The war on drugs and a milestone critique

June 3, 2011

The war on drugs is a waste of time, money and lives. It cannot be won. The world’s drug warriors are out of ideas.

Fresh thinking is of the essence. Governments should consider legalizing drugs to take profits out of the criminal trade.

Filling prisons with drug users does nothing to curb the billion-dollar illicit business, one of the world’s richest. Drug use is a public health problem, not a crime. Arresting small-time dealers does little but create a market opportunity for other small fry. Destroy drug crops in one region and cultivation moves to another. Cut a supply route in one place and another one opens up.

By one group or another, each of the above points has been made about long-running drug policies that bring to mind Albert Einstein’s famous definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

But never before has such criticism come from an international panel of establishment figures with such high profiles as the Global Commission on Drug Policy which presented a devastating assessment of the drug war in New York on June 2. Its 19 members include former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, three former Latin American presidents (of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia), former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, Richard Branson, the flamboyant billionaire chairman of the Virgin group, and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Other commission members of impeccable mainstream respectability: George Shultz, U.S. Secretary of State during the Reagan administration; Louise Arbour, a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and now president of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank; former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss; Javier Solana, former European Union foreign affairs chief; Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian Nobel literature laureate, and Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes.

Whether their report will bring about change remains to be seen but it looks like a milestone on a long road toward reforms that some see as inevitable. “Today is the day when we start to end the war on drugs,” Branson said at the commission’s New York news conference.

The commission’s report does not mince words: “The global war on drugs has failed. When the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs came into being 50 years ago and when President (Richard) Nixon launched the U.S. government’s war on drugs 40 years ago, policymakers believed that harsh law enforcement action against those involved in drug production, distribution and use would lead to an ever-diminishing market in … drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis and the eventual achievement of a ‘drug-free world.'”

“In practice, the global scale of illegal drug markets – largely controlled by organized crime – has grown dramatically over this period.”


So has bloodshed and violence as government forces and drug trafficking organizations engage in what the report calls “a kind of arms race” – tougher crackdowns prompt criminal mafias to respond with greater force.

Exhibit A for this arms race is Mexico, where at least 36,000 people have died since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon declared war on his country’s drug cartels and unleashed the Mexican army to fight them. The death toll has mounted year by year, the army is not winning, and there is no end in sight.

“Poorly designed drug law enforcement practices can actually increase the level of violence, intimidation and corruption associated with drug markets,” notes the report. It echoes many of the points made in a 2009 by a commission that focused on Latin America but did not go as far as recommending that governments debate and seriously consider “models of legal regulation” of all drugs, not only marijuana.

The driving force in the Global Commission, a private initiative launched in Geneva in January, is former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who also led the 2009 Latin American group together with former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo and former president Cesar Gaviria of Colombia.

Latin America is the world’s largest exporter of cocaine and marijuana, largely to the insatiable U.S. market, and a major supplier of opium and heroin. Around the world, drug producing countries are vulnerable to what Moises Naim, a scholar at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former Venezuelan trade minister calls “the politicization of criminals and the criminalization of politicians.” It’s a process that has given birth to “narco states,” a label that has been used for countries as far apart as Venezuela and Afghanistan.

There is reason to be skeptical about the prospect of change within years rather than decades and the commission alluded to it – “a built-in vested interest” in continuing with policies that focus on enforcement, interdiction and eradication. It is an entrenched anti-drug establishment that provides employment for thousands of people, from narcotics agents and intelligence analysts to prison wardens.

One of the essential elements required to change that system is spelt out in the first of the commission report’s 11 recommendations: “Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won.” (You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters)


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Posted by The war on drugs and a milestone critique – Reuters Blogs (blog) | | Report as abusive

It’s sad. We are obviously losing the war, we were never at any point in a position to declare even partial ‘victory.’ I say it’s sad because this panel spent the amount of time and money they spent to arrive at a conclusion that should be obvious, given the last several decades’ of failure. But, nothing will change. Mark my words.

Excellent article, Bernd.

