Pubdate: Thu, 07 Sep 2000
Date: 09/07/2000
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Author: Andreas M. Danckers

LIBERTYVILLE -- As we distribute another chunk of the umpteen billion
dollars devoted each year to the "War on Drugs," it behooves us to
ask: Exactly who are the beneficiaries of our ongoing campaign of
criminal prosecution and military intervention?

- Not actual or potential users, whose consumption of illegal drugs
persists with all the vigor of Prohibition-era drinking.

- Not our courts and prisons, swollen to the point of bursting by
those who cannot resist the economic appeal of drug selling or the
self-gratification of drug use.

- Not youth seeking work, whose modest opportunities for honest income
pale in comparison with the riches available via the drug trade.

- Not law enforcement, whose officers are no more immune to
black-market corruption than the people they apprehend.

- Not public health, which is burdened by diseases arising from and
spread by the backroom use of unregulated and contaminated drugs.

- Not our inner cities, where entire populations are held hostage by
the violence that surrounds this law-made lawlessness.

- Not the welfare programs, which end up supporting those who have
been dragged down economically by their criminal records.

- Not our civil liberties, which are increasingly curtailed by the
government's need for new means of prosecuting this "war."

- Not the governments and economies of developing countries, which
have been distorted by the staggering profitability of the

- Not our foreign relations, as we coerce trading partners to adopt
our anti-drug stance and insert ourselves into their local politics.

- Not the environment, into which we dump herbicides and defoliants
that poison drug crops and drug users alike.

- Not the public trust, which has long been undermined by government
misinformation concerning the facts of drug use.

Instead the people who actually benefit from the "War on Drugs" are
the black-marketeers themselves, the millionaire kingpins who, if
drugs were merely commodities, couldn't afford their jets and yachts.

And then there are the peddlers: Not drug pushers, but the peddlers of
influence and money who distribute the billions that pay the salaries
of all those drug warriors.

These are the direct beneficiaries of the "War on Drugs" and, not
surprisingly, they are the ones who advocate fighting harder and
spending more.

As for the rest of us, well, we're just casualties of

Andreas M. Danckers