The war on drugs is a phrase we hear in the popular press, but what is this war? More importantly are we winning it? With these two questions in mind we ran radio program to talk about it. The panel was diverse, an ex addict, a defense lawyer, and an author who grew up surrounded by the drug culture.

Mitch Stone is a defense attorney who works on many drug related cases. Interestingly enough, we are not talking strictly street drugs, prescription drugs are now becoming a real problem. He also represents Doctors and Pharmacists accused of over prescribing and other infractions of the drug laws.

Armando Aldazabar is an author with two very drug centric books under his belt. Cocaine Memoirs and What You Are Turning Me Into are very chilling pieces of writing.  While not personally an addict he has watched friends and family die from the effects.

Our third panelist was Carlton Davis, he is also an author, but also a man recovering from an addiction to crack cocaine. His recent book Bipolar Bare takes the reader inside the very convoluted world of an addict that also suffers from some mental illness.

I have to admit that I was not sure what direction a program like this would go in. Can we even define the war on drugs? Is it the quest to make our borders impenetrable? Is it to hunt down the peddlers of death? I for one am not clear.

It was a lively 90 minutes, and some very interesting ideas surfaced. Mexico has just enacted a law that effectively decriminalized possession of small amounts of Marijuana, Cocaine, even Heroine. It seems that this idea is picking up some traction on the US side of the border. Does decriminalizing make sense?

Mitch Stone brought up a very interesting point when I asked the question Does the time fit the crime? A resounding NO. Possession of even small amounts of a controlled substance can result in a disproportionate sentence. Even worse, if it can be proved that you intend to sell some or all, you are looking at a sentence more befitting a serial killer.

Carlton Davis is a recovering addict, and he surprised me today by admitting that in the space of six months he burned his way through $50,000. His drug of choice was Crack. It is a cheap drug, the problem is that the effects are not long lasting, that $20 high, becomes a $200 a day obsession.

Mitch and Carlton were pretty much in agreement that rather than kill the drug trade by force, it would be more effective to legalize it and tax it!

I am not sure that Armando was buying into this idea at all. Of Cuban descent he calls Florida home, he grew up in a poor area, drugs were prevalent, he has seen relatives and friends die because of them. In fact it was not very long ago that he lost another to the curse of drugs. An accidental overdose.

It certainly was an interesting program, and you can catch it here.

Simon Barrett

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