The prohibition of sugar

By Ben Goerner

One in three Canadians has diabetes or pre-diabetes.

I am one of those people. Part of the treatment for pre-diabetes is diet management, particularly the intake of sugar.

Let's imagine our society decided because sugar is linked so heavily to diabetes that it should be made illegal in an effort to stop the supply and get people to stop using sugar.

The rationale would be that diabetes and behaviours related to consuming and possessing sugar will decrease if sugar is outlawed.

So people, not just diabetics, who use sugar, are now criminals, as are those who sell sugar.

Imagine mandatory minimum sentencing for possession of sugar. Then, imagine the same for those who found out there was a black market for sugar because people just didn't stop using it.

People would sell each other various kinds of sugar risking their legal freedom.

Imagine those who need it badly because their blood sugars are so low they could die if they don't get the proper amount.

What would they do to get what they need?

Now, imagine that sugar is in such demand that there is not enough due to the criminalization of it, so it gets diluted with other random products, some of which prove deadly.

Then imagine there is a way to concentrate sugar so more profit could be made, and more people become dependent.

Supply and demand actually increases instead of decreases, because of prohibition.

Imagine being a diabetic and having a criminal record because of your craving for sugar or one donut or chocolate bar (my weakness).

Now you are forced to leave your job, do time in prison or at best go to community court and have to attend a residential treatment program because you broke the law.

  • Imagine trying to explain this to your family, your spouse, your children. Imagine how they would feel that you're now a criminal with an illegal disease.
  • Imagine how you feel about yourself now that you've been labelled a criminal.
  • Imagine trying to protect your children from the evil of being a diabetic and educating them on the evils of sugar.
  • Imagine that making it illegal had the opposite effect of what it was intended to do.
  • Imagine the outcome over the next 10 years.

Many diabetics like myself already know how tough it is not to cheat once in a while. How tough it is to monitor a diet, to be mindful of what we eat.

I'm not perfect at it and many others aren't either. But we're not criminals facing the stigma, bigotry and oppression that would be the case if, say, sugar were criminalized.

More problems would occur for people if they were criminalized for making unhealthy decisions about sugar once in a while. And let's face it, how addicting is sugar?

Try going without for two months, two weeks or two days. We laugh at ourselves when we try to tell ourselves “next time” while we dive into that hamburger with the sweet barbecue sauce, and the ice cream bucket.

Criminalization, a.k.a. prohibition, actually causes more damage to a person's life than the sugar.

It isn't just about the sugar; it isn't just about the drugs.

Decriminalize all drug use and end this facade of hypocritical, moral piousness and provide a safe supply so we end this devastation of the poisoning of our drug supply.

People who use drugs are not all addicted, just as not all people who eat sugar have diabetes. And no one I know started out using drugs as a criminal. Prohibition did that.

For more information, check:

Ben Goerner is a retired mental health and substance use clinician. He advocates for the end of prohibition of all drugs and the provision of a regulated safe supply of current illicit drugs to end the devastation of the opioid aka drug policy crisis. He can be reached at [email protected]


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