Drug wars and the balloon effect

March 26, 2009

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

Why have billions of dollars and thousands of anti-narcotics agents around the world failed to throttle the global traffic in cocaine, heroin and marijuana? Blame wrong-headed policies, largely driven by the United States, and what experts call the balloon effect.

Squeezing a balloon in one place makes it expand in another. Destroy drug crops in one region and cultivation moves to another. Cut a supply route in one place and another one springs up. Take the example of Colombia and Mexico, at present a focus of U.S. attention because of large-scale violence that threatens to spill across the border.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, almost all the cocaine consumed in the United States was grown in Colombia and shipped to South Florida along a variety of sea and air routes. Colombian traffickers fighting for market share turned Miami into a city where shootouts, contract killings and kidnappings became part of daily life.

That began to change when enraged citizens appealed to the federal government for help to crack down on the “cocaine cowboys.” Then President Ronald Reagan established a special force to cut the cocaine pipelines and end the violence. “The Mexicans must rue the day the South Florida Task Force was set up,” said Peter Reuter, a scholar at the University of Maryland. “That was the beginning of the problems it faces today.”

Within weeks of its formation in 1982, the task force scored several spectacular successes. A string of seizures of large quantities of cocaine and marijuana prompted Colombian trafficking organisations to shift their smuggling routes to Mexico, where they partnered with criminal networks.

By 1988, the balloon effect had become obvious: The Mexican Defence Ministry reported it had discovered 4.8 tonnes of cocaine in a cave in Chihuahua near the U.S. border. It was then the world’s biggest seizure of the drug. Its Colombian origin was not in doubt — Mexico produced no cocaine of its own.

Now, two decades later, the U.S. State Department estimates that as much as 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States comes through Mexico, which is also a major source of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana. The State Department’s estimates speak volumes about the failure of policies that emphasised crop eradication, interdiction and punishment for drug users.


As a Latin American commission led by three former presidents (of Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil) put it recently: “Prohibitionist policies based on the eradication of production and on the disruption of drug flows as well as on the criminalization of consumption have not yielded the expected results. We are farther away than ever from the announced goal of eradicating drugs.”

If it were possible to seal the border, there would be no reason for Mexico’s drug mafias to wage war against each other. They are fighting for access to the main gateways into the U.S. In one border city alone, Ciudad Juarez, more than 1,000 people have been killed in the first two months of the year.

There has been growing criticism of the war on drugs, and not only from advocates of legalization who argue that drugs should be sold and regulated in the same way as alcohol and tobacco is now regulated.

On a visit to Mexico this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.” Though it was a statement of the obvious — the drug trade is driven by the laws of supply and demand — officials of previous administrations have not been nearly as blunt.

Discussing the drug problem as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama he said he believed in “shifting the paradigm, shifting the model so that we can focus more on a public health approach.”

The public health approach, know as “harm reduction” in a global dispute over drug strategies, means treating drug addicts not as criminals who participate in an illegal market but as patients who deserve care in the public health system. Most of Europe favors harm reduction over filling the prisons with drug abusers, the standard procedure in the United States.

On any give day, about half a million people are behind bars in the United States for drug offences. Obama’s choice of drug czar, Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowski, signals a new direction, at least in the drug war at home. Seattle has been on the forefront of drug reform developments, including a needle exchange program for addicts. And for Seattle police, marijuana arrests have been the lowest law enforcement priority.

The drug czar heads the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, a 130-member group which sets anti-drug policy. “The success of our efforts to reduce the flow of drugs is largely dependent on our ability to reduce demand for them,” Kerlikowske said after his nomination.

Reducing demand for illicit drugs in the United States, the world’s largest market, is an ambitious goal. Earlier attempts have failed, including Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. A program still active called DARE — Drug Abuse Resistance Education — aimed at high school students is drawing mixed reviews.

But optimists point to the success of campaigns to discourage smoking by making it socially unacceptable. It took a long time. But it worked.


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

Seems like ONE BIG KEY ISSUE NONE ADDRESS? What about the MONEY, have read that more funds go through drugs then auto industries.. Billions of Billions of CASH in small bills somehow have to get to Cartels. Only so much can go via some briefcase etc. The Nations with Cartels are ALL supported by various USA and other NATIONS BANKS which as “bail out” proves are all linked up..
. THE BANKS, as no one can carry this huge amount of cash about, have to then transfer huge sums of what could be easily proven as “Cartel Money’ and no doubt make big profits doing such. NO ONE, ON PLAN, NO CONCEPT and NEVER DISCUSSED is anything about “THE MONEY”. Kind of like the howls of “Rapid increases in high cost of health care”. no one discus’s whom is making big profits or WHY costs double inflation each year?
Me thinks if one followed RULE 1.0 of corruption and greed and crime. Yep all those Gov snoopers just cannot find a way to track the billions and billions, which I doubt is mentioned in Balance of Trade AKA USA Dollar S leaving USA which must be huge amounts. Fortune Mag even listed one of Drug Guys in millionaire lists, so that kind of verifies “Dollar drain is huge”. Also verifies why banks not being investigated.. ranks right up there with us tossing money at Iraq while NCY banks/DC killed stories on how much Iraq money they have, last reported at $79 Billion 6 months back..
FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL” the “Drug War” just might be pointed at, shall we say “The Drug Cartel and their ‘investments” and how that whole systems work.
For one more profitable for pols and gov contractors etc, to keep up endless “wage war on drugs”. It would seem, like AIG etc. Drug Cartel money is “to big to fail (to be investigated)?” Drug war Rule 2.0 Banks and such have NO morals or morality, but lots of lobbyists.
Billions of BILLIONS and the bank and offshore units NOT involved? That is of course a truth, like the one about “world is flat”? Yep, billions and billions just floating about in brief case and luggage as we know the money guys are to honest to get involved with such things?

Posted by Chuck | Report as abusive

I see the effects of drug use on friends, acquaintances and family as their use of illegal drugs ruins their lives and impacts the lives of those around them. It would be nice to stop the sale of illegal drugs but as you said the demand fuels the supply.
The root of the problem is the war on drugs only addresses the supply and tries to make people choose not to use. Somehow we need to address without taking away the right to choose: a great leader was once ask “how do you govern your people in such a way that they behave so well”. His response was; “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves”.
The only way we can win this fight against lives becoming ruined by drugs is not by restricting use or supply but by once again teaching correct principles in our society and for the American people to once again follow correct principles.

Posted by Marv | Report as abusive

Chuck I think you’re mistaken, why care about the money? We should be caring about getting people off the drugs, there’s more than one version of currency big cartel druglords have available and more than just US banks they can flow the money trail through.

The US should be like Amsterdam, everything should be legal and people who have a mental weakness for drugs should be treated as everyone who has a mental weakness, with treatment and help.

More than half of non-violent drug users turn violent after being imprisoned, we live in a country where you can get life in prison for 3 non-violent drug offenses. Rapists, child abusers and sometimes murderers don’t have it that bad, time to realign our priorities.

It is interesting to note that since the Afghanistan War has started opium and heroine influx into the US has gone up 900%.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Paying for the War on Drugs means not paying for other things. Our schools could be better, especially in poor areas. This would give many children many more opportunities. This would would reduce their incentives to use or sell drugs. Plus the bonus of better educated children. But where would the money come from? You have to be willing to give up programs that haven’t been effective. The War on Drugs has become a sacred cow of sorts to many people, but I doubt those people think much about what they’re not getting because of it.

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

I think a lot of current non-users would be delighted for a taxed form of marijuana availability.

Posted by david | Report as abusive

Sorry to post twice, but does anyone remember back when Reagan drastically cut the funding for mental institutions? If you don’t, it’s the main reason you see so many schizophrenic homeless people out there to this day. It was also during Reagan’s administration that we really started ratcheting up this War on Drugs. An interesting trade off, not very admirable though and I would say somewhat inconsistent with conservative principles. Our drug addicts have a choice, but our schizophrenics that we’ve been stepping over on the sidewalks in greater numbers since Reagan do not. The mentally infirmed should be cared for even if it means we cannot “save” the drug addicts. Saving the drug addicts hasn’t been working out very well anyway. We did a better job with the schizophrenics, before we stopped.

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

We tried prohibion of alcohol and should have learned. If we took just half the money spent over the last 30 years on the DRUG WAR, and opened up federal stores in which drugs were free to those who wanted it and offerred free drug rehab to those who wanted off the addiction, there would be no black market for the cartels, violence in the US associated with folks stealing and killing to get the drugs would disappear. Finally, those who didn’t avail themselves of rehab would overdose……sounds harsh I know but it is all real instead of the bullshit games we play with policies that don’t work even when we spend billions because of the “moral” and “religious” fanatics…..and there would be money left over for some other good such as helping the poor children conceived by druggies.

Posted by BEREAL | Report as abusive

in my case, years of illicit drug abuse(primarily high grade ganga and blow, with a little taste of everything else) has been followed by over a decade of prescribed medications in a spurious attempt at redeeming a semblance of rationale and accepted norms.

there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of difference in both instances. both courses modify behaviour and make inordinant amounts of filthy lucre for the larger drug organisations. still, I find myself questioning, which is the cause and which the cure.

ultimately, the decision should be left to me, the consumer. is a bag of high grade dope purchased over the counter of a respectable pharmacist (with prescription and appropriate warnings) any worse travesty of justice ,then a randomly lethal handgun and munitions purchased over the counter of a less than respectable dealer.

drug laws need some solid reform as the current economics of profitability inherently empower black-market pirates into creating lawless fiefdoms. they probably don’t rest easy with this arrangement du jour.

legalise it, don’t panic if it’s organic.

Posted by sweeny’60s | Report as abusive

Anyone hear of the drug lord that was placed on the Forbes billionaire list? Its pretty obvious that there is no way to stop the trade, might as well use the resources we are wasting fighting “the problem” and use those resources to figure out how to use the “problem” to our advantage. Id be willing to bet that we would not be having these economic problems if there was a tax system in place. If you could smoke caffeine would it be illegal, its addictive as is yet any person can purchase it.

