Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs

By Bernd Debusmann
December 3, 2008

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. His definition fits America’s war on drugs, a multi-billion dollar, four-decade exercise in futility.

The war on drugs has helped turn the United States into the country with the world’s largest prison population. (Noteworthy statistic: The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners). Keen demand for illicit drugs in America, the world’s biggest market, helped spawn global criminal enterprises that use extreme violence in the pursuit of equally extreme profits.

Over the years, the war on drugs has spurred repeated calls from social scientists and economists (including three Nobel prize winners) to seriously rethink a strategy that ignores the laws of supply and demand.

Under the headline “The Failed War on Drugs,” Washington’s respected, middle-of-the-road Brookings Institution said in a November report that drug use had not declined significantly over the years and that “falling retail drug prices reflect the failure of efforts to reduce the supply of drugs.”

Cocaine production in South America stands at historic highs, the report noted.

Like other think tanks, Brookings stopped short of recommending a radical departure from past policies with a proven track record of failure such as spending billions on crop eradication in Latin America and Asia while allotting paltry sums in comparison to rehabilitating addicts.

Enter Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization started in 2002 by police officers, judges, narcotics agents, prison wardens and others with first-hand experience of implementing policies that echo the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition, now widely regarded a dismal and costly failure of social engineering, came to an end 75 years ago this week.

As LEAP sees it, the best way to fight drug crime and violence is to legalize drugs and regulate them the same way alcohol and tobacco is now regulated. “We repealed prohibition once and we can do it again,” one of the group’s co-founders, Terry Nelson, told a Washington news conference on December 2. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”


“In the 20s and 30s, we had Al Capone and his gangsters getting rich and shooting up our streets,” said Nelson, who spent a 32-year government career fighting drugs in the U.S. and Latin America. “Today we have criminal gangs, cartels, Taliban and al-Qaeda profiting from the prohibition of drug sales and wreaking havoc all over the world. The correlation is obvious.”

The before-and-after sequence is so obvious that the U.S. Congress passed a resolution in September noting that the 1933 repeal of alcohol prohibition had replaced a “dramatic increase” in organized crime with “a transparent and accountable system of distribution and sales” that generated billions of dollars in tax revenues and boosted the sick economy.

That’s where advocates of drug legalization want to go now, and some of them hope that the similarities between today’s deep economic crisis and the Great Depression will result in a more receptive audience for their pro-legalization arguments among lawmakers and government leaders.

The budgetary impact of legalizing drugs would be enormous, according to a study prepared to coincide with the 75th anniversary of prohibition’s end by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron. He estimates that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy — $44.1 billion through savings on law enforcement and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenues from regulated sales.

Miron published a similar study in 2005 looking only at the budgetary effect of legalizing marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. That study was endorsed by more than 500 economists, including Nobel laureates Milton Friedman of Stanford University, George Akerlof of the University of California and Vernon Smith of George Mason University.

“We urge…the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition,” the economists said in an open letter to President George W. Bush, congress, governors and state legislators. “At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.”

The advocates of current policy, led by outgoing President George W. Bush’s drug czar, John Walters, never took up the challenge to discuss cost-benefit equations. His Office of National Drug Control Policy has focused, with the single-minded determination of a moral crusader, on doing the same thing over and over again.

But the United States is not alone in pursuing drug strategies that are based more on wishful thinking than on sober analysis. If you put faith in declarations by the United Nations, a “drug-free world” is an attainable goal and the war on drugs all but over.

In 1998, a special session of the U.N. General Assembly forecast that the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy would be eliminated or significantly reduced by the year 2008, a deadline that also applied to “significant and measurable results in the field of demand reduction.”

The clock is ticking towards midnight, December 31, 2008.

— You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com. For more columns by Bernd Debusmann, click here. —

Want to debate? Send in your written submissions to debate@thomsonreuters.com.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Daren wrote: “admitted to it). Most of those 30% have legitimate jobs and are living amongst non-smokers who probably don’t have much idea of this.”

I doubt your percentages. I remember in high school a stoner announcing in class that he bet most everyone in the class smoked just like him. He was wrong. I knew for a fact at least half did not, myself included. Total addict thinking. As for the people that do get high and actually have a job? ( It has been my experience that pot is a huge motivation killer, why work when you can get high.) They also show up to work stoned. Having worked with a few pot heads I never appreciate their disregard for safety, work ethic, or the fact that they stink of the stuff. People can not work drunk so why should they be allowed to work while high.

Posted by digitalpha | Report as abusive

“Even still, that’s no reason to make alcohol, or any other drug, illegal — criminalization doesn’t solve drug abuse problems — it just creates other problems. ”

I do not agree far more problems with be created if drugs are legalized. Far more people will try and use and become addicted to drugs if they are legal. Some of these drugs are addictive after the FIRST USE and are so by design. Remember the tobacco companies? They made cigarets MORE addictive. The same will happen with legal street drugs.
Addicts commit crimes to get money for drugs because they are usually unemployable because of their addiction. This will not change if drugs are legal. More crime, more pain and suffering. Only the profits will be legal.

Posted by digitalpha | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann,

This is the 75th anniversary of legalized booze? How ironic. 12 years ago this past Thanksgiving my brother died from his drug and alcohol addiction. I am against legalized street drugs and I think alcohol advertising should be as restricted as cigarette smoking adds are. I believe what is needed continual education about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, especially for young children. I never knew alcohol was an addictive substance and I am sure my brother didn’t either. I thought addiction was just a lack of will power. Wrong. My brother started with pot in Jr. High School and ended at the age of 40 a heroin user and an alcoholic.
Pot not addictive? Having known a couple of “pot heads” I can tell you they need their pot as much as any drunk or “druggie” needs their drug. One has even graduated to other drugs. Just like my brother did.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

Not a single one of you people saying, “It shouldn’t be legalized” have addressed the problem. Namely : America imprisons 25% of the worlds prisoners while we only have 5% of the worlds population.

The number of officers lives that would be saved far outweigh the minor increase in drug use that would happen with legalization (if any increase happened at all, which none of you can prove).

If you can’t see that alcohol, and tobacco are better off legal, then you’re simply denying the truth of reality. Come out of your wishful thinking world, and deal with it. The world, and America would be better off with legalized and regulated drugs.

If anything there should be an economic reason not to do drugs should be implemented. Something along the lines of a public database of drug purchasers, or drug testing, and then you simply don’t get good jobs if you’re a drug user. Supply and demand (even if sadly) rule this world, and REALITY.

Again, get a dose of the stuff, because it sure sounds like “reality” is the drug you people need to get some of.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

Look into the drug referendum from Switzerland. swiss citizen voted overwhelmingly for it with significant outcome to the present.

Posted by sam reyes | Report as abusive

Spare me from all the dire warnings about how people won’t be able to control their usage if drugs are legalized.
The same concept behind not crossing a roads dividing line is at play (i.e. …cross this and disaster happens).

I don’t want fellow citizens telling me what I can put into MY body anymore than I want them telling me what god (if any) to believe in.

Posted by Able T | Report as abusive

I think the government should start a war on cell phones. They’re much more dangerous than pot and impaired techno-druggies are swerving all over the road while they read, type and chat while driving! For the love of humanity, stop the madness!

Posted by Ronnie D | Report as abusive

The War on Drugs is another example of the incompetency of the federal and state governments. To correct this problem I call on the Governors to pardon all pot smokers. I call on the government to repeal laws outlawing drug use.

Damn, just think about all the money we can save releasing prisoners. Imagine the tax revenue from the legalized sale of drugs. Wow…seems kinda simple to me.

The arguments are the same as they were 50 years ago and the conclusions are the same. Take a walk around the streets of amsterdam and ask is this where you would like your children to grow. One point which should be raised in the debate would be the overall loss of national productivity lost in increased numbers of users. Weed drains motivation hugely!! There are very distinct differences in the effects of alcohol and cannabis to be considered when making any comparison to alcohol prohibition.

Many people suggest that it is not in the states business to decide what a person should and shouldn’t put in their body and that the decision should be left to the user but I disagree with this very strongly for the following reason: It will be the state and it’s citzens who end up having to pay for the increased healthcare costs with poorer services due to the increased burden on resources (well in the UK anyway, over there, you just have to pay higher insurance i guess), and while you are getting bamboozled instead of working, then it will be the state and it’s citzens that have to pay for your benefits. It will be the state and its citzens who pick up the tab for your detox /rehabillitation /drug counselling / Psychotherapy etc etc etc – Therefore, whichever state you reside in, it IS the business of the state what you put in your body, because ultimately, when you mess yourself up, everyone else is picking up the tab. Arnie swarznegger caused outrage when he said that people need to be told what to do, but the drug ravaged mind is easily swayed and I lose count of the number of smokers who are content to smoke their life, brains and health away rather than face the demon of giving up. Drug addicts need help, information on side effects, maybe counselling, maybe support , usually something to replace what purpose the drug was having for the user but most certainly not increased availablity of drugs!

Weed is the ultimate tool for procrastinating, but procrastinating isn’t healthy.

There is also the fact that this will encourage non-tobacco smokers to begin smoking tobacco too as they become addicted to the tobacco in joints.

To suggest that its wrong to do the same thing over and over when it isnt working is one way of looking at it – but another way is this: this is a battle we are fighting – just like the one against poverty, crime, cancer etc. Just because we havent won the battle yet doesnt mean we should give up the fight. You might find if we did that, then years down the line the fight would be a lot harder and maybe impossible to recover from due to social unrest (take away a smokers weed and he can become very vexxed!!) and the problem will be much bigger than before.

There is a reason that it’s illegal virtually all over the globe. It’s still technically illegal in amsterdam, just ‘tolerated’, but if you ever go there and see the streets full of wandering lost souls muttering out loud (it reminds me in someways of my visions of hell), you see the possibilities for social destruction.

For me it’s a no vote, but if you wanna go ahead, you’ll see, 20 years down the line, the US will be full of dimwits….:)

All my friends who smoke weed, mostly smoke weed all day. Most of them work, but they lose jobs frequently, and smoke during the day, driving jobs, labourers, any basic stuff you can do while puffing really – battered brains, basic jobs, brown teeth, black eyes…. The ones that don’t smoke have stunning careers & stunning girl to match…Makes me wish so much that I took the straight and narrow path

Posted by Gary | Report as abusive

I think that legalization would be a good idea also, but not at the grocery and drug store. I think that there should be a new category of store created that is run by the state that would be tied in with the medical establishment. A prescription would be needed to get your legalized drug just like the other drugs and one would have to visit a para physician that is trained in drug addiction and other facets of this so that they could help people if they wanted to quit their “prescription”. A good medical person could be a good advocate which could advise people on their drug use, so that they would not overdose or get aids. I think that the person would have to show that they need to have these drugs to get through the day before they get them, or they would be out selling them on a secondary market that would develop for people that couldn’t get a prescription. These type of drugs would need to be treated like illegal drugs are now. In other words, legal use for yourself would be ok, but helping or enabling someone else would not be. There needs to be controls since the goal would not be to try to make it more prevalent, but less so.

Posted by MarkG | Report as abusive

Don’t legalize marijuana; just DECRIMINALIZE it. You are NOT a criminal and you should NOT be put in jail for using marijuana. Decriminalization will clear out the jails and return people to their families where they can live productive lives.

Posted by My_Joint | Report as abusive

Legalize drugs? You silly Americans. ;-) It will never happen. I have a dozen lobbyists in Washington right now making sure they *never* take my profits away!!

