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LNP - Want to reduce violence? End the war on drugs

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LTnewsDawg

When we talk about the violence that has marred Lancaster in recent weeks, we talk about groups of young men. We talk about the type of upbringing the people who pull the triggers had or didn’t have. We talk about malice and amorality. We talk about pop culture’s influence on the shooters. We talk about guns and gun laws.

There’s one thing we don’t talk about but should, something that is likely a root cause of much of the recent violence and also of past violence, both in Lancaster and elsewhere.

I’m talking about the war on drugs, the fact that here and everywhere it’s been an abject failure and has actually increased violence in our communities.

There’s no way to know how many of the 10 Lancaster shootings since early November are related to drugs. Maybe few were; maybe most were the product of petty rivalries — “He shot my buddy, so I’ll shoot him.”

Then again, Lancaster police made six arrests Dec. 16 after responding to a shots-fired call on Hand Avenue. Inside a home they found an AK-47-style rifle with collapsible stock and three handguns, along with suspected drugs.

Drugs and guns go hand in hand. Drugs and gun violence go hand in hand. And despite decades of law enforcement attempts to eradicate it, despite $1.5 trillion-plus spent, despite mass incarceration for drug crimes filling the jails, we’re flailing.

Ask yourself, is this community —the City of Lancaster and the broader Lancaster County — a safer place because of the war on drugs? Is there less crime and violence than there would be if, say, marijuana were legal and addiction were treated as a public health crisis rather than a matter for the police and courts?

Just as prohibition of alcohol bred violence, so does drug prohibition. Last year Jim Gierach, a former Chicago prosecutor, told Campus Progress that 80 percent of Chicago homicides are gang-related. “And what’s the business of gangs? Obviously, drugs,” he said. “We can change drug policy. ... It’s the way to reduce violence that’s easy, the one that’s obvious.”

But “obvious” and “easy” are two different things. Here in Pennsylvania, I imagine there would be popular resistance to full-blown marijuana legalization, a first step toward a more realistic drug policy. In October, the state House of Representatives shot down a Senate bill that would have legalized marijuana for medical purposes — the first step on the road to that first step.

Some state reps said they were opposed to anything that might “normalize” marijuana use. And out in the provinces you’ll hear the old “morality” argument. Drugs are illegal; drug use is immoral and reckless. The drug war, then, is a necessary moral crusade: Those who break the law must be punished to send a message and to keep the rest of us safe.

Which inevitably leads back to that question: Has the drug war kept “the rest of us” safe? To the extent that the drug war has saved us from “bad guys,” how bad would those guys have been if there weren’t drug profits and drug turf to protect?

In 2011, Carnegie Mellon University criminologist Alfred Blumstein wrote that as the crack epidemic raged in the 1980s and 1990s, politicians who feared being labeled “soft on crime” backed more punitive sentences. But, reported the Huffington Post, “as career criminals went off to serve long sentences, younger replacements stepped up — young enough to have much poorer impulse control with the guns they carried for protection from robbers. The number of gun homicides perpetrated by teens and youth under the age of 24 quickly skyrocketed.”

As Gierach, the former Chicago prosecutor, told Campus Progress: “If we arm kids because they’re in the drug business, we arm them for every purpose. ... An argument or a score settling that should mean a black eye could mean a bullet instead.”

Think that’s relevant to what’s been going on in Lancaster?

Unfortunately, we’re so vested in the war on drugs that change may not be possible. A whole bureaucratic superstructure supports the current policy. Funding flows to police agencies to uphold the current laws, regardless of how effective they are.

So we’re locked in to failure. What you see is what you get. Cops will bust some “bad guys,” get some drugs and weapons off the street. Others will slip through. Those guns, in the hands of young punks, will be used for a variety of purposes.

And we, the people, will angrily debate the usual things — why didn’t his mother raise him right? What about the culture has created the generation of sociopaths? Why aren’t the cops doing their job? Why aren’t the politicians acting?

You’d think, after having this conversation literally hundreds of times, we’d conclude that something fundamental needs to change. And maybe that’s the only hope for a sane drug policy: Sooner or later, the reality that this isn’t working becomes inescapable. And maybe then we can muster the courage for an overhaul, instead of thinking that the same old thing — just more of it — will somehow do the trick.

 



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Thelsa Doom

The fact that asshole retard criminals are in possession of drugs and are drug users doesn't change the fact that are violent predators in their own right. Holding people accountable and not crying over consequences will go further to reduce crime than letting fucking idiots more and easy access to more drugs.

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finchfeeder

The fact that asshole retard criminals are in possession of drugs and are drug users doesn't change the fact that are violent predators in their own right. Holding people accountable and not crying over consequences will go further to reduce crime than letting fucking idiots more and easy access to more drugs.

 

However, we could do both: Legalize marijuana sales and increase the consequences for violent crime.

 

Have you noticed that Colorado's experiment with recreational sales has received very little media attention from outlets that are historically anti-legalization? That's because it's working. The early concerns regarding edibles was addressed almost immediately (legislatively) as well as the safety concerns associated with making homemade marijuana oils (which is now illegal). There's a bit of a stink brewing from two neighboring states whose Attorneys General want COs cannabis laws struck down by the Supreme Court, because they are "unconstitutional," based upon "irreparable injury" incurred by those states. However, this appears to be political theater and a long-shot, at best. 

 

On the other hand, encouraging crime reports are coming out of Colorado: Violent crime and property crime have both dropped.

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Thelsa Doom

However, we could do both: Legalize marijuana sales and increase the consequences for violent crime.

 

Have you noticed that Colorado's experiment with recreational sales has received very little media attention from outlets that are historically anti-legalization? That's because it's working. The early concerns regarding edibles was addressed almost immediately (legislatively) as well as the safety concerns associated with making homemade marijuana oils (which is now illegal). There's a bit of a stink brewing from two neighboring states whose Attorneys General want COs cannabis laws struck down by the Supreme Court, because they are "unconstitutional," based upon "irreparable injury" incurred by those states. However, this appears to be political theater and a long-shot, at best. 

 

On the other hand, encouraging crime reports are coming out of Colorado: Violent crime and property crime have both dropped.

Who is talking about pot? The liberal " end the war on drugs " crowd is talking about all drugs......geez

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finchfeeder

Who is talking about pot? The liberal " end the war on drugs " crowd is talking about all drugs......geez

 

I'm talking about pot. The old schtick that kept Cannabis illegal is dead.

 

I'm no advocate of legalizing all drugs, because not all drugs are the same. It's that basic.

 

Bottom line: Don't fuss. It took over 50 years to begin legalizing pot. It's a non-story.  

 

I find it hard to believe that so many advocating against the "War on Drugs" fail to recognize that weed being illegal is anything beyond a microscopic part of the problem.  You can make weed legal all over beginning tomorrow and this stuff won't stop.  The war on drugs and those who are fighting it so to speak don't give a rats ass about weed and arresting people for smoking or possessing it.  They are out there focusing on heroin, coke, meth, etc and they should be.  That's the shit that brings violence on the streets here and abroad. 

What's the alternative?  Legalize meth, cocaine, etc?  Christ!  That would be a mess of epic proportions.  Imagine how much fun it would be to be sitting at Annie Baileys with meth heads and heroin junkies walking in hitting you up like and panhandling for their next fix.  Junkies aren't robbing and killing people because drugs are illegal.  They are doing it because they have no money to pay for the drugs and commit crimes to get them.  There is of course deals gone bad and either buyer or seller ends up dead which isn't a bad thing.  Less junkies and or dealers among us is a positive thing for society no matter how it happens to come about.

 

You think old-school. Yet, you're open-minded.

 

When where you born? 

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Thelsa Doom

I'm talking about pot. The old schtick that kept Cannabis illegal is dead.

 

I'm no advocate of legalizing all drugs, because not all drugs are the same. It's that basic.

 

Bottom line: Don't fuss. It took over 50 years to begin legalizing pot. It's a non-story.  

 

 

 

You think old-school. Yet, you're open-minded.

 

When where you born? 

 

I think it is still a bad idea to totally legalize pot for recreational Purposes.......

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Farmer Vincent

The war on drugs hasn't changed anything except giving a whole lot of people criminal records and assure a lucrative business for dealers and further up the line, cartels.  And it's the nature of illegal drug dealing that brings with it violence, so how to quell that drug related violence?  One segment of dealing (pot) could be eliminated by legalization.  Addiction clinics and needle exchanges could help with hard drugs more so than prison because prison can result in addicts establishing connections with other criminals thereby continuing the cycle of drugs and criminality.  If it were treated like an illness rather than crime, then there's a greater potential for effective control and the possibilty of distancing individuals from criminal elements. 

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simpleton

The legalization argument sounds good from a crime perspective, but it neglects one thing.  The people involved in illegal drug activity, specifically trafficking and dealing are criminals.  Legalization might keep users from being criminals, but the dealers are criminals.  They aren't going to stop being criminals, go to Steven's and become plumbers, they will just find another criminal activity.

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Farmer Vincent

The legalization argument sounds good from a crime perspective, but it neglects one thing.  The people involved in illegal drug activity, specifically trafficking and dealing are criminals.  Legalization might keep users from being criminals, but the dealers are criminals.  They aren't going to stop being criminals, go to Steven's and become plumbers, they will just find another criminal activity.

