Pubdate: Mon, 14 May 2012
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2012 The Salt Lake Tribune


Few DARE Tell the Truth About Drugs

"You ask any DEA man, he'll say, 'There's nothing we can do.'" - 
Glenn Frey, "Smuggler's Blues"

Imagine a world where doctors were the only people who were not 
allowed to offer their opinions on medicine. Or where what farmers 
thought about agriculture was left unsaid for fear of public disapproval.

That, more or less, is the situation for law enforcement officers 
when it comes to any real conversation about how the United States 
deals with the problems associated with drug abuse. The ones who know 
from personal, and sometimes heart-breaking, experience just how 
futile the whole sad enterprise is are the ones who dare not speak 
out for fear of being seen as soft on crime.

There are, luckily, exceptions. One of them rode through Salt Lake 
City the other day, on his bicycle and on a lonely mission to show 
the American people just how wrong we are to continue to insist on 
taking a law enforcement hammer to a public health nail.

Howard Wooldridge is a retired Michigan police officer and a 
co-founder of the national organization Law Enforcement Against 
Prohibition ( As he explained to The Salt Lake Tribune 
the other day - and to many others along his ride from Oregon to 
Georgia - the problems we associate with drug use are not caused by users.

They are caused by the laws, law enforcement officers, judges and, 
mostly, craven politicians who dare not see or tell the truth about 
how the ongoing prohibition of drugs is nearly as destructive and 
just as futile as was the prohibition of alcohol early in the last century.

LEAP favors the legalization, regulation and taxation of now-illegal 
drugs, along the same model as alcohol and tobacco. That may be too 
drastic for our culture to embrace all in one go. But even moving 
toward a decriminalization approach, which stresses education and 
treatment over arrest and incarceration, would be a huge improvement.

Alcohol and tobacco, of course, create a long list of serious social 
and health problems. But heavily armed drug lords and the destruction 
of civil society in parts of Mexico, clogged courts and packed 
prisons in the United States and street violence of the kind that 
claimed the life of an Ogden police officer only a few months ago are 
not among them.

If we took the undeniably huge problem of drug abuse away from the 
police and gave it to the doctors, where it by all logic and humanity 
belongs, we could save billions in law enforcement costs, spend 
millions on treatment, and take a huge step toward real national sobriety.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom