Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Cops Say Legalize Drugs: Ask Me Why

Jerry Stratton, December 8, 2005

Last month, after coming back from a prohibition law reform conference, Drug Reform Coordination Network director David Borden wrote:

The most visible grouping at last week's drug reform conference was the cops from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). There were about 50 of them, I heard, plus enthusiasts, sporting the provocative and eye-catching LEAP t-shirts reading "Cops Say Legalize Drugs: Ask Me Why." I wore a LEAP shirt one day of the conference myself.

Earlier this year, walking in my now former neighborhood, two women in a van pulled up at an intersection behind me and to my right. The driver stopped, rolled down her window, and called out to me a single word: "Why?"

After 12 years, I confess to still having difficulty crafting a sufficiently succinct answer. The problem is that the issue is a complicated one that doesn't lend itself well to sound bites. Indeed, there are so many reasons to oppose prohibition and the drug war that it's hard to remember them all, let alone decide which ones to talk about first with which people.

I’ve never worn that shirt, but when people ask me why I oppose the drug war they rarely want the long blogged-out version. I usually say something about how alcohol prohibition didn’t work, and how the current drug prohibition strongly resembles alcohol prohibition with its runaway violence and... and blah blah blah.

Borden received a good response from that editorial and summarized the responses in Now You Can Ask Me Why, which I recommend reading. Jay Fleming, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, had some of the best. I’ve further shortened the last one in the list.

  • “A 12-year-old can walk into a bar to try and buy alcohol and get thrown out. The same 12-year-old walks up to any drug dealer and get drugs.”
  • “There are no gangs fighting over whiskey territories. Drug prohibition creates a black market with enormous profits that attracts criminals and gangs. With drugs literally worth their weight in gold, as long as people can grow gold in their basement this will not stop.”

Someone else wrote in with the even more succinct “It didn’t work for alcohol, and it’s not working for drugs.”

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