Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

June 10, 2006 - The Charleston Gazette (SC)

Editorial: Prohibition - Causing Drug Violence?

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

THIS week's mass murder in a drug-infested St. Albans suburb raises a troubling thought: Much of America's criminality and gun violence among addicts and illegal drug dealers apparently is spawned by the nation's harsh prohibition of narcotics.

Almost a century ago, the United States plunged into Prohibition, the criminalization of alcohol. Immediately, illicit dealers began supplying bootleg booze in the shadows. Gun battles erupted between rival rum-runners. Prisons were crammed with alcohol offenders. Police and judges were bribed to overlook "speakeasy" bars. Street gangs and the Mafia grew in that grotesque time.

After Prohibition was repealed, alcohol became legal under state regulation -- and the wave of alcohol crimes faded.

Today history is repeating itself, via criminalization of disapproved drugs. Illicit dealers supply banned substances in the shadows. Gun battles erupt between rival operators. Prisons are crammed with narcotics offenders. Police and judges sometimes are bribed to look the other way. Street gangs and the Mafia profit from the lucrative trade. So do Muslim terrorists who control Afghanistan's opium poppies, and Latin American cartels in control of cocaine production. Local American peddlers carry guns, so they won't be robbed of their cash or stash. They sell to children or anyone able to buy. Addicts commit robberies to get money for daily fixes. Impure mixes by amateur suppliers cause overdose deaths.

U.S. taxpayers spend $69 billion a year on the "war on drugs" -- including the gigantic cost of arresting, trying or imprisoning 1.6 million Americans annually -- but the war is being lost, because narcotics abuse remains as extensive as ever. The situation is bizarre.

A national organization of current and former police officers, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, calls for legalization of all drugs and control of them through public health agencies. LEAP would license legitimate suppliers of purified substances -- and yank their licenses if they sold to children. LEAP speaker Dean Becker says:

"The day we regulate drugs to adults, we eliminate easy access for our children, we evaporate the worth of Osama's heroin stash, we negate the Colombian drug cartels, we basically eliminate overdose deaths, and we begin to restore respect for the U.S. system of justice now tainted by black market billions."

LEAP official Mike Smithson says America's prohibition of narcotics puts the drug business into the hands of armed criminals, producing "a St. Valentine's Day massacre every week." He referred to the famous 1929 event in Chicago, when seven rum-runners of the Bugs Moran gang were mowed down in an illegal liquor warehouse by the rival Al Capone gang.

Legalizing alcohol again in 1933 gradually took gunfire out of the booze business. If America likewise legalized narcotics and regulated them through health agencies, would today's drug murders, police cost and prison expense similarly be eliminated? This newspaper long has called for legalization of marijuana, which is no more harmful than beer. LEAP advocates that step for all narcotics.

Congress and West Virginia's Legislature should study this question -- but don't hold your breath while you wait for change, because nearly all politicians brag about being "tough on drugs." Thus they guarantee that the narcotics trade will remain in the hands of criminals.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact