Redefining the Drug War

  At this point, I am not willing to support a complete decriminalization of all recreational drug laws. In various writings of our founding fathers, we read the word “experiment” used to describe our new government. I see that same experimenting going on to this very day.  So it seems prudent to continually review our nation & state’s public policy regarding issues which we are performing terribly at. So if you ask me about trying another tactic, I’ll gladly take interest. But it has to produce practical results.
So many libertarians miss a key component in persuading folks to rethink a strategy on various banned herbs.  If I was going to embark on a new course, it would start with the herbs. Here is how I would define the issue to the public:

  1.  First of all, we will always need to be vigilant about public safety and the legitimate need to keep laws about endangering the public through personal intoxication. We need to speak passionately about the current inability to focus law enforcement assets on public safety because too much of our assets are paying for nonviolent simple possession incarcerations. Our courts and prisons are spending billions on exacting a punishment for things which are no more dangerous than a fella having a 6-pack in the refrigerator.
  2.  Secondly, our juvenile population needs to be protected from exploitation by those who would distribute these banned herbs.We need to take a lesson from Bill Clinton’s success with “soccer moms”. He didn’t just talk in “Washington speak” . Women ‘felt’ his compassion. He stereotype “I feel your pain” language was very effective. These moms want a safe society for their kids!
  3.  A very strong argument can be made that our economy will have a HUGE SURGE of prosperity as this commerce is subjected to the same tax code as other retail items. The added revenues from this alone will fund extra cops who can patrol neighborhood schools, parks, & shopping districts. Kids can be much safer in our communities with a proper realignment of community and state policies on banned chemicals.
  4.  The organized crime associated with the huge industry is causing so much secondary crime. Even unrelated conflicts are being settled among gangs through drive-by shootings and other hit squad activities. They won’t call the police when their home is broken into, because they do not want law enforcement tipped off about their associations or possessions. So they hire someone to exact a punishment upon whomever they guess is responsible.Marijuana is the biggest cash-cow of the criminal underground. Just adopting a Colorado reform would help defeat organized crime in the same way Al Capone was brought down by the end of liquor prohibition.

   You can argue your personal rights all you want; but if your emphasis is selfish, the soccer mom will also be just as selfish in her demands that the whole society abstain for the sake of her own kids. I’m not saying the personal rights argument isn’t valid. I’m just saying it isn’t going to win over anyone except the guy who’s already secretly consuming banned herbs.

   And it just might be better to call this an experiment with a new public policy. Folks might be willing to try this new tact on a temporary basis. A person who is convinced of the correctness of this new public policy ought not be afraid that the practical results won’t make their own convincing argument within 3 years.

David Van Risseghem
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