Posted by Colombian Drug Lord | Report as abusive

To the gentleman who said that the tobacco companies would only make the marijuana cancerous, I have nothing against people using it but, I think his comment proves that heavy use impedes ones learning capabilities. Growers in other countries us a number of pesticides on the crops. Does he think they wash the weed before they package it up for sale? I don’t think so. You won’t be able to grow it at home, how would you be taxed? So, your options are to get caught and go to jail or smoke the marlboro weed.

Posted by michael | Report as abusive

Oh come on people! Do you honestly think the government and the corporate giants in this country are any different than the drug lords they are at war with? You can buy a senate seat for the right price these days. Open your eyes! Any way this issue goes you and I are going to be the losers. Ask yourself, either way, are my taxes going to go down? Is the price of food going to go down? Will I be any safer in my own home? No! every nook and cranny of this country is rife with crooks from top to bottom. The fact that gas is affordable all of a sudden shows there was and is no shortage. The whole world is run by criminals, that’s the only truth left on this earth.

Posted by michael | Report as abusive

gary said “Many people suggest that it is not in the states business to decide what a person should and shouldn’t put in their body and that the decision should be left to the user”

It has already been rule by the supremacy court that you can do what you want with your body.

Posted by wow man wow | Report as abusive

No way should marijuana, etc, be legalized. The unjust laws that make virtually non-toxic ‘pot’ illegal, (while keeping highly toxic, and proven-deadly drugs like nicotine and alcohol, fully legal,) are effective tools in educating the youth to the truth about US law enforcement! Law enforcement officers are NOT here to serve us, the masses, they are servants of the wealthy, tasked with maintaining the unjust systems in place. (BTW, don’t fall for that lie about, “LEAP”!)

Only through open rebellion will ‘we the people’ ever regain our freedoms… so, no… don’t take away the best recruiting tool we’ve ever had, in a foolishly misguided effort to save money!

“Liberty over country”

Posted by Sint Mathias | Report as abusive

Legalise them now! Years of the US drug enforcement squads banging their heads against brick walls and arming south American armies and locking people up without even so much as a dent on drug usage.

In the UK, the commonest cause of death from heroin use is caused by impure heroin cut with something nasty. All of the crime – the drug caretls and kids with the knives and guns – is only an attractive way to make money because drugs are illegal. Legalise them and clean them up! Give out free heroin to users – methadone doesn’t work, but heroin use can be managed down and fixed. And if you can’t sell it on the street, less people are likely to start taking it because it just won’t be around. Selling crack in corner shops might be a little problematic (and therefore also cocaine) – but we should at least start a dialouge on how it can be managed.

Of course it would be much better if it was state managed than if Marlboro got hold of it – but with the Republicans out of power, hopefully there will be less chance of dodgy contracts going to Dubya’s friends and benefactors.

Posted by Tomsk not from Omsk | Report as abusive

Gee, I don’t know. Decriminalizing or legalizing drugs may not be such a good idea. I mean, if it weren’t for illegal drugs, the Ronald Reagan Administration would never have been able to finance their murderous Contras to fight the nasty proxy war in Central America against the democratically elected Socialist government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.

What about the law enforcement and the prison industries? What about ICE and Homeland Security? What about the Defense Department? Foreign & miltary aid to Colombia? We’d have to slash those budgets because we wouldn’t need them at current levels. All those poor cops, prison guards and customs agents thrown out of work! OMG, we would have to hire more social services and medical employees to help facilitate the drug rehab and treatment centers. Think of the increased demand on the health-care sector!

Of course, I probably should have taken out a copyright on Dope Brand Marijuana. On the plus side California would finally be able to afford to balance it budgets. Marijuana is it’s biggest cash crop.

