I’ve started reading a novel with a refreshingly different perspective.
I’ve gotten used to, but still bothered by, the whole notion that the drug war is very popular subject material for fiction (books, movies, etc.). The typical approach is the evil drugs theme, with the good guys going after the drug dealers, and eventually prevailing because they didn’t bother themselves with things like citizen rights. At the end, the bad guys are dead and the community is saved forever from the scourge of drugs. Hooray!
Hey, it’s fiction, so I don’t worry about it too much. But the complete lack of reality, of understanding how the drug war works, of the importance of the Constitution, sometimes gets a little tiring to me.
So I’m really looking forward to this one. “Condemned” by John Nicholas Iannuzzi — a novel by a trial lawyer and adjunct professor of law who explicitly calls for the legalization of drugs.
I’ll write more when I’ve had time to read it (don’t hold me to a time limit — I’ve got a number of projects in the works), but I wanted to share with you this interview with the author that came in the press kit from the publisher. Definitely got me interested in his book!
The Legalization of Drugs: An Interview with John Nicholas Iannuzzi
Q. Do you really think that legalizing drugs will eliminate drug trafficking?
A. Absolutely. You have to realize that there are two very distinct and very separate drug problems in our world. The first, and most pernicious, is drug trafficking. The other is drug addiction. It is the first, trafficking, that causes all the violence, corruption, smuggling, and vast sums of money being made by criminals. This is even more relevant now, being that Al Queda and terrorists in Afghanistan are involved in trafficking. Once legalized, where drugs can be controlled, as is alcohol, in state controlled stores, the vast profits will be eliminated. Without profits, the trafficking will stop overnight. No drug traffickers will bother to smuggle drugs if there shall be no profit. Once the trafficking is stopped, addiction will become a medical problem, treated as alcoholics are today.
Q. Are you in favor of all drugs being legalized?
A. Absolutely, all drugs, across the board. Otherwise, whatever drugs aren’t legalized, shall encourage continued drug trafficking.
Q. Don’t you think that that will lead to more, not less drug abuse.
A. First of all, we don’t know how large our present drug addiction problem is because it has been criminalized; much of it is behind closed doors and underground. Once legal, addicts will come “out of the closet” and can be treated. If they don’t care to be treated, if they don’t care to get help, they can drug themselves privately at home, like a closet drinker. But at least trafficking shall have been eliminated and the addicts’ substance abuse problems shall not endanger the whole of society as they do today.
Q. Where does the name of your novel, Condemned, come from?
A. From a quote from Santayana: “Those who fail to remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” We are in the midst of repeating what Franklin Roosevelt called the Stupendous Blunder of Prohibition. Laws that were intended to regulate and eliminate an allegedly evil substance, actually created an industry — illegal alcohol — which, in turn, brought forward Al Capone, the Valentine’s Day massacre, illegality, and corruption in the same forms we now have as a result of prohibiting drugs.
Q. Do you really think the government can regulate drugs? How do you see this being done?
A. Absolutely. In the same manner the state governments regulate alcohol.
Q. You mean, you think the states will go into the drug business?
A. No, but they can license stores and outlets on a very strict basis, in the same fashion that they regulate alcohol.
Q. What about pilots in planes? Are you going to allow them to take drugs and then fly?
A. First of all, notice, you have already accepted the fact that legalization will eliminate trafficking, and are now asking questions about addiction. In connection with those questions, you can answer all of them yourself by thinking of how alcohol is sold or controlled. Do we allow pilots to drink and fly? No. Nor drivers of cars. Nor youngsters under the age of 21. However alcohol is regulated, that’s the way drugs will be regulated.
Q. You keep talking about alcohol. Don’t we have a lot of alcoholics?
A. Yes. But we don’t have any rumrunners, or violence, or people worrying that the derelict on the corner is going to mug them to buy a pint of wine. Alcoholics exist. And they can be treated, not as criminals, but as a patients. People won’t have to worry about being mugged or having their homes burglarized so that junkies can buy an expensi ve fix.
Q. So then your concept of eliminating drugs hasn’t accomplished anything?
A. On the contrary. It isn’t the addicts that cause the violence, corruption, the money laundering, the couriers, and the smuggling. That comes from the traffickers. They’d be eliminated.
Q. Are there any other benefits from legalization of drugs?
A. Absolutely. At the moment, our government, and governments around the world are spending untold billions to interdict and stop drug trafficking. That is a needless expense. Moreover, the profits from the drug business currently go to criminals and terrorists. If legalized, drugs will be a legitimate business, just like brewing beer or selling alcohol, run by large corporations who will be paying taxes, employing people, who, in turn, pay more taxes. In addition, half our jails will be empty. Corrections officers will not be necessary, or police personnel in undercover capacities, nor judges or lawyers dealing with drug cases. Today, half of our criminal justice system is involved with regulating drug traffickers. That will all be eliminated, and the tax dollars saved shall be used to better serve the community.