Skip to content

LETTER: 'Foolish' young lives 'ruined' due to simple drug possession

'Better solution would be to sentence these minor offenders to work outside of school hours or their jobs for a specified number of hours at something useful,' writer says
Stock image

MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via our website. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is about the war on drugs and sentences for simple possession.

The war on drugs doesn't work.

Canada and the US spend millions of dollars, man hours and equipment trying to prevent the importation and trafficking of various drugs and it seems the problem is increasing exponentially, now with synthetic drugs made "at home" adding to or overtaking the original problem.

The courts are clogged — with the prosecution of many cases that should not be brought. Often jail time is imposed and incarceration can turn a minor drug user into a hardened criminal.

Canada has wisely and with thoughtfulness legalized marijuana. Other controlled substances are illegal in all Canadian provinces.

If one is found trafficking or even in possession of illegal drugs such as heroin, amphetamines and cocaine, knowingly or unknowingly, one can be charged  with a drug offence.

Regardless of your background, if you are facing a first-time offence or have a prior criminal record, a conviction for drug possession can have a significant impact on your life including gaining employment and travelling.

The penalties for possession of a Schedule I drug range from six months in jail to seven years in prison, depending on the circumstances.

Thousands of young people have had their lives ruined, their prospects for the future destroyed by having a criminal record — because they experimented, foolishly dared to try something different or go along with the crowd.

Some become hooked and are unable to come back from their indiscretions and go on to become long-term users. As a result they may become homeless, live in misery, and be a burden to society.

While importation and trafficking could be dealt with more severely, simple possession should not involve an arrest record.

Instead of jail, a better solution would be to task the arresting officer with recommending to the police department or town council to sentence these minor offenders to work outside of school hours or their jobs for a specified number of hours at something useful — food banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters or some other work useful to society.

This would ‘wake them up’, but avoid the ruination of an arrest record.

Elizabeth Head