Matthew Elrod, Vancouver: Why did you not offer the Insite researchers an opportunity to defend themselves?
Margaret Wente: Matthew, Insite and its supporters have ably defended their position in these pages and elsewhere, and I am sure they will be given the chance to do so again. Also, as a columnist, my job is to express a point of view, not to present all points of view.
Dan Shortt from Toronto, Canada writes: Ms. Wente states that no addiction is benign, and says that the addict not only hurts themselves, but society, their families, and their communities. I wonder would she consider the opposite hypothesis, i.e. that the current 'war on drugs' leaves addicts being hurt by society, their families, and their communities? Ms. Wente has spoken out strongly on favour of the 'tough-love' approach to addiction, i.e. that the addict be given a choice between rehabilitation or jail. I wonder would she advocate the same approach to alcohol and cigarette addiction. No? Is it because these products are legal, making their abuse more socially and morally acceptable, despite the obvious harm they do to society?
Finally, it's interesting that in all of her articles, Ms. Wente doesn't once mention Dr. Gabor Mate, a physician with extensive experience working with addicts in Vancouver's East Side. Dr. Mate has been a contributor to the G & M in the past, and recently written a best-selling book about addiction. He reports in his book that a story that appeared in the G & M in January 2007 stated that of a 245 million dollar budget for a national drug strategy, 73% of the funds were directed towards law enforcement, while only 3% of funds went to prevention and harm reduction. Is it any wonder that the '4 Pillars' model is not working, when 3/4 of the funds available are used to prop-up just one of the 4 pillars?