Pubdate: Sat, 23 Feb 2008
Source: Star-Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2008sStar-Gazette
Author: Peter Christ
Note: Peter Christ is a retired police captain and a founder and board
member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He lives in Cazenovia,


The issue of taxing illegal drugs put forward by Gov. Eliot Spitzer is
a fantasy of bizarre proportions.

I have a better idea. Let's regulate them. Seriously. Let's legalize
all illegal drugs, place them under strict controls of production and
distribution and allow our medical community to deal with the health
problems of addiction. Let's take all the money wasted on waging the
unwinnable War on (some) Drugs and spend it on intervention, health
screening and treatment. Let's just bypass the criminals and
international cartels (that are totally in control of the black market
of illegal drugs) and free up our police forces to deal with real
crimes like theft and assault. Brilliant.

Of course, critics of legalization will put forth their usual "but
what about the children?" I say, "OK, what about the children?" Think
about these basic facts: since Richard Nixon first declared the War on
Drugs 37 years ago, drugs are in every community in the nation. Drugs
today are so prevalent we cannot keep them out of our jails and
prisons, let alone out of our communities or our children's schools.

Legalization is not a panacea, and no one claims it is. What we do say
is that Prohibition II, the prohibition of drugs, has failed. We know
the proliferation of drugs is unstoppable under current policies. What
we have seen is that in spite of sending drug-sniffing dogs into our
schools and testing our children's' urine without suspicion or
warrants, those same children continuously report that illegal drugs
are easier for them to purchase than legal substances, such as alcohol
and tobacco.

If we truly care about children and wish to keep them from using
illegal drugs, we must follow examples of success like that of
tobacco, where education has provided outstanding results in reducing
use, without a single shot being fired. Part of the allure of drugs
for children is that forbidden factor, the temptation of rebellion.
During alcohol Prohibition, consumption of alcohol by young people
increased, and so did deaths and overdoses from toxic booze produced
by illegal distilleries, like bathtub gin. This is exactly what we've
created by making drugs illegal; illegal manufacturers regulate them.
Most of today's overdoses aren't caused by the drugs, but by what is
used to "cut" them. The strength and dosage is not regulated.

The guy selling drugs to our kids doesn't care about their age. What
he does care about is the cash they carry. However, a legal seller of
alcohol or tobacco knows his business would be jeopardized if he were
caught selling to underage customers.

The fact is that these substances, by being illegal, are a greater
cause of harm to society than the drugs themselves.

If the governor is serious about solutions to the problem of illegal
drugs, all he needs to do is look at a book on the history of
Prohibition and the Roaring '20s. He is also free to discuss
legalization, taxation or any issue surrounding today's drug policies
with myself or any of the other former criminal justice professionals
who are part of the rapidly growing organization, Law Enforcement
Against Prohibition -- or LEAP at

Some point to alcohol Prohibition as the prime example of how a
prohibition fails. I choose instead to draw upon a far older example.
When Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by
paradise with all their needs met, there was only one thing prohibited
to them. Yet, in spite of their perfect existence, they couldn't
resist that one temptation. I ask you, if God can't enforce
prohibition, what makes us think we can do better?

Peter Christ is a retired police captain and a founder and board
member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He lives in Cazenovia,
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