November 28th, 2020

Opioid addicts aren’t always criminals

By Letter to the Editor on October 31, 2020.

Regarding the opioid crisis, I want to speak about three addicts I knew personally. None of them was a criminal. Thinking about them I have realized that the solution may have to be decriminalization, like in Portugal. Prohibition of alcohol during the 1920s failed totally. The “War on Drugs” has failed, too. When the law requires impossibility, it emboldens criminals.

Prof. Zenta Watanabe got a doctorate in Germany and was a well-known Old Testament scholar in Japan when I was at the Tokyo Union Theological Seminary during the 1950s. He was a heroin addict. It started with a prescription after major surgery. He was persuaded to go for rehabilitation through total abstention. It was so difficult he attempted suicide several times. He said he would never recommend abstention as a solution.

My grandfather, Dr. Yukichi Takeda, was a veterinarian who served in the Japanese Imperial Cavalry during the Ruso-Japan War of the early 1900s. He saw the worst. I found only recently that he was an addict all his life. I guess it’s called PTSD today. He managed to look normal and conducted an active working life until he died at the age of 82. I remember the smell of disinfectant every time I walked into his den. Being a veterinarian, he had easy access.

I met many damaged souls when I came to Canada. Japanese Canadians were released from internment and gradually returned to the coast. Visiting the mental hospital in Fraser Valley was my regular routine. J.O. had a substance addiction but wanted desperately to be rehabilitated. Many times he went into the rehabilitation program; he failed every time. He died trying, a few years later.

In Victorian England, opium was a common recreational drug like alcohol and was sold in any drugstore. Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Browning, George Elliot and many other prominent people were well-known regular users. It was a profitable commodity for the East India Company. England waged a war against China when it tried to stop the opium import. England was the world’s biggest drug dealer then.

We take some kinds of substance for recreation. Alcohol, for example. Many painkillers contain opioids. Many cultures have used substances of some kind, like qat, coca, cola nuts. Abuse them and they are addictive and toxic. But with control they can be medicinal. The current crisis is the result of illegal products of questionable quality produced by criminal elements.

Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui


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Southern Albertan

Agreed! Addiction needs to be viewed as a health issue, not a criminal one! And yes, this is why Portugal has had the best success in the world re: addiction by also, decriminalizing possession along with their support and treatment programs. That promotes addicted folks seeking the help they need without fear of being stuck with the criminal aspect of it. Unless this happens here in Canada, we will keep fumbling along with the ever increasing problems with opiod/substance addiction.


First of all. Opioid addicts are criminals by definition. Many are not prosecuted and convicted.
Regarding the reference to Portugal perhaps you could acquaint yourself with facts on Portugal’s “Drug Strategy” put in place in 2000. I paste a Wikipedia link for you to get up to speed:
Note that no statistical studies or data support it being a “success”. Current addiction and suicide numbers are similar to those at its commencement, which were terrible. Recreational addicts that are not in a rehab program still face criminal charges. In summary, painting Portugal’s decriminalization as a solution is baseless and misleading.


The best and an awarding winning program is found in the Tennessee where there are no safe consumption sites, but effective treatment programs and firm policing, back up with prison diversion programs that have a very low 16-22 recidivism.
The problem is the high costs caused by the high percentage of those that need to commit crimes to pay for their addiction.
An addict, from studies in BC costs society over $1 million per year, while a chronic offender/addict can cost over $5 million per year.
These people didn’t wake up one day and say, I am going to be an addict, commit crimes, destroy neighbourhoods, parks and businesses. We are not talking about the addict that funds his own addiction from his own bank account.
Lethbridge has been raped and pillaged, businesses destroyed, business owners assualted, children have had their bicycles stolen and their parents, with the bikes and tote trailers, vehicles damaged in B&E’s or stolen and wrecked, homes broke into, nothing is safe in backyards . . . this is from the addictions and people stealing to support it!
But is get’s worse . . . there are kids 10-12 years old high on Meth and other drugs! Just think how vulnerable they are when high by the creeps that did it!
There is a much uglier side to this the public has no clue about!
Addicts are people and enabling them is killing them, destroying families and society!
Many can be saved by getting them effective treatment and shutting these perpetual killing machines they call safe consumption sites!

Dennis Bremner

Good Letter Mr Mitsui. Here is the problem I have with numerous “solutions” that include continued drug use. Would it be the intent to Tattoo the individual directly on the forehead with a big DA for Drug Addict?
Or, would it be the intention to allow this Drug Addict to become a School bus Driver that drives your kids to school daily? Or perhaps an 18 wheeler driver, heavy equipment operator, air line pilot, after all releasing his/her medical data would surely be against his/her, X/Y Gen generated privacy rights? I am sure with the pussy justice system and the supporting cast of bible punchers the addict would receive a few million in compensation for being “outted”, if exposed ! I would also bet that discriminating against an addict after accepting his daily usage would be the next X/Y Gen law, so you would not be able to kick him out of the cockpit!
Everyone automatically assumes satisfying the addicts need for drugs some how is best for him/her and best for us. We bend over backwards trying to accomodate the addict without comprehending what it will do to society but thats the new X/Y Gen way of doing things. Act first,(SAVIN LIVES!!!) think second,(PLANE FALLING OUT OF THE SKY)!

Last edited 26 days ago by Dennis Bremner

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