Monday, March 30, 2009

"Institutionalized Injustice"

. . . that's the term former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper applis mandatory minimum sentencing, but it could equally apply to the entire war on drugs -- a war Stamper has become a forceful and eloquent opponent of since retiring from law enforcement. Speaking with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman this morning, Stamper did not merely call for a greater focus on "harm reduction" or other half-measures designed to put a kinder, gentler face on the drug war, but struck at the root of the problem -- and laid out a simple solution:
I actually support the legalization of all drugs. And in fact, the more dangerous or sinister or sensationally reported the experience of certain drugs, the greater the justification for the government, as opposed to drug cartels and street traffickers, to regulate that commerce. There’s been more harm done by the drug war than good. We have spent a trillion dollars prosecuting that war since Richard Nixon proclaimed drugs public enemy number one and declared all-out war on them.
And what do we have to show for it? While rates can fluctuate, drugs are more readily available today at lower prices and higher levels of potency than ever before. So it’s a colossal failure. And the only way to put these cartels out of business and to restore health and safety to our neighborhoods is to regulate that commerce as opposed to prohibiting it.
Be sure to check out the rest of the interview for similarly blunt statements about the U.S.'s disastrous and destructive drug war. Also check out Stamper's response to President Obama's smirking dismissal of marijuana legalization over at the Huffington Post.

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