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Legalize Pot To Halt Violence


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Legalizing drugs as a way to combat the drug trade may go against traditional views, but it's an idea with its share of supporters.

A Packet & Times story last week in which a member of the Huronia combined forces drug unit talked about violence in relation to drugs received many responses.

One was from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization comprised of current and former police officers, attorneys, judges and corrections workers.

The organization is in favour of legalizing drugs as a way to take the drug trade off the streets and into a regulated environment.

"We're not starry-eyed utopians who think we aren't going to have any problems," said LEAP founding secretary John Gayder, who works in law enforcement in Niagara Falls. "We're still going to have addiction, but the drug dealers won't be getting rich from it and the bloodshed will stop."

While he doesn't deny drug-related violence exists, he said it isn't necessarily because of the drugs themselves, but due to conflicts among dealers, manufacturers, consumers and law enforcement.

If drugs were legalized, he argued, disputes could be settled through legal channels, an option not currently available.

By taking away the illicit nature of producing and distributing drugs, LEAP believes the market for illegal drug dealers and producers would be eliminated.

"I'd sooner focus on the fact that drugs are a commodity that a huge number of the population want to consume," he said, noting he's not an advocate of drug use, but supports bringing drugs into a sphere where regulations can be imposed on those who do use them.

Ron McInnes, owner of local business The Pot Shop, supports legalizing marijuana, something he believes he'll see in the future. "A lot of people who want it legalized are passive to the point where they won't speak up," he said, adding if all those in support of legalizing the drug came together, there would be more movement on the issue.

"I think marijuana should be legalized with the same rules beer has," he added.

The parallel between drugs and alcohol is one LEAP draws, as well.

Gayder points to the prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century, which led to the rise of criminals who sold it illegally. He said when prohibition ended, so did the majority of criminal activity associated with it. He believes it would be the same with an end to prohibition on drugs.

Frank Elbers, director of drug enforcement for the OPP, knows there are those who would like to see drugs, specifically marijuana, legalized. But, as long as marijuana remains an illegal substance, police will continue to uphold the laws surrounding it, he said.

"If the government decides to change the laws, as they have for a number of other things, then we would change accordingly."

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: Orillia Packet & Times (Canada)
Author: Courtney Whalen
Contact: cwhalen@orilliapacket.com
Copyright: 2007 Osprey Media
Website: Osprey Media. - Orillia Packet & Times - Ontario, CA
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