Pubdate: Tue, 04 Apr 2006
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2006 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Frank Fulbrook


Re "Proposal to legalize drugs in Camden is racist" (letter, March 21):

Unfortunately, it seems the writer, Elwood Corbin, knows virtually 
nothing about the history of American drug policy. It's the current 
policy - drug prohibition for all ages - that is racist, not my 
proposed reform.

Under drug prohibition, most murder victims are black or Hispanic 
urban residents. Most of the new HIV/AIDS and hepatitis infections 
directly or indirectly related to injection drug use with shared, 
contaminated needles are among blacks and Hispanics.

A shocking 96 percent of New Jersey prisoners serving mandatory 
minimum sentences for drug possession within 1,000 feet of a school 
are black or Hispanic.

American drug policy has always been racist. Our drug-prohibition 
laws were written by white men to protect white women from being 
raped or seduced by nonwhite men using a chemical.

In 1895, the first group targeted were Chinese men who operated opium 
dens in San Francisco. In 1914, black men were targeted for their 
heroin or cocaine use. In 1937, Mexican migrant farmworkers were 
targeted for their marijuana use. The racist pattern is indisputable.

For the record, I don't drink, smoke, take drugs, gamble, or deal 
with prostitutes. But I support a regulated, taxed market for adults 
for all of those activities. My position is consistent.

Additionally, my drug experience occurred in 1970, when I was 21. I 
am now 57 and have no desire to use any drug, legal or illegal.

Most of Camden is being destroyed by the current federal and state 
drug policy, not my policy. We have about 150 open-air drug markets 
in Camden now, during drug prohibition. For the last two years, we've 
been designated the most dangerous city in America.

How much worse do things have to get before we consider an 
alternative drug policy?

With drugs, a regulated, taxed market controlled by government is 
better than an unregulated, untaxed market controlled by criminals. 
We can't get rid of the drugs. That's impossible. But we can get rid 
of the drug dealers by eliminating drug prohibition for adults.

Drug distribution from regulated, for-profit businesses, such as New 
Jersey liquor stores, or nonprofit clinics, as in Switzerland, would 
allow all of Camden's neighborhoods to be revitalized.

That's my goal, whether others understand it or not.

Frank Fulbrook

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