Pubdate: Sun, 07 Jun 2015
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2015 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Sig Seidenman


Drugs don't cause violence, prohibition does. A well meaning reader
recently addressed the problem of gang-related violence in the city
("Reducing the number addicts is the key to reducing violence," June

The author suggested that the ongoing warfare causing such havoc is
primarily due to the demand for addictive drugs. Not so: The violence
is not due to the demand for these substances, it is due to the
prohibition of these substances.

Prohibition has never worked.Essentially all it does is create
demand.However there's been plenty of violence with the distribution
or use of tobacco.This was created by implementing the useless
policies contained in the WHO's Convention on Tobacco Control.The high
tobacco taxes cause...

There are other addictive drugs in great demand in our society that
lead to no violence at all. There is nicotine, found in tobacco
products and used by approximately 70 million people, and there is
also alcohol, which is consumed by even more people.

Both these substances have various rates of addiction, with nicotine
being extremely high on the scale. Nevertheless, there is no violence
currently connected with the distribution of either alcohol or tobacco.

Of course, there was once an infamous attempt to prohibit alcohol in
the U.S. The result was a wave of gang violence, the rise of organized
crime a=C2=80" and very little reduction in drinking.

Eventually reason prevailed and Prohibition ended. One would think the
lesson of this failed experiment would not be lost. Yet the so-called
"war on drugs" has continued unabated for decades with exactly the
same predictable results.

What has been the effect of the war on drugs? The drugs are still
available and their prohibited status has inflated their profit
potential to the point that distributors are willing to fight to the
death to preserve their market share.

What would the consequences be if a truce were declared and the
prohibition against drugs was lifted?

First, the price of these substances would plummet to the point where
they would not be worth fighting over, just as alcohol and tobacco are

Second, those who wish to partake will continue to do so at their own
risk, just as they do with alcohol and tobacco.

However, the experience of nicotine use over the past few decades
suggests the real solution to the problem.

Tobacco use contributes to nearly 500,000 preventable deaths per year
in the U.S. , not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars in
related health costs. This epidemic finally having been recognized, a
campaign of education and assistance for those who wish to kick the
habit has resulted in smoking rates plummeting from a high of 50
percent among adult Americans to less than half that today. The number
of deaths and related health costs will inevitably follow.

Therein lies the answer to the violent turf wars that plague not just
Baltimore, but cities throughout the land. It is not will power that
is the answer, as your letter writer suggested, but political will.
When will they ever learn?

Sig Seidenman

Owings Mills
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