For against the peril of terrorist threat and the incessant foreign chemical attacks of cocaine and heroin, we have the possibility of improving our homeland security efforts… making our port a leader… the possibility of using our technology and talents to deter and prevent attack… and the possibility of reforming our public safety institutions to save lives. Maryland is one of America’s wealthiest states; it's time to make us one of America's safest and most secure.There is a lot to talk about in the Governor's speech, but seeing as this blog has taken to analyzing the effects of the drug war in Baltimore, this statement stands out to me the most.
Though I am no expert on international drug trafficking, I am relatively sure that drugs enter the state of Maryland in a variety of ways. A good amount of drugs enter illegally through the port of Baltimore, but it is just one out of one million methods. This is just big, fluffy talk.
The Governor takes responsibility for drug addiction in Maryland:
Some of the perils we face – budget deficits, polluted waters, drug addiction and crumbling infrastructure – are of our own recent making.Recent making? Our own making? I applaud the Governor taking undue responsibility, but I think he is taking on too much. If Governor O'Malley wants to blame someone for the drug addiction (a natural outcome of the drug war, where effective drug treatment is a tertiary concern when compared to incarceration and high arrest stats) and poverty in Baltimore City, all he has to do is take a short ride down I-95.
The Governor had no problem as Mayor of Baltimore taking our Republican Governor to task for tying his hands in trying to improve the City. I think he needs to take the gloves off and take his concerns about these "incessant foreign chemical attacks of cocaine and heroin" to the Federal Government.
Many in Maryland agree that O'Malley has plans that reach beyond the Governor's Mansion. I cannot think of a more courageous act than to take a stand for his State and his City and demand that the Congress and the President take another look at our drug enforcement policies, as well as how to reduce poverty in our cities. Millions around the nation have seen the heartbreaking realities of the drug war in Baltimore play out on HBO's critically acclaimed drama "The Wire". Now is the time to seize on whatever popular sentiment the show has created.
The Governor now has the voice and the authority to speak for Marylanders who have had enough. Marylanders who are ready to try new ideas and new strategies to solve our addiction and violence problems. The Governor, the Mayor, and the citizens of Maryland need to join together, perhaps with other States whose urban areas have fallen under the ugly clouds of poverty and drug war insanity. They should demand reforms to the drug schedule, and they should demand immediate poverty relief for our urban poor.
Of course, the Governor doesn't have to wait for the Federal Government to act. He can work with the Mayor and County Executives to increase the availability of walk-in drug treatment centers throughout the state. He can advise his own police department to focus on high-quality, up the chain arrests. Finally, the governor can attempt to reduce the penalties for simple drug possession, perhaps even reducing the penalty to a citation.
What is interesting is that the Governor singled out two specific types of drugs. Suspiciously absent was marijuana. Could the Governor have plans down the road for decriminalization of small amounts of the plant? That would certainly be a positive step.
The best part about some of these reforms is that they are relatively cheap when compared to further escalation of the drug war. Drug treatment centers would provide quality jobs for Marylanders and show the Governor's commitment to changing strategy. Allowing police to focus on making quality arrests (rather than quality of life arrests) would improve morale, and most likely lead to a greater interest in wearing a badge in Baltimore.
I expect to see all these things happen when pigs fly.