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June 2006
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An Editorial Against Prohibition

What an outstanding editorial this weekend in the Charleston (WV) Gazette:

THIS week’s mass murder in a drug-infested St. Albans suburb raises a troubling thought: Much of America’s criminality and gun violence among addicts and illegal drug dealers apparently is spawned by the nation’s harsh prohibition of narcotics.
Almost a century ago, the United States plunged into Prohibition, the criminalization of alcohol. Immediately, illicit dealers began supplying bootleg booze in the shadows. Gun battles erupted between rival rum-runners. Prisons were crammed with alcohol offenders. Police and judges were bribed to overlook “speakeasy” bars. Street gangs and the Mafia grew in that grotesque time.
After Prohibition was repealed, alcohol became legal under state regulation — and the wave of alcohol crimes faded.
Today history is repeating itself, via criminalization of disapproved drugs. Illicit dealers supply banned substances in the shadows. Gun battles erupt between rival operators. Prisons are crammed with narcotics offenders. Police and judges sometimes are bribed to look the other way. Street gangs and the Mafia profit from the lucrative trade. So do Muslim terrorists who control Afghanistan’s opium poppies, and Latin American cartels in control of cocaine production. Local American peddlers carry guns, so they won’t be robbed of their cash or stash. They sell to children or anyone able to buy. Addicts commit robberies to get money for daily fixes. Impure mixes by amateur suppliers cause overdose deaths.

Wow! To see a newspaper editorial so clearly understand the parallels between drug prohibition and alcohol prohibition is just downright… intelligent (a factor that seems too often to be missing).
The editorial goes on to talk about and quote from LEAP — which obviously had an impact on the editorial board — and concludes with:

Legalizing alcohol again in 1933 gradually took gunfire out of the booze business. If America likewise legalized narcotics and regulated them through health agencies, would today’s drug murders, police cost and prison expense similarly be eliminated? This newspaper long has called for legalization of marijuana, which is no more harmful than beer. LEAP advocates that step for all narcotics.
Congress and West Virginia’s Legislature should study this question — but don’t hold your breath while you wait for change, because nearly all politicians brag about being “tough on drugs.” Thus they guarantee that the narcotics trade will remain in the hands of criminals.

This is a pretty good one to send to friends.

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