Posted by Adam_S | Report as abusive

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Hello Bernd,

thanks for your excellent article.
If life conditions will change – no one knows – the war
on drugs will go away – by legal and illigal drugs, but this is something like Utopia, but still excist in my mind.

May, perhaps this will help all, who are engaged in this item.
Best wishes,

Posted by irmi | Report as abusive

Finally! But given the US government’s obedience to corporate interests, I have to share Adam_S’s pessimism.

Posted by BowMtnSpirit | Report as abusive

Bernd, you always hit the nail on the head, and you’ve done it again. I somehow suspect the reality of the drug war will still fall mostly on deaf ears, despite the esteemed and diverse panel members’ report. I hope that a few more brave politicians in the US will join with those who already acknowledge the need for a shift in policy. Between the savings in law enforcement and imprisonment, and the potential boon from tax income, it is foolish to not – at the very least – entertain a serious public debate on the issue. Thanks for your piece, keep it up

Posted by Brandon_B | Report as abusive

Bernd, you always hit the nail on the head, and you’ve done it again. I somehow suspect the reality of the drug war will still fall mostly on deaf ears, despite the esteemed and diverse panel members’ report. I hope that a few more brave politicians in the US will join with those who already acknowledge the need for a shift in policy. Between the savings in law enforcement and imprisonment, and the potential boon from tax income, it is foolish to not – at the very least – entertain a serious public debate on the issue. Thanks for your piece

Posted by Brandon_B | Report as abusive

The business of the US is war. Just look at the history of America. The US has been in some kind of war since 1776. The Drug war is a complete success because we are spending billions in an endless war (the best kind of war). Each year more and more precious resources that could be spent on education, health and infrastructure go to the ever expanding never ending drug war. Our well paid congress (think of lobbyists stuffing their pockets) dare not question routing funds to this losing endeavor. The folks at home would never vote for someone who wanted to stop a war or let people use the drugs of their choice. Think of the loss to the pharmaceutical juggernaut (think how much they pay congress to keep the status quo). No, drugs will never be made legal until the masses of people in the US rise up and demand a more sane way of dealing with a medical issue. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Posted by newzpuppy | Report as abusive

Let’s not forget to highlight the fact that major US banks launder Billions of dollars for international illegal drug cartels. When they get caught, US attorneys offer them deferred prosecution deals with NO JAIL TIME and a minimal tax deductible fine. In just one recent case US bank Wells Fargo was caught laundering $378 Billion of Mexican drug gang cash. $378 Billion!!
Read-  /banks-financing-mexico-s-drug-cartels- admitted-in-wells-fargo-s-u-s-deal.html

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Let’s not forget to highlight the fact that major US banks launder Billions of dollars for international illegal drug cartels. When they get caught, US attorneys offer them deferred prosecution deals with NO JAIL TIME and a minimal tax deductible fine. In just one recent case US bank Wells Fargo was caught laundering $378 Billion of Mexican drug gang cash. $378 Billion!!
Read-  /banks-financing-mexico-s-drug-cartels- admitted-in-wells-fargo-s-u-s-deal.html

Posted by Garth_Pharon | Report as abusive

Great article that makes a whole lot of sense. Big pharmacology companies-spirit companies will all try to stop legalization as this will have a huge impact on their businesses.

Posted by Cassidy77 | Report as abusive

Marijuana accounts for half of all drug arrests in the U.S. and has absolutely nothing to do with hard drugs. We should obviously start there.

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Posted by The war on drugs and a milestone critique | PolicyABC's "POLICY THINK SHOP" | Report as abusive

It’s already been “Vox Populi” for so many years that: “The war on drugs is a waste of time, money and lives. It cannot be won”.
The question is how can you regulate and legalize the illegal drug market when it’s such a huge and profitable business, precisely due to the fact that is illegal, which directly or indirectly has permeated so many economies around the world, including of course, the so denominated “narco- economies”.
Unfortunately, even if Global Commission on Drug Policy comes out with this conclusion, it will take the total commitment of the largest consuming countries, the USA in particular, to actually see any real changes in illegal drugs policies that can truly have an effect in the illegal drug world market. Perhaps the small steps and at the same time, big leaps that have been taken at State level, like California and recently Arizona, in legalizing, regulating and taxing “medicinal pot” may contribute to find the best approach to deal with this issue, which at the end of the day will require a total global effort and commitment…

Posted by marusik | Report as abusive

One of the many awful effects of the war on drugs is the war on honesty. Government officials in many countries, including the USA, receive billions in hidden “profit sharing” from drug dealing cartels. That money is not just intended to purchase “special treatment” but also to keep drugs illegal and profitable.

