News from the (drug) war front
I'm not big on the idea of drug legalization. I don't buy into claims like this one, that we could get $31 billion in additional revenue simply by legalizing marijuana and taxing it. I don't buy into the idea that decriminalizing drugs will make them safer, or that it will get rid of the criminal element which deals them. For those who think that legalization will result in regular commercial entities dealing with production and supply, two words: products liability. And the blunt fact is that a lot of people don't do drugs simply because they're illegal. If anyone really believes that more people aren't going to do crack and PCP and heroin if it's legalized, they're dreaming.
But lordy, sometimes this "war on drugs" stuff becomes so breathtakingly stupid that it makes my eyes bleed. Like, courtesy of Drug War Rant, comes this story about a Texas 7th-grader who found himself on the wrong side of the front lines of that war:
Mr. Ortiz said the family's ordeal began Oct. 19, when his son picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer from the desk of his fifth-period reading teacher at Killian Middle School in Lewisville. He rubbed the gel on his hands and smelled it.
Mr. Ortiz said he believed the matter was over until Tuesday when he was served with a petition charging his son with delinquency for inhaling the hand sanitizer to "induce a condition of intoxication, hallucination and elation."
You'll be happy to know that prosecutors dropped the charges after deciding "that the common cleaning gel is not an abusive inhalant under the Texas Health and Safety Code."
If only it were all funny. A little over a year ago, I blogged about a drug raid in Atlanta that resulted in the death of a 92-year-old woman. She'd thought the SWAT team members who broke down her doors were burglars, and shot at them; they returned fire, killing her. Six months later, two of the officers involved pled guilty to manslaughter and perjury; it turns out that they'd lied to get the search warrant, then planted drugs in the house after they'd killed Johnston.
This isn't the only instance of a drug raid gone wrong; the Cato Institute has a nice map of what it terms "botched paramilitary raids," going back over twenty years. In fact, just a couple weeks ago Chesapeake, Virginia police did a drug raid on the home of Ryan Frederick on the basis of an informant's tip that he was growing marijuana. As the police were breaking down the door, Frederick, who'd been burglarized a week earlier, fired a gun, killing a police officer on the other side of the door. He's now been charged with first degree murder and simple possession of marijuana. Simple possession of marijuana? Yep. Frederick, who has no prior criminal record, had three joints in the house.
The people over at the Drug Policy Alliance think they know the reason for all this.
They're probably right.