It is much easier to discuss the murder of young black men in Toronto than it is to discuss the legalisation of drugs.
The number of young black men murdered is small compared to the number of young men of all races who, based on conventional wisdom, will become addicts if drugs are legalized.
The circumstance that there is no evidence to support the conventional wisdom seems to be beside the point. The case for discussion of legalization is not helped by the suspicion in some sectors that black youth tend to be naturally lawless.
It appears that there is going to be another national debate about legalization of marijuana. It should not be limited to one drug, but should encompass all illegal drugs. Politicians should not be allowed to turn the issue into a vote-getting contest.
The crucial issue, respectfully, is whether the danger to health caused by drug use is or is not a bigger social problem than the violence and corruption that arise from its criminalisation.
There are several indisputable facts that can inform the debate.
After oil, the second largest international commodity traded in the world around 1995 was drugs.
The reasons are their widespread use and the high market value due to supply limitations caused by their illegality. The profits from the illegal trade are monumental, and therefore irresistible to many otherwise law-abiding people.
The Ledain Commission recommended in 1972, the repeal of the prohibition against simple possession of marijuana, and cultivation for personal use
America criminalized alcohol during the period known as prohibition in the 1920`s. Violence and corruption reached new heights as a direct result.
Eventually, it was recognized that alcohol could not be criminalized, but users could be held responsible criminally and civilly for damages caused by impairment from its use.
The criminalization of drugs is a 20th century phenomenon, arising in the second decade of the century. Large-scale prosecution started in the U.S in the seventies under President Nixon for political reasons, and expanded thereafter selectively against underprivileged people, mainly Blacks and Latinos in the U.S and Native and Black People in Canada.
Tobacco is dangerous to health, addictive, and legal, although its use is now widely controlled in public spaces.
There is little effort made to distinguish between adult recreational use of drugs and use by addicts in discussing drug issues.