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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 I shall venture to say, that, when a person commits a crime that person commits a breach of faith with the community in which that person lives. In such an event the community, as a collective whole, in a self protective act, will assert itself against the criminal.5 Criminal law is a method of enabling men to live together in a community in spite of the possibility that their desires may conflict. Historically, punishment has been the manner by which the community attempts to deter crime;6 and, generally, the criminal offense has been, throughout history, gauged and matched to a suitable punishment. As to what individual acts the community has considered to be a crime and as to what punishment it has meted out, makes for an interesting historical study, which I do not now have the time to carry out.7

 

Of course, it is no longer the sovereign who defines crime, that is now the function of our democratically elected assemblies. However, such an assembly cannot make an act into a crime, ...


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...(1632-1704).

[6] Blackstone defines "a crime, or misdemeanor, is an act committed, or omitted, in violation of a public law, either forbidding or commanding it"; and John Austin (1790-1859): "An offence which is pursued at the discretion of the injured party or his representative is a civil injury. An offence which is pursued by the Sovereign or by the subordinates of the Sovereign is a Crime."

[7] Such a study would begin with Sir Edward Coke's work, Institutes of the laws of England (1628-44) and certainly include a review of Sir James Stephen's seminal work, History of the Criminal Law (1883).

[8] Rand J., The Margarine Reference, [1949] S.C.R. 1,49-50.

[9] Rand J., Goodyear Tire and Rubber at p. 311.

[10] Justice Major, para. 196.

[11] The Economic Anatomy of a Drug War by David W. Rasmussen and Bruce L. Benson

 

 

 

 


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