To the editor,

I recently had the privilege of reading Ms. McCool’s eloquently crafted expose’ in the “letter to the editor” column of your newspaper. For those who may not have read the letter, Ms. McCool laid out a compelling argument for the legalization of “all drugs” and called for an immediate halt to the drug war. Citing racism, Puritanism, terrorism, violent crime, “scandalous reefer madness,” and Jesus (the Prince of Peace), I was so inspired that I immediately put down my peace pipe, shook out my braids, and did some research of my own.

Though available statistical research is limited, it does appear that “Puritanism and Racism” do contribute significantly to the current “quagmire.” As a Puritan myself, this revelation has shook me (wait … doesn’t that make me a Quaker?) from my funny little hat down to the buckles on my shoes. I must take responsibility for this quandary and intend to take immediate steps to remedy it as such.

Available prison “race” statistics report per capita incarceration figures as follows: Caucasians 1 in 99, Hispanics 1 in 36, Blacks 1 in 15. This is a staggering statistic and no doubt a conspiracy by white Republicans. In fact, there may be enough guilt here to involve the Vatican as well. So on behalf of Puritans, Catholics, and Republicans everywhere, I solemnly vow to redouble my efforts and aggressively minister to Blacks and Hispanics worldwide.

There are certainly components of Ms. McCool’s letter with which I might find myself in agreement. I have no objection to legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana. The original reasoning for criminalizing the drug was largely political. However, the insinuation that law enforcement is arresting marijuana possessing kids for “nothing more than partying too loud” is ludicrous. Marijuana remains against the law - thus the term law enforcement. Though, I would agree that this country is in dire need of science-based drug policies, I am unaware of any legitimate research that advocates decriminalizing even a significant cross-section of the current illicit drug trade.

The unfortunate truth is that decriminalizing and regulating any or all drugs does little to slow the illicit drug trade. Only two components are necessary to cultivate an illegal drug trade in a free society - a willing consumer base and access. At its most fundamental, the dealing of illicit drugs is a predatory practice and legalizing these drugs would do little to curb this trade. There is no finite number of drug formulas - they are continually developed and refined for both profit and their effect on the human mind. Regulation would do little to keep them off of the market. These predators force us to draw these distinctions (legal/illicit) and regulation would do little to guard public safety. If you were to legalize this country’s entire current inventory of illicit drugs, be assured that new, improved, and unregulated drugs would be on the streets before dark.

In a less than scientific study, I called a well respected member of local law enforcement and asked him the following two questions: 1) Roughly what percentage of the inmates in the Erath County Jail are currently being held on drug related charges? Answer: “well over 80 percent.” 2) How many of these 80 percent are also facing charges or have been convicted of secondary crimes (violent or property crimes)? Answer: “Nearly all of them, the two go hand in hand.” Statistics among populations of drug users for domestic violence, suicide, sexually transmitted disease, unplanned pregnancy, sexual assault, HIV, divorce, and crimes against children are equally as frightening.

Finally, I’m having a little trouble with the notion that legalizing drugs would somehow give us an upper hand in the war on terrorism. I would concur that a significant portion of terrorist funding is attained through the illegal drug trade, but the U.S. accounts for only a small fraction of this business. In fact, incidence of drug related deaths are exponentially higher than those from terrorism in this country.

The real cost of drugs on our society cannot be measured in dollars or prison populations. It is a quality of life issue. It has to be measured in terms of wasted lives and missed opportunities. It has to be measured in devastated communities and frightened neighbors. And it has to be measured in broken families and broken hearts. As soon as we understand this, maybe we will finally give law enforcement the resources they need to fight the war on drugs.

God Bless America,

Jon Koonsman

Stephenville, Texas