Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Excerpt: Drugs, Crime and Violence: From Trafficking to Treatment by Howard Rahtz

Howard Rahtz, author of the book Drugs, Crime and Violence: From Trafficking to Treatment, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.

Excerpt from Drugs, Crime and Violence: From Trafficking to Treatment (Hamilton Books)
by Howard Rahtz

The illegal drug market is the primary catalyst for both the violence on our city streets and the escalating drug mayhem on the Mexican border. Our response to date could only be described as the same old same old—more border agents, more police, more arrests and bigger jails with a measure of drug treatment and prevention thrown in. Robert Stutman, former head of the New York DEA office, nicely captured the insanity of our current War on Drugs —“Build a 12-foot wall around the U.S. The old joke is it takes dope peddlers 60 seconds to realize a 13-foot ladder gets over a 12-foot wall. Then what? Build a 13-foot wall?”

I am convinced that with some significant policy moves, we can destroy the financial underpinnings of the illegal drug market. Like any other business enterprise, the illegal drug market cannot exist without its customer base. We can take two policy steps siphoning off the majority of its customers.

The first is to legalize marijuana. Moving marijuana to a legal status takes 30-40% of the customers of the drug market and transitions them to the legitimate economy. The impact of such a move on the illegal drug market is beyond dispute. The medical marijuana market in California has already impacted drug traffickers as legally grown and distributed marijuana competes with the illegal market. Law enforcement and other observers note that the competition from even this limited legal market has eroded illegal trafficking more than 50 years of harsh laws and millions of arrests.

While the legalization of marijuana would strike a blow at the cartels, other policy changes can further marginalize these traffickers. These changes target drug addicts, the lifeblood of the illegal market. With some modification of drug laws and expansion of treatment resources, we can move substantially more addicts out of the drug market and into drug treatment. Without these heavy consumers, the illegal market would wither.

This book is now the rationale and prescription for a new approach to our drug problem. While the ongoing debate over drug policy is often loud and vociferous, there are very few Americans who are defending the status quo. Our choice now is to continue the body count or begin the change by leading a national discussion on the choices we face.

About the book:

Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” Since that time, the country has incarcerated thousands of citizens and spent billions of dollars, and yet the drug problem rolls on. Today, the illegal drug market funds international terrorism, the horrific drug war on the Mexican border, and the senseless violence plaguing our communities, large and small. It is past time for a new direction. This book provides a drug policy framework that will choke off the revenue supporting the illegal drug market. Howard Rahtz outlines a series of drug policy steps buttressed by a historical review of drug policy measures, a review of international efforts against trafficking, and a clear understanding of the dynamics of addiction and its role in facilitating the illegal drug market.

About the author:

After a twenty-year career in the addictions field, Howard Rahtz joined the Cincinnati Police Department in 1988. He retired from the department in 2007 as commander of the department’s Vice Unit. He currently teaches at police academies and colleges in the Cincinnati area. He is the author of two previous books on policing.


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