Pubdate: Sat, 22 Jan 2011
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune (MO)
Page: A4
Copyright: 2011 Columbia Daily Tribune
Note: Prints the street address of LTE writers.
Author: Henry J. Waters III
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Incomprehensible Reactions

Daily reports of drug war violence seem to slip past our 
consciousness. What are we thinking?

Gang warfare wracks Mexico from border to border. Outlaws murder 
judges and police officers when they aren't busy killing each other. 
The crime is beyond control in Mexico. Drugs make too much money.

In America it's the same, except it's compounded because we have a 
huge crime problem related to drug use as well as drug-trafficking. 
Even in a quiet town like Columbia, local drug war violence has made 
enough news to fill a book. Our police do as well as one can expect, 
but the drug trade simply is too lucrative to deny. The crime will 
continue, and we will keep paying billions to fight a losing war on drugs.

Judging from our public attitude, we don't care. We are willing to 
tolerate a situation that produces most of our community's criminal 
activity. I suppose most of us believe those shootings and break-ins 
and robberies will not affect us. Over on the other side of town, let 
the bad guys and the cops duke it out.

We don't seem to care that our billion-dollar war is not working. In 
a perverse way, the more law enforcement we deploy, the higher drug 
prices become, the more lucrative the black market, the larger the 
incentive for more criminal activity and the more we will spend on 
enforcement. It's a vicious losing cycle only getting worse.

We could stop the violence here and in Mexico and everywhere else 
where illegal drugs are produced and sold into the huge U.S. black 
market. We could legalize drugs just as we did almost a hundred years 
ago with alcohol, when a similar black-market crime spree threatened 
our peace and tranquility.

Why won't we learn the lesson? We argue to ourselves that the 
potential effects of illegal drugs are worse than the potential 
effects of alcohol. We arrest for driving under the influence instead 
of driving while intoxicated even though violations always involve 
alcohol. If the crime implied bad driving because of drug use, 
apparently arrests would cease. We spend a lot combating the effects 
of alcohol abuse but nothing fighting alcohol black market crime.

We continue to push the rope, spending billions fighting a losing 
drug war, creating the largest, most violent black market in the 
world and underwriting criminal activity in our own communities. The 
one thing the war is not doing is controlling drug use.

What are we thinking? Whatever our thoughts are, they're buried. We 
will let the war rage on around the corner, out of sight. Maybe if we 
look away, the shooters will miss us. Yet most of the crime in 
America is drug-related.

How come we don't stop it? We think legalizing drugs with laws like 
those for alcohol would lead every teenager to use more. But think of 
the illegal drug sales system we have now, with sellers getting rich 
pushing drugs on ninth-graders. Would it not be better for safe, 
regulated drugs to be available in the drugstore? Like Bud Light.


Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use of any other 
drug with special horror.

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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom