Pubdate: 13 Mar 1999
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times.
Contact:  (213) 237-4712
Author: Art Olivier


A drug house can destroy a neighborhood. It is occupied and frequented by
criminals. Drug dealers are not concerned with how young their customers
are. And because drug dealers operate outside of the law, disputes are
often settled with violence.

As mayor, it is my duty to do everything possible to rid our city of this
menace. With increased patrols, an active neighborhood watch program and a
dedicated deputy district attorney, we have run drug dealers out of town.
Yet the drugs are still being sold somewhere. I am sure that when a drug
dealer is run out of town, they do not change their occupation along with
their address. Usually this means that somewhere there will be another
neighborhood that is going to be put in peril by these criminals. Recently,
Bellflower had a meth lab in a house filled with kitty litter to hide the
odor of the chemicals used to process the methamphetamine. Although the
kitty litter hid the odor, it did not decrease the volatility of the
chemicals that put the surrounding neighbors at risk. The volatile process
of producing methamphetamine would be much safer in a laboratory run by a
skilled chemist than by a drug addict in the garage next door.  As in every
city, we have numerous outlets selling legal drugs.

Drug stores, liquor stores, bars and grocery stores all sell drugs with
relatively few problems.  The most common justification for our drug laws
is that the government needs to protect those who may want to abuse drugs.
I believe it is time we concentrate on protecting the vast majority of
people who are drugfree rather on the minority who has a propensity to
abuse drugs.  In my lifetime, I have not seen any success in drug laws
reducing the use of illegal drugs. The distribution of illegal drugs, which
is free of taxation and regulation, seems to be as efficient as many legal

Until the time this nation changes its drug policy, local elected officials
will be forced to move the drug problem from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Just hope that your neighborhood is not the next victim of the war on drugs.

Art Olivier Is Mayor of Bellflower 
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