The headline of the article read “Crystal Meth Crackdown Urged”. The story, from the Canadian Press, was that the Premiers of the four Western Provinces (and three northern Territories), meeting in Lloydminster, had issued a communique announcing a plan to deal with the growing popularity of the highly addictive drug, crystal methamphetimine. There was a picture of the four premiers walking down the street, semi-casually attired. The plan: insist that Crown prosecutors demand higher sentences for trafficking. This announcement is entirely typical of Canadian politics. It pretends that the Premiers are taking action, but it does nothing to help addicted teens and young adults and their families, and nothing to help people to avoid fooling around with toxic and addictive mood-altering drugs.
The premiers played the old federal-provincial game, and the game of blaming the Courts for not fixing social problems. The premiers of the provinces were actually calling on the Federal government to direct the lawyers in the Federal Prosecution Service to take action. The provinces don’t handle the prosecution of drug offences. The provinces manage and pay for the prosecution of Criminal Code offences. The federal government pays for the prosecution of drug offences. The prosecutors can ask for higher sentences, but the courts pronounce the sentences. Tough sentences don’t deter drug dealers in Canada or the USA or anywhere. The money is good and there are always new players ready to take the risks of selling drugs. Law enforcement in this field is like pest control – swat one, and a minute later, another one has arrived.
The provinces have authority in the field of health care and the provinces could do much more to treat addicts, even to the point of putting them into involuntary treatment. That of course would take a funding commitment, to re-priorize funds from existing programs and to shift people into new jobs working with unpleasant people.