John Stossel

"Organized crime existed well before Prohibition," Chabot replied.

That's true. But much less of it. The murder rate rose when alcohol was banned. It dropped when Prohibition was repealed.

"If we were to do away with our drug laws ... we know drug usage numbers will skyrocket," Chabot said.

But we don't know that.

It's logical to assume that, were it not for drug prohibition, drug abuse would be rampant. But 10 years ago, Portugal decriminalized every drug -- crack, heroin, you name it. The number of abusers actually declined.

Joao Goulao, Portugal's top drug official, said that before decriminalization "we had a huge problem with drug use ... around 100,000 people hooked on heroin."

Then they started treating drug use more like a parking ticket. People caught with drugs get a slap on the wrist, sometimes a fine.

Independent studies have found the number of people in Portugal who say they regularly do drugs stayed about the same. And the best news, said Goulao: "Addiction itself decreased a lot."

At first, police were skeptical of the law, but Joao Figueira, chief inspector of Lisbon's drug unit, told me that decriminalization changed lots of minds.

"The level of conflicts on the street are reduced. Drug-related robberies are reduced. And now the police are not the enemies of the consumers!"

And teen drug use is down.

All good news. But in American and in most of the world, the drug war continues, thousands are murdered and in ghettos the police are enemies of the people.

Governments should wake up and learn something from the Portuguese.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate