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December 13, 2004 - The New York Daily News (NY)

For Safer World, Legalize Drugs

By Stanley Crouch, columnist, novelist, essayist, critic and television commentator

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

The recent reduction of the harsh mandatory sentencing once common to New York drug laws makes an interesting combination when thought of with the concept of legalized, taxable gambling.

I say that because the real solution to the drug problem this country faces has little to do with how much time some lightweight drug pusher or user is sentenced to spend behind bars.

It is not about finding better ways to get the big guys and put them where they belong. That's all a waste of time. What we need to do is legalize all the drugs and face the consequences. That's right.

With drug dealers put out of business, I am sure those consequences would be much less dangerous - and much less expensive - to our society.

Legalization could not even begin to approach the downside in the illegal dope world - torture, murder, beatings and sexual exploitation.

Drug money is very nearly the petroleum of the most violent criminal world. It is the fuel that keeps the destructive engine running.

Drug violence dramatically influences the nature of public health. The violence perpetuated by drug gangs fighting over turf is one of the bloody burdens the lower class must bear.

The health costs of treating those with gunshot wounds, whether actual members of the trade or innocent bystanders, must amount to hundreds of millions over the last 30 years. All those bandages, all of those operations, all of that rehabilitation, all of those crutches, prescriptions, painkillers and wheelchairs.

None of it is free.

So while states, including this one, are considering legal gambling as a way to raise their tax revenues and provide better services for their citizens, I believe that they should start thinking about the same thing in the area of illegal drugs.

The taxes from drugs alone would greatly deepen the resources necessary to fight the educational shortages in this nation, for one.

The impact on crime would be enormous because young men seeking the fast track to wealth through illegal drug trafficking would have to calm down. We would save thousands of kids.

Who knows? They might even have to take school seriously.

At least they wouldn't be found gunned down on a street corner or in an alley or some dilapidated apartment. Legalizing drugs would end that.

The big drug companies would be quite happy once they were able to take over the kinds of drugs that have made billions for dope lords.

The other advantage with the big drug companies like Lilly and Pfizer is that they would be the only ones able to sustain a fight against the enormous lobby that illegal drug profiteers would underwrite to keep their product in the shadow world.

We have to face the fact that recreational drugs have made their appearance and are part of the colossal market of modern entertainment.

They are going nowhere, and it is time for our nation to look at things as they are. When we do, we can take some giant steps that must be taken.

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