Debra J. Saunders

Legalize all drugs? Newsom said he wasn't calling for that, but one certainly could infer that Newsom was toying with the idea. After all, some drug-war critics argue that if all drugs were legal, then drug crime would not pay.

Delagnes believes that more than 80 percent of San Francisco drug arrests are for serious drugs, such as heroin and crack cocaine -- drugs that destroy whole communities. In San Francisco, marijuana arrests are rare -- and almost always in response to a citizen complaint.

"I don't believe that users belong in prison. But I do believe that police departments and cities do have to address the qualify-of-life issues," Delagnes noted. Law-abiding folk "have every right to go home and not have to walk over two whacked out homeless people" on the way to the front door. And in his professional opinion, marijuana is not related to the city's homeless problem.

Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper is a board member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). Former San Jose Police Chief Joe McNamara wrote a letter to the editor to The San Francisco Chronicle in support of Newsom's drug remark. McNamara called the drug war "a total failure." Yet even an iconoclastic politician like Arnold Schwarzenegger is positively timid when treading on drug-war turf.

Newsom criticized fellow Democrats for being afraid to call for drug-war reform, lest they seem weak on crime. He lamented "a failure of the imagination." More than that, there is a failure of political courage.

Debra J. Saunders

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