by Rebecca Lee
We would do well to consider the accounts of gang and mafia violence during the Prohibition. The reason these infamous malcontents were encouraged to proliferate was because of the easy money that could be made from selling alcoholic beverages on the black market. It was incredibly easy. Anyone could make the drinks at home, and families had been doing it since, well, since man first got invigorated on fermenting fruit and tried to figure out how to duplicate it.
It was the Great Depression. People were desperately poor. Selling alcoholic drinks made a lot of easy money, and the stronger the brew, the higher the demand. Spirits were the most challenging, (although anyone could learn the skill), and made the most money. Hobbiests had been distilling homemade spirits for hundreds of years, and they had taken pride in their product. Suddenly their skills could make them rich, and their neighbors already knew where to go for some good grog, so advertising was pretty much moot. For a poor mountain family who for generations past had turned their corn into whiskey just so they could haul it over razor hogback ridges on dirt roads to town, it looked like a bonanza into paradise. Most everybody except teetotalers began making booze in the family bathtub, or homemade stills, and sold it to the neighbors.
However, once people entered upon this not so secret family enterprise that was suddenly illegal, but could make a truckload of money, they found themselves organizing into gangs to protect themselves, and to control their market from outsiders. But, like wasps to fermenting plums, the smell of easy money and the inherent weakness of these family moonlighters, drew the violent, the powerful, and the rapacious, all of who lusted for the market. Thus sprouted our homegrown kudzu, our own "Little Shop of Horrors", our very own American mafias, and gangs. The Prohibition quickly skidded into violent, lawless money until it corrupted the very highest places of government.
This history is in our recent memory – our grand parents day. Why is it that we are so blind that we quickly forgot these lessons and began the vicious cycle all over again by turning narcotic drugs into black market gold and honey? All we have to do to pull the whole rotten scaffold down is to remove the easy money. There’s lots of money, loads of money, truckloads, shiploads of easy stinkin’ money all so available.
And how to do that? Make the narcotic drugs unregulated and no longer illegal. Now I did not say, legal, as in condoned. I did not say, regulated – which means taxed and made safe for human consumption. Narcotic drugs are never safe – even for legitimate use it is always dangerous, and long term use will always turn into addiction. Narcotic drugs for recreational use should never be taxed – for how can states condone making people’s addictions into money for state coffers? No. We shouldn’t, couldn’t do that, and remain morally responsible to our elect. I meant legal, the way locoweed growing in fencerows is legal, and I might add - dangerous to eat. I repeat – no regulations. Hallucinogenic use is not safe, and no regulations can make it so.
Our people will all become addicts, some exclaim! Our youth will be strung out, killing themselves in an orgy of overdose! Well, I reply, are they not already? We are in a national health crisis, and it’s getting worse no matter how diligent, how much we shell out for law enforcement, and how much we tell our youth it’s not wise to do this. Recreational narcotic use is a national plague, and we are scratching our thinning hair and other nether parts, wondering what to do to stop the scourge.
Youth will buck the establishment – you did, and so will your grandchildren. Youth will follow their idols in popular culture. These people are their heroes. Now popular culture by tacit example, proclaim that it’s an alternative lifestyle to be an addict, and dying from drug use at an importune age is the ultimate martyrdom of creativity, and an honest response to society's ills by the malcontent. But is it? Is not recreational narcotic use among our pop icons just a symbol of restive rebellion towards societal mores? Is it not flaunted as a symbol of participating in the creative set? And yet, as anyone looking at an addict’s life knows, addiction is an open drain in the pool of creative waters that will eventually end up a stagnant smelly swamp of mud feeding nothing but flies. Why? Why has drug use become this icon of creativity? It’s a split brain idea. It’s schizoid. But there you have it. What young wealthy icons do, fashion and youth will follow. Now, take the money out of the picture. Make narcotics cheap, common, without prestige, and suddenly you’ll find your pop icons promoting some other method of flaunting their personal malaises with society’s ills.
Remember when it was popular to wear those polyester running suits made of parachute fabric? But as soon as your grandmother preferred her colorful running suit she bought at K-mart to wear to the grocery store, fashionistas found those popular, comfortable suits dreadfully passe’ and wouldn’t be caught dead in them. Those suits that were once fashionable, sexy, expensive and thrilling were suddenly spurned as ordinary, common, and cheap. I say, that as soon as the drugs are no longer illegal, no longer expensive, no longer sold by thrilling dangerous drug lords, our pop artists of the day will find them less of a Janis Joplin siren, and more of a dead drag, which in truth they are. Our youth will follow their heroes’ lead, and narcotic drug use will become scorned as something 'those' poor people do that our society consider skid row losers. The mafia will look for other sources of black market money, as narcotic drugs will be so cheap even skid row losers can buy them without resorting to selling drugs for their fix. Then, our public funds going toward this losing battle of controlling narcotic drug trade can be turned to help those truly helpless, skid row addicts losing their fight for a decent normal life, which is what the money should be going toward anyhow.
One last analogy for the fearful: Parks with natural stone bridges that are very high, very awesome sandstone arches carved by the wind are great attractions to the public. Some you can even follow trails and walk over. The view is breathtaking and the height dizzying. It’s scary because the National Park Service will not put handrails or fences along the edges of the natural bridges. You cross at your own risk and you had better hold onto your children. This seems to natural logic a very dangerous thing to impose upon our thoughtless, careless public. It isn’t. It save lives. Fences and rails give people a false sense of security. They want to lean upon them, lean over them, sit upon them, hang upon them, and they fall from them. People who dare to walk across these awesome natural stone bridges remain carefully in the center, holding tightly to their children, or just look from one end and refuse to let their kids cross them. It’s scary because it is obviously dangerous. And most people have a natural fear of open heights with no walls. I submit my case for unregulated narcotics.
I predict that if narcotics were no longer illegal and became unregulated, at first dealers would make more money, and there would be a spat of overdoses. Then, suddenly, the market value of recreational drugs would drop to a minuscule amount, comparative to what they are now. After that, dealers would lose interest, as these drugs are too cheap to fool with. When that happens, drug cartels and the mafia would lose interest, too. Overseas trade of illegal drugs would decrease, crime committed by drug lords bringing these drugs into the country would drop, and as the popularity of the drugs founder, our young people would find something healthier to do to protest their existance in society.