Consider This: Legalization the best way to win war on drugs

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First of all, I want to let readers know that I am not on any dope and never was. I don’t even drink or smoke. Second, what I am going to write has strongly opinionated opponents, starting with my wife.

The so-called war on drugs is a total failure. Think of it: The British Empire, a colonial power, waged war with China some 200 years ago. The aim? Control of the opium trade. The Vietnam War brought to the U.S. an abundance of drugs from the Golden Triangle. The Reagan era is well known for its Iran-Contra scandal, when Central American terrorists got U.S. weapons and the CIA got their drugs.

The invasion of Afghanistan? The heroin trade, destroyed by Taliban, was restored and is in its blossom era ever since. Don’t ask me how these drugs make it to the West (perhaps on unchecked CIA and Pentagon planes). The Mexico-U.S. border is basically a war zone with armed forces, gangs and “law” enforcers fighting for a slice of that pie, with deaths running into the hundreds of thousands. (Ciudad Juarez leads the pack with 30,000 drug-related corpses in the past six years alone. And believe me, you don’t want to see pictures of those murdered mutilated bodies). In Columbia, the cocaine war has been going on for the past 40 years with no tangible result.

The war on drugs is in fact a war for drugs.

I heard that in the Creston Valley there are 12 undercover cops busting one marijuana grow-op after another while other grow-ops are mushrooming. Folks, that’s a failure with an estimated $2 million cost to taxpayers, year in, year out, in our small valley. (That could run our recreation complex for free, indefinitely.) Never mind that it clogs the courts, fines or locks up small users and dealers, and fattens big fish that are never to be fried.

The solution? Legalize, regulate, educate. Cut criminal elements off, and free the cops, courts and taxpayers’ money for real issues like prevention, education, outdoor activities and sports. Like alcohol and tobacco, whoever wants it will get it anyway. Prohibition in the U.S. brought Al Capone and his kind to the top. Gorbachev tried the same in 1980s and you know the result.

Once, a kid about 12 years old asked me for a smoke. I answered that I don’t smoke and that there are only two groups of smokers: rich and stupid. I added, “You are apparently not stupid so you must be rich.” He replied, “Not really,” and walked away. I hope that encounter got him thinking and perhaps helped him a bit on the way out.

Can we find creative ways to deal with drugs? Prohibition simply does not work. Many law enforcement officials and politicians came to the same conclusion. Countries that legalized drugs have noticed a drop in crimes and no increase in drug use. While I do not advocate use of any harmful substance I see clearly that the current approach is an abysmal failure. Treating drugs like alcohol and tobacco (starting with legalizing marijuana) will give us a better alternative, saving society’s resources.

Vladimir Certik believes that thinking outside the box and engaging fellow citizens may bring simple solutions to complex problems. The West Creston resident can be reached at 250-402-0055.