Thursday, December 18, 2008

Major Kudos to Ned Carpenter - A Longtime Common Sense Voice Against Delaware's Drug Prohibition

Edmund N. "Ned" Carpenter II is a longtime and much-esteemed Delaware attorney approaching his 60th anniversary, in January, as a member of the Delaware Bar.

Over the years Mr. Carpenter has consistently written far-sighted
News-Journal editorials excoriating the failed drug war and calling for its end.

I have met Mr. Carpenter at various fundraisers for Delaware Republican candidates, most recently for Bill Lee's gubernatorial bid. Recently I had a chance to finally tell him how much I appreciate his courageous and long-standing public opposition to drug prohibition.

Of Delaware's two major party establishments, I only know of Republicans (though not many, at that) willing even to address this issue.

[I limit this to the "two major parties" because 1) the Libertarian Party is long on record as against the drug war, and 2) no other parties but the D's and R's hold any seats in Delaware government.]

One of these Republicans is former Delaware chief prosecutor Peter Letang who, upon retirement as a Deputy Attorney General in April 2006, called for an end to the drug war, which he described as "smoke and mirrors". Letang wrote :

"The profit incentive drives the drug market, and a substantial portion of street violence and criminal activity are the result. Reduce a $200-a-day drug habit to $10 a day and the numbers of convenience-store and street robberies will be reduced. Street corner "turf" shootings will be impacted in that the flow of easy big money will dry up."

Although I can't name names, there are several prominent senior Republicans with whom I have spoken over the years who want reform and believe many others do too, but fear the old saw that being portrayed as "soft on drugs" is political suicide.

One in particular is a powerful former state legislator from Wilmington who a few years ago confided to me about the drug war that, "We need to say 'time out', folks, this isn't working.".


In contrast, I have yet to hear any voice(s) in the Democrat party dare to take on the blight and devastation that this "war on drugs" (e.g. a war on people based on certain drugs) has caused our country and our state, especially in our cities.

Worse than the silence is the Delaware Democrats' icon,
Senator / Vice-President Joe Biden.

Biden is
one of the most rabid (pork-barrel) drug prohibitionists EVER, to such an extent that Biden managed even to make 'glow sticks' (the little plastic disposable light wands) a form of "drug paraphernalia". Way to go, Joe! Way to go Delaware Democrats!!

Senator Karen Peterson (D), about as good a "good government" politician as Delaware Democrats can claim, sponsored and passed legislation adding a plant called "salvia divinorum" to Schedule I in Delaware, because of one teenage suicide that the teen's parents blamed on this substance.

Tragic as this death was, Peterson's response was yet more typical "legislate the masses based on the isolated incident" political grandstanding, exploiting obviously overwrought parents. A Wikipedia discussion of salvia disputes that this now-banned substance was in fact a real factor in this death.


I am perfectly willing to go partisan on this issue, if it means shaming the all-powerful Delaware Democrat Party into living up to their claims of being a "people" party and a "progressive" party.

It is time for the Democrats who have successfully exploited every means available to gain total control of this state, from top to bottom, starting with Governor-Elect Jack Markell, to heed the words of wise, thoughtful Republicans like Mr. Carpenter and Peter Letang.

It is time to begin the long process of untangling our state from the cruel, destructive prohibitionist drug laws. These laws, and the arbitrary prosecutions they enable, have only filled our prisons with non-violent "offenders", permanently stigmatizing citizens with drug convictions, while fueling violent drug black markets that have turned cities like Wilmington into shooting galleries.

I hope these Democrat power politicians spare us the half-measures like "drug courts" and "diversion" and other such half-baked nonsense, especially on the hysteria-driven pretext of protecting children by criminalizing adults.

Such 'half-pregnant' measures only serve the same end result of driving these substances underground and, thus, leaving them totally unregulated as to content or safety.

It is also long-standing and inevitable reality that prohibition schemes actually serve to make drugs much more accessible to children.

Predatory black market drug dealers never discriminate as to customers by age or adolescent susceptibility. Why would they? It's the bread and butter of these lawless filth.


