Letter to the editor: There might be a better way

It is common knowledge that our nation has a serious and growing drug problem. Our existing laws and enforcement efforts are not controlling or reducing the problem. If you or yours have not been adversely affected you are very fortunate.

There is in our society a significant and growing number of people who desire to possess and use drugs. These users range from the recreational user to the addict. They are willing to take the risks with violating the laws governing the possession and use of drugs.

The recreational user is usually a normal student or working member of a community. The addicted person is the one stealing from his family, breaking into your homes, stealing your car, robbing stores and doing anything else that will support their addiction. They are also the ones crowding our prisons, jail and judicial system. Illegal drugs are expensive. The addict needs $40-100 a day to support addiction. There is also the addiction to prescription drugs. When the prescriptions stop the patient becomes a victim and is left to deal with the addiction. The need to obtain drugs also adversely affects our health care system.

The demand to use drugs has provided a rare and very profitable opportunity to persons willing to take the risks to supply the drugs. The huge profits associated with supplying and dealing the drugs are financing the cartels, drug lords, gangs, organized crime and many other criminal activities. Unfortunately they are also used to influence the politicians and legitimate businesses. The media routinely publishes the “street value” of seized drugs. This should give you an idea of the potential profits to the suppliers.

Our law enforcement agencies do make arrests. Unfortunately if you remove a supplier or dealer there are many more people willing to step in and reap the profits.

The amount of tax dollars spent on enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration at the international, state, and local level is staggering. If we recognize the growing number of citizens wishing to use drugs and modified the use and possession laws to accommodate them we might better serve our citizens.

Yes drugs need to be regulated. Modify them to address the minimum age, quality and availability. Use the tax monies we could save enforcing our existing laws to finance the costs that will be needed to educate, treat and regulate the new laws. Taxing the sale of the drugs would help defray the costs. 

It concerns me that we continue to arrest and confine our children and young citizens for taking part in activities that are fairly common in our society. Many of the people we are arresting for violating the existing use and possession laws could be productive members of our society.

Our existing use and possession laws are unpopular and ignored by many. I believe that in a free society laws can only be enforced to the degree that the citizens desire.

No I don’t have a solution to all the problems created by the use and possession of dugs but I do believe that there might be a better way to address them.

Let me close by saying that I have the deepest respect to all of the agencies supporting our laws. My thanks to all of our first responders and their families. They have difficult, demanding and dangerous jobs.

Roy L. Orton

A retired police officer and administrator


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