Prominent pundits distort the arguments of anti-prohibitionist reformers, as Michael Gerson did to Ron Paul this week
It's no wonder that reforming our drug laws is so daunting a task. Just look at the shabby treatment critics of current policy get in the opinion pages of The Washington Post. Columnist Michael Gerson argues that Ron Paul's support for ending the War on Drugs should consign him to "marginal status" in the 2012 GOP primary. Gerson is hardly alone in thinking so, but his column is worth noting insofar as it reflects the weakness of the arguments against decriminalization, and the outright misrepresentations drug warriors are permitted when making them.
The most egregious passage in his piece:
The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods -- say, in Washington, D.C. -- has encouraged widespread addiction. Children, freed from the care of their addicted parents, have the liberty to play in parks decorated by used needles. Addicts are liberated into lives of prostitution and homelessness. Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their 'personal habits.'
De facto decriminalization in Washington, D.C.? Let's peruse the Metropolitan Police Department's arrest report data -- the most recent week available on the website covers April 3 to April 9 of this year. In that seven day period, 196 people were arrested on narcotics charges. So far in 2011, folks arrested for breaking drug laws number 2,874. On Wednesday, police netted their largest drug seizure in more than a decade. A fifth of current D.C. jail inmates are incarcerated on drug charges.