Far too much of the world’s “upper class” is enriched by drug dealing or payoffs from drug dealers. That money corrupts everything. It is only there because pleasurable drugs are illegal. And we all pay.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

The truth at last, of course the war on drugs is a failure but I doubt that there is the political will in the US for the Government to admit it. It seems that US politics has always been the prisoner of the puritans. Huge numbers of Americans use drugs but a few can decide what is best for the majority. The prohibition of alcohol was very much the same sort of affair and all it really produced was organized crime. The Government debt could be solved via the taxation of pot alone but some would rather pretend that no one smokes pot and let the money go to the gangs.
Would all of the so called designer drugs have ever been invented if all drugs were not illegal, I doubt it. It is very difficult to prove but it is more than likely that the war on drugs has actually created more addicts than if it had been regulated by Government.

One final point more people die from the misuse of legal drugs than illegal drugs?

Posted by Sinbad1 | Report as abusive

Illegal drugs are only one part of the drug problem. What about alcohol and nicotine? Over eating is a social crime of choice. Why is overeating a crime? Because it has a social cost that the entire society must carry. In brief the over eater steals from me. And then we have legal pyschotropics that treat ersatz problems rooted in a lack of character and discipline based in poor upbringing. So let’s get real about the drug “problem.”

Posted by alconnelly | Report as abusive

Freedom for my people!

Posted by Dave1968 | Report as abusive

This has been about “profits” and destroying lives through policy. The positives are, that it created and continues to create jobs, in a country (U.S.) that is falling behind in eductaion and innovation. The “Drug War” is a hidden war on many fronts. The citizens have no idea the amount of money that’s spent in this area both directly, and indirectly (drug testing organizations, background checks, surveillance, e.t.c)Many states will see their roads crumble, schools fail, and citizens starve but policy makers will stand firm with the “drug war” above all else. It’s been an absolute catastrophe at every level but provides a ton of new jobs to conservative minded folks that want to create an “idealistic society” of conservative, non-risk-taking citizens who feel their way is the only way to live life. It’s always been an us-versus-them war and it touches every part of our lives now, from the number of police on our streets to the piss test your kids have to take at school now. Everyone’s a suspect all the time! One mistake and your toast and forever banished from society! This is no way to live a life in the land of the free! How can this sentence be true, becuase we are only free if we alter our minds with the drugs that they say are ok? It’s hogwash! The prisons are publicly traded companys that have friends at all levels in our governments. These folks can’t make money if people aren’t staying in their hotels though. It’s that simple! It’s so intertwined in American life now that it’s going to take an act of God to change things here. If there’s one man though, that can change this it is Obama! and the world leaders know this and also know the time is now to act. It’s time for people to make their own decisions on how they want to live their lives, right or wrong, as long as they present no harm to others. ciagrettes and alcohol are worse than many illegal drugs in terms of harm and it’s time we look towards our friends in Europe for answers here. It is a health issue, and nothing more. The U.S. has always pounded fear into our citizens to keep people on-edge, and to justify sending folks to jail forever. These decade long policies have created a well oiled machine that’s going to be tough to slow down, no matter wh the drivers are. It’s all about the money! Follow the money!!

Posted by schmetterling | Report as abusive

This conclusion was obvious to me long time ago. Why governments do not want to legalize these drugs? Another obvious answer to me, they are profiting from it one way or the other.
I have read at the end of a movie title SACRIFICE a kind of documentary given rather shocking statistics on drugs. One of them was that Afghanistan now supplies 60 pour cent of the heroin imported into America as opposed to supplying 7 percent before the invasion. If this statistic is correct, I am puzzle.

