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Peter Christ Tells William And Mary Students That "Prohibition Created Al Capone."


WILLIAMSBURG -- The federal government's decades-long attempt to prohibit the use and sales of illegal drugs only fuels more crime and societal problems, a retired police captain told students at the College of William and Mary on Thursday night. 


Peter Christ is a member of Massachusetts-based Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates the decriminalization of drugs.  He addressed about 30 students at Millington Hall, and many were members of a group called Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. 


Christ said prohibitions had never been successful.  When alcohol was prohibited, it only led to extreme mob violence to control the alcohol trade.  "Prohibition created Al Capone," he said.  Mob profits from illegal numbers rackets were curtailed when states began operating lotteries, he said, and a similar thing happened when betting on horseracing was legalized and regulated.  Christ said he traveled around the country, criticizing the country's war on drugs, yet he never encountered a person who thought that drug use would end.  But ironically, the nation's caught up in fighting the drug war, which has dramatically increased the prison population and violence among criminals who battle to control the drug trade, he said. 


A crime study conducted in New York City found that only 15 percent of drug-related violence involved users who were high and hurt others or themselves.  "Eighty-five percent of drug-related violence was a result of marketplace disputes," he said.  In the mid-1990s, Christ said, the federal government gave $400 million to Afghanistan's Taliban government to destroy crops used to make heroin.  He said the Taliban did such a good job of destroying the crops; drug cartels began growing them in South America, increasing the supply of heroin.  Now heroin is "cheaper and purer and more available than ever in our history," Christ said. 


Drugs are dangerous and are best avoided, he said.  But, the country's methods of fighting drugs need to be discussed and debated openly. 


"Will it happen in my lifetime - I doubt it," Christ said. 



Author: Keith Rushing

Source: Daily Press (Newport News, VA)

Contact: letters@dailypress.com

Website: http://www.dailypress.com

Cited: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition http://www.leap.cc