Saturday, June 26, 2010

Should Al Capone have been sent to prison?

Today, everyone recognizes that alcohol prohibition was a mistaken way to control abuse of alcohol. The consequences of alcohol misuse remains a major problem throughout the United States. But outside a few communities in Alaska, almost no one proposes we bring it back.

Many opponents of drug prohibition are committed to the principle that the use of drugs is not wrongful. An extension of that principle is that the illegal distribution of drugs to willing sellers -- if the drugs are not contaminated and of safe potency, and the buyer is an adult -- is not wrong. Thus many opponents of drug prohibition feel that the prosecution of marijuana distributors especially, and the distribution of psychedelic drugs like MDMA, LSD, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, ecstasy and related drugs is wrong. And probably some opponents of drug prohibition believe that many of those who are imprisoned for selling heroin or cocaine have been imprisoned wrongfully.

But Al Capone was sent to prison for violating the Internal Revenue Code. But his greatest crimes were murder. In addition, he engaged in extensive bribery and other serious crimes against individuals, the public order and the society.

When we contemplate the extradition of Christopher "Dudus" Coke, the leader of Jamaica's deadly Shower Posse, we need to keep in mind that he exemplifies a long line of criminals who have enriched themselves in the drug trade but committed numerous "genuine" crimes along the way.

The U.S. Justice Department should focus on drug criminals who use violence and bribery since they are subverting the government and the public order. They should not focus on medical marijuana dispensers, legitimate or not, who can be investigated and prosecuted for any violations of state law.

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