 

I know they're still going to be out there dealing the hard stuff, but take away pot and a good portion of the drug game is gone.  Take away some of the addicts through treatment and a bit more of the business is gone.  Do that and there's fewer dealers driving Escalades inspiring the next generation to follow.  Keep the war on drugs going and nothing changes.

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finchfeeder

I think it is still a bad idea to totally legalize pot for recreational Purposes.......

 

There's a risk and reward for nearly everything. 

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simpleton

I know they're still going to be out there dealing the hard stuff, but take away pot and a good portion of the drug game is gone.  Take away some of the addicts through treatment and a bit more of the business is gone.  Do that and there's fewer dealers driving Escalades inspiring the next generation to follow.  Keep the war on drugs going and nothing changes.

I'm all for legalizing pot.  But I don't think pot sales are the big contributors to the violence.  And the big criminal enterprises that control drug sales are criminal enterprises first, drug dealers second.  They will find something else to sell.

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Farmer Vincent

I'm all for legalizing pot.  But I don't think pot sales are the big contributors to the violence.  And the big criminal enterprises that control drug sales are criminal enterprises first, drug dealers second.  They will find something else to sell.

Like Google watches maybe?

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simpleton

Like Google watches maybe?

Who knows.  I recall seeing a show several years ago about a city in Paraguay that was a mecca for illegal activity that was controlled primarily by different Middle East groups...terrorists.  They were doing huge business in things like pirated movies, electronics...things like that.  There will always be a street level market for something that can be controlled by criminals.

 

On another note, I'm curious to see how the heroin issue we have in this country now goes over the next few years when we pull out of Afghanistan.

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Thelsa Doom

I'm all for legalizing pot.  But I don't think pot sales are the big contributors to the violence.  And the big criminal enterprises that control drug sales are criminal enterprises first, drug dealers second.  They will find something else to sell.

I agree pot sales are not big contributors to violence....but at the same time more people walking around fucked up isnt a positive thing either.

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simpleton

I agree pot sales are not big contributors to violence....but at the same time more people walking around fucked up isnt a positive thing either.

Trust me...anyone who wants to smoke weed already is.  Legalization just makes them not criminals anymore.

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Thelsa Doom

Trust me...anyone who wants to smoke weed already is.  Legalization just makes them not criminals anymore.

Trust me if its legal you will see a shitload more of public intoxication.

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Jasman1017

The legalization argument sounds good from a crime perspective, but it neglects one thing.  The people involved in illegal drug activity, specifically trafficking and dealing are criminals.  Legalization might keep users from being criminals, but the dealers are criminals.  They aren't going to stop being criminals, go to Steven's and become plumbers, they will just find another criminal activity.

I think you can see dealers turning legitimate to a certain degree by remaining involved in what they already are doing.  There would be shops and growing operations that they already have some experience doing.  When prohibition ended did all of the boot-legers continue with a life of crime?

 

No doubt there is bound to be a percentage that will stay criminals, but I don't think anyone expects it to be a panacea for crime.

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finchfeeder

More intoxicated people isnt a " reward " just a burden.

 

Oh, calm down.

 

Must I call the patty wagon again?

Edited by finchfeeder

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Thelsa Doom

Oh, calm down.

 

Must I call the patty wagon again?

You haven't seen it live and in all its glory......if you did you would be making that call.

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simpleton

Actually they did continue in a life of crime moving to other lucrative criminal enterprises.......perhaps you have heard of Organized Crime. You seriously think that the cartel are going to say fuck it and open head shops?

The Kennedy's went into politics....oh, yeah.......criminal activity.

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mmc0412

I'm all for legalizing pot.  But I don't think pot sales are the big contributors to the violence.  And the big criminal enterprises that control drug sales are criminal enterprises first, drug dealers second.  They will find something else to sell.

Pot sales probably do not contribute to violence.  But if pot became legal, law enforcement would have more time and funds to deal with the real violence.

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Thelsa Doom

Pot sales probably do not contribute to violence.  But if pot became legal, law enforcement would have more time and funds to deal with the real violence.

You miss the point.......from a LE perspective having pot illegal helps in the investigation of other crimes by establishing solid PC for detention and search. It is more of a side issue than the primary focus.

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mmc0412

You miss the point.......from a LE perspective having pot illegal helps in the investigation of other crimes by establishing solid PC for detention and search. It is more of a side issue than the primary focus.

Having trouble thinking outside the box are you?  What if pot had always been legal, then what would have law enforcement done?  I know you think the same thing of black skin - you think it gives you probable cause to search from something illegal.

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