We lost the war on drugs before it even started. It is in human nature to do these things. Look at the “uncivalized” cultures through out the world. They take what we concider to be drugs for medical and spirtaul purposes. They do not suffer through the problems that we have with addiction. Drug use goes back through human history. If it caues an alterd state then we want to try it. I personally have tried numerous drugs in my life time, some I liked some I hated and will never do again. So long as we can find some substance tht will alter our mind set then we will do it. It’s simple human nature. If you legallize drugs then you take away the power that the gangs/cartels have over us. Once you do that then you will notice the crime rate drop, the murders will drop.
I look at drugs like cigarettes, everyone knows what cigarettes can do to you but we still have millions of people in this country that smoke. The USA makes billions a year of the taxes that it produces. The same will hold true if we leglize drugs. If you want to slowly kill yourself fine you know the consquences of your actions.
Lets save this country billions of dollars a year lower the crime rate. legalize it all.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Added points: Remember Paraquat? Drugs all over the world are sprayed with toxic chemicals and defoliants and harvested and sold into the US in spite of them. People will do what they want, and so illegal drug use will continue. Governments can not force them to stop.

They are talking about this very issue on KPBS San Diego, vis-a-vis the spiraling violence in Mexico, particularly Tijuana. I’d like to see all drug use decriminalized, and all drugs brought under government regulation and licensing. Turn the DEA into the drug arm of the FDA & ensure the safety of these consumables.

Some people are saying that legalizing or decriminalizing drugs will create a huge public health issue. I’ve got news for them illegal drug use IS a huge public health issue, just because they are illegal. Drug-related HIV exposure, drug-related sexual commerce, not to mention gun and gang violence attributable to drug-related activities.
Drug abuse is it’s own best lesson. You either get the lesson or you die. If government is interested in truly saving lives then drug prevention education and rehabilitation is where the dollars need to go. I read a report some years ago which stated then that interdiction dollars returned on investment is one to one, whereas drug prevention education and rehabilitation dollars returned investment seven-to-one.

Why are we still afraid to be honest with each other and esp. our children about drugs?

The drug problem in America was not caused by the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. It is caused by physicians who mindlessly prescribed drugs even for simple ailments
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Posted by Constantine | Report as abusive

Dear Editor,

Did you know that the cigarette makers are members of a union- do you know which one?
The candy makers, cigarette makers, and confectioners union!

Does that make any sense to you?
The same people who make our children’s biscuits are also making cigarettes…
How is that safe and sane?
I want to ask a question,

Can Marijuana producers join that union?
Marijuana is much safer than tobacco!

Darral Good
board member of the Washington state Hemp Education
Network (WHEN)

Tomsk wrote: “In the UK, the commonest cause of death from heroin use is caused by impure heroin cut with something nasty.”

-And the long term addicts die because their addiction has cut their life short. A life that is often unproductive, meaningless, and a burden to loved ones. Few hard core addicts (and that is what users become toward the end) work for a living.

These pro-drug users and supporters need to grow up. You are all naive in the extreme and many are callous. Some posts say let the addicts die, let addicts learn their lesson, to bad for them but if I get to smoke my pot or do MY drugs it is OK. If your own family, or friend, or loved one was addicted or had died from addiction your opinion would be different. If you think can never become an addict or alcoholic you are wrong.

Some solutions are more education about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. This has worked for the anti-smoking campaign. Smoking is no where near as popular as is was in say 1940. Programs like Prop. 36 in California are good too. Treatment for addicts not prison. Another solution to stop crime and violence related to drug traffic? How about all of you drug users STOP USING. The huge demand will stop and there will be no market to fight over. Try living a drug and alcohol free life with peace and serenity.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

Here is something for all of the users, smokers, and drinkers. Try living a drug and alcohol free life full of peace and serenity. Try living life on life’s terms and not run to a joint, drink, or a fix to feel better. Try it you might like it. It is easier to stop while you still can than after you cross that line in to addiction, because then you will not be able to stop on your own.

If you need help stopping seek it. There is no shame in asking for help.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

For those of you that think Pot is safe think again. My spouse, a nurse, just told me of a patient that is a long term pot smoker. A well known advocate for legalizing pot. The patient is now dying of LUNG CANCER. Never smoked cigarettes because those are bad for you. The patient is in total denial about the cause of their cancer even though it has been confirmed by doctors. Kid yourself all you want but smoking this stuff is harmful. If pot is legalized the long term studies done in ten or twenty years from now will prove it. But, it will be to late for you folks. People once thought cigarettes were safe now we know better.

