kind of bass ackwards approach to human weaknesses is what got us in the mess that we are now in with drug prohibition.”

Weaknesses are shortcomings to be overcome, not crutches to lean upon. The fact that someone has an addictive personality doesn’t give him the right to get high, get hooked, and turn into a slimebucket robber zombie.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-26 7:20:14 AM


"I trust you'll support imprisoning fat people then, Richard. They are, after all, a burden on our healthcare system and taxpayers.

Until we get rid of public healthcare, send fat people to jail?"

um, no... enacting new dumb policies in order to gain some sort of parity with the old dumb policies is, well, dumb.

You are correct that jailing fat people is the next logical step for the statists and it is part of a larger trend. In Ontario, they enacted a ban on smoking in vehicles while children are present. The culprit gets a fine. If that person fails to pay that fine, they will be brought before a judge by men carrying guns. If convicted of said crime of smoking, our hero will face jail and/or community service and/or additional fines. If he refuses to perform the community service or pay the fines, the men with guns will pick him up and place him in jail.

They're willing to jail people for smoking, I see no reason why they won't do the same for fat people.

Throwing smokers and fat people in jail increases the burden on the taxpayer just as the legalization of illicit drugs will increase the burden on the taxpayer.

Neither option is desirable.

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2009-01-26 8:42:08 AM


Chummy; Matthew was trying to put words into my mouth and you were dumb enough to take those words at face value. I'll state this again and I'll type very slowly for those of you who still don't get it...

I don't care if a crack-hoe spends her life in a drug induced stupor.

I don't care if some fat slob eats so much that he can't leave his house.

I don't care if smokers contract and die of cancer.

I don't care if a snowboarder breaks his neck.

Those individuals made their own decisions and where I have a problem is when their individual decisions have, through the coercive power of the state, an adverse effect on non-involved taxpayers.

To take Matthew's approach of legalizing illicit drugs without first addressing the additional burden on the taxpayer funded health and welfare systems will only increase the adverse effect on the non-involved taxpayers.

If I'm brainwashed, Chummy, I've been brainwashed by Ayn Rand and Ann Coulter.

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2009-01-26 9:06:14 AM


Shane: "As for addicts "waiving the right" to use public medicare, don't kid yourself. Even in the United States, people without a dime to their name will be rushed to emergency and stabilized. No paramedic is going to attend an overdose in the street, check the patient's medicare status, close his bag, and drive off."

Okay, if the paramedic wants to treat the guy out of the goodness of his heart, that's fine. But the guarantee of prompt medical treatment in a hospital simply wouldn't exist for these people. Even morally, I think this can be justified to a certain extent... Why, after all, should people who have made terrible choices in life and show absolutely no desire to correct those choices be allowed to clog up the medical system that others rely on? What if another patient (who actually had something to live for) died because they were prioritized lower than a chronic drug user? Would that me morally excusable?

Of course, in order to protect the right to "security of the person," drug users would need a Constitutional right (at least in theory) to buy private medical insurance. Under the equality provisions in the Charter, all Canadians would have to be granted the same right.

The legalization of private medicare would be a sort of "icing on the cake" (for libertarians) if drugs were decriminalized on this basis.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2009-01-26 3:58:08 PM


"Since marijuana has never been legally sold in this country for recreational use, at least not in your lifetime, you don't know whether it's hanging out with drug dealers, or wanting a more intense high, that prompts the switch to the big H. You're just speculating."

You're right, I can't prove it, but I've seen it happen more than once. From what I've observed, it's not marijuana that ruins lives, but the lowlife social circle that all-too-often surrounds it. People who don't get caught up with criminal drug dealers always seem to avoid the supposed gateway effect.

There is no reason whatsoever that marijuana should be more of a gateway drug than alcohol. Sure, some people drink too much, lose their jobs, ruin their lives, then turn to hard drugs. But most people who drink (even to excess) aren't going to go out and look for a heroine dealer just for the heck of it.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2009-01-26 4:07:54 PM



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