"Alcohol addiction was treated as a health problem, while drug addicts were arrested and locked up."
In 1976, Beth Comery and three other women became the first in their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island to graduate from police academy and join the local police force of 400 men. Beth was assigned to foot patrol, then to a steady car post. During her six years in law enforcement, Beth enjoyed police work but was troubled by the harms she saw created by drug prohibition. She witnessed the special undercover narcotics unit focus their efforts on the lower income areas of town and ignore the young affluent professionals and college students on the other side of town. "Drug prohibition never made sense to me," she says, "but this unequal application of the law really bugged me."
Beth says that drug arrests and incarceration ruin lives, but that's just one of the reasons she speaks out against prohibition. "Not only do interdiction and eradication not work," she insists, "they are a huge waste of resources which would be better directed towards rehab programs. Drug use and addiction is a public health problem not amenable to law enforcement solutions."
Beth left law enforcement in 1982. She holds a B.S. in Plant Science from the University of Rhode Island and a law degree from Roger Williams University. Since leaving the Rhode Island Police Force, Beth has held various positions, including vineyard manager, science teacher and attorney in private practice. Beth regularly contributes to the Providence Daily Dose where she writes about many topics, including the harms associated with prohibition.