Pubdate: Sun, 12 Mar 2000
Source: Journal Gazette (IN)
Copyright: 2000 Journal Gazette
Address: 600 W. Main Street, Ft. Wayne, IN. 46802
Fax: (219) 461-8648
Author: Ken Bisson


Imagine an end to the bloodshed. No more gang warfare. No more
drive-by shootings. Imagine an end to the corruption of police and
judges with black market bribes. Imagine American teens freed from the
lure of "easy money" gained by illicit trafficking.

Seventy years ago those possibilities were only beginning to be
imagined. Until those benefits could be widely envisioned by the U.S.
public, America's failed experiment with the "War on Alcohol" raged
on. Once those benefits were fully understood, Prohibition was
repealed and America finally enjoyed those advantages.

This country's mothers led the efforts to try to rid America of the
problems of alcohol abuse by calling for Prohibition. In 1932, those
same mothers were leading the call to end Prohibition. "Give us back
our sons" (too often lured into lucrative bootlegging) was their cry.

Today's generation has followed the path of that tragedy known as
Prohibition, with identical results. Alarmed by the problems created
by drug abuse, our generation started our "War on Drugs." Alas, it is
no more possible to eliminate drugs now than it was to eliminate
alcohol then. Attempting to do so creates even larger problems.

Just as in the '30s, drug prohibition fuels huge profits for those who
traffic in the illicit substances. Those massive cash flows draw
marginal citizens into the criminal activity. That money "empowers"
the idle youth lured into crime, tempts police and then corrupts
judges. Battles over turf spew collateral damage on all of society.

Legalizing alcohol did not put an end to alcohol abuse. It did return
the production and distribution of alcohol to competing private,
accountable enterprises. The huge profits and violence spawned by
Prohibition waned. Similarly, ending drug prohibition will not put an
end to drug abuse. But it will return the production and distribution
of (now illicit) drugs to competing pharmaceutical companies. The huge
profits and violence spawned by the illicit trafficking will wane.

Libertarians hold that individuals must be held accountable for their
actions, whether or not substance abuse is involved. We find no reason
to imprison an addict seeking help simply for being an addict. Today's
"drug warriors" in Congress pass laws that put addicts in prisons
(where drug abuse is rampant). Addictions are medical problems. Ending
our drug prohibition will permit us to address addiction
appropriately. Real reductions in drug abuse result from accurate
educational information. Educational efforts and drug treatment
efforts are being thwarted by our current drug laws.

Imagine keeping molesters, rapists and murderers behind bars instead
of paroling them to vacate their cells for one more pot smuggler.
Imagine cutting the economic legs out from under the drug lords by
ending our drug war. Imagine our scarce police and judicial resources
devoted to pursuing the non-drug crimes we all face. These are the
benefits that await America once we repeal our prohibition.

Libertarians understand, as did the mothers who called for an end to
alcohol prohibition, that prohibition laws have created inevitably
greater problems for society. Once the American public can imagine
these benefits, our "war on drugs" nightmare will be ended.
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