Essay about Criminal Law and The War on Drugs

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Criminal Law and The War on Drugs

"These records of wars, intrigues, factions, and revolutions, are so many collections of experiments, by which the politician or moral philosopher fixes the principles of his science, in the same manner as the physician or natural philosopher becomes acquainted with the nature of plants, minerals, and other external objects, by the experiments which he forms concerning them." (David Hume.)2

"Our long armed and hairy ancestors had no idea of redress beyond vengeance, or of justice beyond mere individual reprisal."3

To determine what constitutes criminal law, is, as one learned judge has opined, "a work of art, it is something that may be easier to recognize than define ..."4
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That effect may be in relation to social, economic or political interests; and the legislature has had in mind to suppress the evil or to safeguard the interest threatened."8

And further, it cannot be "neither a static catalogue of offences nor order of sanctions. The evolving and transforming types and patterns of social and economic activities are constantly calling for new penal controls and limitations and that new modes of enforcement and punishment adapted to the changing conditions are not to be taken as being equally within the ambit of parliamentary power is, in my opinion, not seriously arguable."9

In the relatively recent case of RJR - Macdonald v. Canada (1995), the Supreme Court of Canada, it was determined that the exercise of the power to make an act a criminal one, a test is to be applied; one "of substance, not form."10 To be fully fledged criminal law, the act prohibited "must pose a significant, grave and serious risk of harm to public health, morality, safety or security ..."

And, so, how does this established judicial view apply to the business of keeping in check those substances which may prove to be harmful to the individuals who misuse them?

As to the nature of the various illegitimate drugs and their effect on human beings -- well, I shall have to leave that to the medical doctors; but, I just simply wonder, what is so wrong with

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