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Presentation to the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs

By Hempology | May 15, 2002

Peter Randell

By Alan Randell

Victoria, B.C. (250) 721-0356

My name is Alan Randell and this is my wife, Eleanor. Good afternoon
and thank you for allowing us to speak to you today.

Today I want to tell you about our youngest son, Peter Randell.

Just before 6:30am on February 3, 1993, two police officers came to
our door and informed Eleanor and I that Peter had died as a result
of ingesting heroin.

Pete fell asleep after ingesting heroin in Burnaby, B.C. and never woke
up. Half a dozen people in the apartment took the heroin, but perhaps
because his body was not yet used to the drug, Peter was the only one
to die. He was just 19 years old.

Peter was much loved by his Mum and Dad as well as is four older brothers
and sisters. He had the normal upbringing with two loving parents and he
did well in school.

Ever since he was 15 years old, Peter had strong feelings about human rights,
particularly individual freedoms. One school year book described him as
follows: “Peter Randell hopes to tour with his band and bring an end to racism,
intolerance and authority.” Peter’s sense of humour shows in the second sentance
though, “Peter has a personal vendetta against Bill Keana and adds, ‘Family
Circus most be stopped’.” Another year book voted peter as ‘the most creative’.

Peter loved to laugh, and he made us laugh along with him. Among his favourites
were The Barney Miller Show, Sam Kennison and ‘The Simpsons’. It seemed that
he could recall, word for word, any particular scene from any show or movie
he had ever watched. We didn’t need to rent a comedy movie because Peter could
play all the funny scenes himself. And of course he loved his music.

Why did Peter try heroin? He knew that heroin can kill, but that many others
had enjoyed it and lived. He was a voracious reader, and in the year before he
died, had read the works ofmany writers who, not only had used heroin on a regular
basis, but who had survived to write about their experiences. Writers such as
William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski. Peter was a
gifted writer himself, and he wondered if taking heroin might enhance his creative
talents as it perhaps did for these writers. He also knew that heroin had been the
drug of choice for many jazz musicians for fifty years. So he tried it – and died.

My intention today is to persuade you that in order to reduce the number of
families going through the horror of losing a child to drugs, drug prohibition
must be abolished.

Why do governments prohibit certain drugs?

Is it to protect users from harm?

No, that can’t be the reason because users suffer MORE (aldulterated drugs
and jail time) when a drug is banned as compared to when it is legally
available. My wife and I became well acquainted with this aspect of government
policy when we lost Peter. Besides, two of our more dangerous drugs, alcohol
and tobacco, are legal.

Is it to reduce the crime associated with illegal drugs?

No, that can’t be the reason because banning a drug always gives rise to MORe
crime (drug cartels, petty crimes by users as prohibition makes drug prices
much higher, violent disputes between dealers) than when the drug is legally

Is it to distract attention away from more important issues by conducting a
brutal, Hitler-like pogrom to ruin the lives of the INNOCENT few who ingest
or sell certain drugs?


Hitler’s armies may have lost the war but, sadly, his ideas seem to have
found ready acceptance all across the “civilized” world.

I want now to focus on drugs as a human rights issue, our right to ingest any

First, a quote from the eminent psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz:

It is a fact that we Americans have the right to read a book – any book -
not because we are stupid and want to learn from it, nor because a
government-supported educational authority claims it will be good for us,
but simply because we want to read it; because the government – as our servant
rather than our master, hasn’t the right to meddle in our private reading

I believe that we also have the right to eat, drink, or ingest a substance -
any substance – not because we are sick and want it to cure us, nor
because a government-sponsored medical authority claims it will be good for
us, but simply because we want to take it; because the government – as
our servant rather than our master – hasn’t the right to meddle in our
private dietary and drug affairs.

Thomas Szasz, Reason Magazine, January, 1978, pp 14-18.

Does the state have the right to enforce any law? Does the Government of Canada,
for instance, have the right to put into effect a law requiring the incarceration
of all Jews or, as it did after Pearl Harbour, a law requiring the incarceration
of Japanese-Canadians? Most people would say, ‘no’.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is supposed to protect us from unjust laws, but,
unfortunately, the courts have held that the Charter does not protect against
insignificant or “trivial” limitations of rights and has characterized the right to
ingest marijuana as a “trivial” right. This ruling has been appealed to the Supreme
Court of Canada but if the trivial rights argument prevails, it seems to me that
government would then have the right to govern the “trivial” minutia of our daily
lives, such as when to get up in the morning, what clothes to wear and how often to
do our laundry.

There are no trivial rights.

I should like to propose a better way to limit the power of government than to say
that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person as Section 7
of the Charter does because clever judges are seemingly able to find all the loopholes
they need in that wording.

No one can be charged with a criminal offence unless that person has directly harmed
or robbed another person. By “harm”, I don’t mean actions that cause anguish and
unhappiness to others, otherwise we would be imprisoning all divorcing parents
together with all kids who didn’t do their homework and anyone failed to call their
mother on Mother’s Day.

Choosing to ingest this or that drug is not, by this definition, a crime.
Of course, those who support drug prohibition will say that drug use does
cause physical harm to others, but when you examine the evidence, it is clear
that the crimes they are blaming on drugs are, in reality, a consequence of drug
prohibition, i.e. murder amongst dealers, stealing to finance a drug habit, etc., etc.

No government has the right to punish anyone for ingesting anything.
HOWEVER HARMFUL. The state is not a moral authority.

There is no more reason to punish drug users and dealers today than there
was in the past to hang witches, lynch blacks or gas Jews.

I guess our forebears were a lot smarter than we are. Some seventy years ago
when they realized what a monumental disaster the prohibition of alcohol was,
they ended it. Now, it seems that even when faced with overwhelming evidence of the
disastrous consequences of drug prohibition, we hesitate to finish the job and end
the prohibition of all drugs.

The best way to reduce the harm and heartbreak of illegal drugs is to end drug

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