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 “We repealed prohibition once and we can do it again,” one of the group’s co-founders, Terry Nelson, told a Washington news conference on December 2.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.”

FROM AL CAPONE TO DRUG CARTELS

“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.

338 comments

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i belive that the united states could benefit very nicely if marijuana was legalized. If they put a little tax on every ounce or pound we could pull this country out of debt and not have to pay for stricter law enforecement because tehy wouldnt have to be. Also if marijuana would be legal all the crooked cops out there would have nothing to do and maybe become a straight regular cop again. I know from first hand experience that there are crooked cops out there We have two in my hometown and they have nothing better to do then to harass all the kids who just want to smoke a little herb and have fun. Remember LEGALIZE DONT CRITICIZE!!!!!!!!!

legalize. ha duh
name 2 things thats wrong with it……you can’t!

Posted by greg | Report as abusive

it is a nice idea, but regardless of the fiscal results, this is not likely to happen. for a long time the message has been that drugs are bad even though the 2 most deadly ones are legal.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive

First finance system was stolen, next education was corrupted, then livelyhoods were destroyed, leading to the largest population of enslaved dumbed down persons in one country. Now we’re told to legally take drugs as an antidote to our drug problem which leads to ensalved dumbed down out of work druggies with no idea what is going on around them. Its a truly sad state of affairs in the best country in the world …. still is but only on Paper no longer in reality……

Posted by Alicat | Report as abusive

Dave, it isn’t going to happen unless citizens like you and I contact our elected officials to tell them that it’s “safe” and that it is what the people really want. You can do so easily at http://www.WeCanDoItAgain.com

Thanks for pointing out the connection between the Taliban’s resurggence and their heroin profits. The War on Terror and the War on Drugs are at odds in Afghanistan and fighting either one will pretty much have to cost us the other.

We need to face the fact that we can’t win the War on Drugs and end prohibition now! We did it once before, with alcohol, we can do it again!!

http://www.WeCanDoItAgain.com

Alicat, like so many, believe poor character is a by product of drug use. If that was the case, those brave and intelligent men that formed this country would have just been “dumbed down out of work druggies with no idea what is going on around them.” Thank God that was not the case for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who smoked Pot regularly. They even presented each other with gifts of their latest and greatest. History is a wonderful thing to know. It prevents one from repeating the mistakes of the past. I wonder where this country went wrong. We should have learned from alcohol prohibition.

Posted by B. Free | Report as abusive

Not likely to happen? That’s what they said about the abolition of slavery too. It is important to look ahead and learn from our mistakes. We need to see the big picture. With the legalization of drugs, the black market would be eliminated. As an economist, I know that people respond to incentives. And with a profit motive gone, drug dealers will have no incentive to continue in this “business.”

The key words are control, tax, and regulate. Can you imagine the billions of dollars our economy would take in if drugs were not part of an underground market? And also the billions of dollars it would save by not wasting tax dollars on enforcing this ineffective policy and throwing people in jail?

Change is not impossible. Change is inevitable.

Posted by vk | Report as abusive

The punishment for the crime should not be more detrimental to society than the crime itself. Decriminalize cannabis now!

Alicat, I’m not sure what your point is, but if you’re attacking the article, please refer to the number of people already hooked on legal drugs like painkillers and sleeping pills. Our very doctors and government push these drugs while keeping a God made plant illegal, thus incarcerating countless normal, tax paying citizens.

Stop supporting the prison industry! Decriminalize cannabis!

Posted by John | Report as abusive

How to make easy money by jailing people for smoking weed. This country is going mad. We have bigger problems than a pot smoker. This country his going broke and has been hijack by criminal banksters. WAKE UP before it’s too late!

Posted by Cyberguy | Report as abusive

Yes, and some of these “dumbed down” folks think there is a safe way to separate people from their desires. This person may need some sort of smart drug, but seriously folks, the drug war and liberty are mutually exclusive and I say end the madness, now.
Drug prohibition has become an excuse to deprive individuals of human rights and make them second class citizens, but most still know what is going on around them, unlike the poor lost soul who made the previous comment.
Whether or not “it is likely to happen,” struggling against a policy that causes so much human suffering through broken families due to over incarceration is the right thing to do.

It is refreshing to learn that open dialog about the “War on Drugs” policy may actually become a reality. The social damage being done to USA is enormous. Good grief! In the business world when a plan does not meet its goals within a reasonable time (5 years) it is not continually funded. So why has this program spanned for decades without delivering results? Prohibition does not work and never has. LEAP’s position has merit – legalize, regulate and educate. It would be good for not just America but the world.

Posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac | Report as abusive

When I first heard about LEAP I was closed-minded about their concept. Then I read more about probition and our worlds drug problems and changed my mind. It makes sense and cents to figure out how this would work. As long as funds for educators becomes available teaching the young about the proper way to avoid addictions it would work. Good luck!!

Posted by Anne | Report as abusive

The financial crisis has created a great opportunity to end drug prohibition. The amount of money that could be saved by ending the war on drugs and made by taxing revenue on newly legalized substances could pay for all sorts of social services and safety nets that the US is either underfunding or lacks all together. It’s time to stop treating a medical issue as a criminal issue, it’s just another burden the US cannot afford. Check out http://www.WeCanDoItAgain.com for more information on this.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Just look at two things. All the tax revenue we could collect from the LEGAL sale of drugs [not just marijuana].

Two look at all the crime the ILLEGAL sale of drugs produces.

The choice is clearly simple. Too bad we got to many hypocrits in this country who are “legally” drugged up, but can’t draw a correlation between drugs and DRUGS…it’s all the same people. If you take anti-depressants you are drugged everyday. Man… this is almost criminal. Only in america am I right? home of the “legally” drugged up hypocrits. The only thing this war on drugs sustains is the judicial systems intake of profit form court cases, and that normally law abiding citizens become criminals. I vote we just return to the old west ways. Hell everyone was on drugs then, just like today. Not much has changed. Just the tightness of people sphincters.

Posted by james | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann ignores the reality I live in. We finally installed a no drug policy 10 years ago after 1/2 of our work force was on drugs. There were accidents, constant thefts, low productivity, high absenteeism, etc. Additionally, many of our drug addicted employees were locked into emotional childhood. Even if it were legal, we would hire no drug users. To do otherwise is insanity in a manufacturing plant. We offered free rehab to any employee. Only two people took us up on it, none succeeded. To compare lower addictive alcohol behavior, earning capacity, etc. to higher addictive drugs doesn’t balance. Alcohol has the potential to destroy lives, but nothing like addictive drugs.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Drug prohibition has not stopped drug use.

We spend to the tune of 20 billion a year in pork for the war on drugs. Ad Agencies get to sell their demonstrably failed propaganda (D*A*R*E) at ridiculous tax payer rates. What’s left goes to counter the will of voters in the form of propaganda against ballot initiatives, international conferences, subsidies to “faith based” organizations, etc etc.

The people addicted to War on Drugs pork money, are now the only reason this stupidity continues.

That’s why its NOT insanity, its insanity only if the objective was to end the use of drugs. That has never been achievable. On the other hand, perpetually safe jobs for the bureaucrats (and LEO ) is the trick.

I say give them what they want, transform every agency receiving funds from the DEA to Homeland Security. Legalize all drugs and keep the drug warriors as “terror warriors”.

Everyone will feel better then.

Posted by Aleph | Report as abusive

Drugs Prohibition is a mirror of alcohol Prohibition, but its failures are on a scale that dwarfs the former prohibitive attempt at faux moralist social engineering. The mere appearance of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in the debate is further indication that we are repeating that which has gone before. Just as back then, we now have a growing body of professional opposition to this disaster disguised as policy.

Which is more important? Maintaining sado-moralist, punishment oriented, Constitution destroying policies… or… turning the “Land of the Most Incarcerated” back into the “Land of the Free”?

Bravo Mr Debusmann on a well done piece!

Humbly submitted from beautiful Eugene, OR.

Frank has got the wrong idea about drugs and the workforce. Making drugs illegal does nothing to solve that problem. Good management solves that problem, by firing people who show up stoned, whether it’s on legal drugs like alcohol, or illegal drugs like pot. A good manager knows the difference between a capable, reliable, productive worker who smokes a joint or drinks a beer on the weekend, and someone who lets their personal problems of any kind show up at work.

And I’m blown away by Frank’s notion that alcohol has less potential to destroy lives than “addictive drugs.” (Especially since alcohol is more addictive than illegal marijuana.) Alcohol has destroyed way more lives than all illegal drugs combined. 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. That again, is something we should have learned from the first failed prohibition.

Bernd,

You make very good points (as usual). In theory, I don’t think that the government should protect a rational adult from him-or-herself and the financial and social costs of doing so has been ruinous (more ruinous for some, less for others).

In practice, it would be difficult to do, but I wouldn’t say impossible. I have ideas about some poetential aspects of a move towards medicalization and legalization. In no particular order, first, we would need to truly classify alcohol and nicotine as drugs. The FDA would need jurisdiction of them as well as newly legalized and medicalized drugs. Second, the ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) never made sense and it will make less sense in the future. Alcohol and tobacco would need to go to the DEA, firearms to the FBI. Third, it would be absurd to start having marijuana commercials on television. By the same token, alcohol commercials are absurd. The decision to use drugs should be made by an adult, it is in the interest of the state to keep marketing out ofthe equation by law. Fourth, hard drugs would probably need to come first. This is because legalization can often have the unintended affect of making the substance harder to get for minors. Young people often find it easier to get marijuana than legal alcohol. We don’t want teenagers getting cocaine because they were unable to get legalized marijuana.

The list goes on. I think it’s doable, but will take time and a great deal of thought. That makes me think that the process should start sooner rather than later.

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

Only 11.2% of Americans believe the ‘War on Drugs’ is working (Sept 2008 Zogby Poll). But, asking Americans to legalize hard core drugs like meth, heroin or cocaine may be asking too much. On the other hand, 280,000+ people have responded to the TIME Poll, in which 87.3% favor the legalization of marijuana/cannabis. Many highly lauded studies have proven that cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco and these drugs are legally sold to adults. Many other highly regarded studies call for a regulated market for cannabis sales, just like we have for alcohol and tobacco. Like these studies, most Americans have rightly concluded that cannabis prohibition itself is far more harmful to our society than cannabis use is. How does prohibtion keep our teens from getting hold of cannabis? It doesn’t. Our teens say they can easily get cannabis within one hour. They say it’s easier for them to get cannabis than alcohol or tobacco. Because, drug dealers will sell cannabis to anyone, regardless of age. While licensed merchants are compliant for age restrictions 90% of the time. A regulated market will remove the profit motive for criminals to sell cannabis. Only this will keep them from trafficking in cannabis. Americans know it’s time to leave behind the magical thinking that cannabis will one day be controlled by prohibition. Our government has abdicated from it’s responsibility to regulate cannabis and by default drug cartels have taken over it’s control. Cannabis use is commonplace, widespread and nothing is going to make it go away. The only question is who’s going to control it? we the people, or gangsters who don’t pay taxes and get more wealthy, corruptive and powerful everyday that prohibition remains in effect?

Posted by T. Sellers | Report as abusive

It kills me I have to submit a bodily fluid or have my hair cut just to work in this country. Can you imagine our grandparents reaction if someone told them “We’d really like you to work here. Please pee in our cup?”.

Give me a break!

Posted by mr.fuku | Report as abusive

Legalize all drugs? Even dangerous ones? Maybe, I dont know. But I know we should legalize pot.
It is not dangerous. The test for whether a drug is dangerous is if you find yourself with a big pile of it (ie many doses) can you die by making a mistake.
If you compare the risk in having available to you for example; two ounces of grass, a 40 of vodka or several grams of coke (or H, or rock, meth or any number of prescription drugs etc), the hard drugs will kill you that very night if you make a dosage mistake and do too much.
The booze you will just vomit. The natural digestive escape valve. Very rare to die directly from alcohol consumption. You have to make a real effort. Efforts at mass pot smoking usually result in getting disracted.
Probably hard to die from coca leaf chewing or opium smoking. The ancient ways of getting buzz, things growing in your back yard or brewing in a jar have incorporated themselves into human society through time fairly safely.
Its when the men in the white lab coats turn it into white powder then it becomes dangerous.
I wish people would make that distinction.

We’ve had a war on poverty, drugs, and terror. We have managed to lose all three. Now that we know one can’t win a war against a noun, maybe we should consider directing our resources and energies into some more fruitful enterprises.

Regarding the insanity observation by Einstein, if memory serves I believe there have been more than 10 recessions since World War I. Most of them subsequent to the easing of investment regulatory measures. Karl Marx aptly observed unfettered capitalism’s propensity for moving through boom to bust cycles repeatedly. Yet we undo common sense regulation that were established to prevent poor business practices from becoming place again.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Has anyone ever compared the death rate of “illegal” and prescription drugs compared to that of the legal drugs… nicotine and tobacco. I bet it would be very eye opening.

Anectdotal stories like Frank’s don’t carry much weight with me. It is just “hearsay” and could be from one of many other reasons. The American workforce, on whole, does not seem very reliable, now-a-days!

But, I could be wrong! When I ran a business, I treated my people right, chose my workforce form more reliable individuals, and had zero trouble with them.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Legalizing marijuana is a much bigger step than just taking it off of the lawbooks.

The US signed onto the UN conventions for drug control. These UN conventions are international treaties.

As an international treaty, it is very special in the eyes of the US Constitution. Article 6 clearly, unambiguously, makes ratified international treaties as part of the US Constitution… “law of the land”, if you read it.

Now, keeping this in mind, the only way to legalize marijuana is to leave the treaty, leave the UN, or amend the constitution. None of these are likely going to happen, especially anytime soon.

We can have decriminalization, but according to the treaty, penalties ARE required.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Articles like this give me hope for America. someday people will realize the sheer insanity of institutions like the D.E.A. and the peoples voice will be heard. let the truth ring out!

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

What a great article – the author absolutely nailed it! LEAP being on the scene is a sign of the times, a sign that the people are far, far ahead of the vast majority of politicians on this issue. We can fix that if enough of us contact our legislators and LEAP makes that very easy; just go to http://www.wecandoitagain.com

Frank, ALCOHOL IS the most commonly used and abused drug in the United States. http://www.bookrags.com/research/product ivity-effects-of-alcohol-on-edaa-02/ It’s obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about when you compare alcohol to higher addictive drugs. Alcohol and tobacco are the most common, most deadly, debilitating and addictive drugs. Bar none. The U.S. Govt says Alcohol kills 150,000+ Americans yearly. Tobacco kills 450,000+ Americans yearly. All illegal drugs combined kill about 25,000 Americans yearly. Cannabis kill no one, ever. You say, “even if it were legal, we would hire no drug users”. Wrong, you certainly do employ drug users and the drugs they use are legal. Those drugs are alcohol and tobacco and they cause more of the problem you describe than all other drugs combined. If, as you say, 1/2 of your work force was on drugs and you’re blaming all these problem on drugs you’re wrong again. What you had was irresponsible hiring practices and you hired irresponsible people. Would you claim that any who has a couple of beers and some marlboros after the work day is over is abusing drugs? No. The average cannabis user is a resposible, successful person. They don’t abuse cannabis either. But, the drug users we do see are the irresponsible ones. Like skid row bums. Do skid row bums reflect the majority of alcohol users. No. The reality of the world we all live in is that almost all adults use some kind of drug. Even if it’s just caffeine. Yes, even caffieine kills 2000 Americans yearly (NIDA) and adversely effects people with heart of circulatory problems. Unfortunately, frank has blamed bad business practices and the worlds problems on drugs. But, drug prohibition itself does more harm to society than drug use does. That’s why our #2 most destructive drug (alcohol) is no longer prohibited. But, is sold to adults by licensed outlets. Oh yeah, why would you hire people locked into emotional childhood in the first place?

Posted by T. Sellers | Report as abusive

Mike, The U.S.A. coerced the world into creating the U.N. drug laws. The USA can just as easily coerce the world to end or modify the UN drug laws. Most of the world only obeys the UN drug laws to any extent just because the US continues to coerce them by means of economic threats. The US is the problem.

Posted by T.Sellers | Report as abusive

I was busted last month in New Jersey. I stopped at a rest area on the Turnpike to take a leak and was ambushed by the police who got lucky and found a bag of weed. I am scheduled for court next week. It has cost me $2,000.00 in lawyer fees and I face 6 months in jail and $800.00 in fines. Plus the $300.00 bag of weed that will NOT show up in court as evidence. My lawyer says their excuse is that it goes to the lab for testing, but in reality the cops either keep the weed for themselves (hypocrites and theives) or resell it on the street (criminals).

Had I been busted just 10 miles further north in New York City, I would not have been cuffed, thrown into a jail cell and shackled to a pipe for 3 hours, finger printed and photographed. No, I would have been given a “traffic ticket” and a subsequent fine of $100.00. A 30 minute finagle at worst.

But even that is not acceptable. After 3 visits to Amsterdam, I know that they have it right. We should be following their EXACT example. Sell it in coffeeshops and limit sales to 5 grams per visit. Supply the best weed and hash in the world with no legal ramifications. Accurate counts are guaranteed. 100,000 jobs would be created overnight. Over $500 million a year would be injected into our recessed economy. Millions more would be saved on law enforcement and incarceration.

So why is pot still illegal??

It always boils down to the dollars. Law enforcement is raking in huge profits by arresting unthreatening people like me and collecting huge fines while getting free weed to smoke themselves. At the same time the “legal” drug industry profits even more because of alcohol and tobacco abuse as well as prescription drugs.

Having been through the system has made me VERY ANGRY and now I am doing something about it. I am now politically active in the efforts to legalise marijuana. I hope all of you will join me in contacting your legislators. tell them that the only matter of importance to you is the legalisation of marijuana and that if they do not support our position, you will vote for the other candidate. If the other candidate also refuses, then tell them both you just won’t vote and then BACK UP YOUR POSITION AT THE POLLS!!!!

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

I’ve been following drug law reform for over 10 years now, and I am thrilled about the complete shift in the conversations about this horrible policy. People are beginning to learn what’s happening here, and I’m looking forward to the day when we get honest education about these harshly prohibited substances. Once people see how much is being wasted to fight drugs that are, for the most part, safer than alcohol, these laws will be as gone as the ones that demanded Blacks to drink from separate fountains. Imagine: No more drug dealers. It CAN happen, because drug dealers rely on drug prohibition.

The “war on drugs” is a crime against humanity dressed to look like Superman. The only reason it continues is because people are not speaking out about it enough. If you don’t like a program – ANY program, let your congress person know so that discussion and change will begin soon. That is a very real freedom so enjoy it!
Go HR 5842 – Reschedule that cannabis now!

Excellent tour d’horizon on the War on Drugs. The fact that the former Land of the Free continues to push this war both at home and abroad shows that politicians continue to ignore logic, common sense, and compassion, and dance to Big Pharma’s siren song, much as they have been doing since the 1930s.
Legalisation and control will come, but only when casual tokers come out of the closet and demand it.
It is past time to dismantle the Prison/Industrial/Enforcement machine that benefits from this War on Humanity.

Posted by James D. Fanning | Report as abusive

Let me start by saying im 30 years old and have NEVER even tried smoking pot. Not once. I have never smoked a ciggarette. Its not something i think i would enjoy. That being said i totally agree with whats been said here. The town im from has a serious issue with harrassing the hard working money earning people who try their very level best to just get by and earn an honest living. All the while theres an entire popultation of people who are trafficing and selling to kids among other things. They do not work simply because they dont have to. The governement gives them everything they need why should they work. All of their bills are paid their food is paid for and to top it all off they make a killing off of the hard working guy whos taxes pay his rent. Then on saturday night when the hard working guy decides he wants to smoke a joint he gets arrested and spend the weekend in jail. Monday morning the drug dealer gets out on a pr bond(no money just his word that he will not run) while the hard working guy gets a $1000 fine 2 years probation plus drug abuse classes that he has to foot the bill for at $50 a pop and thats just the first offense. GOD help him if he gets caught again. And why….because he will get up everyday and work the overtime to pay the fines and court costs. I heard a judge tell a drug dealer one day that there was no sense in fining him since he knew he wouldnt pay it.What kind of sense does this make??? I dont know but it sounds a little bit lopsided to me.

Posted by ryan | Report as abusive

Mark ponders: Legalize all drugs? Even dangerous ones? Maybe, I dont know.

TO WHICH I reply in friendly fashion: In the United States of America in the year 2008, literally 99.99% of drugs are in fact LEGAL. Each are subject to one or more levels of federal, state and/or local regulation to protect both consumers and dealers.

Only a very short list of less than a dozen in-demand drugs have been deemed as worthy of diverting billions in US taxpayer dollars and valuable criminal justice resources into the futile and absurd effort to curtail their use.

Thanks for the astute denouncement of the utterly fruitless and counterproductive policy of 21st century Prohibition.

Readers with a sincere interest in helping increase mainstream media coverage of legitimate reform efforts are welcome to contact me at The Media Awareness Project website http://www.mapinc.org/resource

Three Points:

1. Of the 11.2% of Americans who believe the ‘War on Drugs’ is working, how many are directly or indirectly employed by the ‘War on Drugs’: law enforcement (local, state and federal); bureaucratic propagandists (like the cannabis warriors at the U.N. & the DEA/ONDCP); unqualified drug “counselors”; probation officers; judges; DRUG DEALERS OF ALL TYPES; rehabs and all the people they employ; DARE officers; urine/hair-testing companies; people who build/design/run prisons (architect/engineer firms; mega-contractors; wardens; prison administration; prison guards; etc…)?

2. According to another insightful Zogby Poll, 99-Percent of respondents said they WOULD NOT USE HARD DRUGS SUCH AS HEROIN AND COCAINE, IF THEY WERE LEGALIZED. It appears the chicken little scenario is more contrived fear-mongering.

3. Link to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP): http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php

Posted by m.brecht | Report as abusive

The Washington DC Transit Police are pushing for random bag checks in the system. Tonight the chief said that if in searching for bombs, they found drugs, of course they’d arrest the holder. At any given time in the metro area, the number of bomb carriers is about zero, but the number of drug users is in the thousands. Guess who will actually be caught?

Posted by Alec | Report as abusive

Aren’t we done with that hoary old segment of society that refuses to acknowledge reality. Heck, I’m over 50, never been arrested, work full time (and am NOT in debt), yet I long for the day when it’s lawful that I could alternate alcohol with marijuana (to reduce the wear on my aging body and enhance the effect on my mind (so as to be better prepared to tolerate Congress).

I’m NOT joking! Religious folks, very older people..STEP ASIDE! I’m tired of you in my way.

Posted by Byron S | Report as abusive

Excellent, excellent piece! Prohibition V2.0 is on its way out, whether it’s apparent or not. It’s a matter of the laws of economics. With our economy tanking, we CAN’T AFFORD to keep our counterproductive drug laws in effect forever. We can’t afford to continually imprison more people than ANY OTHER NATION ON EARTH!

As much as some people would like to keep the War on (some) Drugs going, and as much as I’m sure some would indeed pay any price to imprison people for what they see as “moral offenses,” it just CAN’T work!

Violent crime is violent crime, and drug addiction is a medical problem. The War on (some) Drugs is turning the US into a police state! I truly believe Americans are smarter than this – didn’t we learn ANYTHING from the first utter failure that was Prohibition?

Posted by PSYOP | Report as abusive

With the Swiss accepting a heroin maintenance program and several other European countries doing research along that vein(no pun intended)the North American continent stands virtually alone in it’s vigorous pursuit of a Utopian drug free world.Reality keeps getting in the way and so much money and even more lives will be lost before the moralistic and otherwise baseless prohibition of drugs is put to rest.Money is being made on both sides of the issue to the point where there are such powerful forces aligned against any altering of the status quot with only the taxpayer the loser.I’ve been using the Einstein quote for years as it so perfectly sums up the opposition to drug reform.

Posted by terry mckinney | Report as abusive

It is illegal for a person charged with posession of marijuana at any point in their life to enter the US to vacation or visit. This affects an amazing number of would be tourists. Canadians are denied entry quite often for some transgression years ago. How absurd.
Currently in the US student loans are unavailable to anyone with a drug conviction but the conviction will be overlooked if they wish to join the armed forces. Education of the individual and the opportunity for social and economic advancement has been proven a more effective method of curtailing drug use than darn near anything else.

Posted by elk | Report as abusive

Thanks, Berndt, for starting this brilliant conversation. The statistics of the rhetoric seem to match the poll results in favor of decriminalization. I would propose that the cart and horse are backwards in Alicat’s analysis. The destruction of education and the removal of banking regulation are the results of the erosion of the willingness of individuals to think for themselves. In short, we are too willing to submit to authority rather than decide for ourselves. This is the foundation of bad decisions on the part of drug use. The drug use problem is due to the erosion of self-determination. The finance system was not stolen, the education system was not corrupted. You and I gave them away to people we decided to believe in with our vote.

The real foundation of the strangle-hold of the anti-drug community is uneducated blind following. This leads to blind leadership of a flock that then circles back on its own logic and perpetuates the bad decisions. The point of the research shows this blindness. I won’t take any drug to drown my problem, and nobody is telling you that you should take drugs. Hyperbolic over-reaction is a tool of mis-guided leadership. Please allow this latter-day prohibition to end.

Posted by Carl | Report as abusive

“Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.” – the Omnibibulous Mr. Mencken, some time in the mid 1920s.

Sometimes I imagine drug prohibition to be a collective act of self-flagellation, perhaps the product of some guilt-ridden, inextricable yearning for divine absolution. But it’s always the same poor folk situated at the backside that catch the brunt of the lash!

Or maybe this is just the twisted disposition of the crusading prohibitionist crank writ large on an ambivalent society? After all, this queer species, whether we consider past specimens like Howard Hyde Russell, Billy Sunday and W.J. Bryan or their progeny Bill Bennett, David Murray and John Walters, always effuses the brown stank of masochism in every batch of righteous hot-air. It simply can’t be a coincidence….

LEAP speakers often refer to modern prohibition as, among other things, a moral abomination, and the irony is that their appeal to our just indignation is more on point than all the Anti-Saloon League and Partnership for a Drug Free America harangues against straw men ever were or could be.

Thanks for this article and keep the hot lamp fixed right on these chumps. I believe that, when the drug war is finally over, we’ll all be a little surprised, and delighted, by how rapidly the whole despicable edifice collapsed.

Posted by Mic Bearing | Report as abusive

Illegal drugs are the most profitable business ever invented by man. Because of this, there are multiple forces at work to keep them illegal. Too many powerful people on both sides of the equation would lose too much money if these drugs were legalized. In the U.S., we have entire bureaucracies that would be eliminated. What would the DEA think about giving up the toys, salaries and excitement of their cops and robbers games? It makes no sense to discuss legalization when even decriminalization is an impossible goal – just from an economic standpoint.

Posted by Arthur Schueneman | Report as abusive

Madness, indeed. Robert Heinlein, in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, has the main protagonist say, We pass laws to tell us not to do what we don’t want to do anyway. What a radical concept! We pass laws that we all agree with! Except that there’s a lot of laws that are passed that not all that many people agree with. Clearly, given the shear volume of drug offenders in jail, not to mention the millions more who would be in jail if they were able to station a cop in everybody’s home, the US does not have drug laws that we all agree with.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Well Done, LEAP! America, though, doesn’t believe it will ever happen…though the majority of Americans agree that present policy dosent work.

Hearken back to 1930 when Texas Senator Morris Sheppard, said: “There is as much of a chance of repealing the eighteenth amendment as there is for a humming bird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail. This country is for temperance and prohibition and it is going to continue to elect members of Congress who believe in that.”

3 years later the country ratified the 21st amendment, repealing alcohol prohibition.

The War on Drugs will end–it is just a matter of when.

Posted by Mike Smithson | Report as abusive

Bernd Debusmann’s article is incisive and brilliant, laying bare the facts about drug prohibition and analyzing them with uncommon objectivity and clarity. If everything Debusmann writes is of this quality, he is a world-class journalistic force to be reckoned with.

As is well known in most of the cultivated world today, both at home and abroad, the American people as a whole (excuse me for telling the truth) are phenomenally stupid, as well as ignorant, and beyond doubt crazy according to Einstein’s operational definition of “insanity.” But as the old Far Eastern proverb says, the Fool who persists in his folly will become wise–if he survives his folly. In this case we see that it took the massive failure of Republican policies together with the crash of the national economy to shock enough Americans back to their senses to get Barack Obama elected President. Now that the dazed metaphorical Fool-of-a-Nation called “America” has begun to somewhat wake up from its silly dream that it is God’s Own Country and competent to set the rest of the world aright, in the sense of defining what is true, real, just, or moral for all of humankind (including, needless to say, tens of millions of its own people who don’t buy into either the mentality or the prohibitionist prescriptions of standard-brand Republicanism) it is just possible that what is known in America as the “Culture War” will cool off and begin to wind down over the next four to eight years, the flashy Sarah Palin notwithstanding.

The spectacularly failed and counterproductive “War on Drugs” is a major front in that Culture War, having over the last 40 years turned America into what the late Dr. Timothy Leary of Harvard fame (if I can remember his exact words)–himself slapped with a 30-year federal prison sentence for alleged possession of a single cannabis seed–around 1973 called “an ever-more-dismal and draconian cross between a swamp and a penal colony.”

Barack Obama, as part of his call for sweeping change, has hinted that many of the old ways of doing things, both nationally and globally, are about to bite the dust of history. In particular, his stated plan to go through the federal budget to ruthlessly eliminate policies and programs that don’t work implies that he intends to end America’s Drug War once and for all.

We can be sure that millions of his most dedicated supporters will be dismayed and even furious at him if he doesn’t try very hard to do that. Failure to end the Drug War in timely manner at this opportune moment carries far greater political risks than simply getting the job done. If Obama is unable to marshall support from the now heavily Democratic Congress to pass the necessary legislation, he will be seen as weak, and there will be bitter division within Democratic ranks–as well as escalation of the nation’s Culture War. If nothing else, continuing to spend vast sums of money each year prosecuting and/or keeping a substantial proportion of the population locked up for often minor drug offenses is in the current strained economic climate simply irresponsible, and therefore indefensible.

It is hard to see Barack Obama, with his clear intelligence and pristine character, not to mention grasp of history, as a supporter of the armed Nanny-state, the State which goes by the name of “Thou Shalt Not” and “Just Say No.” For history has never, in the last analysis, been on the side of repression. The Nanny-state is at root in total contradiction to the fundamental principles of the American Revolution and the Constitution itself, that “every man in his castle is king” and that the individual has an absolute right to privacy in all matters that pertain to his or her person and exercise of freedom thereof.

It was, after all, Bill Clinton’s great failing that (having himself confessedly puffed on pot in his earlier days) he caved in to what seemed political expediency and appointed a drug czar who continued much in the repressive tradition of the drug-warring Nixon, Reagan, and the elder Bush. Political expediency is no longer an acceptable excuse for continuation of failed policies that are counterproductive and which harm the Country and its citizens. It is time for the United States of America to wake up, smell the pot, and get itself in line with more progressive democracies around the world that have begun to liberalize their drug laws. This will entail redefining addiction (where it exists) as a medical problem, in addition to assuming a much-needed leadership position in the global drive to once and for all put international drug-smuggling and the illegal drug trade out of business.

Posted by David Ferrell | Report as abusive

It is a well proven fact that the only successful measure in combating drug abuse is non-moralist education and rehabilitation. The successes in combating Crystal Meth, as reported by the Economist in May of this year, is the most vivid example.

Teenagers and economically depressed communities are not receptive to moralist rhetoric and resent the self-rightous fundamentalists that lead the anti-drug crusade.

While implementing systems to control a legal recreational drug industry would provide for a very interesting intellectual challenge the real barrier to legalisation remain religious conviction.

If the religious community can be convinced of the moral virtues of saving they neighbour, rather than condemning them for their sins, which is what their religions dictate anyway, we will start to see real progress.

Posted by Etienne | Report as abusive

The subliminal message delivered in the mainstream press, TV & radio commercials is that drugs are good & can solve your problems, help you feel better & live healthier, longer lives – as long as they are the high-priced drugs distributed legally by the pharmaceutical companies. If it’s not some form of sexual dysfunction, it’s back pain, arthritis, menapause, weight loss, you name it, the pharmaceutical companies have a pill for it.

Health, health & more health for the people of one of the unhealthiest societies in the modern world. But don’t try to take any short cuts out of your problems by self medicating yourself with marijuana or some other substance not condoned by the FDA & the big drug companies……you’ll be arrested & imprisoned for making your own decisions about how you’ll cure what ails you.

The demand for the supply of “illegal” drugs coming into this country is due to the subliminal commercial messages being spewed over the air waves by the deep pocketed pharmaceutical companies who don’t want to share the profits with people distributing a product they can’t control….it’s time to end this insanity, do the right thing America & regulate that which you cannot fight.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

As a retired police detective, I know about drug prohibition from the trenches. We have always been a mosquito on the butt of an elephant. We have seen every drug dealer arrested or killed replaced within days.

Meanwhile drunk drivers and child predators are not caught because we arrest 1.4 million citizens on non-violent drug charges.

One day we will be as wise as our grandparents and end this dysfunctional, immoral policy.

Loss of respect for the law increases whenever a ‘moral’ legislation that a large percentage do not agree with is passed. Marijuana is considered a less damaging social lubricator than alcohol, by a whole lot of people. It isn’t because it’s illegal, which makes it a very profitable product for criminal cartels. Legalize it, tax it, sell it in liquor stores and bars. A pitcher of tea, instead of a pitcher of beer… Have you ever heard of fights breaking out because people had been consuming marijuana? The only really effective ‘treatment’ for ‘hard’ drug use is hope. Use the money saved and made to increase it.

Posted by Sharon | Report as abusive

All the people who compare the number of deaths due to tobacco and/or alcohol consumption are being utterly ridiculous.

Firstly, you have to take into account that the number of people who consume those either of those two products is larger by orders of magnitude than the number of people who consume all kinds of drugs combined. You cannot simply compare the absolute number of deaths without taking into account the absolute number of users.

Secondly, in the case of alcohol, drinking a glass of red wine a day has been show to be beneficial in some cases, and very moderate consumption of alcohol has no deleterious effects. However, there is no such thing as a healthy or non-harmful dose of crack or heroine. There is no “in moderation” usage of these drugs.

Thirdly, a heroine has been shown to be addictive at first use, and the success rates for beating the habit are depressingly low. There are hundreds of millions of consumers of alcohol who are not addicted to the product. I have spent some time doing social work, and even when heroine usage does not kill, I have seen how it completely and utterly obliterates the life of the user. This is something that could also be said of an alcoholic, but not in general of a person who has had his first taste of beer. A heroin user, however, is almost always a user for life.

These issues cannot be ignored. I agree that the current strategy is not working, but I cannot with good conscience live with government revenues made off selling a product that so imprisons its users that they often wish they were dead.

Posted by Geoffrey | Report as abusive

A word to almost everyone here claiming that soft drugs like marijuana have to negative effects…….I have previously used this “harmless” drug. Besides the extremely high levels of tar found in a typical “joint” (higher than that found in cigarettes), I had stopped using this within months of starting, as I had extremely unpleasant experiences with it. The final episode of psychosis lasted a complete day, where I had the terrifying feeling that I was altered for the rest of my life. When this feeling eventually wore off, I realized I would rather perish than relive that experience. Another friend of mine was admitted to the psychiatric ward after having a bad ‘trip’ from which he never really recovered. He is better now, but is on anti-psychotics and has half a year hospital stay behind him. The doctors at the ward apparently told him that cases of psychosis caused by consumption of marijuana are not exceedingly rare. I do not want to imply this is the norm, but my own experience is enough for me, and I would rather take 5 years off my life than experience long term psychosis of the sort I experienced. Therefore, to state universally and generally that weed is not harmless is a complete lie. This is something very different from alcohol, and people should not take the other extreme and tout weed as completely harmless.

Posted by Jamie | Report as abusive

How can it make sense for drugs to be illegal while alcohol and tobacco are legal?

Posted by gator80 | Report as abusive

Legalize Marijuana, tax it and use the taxes to finance the bailout of GM, Ford and Chrysler. Just an idea.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Dear Bernd,

It is always instructive to see how the obvious solution can be ignored. BTW, can I expect a piece on the futility of a “war on terror” with your next column?

Yours sincerely,

Akram

Posted by Akram | Report as abusive

I look forward to the day when government is actually run by the people its governing. I for one am a marijuana user. Honestly, I liken canibus to a beer. If I can drink a Miller Lite in my home then it should not be far fetched for me to smoke bowl. Why? Because they both have the same effect.

Since Regan started this so called “war on drugs” we have seen nothing but failure after failure. Our prison’s are filled with more non-violent criminals than ever. Drugs are even more accessible now. More terrorist organizations are being funded by it than ever. How much good could be done if we simply regulated them? We wouldn’t have to poor so much time and money to stop it. For a drug dealer you lock up, two will replace him. That’s just how it works. Take the power to sell it on the street away from him then you not only take him out of the equation but no one can take his place.

Einstein was right, repeating the same thing over and ov er and expecting different results is insanity. Do we sit back then and not want to put our government in a straight jacket?

Posted by Haiku | Report as abusive

Insanity is the word! Einstein had well clear the disastrous results of ideological postures, whether religious or simply ascientific, so dearly and hypocritically assumed by politicians.

Posted by Alberto Pellegri | Report as abusive

FRANK, YOU HAVE A REAL PROBLEM WITH WHAT YOU EXCEPT AND WHAT IS REALITY. TWIST UP A FAT ONE AND LET GO. ARE YOU A DRINKER?
I just returned from Amsterdam and advise all to go see what the big deal is all about. In January medical marijuana and law enforcement and government officials have a seminar of talks on this subject and how they deal with it. Imagine an 18.6% tax on every gram of weed sold through legal shops for selling it to those who wish to participate. We’ve wasted a lifetime of money and resources to get rid of something that won’t go away. Einstien had it right but the only way to do it is to get the right people in congress to legalize something that has been proven time and time again not to make you do what alcohol has been doing to us for decades. How much money does the government take in yearly on the tax of ciggarettes and alocohol? It has relieved us of many costly projects we do need to address. Why would legalizing marijuana be an excepted way to help bring us out of the mess we are in now. Bailout why can’t we bail ourselves out without loans from countries using us up with the ignorant trade policies. Legalize It was the saying at this years Cannabis Cup. Good luck society and hopefully we can see this in our life time. Book a trip to The Netherlands and get educated. The US and France throw truck loads of cash at eradicating coffeeshops and it is a battle that they the coffeeshop operators fight daily in the tolerated country of The Netherlands. For those of you not into the smoking can certainly witness society operating with tolerance and Alocohol is still the problem over there. Michigan legalized medical marijuana law goes into effect today. Maybe we can help get the ball rolling with the help of our friends in The Netherlands and the support of your votes on this issue.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

With new technologies capable of discovering recreational drug use becoming more commonplace all the time, it’s likely that recreational drug users will become more vocal about their beliefs as an unintended side-effect.

Stupid laws such as the legislation that characterizes the WoD only exist as long as it’s possible for most people to ignore them and get on with their lives in the way they see fit. It’s rapidly becoming impossible to continue to ignore that these laws are not effective and need to be rethought.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

That law enforcement is standing up to denounce drug war policies as nonsensical is a very strong indictment. The prohibition impulse always seems to give rise to repressed and puritanical McCarthyites, like Rep. Mark Souder and Harry Anslinger. That these policies are boostered by such little Napoleons should alone give us pause.

Posted by John W. | Report as abusive

It is tempting but not entirely fitting to draw parallels between the repeal of prohibition at a time of deep economic trouble and efforts to end prohibition for all drugs now, at a time of economic trouble almost as bad. There are differences. The prohibition lasted 12 years, 10 months and 19 days (compared with almost 40 years of the so-called drug war)and it ended because there was widespread popular disenchantment with it, and corresponding pressure on lawmakers. Finance did play a big role because both Democrats and Republicans were attracted by the prospect of boosting the budget with alcohol excise taxes. In other words, there was political will AND financial necessity.

Where is the political will now? Where are the members of the Congress willing to speak up speak up in favour of ending the drug war and taking the profit out of the illegal drug business by making it legal? There’s only one prominent Congressman, Barney Frank, who is outspoken on the issue. But even the bill he introduced on marijuana this summer provides for decriminalization rather than legalization. No federal penalties “for the personal use of marijuana for responsible adults.” That’s a good thing, but falls far short of legalizing all drugs.

Unless there is constant and heavy pressure on their representatives from constituents around the country, nothing will happen. Once representatives fear they will be voted out of office unless they move on legalization, things will start to move. But it is difficult to see that in the near future.

Logic, common sense and hard data such as in Professor Miron’s report will simply fall on deaf ears.

Posted by Andreas K. | Report as abusive

As proven by the record high (pun unavoidable) quantities of opium imported into the U.S. following the War in Afghanistan, narcotics will continue to flow through this country, no matter the approach. And the current approach certainly isn’t one that has the public’s best interest at heart. The question remains on what is the most intelligent way to deal with it. The government should not jail and punish people for what they do to their own bodies, common sense dictates this is a health issue. As for the providers: it is society’s need that dictates the role of the dealer. Americans need to ask themselves if they want the profit on the streets or legally taxed, regulated and helping our faltering economic system. Remember: under our current prohibition, our streets will continue to be increasingly dangerous, covered in young blood, all the while our public is ever hungry for their chemical escape, and the profit stays on the streets. This system is perpetuated by the poor education system and health care system in the U.S., while building up the prison industry and targeting the lower income communities for criminal charges that have no bearing on the actual importation of our narcotics. I ask everyone to seriously work on reforming this system, if by doing nothing other than at least talking about these points, which seem to be common sense. I’m James Austin and I can be contacted at humancarbon@gmail.com

Excellent blog. The figures that Miron comes up with should alone make people think about regulation and control rather than prohibition. However there are plenty of other reasons too –
Prohibition diverts what should be a health problem into a criminal justice problem which creates more health issues than it could ever solve – HIV/AIDS, HVC, etc etc;
It criminalises huge sections of society in Western countries;
It distracts the world from dealing with development issues within the developing world;
It creates huge funding opportunities for organized crime and terrorists;
It encourages corruption throughout the world;
The list could go…..
Transform Drug Policy Foundation (www.tdpf.org.uk) is in the process of producing a book on the future of drug control.
We are heartened by what we call ‘climate change’ here in the UK – more and more people from the so-called establishment are speaking out about the failures of prohibition. Just as alcohol prohibition ended, so will drug prohibition.

There is no doubt even as confirmed by the General Accounting Office and the United Nations that the over $6 billion to Colombia has done little more than line the pockets of corrupt politicians. History has also shown that Colombia does not make progress until denied the money that continues their corruption. As noted by the author a distribution of money more toward rehabilitating addicts.

Posted by JamesP | Report as abusive

Anyone who wants to actually do something to help end this insanity – just like we ended alcohol prohibition – should visit http://www.WeCanDoItAgain.com

As a teacher who likes to play devil’s advocate, occasionally I ask classes to write paragraphs in class on whether marijuana or (as a separate exercise) all “recreational” drugs should be legalized. After a lot of laughter and discussion I invariably find very few students willing to legalize. Later, after the paragraphs are turned in, I ask students how free our country is when we’re not free to eat, drink, or smoke anything we please.

I doubt my question changes anybody’s mind but there’s always a long silence when I ask it.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Finally,a sane article on the war on drugs,yes,I never used drugs myself,but my view is that those who use them are sick,not criminals,thank you for the article!

Alberto

Posted by Alberto | Report as abusive

I agree: the policy has failed, and it is unlikely to be discontinued in the near term. Though I do anticipate the legalization of marijuana when the government realizes that it can charge tax on marijuana, much like the tax on alcohol, and will therefore be eager to gain the revenue from that commerce.

Legalizing all drugs is not a solution. Legalizing some drugs is.

Despite lies told to the contrary, marijuana has been proven not to have any negative effects, either short term or long term. It is not addictive, it is very cheap to grow, and as a depressant, it does not lead to crime or to “smoking and driving”, the latest lie told by the jaytotalers (as opposed to teetotalers). Canada provides a perfect example for the US – a western, civilized country with a similar culture and legal system, yet the legalization of possession has not resulted in any increase in crime; instead, being openly able to possess has actually reduced some amount of convictions.

Legalizing marijuana, and repealing all convictions stemming from its possession and use, would have numerous positive benefits. It would remove a large number of people from prisons and reduce the social stigma that a conviction puts on a person (especially for a non-violent crime). It would also give a legal outlet for those who actually want to use drugs. The myth of marijuana being a “gateway drug” has always been false, but it may turn out to be true in reverse – a gateway from illegal drug habits (methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, etc.) back to legal and non-harmful drugs like marijuana.

There is only one reason I can think of for continuing to keep drugs illegal: to use drugs and other “offenses” (e.g. being part of certain protest groups makes one a “terrorist” to the current “administration”) to create a criminal class, to cause the majority of American citizens to have criminal records. Without wanting to sound like a “conspiracy theorist” crackpot, I have to wonder if that is some political groups’ goal, to turn the majority into a criminal class that is not allowed to vote.

For the record, I hate the stench of marijuana, it smells like horse feces. I also can’t stand the users, many of whom are “party” types.

Posted by T Trimper | Report as abusive

From Policy Analysis No. 157, the CATO Institute, written by Mark Clayton in 1991: “National prohibition of alcohol (1920-33)–the \”noble experiment\”–was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America. The results of that experiment clearly indicate that it was a miserable failure on all counts. The evidence affirms sound economic theory, which predicts that prohibition of mutually beneficial exchanges is doomed to failure.”

Mr. Debusmann is absolutely correct regarding the now obvious lunacy and harmful counterproductiviy of the war on drugs. But legalizing and regulating marijuana specifically would and should have an even greater benefit to our country and planet.

Hemp as a crop is the only one capable of becoming America’s biomass energy standard for the present and future. It can be grown for crude biomass fuels on energy farms, for textiles, for oil and high protein foods and for pharmaceutical grade extract medicine. It doesn\’t reguire dangerous pesticides like cotton yet yields a superior fabric. Paper can be made from hemp without the sulfer acid and other chemicals that mills need for wood.

There are nearly 25,000 different uses for hemp ranging from nutritious food sources to plastics to fire-resistant building composites to paints and varnishes.

Hemp can play a major role in shifting our world away from deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists agree that the single most effective way to halt the greenhouse effect is to stop burning fossil fuels. And the one and only way to reduce the growing blanket of C02 that is warming the earth is by growing more plants to absorb the C02.

Hemp is a weed that will grow in every state except Alaska.

Pardn the pun, but its high time Congress repeals or amends the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

Posted by William P. | Report as abusive

Leap has a refreshing view on a new policy for our future and the war on drugs. We must change our views because to continue on this path is insanity as said in the above article. I personally believe in what Leap and all its members, including myself, are fighting for. I think if others would just simply listen to what Leap has to say they would at least understand that a change is what we need.

Posted by Deanna Gryder | Report as abusive

As long as ‘the war on drugs’ – like ‘the war on terrorism’ – serves as cover for political and military actions that could not be slipped past the public otherwise, these ‘wars’ are going to go on. What would the White House do in Colombia if it were not for this giant lie: “We are fighting the bad guys, the drug dealers.”
Decades of massive political killing and torture have gone down there under the label of ‘War on drugs’. Union leaders and innocent farmers are suddenly ‘drug dealers’ and ‘terrorists’…

Inside the US as well as around the world, the US ruling elite uses the quaint notions of ‘goodness’, ‘evil’, ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, etc., like fairy ideas from a children’s book, where the little ‘good’ hero could never do wrong – because he is ‘good’ by definition, always up against ‘bad, bad terrorist guys’, who are ‘evil’ and ‘do drugs’, or whatever. The little hero is the US soldier, policeman, diplomat, businessman, etc., and all those who don’t act obediently to them are ‘bad’.

As long as we ( the rest of the world and domestic consumers of propaganda ) buy this crap, we’ll have ‘wars’ of any kind; politically convenient, imaginary figments that pray on our judgemental ‘goodness’ and thereby serve as cover for domination policies.

If I did not believe in love, I would be a terrorist.

PS: I dislike drugs.

Posted by Christian Heyne | Report as abusive

No way should a multi-billion dollar industry be on the streets… Drugs need to be de-criminalized, regulated, and taxed. More money needs to be dedicated to rehab, education, and higher-quality drugs. The profit needs to be taken out of the hands of cut-throat criminals, and the actual product needs to be removed from the hands of scientists and/or quasi-chemists who are manufacturing slaughter-house grade drugs in makeshift labs. The prison system needs to be reformed and human beings shouldn’t be locked up in a hole for 20 plus years because they’re an addict. The problem is never addressed while following this format. The war on drugs is a product of Nixon era politics, and in light of the recent tapes that have been declassified it is safe to assume that the best interests of the people were not first and foremost with old tricky dickey. We have a chance to clean up the ghettos and get our city’s murder rates to drop!!! The stigma of an addict can be dissolved and society can learn to embrace all aspects of life.

Posted by Frogman Goose | Report as abusive

Ok James enough with Colombia. All South America produces drugs, yes you have Colombia but right there you have Peru, Bolivia just to name a few.

Now, why is it that americans believe the producers are the problem? shouldn’t the consumer be blamed as well?

If drugs were legal the business wouldn’t be profitable (simply put) for the drug lords. Drugs should be legal, to each his/her own. Everyone should be ableto decide if they want to be alcoholics, drug addcits or whatever, but please STOP YOUR RANT AGAINS COLOMBIA. Colombians suffer a lot b/c of this war, and we are not talking about money but human lives.

Posted by Catherine | Report as abusive

Absolutely disagreed with author! War on all illegal narcotic is the utlimate nessecity. The real problem related to the methodology and its implementation. Unfortunately various agencies of the federal governnment are fat bulls, stupid enough not acting with perfect impunity toward the narcotrafickers. There shall be no warnings to the criminals but just shooting them off the existence, and distruction all their bases everywhere in the world, even if the invasion in such countries as Colombia or Peru is necessary. Enough is enough: US government shall distroy the sources of illegal narcitics in any part of the world with absolute impunity!

Posted by RICHARD | Report as abusive

It is true the analisys of this article, specialy for Colombia,and now for a climbing-violence Mexico. I hope one day we revenue taxes from drug comerce instead spending them in this stupid usless fight against guerrillas, and narcos. Latin América needs the US to change its policy on ilegal drugs.

With approx. only 11-percent of Americans supporting the ‘War on Drugs’, it is an ONDCP/DEA-created & perpetuated Myth — in most cases — that an elected official would be “punished” (voted out of office) by his or her constituents for supporting rationale drug policy changes. Truth is, I cannot think of a single politician who has been hurt by supporting either medical cannabis or even general legalization of all drugs.

And it is even a bigger myth that U.S. elected officials’ reputations are “hurt” by supporting Medical Cannabis, which has solid public and solid medical support; but many of our elected officials are simply ignorant or conveniently ignore the widespread medical and public support. But it is no surprise The People are light-years ahead of their representatives in the Science and Medical Dep’t.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle — like VP-elect Joe Biden and Gov. Schwarzenegger — need to stop perpetuating lies and stop creating & protecting bureaucracies that are paid to lie (ODNCP/DEA/CASA, ETC…); because they are hurting — not helping — their constituents. Obfuscating and concealing vital medical information is WRONG and can only have negative consequences. The tide is changing: politicians will soon be held accountable for the lies they have created and perpetuated.

We don’t want OUR tax dollars funding lies!! Get it?? Leave the propaganda to China & North Korea.

Of course addiction is a health issue, and of course we cannot arrest ourselves out of our “drug problem.” The question is how long will we have to wait before our elected officials “catch up” in the Science & Medicine Dep’t, and “wake up” to the Will of their People?

Posted by m. brecht | Report as abusive

My problem with legalizing drugs is that does it also allow addicts taking them either by prescription or buying them over the counter to have jobs that require clear thinking. The school bus driver, the heart surgeon, the classroom teacher, the plumber, the pharmacist? The list goes on.

Yes, perhaps they take prescription drugs that make them less aware, but it is easier to change a prescription than to cure an addict. And don’t tell me making alcohol legal prevented problems and crime or binge drinking by college students.

Rather than an overall legalizing of drugs, I believe it might be done in small steps by beginning with marijuana, and prohibiting anyone using it from working at any job that involves public safety or having a driver’s license. That may make people who think they might begin to use drugs for recreation think twice.

And what do we do with setting an age for supplying narcotic drugs to children? Does anyone really believe there still won’t be illegal drug use from legal drugs? Legal medical prescriptions are used illegally.

Also, where does crack and meth come into the picture? Will it be readily available to addicts? How nice to have a new industry to pay taxes?

Come on. I want to hear your arguments for making drugs legal. You might convince me.

Posted by Leigh York | Report as abusive

We have had the “never even sniffed a poppy petal” posts, so I will give the other side.

Between the ages of 12 and 25 there was NOTHING I would not put into my body. And I am not exagerating, from fermaldahyde, to horse tranqualizers, to unknown pills some greasy guy is selling for a couple bucks. The last time I sat down and made a list, there was well over 100 chemicals that I had used for recreation.

Now, I am in my mid 30s. I am very gainfully employed in a highly competative industry (sorry I have to keep this vague, but I would imagine you can understand why). I have been happily married for 10 years and have a very healthy and happy family of five.

How did I get from spending 20 minutes on my hands and knees picking through carpet one fiber at a time looking for the crack rock I was *sure* my bozo friend had dropped to where I am now? It certainly wasn’t the war on drugs. If anything, when the affect of the baby-blue hair wared off, that ‘war’ was a great way to ‘flip off the man.’

No, it was mainly education. I came from a HORRIBLE upbringing. It wasn’t that. It was the education. I had been busted before, and when I stopped partying, there were no legal problems at all for a couple years. It certainly wasn’t that. Pure and simple, I will state it again: it was the education.

And growing up. Come on, kids regularly drive in a manner that is objectively ‘death defying’ all the while utterly ignorant to what a 2000 lbs. body of mass can do at 55mph, let alone 80. Kids do not have the perspectives and contexts that adults have. You could maybe educate them a little…crazy talk, I know…but you certainly are never going to ‘scare’ them straight.

And a couple other notes. I still use MJ on a regular basis. In fact, both my wife and psychologist told me to pick it back up after 1 year of utter misery and wasted time on anti-depressants and legal mood alterers. Not saying this proves anything other than I am VERY successful, JUST as healthy as my non-user friends, and I have a familty that is FAR more stable, functional and harmonic than pretty much any of my straight friends. I guess I want to combat two perceptions: those who use are not less than you, they simply have different motivations and priorities than you. And, usage is not mutually exclusive to a happy life.

NOT saying usage = happy life. That is **just** as silly as usage = utter complete and forever misery.

And, for the final record: after my 100+ list of chemicals, including most of the ‘bad boys’ (opiates, coke and its dirivatives, etc, etc.)…without exception and without a doubt my absolute worst and most horrific experiences each-and-every time involved alcohol. It is the SINGLE common denominator of the ‘bad memories’.

Also, I wish I had done H 100 more and never picked up a cigarette. You want to talk about an addiction??? Nothing…and I mean NOTHING, even crystal Meth…has been even kinda close as difficult to kick as plain old cigarettes.

Posted by Yah...right | Report as abusive

@ Leigh York
“Come on. I want to hear your arguments for making drugs legal. You might convince me.”

Are you serious?! Did you read the article?

Go look at other countries’ statistics where drugs are decriminalized.

The current “war” is clearly NOT WORKING… shall we continue to throw money down the toilet and our non-violent addicted citizens into jail so their lives can be ruined further?

I think I want to hear your arguments for continuing to do that! I doubt you’ll convince me since there’s all the data to demonstrate it’s destructive ineffectiveness.

It’s time for half of this country to get it’s collective head out of the sand and quit with the “just keep doing the same thing” attitude and start including reality into it’s world view.

Posted by cointreau | Report as abusive

I’m pessimistic regarding the possibility of the U.S. pursuing a rational drug policy for a couple reasons.
1. This country is still ridiculously puritanical. The fact that euphoria can be achieved by non-religious (in the puritanical sense) means is a threat.
2. Entrenched bureaucracies. As others have pointed out, what would happen to the DEA if we pursued smarter policies? In fact the end of alcohol prohibition led indirectly to cannabis prohibition; Harry Anslinger realized that he would lose his position in the Bureau of Prohibition and helped to demonize the evil weed to help create a position for himself in the Bureau of Narcotics
3. Drug use is an easy tool for demagogues. Who has stood up for drug users when politician need an easy issue to rile people up?
4. Intellectual laziness. This is a complex issue, and Americans tend to not do so well with complexity (see the particularly silly “kill ‘em all” comment by Richard above).
On the optimistic side, with an economy going into the toilet, think of the billions that could be saved by a rational policy and the billions more that could be raised by taxing currently banned substances (I’m thinking of cannabis here, I think hard drugs should be available only through non-profit or gov’t run clinics set up to distribute to addicts).

Posted by Gus | Report as abusive

I have been making these arguments with my friends and colleagues for years now, and all I can really say in response to this is a standard Yankee offering: well, duh!

I agree with every point made here, and would offer a few others not mentioned:

- statistics show that marijuana is the single largest cash crop in the US, with revenue of over $35.5 billion, followed by corn at just under $23.3 billion. These figures represent average production values from 2003 to 2005. Site used for data: http://www.drugscience.org/Archive/bcr2/ cashcrops.html. Whether it’s legalized or not, pot is here to stay in the U.S.A.

- Where I live (Montana), an older gentleman was busted last year when forest rangers and a couple of friends were walking through a nearby national forest and encountered the man driving a 4-wheel ATV along a forest path, pulling a cart loaded with freshly harvested plants. His field had hundreds of plants, all on national forest land. A retiree, making a little extra on the side! This story is a common one, and I know of many people who make ends meet by growing their own, thus saving the purchase cost, or growing for sale, for profit. When confronted, it’s not uncommon to find out that the “criminal” grower doesn’t even smoke it, but doesn’t feel it should be illegal. To the common citizen, pot is just another crop, like corn.

- As a person “on the inside”, I can assure the rest of the world that nothing can stop the drug trade. Nothing, ever. There are too many benefits in ratio to detriments, at least where marijuana is concerned. The harder drugs can be debated, but it’s time that someone (me?) stood up and said the truth in plain terms- you, drug agencies, have lost the war. It’s over. Admit it or not, you’ve lost, period.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

In response to:

“Also, where does crack and meth come into the picture? Will it be readily available to addicts?”

What is crack and meth? Are they drugs that have no equal? To be short, Crack is Cocaine and Meth is Speed.

I don’t think Crack and Meth would even exist if there wasn’t a market for them. There is a market for these synthetic derivatives because it is cheaper to make and a lot of money can be made on the streets pushing it. The drug market has plenty of people who are trying to make more profit just like a legitimate business. This is why certain areas have seen dealers mixing strawberry quick and chocolate flavors to their meth so that the potent taste wouldn’t deter younger populations to use.

As I said earlier, the only reason there are slaughterhouse grade drugs (think 5 star restaurant beef compared to McDonald’s beef) on the streets is because like a business the drug game is tied to making the most profit. It’s hard to find pure on the streets. Why? Because the suppliers would loose money doing so.

In short, under a complete program that works with individuals who have a history of substance abuse with certain drugs like Crack and Meth would be replaced with a more suitable substance. Let’s say Cocaine in a purer free base form and Amphetamines. Lot’s of possibilities, but the basic principle to follow is not to give power to those who can exploit the weak. Change the rules of the game.

Posted by Frogman Goose | Report as abusive

Do you want street gangs and drug cartels selling drugs on our streets?
No.
Do you want to regulate who can sell drugs?
Yes.

So you are already on the team. If we ever hope to end this miserably failed public policy we must Legalize-Regulate and Control the distribution of these dangerous substances. So, how do you regulate something? First, it has to be legal. How do you control something? You license the distribution and hold the distributor to standards set by the government. Then you treat pepole that become addicted with the money you make from taxing the product. Sorta like highway taxes. You pay gasoline taxes to repair the roads that you drive on and wear out. This system will be more than revenue neutral and the state will actually make money. Lets take the money out of the hands of drug gangs, cartels and terrorists organizations like the Taliban by legalizing all drugs. They are much too dangerous to be left in the hands of these groups. Stay safe.

Posted by Two Gun Terry | Report as abusive

Hey, Goose… Don’t give power to those who can exploit the weak? Where would our democracy go? Just a laugh…

The author doesn’t mention which drugs he would like to have legalized; as the postings show here everybody assumes marijuana. Legalizing “hard” drugs, even if only to give to those who are already addicted to ensure a clean supply, is frought with peril, because of the same argument that the author presents: if the drug war should provide a risk:benefit analysis to justify its existence, then why shouldn’t the drugs? Purely rhetorical question, but one that has some value in the debate over legalization. Drugs without merit would then not deserve legalization. By that rationale only alcohol would be legal, due to its cardiovascular benefits.

Earlier postings had it most correct: educating about the dangers of drug use, and providing a social current that does not condone the wastefulness of addiction are the only real solution to the drug problem. The vast majority of those who take any drug did not start of their own accord… they saw a friend do it, who saw a friend do it, who saw a friend do it, etc.

Last but not least… decriminalization will not get rid of the worst drug offenders (meth, opiates, etc) which cause a disproportionate amount of morbidity. There are many countries in this world where you can buy prescription strength opiate derviatives over the counter. This is so because the governments regulate the opiate, and are not afraid of addicts abusing the drug. The addicts don’t abuse the OTC drugs because regulation and taxation makes them more expensive than the heroin cut with God-knows-what that they can get down the street. Regulation in this case has not done anything to provide “clean” drugs (because the addicts choose the cheaper “dirty” ones), nor has it cut down on abuse (because even while undercutting the government price the criminals make a hefty profit margin).

Posted by steevio | Report as abusive

Follow the Swiss and embrace harm reduction. Dispensing heroin by prescription from government clinics results in less violent crime, fewer new cases of HIV and Hepatitis, weakening the European drug cartels and up to 70% sobriety for participants. Or follow the US and dramatically increase harm by creating more prisons, police, courts, crime, disease and death. Or, hope that human neurochemistry will suddenly evolve and no one will ever want to get high again. This is a war that cannot be won by fighting, but will end when both sides surrender.

Posted by Whitecoat | Report as abusive

If pot were legalized, I suspect a lot of the harder drug use would drop off.

Posted by MikeF | Report as abusive

Please note that a lot of the hysterical anti-drug propaganda is financed by vested interests – federal agencies that would lose their reason for existing if the drug war ended (DEA) and from the beer, wine and tobacco industries, who would see a decline in sales due to competition from substances like coca leaf and opium resin, which are the unrefined and unadulterated or chemically altered versions of cocaine and heroin.

The best way to manage a transition would be to use the beer and wine regulation approach. For example, raw coca leaf could be treated like beer, and refined cocaine like hard alcohol – i.e. it can only be sold in stores or bars with a special license to sell it. Cities control liquor licenses, so that allows for local, non-police state regulation. Even here there are problems – such as the high numbers of liquor stores in poor urban communities, say. Coca leaf has been used in the leaf form for centuries with no ill effect, certainly no less than coffee.

Deregulation doesn’t mean that people would be shooting up in public, any more than they’d be drinking out of liquor bottles in public. Instead, the issue would primarily become a public health issue.

Finally, you have several other classes of drugs with which there are issues. LSD and psilocybin and mescaline are potent hallucinogens, and MDMA and methamphetamine (as well as Ritalin and Adderall) are powerful stimulants. However, this just reinforces the original point – the Prohibition approach just doesn’t work. In fact, Prohibition makes drug use even more dangerous, as the drugs may be adulterated, or too concentrated, leading to overdoses and increased public health costs. So, for these drugs, the hard alcohol regulatory route is probably fine – along with some public education campaigns.

LSD is a tricky one. I can’t really see “LSD bars” – but I can see allowing various traditional groups to use peyote or whatever in their ceremonies. Keep in mind, though, that emotionally or psychologically unstable people shouldn’t use drugs or drink much, period. Under professional supervision, however, some of the potent hallucinogens/MDMA-type drugs do seem to have unique therapeutic potentials, such as breaking long-term alcoholism, etc.

Posted by ike | Report as abusive

GEOFFREY rues: I agree that the current strategy is not working, but I cannot with good conscience live with government revenues made off selling a product that so imprisons its users that they often wish they were dead.

TO WHICH I reply: Organized crime and international drug cartels appreciate your giving them the nod in preference to a more combination of private businesses subject to sensible government oversight.

Meanwhile, the relatively teeny (less than one million North Americans are users of either crack cocaine or heroin) population of people currently making the very dubious personal choice to use either of those two drugs will continue to do seek out their drug whether it be from regulated, controlled sources or via the unregulated street market for which you unwittingly endorse.

LEIGH ponders: My problem with legalizing drugs is that does it also allow addicts taking them either by prescription or buying them over the counter to have jobs that require clear thinking. The school bus driver, the heart surgeon, the classroom teacher, the plumber, the pharmacist?

I REPLY: Any school bus driver, heart surgeon, classroom teacher or plumber who currently wishes to use mind-altering drugs is free to do so now via the use of the mind altering drug alcohol. Yet I think it’s reasonable to presume that very very few choose to do so while engaged in their primary employment.

Your well intended observation is further exposed as a mental straw man when you consider that it’s unlikely you or I could find anyone in the above noted professions who has any interest in using currently illicit mind-altering drugs while they’re working on their jobs.

How about you? If currently illicit drugs were made legally accessible to adults as over 99.99% of the pharmacopia and alcohol are today, would you add any of them to your current diet while working in your own profession?

I know my answer to that would be No. If we can presume that you too would answer No, why do you infer that the Other Guy is any less wiser and astute than you and I?

The reason you and I and virtually everyone else do not use drugs which impair our mental facilties while working is not because we fear arrest if found in possession. Rather, it is because we all know full well that we prefer to do our jobs with minds which are not impaired.

Such sensible reasoning does not require a criminal justice hammer to keep us in check. And it certainly does not merit our ceding control of these aforementioned mind-altering drugs to a criminal market which actively markets the drugs to minors, actively employs minors to help sell and which wages violence against police and civilians alike.

Finally in response to a couple of other posed notions earlier in this Comment thread:

I am a recovered former abuser of the drugs cocaine and methamphetamine (straight since Oct 1995). I’ve spent the last 13 years attending and working with recovering drug abusers in treatment and recovery settings. Here’s a couple of lessons learned.

1) Crack cocaine only exists because people who want the effects of cocaine cannot afford powder form due to the high street prices forced by Prohibition. If users had more easy access to powder cocaine, it would be very very rare for them to want crack.

The analogy of crack/powder to Everclear/beer&wine is the best I know. Many people enjoy using alcohol and even strong liquor. But very very few have any interest in knocking back 150proof Everclear. It’s simply far too strong and physically debilitating.

1a) Here’s the good news for those concerned about the very real problems associated with the use of cocaine in any form. Give a user virtually unlimited access to powder cocaine and I promise you – in fact would place a wager with anyone – that the user would not last more than 90 days before seeking out whatever help they need to quit forever.

Cocaine is GREAT. Until you can use it ALL THE TIME. Notice that when more highly visible folks like athletes and celebrities get into coke, they peak very quickly and then seek out help to quit. They do so because they are not constrained by the cost of street coke. Only the more regular guy/gal struggles with coke for years because they quite simply Never Get Enough to force them into the realization that they don’t want to do it anymore.

2) “meth” is of course slang for street manufactured amphetamines. We can reduce the current US population of about a half million “meth” users by allowing more reasonable access to pharmaceutical grade amphetamines which are manufactured and distributed in controlled settings.

======

Thanks again to G Debussman for his astute commentary and to Reuters for giving him the space, as well as the friendly venue for diverse commentary in response.

I searched Brookings site for the article referenced and was not able to find it. Can anyone provide a link or some help to locate it.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

We as a society need to recognize drug abuse as a form of mental illness. If we are willing to legalize drugs, we need to be willing to treat the cause of the of the addiction. The danger of drug use is the abuse of ones self and the lack of ability to recognize the underlaying issues of addiction. The Swiss have recognized the cause of addiction and offer mental health support as part of the program for legalizing drugs.

Posted by darc | Report as abusive

No matter what well defined argument is given, our prison and court systems will never agree to legalize drugs. The financial benefit to keep drugs illegal are too great.

That said, I strongly feel that you can’t legislate morality. As long as a drug user is not hurting anyone (but perhaps themselves), then I see no crime as being committed. The legalization of most drugs would end street/gang violence over drug turf, and eliminate many other violent crimes. I think it’s a great idea, but I’m not holding my breath.

Posted by Marla | Report as abusive

ANDY, here’s a link to the New York Times coverage of the Brookings report as archived at our website. Included in the headers is a further link directly to the Brookings website and the referenced report

http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v08/n1061  /a06.html

Cheers from Clearwater FL

Steve

If full legalization is too much to soon for our society to accept, why not just weed? Weed is less harmful and addictive than alcohol. Sitcoms make light of marijuana use and no one seems to mind. When celebs get caught with MJ outcry is usually very mild. America is cool with the herb.

Americans do however seem to hate the hard stuff. Catch your high schooler with a joint, you may be disappointed and angry. What about an 8 ball of coke? That has boarding school written all over it.

My plan is to make weed legal to reduce hard drug use. Legal pot will serve as an alternative to the hard stuff for some people. Even more significantly though, legalizing pot will undermine the drug infrastructure.

Everyone knows someone who can get pot. If I want to take up heroin, I may not know someone who can score some. I can however talk to my pot guy, he can talk to his guy, and somewhere upstream there is usually someone with hard drugs for sale. Without the massive network of illegal pot dealers/users the hard drug market looses the core of the illegal drug industry. Pot dealers and resellers make up the vast majority of drug dealers. Take them away and making the connection with someone who can get hard drugs become more difficult.

Posted by Josh | Report as abusive

As a northern NY resident, in a perverse way I hope that the government does not come to its senses and legalize drugs because if that transpired, it would hurt the economy of this region.

Currently we warehouse thousands of prisoners, mostly drug-related charges, and that industry provides well-paying employment for thousands of our neighbors, in turn reducing my taxes.

So, please, Stay Stupid !

Posted by Greg Brown | Report as abusive

[...] This is a conclusion a lot of frustrated law enforcement officials have come to, and they are campaigning for an end to prohibition. Reuters has more. [...]

Well first of all it has been a long time since i saw such a high level in posts regarding an article published by Reuters. Thanks to most of the people for their input in this debate.

Except the fact that lots of tax revenues could be used by the State instead of dealers and/or corrupted functionnaries, there could be a control of the users population age by carding them at the entry of any coffee shop selling it, dealers in the streets do not card anyone but I guess everyone knows that.

Less people in jail, less taxpayers money spent to inneficient agencies like the DEA, cops spending time protecting the population instead of agressing a part of our citizens.

To pretend that weed isnt addicting is a joke though, just as much as to pretend that war on drugs has been a success. A totaly failed policy that actually boost criminality in our streets, creates tragedies in producing countries like Colombia (among many others) and provides tons of money to our ennemies in Afghanistan.

Legalizing drugs with a tight State control is the only way to change things for the better, keeping sales prices as low as possible in order to have peasants in South America and everywhere else understanding that growing corn pays back more than weed or coca.

After decades of propaganda I doubt people will we willing to think with their heads instead of their hearts, even when facing a total failure regarding our drugs policies…

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

I’ve studied the “war on drugs” in an academic setting from the both the criminal justice and political science perpectives for the past four years. In four years all that I have learned is that ablolutely nothing we have done is working. Our prison situation is horrible, dockets across the country are overloaded, and a lousy little possession charge for marijuana can be enough to prevent people from being awarded financial aid for higher education. This is a means by which we label people, from which they can never recover.

I would also like to point out that even among those prosecuted for drugs crimes, there is a theme of wantonness. Two people within the same state, convicted of the same offense, could easily be subject to two radically different sentences (i.e. probation v. hard prison time). This is against the tenets of the American justice system.

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

I would be most interested to know how or why anyone at Reuters (?) decided that the “Best Comment” on the issues discussed in Debusmann’s fine article is the one at the top which reads, “it is a nice idea, but regardless of the fiscal results, this is not likely to happen. for a long time the message has been that drugs are bad even though the 2 most deadly ones are legal.”

For the commentator’s logic is at once more twisted than the characteristic logic of the Bush White House and more circular than the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol – moreover, perfectly reflects the very insanity of which Debusmann writes.

Notice, first, that the commentator is careful to interject the phrase, “regardless of the fiscal results” in his statement that drug legalization is not likely to happen. This is paralleled by use of the phrase “even though” in the following sentence. That kind of absolutist talk is characteristic of mindless fixation on an idea – an idea which wipes every other thought out of awareness. This is the mentality of the God-inspired moral crusader. Drug War ideology trumps every other consideration. No matter the cost in dollars or lives, no matter how many people are locked up, no matter how many families are shattered or careers ruined, no matter how many freedoms are lost, no matter what brutality the process entails, no matter how ineffective or even counterproductive it all is, the the moral crusade shall go on as before – to the end of time if necessary. And this is “even though” the deadliest drugs are legal ones. All of which has the ring of utter madness.

Debusmann’s point, however, is not that ending the Drug War is a “nice idea” but that it is a necessary idea, and inevitable: what works will in the end replace what doesn’t, whether anyone likes it or not. Why keep doing the same useless thing over and over again while expecting a different result? To those not motivated by Drug-War ideology, the moral crusade against drugs carries no weight. But even so, the commentator’s logic is that we are nevertheless doomed (programmed – as though by the cultural-software equivalent of a computer virus?) to repeat the same non- or counter-productive action or program forever simply because that is what we are doing, or been doing for a long time, which is approximately the definition of maximum unintelligence – or rock-bottom stupidity.

Almost beyond doubt, some such malicious cultural software-programming of the human brain is at work here: call it moral.crusade.DrugWar.exe
A very high proportion of the American people are, it seems, infected by it.

Once again, just listen: “for a long time the message has been that drugs are bad even though the 2 most deadly ones are legal.” The problem seems to be that a long time ago somebody decided that drugs are bad – and that we are consequently forced, willy nilly, to go on accepting this determination forever. We have no minds of our own; the decision was made generations ago and we just have to go on helplessly living by that decision. That is the message: moral.crusade.DrugWar.exe/DrugsAreBad

But who is the messenger? We don’t know. But this is nothing more than a maximally childish and stupid, even infantile, way of abdicating our own responsibility, and of hiding from ourselves the fact that it is ourselves, here and now, not some authority from the past, or from on High, who determines our destiny.

The problem of Americans today is that they have, in the mass, to a dangerously high degree, taken leave of both intellect and the senses, being all too willing to close their eyes, bury their heads in the sand, and just accept “authority.” If they are just now waking up from this sleep in significant numbers, the question is whether this awakening is not too late. They seem to need someone to do their thinking for them. Fortunately, they now have Barack Obama, who is competent to do just that if necessary, especially with the help of the minority of Americans who haven’t lost their brains and remain uninfected by the “program.”

Of course it has occurred to me that the stated “Best Comment” was chosen for that distinction because, ironically, it does so perfectly reflect the brain-dead state of the United States of America.

Once again, chalk it up to the mindless operation of (among others) the malicious program moral.crusade.DrugWar.exe

This is not quite a joke.

Posted by David Ferrell | Report as abusive

As a white male college educated to the post doctoral level and now at my 60th Birthday – I am shocked to learn that the US Policies regarding their “war on drugs” has not changed substantially in 20 years. Other than to pump up our prison populations – which very soon we are not going to be able to sustain financially due to the drain of money on both the state and federal levels – the fact that regulated and policed and taxed drugs sales would inject (by most conservative estimates) over $100 BILLION per year into our already tortured economy cannot continue to be ignored! The goal of a drug free world is no more obtainable than the goal of an alcohol free world was in the 1930′s. People will have their temporary escape from reality and their relaxations that can be induced chemically on demand. Period. No one or no thing is going to deny them access to those dubious pleasures at any cost! I’ve come to believe that the drive to have these things may be deeply rooted in the human genome itself and therefore not changeable by mankind. This need may have a purpose we do not fully understand and it may offer a benefit we are not fully aware of yet, also. We do not know because to date we have criminalized the use of these substances, forced their manufacture underground where there are no quality controls nor standardization of strength or dose in a given ingestion of susbtance – ie: you can have a “line” of cocaine that contains 1/60th of a gram of pure cocaine hydrochloride @ 50% strength, 10% strength or 5% strength. The exact amount ingested is not known by the user and this results in overdosage, deaths, heart attacks etc. And for NO REASON! If there were standard manufacturing controls, the buyer would know what amount of active ingredient was in each dose, and the other serious medical complications from (mostly) hit and miss dosage being administered each time the substance was used. We, at present, have no way of knowing how many heart attacks or strokes or other major medical events are the direct result of an unwanted and unintended overdose of a recreational drug. But the guess are as high as 30% of all admissions nationally are a result of unknown amounts being ingested by casual users. By contrast, when you purchase wine you know the alcohol content is about 7%. Beer about 4%, hard liquor varies by proof from 40 to 60 percent alcohol by volume. While admittedly some idiot kid will drink a quart of vodka and wind up in the ER, it is far less frequently this happens than with drugs – simply because with alcohol you know what you are getting in terms of active ingredient with every oz ingested. Not so drugs of any sort. And in the free enterprise world often time drugs are diluted with other substances ranging from baking soda to baby powder. Both of which can cause substantial harm if injected.

Bottom Line: The war on drugs is a looser. We cannot win because it ignores the law of supply and demand. And there will always be that demand at any price and with any risk. The degree of risk only serves to drive the price up and increase profit for the criminal elements who are now the supply and distribution arm.

Package it, properly, show dosing info on the package, for injection users supply a clean sterile single use needle with each prepackaged standardized dose, and regulate and tax the hell out of it! Suddenly you get the profit out of it for the criminals, you have a better safer product for the users and instead of risking arrest they’re putting away money for their weekend party usage like they do now for their booze usage on weekends. For those who become addicted there would be free and effective treatment available. Medically we can deal with drug dependency. But we cannot deal with it as long as it’s treated as a character flaw and not as a medical problem. We NEVER know who has a hyper-sensitivity to alcohol and once they have one drink can literally not stop drinking until they pass out. Yet we still manage to sell it to those who do not suffer from such a condition. Those who do quickly either learn to avoid it or run afowl of the law and wind up forced into treatment. The same thing could happen with any type of drug. There may be those who once they have that first hit of Coke cannot stop snorting it until they pass our or die from heart failure. Those two will quickly be identified and given the option of effective treatment to get them off of it permanently. Again, this is something that medical science is fairly adept at today, and drug treatment would, once it was decriminalized become better and better with each passing year. The VAST majority of drug users in America today are not the street junkies you see. Or the crack addicts you hear about letting their childern go hungry while they drift off into their own drug-befuddled world. The majority are respectable citizens who are casual users – week end warriors so to speak. They buy a bit for a party, or to share with a friend. They’er out drinking, dancing and using whatever substance of choice comes along – and when it wears off in the morning they’re left with nothing worse than a hangover and a need to feel better before Monday Morning comes along. Fairly innocuous stuff. Maybe we could redirect the efforts of the law enforcement to solving violent crimes. Robberies and rapes and assualts and murders should all decrease once drugs were legalized. The balance of trade would quickly drop into line as the other countries followed suit and started importing the American Packaged and designed brand names of marijuana, cocaine, and hash. The profit would be astronomical considering that the single dose would sell for about $10/at retail and would cost less than 10 cents to produce. Taxed at the rate of 50% there is still plenty of profit for the manufacturer and the distribution network.

For once in our history, can this country do something that makes sense? We get the police used correctly, we stop locking up petty criminals, we have the streets safe, the crime rate drops, and the economy gets one hell of a shot forward from the tax revenue. Morally, we are not supplying anything that inherently more dangerous than alcohol and we obviously seem to have no problem doing that! Come on Congress and Senators – it’s obvious that a solution is at hand. Now how about having the guts to offer it to your constituents.

Posted by MarkinARIZONA | Report as abusive

Who makes an addict? By that I mean, are addicts created? A person doesn’t start out to be an addict. Someone provides the drugs to them the first time. IF not some misguided “friend” who wants to share his “personal nirvana,” then some addicted soul who is trying to ensure his own supply by selling drugs to another person. But behind the “friends” and small suppliers are BIG suppliers, those who reap huge profits from the drug trade.

By the laws of supply and demand, we have given these big dealers a huge incentive to continue their business. Drugs are cheaply grown and processed in poverty-stricken countries. They’re smuggled into the US and sold for a large profit.

What if the United States undercut the price of drugs? What if it was cheaper for an addicted person to go to a pharmacy and buy them or even receive them free? Where would the profit incentive be for the drug dealers? There wouldn’t be one. They would cease to exist, because no business can exist where there is no profit.

With addicts receiving their daily fix, they wouldn’t need to sell to thir friends, which would reduce their need to hook others to ensure their own supply.

Couple this with a national system to help addicts recover and a deeper anti-addiction education campaign, and you would see a great reduction in new addictions which would lead to less demand.

The United States spends enough on prisons to finance the free drugs to addicts. If given a choice, some would choose recovery instead.

If we break the cycle, we could win the war against drug use in this country. We are already spending the money, shouldn’t we put it into a plan that will eliminate the drug criminals instead of punishing the addicts?

Posted by Barbara Larsen | Report as abusive

why dont we put out drugs with additives that cause sickness and other such things to do several things:
A) identify these persons by the sickness
B) discourage use due to the sickness
C) make people less likely to try drugs
If you were to flood the market with these “bogus” drugs I think you could easily slow use. This however will not stop the problem as you need to cut off the supply which we have made no real attempt to do. Also on a side note there used to be a drug tracking blip near the Texas town of Palacios, but it was later removed with no reason (that i am currentloy aware of) given.

Posted by brad | Report as abusive

How sad. David Ferrel is an extremely angry man who would have been far more effective in his arguments if he would learn to leave out so very many angry slant words, innuendoes and down right unsubstantiated opinions and stuck to the facts. “Just the facts, just the facts.” I some times wonder if there is anything such as subjective truth. I really doubt it. Try again with a far more objective approach, David, and I, along with every other “thinking” american, are ready to listen.

Posted by Donn Bogert | Report as abusive

The current recession can be viewed as a metaphor. We slow our buying a little and even the largest corporations stumble and talk of collapse. Take that thought to the illegal drug trade: The loss of demand from legalization would have an enormous effect on cartels… and nobody will bail them out.

If you want drugs to be controlled substances, you have to have control: clearly the way to have control is to be the seller. Being the seller you can undercut the illegal supply chain. You can control the farming. You can track usage redirect heavy users to treatment (remember you put the illegal markets out of business, they cannot build a supply chain on marginal users). You undercut extortion. You eliminate the Taliban’s revenues. You control the quality.

To be in control you have to sell, and you have to sell so cheap that no-one else can be in the business of selling. At that point, when you have truly a controlled substance you can start to make progress with educating and curing people. A lot less evil will be generated from start to finish.

Just do it, damn it. Stop this stupid “war on drugs” which is immoral, cruel, indefensible, and feeding the evil it supposedly opposes. If you really want good to be done, you have to do it right.

Posted by ExLoony | Report as abusive

WOW, David Ferrell! I concure completely! By far, one of the very best, most intelligent, and well written replies I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. As for Debusmann’s article, it’s a mighty fine one, indeed and truly appreciate you bringing this back out into the public eye, no matter how risky & unpopular! Will this country ever realize how ludicrous the supposed war on drugs truly is and take note of the great successes of programs in other countries, like the Netherlands.

I think anyone with half a brain, will agree with what it being said in this article. I heard someone say once that, “America is not as addicted to drugs, as they are to Drug Way spending”. Too many Americans are employed by the Drug War to just end prohibition. This needs to be a gradual process, starting with the de-criminalization of all drugs and a severe cutback in DEA and local law enforcement spending on the Drug War.

Posted by Silence Dogood | Report as abusive

[...] Nobel prize winners) to seriously rethink a strategy that ignores the laws of supply and demand. The Great Debate

Are you sure that’s a correct Einstein quote?

All you commenters in favor of legalizing or decriminalizing drugs and whining about wasted effort and wasted money – you are all completely and utterly wrong. Please take a few minutes to read what John Walters says in today’s Wall Street Journal. Listen to reason, people! Note the statistics Mr Walters cites, and the mountain of evidence that, as the headline has it: Our Drug Policy Is a Success.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12284372 5720181453.html

Posted by Claude S. | Report as abusive

I am completely in favor of the legalization of drugs & many effective arguments have been presented. My question is what will happen to the large numbers of dealers who would be forced to go “legit” after maintaining an existence on the other side of legality. Certainly there would be increased crime rates as these people search for alternate means of income. On the flip side, many dealers have a very strong business acumen & would probably end up as potentially corrupt “captains of industry” types.

Posted by Geoff | Report as abusive

Where will all the street dealers and gangs go?What sort of crime will they turn to for there money? It’s not just the legal world that doesn’t want legal drugs. Why can’t the people in power see this?

Posted by Perry | Report as abusive

I was surprised to find out that we could save so much money. But there are a few things that haven’t been pointed out, such as the burden on the health care system would, in the United States, probably require government investment to decrease the overall burden. But I am Canadian so I probably think differently than most Americans when it comes to Health Care. There is also the trickle down effect of managing a society with more drug addiction problems. However I’m sure there would be a gigantic tourism boost. Also if all drugs were free would it also be possible to allow less security around buying perscription drugs? The issue comes with significantly more complications and benefits than this article discusses. I am, however, not at all surprised that politicians are afraid to talk about. The prejudice and demonization of drugs are still very prevalent in todays society. Who knows maybe they should be.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Just another example of ‘charged’ article. Bernd Debusmann give us known facts and pretends that no one before addressed them.
1. Drug consumption actually decline.
2. Bunch drug addicts will cost us more in hospitals than in prisons.
3. Alcohol is much less addictive than grugs.
4. Taliban & al Queada didn’t participate in drug trade until recently (Strict Islam don’t allows drugs). Only now they formed uneasy alliance with druglords.
etc.
PS
He seams to be high when he wrote this article :).

Posted by SKV | Report as abusive

Well, its a nice idea, injecting $76 billion a year… but we could also stop our pointless war in Iraq thats costing $6 Billion a month.. and that would save us about the same amount… Think of how much BOTH would get us!

Posted by Mr Steinbeck | Report as abusive

But the government HAS learned from Prohibition. In the eyes of many, Prohibition was a failure only because it stopped before several now prominent families became billionaires rather than just multi-millionaires. They’ve fixed that problem now, and have managed to keep the new Prohibition gravy train flowing for almost 50 years now! This War on Drugs is a complete success – at making money for certain segments of the business world.

I learned long ago that if something doesn’t seem to make sense, follow the money. Who gets the money from war on drugs?

Law enforcement (and, through them, arms manufacturers), criminal organizations (arms manufacturers again), and a privatized prison system (oh look, owned by the same companies who own arms manufacturers). That’s just one of many groups who profit greatly from the criminalization of anything resembling “drugs”. Don’t need to look much further than that really, although I’ve sure if someone dug deep they’d find a rich seam of slime if they didn’t suffer an unfortunate accident. But we’re never going to get that investigation, because the newspapers are also owned by corporations who profit from the American War on Drugs.

To think it all started with hemp.

The anti-hemp thing started with an American newspaper magnate and lumber baron in the late 1940s who didn’t like the look of the new mechanical hemp processing machine. That machine would allow hemp to be processed efficiently, rather than being the previously manually intensive labour that it was. That would have allowed hemp to compete with his pulp and paper lumber mills – couldn’t have that. So he found an obscure northern Mexican term for hemp, “marijuana”, and started his papers cranking out anti-marijuana stories. Initially, very few people realized that the “marijuana” he was talking about was also known as “hemp”, the same hemp that the US government was exhorting people to grow in their “Hemp for Victory” campaign. However, the people who would profit from a ban on hemp were the oil companies (hemp can produce tons of oil), the lumber companies (hemp fiber makes much better paper), the cotton industry (hemp fiber is easier to process and more durable than cotton) and the pharma companies (hemp has an over abundant storehouse of useful properties) It worked, his profits soared, certain people who benefitted directly from the hemp ban were put in place in the White House and other organizations (FBI, FDA, etc.) and the hemp industry was throttled before it had a chance.

From there it was easy to add a bunch of other drugs to the mix, but it all started with hemp.

As for addiction, it’s a medical problem, not a criminal problem. Certain countries used to deal with it that way, but after heavy handed lobbying by the USA, those countries have now fallen in line. Doesn’t fix addiction, but you can’t have people proving that the War on Drugs doesn’t do what its proponents claim it does by providing alternatives that DO work.

So much material, so little space.

Posted by Marc | Report as abusive

[...] This article states we should do the same with marijuana. [...]

Quote:

“Rather than an overall legalizing of drugs, I believe it might be done in small steps by beginning with marijuana, and prohibiting anyone using it from working at any job that involves public safety or having a driver’s license. That may make people who think they might begin to use drugs for recreation think twice.”

That is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard, and, not surprisingly, is the government’s current policy for workers in safety-sensitive positions.

What really needs to be developed is a test for impairment. Drug testing measures metabolites, not impairment on the job, and therefore reaches into a person’s private life unnecessarily.

In response to the Einstein reference in the article, here’s another quote from a famous person, if it hasn’t been quoted already. (Remember, “temperance” refers to a campaign to reduce the use of something undesirable to society.)

“Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”

–Abe Lincoln

If smoke gets in your eyes, think tea. Hemp makes great tea, which does not hurt your lungs. Timely article. Thanks.

The time is coming. The propaganda the various government agencies and “non-profit” organizations have used is criminal in and of itself. Federal research money is only given to projects that claim they are researching the ills of cannabis. This was illustrated when Scientific American presented for consideration a research project to look into the health benefits of cannabis only to be turned down. SA turned around and changed the title and nothing else so the front page of this research proposal appeared to describe this study as one that was looking into the health hazards of cannabis and the study was funded. Studies around the world have shown that cannabis should not be illegal. There are numerous benefits from its use the out weigh the isolated incidents of allergic reactions. Peanuts are known to kill people but, we do not outlaw them. So, there must be more to this than just stupidity and ignorance driving our lawmakers to maintain this insanity.

The answer is Money. I do not need to go into the multitude of entities that are making money off of this black market. It is necessary for everyone to understand that they are influencing our lawmakers and are manipulating the grant process and the media in order to maintain the current flows wealth generated from and around this black market. The People of this nation need to let their Representatives know that if they do not stop the insanity it is tantamount to declaring they are a willing participant in this fraud.

So much could be done with a legal cannabis industry. Beside the obvious sale of the cannabis flower, cooking oil, seed, fuel, flour, paper, canvas, cloth, ethanol, beer and rope could be produced, sold and taxed. The cost savings in regards to prison costs and law enforcement costs coupled with the revenues from this multi-layered industry staying in this country instead of going to north and south of the boarder could create a very significant expansion in our current US economy.

Write your Congressmen! Go to http://WWW.Change.Gov and let the new Administration know you want this insanity to end.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

To my knowledge, only one nation has ever successfully won their war on drugs. It was China, at the end of the Boxer revolution. China had been conquered by the Europeans, who legalized, and promoted opium consumption, for profit. English businessmen had vast opium fields in India and wanted a market. The Chinese addict population was estimated to be 1/3 of the people. It was a severe public health problem; there were few healthy workers. After the war, China imposed a death sentence on users, or sellers, normally public beheading. After hundreds of thousands of executions, and about ten years, the addict population fell to almost, but not quite, zero.
I do not accept the legalize, regulate, tax, cost, benefit philosophy. Man is cursed with a criminal element, who will kill to make profit. When Prohibition was repealed, it did not stop organized crime; they went into drugs, protection, prostitution, loan sharking, and other societally debilitating activities.
I do judge the war on drugs is nonsense. Our drug “czar” is a bureaucrat; real czars slaughtered people who resisted them. Our official should be called the drug talking head. Other nations rightly complain that we have outsourced the “war”, the killing, to their land while doing nothing effective inside America to limit demand. Like so many of our politician’s answers, we have a very unjust application of enforcement and punishment of our laws.
Finally, I knew, in the early 1970s, the neurosurgeon – PhD in statistics who did the definitive comparison between marijuana, and alcohol in a control dosage setting. In summary, he said that chronic usage of both drugs, renders the user of alcohol highly insensitive to the toxin, but highly sensitized to marijuana. Thus after a fun weekend, a sober driver of a car pool would be unaffected if someone in the back seat took a drink, but instantly buzzed if he, and their were smoking herb. Most people control their behavior, but most drugs make that impossible, in his view. He convinced me that this is not a moral issue, but a matter of prudent legislation. He favored controlling drugs.

Posted by R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. | Report as abusive

My favorite recent inanity in this thread is Claude S. getting all caught up in the John Walters’ children’s logic. To claim “our” drug policy is a success is to ignore the utter indictment that the long view, adopted by LEAP, takes. Walters numbers are utterly misleading when a basic check is done against the same data sets the government uses. Jacob Sullum at Reason Online succinctly sums up Walters’ risible BS here:

http://reason.com/blog/show/130421.html

Posted by Mic Bearing | Report as abusive

the comment about a test for impairment is spot-on. first of all, marijuana should be legalized. it is simply ludicrous that a drug so much safer than alcohol remains criminal while legal consumption of alcohol continues to kill countless US citizens every year. however, equally bothersome is the way in which marijuana users are unfairly persecuted when seeking employement. if i smoke a joint on the weekend, i can do my job just fine on Monday. but not according to a UI. according to a UI, a joint i smoked a MONTH ago renders me unfit to work! conversely, alcoholics show up to work drunk all the time and nobody bothers to test for that. the current system operates in the opposite direction of sense and reason.

Posted by jen | Report as abusive

Legalize It! Regulate It! that is the only way to bridge the 300 billion dollar tax gap from underground monies, to stop the violence and get all these people doing time for stupid half ass drug charges out of our prisons living of off our hard tax money. get them out of our prisons and stop putting them in there. we might as well take whatever drug offenders you’re going to put in prisons and put them in our homes, it costs us about the same amount of money and we would probably do a better job of reforming them than the great failure we call our prison “reform” system.

if the government legalized drugs we as tax payers would be a lot better off. alcohol is legal and there are still alcoholics. whether it’s legal or not people will do it, and commit crimes for it. we might as well save the people who don’t do it from having to take care of the people that do partake in it.

Posted by somebody | Report as abusive

i completely agree with Jen. Habitual smokers are looked down upon by people who drink every night and smoke cigartettes every night. they are all hypocrites.

Posted by somebody | Report as abusive

Mic Bearing: You have to develop a better sense for figuring out what is satire, irony and ridicule and what is serious…

Posted by Claude S. | Report as abusive

Drugs are illegal because using them is immoral. Why is that so easy to overlook. If you ever lived in New York City, you may have learned about Rudy Giuliani brought down crime when he was Mayor.

Giuliani employed something called the “broken window theory” to fighting crime. Instead of overlooking smaller crimes, like petty drug use and drug sales, he went after them, with the expectation that locking up petty criminals will prevent them from committing more serious crime.

Drug abusers commit crime not just because of economic issues, but more so because of moral or social defects in their personality. They will commit other crime regardless of whether drugs are legal or not.

We are better off keeping drugs illegal, and using these laws to get people off the street before the commit more serious crimes.

Posted by Jenny Ling Po | Report as abusive

I agree with legalizing drugs… however, I also believe that there are two things to take into consideration here.

1) Marijuana can expediate or draw out schizophrenia in a person predisposed to the mental illness. Therefore, there should be some restrictions to where it can be used. (Outside or in private residence only, for example.)

2) Yes, people are allergic to it, but they can easily avoid contact in most circumstances. There are people out there that are allergic to cigarette smoke and they seem to be doing just fine managing it.

However, in addition, it should be MANDATED that there are NO ADDITIVES to the product. To be honest, these additives are what make resisting cigarettes after use very difficult. Sure, the tobacco itself is addictive, but the toxins that they introduce make it even more so.

The marijuana (AND tobacco, to be honest) should be grown organically, without pesticides or impure fertilization. The reason marijuana can produce some bad side effects is directly linked to how it is grown, so it stands to reason that the same goes for tobacco.

Also, we need to get the extra toxins in the tobacco industry out of cigarettes – this is what generally causes the cancer, not the tobacco leaf. (Granted, inhaling smoke regularly probably is not all that healthy for you anyway, but why not make it less dangerous?)

Posted by CS | Report as abusive

>> Well, its a nice idea, injecting $76 billion a year… but we could also stop our pointless war in Iraq thats costing $6 Billion a month.. and that would save us about the same amount… Think of how much BOTH would get us!

AND while we’re at it, let get rid of public schools. After all, there just baby-sitting services anyway. Private schools are MUCH better at teaching because they can actually focus ON teaching, instead of focusing on mitigating law suits.

We could also save a TON of money if dispensed with all entitlement programs. That would certainly add to the coffers AND those who are currently participating in those programs would have the benefit of getting their dignity back from the government who is currently holding their self respect.

But if you REALLY wanted to save money, we could kill everyone who still is stupid enough to think that Iraq is illegal or pointless. With the added energy saving from that endeavourer alone, we could ALL be millionaires.

Posted by Jon | Report as abusive

From my experience we really need to look at the supply and demand issue more closely. I really believe from my own experience that tons and tons of marijuana are available in our country on a daily basis. This would mean that literally train loads of the stuff has to be coming in everyday just to supply the demand. How can these “dealers” be more adept at shipping and distribution than some of our most successful companies? It is my firm belief that in order to meet the demand some of our most trusted officials have to be involved. Why would they change laws that make them so much money every day? This is the only logical conclusion I can come to for how the sheer mass quantity of this drug alone can be dispersed accross the country to every small town and city.

Posted by Walter Reynolds | Report as abusive

Where do you draw the line? Do you legalize a drug like meth? What about heroin? Drugs like this can quite litterally kill a person in just a few uses ~ do you legalize them as well?

Posted by Grant | Report as abusive

People. Come on…. its pot, NOT that big of a deal. I’m 20 and a criminal justice/poli-sci major. I cannot wait for my shot at politics…
Check out the requirements for Schedule I drugs…tell me if marijuana REALLY fits any of them. You sound like a DEA agent yourself. Hopefully things will change because even Obama has admitted it is a massive waste of resources.
Look of the list of people who have admitted to smoking, look at the medical effects, look at how it is impossible to overdose…leave your education to yourself, not your dare officer or neighborhood cop. The DEA are the only people who actually enforce this crap. PLEASE, just look into it, I don’t care, do likesome of these other clowns did and Google it. Really look at both sides.
It is absolutely ridiculous to assume that marijuana users commit more serious crimes, more serious crimes like what, getting arrested for having a bong instead of a joint? You don’t hear about pot smokers breaking into houses to catch a fix, unlike people on your prescription drugs.
The serious crime argument is almost as bad of an argument that marijuana is a gateway drug, what about cigarettes and alcohol? Give me a fricken break. Who are you to speak for all of us: “we are better off” BETTER OFF HOW? How do you know what is better off for everyone, I didn’t know we were in the presence of the world’s greatest philosopher. Consider yourself propagandized, feed your own head. You’re an embarrassment.

Posted by Alex Olsen | Report as abusive

We cant say this wont happen when it is so direly needed. We must pursue a policy of legalization in different formats without delay, and such policies can earn needed tax dollars.

The way out of this mess is in education. Just like we educate not to drink and drive we must educate not to abuse drugs. Making them illegal creates a market primed for corruption.

We owe a change to our neighbors and as Christians we have to think about the impact in Latin American and the Caribbean and elsewhere of our demand and our current War on Drugs.

Many Americans decidantly use illegal drugs flippantly ignorant to the destruction and saddness our approach brings to countries where the standard of living is so much lower, yet with populations who would do so much more for a better life for their families

Posted by Truthmurph | Report as abusive

The government and the laws make this drug a problem. Check out penn and tellers bulls**t: the war on drugs. Not the drug itself. And it is not solidified that it worsens mental diseases, the DEA is so against it they won’t even let us study it to figure out the REAL effects it has.

Posted by Alex Olsen | Report as abusive

To all concerned
We all know the pro’s and con’s of this issue.except for the few who can’t or won’t take the time to look at the facts.I want to say to all of you please now is the time to do something anything. end this foolish war on drugs and help the USA at the same time.talk to your friends,get your friends to talk to their friends anybody and everybody you can think of and have them write your government representative. you have to speak and write now make sure they know that you will not vote for them unless they do something now.

I believe I read somewhere that prohibitions on marijuana began shortly after the prohibition on alcohol were lifted, and represented a move by alcohol companies to eliminate a competitor. And, the primary users of marijuana were african americans, and became another instrument of control.

The question to ask is: who benefits? Let me guess, alcohol producers, their lobbyist, and their politicians; DEA etc enforcement authorities; covert military operations that have used crop eradication and a war on drugs to funnel arms and money to 3rd world countries, usually supporting of course, butchers and dictators along the way.

The absurdity of the war on drugs is obvious; for that absurdity to continue must mean there is something else going on

Posted by Thomas Browne | Report as abusive

I have several herniated disk in my back & neck, psoriatic arthritis as well survived four abdominal surgeries, with out marijuana I would never be able to sleep, it works well with neuropathic pain. It has greatly improved my ability to move around, my quality of life has been greatly approved.

Posted by Don Hays | Report as abusive

December 5th, 2008
5:03 pm GMT Drugs are illegal because using them is immoral. Why is that so easy to overlook. If you ever lived in New York City, you may have learned about Rudy Giuliani brought down crime when he was Mayor.

Giuliani employed something called the “broken window theory” to fighting crime. Instead of overlooking smaller crimes, like petty drug use and drug sales, he went after them, with the expectation that locking up petty criminals will prevent them from committing more serious crime.

Drug abusers commit crime not just because of economic issues, but more so because of moral or social defects in their personality. They will commit other crime regardless of whether drugs are legal or not.

We are better off keeping drugs illegal, and using these laws to get people off the street before the commit more serious crimes.

- Posted by Jenny Ling Po
Well Jenny, I’m so happy you see drugs the way you do. Then I can count on you to support the re-implementation of alcohol prohibition and the prohibition of tobacco? I’m thinking about pushing for the prohibition of all drugs that kill people. This means most pharmaceuticals, NSAID’s, Aspirin, etc. Plus, don’t forget about the 100,000+ Americans killed by doctors and pharmacists mistakes they make with drugs each year. Oh yeah. Let’s not forget the drug that most Americans use and enjoy daily, caffeine. Yes, deaths have been attributed to caffeine. But, wait a minute, marijuana has never been proven to kill anyone, ever. Maybe, we should legalize marijuana on this basis. Oh, the U.S. Congress just congratulated itself for ending alcohol prohibition 75 years ago? I guess we’ll have to avoid trying to get alcohol prohibited again. This makes me sad as it’s the drug most often involved in violence. Plus, it’s turned a lot of people into alcoholics/addicts. I’m sure our congress knows what it’s doing. But, knowing how evil alcohol and tobacco are, how does congress justify letting adults buy and use such immoral drugs? That’s right, 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. Congress is proud that they ended alcohol prohibition because it failed, except in creating even more evil than there was before prohibition. This means that congress made the mess by createing the Volstead act in the first place. Huh? So, why does congress believe in and continue to force marijuana prohibition on Americans when it’s createing even more evils? Maybe, I’ll have to support a regulated market for marijuana. After all, it worked when we re-legalized alcohol. Our weak economy sure could use the billions of tax dollars that would come from the legal sale of marijuana, too. Maybe you should support a regulated cannabis market too, Jenny. By the way, we’ve tried arresting and jailing our way out of the mess that cannabis prohibition has made. That’s why we’re the #1 prison nation on Earth and we’re building even more prisons to hold drug users. At the expense of building and funding schools. But, drug user’s get a college degree in crime in prisons. That way they can go out and do far more nefarious crimes than use drugs and they’ll have learned how not to get caught. So, that can’t be all bad, can it?

Posted by Mark Entry | Report as abusive

I have mixed feelings on drugs and prohibition, but one thing i do know is that alcohol is as much of a drug a marijuana. In fact, most people (of all ages) agree that pot is far less volatile than alcohol and many over the counter/legal prescription drugs. People who have never tried drugs shouldn’t have anything to say, because anything they do say is just speculation, or a reiteration of something someone else told them. Personally, I feel that, depending on the use of a drug like pot, it isn’t consistently immoral. Cancer patients use medical marijuana to help them eat and to take the pain away, and at the same time someone else can use a regulated dose of the same drug to help them with back pain, headaches, and many other ailments. Speaking from the vantage point of someone who has used marijuana as both a social and medical drug, the long-term/short-term effects don’t hold up to those of alcohol etc. With our current economic crisis, I can’t say that legalizing drugs like cannabis is a wrong move. Does anyone agree? I know for a fact that most habitual marijuana users would be willing to pay a tax to get what they need/want, so what’s wrong with that? Though, if the legalization were to actually take place we would need a firm set of rules and guidelines with consequences, like we have with alcohol.

