The New York State Legislature is attempting to ameliorate the draconian Rockefeller drug laws; sitting Judges are urging the reform of laws that criminalized drug use. But these measures are meaningless band-aids which ignore and do nothing to prevent the disease of drug trafficking, permitting it to turn the south-western United States – from Mexico as far north as Phoenix – into a zone of brutal violence, kidnaping, and death or from filling the coffers of jihadists in Afghanistan permitting them to foment world-wide terrorism with heroin from their poppy fields.
The disease is not drug use, it is drug trafficking, and the mis-directed so-called war on drugs is an abject failure. To make matters incredibly worse, not only is the war on drug trafficking an abysmal failure but it has always has been, totally unnecessary, a sheer and monumental waste of time, assets and man power.
Drug trafficking could have been and, even now, can be eliminated overnight, tonight, by the stroke of a legislative pen that legalizes drugs.
Before you reject out-of-hand the concept that legalization of drugs could bring about the end of the scourge of drug trafficking, I ask only that you take one minute to explore a possibility. If, at the end of that minute you are not convinced, or, perhaps intrigued, by the concept of legalization, just dash the idea from your mind, throw it on the trash heap, no harm, no foul.
In order to begin, you must understand that there is not one, but, rather, two totally separate and distinct drug problems. The first and most pernicious, the one that generates the vast profits, which, in turn, spawns violence, criminality, and corruption –- is drug trafficking. The second is drug abuse and addiction.
Please note, I said drug trafficking could be eliminated by the stroke of a pen. I did not say it would, at the same time, by the same act, eliminate addiction. But once drug trafficking is eliminated through legalization, addiction, in the calm and tranquility that shall follow that raging storm, can be treated as the medical and psychological problem that it is, in the setting of hospitals and clinics rather than police stations and jails.
Once you’ve divided the two-headed drug snake into trafficking and addiction in your mind, please answer truthfully: do you have any doubt whatsoever that the driving force behind drug trafficking is starkly simple – vast profit?
Drug traffickers are not religious zealots on a sacred quest. The only reason that they hide drugs in furniture legs, drop it by parachute into deserted fields, use boats, submarines, couriers who swallow condoms filled with it, why it is diluted and cut and packaged in baggies, is to sell it to hooked, hapless – mostly American – junkies at exorbitant prices.
Once drugs are legalized, once they are controlled like alcohol, sold in government licensed package-stores, once drugs become part of a legitimate, tax-paying, strictly regulated industry, once vast unrestrained, dangerous illegal profit is taken out of drugs, not a single plane, not a single courier will be sent out on the smuggle trail. Once those profits are subsumed into inventoried, strictly accounted-for product sold in state-controlled facilities and competing licensed chain outlets – not sold to persons under twenty-one, not sold on Sundays before 1 PM, not permitted to drivers — drug traffickers will be as obsolete as rum-runners and bath-tub gin.
Sure there are odds and ends problems that shall have to be cleared up, but you know in your heart’s heart, without vast profits, drug traffickers, who are just predatory criminals by another name, would find some other dodge to make easy money.
The above comparison of drug trafficking and Prohibition is particularly apt. When alcohol was prohibited by the Volstead Act, a huge, illegal industry instantly arose, leading to the manufacture of alcohol in illegal stills, vast profits, violence, corruption, police raids and jail; all the same horrors we presently suffer from drugs.
By the stroke of a pen, Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Overnight, yes, overnight, alcohol was legal and boot-legging disappeared, just evaporated into quaint nostalgia. Not a prosecution for illegal alcohol has been brought, nary a boot-legger has seen the inside of a jail in the United States for more than four score and seven years.
Saroyan philosophized that those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Isn’t that exactly what the war on drugs is, a repeat of police raids on speakeasies, Elliott Ness’s war waged on Al Capone and beer during Prohibition. If only society could also be condemned to repeat the results that occurred after the repeal of alcohol prohibition. If that were to happen – and, inevitably, it shall – drug trafficking and its concomitant violence shall also duplicate the obsolescence of illegal alcohol trafficking.
Some may counter that the repeal of Prohibition has not eliminated alcoholism. Certainly true. But alcoholism, as drug addiction, is a medical and psychological problem which is now treated in antiseptic environments, not in alleys and dumpsters.
In the enlightened future, drug addicts shall come out of the closets and wood-work and be treated in medical facilities, with medications, not batons. When the illicit allure of illegal drugs has evaporated, perhaps some of today’s drug abusers will no longer be enchanted enough to turn on, tune in and drop out. After all, since repeal, hardly anyone swallows goldfish anymore either.