Pubdate: Tue, 12 Dec 2006
Source: Fort Pierce Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2006 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Ethel Rowland


Milton Friedman foretold the economic ineffectiveness of the "War on 
Drugs" during its infancy in 1972. The policy is now fully mature 
with 35 years of development.

It is past time to evaluate this policy which is not keeping drugs 
off of our streets and out of the hands of our children.

Drug prohibition attempts the impossible eradication of drugs and 
drug use. The violence resulting from prohibition creates fear of 
neighborhoods. I don't fear walking into a liquor store. However, I 
do fear going where drug dealing is on the street.

What is the difference? We ended alcohol prohibition, took alcohol 
distribution away from the gangsters and bootleggers, and allowed the 
development of licensed, regulated alcohol distribution businesses.

St. Lucie County's children have been caught in the crossfire, and 
recently, a young family with alleged connections to drug trafficking 
was executed here. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, more 
egregious violence occurs; police officers have been decapitated, and 
families videotaped being barbecued.

Prohibition has encouraged marijuana cultivation's movement into 
residential neighborhoods. Florida's agriculture industry is denied 
the ability to oversee the production of Florida's second largest 
cash crop. Florida Domestic Marijuana Eradication 2005 Annual Report 
estimates the value of just the eradicated plants is $74.8 million.

The Justice Administration Commission says the budget to pay public 
defenders is depleted. The president-elect of the Florida Association 
of Criminal Defense Lawyers says the criminal justice system is in 
jeopardy. Crippling of the criminal justice system happened during 
alcohol prohibition, as well. Using the criminal justice system as 
the tool for drug management is part of the problem.

Senator Bill Nelson has said that drug policy is a local issue. We 
must ask our political leaders to investigate a fiscally conservative 
market management policy of control and regulation.

Ethel Rowland, Fort Pierce
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