War Against Drugs Just Isn't Working 

War Against Drugs Just Isn't Working 
Posted by CN Staff on September 26, 2002 at 14:01:51 PT
By O. Ricardo Pimentel, The Arizona Republic
Source: Arizona Republic 
What do the following items have in common? We have embarked on yet another attempt to eradicate the coca crop in Colombia, a country beset by civil war. Law enforcement drew a direct link recently between terrorism and the drug trade, moving beyond those ill-reasoned TV spots and arresting suspects in the Midwest who were allegedly funneling proceeds to terrorist groups.
 Proposition 203 on Arizona's ballot in November would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use and set up a system for the state to dispense and regulate the medicinal use of marijuana. Another initiative, Proposition 302, would allow the courts to jail, despite a previous initiative that said we shouldn't, first- and second-time offenders. This if they refuse to complete drug treatment.The simplistic view is that drugs, of course, connect all these items. What really connects them, however, is the black market in drugs.It's what makes possible the obscene profits that fuel civil war in Colombia and corruption all over the world. These profits are what made drug trafficking alluring for terrorists who otherwise might claim spiritual purity.Without criminalization of drugs, there would be no black market, no obsession with putting drug users away, hence no need for the two ballot initiatives, one to decriminalize and the other to re-criminalize.What we've done, lo these many years, is to say drugs are the problem, when the real problem is the prohibition that jacks up prices so much that both trafficking and corruption are inescapable.We have made criminals of vast numbers of Americans whose biggest victims are themselves. We have made millionaires of the people who supply them the means. Our insane drug policy induces profits that create the rivalry that produces violence in the streets.The black market is the father of all these ills and criminalization of drug use is the grandfather. We apparently learned nothing from Al Capone and Prohibition. This new plan to eradicate Colombia's coca crop comes on the heels of another that failed. But even if this one succeeds, what's next? Defoliate the world?Meanwhile, the leftist guerrillas waging war against South America's oldest democracy reportedly get their financial backing by giving security to the drug lords. The right-wing paramilitary there also reportedly is in the drug trade.So we send military aid to Colombia when the best thing we could do for that country is to take away the profits that fuel the war. Snipped: Complete Article: Arizona Republic (AZ) Author: O. Ricardo Pimentel, The Arizona RepublicPublished: September 25, 2002Copyright: 2002 The Arizona Republic Contact: opinions Website: Related Articles:203 Would Mandate Fines for Pot Smokers Initiative Foes Fight 'Lie' 203: The Debate Over Pot Laws's Time We Scrap Drug Laws Mired in Failure
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Comment #1 posted by druid on September 26, 2002 at 15:02:03 PT:
the rest of the article ...
The Taliban and al-Qaida, before their U.S.-induced deterioration, had long been trading opium and heroin for gold. Recently, the feds say, they broke up a Midwestern drug operation that had proceeds going to terrorist groups like Hezbollah.But would any of this happen if the black market didn't make it so profitable?Critics of the Arizona initiative to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana will undoubtedly argue that this measure amounts to creeping decriminalization for all drugs.And they'd be right. This initiative's major flaw is that it doesn't gallop us toward that goal.Yes, decriminalizing drugs may increase usage in the short term, and there are many problems attendant with that.But our war on drugs has certainly not allowed us to escape any of those pernicious effects, including criminal behavior so folks can secure these forbidden fruits. Faithful readers may detect contradiction here. Recently, I wrote about the need to enact laws that allow for a presumption of child abuse for mothers who give birth to babies born with drugs in their systems.No hypocrisy here. We punish the consequences of behavior in this country. It's legal to drink, but drive drunk and get caught and the law comes into play. If our history has proved anything, it is that enforcement has done little to dampen usage and that drug treatment saves more lives than jails in any case.There's a slogan hanging in many an office that goes something like this: If you keep doing the same things and keep getting the same bad results, you need to do something different.It's a motto tailor-made for our drug war.Reach Pimentel at ricardo.pimentel or (602) 444-8210. His column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
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