An ex-cop made a provocative argument to members of the Scarborough Rotary Club Tuesday morning: Legalize drugs, and you’ll get rid of the crime and violence that surrounds them.

While it might seem like a radical argument, particularly when it comes to legalizing narcotics that have ruined many careers, families and lives, Peter Christ, a speaker from the national organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, makes a convincing argument.

“You are living in America in another period of Prohibition,” Christ said, “and it’s working as well as the last one.”

While alcohol has claimed at least as many lives as illegal narcotics, American has spent billions of dollars on its war on drugs, which has been going on for nearly three decades now. It’s not that police haven’t successfully broken up drug rings or put criminals in jail; it’s just that their efforts don’t seem to be stopping the flow of drugs into the underground market. Just in Maine, we’ve seen a frightening increase in the use of opiates in recent years.

Christ said he’s been criticized as someone who would put crack machines in high schools. His response? He’d put them right next to the beer and cigarette machines.

“Go to a local high school and try to buy a bottle of Budweiser and see how successful you are,” Christ said. “Then go to a local high school and try to buy marijuana and see how successful you are.”

He makes a good point: Doing away with the war on drugs would at least eliminate the underground market for drugs and the violence that surrounds it.

Lots of homes, but few affordable

A new housing development that could ultimately include more than 200 homes drew mostly praise from members of the Scarborough Planning Board Monday night, along with some of the usual questions and concerns about drainage and parking.

However, one aspect of the plan didn’t seem to be of much concern to those in attendance at the meeting – the relatively small amount of affordable housing that would be included in the development: 10 homes out of 200.

Overall, developer Kerry Anderson and his team have come up with a good plan. With a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments, the development is designed to replicate traditional American neighborhoods, where people were more inclined to walk to the corner store than they were to drive to a nearby supermarket.

However, we were struck by the small fraction of this development that would be devoted to affordable housing. Developments like this one are often pitched as a way to attract a mix of different types of people – young single people, empty-nesters, senior citizens and people who work in local jobs that don’t pay enough to allow the owners to afford the cost of the average single-family home in Scarborough.

If Scarborough ever wants create affordable homes, the town will have to be more aggressive about forcing developers to include them in their projects.

Brendan Moran, editor

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