"The evils of drugs are the consequences of prohibition, not the pharmacological properties of the drugs themselves."
Dr. John Anderson has been advocating for a reasoned approach to our current, failed drug policies since 1989. His realization began as a university student in criminology when he read the evidence purporting to support prohibitionist policy and found it suspect. Then, as a correctional officer for five years in the maximum-security Vancouver Pretrial Centre, he participated in drug seizures and various efforts to control drug contraband within the prison. On several occasions, he dealt with the violence sparked by drug trafficking in prison.
“I felt somewhat guilty enforcing the very drug laws I knew were creating the problems. I was particularly disturbed to see that drug addicts were not given enough medical services to help them through withdrawal, let alone cope with life upon release. Instead, we spend vast resources trying to prohibit drugs in a free society. How can we keep drugs out of a free society when, as I witnessed, we can’t even keep them out of maximum-security prisons?”
Dr. Anderson earned a master’s degree in criminology and a PhD in sociology. He has conducted research on sex offender treatment programs, perceptions of sentencing fairness among inmates, community policing effectiveness, and implementing strategies for crime prevention. He has published more than fifty articles on crime and criminal justice in the Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail, Victoria Times Colonist, and other publications. He is the Chair of the Criminology Department, Vancouver Island University
“Canadians are largely misinformed about drug policy,” contends Dr. Anderson, “because people masquerading as ‘authorities’ spread misinformation. Of key importance is prohibition’s faulty premise that the threat of legal sanctions will deter people at the demand (users) and supply side (dealers) of the drug trade.” In fact, Dr. Anderson points out, “the evidence says the opposite—prohibition encourages both demand and supply-side activities.”
Dr. Anderson’s belief is that the current drug policies are sustained by entrenched interest groups that receive bureaucratic and material rewards for endorsing the status quo and demonizing any discussion of reform. His expertise in presenting evidence-based, rational arguments and his in-depth knowledge of drug policy and its consequences provide ample opportunity for prohibitionists to re-think their position.