Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Pubdate: Mon, 21 Sep 1998
Author: G. Alan Robison


Robert Novak was dead wrong in his Aug. 13 Chronicle column, "Colombia
today is full of blood and heroin," writing that the reduction of the
opium-eradication capability in Colombia "keeps opium flowing into
America's cities and suburbs."

The only thing that keeps opium flowing into America's cities and suburbs
is our insane drug policy, which has created a black market, which, in
turn, has given the worst thugs and criminals in both parts of our
hemisphere a monopoly on the production and distribution of opium as well
as other dangerous drugs.

To add insult to injury, we subsidize these ruthless entrepreneurs by
allowing them to keep all of their obscene profits without paying a penny
in taxes.

As a result, they have been able to build one of the world's largest
industries, with yearly profits conservatively valued at over $200 billion
and capabilities of corrupting police and other government officials all
over the world as a (relatively minor) cost of doing business.

We could completely obliterate Colombia's opium-producing capability
without putting a dent in the amount of opium flowing into America's cities
and suburbs. The flow would just come from somewhere else.

Novak thinks the alliance between the drug cartels and the guerrillas in
Colombia means that "the deadly flow of heroin to America cannot be stemmed
at the peace table." But, in fact, the deadly flow could be stemmed without
the need for a peace table, with the adoption of a rational drug policy,
some elements of which could be effected by the stroke of a pen.

I was privileged to hear Mike Gray, author of a new book, Drug Crazy, when
he spoke last month at a Rotary Club of Houston luncheon. He told the
Rotarians that we will get a rational drug policy only after we get tired
of the gunplay, the spread of organized crime, the mushrooming prison
population, the rampant corruption and the steady erosion of the
Constitution which our present drug policy has created.

G. Alan Robison, executive director, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Houston

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Checked-by: Mike Gogulski