521 CHRONICLESnLAWnIs It Time to EndnProhibition?nby Clyde WilsonnThe lessons of history are never quitendefinitive. History repeats itself, but notnexactly, and the trick is to know wherenthe differences come in. Nevertheless,nin the case of drug abuse and its controlnwe have as good a lesson and as close annanalogy as history ever provides —nProhibition. Unfortunately, our politiciansnhave no historical memory, ornperhaps the trouble is that memorynserves reason and not appetite andnhence is of no use to politicians. In anyncase, we have now reached the pointnwhere Prohibition was about 1930.nWhat had begun as a misguided moralncrusade in which many Americans hadnvast emotional investment had devolvedninto a scandal of hypocrisy, violence,nand corruption. Sensible people knewnall along that this was inevitable and thatnthe problem should have been leftnwhere it could have been rationally dealtnwith. It should have been left to thenstates.nThere are, of course, weightier argumentsnfor the prohibition of most drugsnthan there ever were for alcohol. Alcoholnwas traditional and ineradicable,nwhereas drugs are relatively new ornforeign and could have been stopped ifnvigorous and effective action had beenntaken early enough. It is too late for thatnnow. A considerable portion of ournpopulation is beyond the pale, and it isnuseless to pretend that they will adherento standards of behavior that have nonmeaning for them.nIf we were to tackle the problem ofndrugs as a law enforcement problem, wenmight make some headway. But this hasnnot happened, nor will it. Listen carefullynto what the politicians of bothnparties are saying, and you will hearnthat for them, drugs are not a lawnenforcement problem, they are a wel­nVITAL SIGNSnfare problem. People who buy and usenillegal substances are not lawbreakersnwho ought to be punished. They arenjust another set of unfortunate victimsnof society who have to be saved by thengovernment. If that’s the case, how cannwe punish the users? Instead we blamenthe pushers and get tough with foreignnexporters.nThere is something ludicrous andncontemptible about a powerful countrynblaming paltry neighbors for the misbehaviornof its own citizens. It is as if thenBolivians had, like the British in Chinanin the eariy 19th century, invadednCalifornia and forced us to buy thenstuff. A little history and commonnsense would lead any person capable ofnreason and honesty to believe thatngiven the nature of Latin Americanncountries, it is childish to blame a poorncountry for selling its best productnwhere there is a demand for it.nIt doesn’t help that the politiciansnwho are now outraged that a tinpotndictator in Panama has been acting as andrug profiteer are exactly the samenpeople who turned over the Canal tonour noble Panamanian allies. Or thatnthe people who are so exercised aboutnthe inability of the federal governmentnto interdict boatloads of drugs fromncrossing the border are exactly thensame people who are unconcernednthat the government is also incapablenof the much easier and more vital tasknof protecting the border from millionsnafter millions of illegal aliens.nThe latest fad is advocating a federalndeath penalty for drug pushers. This is,nin fact, either hysteria or a sham. As farnas I know there are no documentedncases of drug pushers actually holdingnpeople down, forcing them to pay fornthe stuff and then ingest it. But in mynstate there is in prison a man whonkidnapped an innocent young womannfrom a shopping center parking lot andnsubjected her to rape, torture, andnmurder. After two immensely elaboratentrials, in the first of which the jurynissued a death penalty, he is nownserving a life sentence, which meansnnn30 years. The reason this creature (andnthousands like him) has not been executednis that the Supreme Court hasncontorted the process surrounding ancapital verdict into an insane game thatndefies every tenet of law, reason, justice,nand common sense. The deathnpenalty for drug pushers? Maybe, butnfirst let’s return to the good old Englishncommon law of capital punishment fornmurder, rape, arson, treason, and firstndegree burglary, all crimes that damagenthe innocent irrevocably. Otherwisenwhere is the logic in employing thendeath penalty to rescue us from evilnprofiteers and foreigners who have theneffrontery to sell some of our citizensnsomething they want?nI have no objection, in principle, tonlaws against sin. Even if they are notnenforced they are often necessary ornuseful supports of society, for therencertainly does exist an essential somethingnknown as public morality, evennthough a good proportion of Americansnare now too much materialists tonrecognize it. I do not believe thatnliberty means anybody can do anything.nBut I am convinced that givennthe real world that exists now, thenhealthy and the conservative solutionnto the drug problem might well be anlittle laissez-faire. I am aware of thendestructiveness of drugs and of thendangers of decriminalization. But I amnalso inclined to think that probably ournbest hope is to try it.nIf I am certain of one thing, it is thatnthe political and media fury now underwaynagainst drugs will never accomplishnanything except to spend money.nIt is conservative wisdom which tells usnthat some things will always be with usnand may as well be confined withinnbounds and left alone. It is liberalnprogressivism that tells us we have tonsave everyone from himself, whethernhe wants to be saved or not. Ourn