A must-read in yesterday’s L.A. Times: A former L.A. cop calls for legalizing drugs
Of course, we’re all familiar with the excellent Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Stephen Downing does an excellent job making their case.
The way he sees it, the war on drugs hasn’t reduced drug use and the violence that accompanies it; it’s made matters worse. Law enforcement and the drug lords have been in an arms race for more than 40 years, perpetuating their own existence in a never-ending escalation that has bloated prison budgets and robbed us of funding for education and basic human services. The killing fields hold the bodies of cops, dealers and innocent victims. And still, after incalculable costs in blood and money, neither the supply nor the demand has abated. […]
“When I started, the show-and-tells for the media were a kilo or two, a couple of handguns and a few thousand dollars in cash,” Downing wrote, referring to the news conferences called by the LAPD to celebrate its busts. “Today it’s warehouses full of dope, pallets of cash and tens of thousands of war level weapons. That alone should tell us something about failed policy.”
When Downing talks about legalizing drugs, he means we should “legalize, regulate and control” illicit substances. But he isn’t referring only to marijuana, even though he finds it illogical that marijuana is illegal while alcohol and tobacco — proven killers — are perfectly legal. He’s talking about legalizing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, Ecstasy, the whole underground kaleidoscope.
The whole article is well-written, and good to have in the oft-prohibition-cheering L.A. Times.
I was also interested in the response to reporter Steve Lopez from Mark Kleiman:
I asked UCLA professor Mark Kleiman, who teaches courses on drug policy, what he thought about all of this, and he sounded a more cautious note.
“If we legalized all drugs,” he said, “there’d be smaller illegal profits, less violence among dealers, safer drugs and fewer people behind bars.”
“We’d also have vastly more drug addiction and more crimes and accidents due to intoxication,” Kleiman added. “There’s no magic formula to end the drug problem. Details matter, and not all drugs are alike. I’d like to see cannabis made legally available for use by adults. I don’t want to extend that to cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.”
This was good to see. I mean, we all know that Kleiman doesn’t support legalizing hard drugs, but if it wasn’t for the fact that he comes over here in comments now and then to tell us, many of you wouldn’t know that he supports marijuana legalization (and certainly most people wouldn’t), and that he accepts the fact that criminalizing other drugs causes incarceration, violence, and danger. Invariably when he’s in the media, he’s promoting HOPE and ridiculing legalizers (without the marijuana clarification).
Downing also replies appropriately to Mark:
OK, said Downing. Let’s start with pot, regulate and control it as we do the wine industry (which would be a vast improvement over the current hodgepodge of medical marijuana laws), study the results, and learn what we can from countries that are decriminalizing other drugs.
Exactly. Start somewhere and learn from it. You’d think that academics would like having the data.
Note: I have to pass on this one comment from the article, because it was so hilarious in this day and age. And yet, I think the author may have been serious?
PeteMalloy at 9:28 PM June 17, 2012
Downing fell down and broke his crown… You can’t compare alcohol and cocaine. I can have a beer and not be drunk. You do do a hit of Meth without getting high.The addiction rate of alcohol and Crack are night and day. And we all know about the multidude of studies that show people who start with Pot are likely to try harder drugs.
People involved with the manufacturing and selling of various drugs aren’t PTA members. What makes anything think they’re going to start abiding by some new law and give up their profits to the IRS?
If you think legalizing drugs will stop all types of crimes associated with them, then why do middle class or well to do people still commit crimes while high? If we allow drug to be legal dont we increase the chances of DUI’s and Zombies eating peoples faces (on a bad trip)?
Remember, we encourage what we tolerate. But theres not enough time to talk about the Occupy Hippies and Illegal Immigration right now. . .