Posted by Wes | Report as abusive

Two 2008 reports, From Options to Action: A Roadmap for City Leaders to Connect Formerly Incarcerated Individuals to Work and Employment after Prison: A Longitudinal Study of Releasees in Three States, support the effectiveness of employment in reducing crime.

The benefits to the community of hiring the ex-offender are powerful. It is clear that if ex-offenders are employed, they are far less likely to commit crimes, including violent crimes. Businesses would be more likely to prosper without the fear of criminal acts. Another benefit would be the cost savings. The cost of incarcerating one federal offender for a year is $24,922 versus $3,621.72 for community supervision (July 2008). the average prison sentence at the closest federal prison to Delaware, in Fairton, N.J., is 120.5 months. Sixty-nine percent of the inmates at that institution are incarcerated for drug or firearm offenses. Many have landed there due in large part to lack of opportunities, dysfunctional backgrounds or situational factors that came together, causing the “perfect storm” in their lives. Studies, and experiences in other parts of the country strongly indicate that probation offices working with ex-offenders, in an evidence-based practice approach reduces recidivism. The cost of incarcerating an addict costs 10X more than treatment does. Add that to the fact, that many less people are likely to re-offend after treatment (vs. jail) and you can see how the savings would be quite significant. http://www.drug-addiction.com/addiction_ is_illness.htm

Posted by Mark Entry | Report as abusive

The Government uses it’s authority to frighten the masses into accepting the need to continue prohibition with scare tactics propaganda. They used distortion and lies to criminalize cannabis and have followed this pattern ever since to keep it illegal. What simple measure can we employ to test this fact? Alcohol prohibition didn’t work. So congress re-legalized it, knowing it’s an addictive and deady drug. Alcohol and tobacco combined kill 100′s of thousands of Americans yearly. These drugs are definitely immoral to use. But, they’re legal. While cannabis has never been proven to have killed anyone and it’s illegal. Alcohol prohibition didn’t work and cannabis prohibition will? When, in another 72 years? Sorry guys, our nation can’t endure the ever increasing evils of cannabis prohibition much longer. Just look at Mexico. That’s where most of our cannabis comes from and they’re locked in a war of survival with the drug cartels. Just because cannabis is illegal. This is going on right next door to us. How much longer before we too are in the same situation? All because prohibition is the devil we do know and legalized cannabis is the devil we don’t know. People, it’s time you did research independent of government propaganda. Then you’ll be shocked to learn the truth. Cannabis isn’t a devil at all. Cannabis was not a problem until prohibtionists made it into a problem. It’s a plant that in it’s natural, unadulterated state doesn’t kill and is less addictive than caffeine (NIDA). While alcohol promotes violence, can destroy the liver and kills, cannabis does not. While tobacco causes cancers and kills they user. Cannabis does not. The problem we’ve had is the U.S. Government will not allow an open discussion between itself and cannabis advocates. The reason for the wall of silence is the government knows that if we were allowed to confront congress a majority of Americans would demand a regulated market for the sale of cannabis to adults. Prohibtionists and drug cartels have something in common. They both fear the legalization of cannabis. Because, this will put a stop to them riding the gravy train. Before you prohibitionists get started about what prohibtion has accomplished. Please, visit this link and refute the fact that prohibition plays little role in teens decision to abstain from marijuana use http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7748

Posted by Mark Entry | Report as abusive

Marijuana should be made just as legal as alcohol with the same restrictions etc. There’s no question about that. As for other drugs, I’m open to options.

Some drugs, under certain circumstances are NOT immoral. I believe that some hallucinogens such as LSD (uncut), peyote and ‘shrooms, under the guidance of an experienced shaman, psychiatrist or somebody like that, can help one contact the spiritual realm. Deride my beliefs if you will but I’m appalled that so many people are so arrogant that they think they should have the right to make my religious beliefs illegal!

Posted by Skydancer | Report as abusive

Every year is a even bigger ‘banner year’ for cannabis seizures and arrests. Only 5-10% of all cannabis is interdicted. So, every year is actually a far biggger ‘banner year’ for cannabis traffickers. Cannabis is widespread, commonplace, socially accepted and it’s not going away. But, the cannabis prohibition industry insists on pushing that which hasn’t worked and has only made matters worse for 72 years. They justify the need to continue the war on cannabis users by pointing to ever increasing seizures and arrests, which actually only point out prohibition’s failure. What do you call it when someone has a bad habit which calls for ever increasing power and ever larger budgets to maintain a delusional state which ends up hurting the very body which created prohibition? Yes, it’s called addiction. Prohibtionists are addicts and they won’t be satisfied until they take away everone’s rights and assets and destroy this nation and themselves.

Posted by Mark Entry | Report as abusive

Who profits from jailing drug users? Prohibtionist elements like LEO’s, Prisons, politicians, alcohol & tobacco, pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals and drug cartels all profit by keeping cannabis illegal. Who looses from keeping cannabis illegal? Tax Payers, broken homes, Police officers, innocents, parents, farmers, schools, teachers, students, and licensed merchants. Americans need to wake up and decide to organize and attend nationwide protest against prohibition. Anyone who says that cannabis prohibition fights crime and protects our society is completely wrong. Prohibition creates demand for the ‘forbidden fruit’. Prohibition makes it extremely profitable to meet the demand for cannabis and has made organized crime syndicates far more wealthy, powerful, corruptive, aggressive and deadly than they were during alcohol prohibtion. If prohibition is working. Why are drugs more available, more potent and less expensive than they were just 10 years ago? Why is it that 86% of teens say they can easily get cannabis within one hour? Why is it that teens say they can get cannabis easier than alcohol or tobacco? That’s because licensed merchants prevent the sale of alcohol and tobacco to kids 90% of the time. Licensed merchants would make it harder for the underaged to get cannabis, too.

Posted by Mark Entry | Report as abusive

It’s unbelievable that the United States social-economic denial has persisted for 50 years wholesale and across the board that prohibition of drugs in general is and has been a total failure. We as a nation are admittedly stupid to have carried this posture toward drugs out this far – this long. The “War on Drugs” was lost the day the day it was started. The rest of the world has watched the United States bash its collective head against the wall repeatedly every year for 50 years with the exact same approach to prohibition exacting the exact same resulting failure. Wholesale denial – wholesale failure – everytime. It’s a 100% equation. The greatest nation on earth? Think about it.

Ideally we need to trust only ourselves. In real world, most be people do not develop a sense of what is good and bad for themselves till 26 years old. I remember the pot heads, the coke abusers, the meth and so on and so on. Yes, not all pot smokers got messed up. But some did. In fact, I would say a good ten percent had psychotic problems for then on. So, what is the expense of free use? People deny that a good 30 percent of kids are depressed and looking for escape. Alcohol provided an escape till it was completely outlawed for kids. Then drugs came in. Alcohol is well known in society; I think we can deal with it. Drugs in general produce such bizarre and long lasting effects; society cannot deal with it. People who push drugs to children should be shot on site. This would cause no bribes nor corruption for no judge is involved. Yes, American judges are never watched like policemen. And yes, police raids are based on tips from rival gangs. Drug gangs make Bin Laden look grade school. Remember, under Ronald Reagan, American Express was tipped off by the Washington FBI that the NY FBI were going to make a bust of American Express for drug laundering. Oops, all the bad guys removed their money electronically to off shore banks. Wow, to think drug lords know how to use computers. Just last month, the FBI reported only 20 percent of agents had access to a computer. When politicians are elected who have an IQ above 100, then drug enforcement will take place. I have noticed that purple haze arising out of a lot Catholic Bishops because they are stuck in the 60′s with the rest of the American hemp users.

Posted by Paulsky | Report as abusive

I am joining the LEAD Forums. I am going to tell these guys what I think of them. I think they’re tired of protecting us from drug addicts and dealers and expect for the average citizen to take care of it themselves. They only encourage vigilantism. Make the bust, guys!

Posted by kevincoffman | Report as abusive

To R. L. Hails Sr. P. E.

“Quote —

To my knowledge, only one nation has ever successfully won their war on drugs. It was China

—- unquote ”

Dear Mr Hails,

I was in China in 1998 having a little trip around the country and in the middle of nowhere (not in a city where it’s easier to find drugs) some chinese guy came to me and talked to me (didnt understand a word) and after 3 minutes gave me a 10 grams bowl of polen pot localy made, I was trying to tell him I quit a few years ago and didnt want it and the guy left scared without his pot nor my money, so your little post as strictly no value to me because I know your wrong.

Besides nowhere on this planet any prohibition ever worked, whatever substance was forbidden you will always find people consuming and/or trading, please wake up.

Besides studies made in a governmental propaganda environment arent at all legit to me, the ONLY country that did the job is Netherlands, and their studies show exactly the opposite of what you pretend. Basicaly I am sure your no drug user (good for you) but you shouldnt try to convince people over a partisan point of view.

Regards

Posted by jack | Report as abusive

Consider it from this perspective: You are effectively being denied the right to make decisions regarding your own consciousness and body.

Repeat that phrase ten times in your mind in order to really grasp in what kind of society you are living in:

“I am being denied full sovereignty over my own body”,
“I am being denied full sovereignty over my own body”
[...]

Therefore, you don’t own your body fully, because otherwise you would have the right to do whatever you want with it. The government tells you which aspects of handling your own body and mind are acceptable and which ones you will be incarcerated for. Consequently, the government has more sovereignty over *your* body than you do.

You want to alter you own consciousness? – We put you in prison!

You have the right to remain silent and keep the GDP going.

Posted by Morrison | Report as abusive

rumours-for years i’ve been told for the past 40 years that the tobacco companies have patented tm logos for pot when it is legalized-this goes back to the 60′s…if one can have assisted euthansia which is slowly becoming as popular as the calif. movement to legalize pot and then nationally; then, whats next? for GOD’S sake do something about the poppy out of afghanastan-that’s a killer…go figure!

Posted by holly | Report as abusive

The solution is easy. Use the Vietnam era gravity test to get the sources from drug dealers, then proceed up the chain.

The gravity test is performed as follows: Take 2 hard core drug dealers who refuse to reveal their source of drugs up in a helicopter, and ask them their source. Ask them their sources. If one refuses to talk, open the door, push him out, and test to see if gravity works. If it does, the other one will most likely talk. Tell him that if it is not truthful, this is his last chance, and he will be used as a “demo” on the next gravity test – with 2 other drug dealers on board. Simple, and relatively cheap.

Why not?

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

It is not correct that the US has the world’s largest prison population. China’s prison population is larger.

If this fact is inaccurate (because the author is trying to score cheap political points) can we assume the rest of the article is correct?

Posted by elleno | Report as abusive

1) Afghanistan is prohibited by the occupying powers from selling medical opioids on the legitimate international market, and yet these very same powers forced China to open up an unregulated recreational opium market at the point of the bayonet (The Opium Wars).

2) The US Government wants to spray deadly herbicides over vast areas, and are already doing so in Columbia (remember that the fallout from Vietnam War ‘Agent Orange’ herbicide wasn’t know for years afterwards, till way after the human toll from these poisons had already taken place?).

3) The US, with 5% of the world’s population contains 25% of its prisoners — why didn’t our government tell us these things up front and call for a blue ribbon debate about these matters publicly? So much for the empty catchwords of ‘Democracy’ and ‘Freedom’.

4) “Political Correctness” forbids discussion of these vital matters, just like it did sexually transmitted disease a century ago — here we go again, failing to learn from the disasters of own history and making.

5) Why exactly is the use of alcohol and nicotine tolerated as revenue earners — but other drugs are strictly taboo? If it is a religious moral rationale, then why isn’t it spoken of as such and as such publicly debated?

6) What harm would allowing small amounts of cocaine back into Coca Cola type soft drinks really result? Is it only so as “not to send the wrong signal” or to complicate enforcement that reasonable discussion of rethinking drug policy is not taking place but rather is utterly opposed by the DEA of the DOJ — the latter agency being charged not only to fight crime, but even more to protect individual liberties from domestic threats?

7) The discussion is incomplete without addressing the pecuniary and occupational remuneration that the hordes of same-old career beaurocrats, lawyers, and their all-too-often jack-booted agents — in short, any relaxation of the drug policy must necessarily take into account the financial cost of paying off those in government who make their living out of existing policy! Surely at least a sizable percentage of these can profitably be re-assigned to fighting other forms of crime more detrimental to society than drug abuse, cyber crime and urban murder rates being among them.

The point brought up by others and myself — acceptance of dangerous alcohol and nicotine (tars) whilst unreasoned rejection of other, less harmful substances which serve to mitigate life’s hardness — is so obvious, so blatantly inadequate, and so long so poorly “answered” by the same-old same-old empty palaver about signals & way pavings, that one wonders how intelligent people can still fall for it to suffice as the “answers” that they surely are not, shows an insidious aspect of the ‘politically correct’ atmosphere that is hardly removed from dungeons and gulags of militarist totalitarianism.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander — if we Americans were not so fat and content, would we still tolerate these outrages which only a benighted bemusement seems to justify? Are we too afraid of our own supposedly democratic government as to consider them our masters rather than as our servants?

Afraid so — and high time we pinch ourselves and awake from our unwarranted and scary collective stupor … !

{We must not forget our loyal, patriotic American peace officers, the ones who do not fit into the ugly mold of mercenary, jackboot thugs for whom the Constitution is less than meaningless — let’s support our police when they are engaged in their lawful duties of defending the innocent and assisting the weak! GOD Bless them all!}

Posted by Brooks A. Batson, NP | Report as abusive

Thank you Morrison! Welcome to the Machine of Control and Manipulation to make each and everyone of us into Automatons doing a life stint in a meaningless job to make someone else richer and the Machine more powerful.

As Pink Floyd wrote and song:

“Welcome my son
Welcome to the machine
Where have you been?
It’s alright we know where you’ve been
You’ve been in the pipeline
Filling in time
Provided with toys and scouting for boys
You brought a guitar to punish your ma
And you didn’t like school
And you know you’re nobody’s fool
So welcome to the machine

Welcome my son
Welcome to the machine
What did you dream?
It’s alright we told you what to dream
You dreamed of a big star
He played a mean guitar
He always ate in the Steak Bar
He loved to drive in his Jaguar
So welcome to the Machine ”

But Frank Zappa said it best:

“I am gross and perverted
Im obsessed n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little had changed
I am the tool of the government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you cant look away
I make you think Im delicious
With the stuff that I say
I am the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I am the slime oozin out
From your tv set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we dont need you
Dont got for help…no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

Thats right, folks..
Dont touch that dial

Well, I am the slime from your video
Oozin along on your livinroom floor

I am the slime from your video
Cant stop the slime, people, lookit me go! ”

Any questions THX 1138 – have we got a new legal pharmaceutical for you! Makes you a better citizen (wink, wink)

Posted by dmk | Report as abusive

Elleno:

The prison population numbers are from the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London. It gives the U.S.prison population as around 2.3 million and China’s as 1.6 million (in prison, not some form of administrative detention).

What makes these numbers remarkable is that China’s population is four times larger than that of the U.S.

BD

Posted by B Debusmann | Report as abusive

Fine, legalize marijuana, coke, heroin, tik, etc.
Go on, enjoy it.
But do not expect me so feel sorry for you if become an addict, or die of an overdose. You play with tik or heroin at your own risk, and nobody owes you a rehab centre or any sympathy.
Shame, die on the pavement. And thank your dealer.

Posted by Piet van der Linde | Report as abusive

Wake up the goverment does not want to win the war on drugs they are making to much money.

Posted by lee givens | Report as abusive

I think it is high-time we applied dollars and cents thinking to the War on Drugs. When we talk about the $ cost of it, do we even take into account the fact that it takes, what, $20-30,000 per year per inmate to keep these people in prison?
We could literally send people to rehab (that fraction who actually have a ‘drug-problem’) and provide job-placement assitance and still SAVE money compared to what we’re doing now.
Radical? Let’s call it Radical Common Sense. Because then we’ve just produced a productive member of society, one less criminal, and saved tax-payer money. What’s so Radical about that? Do the math. What kind of future do you have now when you get out of prison with a felony record, $24 and a bus ticket (and hopefully not HIV or Hepatitis)?
Of course, there will always be incorrigible criminals. But too many of the people locked up now are NOT these kind of people. Plus, you’ve just taken away the primary bread-winner from a (probably) low-income household. Now, (probably) a single mother is going to have ever more challenges raising her child(ren), and the children- poorer and without one primary role model- are going to turn to street gangs for money and a sense of family.
I hold the War on Drugs almost entirely responsible for the absolute explosion in street-gang population in the US since it was implemented. Funny how the time-lines match -up, too.
I’ve heard estimates that they’re are a million gang members in LA alone. And all of the major gangs have representation in practically all 50 states now.
I know smart, college-educated (also white and suburban) people who have turned to selling drugs because of the profit. Do you really expect someone to work their way out of a ghetto life by making minimum wage?
And as for Al Capone, I heard it said well on TV: ‘Before Prohibition Capone ran a neighborhood, after Prohibition he ran a city’. I’ll also paraphrase a DEA agent who said that the War on Drugs turned people like Pablo Escobar from ‘millionaires to billionaires’.
It’s not cocaine and marijuana that shoot people with guns, it’s people fighting over the high-profit, black market for them. If you il-legalize ANYTHING that people want, you will cause the creation of a black-market for that good. Age-old, proven fact.
The War on Drugs started as a political end-run for Richard Nixon to be able to lock-up anti-war protesters without appearing to be stomping their Constitutional Rights, plain and simple.
When you make an activity illegal that many, many people are engaged in already, then you literally are making more criminals, not less. The laws of any society should work with human nature and not against it.
The oldest writings we’ve found contain recipes for making beer & wine. Human beings want to alter their moods and perspectives, sometimes. That just the way it is. If you don’t believe me, go ask a pharmaceutical company. How many legal ‘Happy Pills’ are there now, anyway? I’ve lost count.

Posted by David A. Jones | Report as abusive

If the government has consistently ignored this logic and proven research regarding drug legalization, just think of the other realities they are ignoring. Scary…

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

Money trumps morality, even the churches of America are proof of this. If there was ever a great time to re-heat the debate on the war on drugs, it is now.

Posted by Joseph Shireman | Report as abusive

Legalize drugs yes, but do not require insurance companies to insure them or health systems to give addicts top cost care. If druggies want to harm themselves it seems it ought to be their right, but they do not have a right to make a claim against my property to help them. I would only accept legalization with the provision we also stop pretending druggies have a mental illness. Create incentives for healthy behavior precisely as we do with tobacco. It’s legal but DAMN expensive, and consumption of tobacco is dropping.

Posted by jdcarmine | Report as abusive

I’ve been a Health-care Provider for > 30 years; product of the 70′s.

I was stoned then, the 80′s, 90′s and into the 21st century.

I do not allow the seeming paradox of being a physician, and recreational usage of delta-9THC as interfering c one another. I aslo hold a Ph.D. in Pharmacology, which toches upon pharmacokinetics, T1/2, bioavailability, adsorption, distribution among myriad of other disciplnes.

This Prohibition against pot is patently absurd. As would be a retry on alcohol prohibition, again…MADD, SADD and other abolitionistic groups whose Ultimate goal is just that: re-enacting another Prohibtionistic attempt.

Legislating peoples’ bevavior, especially when done in the privavcy of ones’ den, bedroom…is so Victorian.
Look at the revenues that are being lost, prohibiting the use of personal quantities of pot.

Thank God, a few of our states are standing-up to The Feds, DEA & their ilk, and repealing this futile effort.

Alcohol is different, very different then meth, heroin, and crack cocaine.

Playing the problem up (continually) as if it is not a cultural problem is a very appealing message many people want to hear. It avoids people from having to condemn their own horrendous mistakes and continues to coddle the pro-drug society we have created here since the 1960s. But, growing up post-60s was very different then before pre-60s.

Let’s face facts. It was wrong. Drugs killed a lot of the sixties luminaries even before the drugs got worse and worse. Coddling that attitude doesn’t make demand go away.

We need to educate kids at Middle School on up into the harsh realities of these highly addictive, dangerous drugs.

Kill the demand.

Until we as a society are willing to regroup and squash that ugly decay in American culture, I really don’t see change happening. Promising people to make America into Amsterdam is not wise.

This is also hypocrisy. Since the 60s mainstream culture has refused to go back on the ideals of a pro-recreational drug using culture in far too many quarters. Literally, trying the same thing over and over again.

Supply and demand, as long as the demand is there, you can’t have progress. Nobody who has seen into the innards of a junkie’s life still has much demand of it. Our culture has thrown out some largely foolish ads at best on the subject. Kids need to be trained, well educated on the subject. But, this can step on too many toes.

Posted by Johannes Doe | Report as abusive

To Patrick;
The problem with pushing one drug dealer out of the helicopter to get information from the other drug dealer is that as you work your way up the chain, you will end up killing the CIA operatives that got soldiers hooked on heroin in Viet Nam to fund their covert operations. This is not some urban legend. It is fact and has been corroborated and documented from a number of news services and the CIA themselves.

Posted by Prestor John | Report as abusive

The article above restates the obvious, however the citizens of this country have been propagandized for years to continue these foolish policies. As usual, Americans are easily lead along by their noses, like a stupid, stolid ox.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

I have long maintained that unsourced quotations are hearsay. Debusmann wrote “Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” A journalist should be more careful of his sources. There is no proof that this is a bona fide Einstein quote. It has also been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, an old Chinese proverb, and Rita Mae Brown.

Source:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Insanity

Posted by WT Sharpe | Report as abusive

An obvious solution to a politically created disaster. The prohibition on drugs works about as well as outlawing prostitution or alcohol prohibition. Unfortunately politicians are mainly concerned with self improvement not improving the country and drug legalization will never happen in the near future. There is too much money involved benefiting not only criminal enterprises and too much influence pedalling in government both federal and state. In addition to draconian laws benefiting local police departments.

The only way it may ever happen is if it rises from enough people to influence politicians that it is in their best interest.

With the brainwashing and increasing ignorance of the bulk of the American population best of luck.

Sorry for the cynicism but I’ve about given up on America in its present incarnation.

Posted by Don Dalfonzo | Report as abusive

Drugs, exactly – what a way to honestly see how our economy and American spirit is emotionally broken. Just like our government,stock market, and all the frivolis things in life. Break hearts- Break Marriage – Break families break dreams or simply just die

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

You have the insanity part right but I don’t expect a different outcome. I can see the whole world crashing right before my face and expect it to keep on crashing until I can live again. The funny thing is, I can foresee everything that’s happening because I am living the real story of what the government has done to me and my family. I just get better at dealing with the pain and can cope with ignorance and torture because I am numb to it all

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

What a wonderful idea. Make drug use legal. Then we can have a population of 30 million heroin addicts lying in the streets in a stupor. What a wonderful world that will be.

Posted by Richard Harris | Report as abusive

the “war” on drugs is just plain ridiculous. after working in a law office for years, i’ve never seen a pot smoker whose life was ruined because of it outside of being caught with it. my father, a lifetime sheriff, thinks the stuff is harmless and was always reluctant to arrest someone for it.

the most harmful substances are in the processed foods you eat every day. one person commented that we should go ahead and make drugs legal but insurance companies shouldn’t be required to cover them.. well, if that’s so, then we shouldn’t cover drinkers, smokers, or people that eat too much mcdonalds and ice cream.

i’ve played with a few “heavy” drugs in my younger days but it was on the weekend and never interfered with work. to say that because something is made legal we’ll all become druggies is ridiculous. most people don’t want to spend all their days doped up. most of us want to be productive and healthy people. alcohol is legal but i’m not binge drinking every day. if marijuana and cocaine became legal, i wouldn’t touch the stuff either because i simply don’t like it. and the same goes for most people.

i think it’s ridiculous because most everyone enjoys the highs they get from the occasional vicodin or codeine prescription or eating 5 pounds of chocolate just like other folks who use illegal substances to get that same kind of high occasionally.

america is high on prescription meds and are out there driving every day under the influence but no one is crying about it. why? you know how grandmas all doped up on their 20 pills they take every day have caused accidents? ridiculous. but they think it’s okay because if the prescription is legal, then it’s okay to drive, right?

Posted by birdy | Report as abusive

oh yeah.. and if we are not to give health insurance to drug users should drugs become legal then count out base jumpers, race car drivers, hikers, climbers/repelling, football players, wrestlers, boxers, skiiers, etc etc.

i just gave you a list of things more likely to kill or seriously hurt a person than recreational drugs.

Posted by bird | Report as abusive

“30 million heroin addicts on the street in a stupor”? Seriously, can you take the blinders off and let a little reason sink in. You already have tons of heroin addicts on the street in a stupor with government enforcement! The article does NOT attempt to minimize the effect that illegal drug use has on the addict, but contrasts the effectiveness of enforcement to the costs of that pursuit. Its a fight in futility. The Fact of the matter is that legalization of drug use will have the same effect as the repeal of prohibition. You will generate a ton of money by not spending it on enforcement, and generating revenue by taxation that can then be used to honestly address the medical issue of addiction. Additionally, you now have eliminated the associated demand for illegal drug trade. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a bootlegger on the nightly news?

Posted by Phil Singer | Report as abusive

Cool. Legalise it. Open the herion shop next to the schools. No problem. Sell coke in the supermarket. Put it in nice cigarette packets… oh … think of it, you will have to stop prohibiting smoking in restaurants and so on as well. Why not legalise mugging as well? I mean, think of the money you will save on policing the streets.
Tell you what? I live in a country and city that does not patroll the streets and and guess what? The streets are lethal. People hide is well protected homes at night. Sometimes 1 plus 1 is 2, talking about Einstein…

Posted by FerdiGreyling | Report as abusive

RICHARD HARRIS imagines: Make drug use legal. Then we can have a population of 30 million heroin addicts lying in the streets in a stupor.

I REPLY: The USA has less than 1 million people who currently use heroin, so in your vision there are over 29 million Americans eagerly wanting to become heroin addicts and just waiting for the legal status to be changed.

I’m 48 years old and have a reasonably wide network of family, friends and neighbors. I don’t know ANY who are waiting to jump on the heroin wagon when it’s legalized.

