The San Francisco Mess Proves Decriminalizing Drugs Doesn’t Work By Katya Sedgwick for The Federalist
To clean up the mess we’ve created, San Francisco needs to start paying attention to both law enforcement and rehabilitation. And the rest of the United States should pay attention.
President Donald Trump has expressed willingness to interfere in the West Coast’s seemingly intractable “homelessness” problem: “Donald Trump said he might ‘intercede’ to ‘clean up’ homelessness in San Francisco and Los Angeles, noting that world leaders ‘can’t be looking at that.’”
“That,” our noxious streets, certainly are a shame, only some of us have forgotten how to feel shame — or compassion. The “homelessness”crisis, which is really the opioid crisis dressed up in class warfare language, is manufactured. It was created, to a large extent, by the local judiciary, but also abetted by state laws and executive inaction.
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A casual look at the city might leave one with the impression that the war on drugs has failed, with the decrepit people wondering the streets of San Francisco in a various states of delirium with large patches of skin falling off of them can be taken for a proof. On that assumption, of the failure of the war on drugs, outgoing District Attorney George Gascon traveled to Portugal to take a look at how the Mediterranean nation successfully decriminalized all drugs. Gascon wants to replicate the Portuguese experience here.
It’s a cynical enterprise because, as locals can attest, hard drugs are pretty legal in our city. The questions we should be asking ourselves is how and why San Francisco has legalized deadly substances without first studying the experience of places like Portugal.
The Lawless Effects of Decriminalizing
In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, which dramatically reduced penalties for many criminal offenses. Co-written by Gascon, Prop 47 reduced small-quantity drug possession and use to a misdemeanor. Because San Francisco cops don’t bother booking people on such minor infractions, our junkies pose, poking veins, for the tourist iPhones. The San Francisco Police Department has been demoralized and lax about drug possession for decades, and why public deprivation became commonplace only in recent years is a bit of a mystery.
Where San Francisco went further than Portugal is in de facto legalization of dealing, or at least small-time dealing. When I feel like indulging in righteous outrage, I check out the Twitter feed of @SFPDTenderloin.