Tuesday, May 09, 2006

War on Drugs

A couple days ago (Sunday), I had the opportunity to spend some time in the courtyard - out back of Wegman's on Peach. It was a sunny day and these flowering trees were in bloom all around me. My wife was shopping and the kids were in the playroom. It was about noon. I grabbed a copy of the Buffalo News, mainly for some inside scoop on Buffalo sports, and a latte and headed out back. After reading the sports, I delved into the local page and came across this interesting editorial advocating the legalization of all drugs.

It involves a discussion with the Erie County Executive (Buffalo is also in an Erie County), who had this to say: "We declared the war on drugs 30 years ago, and it's not working As long as we see this as a criminal issue and not a public health issue, we'll have bloodshed on the streets."

A good point. This County Executive has also allied himself with a former cop, whose name is "Christ" (pronounced like ironic "twist.") "We didn't end Prohibition in 1933 because alcohol was great stuff or a wonderful drug," Christ said. "We ended it because as dangerous as alcohol can be, letting people like Al Capone run the marketplace made the problem worse. Yet we're doing the same thing now."

Another good point. But, and a pencil in a huge BUT here (I like big BUTTS after all), there was one major flaw in this article. The event that motivated the county executive to go public with his view on drugs was a nun being murdered by a crackhead she tried to help. This story was on the Front Page. The point that the county exec, Christ, and the columnist are trying to make is that dealers are the cause of violence and not users, BUT in this case, which was the very event that brought these guys out - the murderer was actually a user seeking money to support his habit. So, if drugs had been legal, he still conceivably would have committed the crime. The columnist, to his credit, recognizes this flaw in logic and scrambles to cover it with the following:

"Dealers shoot each over over turf, not because they're high. Most thieves don't heist stereos or - in the case of Sister Karen's killer - a cell phone to cover the rent. They sell the stuff to pay for their next fix.

"Legalize and regulate drugs, like we do with alcohol, and dealers go out of business, addicts get treated and the violence mostly goes away. "

I am not quite sure I agree with that because I think most treatment programs fail - at least from the people I know. However, I don't necessarily think legalizing drugs would increase their use- if you want to try it now, you can probably find it whether it's legal or not.

In conclusion, I think this county exec, who seems to be in some political hot water at the moment, may just be doing some grandstanding and trying to re-invent himself, ala Marion Barry. Nonetheless, it made for some interesting and thought provoking copy. I doubt Marky D. will be coming out soon with any such position.



DocTorDee said...
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DocTorDee said...

Treatment programs don't always fail, that's for sure.

There are many people who have quit one addiction or another as a result of professional help.

There are also, of course, those who have not.

Still, I would have to agree that it's better to treat an addict as someone with a health problem than as a criminal. Making them into a criminal doesn't seem to help the matter in any way.

Which brings us to the matter of healthcare in the United States...can you believe that we don't have a national healthcare system? That's incredible to me.

We give billions of dollars in tax rebates to companies and individuals---and we spend $300 billion on a war in Iraq---but we can't provide health insurance for the people? Wow.

Nation-wide health care would put a lot of people to work taking care of others, which is better than "shock and awe," I believe.

Also: American businesses are getting killed by high health care costs. That's a big reason so many jobs are going to Mexico.

Geez, I know good American people who work every day, earn $10-$12 an hour, but who don't have healthcare. Better not get sick or you're fucked.

It amazes me that the citizens of the US haven't made a bigger deal out of this topic. Maybe it will play larger in upcoming elections.

Hilary has some expertise in this area, doesn't she? The White Dudes in Congress better act before she does.