No one says that alcohol does not do bad things to a lot of people. Yet we recognize that prohibition caused more harm than good. The promotion of crime and corruption, blindness and death from “wood” alcohol and other evils far outweighed any benefits from prohibition. We have taken a more sensible attitude toward tobacco. Yes, tobacco kills people and adds to our increasing health care costs. Yet we have recognized that there is a demand for tobacco that will be satisfied one way or another. We have quite sensibly recognized that criminalizing alcohol and tobacco would do more harm than good.
In the editorial of Jan. 2, “Let’s cool the rush to foolishly legalize marijuana,” Ben Barber conveniently overlooks the massive harm that has been done by our, so-called, “war on drugs.” The huge incarceration rate of this country (second only to communist China) is a national disgrace. Some studies show that drug use is greater among white Americans than blacks and Latinos. Yet the incarceration rate is much higher for blacks and Latinos. The simple fact is that most of the “druggies” that are arrested and locked up are low-level dealers or people incidentally involved with drugs. The people who most profit from the war on drugs are the ones who have more to fear from other drug dealers than the law. Very few of those arrested are violent offenders who need to be taken off the streets. The economic and social damage to these people are huge.
To borrow a term from the headline for Barber’s editorial, a lot of people do “foolish” things with alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other things. He points that out very well in his editorial. If these people persist in self destruction and do not seek the help that is available, there is nothing anyone can do. He makes it obvious that the drug laws have not prevented that. As to the war on drugs, it goes way beyond foolish; it would be better characterized as “criminal.”