Posted by armonid | Report as abusive

Excellent article! I came to this conclusion years ago. So did William F. Buckeley–yeah.

Got me to thinking, however. It seems that most times the authorities declare “war” on something, that something tends to become a growth industry and major societal problem. “Drugs” have been around for a long time. Never really had drug laws much until the 20th century (Holmes was not denied his 7% solution, so to speak). Nor was there a huge public “drug problem,” upon which to wage “war.” One might be temped to conclude that perhaps the “war” brought on the “problem,” and not the other way around.

Strange dynamics.

Posted by skteze | Report as abusive

Funny that in the Brazilian press (and especially in the press of Rio de Janeiro) this report is not a first page news. I wonder why that is so, since my country has very deep problems with drug traffic, not very far from the situation Mexico.

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Posted by Drugs Practically « Recision | Report as abusive

Indeed Bernd your article is brilliant. And although most has been said already (although in response to schmetterling: Europe offers very few insights), I would like to add one aspect. Getting government to change policy can be challenging, certainly when profits outweighs reason. But do you think it’s possible to change public opinion in america when reasoning is not backed by reason?

Posted by ofswitzerland | Report as abusive

Illegal and addictive drugs are always a problem, and are always with us. A real drug-fighting strategy, one with prospects of containing social damage of course resembles that used against alcohol or tobacco. But such is not the point of the War on Drugs.
We do not really care what goes on in our poor or racial minority communities, and in the working class generally. Our politicians certainly do not even mention these forgotten groups except in promotion of methods of police suppression.
We are half a century removed from the New Deal and the Great Society and have no interest in going back to those ideals.
The Drug War offers domestically the opportunity to deploy vast numbers of militarized police, and abroad equal opportunity to deploy vast numbers of policing military. All for the purposes of the financial masters of humanity.
It is long past time for both the proponents and the opponents of present drug policy to come out for honesty and simply say that these policies are necessities for the survival of the American Empire: One supports them if one supports this class-ridden empire, one opposes them if one does not so support this successor state to the late Republic.

Posted by ChrisHerz | Report as abusive

Good article. With the near hysteria prevailing in our country right now, this may fall on deaf ears. Too bad because it would solve a lot of problems. But a lot of big industry is feeding off of the problems of our society so the money is against us here.

Posted by lhathaway | Report as abusive

Legalize all drugs? But what about all those poor lawyers, judges and prisons that will lose so much revenue? What excuse will we have then to jail so many of our young people of color? We might not need as large a police force either. How horrible would that be? No, I don’t see the U.S. changing it’s policies on illegal drugs unless a way to profit from it is found. Taxing pot would be hard to do effectively as it’s so easy to grow, anyone can do it. The information stated in this article has been know for years, yet “the war on drugs continues.” Prohibition is not because we think drugs are bad, we think they are wonderful. We love drugs in this country, but only drugs that profit the “right” people, and prosecute the rest.

Posted by Marla | Report as abusive

I agree with the report of this committee – this is so much like the attempt to stop alcohol abuse by prohibition. But the “blame America and American corporations first” mentality reflected in most of the comments sickens me. The US is not the only country plagued by drug abuse, and pharmacutical companies could easily convert to marketing the stuff legally if they were allowed. If you want to blame someone, blame the users. They are the one’s who ultimately provide a market, and nothing but excuses is offered for them. Of course, they will not change, and many are so far gone that they can’t change. And let’s not forget the entertainment industry along with earlier liberal icons like Timothy Leary that set subsequent generations of naive Americans on their paths of destruction by glamorizing or trivializing drug use or depicting it as some kind of enlightening experience. I have to think that many of you people are so fanatical in your politics that you see this report more as a lever to advance your point of view than as something that could stimulate a rational dialogue among the many different perspectives that exist in the general population of our country.

Posted by John-B | Report as abusive

The War on Drugs is a jobs program for law enforcement and corrections. Follow the the real money and you see fighting drug crime is big business.

Posted by libertadormg | Report as abusive

Alfred Brock said “The drug war has never been fought and is being conducted by cowards and incompetents”
You’ve missed to point Alfred. Prohibition is where the money is. Where do you think the Kennedy clan made their huge fortune?
Land of the free…and the highest incarceration rate in the world.
From an outside observer America is just one big ball of contradictions and hypocrisy.