Posted by Digialpha | Report as abusive

After reading more and more, pages after pages, it boils down to this, either you have a clue or you don’t and all the round-n-round discussion isn’t going to make the clueless any more clued into the facts:

1) People are people are people! Users of any mind-altering substance have an inalienable right of life to be treated as human beings, not as criminals, with equal rights of so called non-users.

2) Non-users are addicted to something too! Whether it be materialism, capitalism, religion or being a vegetarian, or high on a notion; what ever it is, just because its not a mind-altering substance does not make anyone anyone better than another person and that ever body should live like anybody else.

3) anybody wanting a clue, please read this: http://www.ascentofhumanity.com/text.php
The least of our worries is who can or cannot get high!

4) Love and care about and for each other. We are all in this together as a global family — whether we like it or not! Laws do not make Love and Peace — that comes from the heart; love and accept one another no matter vices or idiosyncrasies.

5) Merry Winter Solstice to All!

Posted by dmk | Report as abusive

War = death and destruction physical first mental after
Drugs = destuction and death mentle first physical after
Big involved Political Wars– Decisive Winners/ Loosers
Drug wars– now world wide Big and involved
Not enough individule disaplined education to fend the sea the beaches the airspace anywhere.
The Monster is here there everywhere. Social systems cannot enlist self destuction by codes of practice, or duty of care. Death to the death The innocent lamb has to endure the sacrifice.

It is most obvious that smoking anything will have harmful effects on the smoker, the debate here is what is worse? tobacco or marijuana? Its blatantly obvious that marijuana is the lesser of the two evils. Also, why do you insist that these things have to be an escape? Is it not possible to simply enjoy them and not treat them as an escape? Or do you not think that our feeble human minds have to ability to appreciate life in all forms, whether it be sober, drunk, high, or all three? And I’m sure that all people that don’t use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs live lives of peace and serenity. Maybe you should smoke a joint and relax a bit.

Posted by KG | Report as abusive

Its disheartening to read some of these comments discussing “pro drug” and “drug users” and what these people need to consider.

The war on drugs is morally and practically wrong. You do not have to use illicit drugs to conclude this.

Second, those recomending people not use drugs are missing the point. People do use and give drugs to their friends. The issue is: should we mark them as felons for life and put them in jails at 22k a year? Should they have to get a job without financial aid for college or employment to pay for their degree?

Should we put someone in jail that makes a choice that you don’t agree with? Should we have to pay for people to go to mandatory (go or to jail with you) treatment facilities? NO.

Add in the fact that the drug harms are largely a result of prohibition (profit-motivated violence coupled with low market barriers and no legal dispute resolution; impure adulterated substances) and this talk about what drug users should do becomes increasingly irrelevant. The fact is people do drugs. Here’s one non illicit drug user who says my paxil and coffee are addicting and psychotropic but I should not go to jail for it. Here’s one non-illicit drug user that says nobody should go to jail for it, regardless of what some here would prefer they do with their life.

Freedom means you decide for yourself. Until you harm a nonconsenting party (theft, violence, fraud, minors involved) the law should not fine you, jail you (at my expense), or ‘offer’ mandatory treatment which you go to or see jail. Add in the severe ostracizing effect of a felony conviction and record on employment and mobility, and its no wonder the war on drugs is an ineffective method to deal with something a small percentage of the population has a problem with.

Posted by johnm214 | Report as abusive

I’m an American living in Japan, and don’t see the problems with drugs here like I did in America. They definitely exist, and are a problem, but not in the way there are in the states and Mexico.

What the society here has done here that has worked was to deeply educate and condition people not to do drugs to begin with. The penalties for drug crimes are far worse here than in the US. Still, the prisons are not overflowing with drug offenders. Legalizing drugs was not the solution either.

