Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jul 2004
Source: Mountain Xpress (NC)
Copyright: 2004 Mountain Xpress
Author: Carl Mumpower
Cited: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Referenced: PUB LTE by Jerry Epstein


When I first made the decision to turn toward our city's hard-drug problem, 
I anticipated shin-busting hurdles, personal attacks, misinterpretations 
and manipulations of my motives, philosophical differences with some 
colleagues on City Council. I even expected a few myopic mud pies from Mr. 
Molton [Xpress cartoonist], and I had no doubts that the hard-drug dealers 
and users would be less than tickled with my labors. I did not, however, 
expect that my stumbling efforts would stimulate wrath from the good state 
of Texas.

The most recent letter from advocates of "Law Enforcement Against 
Prohibition" chastises me for supporting prohibition and deluding the 
public into "thinking that something beyond frantic activity and wasted tax 
dollars is going on" [Letters, July 7]. I'm not exactly sure what all that 
means, but I suppose these folks think our national drug war is a failed 
endeavor that should not be perpetrated by local government. Our Texas 
friends would get no argument from me on that count. What I would argue is 
their lack of awareness of what we are really trying to do, and their 
attempted application of a national policy (over which we have no control) 
to a local situation (over which we do have some measure of influence).

With the patience of our Texas friends, I would like to summarize just what 
I, and others, have been proposing to do to address our hard-drug problem 
in Asheville (as in North Carolina).

1) My interest has been specifically in our hard-drug problem. With no wish 
to be malicious, marijuana addiction makes a person an airhead - hard-drug 
addiction makes a person, any person, a predator.

2) This has never been about arresting more people and putting them in 
jail. It has been about making the sale and purchase of hard drugs 
significantly less convenient than the open-air-market conditions that 
currently exist throughout our city. Done right, we arrest less people, get 
more hard-drug addicts into meaningful treatment, and decrease the number 
of dealers by cutting into their profits and customer base.

3) The national drug war focuses on targeting where the drugs come from and 
the money goes to; [our local] effort is about addressing where the drugs 
come to and the money comes from. If we don't address the demand, we will 
never successfully decrease the supply.

4) Every drug buyer who stops buying or goes elsewhere (if you must buy 
drugs, please buy them in your own hometown - not ours) becomes one less 
person helping to poison a neighborhood, misguide a child, support violent 
crime, rip something off or otherwise corrupt our community.

5) The 21-point hard-drug intervention plan that Councilmen Dunn, Davis and 
myself supported, placed primary emphasis on services, support and 
"holistic" interventions - but we made sure that these were grounded in 
24-hour street-level drug interdiction in all neighborhoods where drugs are 
a problem. Holistic interventions without law-enforcement interventions 
have been demonstrated to be as wasteful and futile as our national drug 

6) Of great importance to me personally is the strong potential to save 
people who [would otherwise] become drug dealers or users tomorrow, by 
limiting the convenience, opportunity, access and license to deal and use 
hard drugs in Asheville today.

It might be fun to continue fencing with our friends from Texas, but the 
real place for persistence is for the streets and neighborhoods of 
Asheville. Sadly, Drug Users and Dealers United (you can figure out the 
abbreviation) will continue to work to increase their and our misery factor 
to the point we have to take more steps to resist the harm.

With that in mind, I hereby declare a truce with the boys from Texas - 
there are more menacing forces much closer to home.

Carl Mumpower


City of Asheville 
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