The Legalization of Illicit Drugs: Myths vs. Facts

The Legalization of Illicit Drugs: Myths vs. Facts
Posted on 02/13/2012

With the recent tragedy affecting officers in the Ogden Police Department, I was disturbed to see blogs and social media comments suggesting that lives would be saved if the government would legalize drugs. Many emphasize the legalization of marijuana, since it appears to have been the object of the search warrant being executed by the Weber-Morgan Task Force. The media and others have used the term “low-risk” to describe the police operation.

I have spent the majority of my career in narcotics and have served more than a hundred search warrants, and the tactics in those operations are the same ones used every day all over the United States. But even officers need to remember that nothing is considered a "low-risk" warrant service. In fact, it’s dangerous for both officers and civilians to become complacent about any police task because nothing in our business should ever be considered “low-risk."  That’s what gets cops hurt.

When these things happen, certain myths and questions related to drug legislation always emerge. People want to debate topics related to drugs and alcohol using street philosophers’ canned arguments. Legalization advocates attempt to support their position with faulty analogies, misrepresentations and unsupported theories.

However, Deputy Chief Thomas J. Gorman of the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement has a published several articles regarding the myths of drug legalization which I believe are right on point. I’d like to share a few of the most common myths according to Gorman:

MYTH:  Drug use is a victimless crime.

FACT: There are actually four classes of drug use victims:  the users, the family and friends of the users, the individuals who are victimized by the acts of those under the influence, and the tax payers who are paying the price. Tell these people, who have had firsthand experience with drug abusers, that they are not victims. Tell the mother and father whose child was killed by a drugged driver, of the husband whose wife was raped by somebody loaded on cocaine, or the sister whose brother was brutally beaten by a “speed freak” that they are not he victims of drug use.

MYTH: Alcohol and illicit drugs are no different; thus, it is hypocritical for society to allow alcohol use while outlawing other drugs.

FACT: Alcohol and illicit drugs have a major difference. Most people use alcohol as a beverage and don’t drink to become intoxicated; whereas, with drugs, intoxication is the sole purpose. That is why marijuana smokers seek the higher THC content in marijuana and why crack is so popular among cocaine users. A more factual analogy would be to compare drug use with drunkenness. In addition, illicit drugs are far more addicting than alcohol. Also, approximately one-half of our citizens use alcohol, whereas only approximately eight percent use illicit drugs. In fact, there are almost as many people addicted to alcohol as use illicit drugs. The paradox is, while society is strengthening and demanding stricter enforcement of alcohol laws, there are those who want to decriminalize and even abolish drug laws.

MYTH: Elimination of drugs would reduce crime and free prison space for more serious violent offenders.

FACT: Removal of laws would reduce incidents for those specific violations, but the behavior would not change. Lowering the age of consent to 12 would reduce the number of child molestation crimes, but it would not change the fact that predators were molesting young children ages 12 to 18. The advocates fail to recognize what drug experts are well aware of:  that a high percentage of drug dealers were criminals first.

Ninety-three percent of all state prison inmates are violent and/or serious repeat offenders. Only 1.4 percent are first-time, “non-violent” drug offenders. Keep in mind that “non-violent” only describes the act for which individuals are incarcerated and not their past history or previous behavior.  If an organized crime “hit-man” were convicted for income tax evasion, then he would be considered a non-violent inmate. The simple truth is that if we legalize or decriminalize drugs, the acts of violence against our citizens would skyrocket.”

Labeling a mob hit-man as a non-violent offender based only on the crimes he has been convicted of is as absurd as categorizing the alleged shooter in Ogden as a non-violent marijuana grower. So the next time someone wants to argue the good Lord put marijuana on the earth as a natural herb, refer to this article or contact the Cottonwood Heights Police Department for facts regarding drug use and legalization. Please keep our brother officers and their families in your prayers.