The Rest of the Story

So, this week, I’m going to dissect my own article on drug sentencing in North Dakota (see, below).

By Pat Merriman

So, this week, I’m going to dissect my own article on drug sentencing in North Dakota (see, below).This de facto drug legalization nonsense really ticked me off. Particularly, the 3 out-of-state idiots who sat behind me at Nana Lil’s Saturday at breakfast–again, guys, you don’t like Dunn County’s policy on illegal drugs? Feel free to go back where you came from and smoke weed–OK? Otherwise, I’ll be seeing you soon. And, to further exacerbate the stupidity of this argument that “the last 40 years of the US Drug War has been a failure” is this smug experiment with regular people by these Ivory Tower Intellectuals. Because when a junkie “gets treatment” where do you think they go? To live next door to these bleeding hearts? Nope back to the same victims that they left behind when they got jammed up in the first place.


Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to be related to a loved one with “an addiction problem” knows what I’m talking about. The root cause of addiction are the human weaknesses of pride, vanity, selfishness and lack of discipline. No one puts a gun to these folks’ head to get them to ingest for the first (or last) time. In their own mind, they are the exception to the rule. They’ve got it under control and hey, man, they’re just a recreational user treating their own body like an amusement park or science experiment. Their hubris is their downfall. Unfortunately, I have never met a recreational “user”, they’re all dealing/stealing and using their loved ones to support their own habit–dragging other victims along in their wake. And, this modern argument that drug laws are doomed to fail just like Prohibition ignores one glaring historical fact. Just Google “prohibition was a success” and, your going to find some interesting, objective historical facts. And, make no mistake, I (like every other person who is not an alcoholic who should never consume any alcohol) would have been no fan of the 1919 18th Amendment or the Volstead Act that it spawned. However, it is simply a scientific fact that alcohol can be consumed (in moderation) like tobacco, sugar and carbohydrates, by most Americans, i.e., “legal” substances. Not so with illegal drugs. Most of which sink their fangs deeply into ALL users from the very first ingestion.


Regardless, as reported by New York Times reporter Mark H. Moore back on October 16, 1989, the conventional view of Prohibition as an abysmal failure is simply not supported by the objective facts.[1] Remember, the Volstead Act did not outlaw alcohol. It was an attempt to stop the rampant street violence and alcohol addiction sweeping America by prohibiting the commercial manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages. It specifically did not prohibit use, nor production for individual consumption. And, what it actually did do was cause alcohol consumption to decline dramatically during the 14 years it was in effect. In fact, liver cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 in 1929. For people like Moon Beam (who like statistics to support their claims), that means a 64% drop in alcoholics who died during Prohibition. In addition, state mental health admissions for alcoholism declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928–a 53% decline. So–define failure. Was Prohibition unpopular? Yes. Did it fail to achieve the results touted by its proponents, i.e., reduce alcoholism, disease, death and collateral consequences? No.


Say what? I never knew that? Also, please note that alcohol arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct also dropped 50% and consumption of alcohol dropped +/- 50% too. What about the crime wave, touted by people like Moon Beam, that supposedly was caused by Prohibition? The dirty little secret is that homicide rates did rise dramatically from 1900-10 before prohibition but remained roughly static during Prohibition. And Organized Crime may have been more fashionable during Prohibition but, face the facts– it was alive and well before and after the Volstead Act. And, again, I was no fan of the concept that government can stick their nose into legal substances for me to consume but, the truth is that this country has paid a price for the repeal of Prohibition. Alcohol consumption increased dramatically and, along with that, came more than 23,000 motor vehicle deaths and 20,000 homicides just through 1989–the height of the crack cocaine wars in our urban inner-cities. “What is remarkable, however, is that a relatively narrow political movement, relying on a relatively weak set of statutes, succeeded in reducing, by one-third, the consumption of a drug that had wide historical and popular sanction.”


Mr. Moore continues, “This is not to say that society was wrong to repeal Prohibition. A democratic society may decide that recreational drinking is worth the price in traffic fatalities and other consequences. But the common claim that laws backed by morally motivated political movements cannot reduce drug use is wrong. Not only are the facts of Prohibition misunderstood, but the lessons are misapplied to the current situation.

The U.S. is in the early to middle stages of a potentially widespread cocaine epidemic. If the line is held now, we can prevent new users and increasing casualties. So this is exactly not the time to be considering a liberalization of our laws on cocaine. We need a firm stand by society against cocaine use to extend and reinforce the messages that are being learned through painful personal experience and testimony. The real lesson of Prohibition is that the society can, indeed, make a dent in the consumption of drugs through laws. There is a price to be paid for such restrictions, of course. But for drugs such as heroin and cocaine, which are dangerous but currently largely unpopular, that price is small relative to the benefits.”


Oh, and are heroin and cocaine “largely unpopular” in the New Millennium? Not here in the oil patch, folks. Mr. Moore’s comments, from a large liberal New York newspaper, appear particularly prescient as we now deal with bath salts, designer drugs and teenage binge consumption of prescription narcotics. De-criminalizing, legalizing or whatever current buzzword is currently en vogue based solely on the criteria proposed by Moon Beam and her ilk ignore one glaring fact. Liberalizing drug laws will lead to more abuse by more Americans, particularly, teenagers. And, again, it won’t be Moon Beam and her kids who pay the price out here. It’s you, your kids and your grandkids. And, as I have previously railed, it is a quality of life issue too. Do you really want more junkies wandering around on our public streets?


Because Moonbeam’s rosy glasses smack of the same liberalization mantra chanted by mental health experts back during the Jimmy Carter years. And, ask any big city mayor how his homeless population is doing since we opened the doors of our mental health facilities and released the mentally ill back onto the streets with the modern “treat ’em & street ’em”, least restrictive environment mentality contained in this new, and improved, Evidence Based Sentencing nonsense. You can save a lot of money, yet, still destroy more lives with emotional legislation than you intended. The question isn’t what the War on Drugs has cost. The more relevant question is “What would our communities be like if we had not tried.” There is more than mere monetary cost in play here folks!


And, 1% of our population in prison are drug offenders? Really? I prefer the converse–99% of our population are not. If you don’t want to go to jail for narcotics use or trafficking–don’t break the law. Seems pretty simple to me. And, for those like Moon Beam and her hero Ethan Nadelmann, please don’t presume to speak for 3rd world victims of our drug use problem here in the United States. You see, when you actually travel there and, go into those villages south of the border and see the beheadings, terror and fear by the actual populace (not their corrupt political leadership) and talk to them, they see their misery as the exact opposite of Moon Beam’s position. It’s not narcotics trafficking that is the problem, it is their neighbor to the north’s drug “use” problem and arrogant refusal to admit their criminal activity is not a medical problem that is the problem. Their misery is caused by American drug usage–if there was no demand by our junkies, there would be no supply from their overlords. And, not to belabor the point–the danger to the US now is narco-terrorism, particularly, after 9-11. And, de-criminalization or legalization is not going to change that attack on our way of life. Because, the last time I looked, Organized Crime still had its hooks deeply embedded in the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcohol. So, what makes Mr. Nadelmann and his minions think the converse will be true with illegal narcotics?


So, folks, just slip on your hip waders, it’s fixing to get deep in North Dakota I’m afraid.



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