Posted by RandomName2nd | Report as abusive

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Posted by WORLD HEADLINES 6/4/2011 | Report as abusive

Alfred Brock, you are a Prohibitionist and therefor you owe us answers to the following questions:

#1. Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?

#2. Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?

#3. Do you honestly expect the rest of us to look on passively while you waste another trillion dollars on this garbage policy?

#4. Why are your waging war on your own family, friends and neighbors?

#5. Why are you so complacent with the fact that our once ‘free & proud’ nation now has the largest percentage of it’s citizenry incarcerated than any other on the entire planet?

#6. Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing hospitals, schools and libraries?

#7. Why do you rejoice at wasting precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free, while additionally, many cases involving murder and rape do not even get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy?

#8. Why are you such a supporter of the ‘prison industrial complex’ to the extent of endangering our own children?

#9. Will you graciously applaud, when due to your own incipient and authoritarian approach, even your own child is caged and raped?

* It is estimated that there are over 300,000 instances of prison rape a year.
* 196,000 are estimated to happen to men in prison.
* 123,000 are estimated to happen to men in county jail.
* 40,000 are estimated to be committed against boys in either adult prisons or while in juvenile facilities or lock ups.
* 5000 women are estimated to be raped in prison.

#10. And will you also applaud when your own child, due to an unnecessary and counter productive felony conviction, can no longer find employment?

Posted by malcolmkyle | Report as abusive

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Posted by WORLD HEADLINES 6/5/2011 | Report as abusive

Well said, malcolmkyle. I’ve yet to see an honest, researched, yet poignant reply to exactly what the problem is. I applaud you!

Posted by RhodaOzen | Report as abusive

Any form of federal drug prohibition is flagrantly unconstitutional and a gross violation of individual rights. It would seem that simply because drug prohibition has been federal law for 97 years now that it has become controversial to even vaguely advocate repeal of ALL federal drug laws, which has NEVER been an enumerated power of the federal government. Addicts of all kinds have always plagued society, but the problem has been exacerbated tenfold by prohibition and criminalization. What about the millions of responsible drug users who used to be able to go to their local pharmacy to purchase laudanum to keep on hand for mild to severe pain who never became addicted and could self-medicate as my great grandparents used to do. What about the hashish brownies that Queen Victoria used for her menstrual cramps. It is NOT NOR HAS EVER BEEN the right of government in this country in “nannystate” fashion for the “paternalistic do-gooders” to tell the little kiddies what they can or cannot take. In fact, the onus for passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act was not the millions of mostly responsible and largely middle class drug users, but rather the Chinese who congregated in the Opium Dens–in the Philippines, China, and the U.S. It was largely racism that motivated the draconian drug laws in the first place. Almost overnight in this area, gone was personal responsibility in having the freedom to purchase what were known to be effective drugs for numerous ailments–ONLY to save face for the U.S. in calling the first “International Opium Convention” in Shanghai in 1909, as the conference was called by the U.S., but it had the world’s largest drug using population, which was a problem. But ironically, the U.S. DID NOT have a DRUG ABUSE problem, and although there were some addicts among us to be sure, many lived meaningful and productive lives and their families remained intact. In fact, many doctors in correctly assessing and treating alcoholics transistioned them to opiates, which was far less detrimental on society, as such personality types were going to abuse SOMETHING, so they mitigated the situation, although this idea is now blasphemy. Drug addicts had better access to medical care and could be more effectively treated when the drugs were legal and cheap, and the superstitious “evil” and “depraved criminal” label was non-existent. By 1936, twenty-two years after passage of the Harrison Act, an outstanding police authority had reached the same conclusion. He was August Vollmer, former chief of police in Berkeley, California, former professor of police administration at the Universities of Chicago and California, author of a leading textbook on police science, and past president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Chief Vollmer wrote:

” Stringent laws, spectacular police drives, vigorous prosecution, and imprisonment of addicts and peddlers have proved not only useless and enormously expensive as means of correcting this evil, but they are also unjustifiably and unbelievably cruel in their application to the unfortunate drug victims. Repression has driven this vice underground and produced the narcotic smugglers and supply agents, who have grown wealthy out of this evil practice and who, by devious methods, have stimulated traffic in drugs. Finally, and not the least of the evils associated with repression, the helpless addict has been forced to resort to crime in order to get money for the drug which is absolutely indispensable for his comfortable existence….

