Pubdate: Sun, 02 Aug 2015
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Orange County Register
Author: Stephen Downing


Re: "Drug legalization: Learn from Portugal" [Opinion, July 26]: As a 
former drug warrior, I offer my support to the Register for their 
editorial on Portugal's drug laws. The American War on Drugs is 
slowly coming to a close, and we must take notes from those who have 
trekked this path before. Portugal decriminalized possession of small 
amounts of all drugs more than 10 years ago, prioritizing harm 
reduction and addiction treatment, and the positive results are 
nothing short of astounding.

In America, we continue to wage this war under the presumption that 
drug users either deserve to die or deserve to be imprisoned, both of 
which show a stunning callousness to basic human rights and lack of 
generosity of spirit. A beloved child who becomes addicted to heroin 
and starts stealing from her parents to support her habit isn't 
necessarily a bad person, but a person in need of help. Yet the law 
assumes she deserve to be treated like a violent criminal or - 
because of our mandatory minimum laws - worse.

I'm a retired deputy chief with the LAPD, and I've seen some horrific 
crimes. Yet the one that haunts me at night is the one perpetrated by 
our government every day - in which we criminalize a public health 
problem, punishing people for asking to get better. An end for the 
War on Drugs is long overdue.

Stephen Downing

Long Beach
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