How about you? Do you have friends, family or neighbors ready to start shooting heroin as soon as they can score some at the local pharmacy?

Lest anyone be confused by the tenor of my text written message, it’s a rhetorical question.

Cheers

Legalizing drugs won’t make more addicts any more than legalizing alcohol created more alcoholics. At least now an alcoholic can go get the help he wants without shame or fear of getting busted. Why not offer the same freedom…and freedom FROM addiction that users of alcohol now have? I have known addicts who are afraid to go get the help they want because of the illegal nature of their addiction.

Posted by Brody | Report as abusive

In the reality of our own corrupt government it will be impossible to legalize drugs and wind down the “war on drugs”.

The reason is simple: there is a very large, and corrupt, industry with a vested interest in maintaining the present effort.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of DEA and U.S. Customs agents have become millionaires with the proceeds of bribes, stolen money and drugs, etc.

There are literally thousands of state and locals police who make a routine practice of confiscating money from people they stop on the highway – legal “highway robbery”.

As for prisons, the number of otherwise homeless, unemployed losers that work as prison guards is just breathtaking. I have yet to meet a single one that displays intelligence superior to a pet rock. But of course most are represented by a union!

Mike

I wonder how this fits into the argument. The British Empire’s opium trade used to work something like this: in the “Crown Jewel” or colony of India, the ownership of machinery by the indigenous population was forbidden by the British cononists, aka East India Company. The opium there was produced by a population who were effectively slaves or serfs. The opium cakes were put into wooden crates that received the official British East India Company stamp (of approval). Then they were put on ships headed for China where the British had effectively addicted almost 10% (it has been estimated) of the Chinese population. This was the mechanism that the British used to get massive amounts of silver out of China, and I believe the reason that the monetary system was based on sterling. When the Emperor of China decided that things had gotten out of hand and tried to prevent this the East India Company sent their army and crushed the “rebellion”. Then it happened again. This time the British mandate was that the Opium trade would remain legal and that Hong Kong would be given to the British as a financial processing center for their operation. The primary bank for the operation was HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghi Banking Corp.) and is still a flagship bank today even though the world is now on a fiat monetary system, much to its current peril.
Mind you, the addiction of China to opium by the British wasn’t widely considered immoral at the time because the Chinese weren’t considered to be human beings in the sense that the British were considered by themselves to be human beings. The same mindset went for their colonies in Africa.
So a question might be, which group of criminals would run the drug trade (legal or illegal) most effectively for the ultimate “benefit” of the population, the government or the people who are criminals by definition of government law? Today the world financial system has come to depend on the money generated by the “illegal drug trade” since it is without denial, a huge part of the real economy. It has been estimated that the world’s largest “illegal trade” (drugs) is larger (in money generated) than the world’s largest legal trade, oil. That’s alot of money to pretend we are not dependent upon.
“There ain’t no crime when there ain’t no law”.

Posted by Richard Tiedemann | Report as abusive

President Elect Obama could pull off legalizing marijuana easily. All he has to do is to pardon all of the prisoners in federal prison for marijuana. That would send a resounding message, and if it was done every month we’d solve our correctional overcrowding problem as well as our drug problem. LET THEM SMOKE IT. Possession under 21 would still be an offense, as would sale to minors. Congress could vote a $75 dollar per ounce tax on marijuana. Friends, this would solve so much.

Posted by Dean | Report as abusive

With this logic let’s just legalize everything and have the government regulate it! Crime would go to zero and just think about the savings! No need for police, lawyers or the justice system because all we would need is an army of councilors. All prisons could be closed, another huge savings, to be replaced with large rehabilitation centers managed by retrained lawyers who specialize in assisting those who cannot function within a society without anesthetizing themselves and or killing, raping, stealing others around them.

Posted by Legalizeeverything | Report as abusive

Anyone who suggests that making drugs legal will solve the worlds problem need to look no farther than Amsterdam. If you have been there you know exactly what a horrible world we would have if all forms of dope were on sale at the local shoot and loot corner store. Those of you that promote this are total fools. Move to Amsterdam and leave the rest of us alone.

Posted by Daniel Long | Report as abusive

you are right on about the definition of insanity, but if we apply that to repeating the same thing with Iran as was done in Iraq, that’ll be an insanity benchmark. May be you could write about that type of insanity which could be more dangerous than the drug war…

Posted by jonhnny | Report as abusive

The real barrier to legalizing drugs can be seen when reading through all the comments here. Too many people have been brainwashed into putting drug use on par with real crimes that have actual victims such as rape and robbery. Years of anti-drug rhetoric has created a population that refuses to even consider legalization despite the overall net reduction in crime that would result. Gang warfare would quickly dry up as the funding for weapons and the reasons for having them vanished. Every piss-ant 3rd world militant feeding his wanna-be army with drug crop money would go out of business. Terrorism would lose one of it’s major source of revenue. All that money currently going to violent low-lifes would be redirected to the government who could then use it for rehabilitation.

Posted by Pyronaught | Report as abusive

I’d love to believe that legalizing would work…

considering how addictive and debilitating these drugs are… say they are used legally… will the individual be able to function and work?

What if they hold a job that requires all their senses.
Usage being legal, would mean you can’t force anyone not to do it and you really can’t punish them. You can’t force them in to treatment. If it feels so good to do the drugs and if it is so addictive it will still be that way even if they are legal and more people will profit and more will use.

I don’t see how it’s going to change a thing for the better.

Look at cigarettes. It was legal to smoke them, now most places it’s not. Second hand smoke inhalation made it illegal.

So we’ll make pot and cocaine legal. What about the 2nd hand fall out there. People driving cars while high, school buses while high, if they don’t work, they still rob to get the money to get high, still murder to get what they need to get high. Will the tax payer have to pay for their drugs. IE… in order for them not to resort to crime, we have to pay for their fix. Maybe the government should get in to the drug making business?
Make i cheap and hand it out like condoms, they hand out condoms but teenage pregnancies have gone up!

Well they can get treatment… so they do and go right back to using, now that it is legal there will be a roadside stand “Get your fix HERE”!
Nah I am still not convinced that legalization is the solution!

I say lets do some research to find an anti drug. Something a person can take so when they use a drug that would normal give them a high, they get sick and nauseated. if it doesn’t feel good they probably won’t do it.

My grand father drank too much, don’t know if he was really an alcoholic but he drank too many beers for my grand mothers taste. So his doctor prescribed a pill he took and each time he drank alcoholic he got violently ill. It worked.

If people stop using the drugs the demand stops and the selling will stop. Supply and demand. No demand no profit! if folks can’t stop on their own, we have to do more not to get them started and we have to do something to get them to stop. Like an anti drug drug!

Posted by JenC | Report as abusive

Actually the Governments present drug policy does’nt fit Einsteins definition of insanity because they expect the same results. Continued vast profits for their close associates. Continued excuse to move toward a police state and world government. Don’t believe me? Read Kiss The Boys Goodbye. Google CFR conspiracy and Skull and Bones.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

As a Psych RN I deal with a lot of addicts. They “can’t afford their prescription meds” but spend their money on illegal drugs. Then when the money runs out they go to the emergency room and say they are suicidal. They get admitted and run up bills of many thousands of dollars. Their bill gets paid by you and me. It is built into the costs of paying customers. Legalizing drugs would just increase the amount of people going to the hospital. They would use drugs until medical problems brought them to the hospital. The answer is a prison system that pays for itself through low cost and hard labor. We need to make prisoners work hard at public work projects or sit in solitary confinement. They should be growing their own food, preparing it etc. Also we should use alcohol and cigarette taxes for outpatient treatment programs for all sorts of drug addiction.

Posted by Ron Wagner | Report as abusive

Decriminalization of drug use is so correct it hurts to see what the opposition says. The United States of America should set up in every state, Gov. owned and leased failities for sale of these popular drugs, the big three. Many of our states now operate alcohol sale stores in this manner. Use our troupes to find and confiscate illicit drugs at our borders and other points of entry. Then provide them to the retail stores at no added cost to the tax payer. If that source of supply is insufficient, contract with friendly governments in Afganistan, Columbia etc. to purchase them, both/all countries win and helps the local economy of the foreign countries. Users do not violate any law and are free to use the drugs obtained from legal state operated stores. Now for what is not legal. Go to prison if caught selling on the street or do any crime that is otherwise punishable by law, that includes the user and the user should have harsher penalties if on drugs at time of offense. Hope someone can put a price tag on what it now costs us under current law to combat drugs and then show what the cost benefits are after implementing the above. Put all the displaced US operatives to work at home, guarding the borders, air and waterways of illicit drug and people entry into the USA.

Posted by Theland E. Treadway | Report as abusive

The problem with legalising drugs is what happens to the traffickers. They don’t have pension plans, and unlike in the days after prohibition, they are unlikely to go quietly this time around.

1) They turn to selling even more toxic, illegal, drugs to the same customers as they used to sell the current generation of drugs to. This is effectively an arms race, and it’s one that the traffickers will always win. They are prepared to kill their customers, whereas it seems pretty unlikely that the FDA in the US would license a lethal recreational drug, or that the NHS over here in the UK would distribute it.

2) They turn to trafficking other stuff. Young girls, counterfeit aircraft parts, and fake pharmaceuticals are probably the most profitable after illegal drugs. Do we really want to make any of those problems worse than they already are?

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

Does anyone really think the legality is the only reason someone doesn’t do something? I don’t know a SINGLE person that either 1. doesn’t do a drug they want to do because it’s illegal, or 2. would do a drug they don’t do if it became legal. The entire illegality argument is crazy; passing a law against something doesn’t mean people won’t do it.

Laws are nice to punish people who commit acts that actually harm others (whether or not you think putting criminals in a stone hotel for a few years makes them change their demeanor is another argument entirely), but I have yet to meet ANYONE that didn’t do ANYTHING just because it was illegal.

Posted by James Smith | Report as abusive

How about using the market to destroy the illegal drug trade. Several steps:

1. Government gives away free drugs in venues where drugs are purchased. This continues until Government has 99% of Market. Meanwhile, people selling for their own account will continue to be imprisoned.

2. When the Government’s market share is 99%, and the illicit business has withered, the Government closes up shop. Suddenly, and without warning.

3. When illegal behavior resumes, the government goes back in business.

The objective is simply to destroy the profitability of dealing drugs while keeping the costs (prison) high.

Those of you who think we should legalize drugs are either naive or just plain stupid (you are also probably users, but that’s a different issue). The war on drugs is NOT a war that will be won. Why? Because drug use is a criminal behavior, and society will never eradicate criminal behavior. So, to put the rest of us at the mercy of your ‘fix’ would be irresponsible to society. If we have to fill every damn jail, so be it, I am all too happy to pay. And I totally agree with one of the previous posters that we should be forcing you to do some hard labor (real work) behind bars.

Posted by JS | Report as abusive

This is in response to the Government Propaganda Posted by Anubis. Remember that before world war 1 this country Ilegaly handed control of our Monetary system to the Big Banks through the Federal Reserve Act.Do you think maybe fed manipulations have something to do with Boom and Bust economic cycles? Do you think theres a limit to how worthless a fiat dollar can become? Do you think the Constitution required Gold and Silver Money for a reason?You Idiot!

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Of course Marijuana should be decriminalized.Hopefully the continuance of old policies by the Obama administration will wake up a few more people to the fact that the belief of any big difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is just an Illusion.It stems from the way they play the game.Rehtoric.Deception. Lies.All about creating an Illusion. Its like watching Wrestling on TV.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

It disappoints me how everyone wants to regulate the use of drugs through taxation. Sin taxes hurt the poor far more than they do the rich. These taxes hurt the people who can least afford them. It is not the government’s business to regulate your personal life. I thought that the purpose of the US was to permit life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As far as I am concerned the government should get out of the ‘happiness’ business.

I hate it when people pose the legalization of drugs by saying that it will be a great generator of tax revenue. We do not need to replace the DEA with some new worthless bureaucratic committee. Let’s legalize drugs and stop wasting everyone’s time with this social engineering garbage. We are all adults so let’s let everyone make their own personal decision.

This is the exact same issue as the government regulating who you are permitted to have sex with. There would be a nationwide outrage if they banned homosexuality, because the government has no right to dictate what happens in the bedroom. People are homosexual b/c they enjoy it, so why can’t you be a drug user b/c you enjoy it?

Posted by Willie Sutton | Report as abusive

The war on drugs should not be given up because some think it hasn’t worked. How naive to think that legalization would make things better. The thing to do is to rethink how we prosecute the crime. We actually do not prosecute anyone for drugs-yes, people are thrown into prison, but for marijuana offenses it is considered misdemeanors, and worse young people are coddled by our legal process until they turn 18. We need to get tough and actually make doing drugs, no matter what kind, extremely painful in losing voting rights and long prison sentences in specially built drug prisons. Don’t be woosies, America.

wb

Posted by willie b | Report as abusive

The only sane thing to do is to remove or greatly lessen the penalties for drug sales and production. If we just bought the opium in Afghanistan and let the farmers farm we would take away a source of income for terrorists. The farmers are going to do what they have done for generations there and Columbia and elsewhere. Addicts are going to continue to use and pot smokers will smoke. We could save lives –police and criminal–and take away sources of great profit for criminals. Anyone who thinks people aren’t working or driving now while they’re high are complete fools. Let them kill themselves and get out of our society–refuse treatment at hospitals for overdoses. We are HURTING our society by making drug trafficking highly profitable. The greater the penalty and danger the higher the potential profit and the more vicious the people involved.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

It’s amazing how many naive people with poor skills at reasoning exist. The war on drugs has worked? Anyone who fails to see the connection between drugs such as marijuana and alcohol are either dense or have a Christian dogmatic ideology. Forget the fact that YES, taxes will be collected and YES, crime will decrease and so will our costly prison population, but how about living in a so-called free society where one can choose the poison of his pleasure? Legalize all drugs, legalize prostitution, legalize physician-assisted suicide and get the government and these irrational religious nuts off our back.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

It’s doubtful that legislation legalizing drugs will ever come about. There are several industries that depend on it: drug producers, drug distributors, drug peddlers, police devoted to drug crime, prison personnel and prison owners, the drug rehab industry and Israel especially, since they process and smuggle 90% of the heroin, 50% of the cocaine, 100% of the ecstasy pills. Most politicians and public officials are scared to say, “boo,” about Israel, so there’s no chance whatsoever of drugs being made legal. If they were, then stupid drug addicts should be compeled to take their drugs every day and encouraged to increase to dosage.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I think that that too many people are looking for a perfect solution. There is no solution that will not entail problems and tragedies. The question we have to ask is whether the role of government is to tell adults what mind altering substances they can and can not use and enforce their mandates by incarceration. At least from where I sit, I believe that the lesser of two evils is getting the government out of my head. Yes there will be tragedies galore, yes there will be unforeseen and unintended consequences. However, there is no way that it can be morally justified to criminalize people for using mind altering substances that have not been shown to be at least as innately harmful to the individuals who use them as the two big legal ones. Since both alcohol and tobacco abuse lead to death, and lethal overdoses can and do occur, I just do not see how many of the drugs that are illegal are any more harmful (yes they cause misery some portion of which is related to illegality). Legalize, tax and regulate. Use the taxes to set up a system to help those who want it, including hospitals, suicide hotlines, detox programs, etc. Accept the fact that whether legal or not there is no perfect solution and that draconian attempts to stop it will not and can not work. Use the limited resources that we have to put the people in cages who belong there!

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Let us examine this fact…not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes an alcoholic…I think the number is around 10%. Not everyone who tries a certain drug becomes an addict.
And there are persons out there who become addicted to anything imaginable. We legalize drugs the addiction rates will remain the about same, and be better able to treat those that do become addicts. Not only to heroin but also to other drugs such as prescription drugs, cocaine and the rest

A previous commenter already drew satirical attention to the op-ed piece by the feather-brained U.S. drug czar, John Walters, in the Wall Street Journal. But to really appreciate the shallow nature of his “Wee winning the drug war” argument, you should read Walters’s piece side by side with an op-ed by Ethan Nadelmann, who argues in favour of legalisation. The two pieces did run alongside each other. Draw your own conclusions:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12284368 3581681375.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12284372 5720181453.html

ER

Posted by Eric Rioja | Report as abusive

[...] failed war–the drug war. Hopefully once in office he takes a closer took at the issue.  Reuters looks at the insanity of the war on drugs, and a move from an unexpected source to end the war: [...]

Bernd…

Thanks…

Glenn

Posted by Glenn Jewett | Report as abusive

We gotta keep drugs illegal.
How else is the U.S. Government going to finance all their blackbag operations?

Posted by Alfred Joe's Boy | Report as abusive

The second paragraph of this article is the telling one. America has the largest prison population in the world. This is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE, if nothing else, but of course, it is something else. It means many things. It means, for one thing, we now have a commercially run prison system that is actively lobbying for more tough drug laws and longer sentencing guidelines; in essence, pushing us into tyranny for the sake of corporate profit. There are so many things wrong with the drug war as it is being played out, that it makes me want to vomit. Yesterday, on C-Span, an Afghani official named Ashraf Haidari admitted in front of all America that the Taliban justified opium and heroin production by the excuse that THEY do not use it- so it is not against their moral religious imperatives. Instead, they view it as a chemical weapon against the decadent US. Get this straight: by the definition of an Afghani official- the chemical weapons of mass destruction we should be seeking and destroying were not in Iraq, after all. They were under our noses in Afghanistan already. Therefore, we should be fighting the war against drugs at the source- the fields of poppies and coca, and the desert meth labs in the US. Afghanistan and Columbia are killing our citizens with chemical warfare. We need to put troops and planes in situ- screw the governments that aren’t stopping the traffic- and stop the cultivation, at whatever cost. If the problem of addiction will not go away, we can cultivate our own opium and sell it to the junkies. Why let our enemies sell it to them? The “war on terror” is chump-change compared to the cocaine problem. 3000 died in the Twin Towers. 3000 die every day in the drug war, with a million in prison at 30K per year of taxpayer expense. Count that up, eh? A million prisoners at 30K is 30 billion dollars a year for just prisons alone. That is just plain NUTS. What are we, Nazi Germany? Three suggestions: 1) Declare martial law. Kill the heroin and cocaine drug cartels and meth gangs in any way possible, like a real war. No prisoners. 2) Pass laws barring any shipping company, freight service, trucking firm or air carrier from ever doing business in the US ever again if any of their cargo is ever found to be carrying heroin, amphetamine or cocaine. They will, perforce, start searching their own shipping containers at their own expense. 3) Legalize marijuana, and control and tax it like alcohol. It will become a source of tax revenue we can tap to provide drug rehab for the big three drugs, and alcohol- which, by the way, is the most destructive drug of them all.

Posted by David B Ebert | Report as abusive

In case you’re not aware of the insidious effects of the private prisons lobby, just google “private prisons lobbyists” and see what comes up. It’s pretty revolting- Private prisons are a danger to our every freedom as long as prisons are run as a growth industry. In Florida, private prison lobbyists account for an estimated 20% of all political contributions at the state level. Do you think 20% has an effect on the drug laws and policy? You betcha.

Posted by David B Ebert | Report as abusive

AMEN to the above article. When will Americans realize that fighting this is futile and completely backwards approach to the problem. We could spend a fraction on prevention programs while saving millions in the cost of police enforcement, incareration, rehabilitation programs-after one gets out of jail,etc. Problem is, this is (similarly to war) a money making enterprise.
What on earth would our lawyers, judges,jailers, do with all their free time? If the Netherlands can manage this, I think we can.

Posted by andy | Report as abusive

Legalization will generate tax revenues and create new jobs for producing, packaging, marketing, and distribution. The vast majority of American who smoke tobacco and drink alcohol will become immediate consumers of legalized drug products. America can redirect law enforcement resources to violent crime and public safety. And, America could lead the way by bringing innovative products to market.

Posted by Jim Carlin | Report as abusive

December 7th, 2008
6:28 pm GMT

It’s amazing how many naive people with poor skills at reasoning exist. The war on drugs has worked? Anyone who fails to see the connection between drugs such as Patrick says:
marijuana and alcohol are either dense or have a Christian dogmatic ideology. Forget the fact that YES, taxes will be collected and YES, crime will decrease and so will our costly prison population, but how about living in a so-called free society where one can choose the poison of his pleasure? Legalize all drugs, legalize prostitution, legalize physician-assisted suicide and get the government and these irrational religious nuts off our back.
- Posted by Patrick

————————————————-
How about legalizing having sex with children?
There are some on the left who think children like to have sex and it is OK for an adult to have sex with young children ad young as nine years old and younger.
Anything that feels good right?

I’d like to get the perverts of my back!

Liberalism is also a religion and it’s God is a creature who’s head is made of druges, torso of perversion and the legs are ignorance.

You can’t have it both ways. You want, as you call it religious nuts of your back and I want perverted socially irresponsible losers of my back.

If you think prostitution is OK, maybe you should talk to some of the abused women who get beat up by pimps every day and have no way out or else get killed. But then maybe you are a drug using pimp, running under aged girls on the streets because you don’t want to get get a job yourself!

Posted by JenC | Report as abusive

It’s funny how people forget that we already have some very seriously dangerous drugs that are legal — nicotine and alcohol. Liver disease, heart disease, lung cancer and kidney failure take the lives of tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of Americans yearly. For all of you that cry out that it will degrade the human condition, look at what prohibition has done to this country…

Law is NOT morality. Legalizing drugs is not condoning drug use. There are countries that we could use as an example on how to have drugs legalized — Holland being only one.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

The solution is sooooo simple. Put those prisoners to work as slave labor. Get the economy going. Any more questions?

Posted by John | Report as abusive

The ability to legalize marijuana was unfortunately lost with the Clinton hanging of “Big Tobacco”. Inhaling any type of smoke raises cancer risks, so who would voluntarily latch on to the next round of smoking induced torts?

Posted by mick | Report as abusive

I think marijuana legalization makes the most sense. Weed isn’t killing anything but teenage work ethic.

I’m not so sure that the other drugs should be so readily available though, but only for the same reason we don’t just let people buy sticks of dynamite.

Posted by chad slagle | Report as abusive

Wow! Wow! Those who support current policy don’t understand the drug industry and they dont wish to be confused with the facts. The policy will never work, there is too much money involved; and America will sell its soul for $1.50 … Something lawmakers do every day. I live in Miami where the banks, real estate, tourism, and just about every other industry is supported by the drug trade. We have every drug cartel, mafia, terrorists, and gang member living like movie stars because of the trade. The same people on wall street who brought us the financial melt down brought us the drug trade. I know most people dont want to believe it, but where does all that drug money go? When will we learn.

Posted by Monk | Report as abusive

Beware of overly simplistic models of the universe…

Do you really think that if drugs are legalized that those same criminal minds are going to pack up and go to college, and become part of society? They will just turn to other crimes, possibly more to violent thefts.

Also, there are a myriad of reasons why we have such a large prison population, not all of it can be blamed on the war on drugs, remember:
1) Our country is big, and it enforces the rule of law, so we will automatically have one of the biggest prison populations.
2) Our penal system really sucks at deterrence, so what we may need to do is improve the deterrent effect of prison.
3) It’s mandatory minimums and 3 strikes polices that have been truly responsible for recent spikes in population lately. We’d probably be better off with shorter and more miserable terms.

Further, I think that we may not win the drug war, but the alternative solution of giving up is not without cost.

Consider that it will be much harder to reverse legalization than it was to implement it. If we try it out and find that we like legalization even less than drug prohibition, it will be too late once everyone is addicted to or enamored with their drug of choice.

Posted by Antidrug | Report as abusive

How does legalizing drugs prevent the Taliban, for example, from profiting from opium and heroin production? They’re still going to sell it, aren’t they? If they can’t sell it illegally, they can always go legit and sell it legally. And if we embargo Taliban dope, won’t they sell it illegally anyway, in the end?

Wouldn’t legalization result in a sort of drug mafia who will try to control the legal vendors themselves?

All we’d be doing is creating a different level of problems. Drugs mostly end up being abused. They’re often sold to children and to people who can’t afford them (and as the article points out, they’re at historically low prices — what people can’t afford is the addiction). The people who shouldn’t be taking drugs will still always procure them from illegal sources.

If know know the “drug war” is causing harm, take just one minute and go to http://www.WeCanDoItAgain.com , where you can easily DO SOMETHING about it.

Politics is about attaining and maintaining office, not the application of logic, or Occam’s Razor, or the good of “the public”, nation or world. As long as imbeciles are permitted to vote, a great portion of US policies will continue to be imbecilic… and tend toward producing more imbeciles, if I’m applying the aforementioned Razor properly.

Posted by aloysious | Report as abusive

Perhaps someone should dust off a copy of “Consumer’s Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs.” Something to ask the politicians: as an aging constituent what would you prefer? An opium pill that works, costs .15 cents a tab and comes with few side effects or some pharmaceutical concoction that may work, costs $15 a tab and comes with a retinue of side effects. Could kickstart the Afghan economy to boot.

Many like to site Amsterdam as a good example of regulating and taxing soft drugs as an alternative to criminalizing.

Unfortunately, the results have been strikingly similar to our war on drugs. Criminal activity controls the trade. Organized gangs are profiting from the trade and are more than willing to use violence to protect their turf.

Posted by Brad2 | Report as abusive

Why can’t we have Fairtrade drugs. Wouldn’t this solve many problems simultaneously. New prosperity for Afghanistan and Columbia and Africa!

Posted by Citrushouse | Report as abusive

OK…Go after the cartels and gangs militarily. Treat all of the drugs differently, according to the individual public danger. Internally, marijuana should have the same status as alcohol, but legalize narcotics in a more controlled fashion. License opiate users to receive the drugs at low cost from government stores provided they are employed in a public service job, like street cleaning, nursing home aides, industrial tank cleaning, beach cleanup, road maintenance, ditch digging, etc. Just don’t let them drive or operate machinery. They can be the broom, mop and shovel operators for the new era. If they can support themselves with honest work and get the dope cheap, maybe they’ll stop being such a nusiance. They would end up being a sort of voluntary underclass, or doper-caste. Keep the coke and meth illegal. They cause too many behavioral problems to be permitted. Close down the private prisons, and give all political prisoners legal trials. There. All fixed.

Posted by David B | Report as abusive

If criminal enterprises are willing to risk life and limb to sell drugs illegally, what makes anyone think they won’t risk life and limb to avoid paying taxes on drugs and continue to sell them illegally?

