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Legalizing Cocaine

January 19, 1987

Drugs must be legalized. This retired police chief has always shared the opinion of Assistant District Attorney Chrystie. During my police career it would not do to voice such heresy.

As a small child in California, I saw the beginning of that "noble experiment," which banned the manufacturing, import, and sale of the drug, alcohol, in the United States.

As a result, the consumption of alcoholic beverages increased. People who never drank before did so because it was exciting to visit speak-easies run by criminal gangs under the protection of corrupt public officials. Serving illegal "hootch" in your home made one part of the "in" group. Gang murders, hijacking, police and court corruption grew and politicians were bought.

After 13 years of such crime and corruption with increased alcohol abuse, the American people repealed the Prohibition law. The public was smart enough to realize that you cannot stop drug abuse by simply making it illegal. We can't save people from themselves.

Today, efforts to stop illegal drugs is another case of the cure is worse than the disease. Untold billions of dollars go into the rich criminal drug empires, which pay no taxes. Corruption of public officers and officials abounds. Addicts commit huge numbers of robberies, burglaries, and thefts to pay for the high cost of illegal drugs.

If the drug overlords would permit us to do so, our Congress could legalize all narcotics. Part of the hundreds of billions now being spent on futile enforcement of anti-drug laws could be applied to educating and treatment of drug abuse and rehabilitation.

OTTO L. BORTFELD

Los Angeles

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