Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts recently argued that marijuana should not be legalized because its sales have contributed to the increase in homicides this year ("Baltimore Police commissioner not in favor of marijuana legalization," Jan. 30).
Among other things, the commissioner said that "if you call a guy who has weed, and you meet him in a dark alley ... those are ending up in very problematic ... situations."
What Mr. Batts fails to grasp, however, is something that I learned the hard way in my 34 years as a police officer: It is the very illegality of these drugs that creates violence around them.
Why do people buy drugs in dark alleys? Because the law forbids such transactions and forces the market underground. If we legalize marijuana, users will not need to put their personal safety in jeopardy when they can transact through legitimately run and regulated businesses.
Simultaneously, law enforcement can devote more resources to solving violent crimes. This keeps everyone, especially law enforcement, much safer.
Wars are violent, and the "war against drugs" is no different. Legalization might seem counterintuitive, but consider the results of the more than 40 years of fighting to eradicate drugs from society: more violence, more drug use and more potent drugs than ever.
Prohibition doesn't reduce use, it just makes that use more violent and dangerous. It's time to learn from our mistakes. The best way to reduce the violence associated with drugs is to legalize, regulate and control them.
Neill Franklin, White Hall
The writer is executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
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