Social Policy: Illicit Drug Use in Canada and Worldwide

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No matter where you visit in the world, turn on the news and you will hear about drugs, especially so-called illicit drugs. What are illicit drugs? According to Webster’s dictionary illicit drugs is defined as not permitted, unlawful (1997: 369). These illicit drugs then do not include things like alcohol, cigarettes, or prescribed medicines. But these types of drugs can also cause just as many problems as so called illicit drugs. How do sociologist look at this subject and what are we doing in our communities to help people using illicit drugs? In the United States the war on drugs is at a crisis point. In 2003 alone 1,678,819 drug arrests were made (FBI Uniform Crime Reports , 2003). Of these 662,886 were for simple marijuana arrests (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 2003). In Washington State, they have three strikes you are out law. This means if you are convicted of felony crime three times, the third conviction puts you in jail for life (Schmidt). This has led to a very high number of people in jail in the United States. In the United States they incarcerate 550 people a day while in Canada it is 150 a day (Schaefer, Floyd, Haaland 2005). Canada obviously is concerned about this trend and do not want to go the same route. The drug problem is a huge issue in Canada lately with stories in the news of the recent killing of RCMP officers to meth labs being busted in Kamloops. Here in Canada, the worst hit city is Vancouver (Schaefer, Floyd, Haaland 2005). If you have ever driven down the eastside of Vancouver you will see exactly why it is so grim. Some of the other reasons are that this is the poorest area in all of Canada (Schaefer, Floyd, Haaland 2005). The people who call this home have the most severe social, economic and health problems in Canada (Schaefer, Floyd, Haaland 2005). Even the death rate is high due to sharing of needles, which leads to such diseases as hepatitis C, and HIV (Schaefer, Floyd, Haaland 2005). Other problems include...
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