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Just a quick thanks for your succinct and relevant article, “Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs.” Very much appreciated. My father was in law enforcement for 26 years in Dade County (Miami, Florida), and until his post-retirement death in 1980, repeated the same points you made in your article to anyone who would listen. We’ve made no progress since then, which is especially frustrating because almost everyone I talk with, including law enforcement officers, feels the same way you do (and my father did). I wonder why no one in federal and state government is listening — or doing the social arithmetic? It’s a no-brainer.
Susan
Alachua, FL
USA

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

Dear Sir:
Thank you for this overdue article. It gives us medical
marijuana users hope when we see articles of this nature
on a site like reuters.

Posted by bill lopez | Report as abusive

I am glad that everyone is ignoring Jan C. It is this kind of illogical thought process that just give me the willies.

I am also glad that the vast majority of the commentary here is in favor of legalizing MJ.

As for the one comment on not using the Netherlands as an example…You are absolutely correct. the Netherlands made a fatal mistake. They left the laws on the books and just pretended to ignore them. This still made the Cafe shoppe suppliers criminals and as criminals move in so does all that side criminal activity.

Don’t make the mistake the Netherlands made. LEGALIZE Marijuana. Remove the criminal element from the entire future industry.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

How about making all drugs legal and then, to not condone the use, put half of that estimated $76.8 billion into rehabilitation programs the rest into something else (not schools, maybe the Federal deficit)?

Posted by Rod C | Report as abusive

The medical cost would be 100 times more than what you could collect on taxes. A premature birth cost around $600,000 not to mention downs, adhd, and every thing else drug use causes on the children of users…..THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN NOT YOUR POCKETS…

I don’t think it’s fair to say that Amsterdam has so much trouble and leave it at that. Pressures from the United States make it difficult for any country to go against the grain. Without an industry to support the laws there, how can anyone expect anything to change.

Posted by Elliot | Report as abusive

Legalize marijuana? Are you out of your mind? My brother lives in San Francisco (America’s Amsterdam) and grows pot for a living. If it is legalized, everyone will get into the business, thus driving the prices down. My brother will go out of business and then have to come live with me. For my sake, just say NO, NO, NO.

Posted by Leven O'Five | Report as abusive

The US government should be very careful about simply “legalizing” marijuana or other drugs. The favored approach is to REGULATE marijuana production and sale. That takes the control away from gangs and street dealers and puts it in the hands of our government.

Prohibition has failed. We all agree on that.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Wishful thinking, using the economic argument won’t work and using the rational adult argument is even more ridiculous. The main reason these drugs will never be legalized is for the simple reason that they can be grown in your back yard…maybe not your average cocoa operation but nor far away in some remote area of south america. The same as boot legging liquor has never gone away and is still a very profitable business. Have you noticed that the drug companies are not campaigning for legalization? Because they can’t make money from the vast majority of “natural” drugs. Duh! Asking the feds to legalize these “classes” of drugs simply won’t happen. As someone who has abused them in various forms for many years since adolescence that now understands the reasons why? I have been sober for several years now and would not recommend using any grug legal or not…they are all recreational, except for treatment specific ailments related to a medical condition. They are all used for escape and delusion. People need to learn how to cope without the insanity of any of this stuff. Americans need too accept reality and life on lifes terms and stop with this ridiculous argument of legalization…..I guess frying yourself will still be perilous to your freedom as well as your development into adulthood. Tough medicine but true.

Posted by chuck | Report as abusive

“war on drugs has helped turn the United States into the country with the world’s largest prison population”

Wrong, people are choosing to break the law and use illegal drugs, hence they add to the prison population. The law is pretty clear, use certain drugs and you go to jail. The laws and the ‘war on drugs’ has nothing to do with people choosing to use drugs and break to law. Look at Japan and the Middle East, they have some of the harshest drug laws in the world, yet Japan for one has one of the lowest criminal populations in the world as well.

Posted by John Boom | Report as abusive

I’m all for the legalization and regulations of the drugs in question. Not just marajuana, but the majority of the illicit drugs.

Why?

Fairly simple: Money.

As of now, the cost of the drugs on the street is absurdly high. This is due to two reasons:
1) The dealers and Producers can charge that much
2) The game is high loss, so the profits have to be just as high to guarantee income, despite the losses suffered.

Most drugs are actually not difficult to produce, Marajuana is no harder to produce than tobacco, and in fact, is easier, as the plants can be heartier.

By legalizing it, you’re going to:

1) No risk production and shipment.
2) Standardize pricing for a product, leveling the field, and cutting heavily into the profits of the cartels.
3) Taxes and Sales in the US go to legitimate companies.
4) Useless money spent on enforcing laws regarding these can be funneled elsewhere.

Where’s the downside?

Posted by Kitch | Report as abusive

Legalizing drugs doesn’t make sense for reasons that all the legalizers can’t seem to grasp. For the most part, they LOVE to point to alcohol prohibition, but NEVER look at the MANY parallels to narcotics that do not support their position. I’m not saying the war on drugs is working well, but here is why you don’t want to try the “legalize it” route.

1. Argument: legalizing drugs will take the profit out of it, the associated crime will go away. Yeah right – like the dealers and makers are going to get a real job once it’s legalized. They’ll hit a liquor store – or your house for money, or get involved in some other nefarious activity that will be next on the “legalize it” list. What happened to those running booze in the 20’s after prohibition was lifted? They just dug deeper into other crimes. Any improvements to organized crime (I think it is better now than in the “good ol days”) came from busting the crime rings – not legalizing everything to “take the profit out of it”. You like to look at alcohol comparisons – then start looking at the whole experience with it.

2. Comparing alcohol to hard drugs is dangerously stupid. Approximately 10% of the population is genetically predisposed to becoming addicted to alcohol. Everyone is predisposed to becoming addicted to narcotics. It’s comparing a water pistol to a handgun. Besides – dig into your history just a bit more instead of being selective again. Narcotics were legal in the US at the turn of the century (cocaine in the coke as an example) and the results were disastrous. Addiction was rampant. Look it up. What about other countries that have allowed hard drugs? I don’t think it is a smashing success.

3. Arguments about addicts feeling free from a stigma for treatment are baseless and ridiculous. Where is the study or even the logic to support this? Alcohol is legal and there is still a “stigma” with being an alcoholic. Alcoholics notoriously resist treatment – and booze is legal.

4. Addressing concerns about increased addiction with a reassurance like “not necessarily” doesn’t cut it – talk about glossing over a major concern. Where is the information on this? Has alcohol addiction improved over the years since prohibition was lifted? Again – alcohol is kids stuff compared to narcotics too.

5. The toll on society from legal drugs (family destruction – now this is my turn to make a free assertion) will outweigh the cost for fighting drugs and the associated crime. I’m all for getting somebody treatment instead of jail at first, but it cannot become a joke system. And we can’t embrace “treatment” and at the same time make changes that will create more addicts.

6. How do you know that there still won’t be drugs illegally made and sold – a black market to get around the government’s involvement, taxes and such? I think we have this with (yes, let’s again look at the alcohol parallel). We have “moonshiners” making dangerous stuff while it is legal. Cigarettes – you name it. Knock off products……there will still be an illegal black market that will be crime ridden and trouble – especially for something that is addicting.

The theme is pretty simple – look at alcohol and honestly assess its history and situation and none of the legalize arguments make much sense at all. All the parallels actually indicate it is a very bad idea. It’s a simple sounding seductive one, but wrong so many ways it’s not funny.

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

My perspective comes from living next to an international border and where drug violence is now becoming an open war. Our neighbor, the city of Nogales Sonora, has had running gun battles with grenades and automatic rifles and innocents are dying in the streets. The state department has put out a warning about an area that I have visited and loved for decades. Living here all my life I am heart broken over what has happened to our beautiful border with Mexico. Immigrant problems can be solved with proper job fairs and documents. The drug war on the border will be stopped only with legalization. As to the dangers of drug use, as a nurse I say regulating and taxing the drugs will do more to decrease adverse effects than keeping drugs in the dark and criminalized. All substances ingested can do harm from alcohol to prescription drugs and we will never be a perfect society but hiding the problem under a rug is not the answer.

Posted by MAP | Report as abusive

Street drugs? or just ripped off from those who get them from a doctor.If the jails are not full alot of people will be out of work Yes the system is broke but more drugs AN`t the way to go!.

Posted by Howard Hughes FU | Report as abusive

People, stop worrying about how to extract the tax money from the current growers and dealers. Once legalized, that system won’t last more than a few years.

When was the last time a stranger stopped you on the street trying to sell you bathtub gin? Never, because bootleggers can’t compete with the big corporations.

If pot’s legalized, within 2 years it’ll be available in liquor stores (or some other restricted retail) for a fraction of the current price. Overall consumption won’t rise significantly at all, though I expect there’ll be some shift from alcohol to pot, since it’s much less damaging.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

“He estimates that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy”

That is savings/income for federal government. Although the line has blurred significantly in last few months, it is still not the US economy.

What would the savings be, if non-violent drug offenders were pardon and released? I seen numbers that this prison demographic is about 400,000.

You also do not mention, the militarization of the police, the erosion of civil liberties, the 1000s of collateral deaths and the penalties a person convicted of non-violent drug offense faces after prison (school loans, housing, etc.).

The penalties a poor black youth will face for getting caught with a joint, will ruin his life. All this in the name of saving him. Pretty screwed up.

Posted by marc | Report as abusive

I think the people still arguing for prohibition are the people who either make money off it or are too ignorant to understand that prohibition makes the problem worse. Look at what happens when drugs or alcohol are made illegal: Beer and wine were replaced by bathtub gin and dangerous moonshine during alcohol prohibition, amphetamine pep pills are replaced by crystal meth, cocaine becomes crack, and opium is replaced by heroin. Prohibition not only causes crime and corruption but it even makes the substances themselves more dangerous. Drugs are never going to go away, neither are the users. All that can be done is to reduce the danger and harm that will inevitably result from drugs.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Greg;

You fail to realize people are already using. The fact that it’s illegal only makes criminals out of normally law abiding citizens. I don’t really care what happens. Just don’t look past the fact people are going to keep using regardless. Legal or not legal, the addictions you talk about are already there; probably people you know and trust. The problem is, making “drugs” [what really constitutes a drug anyway?] illegal only keeps things below the surface, just to keep it “PC”. I really have to laugh at how misguided you are. Obviously you just like to assume the things you see are real, and never really look beyond the surface. It’s a shame so many politicians share your narrow short sighted view of humanity. Government isn’t supposed to run your life. So why are they telling us what is legal and not legal. Obviously murder is one thing, but trying to legislate what people do in their own time in their own home is absolutely absured. I will tell you I support this idea. You mentioned the fact the dealers and such will just get deeper into crime. They could get a business license, and become legal dealers….. or would that make them doctors? Yeah I hope you got that. Doctors are probably the biggest criminals in our society. They are drugging people up left and right; but obviously Greg, you dont have a problem with that. I for one would rather have people doing drugs that are naturally grown than some designer drug created in a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical lab. Open your mind Greg. It’s extremely narrow as of now. Maybe you should try using and expand your mind, and also your view on life.

Posted by Jimbo | Report as abusive

Great article. Certainly stirred debate. Now if we can just start a rational discussion among our political, religious, press and law enforcement communities, who knows but that we might actually agree to try something different. Lord knows, what we’re doing now is the equivalent of the “finger-in-the-dike” solution.

Posted by Ben Bendetti | Report as abusive

Speculating rarely ever comes close to the reality of a real world trial concerning complex issues. Emotionally charged discourse concerning the legalization of drugs does nothing to prove the case either way.

Stop speculating. Legalize a drug (marijuana) for a period of 3-5 years and record what happens. Marijuana is the perfect drug for a trial because it is most plentiful and there is already an infrastructure already operating in the few states that allow the use for medical reasons. Once the trail is over and the data analyzed then and only then can intelligent decisions be made concerning its removal from the list of controlled substances on a federal level.

Posted by John Stone | Report as abusive

To get rid of a problem like drugs by making it legal only creates other problems. Health issues would explode and the cost of dealing with people abusing their bodies would be onerous.

Posted by Roger Barthe | Report as abusive

Does anyone know what the most smuggled-in product is in the United States? Cigarettes! What’s another? Caviar! And they are legal! Making something legal does not make the problem go away or even get better.

Posted by Dom Pfefferkorn | Report as abusive

“Law is NOT morality.” – Kevin

Yes it is. Isn’t most law historically derived from religious scriptures which depict the divide between right/wrong, moral/immoral, legal/illegal?

I can’t see how legalising addictive substances that have negative externalities attached to them could benefit any society. The costs of health care alone would strip away any financial benefits from tax etc. that could be gained by legalisation.

But rather than just continue the same things over and over, why can’t the government experiment with the implementation of better rehabilitation and social education programs before going down the road of legalisation?

Posted by Warwick | Report as abusive

Greg’s is the only rational comment posted, and he has it totally pegged.

Instead of filling up prisons, simple way is to make the selling of illegal drugs a mandatory death sentence. Instead of filling prisons, put a real deterent in place. And include loss of citizenship to anyone that was naturalized, and expulsion from the US, and siezure of all assets by the US government. Stop playing at it. Also, put military with weapons loaded and with mandate to interdict drug smuggling across any border. And give all such guards immunity from ANY prosecution or civil liability in the event of a mistake. Stop being a nanny state and protecting the sellers. Put a mandatory drug rehab sentence on anyone caught using, and force anyone that is high visibility such as sports figures, actors and film makers, etc. that are caught with drugs to leave their professions and take registration like a sex offender, with penalty of life imprisonment if they are caught around drugs after being caught the first time.

Great article!! You cannot legislate morality. period.
The so-called drug war purpose has never been to reduce crime, one of its purposes is to create an ever growing avenue for lobbyists to funnel our tax dollars into under the guise of protecting us from the “sourge” of drugs but what has happened is that drugs are more available now than when this “war” was started. The real questions that need to be asked is who is really profiting from this war? Who is really benefiting? Who is really being targeted for arrest and imprisonment?

I don’t get how so many people see this as a black and white issue where the sky will fall is drugs are legalized. What this country needs is regulation. I’m specifically for the legalization of marijuana. The taxes and industry this single act would do would bring much needed tax dollars to the country right now….

Posted by MGarvey | Report as abusive

Anyone who has been involved in political fundraising knows that companies like CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) are the first in line with checks to “law and order” candidates running for office. It’s the money, stupid. The “prison industrial complex” is real, filling prisons with minority kids doing minimum mandatory sentences for first time, non-violent offenses – many times proving only dry conspiracies, where no drugs are produced as evidence at trial. And when these former children get out, they are branded as “felons,” never able to vote, restricted from professional licenses, kept on the outside of legitimate society. What a shame. Shame on us, the taxpayers, for allowing lobbyists to push Congress to build the biggest people-warehousing operation in the world.

Posted by Jim Ryan | Report as abusive

The Reagan era of JUST SAY NO was simplistic then and still is now except that it has done so much damage compared to spending all that money on treatment or something. Do you notice when a rich kid or star has a problem they get treatment, they don’t get sent to jail. So why do the elite want to send your kids all to jail, fear I suppose but, when they get out of jail it will be safer??? The real question is why did anyone go for the beat them into submission approach. Maybe they were dreaming of beating up the Hippie’s or something but it was our kids.

Posted by shylove | Report as abusive

Heil RUFUS!
Your suggestions are just wonderful. Such much love for the individual. It would be interesting to see your reaction if some close relative of yours would be expelled from the country or executed as you just suggested. You want to introduce fascism, and probably at the same time proudly and chest-poundingly proclaim to be living in the world’s greatest democracy. Hooray, let’s drink to that!

Posted by Morrison | Report as abusive

youre not gonna see legalization any time soon, neither bigger sentences against offenders. think about it, when taliban were ruling, afghanistan produced 10 to 15% of the world heroin, now its up to 90%. kosovo was promote a country by western country and they are rule by druglords. my point is we are rule by importers and our army airplanes are probably use to bring the stock in.

Posted by tito lyn | Report as abusive

I’ve been smoking marijuana since I was 28-years old. It’s only helped. The ‘war’ should be against stupidity, which seems to reign in all high places!

If the ACLU and Norml want my money, they should just sue the boards of education for abject failure to live up to their mission statements – which all teachers and students are hardily ascribed to. My son’s high school is a mix of drugstore, liquor store and bordello. The cops patrol the halls, but don’t do anything to keep drugs etc out of the classroom. Guaranteed, though – there are over a hundred illegal drug items on campus for every item of liquor-store origin.
Put it in the ABC store, hombre. Does away with the criminal element, frees cops to hunt for real bad guys, and helps get rid of the deficit. People are going to get what they want – and its high time that the law of the land began reflecting reality.

Posted by Daemon | Report as abusive

That’s an interesting point of view. If you legalize the consumption of drugs, like marijuana, just to combat the black market, drug dealers or who sells drugs, must register their business to survive, uh?
So, they start selling drugs legally, but as happen to alcohol and tobacco, society will start a campaign to stop its consumption, because is dangerous.
So, who is crazy enough to legalize a product that will be considered bad to other’s health?
Ah, ok, it creates dependence, taxes… I understood now.

Posted by Antônio | Report as abusive

Thank you for your thoughtful article on “Einstein, Insanity and War on Drugs” it is always nice to read that someone is trying to reverse the inequality begun with the foundation of the passage of the Controlled
Substances Act and foundation of the DEA. One can clearly see that there is widespread social opposition to unbridled drug use. In the Netherlands, where cannabis is legal to grow and buy in small quantities, use of the drug is reported to be lower than in the United States, because of social exclusion and disdain people have for drug consumption. In my personal experience as a writer, who just recently
learned about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), I have found that the often violent opposition to reason in regard to drug laws is not quashed until one has reconstituted the drug regulation system as a pharmaceutical health profession.

For peace of mind what needs to be done is transfer the DEA to the DHHS, near the FDA and the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB) from under the supervision of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime to the World Health Organization and cut responsibility for drugs from the UN
Office of Crime. Essentially drugs are and always will be a medical issue. Pharmacy is a health profession devoted to the sale of high quality, affordable drugs, that make people healthy and happy. Pharmacists are there to counsel people, and their physicians, regarding
the danger of adverse drug reactions. One should note that pharmacies are nearly always filled with booze, cigarettes and junk food because they are intrepid salesmen of perishable goods with a long shelf life.
Pharmaceutical drugs (100,000 in hospitals) take 10 times more lives than illicit drugs (3,000-30,000) and substances of abuse manufactured in animal research, university and government laboratories take even
more (1 million) annually, in the US alone.

Nixon really made a mess of things. He seems to have substituted illicit drugs for gold in the standard weights used in the biased scales of justice and irreparably damaged both the justice and health systems,
as well as began, what is now, crippling income inequality and international trade deficits in the US and to a lesser degree in the entire developed world. The central reason for this seems to be that although the Attorney General licenses all drug distributors, including your personal extortionist doctor, he knows absolutely nothing about medicine or pharmacy and tends to act in the corrupt interests of corporations and professionals, rather than the consumers. To make
matters worse in the deep shade of psychiatry, that in 1970 had just invented ways to torture the alleged mentally ill with anti-psychotic drugs, it is the Probate Judge, who also adjudicates wills, enforcing
the consumption of medication, as no self respecting drug “pusher” would do on the streets, it is he who is the Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA), and to strike fear in your heart might also enforce other substances of abuse to hasten the administration of wills. Afghanistan and Columbia, the world’s largest cultivators of opium and coca, were quickly subverted and remain dependent upon foreign military assistance to fight civil wars against the political establishment of National Opium/Coca
Agencies under Arts. 23 adn 24 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

I believe these are all the major issues, besides legalizing the cultivation and sale of small amounts of marijuana, and praising drug treatment for drug addiction, also a health/social work profession, because drugs, like alcohol and tobacco are not considered virtues, they are vices, but more tolerable than the medical dictatorship, in one’s own family, most consumers are fleeing, To learn more read,

Sanders, Tony J. Drug Administration. Hospitals & Asylums. Chapter 8.
http://www.title24uscode.org/DAY.htm
Sanders, Tony J. State Mental Institution Library Education. Hospitals & Asylums. Chapter 4
http://www.title24uscode.org/SMILE.htm

Posted by Hospitals & Asylums | Report as abusive

How can people – like Warwick an others here – argue that legalizing addictive/harmful substances is somehow a moral failure when the two biggest killers BY FAR (alcohol and tobacco) are legal? Why not criminalize those substances? Oh, right…we know it doesn’t work. You can’t legislate a market away – it was true during Prohibition, and its true now. Drugs of all kinds are here to stay.

Posted by stevelo | Report as abusive

On the “bright” side, the government has learned at least a little from the prohibition experiment. They’ve learned that if you keep the substance legal, but steadily remove the places where it’s legal to use it, you can at least get people to cooperate with that end of it. They’re still trying to figure out how to get people to quit smoking once it’s only legal to do in their bedroom under a blanket with the lights off on odd Tuesdays. As soon as they get that figured out, they can finally solve all our really big problems… like our gross misuse of free will, civil liberties, and other nuisances. The government has also been actively brainwashing the general populace into believing that marijuana was directly responsible for everything from an increased mexican crime rate to terrorism. They’d look like fools if they turned around at this point and contradicted themselves. That’d be like President Bush announcing to the nation that there were no WMD’s in Iraq, or that there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11… Oh… right.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

We can acknowledge that the war on drugs was long ago lost. It’s in every city and small town across the US. That’s not exactly how it was envisioned to come out.

Not only would tax revenues increase but the legal system would become a whole lot less hectic in the day to day functioning. Face it drug cases are by far the largest percentage of what is passing though and bogging down the serving of justice.

As has been mentioned, as long as drugs such as marijuana are held illegal, this system will continue to be a problem.

There are people whom will do drugs. No mandating of how it will be by law will stop it. That’s why illegal drugs are our second (black market) economy, allowing money to flow out of the country like water. We evidently can’t print it fast enough to cover that which is leaving the country. True it is not the only reason for money to leave the country as long as our currency is considered the worlds standard but it has a large part to do with it.

We have a mini-war on the streets in cities across the nation today as innocent bystanders happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time next to a target that the shooters who can’t aim and hit their targets become the KIAs. Remove the financial reward of these drug dealers and near over night, shootings will become less and less of something everyone fears because they can not stop it.

You see, it’s not just those doing drugs that are suffering from the problem. If you live in a large city, you never know when the morning might come and you wake up to find out your spouse or worse a your child might have died in the night as a bullet came through the wall of your home.

Because drugs are illegal there is no place to buy them over the counter. Those that will do them are forced to deal with criminals in the process. One of the side results of that is scorn for the police and the laws they are forced to enforce. This in turn becomes a pervasive attitude from the public towards the law.

This is exactly how the term pig came to be when mentioned in the derogatory terms for the police. Unpopular laws eventually result in this. So not only are we making criminals by the multitudes as these laws are applied but society begins to look at law units with disdain.

We are spending what is near some small third world countries annual budgets. I believe by this time we have proven throwing money at it isn’t working, nor is adding manpower to it making a dent in the drug flow. What we have revealed is that there are tons of ways for terrorists to slip things into the country and it is shown how to do that by other drug kings near daily.

Posted by today | Report as abusive

MIKE ponders: If criminal enterprises are willing to risk life and limb to sell drugs illegally, what makes anyone think they won’t risk life and limb to avoid paying taxes on drugs and continue to sell them illegally?

I REPLY: Illegal street dealers cannot financially compete with legal, regulated dealers. This can be proven by looking at the two most popular drugs in North America – alcohol and tobacco and of course, most over the counter drugs.

There is no street trade for tobacco or alcohol.

There is at the moment a relatively small street trade for controlled pharmacueticals, but that is due in large part to the current monopolies enjoyed by a small number of American Rx companies and by the fact that we have two tiers of consumers for Rx pharms.

Americans with insurance coverage get Rx pharms at about 1/4 the price paid by Americans without insurance coverage.

Eliminate that discrepancy and street dealers would not be able to compete.

DOM imagines: Does anyone know what the most smuggled-in product is in the United States? Cigarettes!

I REPLY: Utter nonsense.

Tobacco products do see some interstate diversion via illegal methods due to varying tax levels by state, but evn with this smuggling, over 99.9% of all tobacco sales are made by legal and licensed dealers.

The most smuggled product in North America is marijuana with upwards of 30million Americans as buyers.

The next two most commonly smuggled items would be cocaine (3 to 4million American buyers) and firearms.

I enjoyed reading your article and agree with most of your points. In the comments, including the “best comment”, I keep reading ‘the 2 most deadly drugs are legal’. Now come on, do you really believe cocaine is less deadly than alcohol or heroin less deadly than tobacco? The two most deadly drugs are legal because they are legal and readily available. Not as many people do cocaine because there are serious consequences with the law. If people could buy cocaine at the gas station, you can be sure there would be a new “most deadly drug” at the top of the list. I’m all for legalizing marijuana, and I could even support legalizing everything. Let people do what they want. If the life of a crack fiend is the life they choose, let them have fun and die an early but quick death of heart failure. If they want to smoke a joint while they watch Scooby Doo, so be it. Don’t sheepishly disregard the facts of how dangerous these drugs are by labeling tobacco as more deadly than morphine or cocaine or heroin though. Give me a break.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

There are a number of misconceptions about the health effects of illegal drugs and narcotics compared to the popular legal drugs.

For example, how many of the commentators realize that:

(1) Nicotine is the most addictive of all drugs and it’s use results in more deaths than all the illegal drugs combined.

(2)The effects of withdrawal from alcohol addiction are much worse than from any narcotic or other physically addictive drug.

Posted by buckminster | Report as abusive

Marijuana has been sold legally under governmental control on the open market and at a fair price for more than a decade in both Switzerland and The Netherlands. Neither country has seen an increase in harder drug use as a result, and the coffers of both nations have been handsomely increased as a result of the taxes obtained from marijuana sales. America could learn something from their example.

Posted by mark schalter | Report as abusive

This is something I have given a lot of thought to recently. I was a Customs officer on the Mexican border in Arizona and just finished writing a book on my border experiences. In my border world statistics had flesh and blood faces. I was personally involved in hundreds of people being busted and eventually sent to prison for marijuana smuggling. The vast majority of them did not seem to me to be really criminal types. The genuine bad dudes did pop up from time to time. But many of the hapless smugglers were just poor Mexicans hopelessly caught in that country’s grinding poverty. And the rest were more like the guy next door down on his luck or some kid with more guts that sense, or, very often,just some lazy schmuck looking to made an easy fast buck.

