Civilian Casualties in War on Drugs
If you've been reading the newspaper, you'll no doubt have noticed a pattern the past few weeks. When the front page doesn't declare the death of another victim of gang violence, it speaks of the trials of other members, or the impotent promises of politicians on every level to "crack down" on the gangs. If it is as simple as just "cracking down" on these people, I wonder why they didn't do that years ago.
These victims, we are told, are the civilian casualties of a gang war. I disagree. While it was certainly gang members that pulled the trigger, the war that killed these people was our government's war on drugs.
Drugs are illegal for moral reasons, for the pretense of protecting people, and because have always been. The model of prohibition was decided to be the best way to keep people from using them, and it has failed. It has failed miserably, and now the world's most profitable and competitive industry lies in the hands of violent criminals.
Between the manufacturer and the user, any given portion of illegal drug rises in value about 2000%, a number unheard of in any other industry. This money gives a lot of power to very bad people, and is what makes the gang lifestyle so attractive. By means of failed and obsolete policy, the government has managed to bring around the worst case scenario regarding the drug market. Moreover, by refusing to regulate the production of drugs, they make relatively safe substances dangerous, reversing their own mandate of safety.
In paradoxical style, Canada's drug policy does the things it sets out to prevent better than doing nothing at all would.
In Vancouver, a number of providers of drugs are competing in the freest market imaginable. To them, murder, even that of innocent bystanders, is justifiable if it brings them enough profit. They won't stop because the government has decided to "crack down" on them. Longer prison sentences will only make the business more profitable, and therefore more attractive. They won't stop selling until people stop buying, and people won't stop buying until there is someplace else to buy. Only the government can bring that place into existence. The only question that remains is how many more bodies it will take before drug crime is made obsolete.