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Ear to the Ground

Canada’s ‘Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’

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Posted on Apr 27, 2013
Wiros (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A retired 29-year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Service told Vice magazine that he wants to see all drugs legalized and regulated by the government.

“When I started in the police department in ’72, the War on Drugs was just starting, and I quickly recognized that there was something wrong with it,” William VanderGraaf, a member of the Canadian chapter of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, told the magazine in an interview. “We were harassing people for their own vices, so to speak, not for crimes they were committing against other people.”

“Police involvement in those situations is accomplishing nothing,” he continued. “We’re filling up our jails with non-violent people, and to what end? Every time you take a drug trafficker, whether it’s heroin or marijuana, off the streets, there’s another one or two or three or ten around the corner waiting to take over. The whole thing was essentially a big waste of time. All we did was hurt a lot of families, a lot of poor families, whose fathers and husbands now were going to jail for committing a non-violent act.

VanderGraaf wants to see all drugs, including more harmful substances such as crystal meth and heroin, decriminalized and controlled by government. Such a move wouldn’t lead to wider use, he believes, because use has remained at about 1 to 1.3 percent of the national population. For those who are addicted, he said, “we have to have a regime where they can get help in a system that doesn’t cause them to commit crimes to maintain their habits.”

“The war on drugs will end,” he continued, “when the general public has had enough of the unintended consequences. The drive by shootings, the murders, the random killings, mistaken identities, things like that. We’re starting to see that [change], and when people become outraged enough at these unintended consequences, they will see that we have to regulate [drugs] to make it safer for everyone, not just the drug users.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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