I think it would have made more sense to sentence them to a job than to prison.

This has nudged me off the fence. I’m joining LEAP.

Score one more vote for repealing prohibition.

Posted by James Whitesell | Report as abusive

Why not start with legalizing marijuana? We could gauge the results in increased tax revenues, reduced law enforcement costs, and health and social impact.

If the results are favorable and the negative consequences few, we could then legalize safer cuts of cocaine–maybe like the original Coca Cola… or a new drink at Starbucks?

Posted by Randy Grenier | Report as abusive

Another convuleted antiseptic, academic arguement in favor of the legitimization, NOT LEGALIZATION, of some of the MOST DANGEROUS AND HARMFUL CHEMICALS EVERY USED BY THE HUMAN RACE. Quite frankly, to have a supply and demand discussion and rationalize the use and distribution of these letal chemicals is outraageoius. I would invite the author to do some due dillience on the effects of these drugs on the users, these are toxic in every sense of the word. The riciculous assumption of the captial poured into our economy would be mroe than offset by the avoidable health consequences of exapnded usage of these substances, including Marijuana.
People like this author should learn tha true sulutions to every day problems are not contained within the arms length discussions of academic eggheads with not clue what it is like to face drug abuse issues face to face with addicted familieis and indviduals.
It is not insanity to try ot prevent the more widespread usage of these drugs, until a better efforts is made by the American Public that continues to consume and pay for the violence and death associated with it, we have to keep doing the same thing,
Jose Marquez is a Drug Prevention Consultant in San Antonio TX and may be reached at jmarquez@pagpllc.cm

The prohibition of marijuana came about because lawmakers in California wanted an easy means of arresting and detaining Mexicans who were coming over the border to do farm labor and were being used as a vehicle to sew fear among voters.

Now the prohibition has taken on a life of it’s own, supported mostly by the Religious Right.

The Drug War has ruined our inner cities, promoted the growth of gang culture throughout the United States and broken up millions of families over the years by subjecting millions of Americans to cruel and unusual terms in prison.

Telling someone what they can and cannot put in their own bodies is the ultimate invasion of privacy. It goes against everything our Constitution represents. It’s evil and it’s kiling us.

Posted by Dolmance | Report as abusive

Well, after spending many years in doing Gang & Street Work, being a Juvenile and Adult Probation-Parole Officer and supervisor in a correctional facility before being an investigator of state and local governments, I buy the argument that we should end the prohibition on drugs just as we did on Alcohol.

I think that legalizing drugs and maybe even taxing them would go a long way towards ending the illegal drug trade and violence that we experience on the border. There would be little profit to be made by the drug cartels if there were legally accessible and affordable drugs available to those who chose to use them. While I agree that there are some hard drugs that can addict and mess folks up, for the most part this is a medical issue not unlike alcoholism and I believe should be treated that way.

The article mentioned the high number of incarcerated folks in the US. That is an accurate description of our Correctional State of Affairs.

And we as a public pay dearly for the choice our society has made on the handling and treatment of the violators of our drug laws. Jailing folks is an extremely uncost-effective way to punish most folk. In fact most jailed folks could do well in medium or low custody facilities thereby decreasing our care and custody costs. (In 2007, as an example Minnesota paid an average of $47.12 to $78.78 per day depending on the custody level or $17,198.80 to $28,754.70 per year per inmate. If your curious there is a 2004 DOJ report that recaps the expenses for 2001 at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/spe 01.pdf )

(As a side note it is even less cost effective to impose capital punishment not even counting the numbers of folk who may have been wrongly executed. A Study showed the Maryland spent on the average of $37 million for each of the death sentences it fulfilled. An Indiana study showed that it cost them 37% more to execute a prisoner than to have them serve life without parole. See: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-de ath-penalty

Personally I like life without parole anyway as a better punishment that lasts for years rather than seconds. And, if there was an error in the case, you can rectify it.)

Inaddition, when we incarcerate those folk, I have rarely seen good or even adequate treatment programs in institutions that have high rates of “cure” or non-recidivism. I have seen better and more effective programs in the free world

In my opinion, we would find it cheaper as a society to let the addicts stay on the street and have access to legal drugs and treatment which would remove most reasons that cause them to break laws to feed a habit. But it is our Christian/puritan ethos that does not allow that approach, so we pay and pay and see no progress other than increased jail populations and gang drug wars over turf and money.

Now I am not saying that we should not prosecute and jail folks who break our laws. We do need to do that to keep order in our society.

But we choose what laws are on the books and how or if they are enforced and what the penalties are.
We can save our secure and costly institutional space for those dangerous violent offenders. And put minimum and medium security cases in community correctional facilities and save tons of taxpayer dollars.

By decriminalizing drug use we would also find that there would be relief for the Courts, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys. We would have to increase the number of community mental health resources, something we promised to do when we closed the mental institutions in our country but never funded.

I guess I could go on and on about this subject including how medical staff who were taking care of my son-in-law’s mother who was dying of pancreatic cancer encouraged her to get some marijuana to help with pain. But she being a very religious person could never bring herself to use it as she thought it was “wrong”

Posted by Duncan Fowler | Report as abusive

Lost in looking at the forest is the very obvious tree that continued prohibition against soft drugs feeds what are billions into the coffers of those “enforcement” is after. Exactly who came up with the logic of making your adversaries stronger to defeat them? Remove their funding, and more than half the problems are gone.

Posted by SafetyGuy | Report as abusive

Financial arguments alone do not provide sufficient reason to repeal criminal drug laws and legalize their sale. There are many arguments (of similar importance) beyond the financial – and, further, I’m sure that the economic analyses performed in the past don’t account for a plethora of other problems associated with drug legalization. There are political principles, economic factors, and moral issues encapsulated within our collective responsibility in making drug policy.
Yes! Drugs may have severe impacts on the individual, and on our communities that are detrimental – and may be exacerbated by legalization. However, legalization of drugs may help remove the criminal stigma of their use; instead, social pressure will become the ultimate (and most appropriate) conduit for controlling these substances in our communities. Of course, the free use of drugs in the privacy of one’s home may not have any detrimental effect on any other person not located in that home – where may I step in to initiate the use of force against my neighbor, where her actions have no detrimental consequence to my health or property? Heavy addiction to legalized drugs, and the correlated increase in availability may mean that far more people are tempted by and succumb to their overuse. Just as alcohol has claimed many happy families and created a negative pall in many communities; excessive drug use may do the same.
Would rehabilitation cure these issues? probably not, but maybe! More likely, legalization will bring to the surface many issues of addiction, and provide additional (effective) avenues for handling and curing addiction.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

The consultant in San Antonio must be on the take to advocate doing the same thing forever when it accomplishes NOTHING. In fact, the problem worsens daily and the world wide problem affects us directly also. Jose sounds like he is saving the country from drug use. I got news Jose–they are buying MORE every day!!
Making the US gummit the ONLY buyer, who could play the cartels against each other for price, selling it cheaply to individuals through the pharmacies, logging the buyer as a user, would go a LONG way toward eliminating much of the problem. It would still require keeping a border patrol and drug forces to capture the illegal entry of drugs and it would take some time to carry it out. Eventually the drug force on ALL the police districts in the country could be cut down to a coupla officers. It didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be cured overnight.

But, think of all of the officials that the drug money couldn’t buy anymore? Think of all of the robberies, the muggings and the murders, committed for money to buy drugs, that could be eliminated!!! Think of all of the young women that might be saved from the prostitution world through the temptation of drug use.

To me, the reasons for repealing the prohibition of drugs overwhelms the reasons to keep on the same non-effective path.

BTW, when drugs were legal about the only ones using were little old ladies on cough medicine and the coca cola drinkers. Occassionally the pharmacist had a problem and THAT is dangerous but could be stopped by random testing.

The benefits seem huge to me. One thing is for absolute certain: It couldn’t be any worse than it is.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

“How can people – like Warwick an others here – argue that legalizing addictive/harmful substances is somehow a moral failure when the two biggest killers BY FAR (alcohol and tobacco) are legal? Why not criminalize those substances?” – stevelo

Yes, the 2 biggest killers are alcohol and tobacco – is it because of their lethal potential or the fact that it is available to and used by a much wider part of society due to their legal nature? What I was trying to say was that it’s a lot easier to repeal prohibition that it is to implement it. If we legalise drugs and get it wrong, it is going to be one huge task of getting us back to where we are.

Why can’t a well-funded public education and awareness campaign along with effective rehabilitation services policy be implemented as an initial step to tackling drugs. While you never stand a chance of removing every user, it would at least provide some preventitive health care – which tends to be a lot cheaper in the long term than reactionary health care.

Government regulation of the drug trade won’t stop the black market because there will always be someone who is willing to do it cheaper – look at media piracy and illegal tobacco for example. Regulation will merely end up with a less expensive method of obtaining drugs for existing users and the removal of existing barriers which may have prevented potential future users from using. The profit margins aren’t going to be as big but the market will have grown significantly.

You will never remove the drug trade and whether the penalties are effective is of much doubt – but making improvements in terms of better rehabilitation and education programs, you could at least provide a better approach than what is being offered now. Tackling the social reasons behind drug use and related crime would be much more effective than just spending money making the same old mistakes known as this war on drugs.

Posted by Warwick | Report as abusive

Einstein also said “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence”. Those who try to outlaw things that tear society apart – based on intelligence – are opposed on the grounds that, it would just be easier and net a better payoff if we let it go.

This is yet another discussion that starts so far beyond the limits of reason that it is impossible to drag it all the way back and start over. It seems to imply that the best way to get rid of a problem is simply to declare that it is not a problem anymore and suddenly everyone is rich and happy. Wow! Why have we not done this sooner. We could pay for the bailout with drug tax money… cocaine is not harmful to people or society, we just overreacted… Hey, now all the drug offenders will have to be let out on the street… Wait, are we going to use all the tax money to pay for their care and feeding or to rehab all the people lying in the gutter because they simply had too much fun? Are all the drug dealers going to get licenses now? Will the money be used to fund all the underfunded addiction-treatment programs? Will the cyclical nature of such a things ever catch up with itself. Does a dog ever catch his tail?

Posted by craig | Report as abusive

why not?

Smoke Rasta ……. Ski Fasta

or

Smoke Marijuana……..Ski where ya wanna

or

Smoke Pot………Ski Hot

Posted by bkskiispow | Report as abusive

Oh by the way, marijuana is already socially accepted despite the Federal Gov.’s best efforts

Posted by bkskiispow | Report as abusive

Hey, Craig; you have some idea of giving drug dealers a pharmacists license??
You’ve already decided it can’t be done, huh?
What is going on right now can’t be done. Isn’t being done and won’t be. Just a continual drain of resources, time and money and the problem gets continually worse. But you like that route, eh?

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Society will laugh at our policies in 20 years. Tobacco and alco-bevs are legal but marijuana is illigal. Seriously…we are very stupid beings. Wake up to reality and legalize everything. The war on drugs is not being fought correctly. Legalize it and then deal with individuals with help not prisons…..

Posted by Reality | Report as abusive

Anytime something is prohibited an underground market for that thing is created. Current drug policy seeks to wipe out this illegal economy by feeding it more customers.

Has “Change” truely arrived at the White House? I doubt it.

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

A major argument that is being overlooked here is that not all drug users are drug addicts. It was said here that the only reason that alcohol is a top killer is because its legal -> that can’t be right! there have been numerous studies done over the past year that have demonstrated that drivers under the influence of marijuana are safer than those under the influence of alcohol. Recently there was an anonymous study that found that approx. 30% of adults in the U.S. smoke on occasion marijuana (and that’s just those that 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. Should we lock all those people up? Maybe it would be more financially sound (as well as moral) to pull our heads out of the sand an wake up to reality.

I don’t advocate the legalization of all drugs, some stuff out there is really harmful. But there is also stuff that while illegal is more of an infringement on human rights than a governments attempt at protecting its populous. One thing that’s for sure, is that if we do change our drug policies, we have to do it in a rational and sustainable manner (we don’t want a bunch of dutch tourists coming here to get hopped up on mushrooms). Radical change can lead to pandemonium, so for now – one step at a time. Lets start with letting each state decide what to do with medical marijuana…

Posted by Daren | Report as abusive

Yes, let’s legalize drugs the same way when we repealed Prohibition. That way instead of tolerating bad behavior in hiding, we can get it out in the open and find a new #1 leading killer of Americans. Drunk driving has been at the top of the list for too long…

I do agree that we shouldn’t do the same thing over and over again – How about we seal off the border that 90% of our drugs are imported across? That’s a doable action, and costs far less than incarceration.

Businesses also should do their part. If more businesses either required their employees or were mandated to be drug free, people would straighten up. Look at what Arizona did with illegal immigration – denying jobs to people involved with committing crimes is pretty effective. Not saying I’m condoning this, but it’s food for thought.

Posted by b-rad | Report as abusive

I have never used an illegal drug in my life. If it were legalized tomorrow, I still would not. With that being said, I find it ludicrous that the government can tell me what I can and cannot do to my body in my home.

Justifying the need to outlaw drugs by saying what people “might” do is absurd. By that rationale, should it be illegal to sell candy bars to diabetics? They might go into a sugar coma while driving.

Hold people accountable for their actions that affect other people. If they go out and drive high, stoned, whatever, punish them severely, the same as a DUI.

As far as “giving drug dealers licenses,” stop it. Big Tobacco is ready right now to start mass producing marijuana cigarettes. Where do you think people are going to go to buy them? From the guy on the corner or at the state store? Alcohol was legalized and where do you buy it now? At the state store, liquor store, etc. I have yet to find anyone going out to buy whiskey from a back alley.

The initial resolution to the issue of drug prohibition
lies with states’ rights. If enough individual states decide to temper or change drug enforcement laws, then it might become a national trend and ultimately federal law. The financial benefits, in terms of taxes and less
demand on law enforcement are obvious. There must be a
way of creating fair and sustainable legislation that
would allow for ‘free drug use’ IE: marijuana, but at
the same time protect the populace from the harder, more dangerous illicit drugs that pervade our country.
Indeed, sealing up our borders against massive traficking would be a good start.
By the way. Are the heavily armed Hispanic drug cartels
still growing huge amounts of ‘weed’ in our National
Forests?

Posted by Christopher Popham Smith | Report as abusive

Policy makers should look at law enforcement as an industry. Drug laws and their enforcement represent the major source of revenue for this industry. It is unlikely, given the strong lobby of corrections, judges, police and all others who derive their income from this failure in social engineering, that any rational policy will ever evolve.
Welcome to the welfare state.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

T grow and maintain a police state,the current drug laws are required.

Posted by Bennett Cooper | Report as abusive

There are other, serious effects of the ‘war on drugs’. The Mexican government fights and ongoing, losing battle with corruption that permanently mires it in third world status. Columbia, too, must fight our war on drugs, with government corruption, and violence in the streets a commonplace thing.

Once drugs are legalized, resources can be turned to treating addicts and dealing with the social damage that drugs have already done to our society.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

The “war on drugs” will never succeed as it is a phenomenon driven by demand, not by supply. No matter what the price, you will have demand. Unless you are willing to imprison most of the upper class, the issue will continue to exist no matter how successful one is in the eradication of supply. This is likely known by most in government already. IMHO, the “war on drugs” is most likely being driven in the hopes of expanding government power.

Posted by vonMises | Report as abusive

I hope the majority of People in America are as rational as Leman Russ and not as irrational and ill-informed as b-rad.

Daren, you are correct but, to a prohibitionist, who believes in controlling other’s lives for their own good, the first time you use a drug you are hooked and that one use debases your character so horribly you need to be removed from decent society so as not to infect their children. You see how b-rad just promotes ways to punish them based upon the absolute assumption that drug use is bad and for their own good they should “straighten up.” I think he would thrive in a dictatorship.

Greg has similar beliefs. He thinks that for some reason not sending drug users to prison is going to cost him more in hospital costs than he is current paying in prison costs where, by the way, that user is still using. Yes Greg, you can get drugs in prison. He thinks like b-rad that just because they use drugs their character will be so debased they will wind up “lying in the gutter because they simply had too much fun.” Thank god our forefathers didn’t succumb to smoking marijuana! Wait a minute. Yes they did and I do not remember seeing any reports of Washington lying in the gutter. Anyhow, like Duncan Fowler stated in his last paragraph many good people out there have been convinced by exaggerations and lies that MJ is just “Bad” and using it is “Wrong.” We live in such a judgmental society it is a wonder we can tolerate each other. I think the Constitution and the Federalist Papers should be taught as a high school course. I think reality about our society and history needs to be taught in our schools so we know and can see the mistakes of the past and understand that to continue to make them is Wrong. To take the freedom away from someone who has not violated a right of another is Wrong. And we need to recognize when people and organizations demonize something in order to achieve and end for what it is. The ends justify the means. The same philosophy Hitler used in his campaign to control the world. And one of the biggest mistakes a government can make. To the prohibitionists I say look around you. See the Gangs, the organized crime. One Million people are being released from prison each year and even more are entering. One million people, ex-cons with no right to protect them selves; no right to vote or to representation; many of whom are very bad people. People who murder, rape, steal, and molest children make up many of this tsunami of disenfranchised sub-culture. Why? Because, drug use has been demonized to the point that there are mandatory minimum sentences that keep the drugies in jail while, to make room, we release the most dangerous elements back into our society. Thank YOU Mr. and Ms Prohibitionist! You have saved us all.

Posted by carl lehberger | Report as abusive

What I’ve always found odd is that it took a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol, yet they were able to make every other drug illegal without one. The Federal government doesn’t have the authority to make drugs illegal.

Posted by alan | Report as abusive

Why should pot be illegal? Because the only companies poised to grow, package and sell it are the tobacco companies. Look at how they bastardized tobacco by adding so many additives and chemicals that American cigarettes have been banned in many countries. If Marlboro is allowed to sell joints we will end up with marijuana that is addictive and cancerous.

I’ll take mine home-grown, thank you.

Posted by Robb | Report as abusive

“…find a new #1 leading killer of Americans. Drunk driving has been at the top of the list for too long…” – B-rad

Interesting claim. The CDC disagrees with you… http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/lcod.htm

#1 Heart Disease
#2 Cancer
#3 Stroke

Alcohol or related deaths isn’t in the top 3.

Posted by Rufus | Report as abusive

Just as prostitution was leagalized, the users of the legal drugs and services will seek out legal channels of distribution simply becuase they will be controlled and likely to be safer than buying drugs from the corner skeezer high on xxxx and risk getting mugged or shot.

As far as “giving drug dealers licenses,” stop it. Big Tobacco is ready right now to start mass producing marijuana cigarettes. Where do you think people are going to go to buy them? From the guy on the corner or at the state store? Alcohol was legalized and where do you buy it now? At the state store, liquor store, etc. I have yet to find anyone going out to buy whiskey from a back alley.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

I have long been a supporter of legalizing marijuana however as a parent I now think perhaps decimalizing the possession of small amounts, instead of legalizing it, would be a better solution. (Friends in Switzerland tell me horror stories of young kids high in class because it is easy to purchase it legally there) This way people who grow for their own use, and people who possess small quantities, would not be in danger of prosecution, therefore cutting down on the cost of arresting and prosecuting individuals who use it socially. There would still be a cost to prosecuting large scale growers and dealers. But if you can grow your own plant at home why bother paying the street cost. Perhaps we’d see more people take up gardening as a hobby again, that wouldn’t be so bad. ….

Posted by Lori | Report as abusive

I don’t do drugs and I am against using them, However, I don’t support anything that tells me what I can or can’t do to myself, even if I know it is harmful.

Milk can clog arteries and cause a heart attack and death. Is the Government gonna start a war on Milk? Where does it end?

If people want to kill themselves my doing crack I say let em. Spending my taxpayer dollars on locking up people for doing things that should be no ones business anyway is insane.

I have a pot smokin female friend with a teenage child. When she declared to me that she thinks pot should be illegal I asked her this question;

“You smoked pot in high school right? she said yes”
“Did you tell your parents? No
“When you ask your son How was school today, do you think he is gonna say, Ah great mom I smoked some pot and screwed a chick today!………….?….Uhhhhhhhh”

Our children are NOT going to be honest about drug use… That is the reality. Lets put the money to use in fighting terrorism and rehabilitation of drug users and make a legal drug industry with sensible controls and with the new jobs and taxes, put some big money into the economy as a result. At the same time we make room for real criminals who commit violent crimes.

At the same time, this would put gangs and organized crime out of business. They would be forced to get real jobs like the rest of us instead of making fortunes and protecting those fortunes by killing thousands of people.

Lets wake up to reality here and get into the 21st century. The so called Drug War is the colossal failure of the 20th century. Time to get smart.

Posted by Mikey | Report as abusive

You mean all drugs? Crack, heroin, meth, cocaine and pot? Are you nuts! Meth addiction is THE most addictive street drug out and has, I believe, some tragically low recovery rate, 15%. Most addicts die. I regret voting to legalize medical pot in California. I thought this was going to be a legit use of medication but, instead these “clinics” are little better than pot dens run by drug dealers. Some look more like opium dens for pot addicts rather than medical clinics. What a joke. Your article only points to the profit margin drug sales will produce. Are you a Milton Feedmanite? Profits at any cost. You and advocates for drug legalization are not looking at social consequences. Happy booze is legal? You should add up the cost of alcohol related illness, injuries, family disfunction, countless people in counseling because of growing up in alcoholic families, ect. ect. The price tag I am sure is far bigger than the profits from booze sales. Now imagine legalized street drugs.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

Happy this is the 75 anniversary of legalized booze? 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 sales and advertising should be further restricted. What is needed is more education about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, especially for young children. My brother started with pot in Jr. high school and ended at 40 a heroin user and an alcoholic. Both drugs and alcohol are addictive substances and that does include pot. 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 graduated to other drugs.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

Have you heard that the Dutch are now restricting so called “soft drug” sales because they are tired of the troubles “drug tourists” are bringing to their country. Did someone say high drivers are safer than drunk drivers?!?!?! First driving under the influence of any drugs or alcohol is illegal if you are impaired. Secondly your statement is little comfort to sober drivers like me. People should never drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
If you think pot smoking is safer than cigaret smoking you are wrong again. My spouse is a nurse and has seen more than a few pot smokers in hospital with SEVER lung diseases. All caused from pot smoking. Of course these pot using patients are in denial about the cause of their illness even when the doctor tells them why they can’t breath.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

Fighting drugs seems to be like fighting California fires. Once you declare war on either, instead of removing the need or the cause, you create a massive industry that feeds on itself–both the drugs and fires become valuable commodities.

http://feww.wordpress.com/2008/10/24/soc als-godfather-brush-fire/

Posted by Dwain | Report as abusive

I loved a comment from Jesse Jackson regarding legalizing drugs. He said we would be trading street criminals for corporate criminals. Look at the history of the U.S. Heroin and cocaine were legal and then banned because of the harm they were doing people. Heroin was ADVERTISED by vendors as a remedy for crying babies! The History Channel ran a great show called the History of Drugs, and it featured segments on various mind altering drugs: alcohol, narcotics, pot, pills. You think you can handle your drugs safely? Go ahead… play with fire.

Posted by alfadigi | Report as abusive

mark schalter wrote: “Switzerland and The Netherlands. Neither country has seen an increase in harder drug use as a result, and the coffers of both nations have ”

This is now no longer true. Read an article last month about dutch cities and towns are now restricting soft drug sales because of the problems being imported by drug tourists. They are also trying to curb the harder drug sales that have been found to be happening due to drug tourism.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

Posted by bkskiispow -Oh by the way, marijuana is already socially accepted despite the Federal Gov.’s best efforts
———

Ah, no it is not. Many people do not find pot smokers acceptable. That junk stinks. Yuck.

Posted by digialpha | Report as abusive

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

[...] I just don’t see it happening any time soon. Reuters Technorati Tags: War on Drugs, Marijuana, Decriminalization « To: the Amerocan people [...]

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.
ROE VS. WADE

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?
http://www.bctgm.org/index.html
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.

Digialpha,
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.

Steve

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
government?

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

[...] The Great Debate » Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs | The Great Debate | "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." [...]

“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

THE WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON OUR OWN SOCIETY

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

[...] a dream. Bernd Debusman, a Reuters columnist, underlined such stupidity in a December 2008 column. He points out that the failed “war on drugs” has helped to turn the United States “into the country with [...]

[...] Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs | Analysis & Opinion | Quote: [...]

[...] Press Conference (Video) [4] Los Angeles Times.  Why California should just say no to Prop. 19 [5] Reuters.  Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs [6] Wikipedia.  U.S. incarceration timeline [7] The Associated Press.  AP Interview:  Calderon [...]

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

[...] the “War on Drugs.”  It hasn’t worked and it’s incredibly expensive.  Legalize it, regulate it, and tax the bejeezus out of it.  Benefits from this would reap [...]

[...] production there grew 10-fold.In 2008 a study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron estimated that legalizing drug use would inject $76.8 billion a year into the US economy – $44.1 billion from law enforcement [...]

[...] Debusmann (2008-12-03). “Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs”. [...]

[...] 76,800 – estimated economic gain of drug legalization [...]

[...] why legalisation would be worse than the current system. It would save the US government alone a lot of money. Profits would be going to legitimate companies that pay taxes, not murderous gangs that pay [...]

[...] about $23 billion in 2011. One of the most famous estimates, Jeff Miron’s, puts annual savings at about $77 billion. We have good reason to believe both are wildly [...]

[…] This is a conclusion a lot of frustrated law enforcement officials have come to, and they are campaigning for an end to prohibition. Reuters has more. […]

[…] ki niso vedeli, o čem govorijo ali pa ljudi, ki so od tega kaj imeli. Poglejmo par dejstev: ameriška vlada letno nameni skoraj 77 milijard dolarjev za vojno proti drogam. To je več kot povprečna slovenska plača na sekundo! Študije kažejo, da za vsak funt, ki ga […]

[…] ki niso vedeli, o čem govorijo ali pa ljudi, ki so od tega kaj imeli. Poglejmo par dejstev: ameriška vlada letno nameni skoraj 77 milijard dolarjev za vojno proti drogam. To je več kot povprečna slovenska plača na sekundo! Študije kažejo, da za vsak funt, ki ga […]