Pubdate: Fri, 20 Apr 2012
Source: New Hampshire Business Review (NH)
Copyright: 2012 New Hampshire Business Review
Contact: 150 Dow St., Manchester, NH 03101
Author: Bert Cohen


Five officers were shot in Greenland. The much-beloved chief - just
eight days from retirement - was killed. Hearts across New Hampshire
suffer from this horrible tragedy.

How many more families of police officers will suddenly find
themselves in mourning?

Michael Maloney is the 23rd person to die in U.S. drug law enforcement
operations in 2012. Forty years, 40 million arrests. The drug war is
not working. There is zero effect on the demand for drugs.

When will we say "Enough!" to the counterproductive, gut-wrenching
drug war? We need a new approach.

It's been so massive that, until it strikes our own towns, perhaps we
can't really see it. Now we can't ignore it. The drug war is a giant
web of failed policies so huge and is today such a part of America
it's hard to envision an alternative. But we must.

Greenland is a great community in my old Senate district. Chief
Maloney was a deeply dedicated public servant. His job was to protect
the people of Greenland from harm, to keep the peace. Perhaps from
this awful tragedy we'll learn that focusing police on the drug war is
distinctly different from focusing them on public safety.

Many people were gunned down in the last failed prohibition. It's
understandable that many Americans wanted to ban alcohol: domestic
violence, wasting of lives, etc. That prohibition also failed, causing
massive, needless harm.

That war failed to control booze. Where there is a demand, and money
to be made, there will be a supply. Those principles are constant.

The pure law enforcement approach doesn't work. One arrest means
another dealer steps up in an endless stream of entrepreneurs willing
to take the risks for the enormous potential profits created by
prohibition. Eliminating those profits would destroy the drug cartels
with one swift blow and wipe out their awful power.

The message to kids? Drug and alcohol abuse is a sickness that can be
treated; addicts are to be pitied. From prescription drugs to heroin,
drugs can waste lives. But most of the dangers to society are from
prohibition. Out of control addicts do stupid, desperate things to get
their illegal fix. Let's get them under control instead.

Look at tobacco. It too causes great harm. Would it make sense to turn
those addicts into criminals by making it illegal? No, we do what we
can to effectively reduce harm. And it's working.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition are guys who have been on the
front lines of the war on drugs. They have seen and felt the horrors.
>From their website: "We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all
drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards
for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes
of violence making our communities much safer. By placing drug abuse
in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice
system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths."

Isn't that what we want?

This new local disaster requires us to begin a dialogue to bring an
end to this national tragedy. We need something that works.

As we honor the bravery and dedication of our newly fallen officers,
it's time to take them out of the bull's eye and replace the horror
and blood of this failed prohibition with treatment and control that
may actually reduce demand and yield the results we deserve.

State senator from 1990 to 2004, Burt Cohen hosts a radio show, "The
Burt Cohen Show," which can be heard on WSCA-FM and at
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