Pubdate: Mon, 13 Dec 1999
Source: Santa Barbara News-Press (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Santa Barbara News-Press
Author: James Murr


Recently, John Lankford wrote a very impressive column entitled "When a war
makes no sense."

Men who live by sharing opinions can be brought down by those opinions if
not commonly shared. The article focuses on the failure of the "Drug War"
and the colossal expense to the American taxpayer.

He is not alone, for William F. Buckley, the former Secretary of State
George Schultz, and more than 25 federal judges agree with Mr. Lankford.
The war on drugs is the most spectacular failed social program in history.
The dollar cost cannot be ascertained because every law enforcement agency,
district attorney, public defender, prison system, parole, and probation
agency in the United States is fully involved. Cornell University studies
discovered 80 percent of the inmates in the U.S. prison system are locked
up for drug-related offenses.

During Prohibition, cities in the U.S. fell prey to gangs. In the War on
Drugs, nation states are being influenced, bribed, and undermined by gangs.
Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, Pakistan, Afghanistan (etc.) and
the United States are impacted. The leadership in all these countries have
been disgraced by the power and influence that drug wealth creates.

The U.S. president's brother used cocaine, as did a current U.S.
presidential candidate. Smuggling alcohol did not create the amount of
wealth for gangs that smuggling drugs continues to generate. For the
uninformed, one should read the books "The Politics of Heroin" by Dr.
Alfred McCoy and "Cocaine Politics" by Dr. Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan

The Economist reported within the last six months that Jane's Publishing
Co. has discovered that a thoroughly modern diesel submarine has vanished
from the Russian Fleet. The Jane's researchers will not publicly speculate
about what may have happened. Privately, they are of the opinion that a
drug gang has the submarine. The News-press ran an article "Admiral accused
in ship sale case."

Admiral Yury Klichugin and Vice Admiral Vasily Yeryomin sold an enormous
Russian transport ship from the fleet to a "Norwegian front company called
Anadyr, Ltd."

Drug gangs have great flexibility with their wealth.

The street value of cocaine was $65,000 per kilogram in 1980 and $14,000 in
1998. With inflation taken into consideration over two decades, drugs have
become very inexpensive. Crime is falling in most categories, but law
enforcement will never admit to drawing the connection between cheap drugs
and falling crime rates. The law of supply and demand is clearly obvious
with this illegal business.

Another red flag on the horizon is the Federal Drug Administration arguing
a case before the Supreme Court to regulate tobacco as a drug. If the FDA
wins its case, it will have the ability to make tobacco illegal. This is
entirely absurd. We would have 70 million U.S. citizens instantaneously
classified as criminals. Fidel Castro's Cuba would have an ideal cash crop
to sell to smugglers, and save his revolution. Drug smugglers would have
one stop shopping.

The outcome of the War on Drugs continues to be a dismal failure. Taxpayers
are paying for the enormous expansion of law enforcement and the prison
industrial complex. As with Prohibition, we can decriminalize drugs and let
offenders receive medical treatment instead of building an American Gulag.
There will be an unimaginable amount of money shifted from the War on Drugs
and available for treatment and education, which is the most proven method
for stopping substance abuse. The ultimate cost of the continued War on
Drugs for every American is personal liberty.

James Murr, Santa Maria
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