LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Anti-drug ‘Project Synergy’ will backfire

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The Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest operation, “Project Synergy,” was one step further down the rabbit hole of failed drug prohibition (“Feds arrest dozens, seize $15M in nationwide synthetic-drug sweep,” Web, June 26).

In addition to chasing down marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs, the DEA announced last week that they have also been targeting synthetic “designer” drugs. As The Washington Times reported, the DEA’s largest-ever seizure of synthetic drugs yielded more than $15 million in cash and assets from the traffickers, along with a promise to “bring [them] to justice.”

It is astonishing that the DEA has chosen to target synthetic drugs with an iron fist instead of addressing the root cause: drug prohibition. They praise themselves for their international law enforcement efforts and investigations, but their actions will not curb drug use or stop traffickers. It will only waste millions of taxpayer dollars and force the black-market drug industry to be more creative.

The DEA’s strategy of creating a laundry list of prohibited substances is doomed to fail. As we saw in the 1980s, when the feds were targeting cocaine traffickers and making mass arrests, a new product became popular. This new product was crack cocaine, more dangerous than cocaine and highly addictive. Today, many synthetic drugs, especially synthetic cannabinoids, are more dangerous than the real substance, marijuana. Prohibition does not encourage people to stop using drugs altogether; it only encourages them to try more easily accessible substances, such as synthetic cannabinoids.

Although “Project Synergy” has just begun, I think I can predict how it will end. Its use of force and the heavy hand of justice will not bring an end to illegal drug use; rather, it will chase the illusory dream of “stopping drug use with law enforcement” further and further down the rabbit hole. History tells us that long lists and heavy policing don’t work. When will the DEA learn?



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