Pubdate: Wed,  5 Sep 2001
Source: Desert Sun (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Desert Sun
Author: Lanny Swerdlow
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


In his July 18 Valley Voice column, retired drug law prosecutor C. Brhel Jr.
claims that until the drug cartels "are put out of business, once and for
all, we are shoveling sand against the tide." Unfortunately, Mr. Brhel wants
to continue "shoveling sand against the tide" with the same archaic ideas
that haven't worked after 30 years of tossing millions and millions of
American citizens into jail and spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer's

Mr. Brhel trots out the old insidious argument that "dope is not a
victimless crime. We only need to look at all the crimes committed by
addicts to get money to obtain dope." He decries that "these thugs earn
billions of crime-tainted dollars, by smuggling massive quantities of
dangerous drugs." Give us a break Mr. Brhel. What did you expect when you
enact prohibition laws?  Didn't you learn anything from the utter and dismal
failure of alcohol prohibition in the 20's? Alcohol didn't cause the rise of
Al Capone, big time criminal syndicates and the resulting crime, violence
and corruption - it was ALCOHOL PROHIBITION!

Prohibition, not drugs, is responsible for every crime Mr. Brhel thunders
against. By taking the distribution of drugs out of the control of the
state, the prohibitionists have ensured its distribution by criminals.
Prohibition has made drugs so widely available that kids can purchase them
in schools and drugs permeate our jails. Prohibition has failed to control
drugs and has only succeeded in imprisoning millions of American citizens,
destroying their lives and creating a permanent disenfranchised underclass.

Instead of Mr. Brhel's failed prohibition/criminal justice approach, there
is the harm reduction/medical science approach that separates the hard drugs
from the soft drugs and provides treatment on demand rather than prison as
punishment. California voters recognized the validity of this approach when
they overwhelmingly approved Proposition 36.

Prohibition has been the most costly, destructive government policy ever
enacted. Wasting millions of more dollars for x-ray equipment as Mr. Brhel
urges, won't end the drug cartels, let alone drug abuse - it will only
continue the expansion of government prying into our personal lives. Harm
reduction respects our rights and is effective, humane, and for those
concerned about the bottom line, way less costly.

An open public forum featuring advocates for prohibition and advocates for
harm reduction would be very educational for the entire Coachella Valley.
How about it Mr.Brhel? Are you game? I am.
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MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk