Wednesday, December 10, 2008

drug war hopeless, why not legalize?

Kansas City Star | 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.