Drug addiction, like prostitution and like liquor, is not a police problem; it never has been and never can be solved by policemen. It is first and last a medical problem, and if there is a solution it will be discovered not by policemen, but by scientific and competently trained medical experts whose sole objective will be the reduction and possible eradication of this devastating appetite. There should be intelligent treatment of the incurables in outpatient clinics, hospitalization of those not too far gone to respond to therapeutic measures, and application of the prophylactic principles which medicine applies to all scourges of mankind.”

Chief Vollmer’s assessment is the CORRECT and CONSTITUTIONAL one. Drugs and drug addiction ARE NOT and have NEVER BEEN a police problem–not in 1914, 1936, today, or FOR ALL TIME! However, the Supreme Court heard many cases after passage of the Harrison Act, and in most of those cases, only the taxing power of the act could be upheld, which is why it was passed as such, because the authors of the bill KNEW they COULD NOT outright prohibit the sale of drugs from a constitutional standpoint, so they did it in the form of a tax, which, when one reads the fine print, is SURELY a prohibition. Supreme Court Justice James McReynolds said it best in 1928 in his dissent in Casey v. United States:

“I accept the views stated by MR. JUSTICE BUTLER. With clarity he points out the unreasonableness of the construction of the statute advocated by counsel for the United States. But I go further.

The provision under which we are told that one may be presumed unlawfully to have purchased an unstamped package of morphine within the district where he is found in possession of it conflicts with those constitutional guaranties heretofore supposed to protect all against arbitrary conviction and punishment. The suggested rational connection between the fact proved and the ultimate fact presumed is imaginary.

Once the thumbscrew and the following confession made conviction easy; but that method was crude and, I suppose, now would be declared unlawful upon some ground. Hereafter, presumption is to lighten the burden of the prosecutor. The victim will be spared the trouble of confessing and will go to his cell without mutilation or disquieting outcry.

Probably most of those accelerated to prison under the present Act will be unfortunate addicts and their abettors; but even they live under the Constitution. And where will the next step take us?

When the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Law became effective probably some drug containing opium could have been found in a million or more households within the Union. Paregoric, laudanum, Dover’s Powders, were common remedies. Did every man and woman who possessed one of these instantly become a presumptive criminal and liable to imprisonment unless he could explain to the satisfaction of a jury when and where he got the stuff? Certainly, I cannot assent to any such notion, and it seems worthwhile to say so.”

An editorial in the Illinois Medical Journal for June 1926, after eleven years of federal law enforcement, concluded:

“The Harrison Narcotic law should never have been placed upon the Statute books of the United States. It is to be granted that the well-meaning blunderers who put it there had in mind only the idea of making it impossible for addicts to secure their supply of “dope” and to prevent unprincipled people from making fortunes, and fattening upon the infirmities of their fellow men.

As is the case with most prohibitive laws, however, this one fell far short of the mark. So far, in fact, that instead of stopping the traffic, those who deal in dope now make double their money from the poor unfortunates upon whom they prey. . . .

The doctor who needs narcotics used in reason to cure and allay human misery finds himself in a pit of trouble. The lawbreaker is in clover. . . . It is costing the United States more to support bootleggers of both narcotics and alcoholics than there is good coming from the farcical laws now on the statute books.

As to the Harrison Narcotic law, it is as with prohibition [of alcohol] legislation. People are beginning to ask, ‘Who did that, anyway?\'”

The Global Commission on Drug Policy is RIGHT ON when it comes to their correct assessment of the drug war from a Constitutional and human rights standpoint. It is TRULY tragic that the UNITED STATES much be chided by an international body for FLAGRANTLY and WANTONLY disregarding its own creed with regard to individual rights and human freedom! END THE DRUG WAR NOW AND IMMEDIATELY RELEASE ALL NON-VIOLENT DRUG OFFENDERS!

