Pubdate: Tue, 11 Oct 2011
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2011 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Dan Reed


In response to Kevin A. Sabet's recent opinion piece ("Drug
legalization: Wrong lesson of Prohibition," Oct. 9), I don't know
which is more abhorrent - that a Baltimore newspaper would run an op-
ed championing Prohibition as "not as bad as you remember" or that the
piece was penned by a former senior adviser in the White House Office
of National Drug Control Policy.

A city that gave birth to the fictional place known as Hampsterdam,
and all the benefits it provided, ought to know better. Mr. Sabet's
argument (if we are to call it this) is built on such delicate and
flimsy points ("nuanced" in his parlance) that one might conclude that
he's trying to damn the position with faint praise. He states that
under Prohibition, less people drank alcohol, less people were
arrested for public intoxication and cirrhosis of the liver fell.
Well, if the country were to outlaw driving, we'd see a drastic drop
in traffic fatalities. There'd be less speeding tickets. And there
would be less people who suffer from fingers being slammed in car
doors. All would be benefits to society, freeing up a tremendous
amount of resources and drastically easing the burden on our health
care system. So why not make driving illegal?

Mr. Sabet also opines that not all the states actively enforced the
18th Amendment. Hardly an argument to be made in favor of the
legislation you're endorsing. Yet even his state's rights argument
falls flat when you consider that his administration has begun
cracking down on legally operating (and tax-paying) marijuana
dispensaries in California, claiming the DEA enforcement of our
(highly suspect) drug policy supersedes a states right to do what it
deems in its best interest.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has become a giant intelligence
organization whose reach extends far beyond narcotics. The New York
Times reports that they have an "eavesdropping operation so expansive
it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against
their political enemies."

Now comes word of legislation in Congress making it a federal crime
for U.S. residents to discuss or plan activities on foreign soil that,
if carried out in the U.S., would violate the Controlled Substances
Act (CSA) even if the planned activities are legal in the countries
where they're carried out.

When is enough enough? This little piece of cultural imperialism has
nothing to do with national security and everything to do with
emboldening the police state. In trampling the First and Ninth
Amendments (among others), the law grants extraordinary power to
intrude into the lives of private citizens.

President Barack Obama has admitted to dabbling in drugs. Many
applauded his honesty, as I do. However, had he been caught up in any
of the draconian and arbitrary drug laws this country enforces,
there's no way he'd be elected to any office whatsoever. What that
says about our national drug laws would make a far better opinion

Dan Reed, Baltimore
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