Calgary's Drug Laws and Public Safety DON'T Go Hand in Hand: Part 1

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Drug-related crimes make up a significant portion of arrests made by the Calgary Police Service and other law enforcement agencies in the Greater Calgary Area. Investigations and "sting" operations conducted by the police have led to the arrest of many Calgary citizens accused of nothing more than the possession of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and other substances.

People who have no intention of doing anything than ingesting these substances in the privacy of their own homes are targeted, arrested, and convicted on a daily basis here in Calgary, which makes one wonder how free we really are to make our own choices regarding our bodies and our lives.

Removing Criminal Penalties for Drug Possession Could Make Calgary Safer

I am not denying that drugs can be dangerous—there are health risks associated with any drug, legal or illegal, medicinal or recreational. There are also serious health risks associated with alcohol and tobacco, however, and instead of laws making possession of these substances a crime we have laws that regulate their sale, laws that imposes taxes on these substances to be used to offset costs related to healthcare and public safety, and clear information regarding the risks these substances carry. The possession of most recreational drugs, though, carries the risk of a criminal charge and all of the stigma that comes with it.

Making drugs illegal makes creates an unwarranted stigma of criminality. It makes it harder to seek treatment for drug dependency problems, it costs Calgary taxpayers a great deal for law enforcement and imprisonment of drug users (and prevents any tax revenue that could be used for more effective medical treatments and drug rehabilitation programs), and most importantly, it puts everyone in Calgary at greater risk.

The Calgary Police—and most Calgary media outlets—love to trumpet the number of drug-related arrests made, and almost every story ties the drug trade in Calgary to Calgary's violent crimes, as well. The fact that Calgary has low rates of violent crimes compared to other major Canadian cities and to cities the world over is rarely pointed out. What's never pointed out is the fact that violence only exists within the drug trade because drugs are illegal.

When was the last time there was a shootout between alcohol distributors? Violent crime associated with the cigarette trade? These issues don't exist because alcohol and tobacco can be traded legally—thefts can be reported to the police, and trade is easy enough to engage in without stepping outside the law. Criminalizing drugs doesn't mean only criminals will take drugs, but it does ensure anyone engaging in selling drugs has to do so in a hidden fashion. The hidden nature of the trade, not the trade itself, is what leads to violence.

Contact a Calgary Defence Lawyer for Your Drug-Related Charges

The criminalization of drugs is a public safest problem for Calgary in more ways than one. The issue is explored in greater depth in Part 2 of this article. In the meantime, for questions about your own drug-related charges and how to defend yourself, please contact my office and schedule an appointment with one of Calgary's most passionate defence lawyers.

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