Pubdate: Wed, 23 Aug 2006
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2006 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Jack A. Cole
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)


As the executive director of the world's largest organization of 
police, judges and other criminal justice professionals who oppose 
the policy of drug prohibition, I'd like to echo the smart 
conclusions of Pat Orsban in his guest commentary, "Drug war doesn't 
add up," (AC-T, Aug. 21).

Regardless of how we choose to assess the potential health benefits 
and/or risk attached to drug use, having the criminal justice system 
as the primary arm of public response is bad policy. Using police and 
the criminal courts to punish drug users leaves cops short on needed 
manpower and resources needed to deal with street level crimes 
against persons and/or property.

The cited motivation of those endorsing harsh criminal penalties for 
the possession of a short list of drugs is their potential risk to 
health and well-being. But cops are not health care professionals. 
Prison cells are not places where health care and treatment take 
place. And a lifetime criminal record with drug convictions will most 
certainly hamper the health of one's long-term future.

By all means, increase accurate education about drugs to all citizens 
and make any needed medical care more accessible to all citizens. But 
don't shackle the police with a job which should be reserved for 
health care professionals and educators.

More importantly - based on our combined decades of experience 
fighting the so-called "drug war" - it's time to legalize all drugs. 
This need is even more urgent for those viewed as dangerous drugs - 
whether alcohol, opiods, tobacco or amphetamines. It is our opinion 
that risky and dangerous substances are best distributed in 
controlled and regulated settings. Such regulation and control is 
impossible under a system of criminal prohibition.

Jack A. Cole

Medford, Mass.

Cole is the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
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