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Sunday, December 11, 2016

If President Obama had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. So the president famously said.

And the president’s son would thereby find himself at significantly greater risk of running afoul of the so-called “War on Drugs” than, say, a son of George W. Bush. Depending on what state he lived in, a Trayvon Obama might be 57 times more likely than a Trayvon Bush to be imprisoned on drug charges.

This is not because he would be 57 times more likely to commit a drug crime. To the contrary, white American men commit the vast majority of the nation’s drug crimes, but African-American men do the vast majority of the nation’s drug time. It is a nakedly racial disparity that should leave the U.S. Department of “Justice” embarrassed to call itself by that name.

So it is difficult to be anything but disappointed at President Obama’s recent declaration at a summit in Colombia that “legalization is not the answer” to the international drug problem. The president argued that drug dealers might come to “dominate certain countries if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint.” This dominance, he said, “could be just as corrupting if not more corrupting than the status quo.”

One wonders if the president forgot to engage brain before operating mouth.

Dealers might “dominate certain countries”? Has Obama never heard of Mexico, that country on our southern border where drug dealers operate as a virtual shadow government in some areas? Is he unfamiliar with Colombia — his host nation — where, for years, the government battled a drug cartel brutal and brazen enough to attack the Supreme Court and assassinate the attorney general? That scenario Obama warns against actually came to pass a long time ago.

Similarly, it is a mystery how the manufacture and sale of a legal product could be “just as corrupting if not more corrupting than the status quo.” How could that be, given that there would no longer be a need for drug merchants to bribe judges, politicians and police for protection? What reason is there to believe a legal market in drugs would be any more prone to corruption than the legal markets in cigarettes and alcohol? Or, popcorn and chocolate?