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The Northerner

In my opinion: Drug policy needs a fix

Joseph Szydlowski

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March saw an expansion of America’s War on Drugs. Now the Drug Warriors have found a new place to police: our sewers.

The Washington Post reported March 26 that the White House asked workers to collect samples of Fairfax County, Va.’s sewage, hoping to determine how much coke Fairfax consumes.

I pity the workers collecting the samples. But at least the War on Drugs is right where it belongs: in the toilet.

David Murray, special assistant to the U.S. Drug Czar, agrees. But he thinks the program “will be very, very useful.”

The anti-drug Web site, Freevibe.com, describes cocaine, the drug being investigated, as “powerfully addictive.”

Indeed, the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol ‘ Drug Abuse Web site says that, “up to 75 percent of people who try cocaine will become addicted to it,” and “only one out of four people who try to quit will be able to do so without help.” The site added, “each day, 5,000 more people will experiment with cocaine.”

I used to love it when the prohibitionists contradicted themselves, but it happens so often that I’ve become jaded.

According to their ‘statistics,’ 3,750 people become addicted to cocaine every day.

Baloney.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 14.4 percent of Americans have tried cocaine during their lifetime. However, less than 1 percent of respondents have used cocaine within the last month.

One, out of every 14 Americans who has tried cocaine, used it within the last month. That’s 7 percent.

Contrast that with the percentage of alcoholic Americans. The same survey classifies 6.7 percent as heavy drinkers, with over 80 percent of Americans having tried an alcoholic beverage.

Thus, cocaine may addict about the same number of people, per capita, as alcohol.

Suddenly, it doesn’t sound like the voracious monster prohibitionists claim it is.

I never plan to try cocaine, nor do I want anyone else to. Dependence isn’t as likely as prohibitionists describe. But, like any other substance, addiction still poses a threat.

Nevertheless, America can gain a lot from legalizing drugs.

Marijuana, America’s number one cash crop according to author Eric Schlosser, yields $24 billion each year. But the cocaine market dwarfs that total, having garnered up to $77 billion each year from 1989 to 1998 according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The only other group having that kind of money and harming America is the Republican Party.

Right now, the cocaine money funds Colombian Cartels and Rebels, aka terrorists.

These terrorists have killed innocent people who didn’t cooperate. America gives money to Colombia to stop cocaine production, but every plan instituted inevitably fails.

Herbicides sprayed from planes to kill the coca plants destroy all crops, including legal ones. Substituting legal crops doesn’t generate enough revenue, either.

So, farmers turn to growing cocaine. The cartels take it, refine it and ship it to the United States where billions of dollars are spent on it.

But legalizing cocaine would cut off that enormous income from the terrorists’ treasury.

Before anyone says it, I’m thinking of the children. I’m thinking of the children who are mutilated by Colombian guerrillas and poisoned by the spraying of toxic herbicides, of the young women who must risk death to smuggle condoms filled with cocaine into the United States and of the children murdered in gang wars that are funded by cocaine dollars.

Imagine how the $123 billion spent on cocaine, marijuana and heroin, not to mention the taxes from it, would affect our economy. Add to that the $36 billion the government annually spends waging the War on Drugs.

But more importantly, imagine what the terrorists couldn’t do without that money.

America has experimented with prohibition. Banning alcohol in the 1920s didn’t keep people from drinking. Instead, it drove people to secret speakeasies and back-alley bars to score their bootlegged booze. Organized crime profited while innocents paid the price.

Prohibition is a jailhouse of cards supported only by broad generalizations, ridiculous research and hypocritical principles. The only person who should decide what you put in your body is you.

Soon the War on Drugs will hopefully be circling the drain. Until then, stand up for your right to control your body.

You also might want to be careful what you flush, in case Uncle Sam starts poking his nose around your septic tank.

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In my opinion: Drug policy needs a fix