Sunday, May 18, 2008

Margret Kopala's Drug Warrior Clap Trap

Drug warrior Margret Kopala is at it again.

Experienced advocates and demonstrators all, the purposes of these convoluted
funding arrangements aren't clear but it wouldn't be the first time the courts were used to advance an agenda with camouflaged taxpayer dollars footing the bill.

Given that Insite reduces costs, you have things backwards. The taxpayer will be left holding the bag if the Conservatives succeed in closing Insite down.

It is all part and parcel of the twisted logic, moral gymnastics and legal quagmire that has engulfed Insite since its inception in 2003.

There is nothing mysterious about the body of research looking into the effectiveness of Insite or for that matter heroin based maintenance programs in Europe. The studies are straight forward and the results telling. Conversely, listening to Tony Clement repeatedly claim that there is academic disagreement about the effectiveness of Insite gives one the feeling that one is down the rabbit hole.

In Alberta, the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act allows parents to commit their adolescents for compulsory treatment while outreach programs and drug courts offer compassion but demand accountability.

Most people in drug treatment in Ontario are there because they abuse hard drugs. Only a small percentage, 13% in 2005, are there because of marijuana. Furthermore, those that are there for marijuana differ from other people in treatment, in so far as they are much more likely to be there because of outside pressure. Not surprisingly the typical person in “treatment” for marijuana use in Ontario is a single teenage male who is still in high school.

Ontario is not unique. Despite the fact that number of marijuana users in Western world positively dwarfs of the number of people using hard drugs, in most Western countries the vast majority of people in drug treatment are there because they abuse hard drugs. The notable exception is the US. The vast majority of people in drug treatment in the US are there because they purportedly abuse marijuana. Why the difference? Well if you dig a little deeper you see that the majority (70%) of people arrested for marijuana possession, including many casual users and even some first to users, are there because they have been given a choice, “treatment” or jail. In fact, the rise in the number of admissions for treatment correlates perfectly with a rise in the number of arrests for possession. In true Orwellian fashion, the Drug Czar cites these figures as evidence that other countries need to get tough on drugs. Now that is what I call twisted logic, moral gymnastics.

As for addictive drugs with purported medicinal properties, they should undergo accepted legal and scientific protocols before being marketed or prescribed, protocols circumvented by medicinal marijuana that now need correction.

I see. When it comes to Insite you feel it is alright to ignore all available research, but one it comes to medical marijuana your tract is to say that more research needs to be conducted well all the while demanding that such research not go ahead. Rich. Too bad enough evidence has already leaked out about some of marijuana’s medicinal uses and too bad the "scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol … ”

we must remove the harm in harm reduction -- a fatalistic, patronizing, no-hope approach that sanitizes, normalizes and facilitates continued use of drugs.

I would not call characterizing drug addiction as a disease normalizing such behavior, but let us leave such rantings, premised as they are on the infantile belief that drug abuse can be eliminated in a free and democratic society, aside. There is nothing fatalistic about harm reduction. Those who favor it really do believe that they can effect change, i.e., get this reduce harm, and unlike the drug warriors they have actually had some success.

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