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Drug War fails; reform needed

Register • Feb 24, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Calling the three-man team of police officers the Ottawa County Drug Task Force might be overstating it. They're more like marijuana cops given the task force's results last year. 

In 2013, the Ottawa County Drug Task Force seized about $374,000 worth of illegal drugs in the county. About $363,000 of that total — 99 percent — was marijuana. 


That must be why there's no marijuana in Ottawa County. 


We're being facetious, but we do suspect the work by the Drug Task Force last year had very little impact on the drug trade in the county. 


We also question whether the costs of funding three full-time officers for this interdiction is worth it, especially given the real cost is likely tenfold or more than the payroll expense when the cost of the subsequent court cases and incarceration are paid by taxpayers. 


We're not criticizing the police officers, whose job it is to enforce the state's laws including the prohibitions that remain on the possession and distribution of pot. We appreciate the good intentions of every police officer who works for the good of our communities. 


But marijuana possession is a misdemeanor offense and we just don't think much can be accomplished funding a pot police patrol. Mulligan is asking cities to provide more funding for the task force this year, but like nearly every other city in Ohio, Port Clinton is balking at increased funding, citing the city's own budget crunch. 


We don't pretend to know what the solution to drug addiction and associated crimes might be; but what we do know is that the methods employed for the last four decades by law enforcement agencies everywhere don't work.


Local communities, the state and the federal government all have been losing the War on Drugs since the day war was declared. The enforcement tactics used are more costly — by far — than any results that have been achieved. 


The real need, in our view, is for a Statehouse task force in Columbus that would take a real and thorough look at the state's drug laws, interdiction programs, addiction treatment services and develop a reform package to address the failing war effort. 


Local police and prosecutors deserve a better road map to enforcement; residents with addiction problems should have viable and accessible options for treatment; and taxpayers should be provided funding options that derive some sort of return on their investment.

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