Police Beat

March 17

(2009-125945) 10:17 a.m.: "At about 1000 hours the victim heard loud banging on the front door. She ran to a back bedroom and noticed feet inside her apartment."

(2009-125979) 10:38 a.m.: "Unknown suspect(s) tampered with the lock of the deadbolt to the front door. … Entry was not gained and the victim was inside and did not hear anything."

(2009-126562) 5:15 p.m.: Dude kicked in a front door, battered two women, and fled. The victims don't want to prosecute, even though they know the bastard's identity.

(2009-126812) 8:04 p.m.: Dude kicked in a door and removed a flat-screen TV.

(2009-127003) 10:10 p.m.: "Caller saw two black males exiting the Rent-A-Center, getting into a white U-Haul van. A cordon was established. Area searched with negative results. Damage to the property but nothing was taken."

March 18

(2009-127342) 2:30 a.m.: Dude kicked in a front door "and was shortly thereafter confronted by the victim" — either a 78-year-old woman or an 82-year-old man. He fled.

(2009-127361) 2:56 a.m.: A young man was walking downtown when two guys jumped him and took his money.

(2009-127719) 9:26 a.m.: Suspect(s) broke into a North Magnolia Avenue restaurant, tossed the food from the cooler onto the ground (rude), and made off with the wine and beer.

(2009-128416) 4:34 p.m.: The cops busted a man with crack.

And now, allow me to climb back atop my soapbox. Last week — the day after the Obama administration pledged money, technology and manpower to secure the border and help Mexico battle its drug cartels — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this: "I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility. Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade," she said.

"Insatiable." America's demand for drugs cannot be satiated. Forty years of a war on drugs hasn't stopped people from consuming drugs, and no increase in anti-narcotics funding or DEA agents is going to change the human desire to get twisted now and again. So long as there's a demand for something, there will be a supplier. Prohibition can't stop demand, so prohibition will fail.

So yeah, there's American culpability in the unrest that could topple the Mexican government. But it doesn't lie with the pot-smoking frat boy, or even the crack-addled prostitute. It's all about policy — and if Clinton and the rest of the Obama administration followed their own logic to its zenith, that reality would be staring them in the face.

You can't stop the demand, but you can regulate supply (see alcohol). You can limit to whom it is sold, and in what quality and quantity. You can more effectively deal with addictions and obliterate the black market both here and in Mexico. But you can only do that if the products are legal.

The truth is that black markets cause many of the problems we associate with drugs. Its purveyors are, by definition, criminals who operate in a system without rules, which leads to chaos (see Wall Street). The prohibition of liquor gave us Al Capone, after all.

Taking drugs off the black market means they'll be regulated and taxed, which would come in handy right about now, considering how this state and others are closing schools and laying off teachers to close giant deficits. The state would license dealers, who would have to conform to government regulations lest their licenses (and livelihoods) be revoked. Sales to minors would be prohibited, as they are with alcohol and cigarettes now. We could focus our money and energy on treating addicts, rather than busting two-bit stoners with a hookah in their living rooms. The black market would fold like a Murphy bed.

Is legalization a panacea? Of course not. There would still be overdoses and traffic accidents and enough drug-related horror stories to fill your evening newscasts. There would, especially with marijuana, be people who simply grew their own, thus depriving the state of any additional tax revenue. Some people would get hooked that otherwise wouldn't. And the notion of readily available, store-bought heroin is more than a little disconcerting.

So maybe there shouldn't be a blanket legalization of all drugs. I don't presume to know which drugs should be decriminalized and which shouldn't. But when it's abundantly clear that the war on drugs is a failure of epic proportions, maybe it's time to at least start rethinking our approach, before we dump billions more dollars into a war we're losing. You know: "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." Our demand is, as Clinton described it, "insatiable."

Unfortunately, that's not the direction we're headed. At a recent online town hall, President Obama simply laughed off a question about legalizing pot, as if the subject weren't even worthy of discussion.

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