Feb 042002

“We don’t ‘just say no,’ we’re too busy saying yeeaah.”

– N.W.A.

At some Las Vegas sports books last weekend you could make more than 300 individual bets on the Super Bowl – ranging from total points scored to number of players who touch the ball – but not even one of these casinos had a spread on the War on Drugs.

So sticking with the spirit of the Super Bowl, I’m going to make my own line: I’ve got drugs beating the government by 60 -approximately the number of min utes it takes a 16-year-old American kid to score any type of illegal drug desired.

Ah yes, the War on Drugs is now close to 20 years old, and it is still claiming thousands of lives each year. Ronald Reagan never could’ve imagined what a feisty enemy these inanimate objects could be when he first challenged them during the ’80s.

And even though in his State of the Union address last week President Bush pledged to continue to fight the War on Drugs, it is clear that the government’s strategic weapons are no challenge to drugs.

It’s a war that can’t stop teenagers in Highlands Ranch from overdosing on heroin. It can’t protect bored kids in Byers from smoking meth and inhaling nitrous. It can’t save single mothers in urban ghettos across the country from smoking crack, and it can’t prevent curious high schoolers in Fort Collins from popping pills. Hell, it can’t even stop country singer Willie Nelson from smoking a joint on the White House roof, which he brags about in his new book.

Illegal drugs are everywhere, and until the U.S. government shoulders the responsibility of legalizing many “recreational” drugs such as marijuana, this exhausted war will continue to consume the blood of thousands of innocent civilians and waste the resources of our nation.

In 1998, 21 percent of the U.S. state prison population was incarcerated for illegal drugs. Of those inmates, 134,880 were African American; 51,700 were Latino; and 46,000 were white, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Ridiculous figures, figuring that African Americans made up only 12 percent of the nation’s total population and Latinos only 11 percent.

Meanwhile, sex offenders are being released from the over-crowded prisons while non-violent drug users are being housed and fed by our tax dollars.

Also in 1998, it is estimated that Americans spent $66 billion on illegal drugs. Money that with government regulation and legalization of illegal drugs could become assets used in cooperation with alcohol and tobacco taxes. But, instead, this money is pushed underground, used to fund militant terrorist organizations and ruthless cartels throughout the world.

This intense market of the illegal drug industry is why the violence of America’s War on Drugs has stretched far from her borders. It has stained large parts of South and Central America, leaving corrupt government officials and organized crime to reap the profits of war.

Obviously, legalization is somewhat of a double-edged sword, and the distribution of drugs would have to vary according to the type. But that is one of the major problems with the government’s stubbornly-vague drug war /_” it doesn’t differentiate between marijuana and heroin.

As with any war, there is no winner in America’s War on Drugs. This is why it is time for the U.S. government to stop fighting illegal drugs and start looking at new ways to control them.

Zeb’s column appears in the Collegian every Tuesday. Send commentary via e-mail.

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