Pubdate: Mon, Sept 6,1999
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Contact:  1999 The Decatur Daily
Author: Mitch Chase


There's a simple way to save Social Security, cut taxes, reduce crime, make
our schools safer, save the family farm, and ensure a continued climb in the
Dow Jones averages: Legalize illegal drugs.

The trade in illegal drugs--things like cocaine, heroin and marijuana--
produces hundreds of billions of dollars annually for the worlds outlaws,
while the governments spend billions of dollars (about $27 billion a year by
the feds alone) trying to stop them.

On the other hand, governments make billions of dollars annually on legal
drugs--things like alcohol and tobacco--with minimal expenditures.

It doesn't take an Alan Greenspan to see that a change in national drug
policy would provide the government with a tremendous windfall in tax
money-- and a substantial cut in spending-- with resultant revenues(easily
$100 billion a year) that could be used to save Social Security, cut taxes
or maybe even both.

It would have the immediate effect of reducing crime, since drug-related
ones would no longer exist, and the lowering of prices of now-illegal drugs
through open competition would reduce the need of drug addicts to rob others
or prostitute themselves to support their habits.

I saw a lot of cocaine "addicts" in Venezuela, where I lived for 14 years.
Cocaine was readily and cheaply available, and I knew many expatriate
Americans who went on "jags" lasting months, consuming, on a weekly basis,
the equivalent of $1,000 to $3,000 worth of drugs at U.S. prices.

Had they done this in the United States, they no doubt would have lost their
homes, gone into serious debt ($20,000 to $60,000) , and ended up in detox

But none of this happened because, instead of paying $100 to $150 a gram for
cocaine, they were getting it for about $5, and were easily able to maintain
their habits without resorting to borrowing, theft, or prostitution.
(Invariably, after two to five months, they'd grow tired of the drug, "kick"
the habit, and go on with the rest of their lives.)

Certainly, a "crackhead" paying $1 a hit would be five times less likely to
resort to crime as one paying a street price of $5.

And the murderous international drug lords soon would be out of the
picture--replaced by efficient, tax-paying businessmen. (The same thing
happened to their Prohibition counterparts, the bootleggers.)

Less crime would free police officers to address other concerns, like
stopping high school students from shooting their classmates.

Also, there would be no need to look to such exotic places as Mexico,
Columbia and Turkey for marijuana, cocaine and opium products. America's
farmers are badly in need of new sources of revenue.

The USDA certainly could produce freeze-resistant varieties of coca and
opium poppy, and Americans are already quite adept at cultivating marijuana
(it's reputedly California's third-largest cash crop).

Our drug addicts will be buying American, and the money will be staying
here, with a good portion likely going into the stock market, thus ensuring
a continued rise in the Dow. (Our 401(k)s will skyrocket!)

We need a national leader to take up the cause. President Clinton, who may
or may not be a pot smoker (it depends on your definition of the word
inhale), is too much of a lame duck to make much difference.

GOP hopeful George W. Bush, on the other hand, seems to have the background
we're looking for. (Some say the "W" stands for "White Nose.")

Talk about "passionate conservatism"-- the taxes on drugs the addicts buy
pays for their own rehabilitation programs.

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