Drug Policy Expert and former Green Party Candidate for Governor (and personal friend) Cliff Thornton, regularly harps this in my ear: You can connect the “War on Drugs” to anything—and Tom Condon does a good job at connecting it to “place.” In my advocacy work at the Capitol, I stress this, too. In introducing his argument, Condon brings up the history of “a once-prominent Hartford crime figure.” Tony Volpe, who presided over illegal gambling and the crimes associated with it. Once the mob’s business was “eviscerated” by legal gambling, the crime disappeared. Condon posits, “Could the same thing happen with drugs?”
Yes, and for a number of reasons: the main idea is based on the idea that the lure of a means of income (and drugs can come at a markup) attract individuals who would otherwise be forced to find legal work. Supporting this idea is John McWhorter, an African American author, linguist, and politics, who believes that changing our drug laws would “eliminate in a generation” what he calls “the “black problem” or ‘black malaise” in America.” Idle or (currently) “criminal” individuals would migrate to other, “positive” income avenues out of necessity.
“The black male community would no longer include a massive segment of underskilled, drug-addicted ex-cons churning in and out by the thousands year after year, and thus black boys growing up in these communities would not see this life as a norm. They would grow up to get jobs, period.”
If drugs were legal, Condon surmises, “these boys would not grow up with a bone-deep sense of the police—and thus whites—as an enemy.” Racism and violence have no place in a healthy community. If it is not safe, people will not choose to live there, given in the example of a New Jersey developer who purchased and restored buildings on Bedford Street in the North End. At a cost of 5 million dollars, he had “all kinds of trouble renting them because of drugs and related gunplay in the area.”
Not only does the “War on Drugs” just “cripple” the city of Hartford and other American cities. It funds international terrorism of the most vicious variety in places such as Mexico, where narco-terrorism has been responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths, including children. This has had such a disruptive effect on the Mexican economy that we face another planning issue in the matter of “illegal immigration.” But alas, what these people are running from is an inevitability here, unless a radical change in drug policy is considered. Like prohibition of alcohol, repeal reduced mob proceeds. It can do the same with the repeal of drugs. With time, one can envision McWhorter’s revival of culture and community, not just among African Americans, but across all Americans, once we’ve moved forward from laws that do more harm than good. As Condon says, “the whole thing is crazy…What other crime has an organization of police officers, judges and prosecutors, such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, working for its repeal?”
Legalizing Drugs Would Stop The Bleeding, by Tom Condon—Hartford Courant, 9 January, 2011