Prohibition, no matter the object - alcohol or drugs, has always proven a disastrous failure for America and it always will. No two ways about it.

Mr. Carpenter has written another editorial to this effect. His message remains consistent. It is one of reality-based common sense.

Thank you, Mr. Carpenter!

Deadly war against drugs isn't worth the human cost


The news that already this year more than 5,000 Mexicans across the border have been murdered in the "Drug War" should compel us once again to re-examine our dangerous, flawed policy of trying Prohibition as a way of controlling the uncontrollable, insatiable desire for a dangerous product. And we must take some or lots of the blame for those murders since it is our failure to control our drug lust, which is uncontrollable, but also our failure to control our disastrous "Drug War," which we can control and terminate, which has led to this. On Dec 5, we had the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, which had been a conspicuous failure. It had not stopped bootlegging, which everyone, in contempt for the law, was involved in. It was hugely counterproductive, but not as bad as the "Drug War."

And Prohibition had fueled the development of a powerful, underground set of crime gangs, the largest headed by Al Capone, who controlled East Coast bootlegging from the Canadian border to the tip of Florida. There were murders galore, bodies tossed out of speeding automobiles, and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre with men lined up against the wall and machine-gunned. We are headed back to that, not only nationwide, but here in tiny Wilmington where the number of shootings rivals that of Tombstone, Ariz., in the quick draw 1880s.

We learned our lesson with Prohibition and Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned with a promise to get a repeal of the 18th amendment to our Constitution (which established Prohibition), and he did it, supported by such staunch Republicans as the du Ponts from Delaware, who recognized the national importance of repeal. We have forgotten that lesson, and despite an estimated 70 percent support for repeal among the voters the legislators, afraid of being called "soft on crime" have done nothing.

Meanwhile, despite an estimated cost among federal, state and local governments of $30 billion (yes, billion, not million) annually, despite murders everywhere, including a 5-year old child in a barber chair sitting next to an assassination victim here in Wilmington, despite the fact that nothing positive has been achieved in four decades of "War on Drugs," and we still have substantially the same amount of drugs being distributed every year, still we plod on insanely, expecting different results from doing the same thing, and not clearly seeing the tremendous damage we are doing by driving the price for drugs high with our ineffective prohibition, and thus making these gangs rich and able to corrupt officials in Columbia, Turkey, Argentina and yes, the United States.

We should immediately decriminalize marijuana, which certainly has not killed as many people as cigarettes. Marijuana should be handled just like cigarettes are now, with restrictions to protect children, with an appropriate tax perhaps on both the state and federal level, and with a publicity campaign similar to Surgeon General C.Everett Koop's highly successful campaign against cigarettes.

If that step works, as it certainly will, we should move on to stronger drugs, cocaine and heroin included. Perhaps we can follow Switzerland's excellent example of providing drugs through prescription for incurable addicts, with the administration of the drugs taking place in a doctor's office, one group after another. It works there; it will work here. The money for the gangs will be cut off, and our drug problem will shrink to the 1920s model of perhaps only a few hundred thousand addicts, receiving free treatment at a tiny fraction of the cost of the failed "Drug War."

Tell your legislators to support this. It is more important than that earmark they are trying to slip into the Budget Bill, and a chance to make a valid reputation for themselves and their State.


Anonymous said...

Well said. We have to reevaluate punishing people for a medical/psychatric problem.

rc said...

The problem has now become, in order to halt the already lost "drug wars,"
one has to go to war with the "prison industry." Booming as a result of ineffectual policies and ignorance it has quickly become as corrupt as those it incarcerates. rc

Brian Miller said...

One of the most "exciting" investment opportunities my broker has been pushing on me is a portfolio of companies that operate "private prisons." Apparently, they're already profitable just from fees charged to the states to operate them.

On top of that, they operate entire service businesses -- call centers, manufacturing and refurbishment -- inside of them for less than minimum wage.

Your federal government also competes with private businesses like IBM Global Services, Xerox, Pitney Bowes and others through its own call centers, mail processing centers, data centers and other corporate services operated by prisoners paid less than minimum wage.

It's a HUGE industry.

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