FIGHTING THE SCOURGE
Grandparents remember when they sent their children to school and never worried about drug dealers. Parents today in big cities and small towns are concerned their children will be persuaded to experiment with mind-altering substances.
The War on Drugs has dragged on since the Vietnam War. To ease the pain and horror of jungle warfare, many American soldiers turned to marijuana. Many remember pictures of soldiers smoking pot through rifle barrels.
Since then, drugs have permeated society. Canadians like to think the drug culture flourishes more south of the border, but there is no lack of evidence that importing and distributing illegal substances is a big Canadian industry.
British Columbia is reputed to be a major exporter of marijuana to the United States. Ontario property owners lose heavily when marijuana grow operations reduce good property to shambles.
Supplying North America with drugs is an international business without rules or scruples. The Mexican government is battling drug cartels in border cities and hundreds of police, troops and civilians have been killed.
To discourage citizens from co-operating with the law, drug cartels emulate the Taliban and decapitate their enemies and the innocent.
In Canada there is ongoing strife between those who try something new and others who believe nothing works except police action and incarceration. Needle exchanges designed to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS are routinely opposed, as well as methadone clinics.
Producing the raw material for drugs is often the only option for peasant farmers. Yet proposals to provide Afghan opium poppy farmers with a legal market, and thus reduce a worldwide shortage of pain-killers has received little support.
Social problems contribute to the drug epidemic. Two hard-working adults striving to pay rent or a mortgage must work in two or three part-time jobs. Their children rarely see them and often lack the luxuries they see on television.
The neighbourhood drug dealer offers cash, friendship and support if a teenager peddles his poisons, at least until the youngster is jailed.
Despite this depressing background, Ontarians should cheer for Grand Council Chief John Beaucage of the Anishinabek Nation, which has declared its own War on Drugs in its 42 Ontario communities.
Canada's First Nations have inherited too many ills from the European invaders. Disease, discrimination, residential schools, the list is endless.
They have special problems, not the least being that so many communities are isolated and offer too little for young people in a modern world.
But these aboriginals are determined to fight the drug scourge.
Good for them. Perhaps they can use traditional wisdom and lore to succeed where the rest of Canada has too often failed.
If so, then Canadians must be smart enough to learn.
North Bay Nugget (CN ON)