It's too bad Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson hasn't gotten any airtime during the presidential debates. He's got one of the best ideas seen anywhere during this long, dreary campaign.

End the war on drugs.

 

Go to Johnson's Website. Read his arguments why we should legalize marijuana, and decriminalize drug use. Keep an open mind.

He offers sober reality and sound wisdom. Here are two of his key points, verbatim:

  1. "Since only criminal gangs and cartels are willing to take the risks associated with large-scale black market distribution, the War on Drugs has made a lot of dangerous people and organizations very rich and very powerful."
  2. "Abuse of hard drugs is a health problem, not a problem that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons with addicts."

Dead on, and dead on again.

Before you start composing that e-mail accusing me of being an aging, addled stoner who never recovered from the Age of Aquarius, a couple of personal points.

I despise what addictive drugs to do to people and families; I've witnessed too much drug-driven heartache. I've never snorted coke, dropped acid or taken Oxycontin. In college, in the '70s no less, I bet myself I could make it through all four years without smoking dope. And I did.

Today, my drug of choice is legal, liquid and goes by the first name of Jack.

But I live in Philly. I see what the insanely expensive war on drugs does to communities.

Johnson is right: In some neighborhoods, we've fostered a situation where the drug trade is the most attractive, indeed sometimes the only entrepreneurial enterprise available to young males. If the drugs weren't illegal, those enticing profits would not be there.

Our drug policies, particularly the uneven treatment of cocaine and crack, have emptied whole neighborhoods of able-bodied adult males, leaving teens with no role models, or only the wrong ones. And once out of prison, these men can find few legitimate job opportunities, which only bolsters the drug trade's poisonous seduction.

The National Constitution Center here in town has a new exhibit that just opened ... about Prohibition. The instinct to curb addiction by banning a substance is understandable. But it didn't work in the 1920s. And it isn't working now. Its biggest impacts are perverse.

It's time for a smarter approach. Give Gary Johnson's idea a fair hearing.

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Twitter: @chrissatullo