It’s the education and beliefs people develop that prevent them from starting in the first place. In other words, the demand is never there to begin with. At least not in the same way it exists in the US. Alcoholism is quite common and accepted. But drug addiction is still taboo. Society has deemed it wrong, and has burned that idea into the minds of its children.

If the drug problem is really to be stopped, it’s not going to happen through legalization or more money being thrown at a losing drug war. It has to start with educating people, conditioning them, to truly believe that doing hard drugs, or any other type of drugs, is wrong or will cause them pain in the long run.

What could $100 billion in the hands of modern advertising companies and universities do, if it was used to educate people about the problems drug use creates? I think it would do a lot more good than it’s currently doing in this obscene war or dealers and addicts.


Posted by steve | Report as abusive

Addiction is usually not a problem unless the substance people are
addicted to is illegal. Lots of people are addicted to products containing caffeine, myself included. I could quit if I wanted to, but I don’t want to.

Addiction to coffee containing caffeine is affordable for most people.
Almost nobody has to rob, steal or commit acts of prostitution to
purchase coffee.

Criminalize coffee and the situation would soon change. Then coffee
would be untaxed, unregulated and controlled by criminals and very
expensive — just like marijuana is today. How would coffee consumers
feel if their beverage of choice was criminalized by our nanny-state

Probably the same way marijuana consumers feel today.

Kirk Muse

I’m delighted to see a rational article about how crazy the “war on drugs” is. In addition to its other dysfunctional features, it has been the most powerful tool used against low-income people of color since slavery. And the idea that we should only modify SOME of our prohibitions, e.g. decriminalizing small quantities of marijuana, makes as much sense as saying that in 1933 they should have decriminalized six packs of beer. (Don’t mention legalizing gin, that’s too controversial!) The basic prohibitionist approach is not amenable to tinkering at the margins. It is fatally flawed and must be overturned completely. The sooner the better.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Keeping drugs illegal is a failed policy. What it does is create drug cartels with no respect for human life, corrupt officials at the borders, increase the profits of the private prison providers and keep the DEA spending $20bil for nothing gained! Poppy production in Afghanistan is at records levels as they sell heroin to buy guns to fight our guys!
Read Forbes December 22 “The Next Disaster” which is the effect of violence exploding across our border all related to drug profits.
Support LEAP and let’s try to get the new administration to listen to the people.
Please write to http://change.gov/page/s/economy and let our new President understand your concerns.
It’s time to wake up America.

Posted by Gerard | Report as abusive

The drug addition in America is increasing violently along with the cocaine production. But there is a good news that the fight against this evil going on by this country and California Drug rehabilitation center is one of the leading organisation which are fighting against addiction.

Posted by Anirban | Report as abusive

“If you put faith in declarations by the United Nations, a “drug-free world” is an attainable goal and the war on drugs all but over.”

The last time anyone in the UN tried to raise a hand and say “this isnt working right” about prohibition (the WHO report on Cocaine), the United States threatened to pull all funding of the WHO if they released it, hence the report died.

Moral to that story? Dont expect the US to have as much genuine support as it may seem.

Posted by John | Report as abusive


Prohibition strains the Constitution and The War on Drugs has been a misguided failure. END IT.

http://pacificgatepost.blogspot.com/2009  /04/war-on-drugs-time-for-change.html

Time to regain control of our streets and our sanity.

iversary of prohibition’s end by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron. He estimates that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy — $44.1 billion through savings on law enforcement and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenu

Re: “Heroin and cocaine were legal and then banned because of the harm they were doing people…”

You need to watch that History Channel show again because you clearly missed what they actually said (or go do some independent research). Heroine and cocaine were not banned because of the harm they were doing people; they were demonized because of racial intolerance of Chinese immigrants and Southern blacks, respectively, and then legislated under the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 which circumvented the Constitution of the United States to appease political interests in those states concerned as well as the League of Nations.

Posted by darcmac | Report as abusive