Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Source: Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
Copyright: 2000 St. Paul Pioneer Press
Contact:  345 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55101
Author: Kenneth Jopp


On Nov. 21, three Minneapolis police officers opened fire in downtown St. 
Paul when two suspected marijuana dealers sped off in their car and struck 
two other officers. Fortunately, no bystanders caught any of the gunfire. 
This regrettable fracas demonstrates the dangers not of drugs, but of our 
drug policies.

If marijuana users could buy their drug from a retail outlet as peaceably 
as bourbon users buy their arguably more dangerous drug, there would be no 
need for sting operations like the one that sent bullets flying down West 
Seventh Street. And if policies designed to protect us from the dangers of 
drugs expose us to the dangers of public shootouts -- while failing to 
eliminate the drugs -- then those reckless policies need to be reformed. I 
can teach my children to say "no" to drugs, but I can't teach them how to 
dodge bullets. Our current drug prohibition subsidizes violent gangs, 
encourages anyone looking for a fast buck to join in the action, and 
undermines respect for the law because it unreasonably punishes nonviolent 
behavior and produces "stings" in which it's unclear who gets stung. It's 
Prohibition all over again, and it's time for another repeal.

Kenneth Jopp

St. Paul
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