Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jan 2007
Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Copyright: 2007 Mountain Xpress
Author: Robert F. Wilson


Carl Mumpower is in scold mode again, this time chastising the 
Asheville Police Department for not doing enough to combat drug 
dealing. (He recently scolded all of us for not doing more to save 
McCormick Heights housing development.) According to the Xpress, 
Mumpower wrote in an e-mail, "APD is not matching the creativity, 
enthusiasm and persistency of those dealing drugs on our streets." To 
which one might reasonably reply, "No duh!" And simple economics 
explains why this is so. There is too much money in illegal drugs for 
there to be a reasonable expectation that any police activity will 
have a significant impact on it over time. During my 33-year career 
in substance abuse and addiction programs, I came to understand that 
it will only be by legalizing those drugs that are now illegal that 
we will have an impact on illegal drug dealing.

There is an enormous vested interest in keeping the system as it is, 
due to the enormous sums of money that governments - local, state and 
federal - spend to arrest, adjudicate and imprison tens of thousands 
of people (predominantly young black males) while ensuring that a 
significant proportion of those charged with implementing this system 
- - street cops, prosecutors, judges, prison employees - will be 
corrupted by it. Alcohol Prohibition provided the environment for 
"organized crime" to develop and flourish, a legacy with us today.

By continuing a prohibitionist policy towards other mood-altering 
drugs, we perpetuate and foster another culture of crime.

All the problems related to alcohol were not eliminated by ending 
prohibition, but it did significantly reduce crime related to the 
manufacture and distribution of beverage alcohol.

Legalizing other drugs will not eliminate all problems related to 
their availability, but it would significantly reduce crime related 
to the manufacture and distribution of those drugs.

Until prohibition is ended, Carl Mumpower can ride around with the 
APD all he wants, buy crack cocaine in housing developments to show 
how easy it is, scold all of us because we are insufficiently 
committed to the cause, and it will not alter the realities on the street.

It is because of the huge sums of money that can be made due to the 
economics of the black market that no police department or 
criminal-justice system will ever be able to match "the creativity, 
enthusiasm and persistence of those dealing drugs on our streets."

Robert F. Wilson

- ---
MAP posted-by: Elaine