#388 Repealing Today’s Failed Prohibition

Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2008
Subject: #388 Repealing Today’s Failed Prohibition



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #388 – Sunday, 7 December 2008

Syndicated columnist Froma Harrop wrote the column, below, which ties
the ended Prohibition 75 years ago this past week to the modern
version – the war on drugs.

The column is worthy of your letters to the editor. Newspapers that
have printed the column are shown as December 2008 news clippings at:


Please also contact your local newspapers and ask them to publish the
column. Just tell the newspapers that the column is by Froma Harrop
and is available from Creators Syndicate. The newspapers will know how
to obtain the column for publication.

The reason for the column and the quotes from Law Enforcement Against
Prohibition http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/ and Criminal
Justice Policy Foundation http://www.cjpf.org/ is because of their
new joint effort “We Can Do It Again: Repealing Today’s Failed Prohibition.”

Please go to the website to help with this effort http://www.WeCanDoItAgain.com/


Froma Harrop’s syndicated column is copyrighted by Creators Syndicate.
The text of the column is as follows.

America ended Prohibition 75 years ago this past week. The ban on the
sale of alcohol unleashed a crime wave, as gangsters fought over the
illicit booze trade. It sure didn’t stop drinking. People turned to
speakeasies and bathtub gin for their daily cocktail.

Prohibition — and the violence, corruption and health hazards that
followed — lives on in its modern version, the so-called War on
Drugs. Former law-enforcement officers gathered in Washington to draw
the parallels. Their group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (
LEAP ), has called for nothing less than the legalization of drugs.

And before you say, “We can’t do that,” hear the officers out. They
have an answer for every objection.

Doesn’t the War on Drugs take narcotics off the street, raising their
price beyond most Americans’ means?

Obviously not. The retail price of cocaine is now about half what it
was in 1990. When the value of something goes up, more people go into
the business.

In some Dallas junior high schools, kids can buy two hits of “cheese”
– — a mix of Tylenol PM and heroin — for $5, Terry Nelson, a former
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer, told me. Lunch costs more.

Wouldn’t legalizing drugs create new users? Not necessarily. LEAP
wants drugs to be regulated like alcohol and cigarettes. Regulations
are why it’s harder to buy alcohol or cigarettes in many schoolyards
than drugs. By regulating the purity and strength of drugs, they
become less deadly.

Isn’t drug addiction a scourge that tears families apart? Yes, it is,
and so are arrests and incarceration and criminal records for kids
caught smoking pot behind the bleachers. There are 2.1 million people
in federal, state and local prisons, 1.7 million of them for
non-violent drug offenses.

Removing the stigma of drug use lets addicts come out into the open
for treatment. We have treatments for alcoholism, but we don’t ban

LEAP’s members want to legalize drugs because they’re tired of being
shot at in a war they can’t win. They’re tired of making new business
for dealers every time they arrest a competitor. They’re are tired of
busting people in the streets of America’s cities over an ounce of
cocaine, while the Andean region produces over 1,000 tons of it a
year. They’re tired of enriching terrorists.

“In 2009, the violence of al-Qaida will be financed by drug profits,”
said Eric Sterling, head of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation,
which joined the call for legalization. As counsel to the House
Judiciary Committee in the 1980s, Sterling helped write the anti-drug
laws he now opposes.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that legalizing drugs would
save federal, state and local governments $44 billion in enforcement
costs. Governments could collect another $33 billion in revenues were
they to tax drugs as heavily as alcohol and tobacco.

No one here likes drugs or advocates putting heroin on store shelves
alongside ibuprofen and dental floss. Each state or county could set
its own rules on who could buy which drugs and where and taxes levied
– — as they now do with alcohol.

What about taking gradual steps — say, starting with marijuana. And
couldn’t we first try decriminalization — leaving users alone but
still arresting dealers? Those were my questions.

The LEAP people want the laws gone, period. “We’re whole hog on it,”
Nelson said. Keeping the sale of drugs illegal, he said, “doesn’t
take the cartels out of it.”

Ending this “war” won’t be easy. Too many police, drug agents,
bureaucrats, lawyers, judges, prison guards and sprayers of poppy
fields have a stake in it. But Prohibition was repealed once.
Perhaps it can happen again.


Prepared by: The MAP Media Activism Team www.mapinc.org/resource