This is a guest article by D. Alan Johnson, his latest book Asgaard explores the role of US military Contractors in far flung parts of the globe. D. Alan Johnson is well equipped to write not only Asgaard, but also this article. He is what he writes about! Since the mid 1980’s he has been a private military contractor – Simon

A persistent argument brought against law enforcement and government is that the prohibition of drugs invites corruption. I have seen so many corrupt politicians and enforcement officers in my career that there can be no argument.

However, the next step is to claim that if we legalized drugs, the corruption would end, the government would collect taxes, and all would be right with the world. This is a simplistic view of the harm drugs do to society, the historical success of legalization, and the human attraction to an easy buck.

In my early years as an officer with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, I was convinced of the need for the legalization of drugs. Being a pilot on surveillance aircraft monitoring smuggling, and as an analyst, I, along with many of my colleagues studied the implications and war-gamed the implementation of legalized drugs. We viewed the societies that have never prohibited drugs or have repealed that prohibition.  After these studies and the presentation of several papers, I changed my mind about legalization.

The first reason is that drugs destroy individuals. Yes, alcohol and tobacco also harm many users, but the magnitude of addiction and the health problems of illegal drugs far surpass any downside of our legal substances. Narcotics and meth are so destructive that users are almost never able to hold down their jobs, and so addictive that users often turn to crime to buy a fix.

Even above that are the human costs. Crack, meth, heroin all call so strongly that most men and women abandon their morals, their responsibilities, their children, and even contact with lifelong friends, family, and spouses.

The next thing I became convinced about was that legalization has not been a success. Drugs, even when legal, destroy a society. China, Canada, and the United States had no prohibition of drugs in the 1800’s. Opium dens were common in all three countries. Most medicines in the US had some form of narcotic, heroin, codeine, or cocaine, as one of their ingredients. Consequently, the US struggled with a subculture of addiction. China was plagued with opium dens so pervasive that young men of all social strata would drop out of society. Seeing the evils, lawmakers in all three countries passed laws prohibiting narcotics.

Today, the Netherlands is the example brought up by both sides of the legalization argument. While each of us has strong opinions, we both lack concrete data. However, none can deny the coarsening of Dutch society since drugs and prostitution have been legalized. Normally hidden, drug addicts take over parks, and women advertizing lewd acts are displayed in store windows.

Perhaps the strongest argument against legalization is the human condition. Some men will only work at endeavors which are illegal. When one venture becomes legal, they will no longer work in that field, but will switch to something where they will find the “fast buck”. A study of families involved with marijuana smuggling in Roma, Texas illustrates this.

These families have been smuggling for at least three hundred years. They started with salt and cattle, moved cotton and arms in the Civil War, changed to gold when the new government in Mexico City imposed taxes, liquor during Prohibition, Freon out of Mexico and VCR’s in during the 1980’s, and now run marijuana and illegal aliens. Each time that the items smuggled went legal, these families switched to the illegal. They even have a codified system of taking turns which son will plead guilty for the rest of the family.

We see the same thing in the Netherlands now that prostitution has been legalized. The bad guys did not go good; they moved into white slavery. Every country that I have visited that has legalized prostitution has huge problems with women being forced into the sex trade against their will.

Another example of legalization is the gambling craze. Making gambling legal did not stop the gangsters from using Las Vegas and Atlantic City as bases for all types of corruption. Legal tobacco has not stopped the cigarette smugglers. Neither has legal liquor stopped the moonshiners. If we were to legalize and tax drugs, we would still see an illegal subculture smuggling the substance to get around the taxes.

Society must draw the line against men who would flaunt the law to earn the easy buck. Where we draw that line is a subject for discussion. None of us wants to see authorities quash free speech or freedom of religion. But if we continue to retreat from evil because we feel it is too difficult to enforce our laws, our civilization will become lawless.

Those contending that society “cannot legislate morality” need to visit a country like Angola where it is not really illegal to steal. In 1996 we turned in a man we caught stealing gasoline from our compound. The magistrate told us that it was our own fault that the locals were stealing our gasoline; we weren’t taking care of it well enough.  The thief went free.

In our stand against evil, drugs are an important subset because of their acute ability to damage health, their addictive power, and their impact upon several other facets of society. While no one will say that our current enforcement system is good, I argue that in view of the dangers of hard drugs, the lack of success of legalization, and the predilection of man toward crime, that I our current laws are better than letting our civilization slide downward.

D. Alan Johnson
23 April, 2010

Drugs are going to be at the heart of our radio program tomorrow. Tune in, it likely will be an exciting round table discussion – Simon

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