You only have to look around my town to see the police have little to do. There's really little crime, people don't lock their houses and cars. I work in the only post office within thousands of miles that's ever been robbed. The culprits are now languishing in jail for a $12 heist. Sure we have domestic disputes and the like, but the mainstay of their existence is hassling bored teens and catching speeders. They've got plenty of time to deal with the local drug problem.
So why did they remove so many phone booths? Why did they close the small rest area outside of town on the main highway? Because they were havens of drug deals. Can you say, "Bait"? In the almighty drug war, they chose to simply remove places where crime gathers. It's too much trouble to police them. It's work; it would have caused them to have to deal with the drug issue. It's much easier to send dealers into hiding so you don't have to see it. If you don't see it, you can ignore it.
If you ignore it, it goes away?
If you don't see it, it isn't happening?
Drugs are not a new problem, it just didn't seem to matter as much when it was a social problem of the lower class. However, a surge of heroin-related deaths among white, middle-class teenagers, combined with record numbers of teenage marijuana users, has provoked the media and community leaders to raise a call to arms, urging an expansion of the "war on drugs." Politicians, cocktails in hand, rose to the occasion.
The game plan is almost laughable.
The 'get them early' DARE program merges reliable information about dangerous drugs with bullcrap. A student is told that marijuana is illegal because it's addictive and alcohol is legal because it isn't. Young people rebel - lying to them only justifies that rebellion. My daughter knew kids with high marks in her DARE program who smoked pot after school.
'Just Say No' or whatever anti-drug plan the politicians come up with next, might buy a vote or two but will have little effect on the demand for drugs. To think that sloganeering is an effective way to stop people from using drugs is as naive as thinking that if you get people to stop saying the 'N' word that racism will evaporate.
Ritalin, Prozac, and marijuana can provide easy solutions to make us feel better about being screwed up. 'Listening to Prozac' documented the beginning of a love affair with anti-depressants that's widely accepted. Add our dependency on Ritalin to deal with problems that used to result in trips to the principal, and we have a society that is alarmingly drug-dependent. As the kids see it, if it's okay to use prescription drugs to feel better and if it's socially acceptable for Dad to discuss his Zoloft dosage over a few beers with his boss, then what could be wrong with smoking pot?
As a political issue, the drug war is perfect. It's an emotional one, especially for parents; few people will deny its importance; even fewer politicians are willing to say publicly that enforcing drug laws is wasteful and ineffective; and almost anyone can come up with a new plan that makes at least as much sense as the old plan, although just as worthless.
The problem with the plans is that they all rely on faulty premises: Demand will shrink if there are enough scare programs, like DARE. Supply will dry up if enforcement gets enough manpower. The moon is made of cheese.
Clinton's administration has been tougher on drugs than any in history, and the most expensive. America has spent over $45 billion on the drug war since 1989, with no decrease in drug abuse. With the highest per-capita prison population in the world, about 70% of which is due to drug-related offenses, use of drugs continues to rise. Cocaine is easier to get in prison than it ever was on the streets. Are our warriors looking the other way? Is this supposed war merely like a Hollywood backdrop? If we can't keep drugs out of jail and drug-money out of the pockets of cops, how can we keep it off the streets?
I was speechless to learn of the 'Anti-Drug Legalization Act', legislation stating, "No Department or Agency of the United States Government shall conduct or finance, in whole or part, any study or research involving the legalization of drugs." What this means to those of us with IQs higher than Barney the Dinosaur, is that if there was ever any proof that legalizing drugs would be beneficial to our society, our government doesn't want to know!
Legalization is a bad idea. Most of the money raised by the taxation would simply end up supporting the bureaucracy that handles regulation, and our government would be in the drug business, just as it is now in the alcohol and tobacco business. Considering the conflicts we've seen between the health agencies and the bureaucracies supported by the alcohol and tobacco industries, need I go on?
Decriminalization of marijuana, on the other hand, could free up those billions of dollars worth of man-hours now spent on related crimes without building a new bureaucracy to consume the savings. Most arguments against decriminalization of marijuana are based on the only similar actual example we have available, that of the ending of prohibition, when, ostensibly, alcohol use skyrocketed. These statistics are questionable; it is far easier to measure the use of a legal substance than an illegal one, so it is hard to determine conclusively how much consumption actually increased.
I don't know if I support this theory, I'm simply being open minded. We aren't winning the war on drugs. Perhaps it's time we tried another tactic. Think about it! Not UNTIL the war on drugs was there so much crime related to drugs; drive-by shootings, muggings, armed robberies, and murders.
What have we got to lose?