Pubdate: Mon, 28 Oct 2013
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2013 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Les Golden
Page: 19


The sale of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack, angel dust, etc. is a
multitrilliondollar business. It is the economy of the inner cities.
It is the major economy of mountainous states such as West Virginia.
It is the major economy of New Mexico, California, Arizona and
Florida. It is the largest value of product transported in interstate
commerce. Yet none of these transactions is taxed.

Furthermore, the battle over distribution is the largest source of
crime. More prison inmates are incarcerated for drug crimes than for
any other crime.

I believe that no one learns from the past. Examine Prohibition.
Liquor was the origin of organized crime in the early 20th century and
the source of crime in every speakeasy in America. Finally legalized,
it has become the largest revenue source and the largest profit source
of the restaurant industry. Government revenue stems not only from
sales taxes but also from liquor licenses. At every stage of
manufacture, distribution and consumption, liquor is taxed.

The same should occur with drugs.

The argument for legalization clearly is not simply to generate
government revenue. The drug business is the source of the greatest
tragedies in our society. The sellers of these drugs are responsible
for the agonizing number of shooting and murders in Cook County as
they fight over turf. The vast majority of those incarcerated have
been convicted of drug trafficking, at an enormous cost to society.

The only solution is to legalize every form of drug. The cost of
production is small. Adding a large tax would not only create a new
source of revenue but, with the total cost still relatively small,
would also put the street-corner dealers out of business.
Knowledgeable in the quality of these materials, and with a clientele
developed from years of dealing, these sellers could become the
clerks, managers, buyers, distributors, manufacturers and packagers of
the drugs. They would have hospitals, clinics and doctors as new
clients. They would have jobs, their income would be taxed, the
quality of the drugs could be controlled, the shootings and killings
would stop and the merchants would no longer be sent to prison. They
would find that studying marketing, agriculture, public relations and
other business-related fields would improve their abilities to make a
living, and they would find a reason to go back to school. Each one is
an admirable goal.

Two problems exist. Any politician who would favor legalization faces
potential voter rejection, and certainly the condemnation of an
election opponent. Second, drug prevention/rehabilitation is a huge

Legalization in Illinois should be the first step. Despite its many
benefits, those two forces will conspire together and legalization
will never happen. Unless we demand it.

- - Les Golden, Oak Park
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MAP posted-by: Matt