Can any serious policy maker defend the failed drug war on economic, moral, or practical grounds?
Is there anyone who doubts its disproportionate effects on the poor and minorities?
Or the "status-like" nature of a stop that predictably turns into a drug bust?
Even the contrarian bearded one, holed up in his college dorm with crappy seed-filled weed and a dog-eared copy of William F. Buckley's God and Man at Yale -- while the hippies outside met all the cute girls and had all the fun -- sees the wisdom in at least trying some kind of change:
But the cold fact is that U.S. drug-enforcement policy overwhelmingly targets not drug lords but the people to whom they sell. FBI statistics for 2007 show that more than 80 percent of U.S. drug arrests that year were for possession rather than sale, and that there were nearly twice as many arrests for marijuana as for heroin and cocaine combined.
When he was a military policeman, Vogt thought arresting people for using marijuana was weird: ``If we were called to a domestic dispute or a hostage situation, we worried about alcohol, not marijuana, because it's alcohol that makes people crazy.'' But it wasn't until after he left the military and opened a construction business in Port St. Lucie that he turned into an active opponent of marijuana laws.
``My son was arrested after a cop saw him smoking a joint in a parked car,'' Vogt said. ``He had to pay a fine of a couple of hundred dollars, which is not such a big deal, at least not for us. But college scholarships? Forget it. My son can't even get a simple job. He goes online to fill out an application to work at a hamburger chain, and he gets to that little box that says, `Have you ever been arrested?' And when he clicks yes, the next thing he sees on the screen is, SESSION ENDED.''
The worst, Vogt fears, is yet to come. He looks south across the border to Mexico, now the most murderous country in the world as a result of warfare between drug cartels competing for the U.S. market, and sees a grim vision of America's future.
``Prohibition creates crime and violence in our society that need not exist, except for the policy of prohibition itself,'' he said, shaking his head. ``We tried this with alcohol, and we had gangsters, just like Mexico does. And when we replaced Prohibition with a system of regulation and control, we got rid of the gangsters. You don't see Coors and Budweiser doing drive-by shootings or planting car bombs to increase their market share.''