REALity May 2019

 The Push for Legalization of All Drugs

Efforts are being made throughout Canada to push for the legalization of all drugs for recreational use.  This includes removing the restrictions on heroin, crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, etc.

Those demanding the removal of restrictions on all drugs include Joe Cressy, a member of the left-leaning Toronto City Council and Chairman of its Health Committee, and Toronto Medical Officer, Dr. Eileen de Villa.  In addition, the BC Centre on Substance Abuse has, in the last two months, published what would appear to be a blueprint to legalize all drugs in Canada.  In February, it recommended heroin compassion clubs, which would include on their boards, active drug users.  The purpose of these clubs would be to provide pharmaceutical-grade heroin to members, without a prescription, at a price competitive with illicit sellers, or at a reduced price to members who can’t afford this drug. In another article on-line, March 2019, five researchers from the centre suggested giving drug traffickers the technology to ensure that their customers are getting “safe” drugs, rather than fentanyl-laced drugs, as a possible solution to the scourge of drug opioid deaths. The authors of this recommendation speak darkly of the problems created by the “constraints of prohibition” on drugs.  They recommended, instead, decriminalization zones where drug dealers can use drug checking technology, which would apply to all drugs sold by traffickers.

Harm Caused by Drug Legalization

The push for legalization and normalisation of all drug use has caused alarm among researchers.  For example, marijuana was legalized in Canada in October 2018.  Prior to this legalization, Canadian youth had among the highest usage rates in the world, but these rates were trending downward.

Reported use among high school students in Alberta and Ontario, for example, reached its lowest levels in 2014-15 of weekly and occasional use, at 9% and 15%, respectively.  However, recent research, carried out at the University Of Waterloo School Of Health and Health Systems, has found that the legalization of marijuana and the discussion leading up to it have had a detrimental impact on Canadian youth’s use of marijuana.  The study, using the data from more than 230,000 questionnaires from Canadian high school students in grades 9–12, found that almost 10% reported having used the drug at least once per week in 2017–18, with a further 18% saying they had used it at least once in the last year.  Even during this very brief period of time, the use of marijuana has increased and the trend is clear.

That is, the study found that discussion in 2016-17, together with its legalization in 2018, changed youth’s perception of the drug and increased its use.

This provides a hint of what lies ahead should we decriminalize all drugs.