Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw |

Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw

Andy Stone
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

So the DEA has come and gone – parachuting in, zapping the bad guys and flying away again.

And, in the process (as a cheerfully cynical friend pointed out), U.S. government agents treated local law enforcement the same way they treated the government of Pakistan when they went in and nailed Osama bin Laden: not evil enough to be shot, but not reliable enough to be trusted.

And there is, of course, no worse insult than to be considered untrustworthy by an undercover drug agent.

So now, it seems, it’s all over but the shouting – except, of course, for the handful of designated losers, some of whom might wind up spending the rest of their lives in jail.

The feds, as always, threw around some big numbers: 500 pounds of cocaine! That is a big number, but it seems somewhat less awesome when you realize that it was spread out over 15 years. We’re really not talking drug kingpins here.

But never mind that. As always, once the news broke, the squawking began.

The loudest noises came from those who were outraged – outraged! – that our local lawmen were not doing a better job of cracking down on drug traffic.

One of the loudest squawkers quoted her own rhetoric from the last sheriff’s election, when she said, “When Braudis and DiSalvo agree that our local drug problem is a health issue and not a criminal one, we are nothing but a sanctuary city/county for drug dealers.”

And that nonsense, believe it or not, is where the story gets amusing (again, except for the poor fools facing long years behind bars).

The amusement comes when you consider the report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which begins with this statement: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

That general conclusion is followed by recommendations that include:

• End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.

• Encourage experimentation [with] legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime.

• Offer health and treatment services to those in need.

In short, the Global Commission on Drug Policy recommends that the global drug problem should be considered a health issue and not a criminal one. Like Sheriff Joey DiSalvo.

Now, as a left-wing wacko, I realize that many of you who disagree with these points will immediately argue that this so-called “global commission” must also be a group of lefty wackos.

I’ll list a few names and let you draw your own conclusions: George P. Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state; John Whitehead, banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation; Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations; Maria Cattaui, former secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the United States Federal Reserve.

Yup. Lefty wackos, each and every one of them. Particularly the George Shultz guy, who worked for those other notorious lefty wackos, Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

So anyway, this bunch of evil-doers (which reminds me that Shultz was an advisor for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign during the 2000 election, and part of the so-called “Vulcans,” a group of Bush policy mentors that also included Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice – two of my favorites) went on to say this:

“We also need to recognize that it is the illicit nature of the market that creates much of the market-related violence – legal and regulated commodity markets, while not without problems, do not provide the same opportunities for organized crime to make vast profits … and, in some cases, fund insurgency and terrorism.”

Look, I’m not advocating that anyone take any drugs. (Really, I’m not.)

But if we want to solve the horrendous problems of the violence that has scarred our society – and, to a much greater degree, the societies of the nations to our south – we have to get serious and be realistic.

The war on drugs has not succeeded and will not succeed.

And those who insist on continuing to pursue those failed policies are either not serious – or are determined to maintain their own paychecks.

And that’s really a major part of the problem, isn’t it?

Who wants the drug war to continue unchanged?

The DEA … and the violent drug cartels who are making vast amounts of money and who don’t mind murdering people along the way. They’re partners in crime, as it were. Just protecting their jobs.

Not many people alive today remember the last time America was over-run with violent gangs that threatened the social order – murdering people and making millions along the way.

The government tried all-out war that time, but it didn’t work, not at all.

And then the problem was neatly, quickly and permanently solved in 1933, after 15 long violent years, by the repeal of Prohibition.

A lot of people have died from alcohol since then, but none have been machine-gunned to death by bootleggers.

That part of the equation is really pretty simple.

I know some people say – over and over again, with increasing volume each time around – that any form of legalization will result in sky-rocketing drug use.

Come on. Get real. No one has any real problem getting hold of drugs.

Ask your kids.

Right now, it’s a lot easier for a high school student in Aspen to get some marijuana than to buy alcohol. (Or cigarettes – if we want to talk about a really nasty drug.)

That’s what happens when something is legal and carefully regulated.

So when a DEA agent brags (as one just did) that the “arrests make Aspen … safer by taking significant amounts of drugs off the street and putting violent criminals behind bars” you know that he’s not telling the truth.

He’s just protecting his paycheck.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User