offbeat: Make it legal

Business is always good. That's what Capt. Greg P. Majoy commander of the Erie County Drug Task says when you ask him about his job.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Business is always good. That's what Capt. Greg P. Majoy commander of the Erie County Drug Task says when you ask him about his job. The task force may disband because of a lack of money for staffing, but the reality is if there were 100 members on it, there still would be a drug problem in Erie County and the rest of the nation.

Majoy, a straight shooter, doesn't make any bones about it. Arrest one drug dealer, and someone else will step up to fill the vaccum. Major cocaine dealers (by Sandusky standards) Ladonte Skelton and Shaunsay J. Gowdy have gone to prison in the last year, and the drugs continue to flow.

It's simple. As long as there is supply there will be demand.

Some 40 years after harsh Rockefeller drug laws were enacted, what we have to show for prohibition? It has worked as well at stopping drug use as it did alcohol use.

Who has benefitted? Not the thousands of non-violent addicts behind bars who would be better off with treatment rather than prison. Not the taxpayers who are paying to keep drug addicts behind bars even though they would pay far less for drug treatment.

So who has profited? The drug dealers, the banks that launder their money and the politicians who pass draconian drug laws so they can appear tough on crime and get re-elected. Meanwhile, the U.S. leads the world with some 2.2 million prisoners primarily because of new drug laws that quadrupled the prison population since 1985.

The drug war has destroyed far more lives than it saved. The potency of drugs like heroin is up, and despite more post- Sept. 11 seizures because of increased security, drugs are still easy to find. Legalizing drugs would not eliminate the problems associated with them, but it would drastically reduce the problem. Remember that society's attitude about drugs was not always so strict, and we managed to survive as a nation.

Washington grew hemp on his farm, cocaine used to be an ingredient in Coca-Cola and morphine was used to treat wounded soldiers until they started getting addicted to it.

The nation would not go to hell in a handbasket if we legalized drugs. Why risk getting arrested buying them on the street when you can purchase them at CVS? The taxes would help pay for treatment for people who want to get off of them.

Laws against people younger than 18 using drugs would remain, and it would still be illegal to mug old ladies or rob convenience stores to feed your habit, but if someone wants to smoke pot, snort cocaine or shoot heroin in the privacy of his or her home, why is that anyone else's business?

Legalization would eliminate casual users from getting arrested, unclogging prisons, and freeing up police to go after predators, which is what they prefer to be doing. There would be less horror stories like the grandmother recently killed in Atlanta after shooting it out with police who entered her home with a no-knock warrant in what her family believes was a case of mistaken identity.

Majoy thinks legalization is the equivalent of giving up on people. He cites the drug user and drug dealer he busted who turned her life around and is now getting her master's degree. I feel there are people who can turn their lives around, Majoy said last week.

But he concedes that is difficult to turn their lives around because of the lack of proper drug treatment. He is tired of busting people whose fathers and grandfathers he arrested.

Legalization would provide the money for better drug treatment which is not a panacea -- rich people who usually get the best drug treatment still have relapses -- but it costs a lot less than prison. And most of the people we send to prison are going to get out, so we should increase the chances they will contribute to the community, not prey on it.