Young Americans for Liberty held an informational session in Porter on Monday, April 20, in which former member of the Cincinnati Police Department Capt. Howard Rahtz gave a talk on the “War on Drugs.”
Rahtz represents an organization known as LEAP, or Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. LEAP is a nonprofit association dedicated to spreading the word about the failures regarding the “War on Drugs” and sharing their opinions on how to effectively solve the nation’s drug problem as well as addressing current public issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of other drugs.
Rahtz touched on many different topics, including the current heroin problem in the Cincinnati area.
“The heroin problem that we’re currently struggling with in this area, in Cincinnati and all across the Midwest is really Exhibit A of the failure of the ‘War on Drugs’,” Rahtz claimed as he opened his discussion. “Heroin has never been cheaper, never been more available, and never been more potent as a drug as it is currently.”
Rahtz continued on discussing his time teaching in a police academy last year when he realized how serious this problem was. During his six months there, five of his students experienced the death of a family member due to a heroin overdose.
He also spent a little time discussing the importance of treatment. According to Rahtz, increasing the number of addicts who are treated would be an extremely effective way to counter the drug problem.
“Federal government says now that about ten percent of American addicts get treatment,” Rahtz explained. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11.2 percent of American addicts actually receive treatment. “What happens to the illegal drug market when we take 40 percent of their customers out? What happens to that market? It begins to wither and go away, and it is no longer a viable business.”
Rahtz’s then shifted his focus to the legalization of marijuana. Though Rahtz himself is not interested in the recreational use of the drug, he believes in the positive that can come out of legalization. Suppressed violence and the economic advances to be made by legalizing marijuana are the keys for the former officer in the “War on Drugs.”
“My interest in this is to do something about the violence that is associated with the illegal drug market,” said Rahtz in regards to his position on legalization. “The day after marijuana is legalized in Ohio, which I believe will be relatively soon, don’t look for me in line to buy any. I don’t care about it. What I do care about is suppressing the violence. “
Rahtz also addressed the possible economic benefits. He did so by evaluating the revenue and incoming tax dollars made by the states that have already legalized the drug.
States such as Colorado have generated significant amounts of tax revenue for the state, and Rahtz believes Ohio could benefit in the same way.
Though Rahtz is for the legalization of marijuana, he also understands the possible setbacks that can be seen in the states that have already made the change.
“The potency of the marijuana that’s being produced and sold in Colorado has jumped dramatically, in some cases the THC is 36 percent,” said Rahtz regarding one of the two main problems the state is facing. “Higher potency can cause more and more problems.”
Rahtz believes that government regulation of marijuana, in the same way that other legal but harmful products like cigarettes and alcohol are regulated, would solve potential problems.
In Rahtz’s opinion, the development of edible marijuana products also poses a threat. The lag due to the digestive process can cause accidental overdosing from marijuana. There is also concern about the types of products that resemble children’s food or candy.
“Is that a problem?” Rahtz asked. “Yeah, I think it is. Should we look at packaging to prevent that kind of thing from happening as best we can? Yeah, I think we should. “
Rahtz values the importance of these regulation problems, but believes the current situation is far worse.
“We need to compare that to what the current system is, which is people getting shot and killed over this stuff. “
Legalization, though controversial and problematic in its own way, is how Rahtz believes the “War on Drugs” will be resolved. Speaking to students about this and sharing his opinions are vital in making this change happen for Ohio.
“We’re facing some tough times as a community, as a police community, and we’re gonna need folks with some intelligence, and some courage to work on the problems that we got.”