A friend wrote to inform me that Missouri legislators are asking the public to come up with ways that the state can save money during the current budget shortfall. There is a new link on the senate website called "rebooting government" where senate bureaucrat Charlie Shields allows the public to submit these ideas.
Here is my submission:
One of the largest and most ineffective expenditures in the Missouri budget is the "war on drugs". Missouri ranks in the top ten of states with the highest increase in number of prisons between 1979 and 2000. (http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410994_mapping_prisons.pdf)
These prisons are seeing a large percentage of non-violent drug offenders. How long must we keep deluding ourselves to think this "war" is actually working? Is it worth the cost? More importantly, is it worth the number of lives that are ruined by the unnecessary and ridiculous imprisonment for the simple possession or inhalation of a plant?
Senator Shields, ask yourself this question: “Do I own my body?” If you answered “yes” to that question, then you must take the next logical step to understanding that if you own your own body, then your neighbor owns his. To be free, one must also let others be free to do as they please provided they are not harming others. There are already laws against causing harm to others and theft, which are common crimes that have become part and parcel of the drug culture because of its prohibition.
When any service or product is made illegal, it is pushed underground and thus removes the legal recourse to solve grievances and the access to the desired substances. This is what made Al Capone a very rich man because of his virtual monopoly on the violent means of solving “disputes” and providing a product that the people clearly want.
Legislation does not change behavior – there is no marked decrease in drug usage as a result of its prohibition. End the drug war. Stop caging our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. Let people live how they want to live and do with their bodies as they choose, even if you personally disagree with their choice.
The simple dissolution of the drug war will create a state budget surplus, which means it is the right thing to do morally and financially.
Jake Smith, St. Louis