Posted by VaLibertarian | Report as abusive

It is just a matter of time until Hispanic gangs within the US take control all the way down to the street level in our metro areas. Along the way we will have turf battles which the most violent will win taking many innocent bystanders with them Let’s not forget the murder of our police and judges who convict them. Just look at how the affluent in Mexico are now moving to Mexico City to avoid the violence and how the president is going to disband municipal police in Mexican states because they are full of criminals that work for the cartels and murder civilians.

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Posted by WORLD HEADLINES 6/6/2011 | Report as abusive

I’m really tired of seeing politicians find the nerve to support drug policy reform once they are out of office. Where was their support while they were in office and in a position to do something about the problem?

They’re all political cowards, only voicing their opinion once their opinion no longer matters.

Posted by tstilber | Report as abusive

[…] An article from The Montreal Gazette from just a few days ago quoting the findings of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Global war on drugs a dismal failure On Thursday, a panel of eminent persons released a […]

Posted by Decorated US Marine and Iraq War veteran shot 6o times by Pima County Regional SWAT – Page 3 | Report as abusive

A few years ago, narcotics were only prescribed after surgery, severe trauma, or for terminal cancer because of a concern over the possibility of addiction. Recently, they have been cautiously prescribed to treat moderate to severe non-malignant chronic pain in conjunction with other modalities such as physical therapy, cortisone and trigger point injections, muscle stretching, meditation, or aqua therapy. Unfortunately, the upsurge of narcotics as medical treatment also increased associated cases of abuse and addiction.

Posted by Watson_bayern | Report as abusive


I hope you never get rear-ended at a stop sign and suffer chronic pain for the rest of your life that at times makes you wish for death while doctors treat you as a criminal for asking for relief.

I also despise scum like Corey Haim who before he died helped a massive prescription fraud ring which directly leads to the kinds of ignorance you display.

If someone was being tortured, any person would want to help them stop the torture. Chronic pain is like being tortured by invisible torturers. I call mine angry leprechauns because it feels like they’ve been punching and kicking me in the back all night after a few hours of fitful sleep. Constant pain and chronic sleep deprivation are whittling me down. The 19 year old who plowed into me 6 years ago basically killed me. I have a neck injury which dictates that I can only lay flat on my back. I have scoliosis which leads to intense back pain from laying flat on my back. My access to pain medication is fitful at best, but I know that many people in the world have zero access. Years ago a read an account of a woman in Africa with breast cancer so advanced the tumors were coming out of her breast. She was in agony. She was dying. Her only medicine was Tramadol, which is about as effective as taking ten aspirin. Because of our societal ignorance about addiction (as well as our actually ignorant worthless addicts) many innocent people are suffering so badly you would cry if you could feel their agony for five minutes.

The statistics on Oxycodone are thus: Of those who start taking the medication because of legitimate pain, only 2% become addicted. Approximately 48% experience withdrawal, which many (including journalists) completely confuse with addiction. Withdrawal can be avoided by simply slowly and gradually lowering the amount of medication.

Finally, full disclosure. Before I was rear-ended I too believed that people who complained of whip-lash were just shysters out to take advantage. I also bought into the addiction nonsense. At first I took Tramadol (or Ultram) for eight months and after a short lived pain reprieve due to a spinal injection I suddenly stopped taking it. It felt like I had the flu and I couldn’t understand why. When the same thing happened 8 months later I was convinced I’d become addicted to tramadol, which is about as possible as becoming addicted to tylenol. As the years went by and nothing worked with great reservation I went on Oxycodone and I was able to sleep up to 6 hours and lift more than five pounds for the first time. Recently I’ve changed my sleeping position and have gone off oxycodone again and so far I have zero withdrawal and zero desire to go back on. By contrast when I try to quit cigarettes I have dreams of dancing cigarettes in my head telling me to go ahead and have just one.

So I understand addiction. I understand pain. What I’m still trying to understand is the depths of human ignorance and cruelty.

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