Legalizing catastrophe


All around the world, there are laws against serious offenses such as robbery, kidnap and murder, yet robberies, kidnappings and murders continue to happen. Is the fact that these crimes are still being committed any reason to get rid of the laws that forbid them? No civilized society should consider making a crime “legal” simply because it fails to stop people committing it.

Yet among the most prominent arguments for the legalizing of drugs is that legislation designed to defeat its production, distribution and consumption has failed to stop the narcotics trade. This was one of the principles that underpinned the Canadian government’s decision to legalize the production and use of cannabis. The laws forbidding these have been abolished and, with much media fanfare, yesterday the first cannabis was sold legally just after midnight in Canada’s eastern province of Newfoundland.

It is hard to comprehend the perverse thinking that has brought about this insanity. The country’s Liberal premier Justin Trudeau made the abolition of anti-cannabis legislation part of his 2015 election campaign. And now, to whoops of joy among the North American liberal establishment, he has delivered, making Canada the second country after Uruguay to decriminalize marijuana.

Trudeau has claimed that the sales of the narcotic will bring $400 million a year in extra tax revenues. To seek to justify this move on fiscal grounds is as demented as the move itself. Some Canadian states, clearly concerned at the change in the law, are seeking to limit the over-the-counter sales. British Colombia for instance is only allowing cannabis stores to open on Wednesdays. However, this muted defiance of the national law is doomed. The state is already the largest consumer of marijuana. Supplies outside the legalized framework will continue and indeed will inevitably increase. Users will prefer to buy their drugs free of the federal tax and thus more cheaply. What is going to happen is that both supply and demand will boom. Trudeau’s government has of course vowed to clamp down on the “illegal” growers and dealers. But this begs the question, if the authorities were unable to stop the production and distribution of cannabis before the law was changed, how are their efforts now suddenly going to become successful?

This is a vapid and extremely foolish move. The damage caused by the substantially increased use of this “recreational” drug will cost Canada’s health and social services, to say nothing of its businesses and communities, far more than $400 million, even assuming this figure or anything like it is actually collected.

And after cannabis, what other “recreational” drugs might be decriminalized? In both Canada and the United States politicians and lobbyists are talking about making cocaine legal, as a way to beat the Latin American drugs barons. And after that, why not heroin and synthetic narcotics?

Around the world, the destruction wreaked by drugs and those addicted to them is already ruinous. Families, communities and societies are torn apart by the horrific and brutal effects of addiction. No addictive drug is better than any other. All are evil and their consequences devastating. Though he is currently basking in the praise and congratulations of the chattering liberal establishment, Justin Trudeau may in time come to realize that what he and his government have just done is to legalize catastrophe.