Letter to the Editor: War on drugs

Another federal prison is not needed. What we do need is to end the "War on Drugs," which has been a failure

Another federal prison is not needed. What we do need is to end the “War on Drugs,” which has been a failure. It hasn’t worked. We need to reduce the prison population and prison costs.

Legalizing marijuana is not just the morally proper and logical direction to take, but a financial and socially beneficial direction.

Take the statistics on the percentage of the prison population with drug convictions with a grain of salt – but only a grain. The exact numbers do not affect the argument. So, I’ll say that something like 30 per cent of those imprisoned are in there on a drug conviction, mostly for possessing or distributing the “evil weed.” That is probably a conservative number. The majority of these people are young, in their 20s and 30s. Incidentally, the prison population percentage is much higher in the U.S., yet our government is moving towards more convictions, emulating that corrupt and dysfunctional system.

I once asked a friend who is a federal judge: “George (not his real name), of those you’ve convicted of a violent crime, how many were high on marijuana?” His answer: “None.” How many were drunk? “Most of them.”

Drunk people get nasty and/or stupid. High people get passive “Hey man, chill out; relax.” Liquor is legal; marijuana is not.

All those young people in prison are not paying taxes. Instead, prison costs are a massive drain on the federal budget. Studies have shown that switching to providing social support instead of incarcerating people would be far cheaper and would result in those thousands of inmates working, paying taxes, buying consumer goods and improving, not draining, the economy. (Are you right wingers listening?)

We’ve all heard that our social system costs are heading towards a cliff. The increase in the average age of Canadians is continuing. That means an increasingly lower percentage of younger taxpayers to support that social system. We cannot afford to continue imprisoning our young taxpayers. We cannot afford to lose the social system benefits and we cannot afford to build and staff more prisons.

John Allen/Kimberley

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