Pubdate: Wed, 28 Dec 2005
Source: Weymouth News (MA)
Copyright: 2005 Weymouth News
Author: Greg Francisco


To the editor:

As a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a former 
federal law enforcement officer working out of the Weymouth area, I 
feel compelled to respond to one time DARE officer Jim Bowden 
(Marijuana is Addictive. Dec 21). I've no doubt Officer Jim is 
sincere. Sincerity does not make him any less wrong..

My own experience on the front lines of the War on Drugs, Inc 
included a stint keeping America safe from contraband as a Coast 
Guard petty officer stationed at Point Allerton in Hull, less than 15 
miles from Weymouth. I am a proud graduate of the USCG's Law 
Enforcement Academy and participated in several high profile drug 
interdiction cases off the Massachusetts coast in the early '80's. 
Even then I was struck by the futility of it all. For every boat I 
would board and search, literally hundreds more would pass by. In a 
nation of free citizens, there simply is no way for law enforcement 
to intercept even a small fraction of the illegal substances coming 
into our country.

Drug abuse is harmful to individuals and society. That's true enough. 
So does that mean massive expenditures on overwhelming law 
enforcement is the best way to keep us safe? Or is treating substance 
abuse as a public health issue and putting our resources into 
education, prevention and treatment a more effective way of dealing 
with the problem?

Dramatic reductions in the rates of tobacco use and addiction over 
the past 20 years with very few tobacco criminals having to go to 
jail would seem to support the latter.

Alcohol Prohibition was abandoned as a dismal failure. Few credible 
authorities advocate blanket prohibitions on tobacco because they 
know that to do so would throw the door wide open to the rise of 
tobacco lords and tobacco gangs. Prohibition places dangerous 
substances completely outside the oversight of legitimate authority. 
The majority of today's drug crisis is directly attributable to the 
consequences of Prohibition rather than actual use of the substances. 
Only legal products can be regulated, controlled and kept out of the 
hands of children.

Substance abuse is a serious problem that demands serious solutions. 
Officer Jim's exhortation to youth not to use drugs, and to stop if 
they already are, amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking. If 
that's all it took we would have achieved the utopian dream of a Drug 
Free America decades ago.

Regulate, tax, control. There is a better way.

Greg Francisco

Paw Paw, MI
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