American history includes a sorry chapter called the Prohibition Era. During it, the law against the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages was loosely enforced or not enforced at all with attendant bribes to the authorities to look the other way. The consequence was an entire illegal industry sprang up organized and ruled by gangs who policed themselves that often saw dead bodies in the streets when the gangs invaded each other’s turf defying the laws of the jungle. Many of these crimes and those committed in the course of this business went unsolved or unreported. Finally the situation got so out of hand and the inability of the authorities to control, the government relented to the will of the majority and repealed the law which by that time had reached the stage of a Constitutional Amendment. That law, the Volstead Act, was in itself unconstitutional in that the government can pass no ex post facto law. By that is meant a law making something illegal that was hitherto legal.

Substitute marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other hallucinogenic drugs for alcohol and you have history repeating itself. Instead of recognizing it, government has chosen to ignore the lesson of the past and in order to placate the few who will abuse most anything denies whatever benefits there may be in their use to everyone. That almost automatically makes it desirable to those on the margins who have not the will to police their own habits.

In the big cities gangs have developed very similar and as equally brutal as those of the Prohibition Era. Murders are rampant and go essentially unsolved and many probably never reported. A tremendous amount of money gets exchanged, all of it escaping the tax man. In the smaller towns individual entrepreneurs operate mostly undetected and when they are they are provided with taxpayer funded attorneys and when incarcerated they live at the public’s expense until released and then because they are convicted felons can do little to survive except to yet again break the law.

Needless to say, making this traffic and use legal, when it was never in the power of the government to make it illegal will not solve the problem of abuse. It will however be a minor one provided the abusers get no benefits of their abuse and are forced to rely on their survival to those who feel sorry for their lack of self-control. Yes, there will a few of those as well and they should not be given the power to use the government to force others to join them. It worked with alcohol but we did not learn this lesson with cigarettes where the government is still funneling money for anti-smoking programs and education. Since the government does not manufacture or sell cigarettes where do you think the money is coming from?

Our government may very well be filled with a lot of well-educated people but they are not very smart.

Fred Blanchard,