Time to restart the conversation on legalizing drugs

March 25, 2010

President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1969. The enemy in that "war" was never identified, but in 1980, First Lady Nancy Reagan stood up to this enemy and told young people to "Just Say No." Doubtless, she was sincere, but since then neither her well meant slogan nor the on-going war on drugs has prevented the continued illegal trade in narcotics. Neither has prevented the steady erosion of our culture and society and the squandering of our resources nor the countless lives ravaged as a result of the failure to combat this scourge.

The killings in Mexico are corrupting whole segments of that country by ruthless people fighting to bring drugs into the U.S. In Afghanistan, we know that drug trafficking is funding our enemies in the War on Terror. While the Fiscal Year 2011 National Drug Control Budget proposed by the Obama Administration states that we will devote significant new resources to the prevention and treatment of drug abuse, these are words -- well meant -- that we've heard before. Twenty years ago, Former Mayor Kurt Schmoke suggested that we talk about de-criminalizing drugs to take the illegal profits off the streets of our city. Isn't it time that we start that conversation over again!

Edward J. Gutman, Baltimore

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