Pubdate: Mon, 29 Sep 2014
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Author: Ron Nelson
Note: Ron Nelson, Albuquerque Resident
Page: A7


The Lessons Learned From Legalizing Alcohol Should Be a Role Model 
for Why Decriminalizing Drugs Is a Bad Idea

When I first read Diane Dimond's column, "When will we really listen 
to the experts on drugs?", my first mental response was, this woman 
really is out of touch as to how and why we have the prisons 
overflowing and the social issues that plague us today over drugs.

I only agree with one portion of her column, "We believe that 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," says LEAP's mission statement. "We believe that in 
a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult 
use and less accessible to our children."

Think back, we once had a system where medical professionals had a 
more direct say about individuals who were a threat to themselves or 
to society. Unfortunately, politicians, fearing for individual 
rights, closed down public mental health hospitals and restrained the 
ability of medical professionals to make decisions about taking a 
dangerous person off the street.

That duty now belongs to our police departments and judges, hence a 
prison system that has reached its max.

Interesting how a decision made years back has come back to haunt them now.

As far as a total legalization of all drugs, the lessons learned from 
legalizing alcohol should be a stellar role model as to why this is a 
bad idea. During prohibition, the relationship between organized 
crime and politicians helped to transition bribes - that was/is 
illegal - to political contributions that were perfectly legal. We 
all know how special interests and dollars spent to line their 
pockets is working out for the politicians today.

And what do we have to show for it? America is the only country that 
has declared alcoholism as a disease.

The amount of money spent on the health, social and public safety 
issues that are a direct result of excessive alcohol consumption is 
staggering and in the billions of dollar range. And yet we promote 
more businesses that solicit alcohol, with little to show for it at 
the medical/social and public safety end of the spectrum.

As far as reducing crime, the great social experiments in Colorado 
and Washington are already disputing this issue. They have already 
learned that if a druggy will steal to obtain his/ her illegal drugs, 
he/she will also steal to obtain legal drugs. The Denver Post ran an 
article a few weeks back, citing that their property crime rate has 
increased by 68 percent, auto accidents are up 100 percent and 
homelessness is up 36 percent.

Eliminate the black market? Basic consumerism dictates that an 
individual will buy from a less expensive source.

Again, Colorado has cited a 68 percent shortfall in projected 
revenues. The politicians blame the medical marijuana program for 
underselling the legal market, but other sources claim black 
marketers are underselling legal businesses almost 3-1.

The Albuquerque Journal ran an article some months back, showing that 
lost revenues on black market cigarettes and alcohol is costing the 
state almost $200,000 a month. If New Mexico's "expert" panel of 
politicians, law enforcement and judges cannot keep repeat DWI 
offenders off the streets, what makes one clearthinking individual 
think he/she can effectively corral a bunch of legal drug users?

What I'm patiently waiting to observe is the political fallout over 
those politicians who quickly jumped on the legalization bandwagon by 
choosing what is popular over protection of public safety. Just 
watching Colorado alone, I think voters may soon come to their senses 
and declare that this wasn't such a good experiment after all.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom