After a rash of shootings in Vancouver last week (which continues) I was completely astounded to read this quote by the RCMP in the Globe and Mai:
Violence between competing Mexican cartels is squeezing the flow of drugs from source countries such as Mexico and Colombia through cities such as Los Angeles, one of the major sources for Vancouver-based groups that buy and sell illegal drugs, says Pat Fogarty, RCMP superintendent with the combined forces special enforcement unit. Gangs in the Lower Mainland are now fighting over the dwindling supply.
“The distribution lines have been disrupted,” Supt. Fogarty said yesterday in an interview. “It’s like in any marketplace – the demand stays high, but there’s not as many distributors out there because the little guys get knocked off.”
“The bigger ones survive, the other ones don’t. And these guys don’t resolve things through a court process. It’s ‘I want my piece of the pie’ – well, there’s none left for you.”
Essentially, the RCMP is admitting that the more successful it becomes – the more capable it gets at limiting the flow of drugs – the more violence we can expect from drug dealers on our streets.
Why? Because when demand remains constant and fewer drugs are available, their value will increase making it more tempting to use violence to hold on to, or increase, your share of the marketplace. In essence, the RCMP is admitting that attacking the supply side of the drug trade is an ineffective approach. (The irony of course, is that the reduction has nothing to do with RCMP strategy or tactics but, as the Center for Strategic International Studies notes, everything to do with the geopolitics of the drug trade).
So, the RCMP has inadvertently admitted that the key to managing the War on Drugs is not to reduce supply, but to reduce demand.
This is precisely what makes projects like the NAOMI trial and the Insite injection site so important – they help to both reduce demand for drugs and, in the case of NAOMI, eliminate the demand from illegal sources altogether. This is what makes the RCMP’s opposition to Insite and NAOMI even more puzzling. If – by their own admission – reducing demand is the only way to effectively reduce the crime associated with the drug trade, why are they trying to shut down our most effective tools?