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Your Opinion: Drug legalization, taxation is the solution

Your Opinion: Drug legalization, taxation is the solution

February 5th, 2018 by Bert Dirschell, Centertown in Opinion

Dear Editor:

On Jan. 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment to our Constitution was ratified, prohibiting the sale, manufacturing and distribution of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, it invalidated the 18th and prohibition was over. The 21st is unique because it is the only constitutional amendment ratified by state conventions. Basically state governments overrode the federal government. Hopefully it won't be the last time this occurs. Bringing enough pressure to bear on our state legislators to get a federal balanced budget amendment is the only hope we have of getting one. Congress will never willing give up the ability to buy votes by handing out free stuff.

In June 1971, President Nixon declared drug abuse was "public enemy number one," and the War on Drugs took off. It appears that the federal government learned something from Prohibition. Instead of amending the Constitution to legally acquire the power to regulate drugs they just usurped it. Sadly, what they were to stupid to understand was the principle that as long as there is a market for a product, and huge profits to be made, there will be someone who will supply the product.

Even before the "opioid epidemic" it was obvious that the only significant gain from the War on Drugs was jobs for additional law enforcement officers, lawyers, judges, construction workers (building new prisons) and prison guards. Since 1974 the U.S. population has increased by a little over 50 percent while the state and federal prison population has increased by 600 percent. Forty-seven percent of sentenced federal prisoners (81,900) are serving time for drug-related offenses. Over 15 percent of all state prisoners (197,000) were convicted of a drug offense as their most serious crime. The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that the U.S. spends over $50 billion annually on the War on Drugs.

Our governor has proposed that Missouri start yet another bureaucracy to keep track of opioids. The only thing that will be gained is make work employment for those hired to do the additional bookkeeping, and higher taxes to pay their salaries.

According to a White House study Americans spent $109 billion on illegal drugs in 2010. While unpalatable, the solution is drug legalization, and taxation, similar to alcohol. The proceeds from the taxes would be used for rehab facilities and drug education.