Pubdate: Sun, 19 Mar 2000
Source: Santa Barbara News-Press (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Santa Barbara News-Press
Contact:  P.O. Box 1359, Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Section: Guest Perspective
Author: Frank M. Lick
Note: Frank M. Lick owns a retirement center in Santa Maria. He lives in 
Santa Barbara.
Bookmarks: LAPD corruption:
Editorials, OPEDs & Columns:


If there were no other arguments for the legalization of drugs, the 
corruption in the Los Angeles Police Rampart Division should certainly 
convince the unconvinced.

This corruption is (a) primarily drug related, and (b) only the tip of the 
iceberg of what takes place in the rest of the country. That the problems 
in Los Angeles are not limited to the Rampart Division is evidenced by the 
O.J. Simpson trial, in which five black female jurors were chosen by the 
defense simply because they had witnessed police corruption in West L.A. 
where they lived and were, therefore, suspect of the police in the first place.

When local police corruption is considered with the CIA's involvement in 
poppy growing in Southeast Asia to fund overseas covert projects, the death 
and devastation going on this very minute in Colombia and Mexico as a 
result of drug sales to this country, the compromised judges, the 
stockpiling of arms by domestic drug lords and dealers, the people -- many 
innocent bystanders -- who are killed every day by over-zealous drug law 
enforcement people, prison guards who provides drugs for prisoners for 
money or because of threats to their loved ones on the outside -- it has to 
be obvious to anyone and everyone who has the God-given capacity to think.

And there remains to be justified a prison population which threatens to 
overwhelm the prison system, the incarceration in prisons of mentally ill 
people for drug-law violations who need to be hospitalized, searches and 
seizures of thousands of innocent people, confiscations of property where 
no charges are ever even filed -- probably one of the most abused laws 
stemming from the drug war -- and a general disintegration of individual 

When you add to all this the cost of the drug war in dollars, by some 
estimates, $75 billion a year in public money with an additional $70 
billion in consumer money -- the value of such things as burglaries, 
muggings, car thefts, etc., to pay the billions of dollars the drug dealers 
are charging for their products -- pretty soon you're talking about real 
money. How can anyone not see that this is a roller-coaster running out of 

I have heard and read the arguments that most of the people in prisons are 
not there for simple drug possession but for felonies, and if their crimes 
had not been drug-related, it would have been some other crime. I have to 
ask how many of your grandparents could have been convicted of a felony for 
making or selling hooch? Had they been sent to prison, all their property 
confiscated and your mothers reduced to welfare, where would you be today? 
If your grandfather had not, if he were a hooch maker, been caught and 
convicted of making hooch, would he have committed some other crime?

Besides police corruption, there are other arguments for the use of common 
sense on this issue. There is history. Lest we not forget: Beginning in the 
1870s in the United States, recreational use of drugs became fashionable 
and something of an epidemic ensued. The individual states experimented 
with solutions. Some gave control to doctors, some to pharmacists. Most 
states settled on education as the best remedy.

It worked. By the 1920s the drug problem had receded from an epidemic to an 
irritation. However, U.S. foreign policy was making an issue of drugs with 
China and, irony of ironies, Southeast Asia. Politicians concluded that 
this policy required setting an example at home, hence, after-the-fact 
federal drug laws.

Added to the laws was a policy of pretending drugs did not exist. The drug 
czar of the time, Harry J. Anslinger, resorted to manipulation of 
statistics, innuendo and untruths to encourage Congress to pass more and 
more laws to suit his agenda -- not unlike practices rampant today 
regarding this issue. Movies, which were censored at that time, were 
forbidden to mention drugs. Radio shows, celebrities and school teachers 
were discouraged from mentioning them.

It is also ironic that in the 1930s our government was insisting that China 
pass laws against the use of drugs when a century before many of the great, 
old-money families had made their fortunes transporting drugs from India to 
China. They were supported, no less, by gunboats from this country's Navy 
and Marines shelling and occupying Chinese river ports. Families, including 
the Peabodys, Russells, Forbeses, Lows and, as in Franklin Delano, Delanos.

Oh, The History Of Drugs

In any event, people who grew up between the years 1934 and 1960 seldom 
learned anything about drugs. When members of the "turn-on, drop-out" 
generation of the 1960s was exposed to recreational drugs, they had no 
reference as to the harm drugs can do and, predictably, another epidemic 

I'm sure it was a coincidence that the federal government became enamored 
with anti-drug laws at the same the 18th Amendment was repealed. There was, 
I'm sure, no consideration of the fact that the FBI had all these muscle 
and gun men, along with their nemesis, the Mob, left over from prohibition, 
standing around with nothing to do and no reason to shoot at each other.

So here we are, spending billions of dollars attempting to stifle a 
business that is netting billions for the drug lords. All the while large 
sums of both billions are lining the pockets of less than forthright 
politicians, enforcement agents and their friends. And corruption is, but 
for the famous code of silence, everywhere.

The question, then, is not whether or not there would be more or less 
addicts with the decriminalization of drugs. The question is: Are we 
content with the knowledge that such a lucrative source of income as drug 
money is available to, offered to, forced upon, accepted by the people we 
elect to office and the people they hire to enforce the laws they pass?

If legalizing drugs resulted in more addicts, could a few more addicts -- 
who are not necessarily unproductive or menacing to society by themselves, 
if they did not have to resort to crime to pay for their habit -- be worse 
than the price we are paying for the war on drugs?
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