Posted by czar | Report as abusive

let the consumer decide on his or her fate.

illicit drug production and prescribed medication production both make a great deal of filthy lucre for the actors du jour. both ends of the spectrum create their own lawless organisms capable of disturbing the rich diversity of a thriving, animate populis.

if one were able to purchase a bag of organic ganja or cocaine over the counter of a repectable pharmacist, by prescription (after becoming aware of the potential side-effects), would this in actuality be a greater offence to our society, than one purchasing a lethal handgun and munitions’ across the counter of a respectable purveyer of lethal weapons, by licence(after becoming aware of the potential side effects of one who is shot; on their immediate families, emergency personnel et al)

Posted by sweeny’60s | Report as abusive

The problem would be solved overnight if we just made drugs legal. But we can’t do that – why?

1. The Alcohol Industry.
That’s right people. America’s main drug of choice, alcohol, has a huge lobby in Washington and they do not want the competition.

2. The Criminal Justice System.
Okay, you think I’m nuts? Hear me out on this. The criminal justice system made up of cops, prosecutors, judges and prison personnel, is a gigantic business in this country. If drugs were made legal many thousands of criminal justice jobs would be lost. And they also have a huge lobby and they sow the seeds of fear and misinformation in order to keep their business growing.

3. Ignorance.
Because of criminal justice and alcohol working hard to keep their party rolling they also spread the false claim that we’ll all become heroin and marijuana addicted crack heads and the country will fall apart. Well why hasn’t that happened to other countries where heroin and marijuana is legal? Because it’s not true. Drug addiction in those countries is treated like a health issue just we treat alcoholism. But the powers that stand to benefit from the “War on Drugs” don’t want you to know that.

4. Complacency
Instead of politicians standing up to the inhumanity of this situation they cower and take the campaign contributions from aforesaid parties.

Posted by M Smith | Report as abusive

No Demand = No Supply. Tougher drug laws and longer incarceration for those caught and found guilty. For the first time, I agree with Hillary Clinton (wow, I never thought I’d say that!!) “our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.” We need some archaic laws to tame the drug lords and dealers, like the “Death Penalty” and limb amputations. I’m sick of the death, destruction, billions of tax dollars wasted trying to control illegal drugs. The US is TOO SOFT on criminals in all phases of illegal drugs.

Posted by Mr. Bill | Report as abusive

I find it highly amusing that drugs all get lumped into a single category, yet things like alcohol and tobacco are somehow treated differently.

As a person who has used marijuana and who would happily buy it from “legal”, taxed sources (which would eliminate the “illegal” drug trafficking, I find the entire DEA expenditure a complete waste of money.

The fact the no administration has the guts to stand up against the absurdity of our drug “enforcement” policies is disheartening. I’d wager that I am a significantly larger “contributor” to society than many non-drug users, yet I am seen as someone who “needs help”.

The simple fact is that drugs are not the problem. People are the problem. Stop trying to tell me what I am able to do to myself (when it impacts no one else).

Posted by John | Report as abusive

We have the perfect case study here in our very own history books. Prohibition. It failed to stop drinking, cost lives and money, and fueled a crime wave similar to what we are seeing in the drug war.

I am by no means saying ending the war, would make the world safer in relation to drugs, they are still poison. But its a personal choice, and many things – including food in large quantities, acts as a poison — smoking and drinking sound familiar?

The HUGE business in regulating, enforcing, and criminalizing – as well as the money lost to corruption (its just a fact of life that people steal when large pots of money go around) – will stop a change. It will take the war breaking across the border to cause a change… which it very well could do. Lawmen do their job – and do so with the best of intentions, and will probably take the change the hardest. But the best of intentions should never take free will and choice from a person – educate them, help them – don’t imprison them. The underworld creates the scenes they see and relate to devastation… the underworld would go away, if the war ended – it takes faith, or just reading your history books.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

Great analysis M. Smith, dead on the money.

Also I’d like to add how funny it is that the only drug you see campaigned against is marijuana, our gov’t thinks that’s the worst drug. Why? Because it’s the cheapest and easiest to obtain, there’s no profit in that. I’ve never smoked weed in my life, never will and it’s nice seeing a outspoken majority of people who side with the anti-drug war movement.

But like another poster said it’s all about the holier than thou and religious crowd along with the items M. Smith listed. Which is odd cuz if I’m wrong let me know but I don’t think the bible says anything about drug use and it being immoral.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Simple…… on a global basis…..

1) find the money
2) follow the money
3) take the money away

Elliot Ness had it right more than half a century ago.

Posted by JJ Albright | Report as abusive

The government could make so much tax revenue off making, what the Netherlands deems “soft” drugs, legal. As for the “hard” drugs make it available, however tightly regulated. All they have to do is use the ABC store idea. Seriously, I pay enough taxes to keep a pot head in jail than just to let him blaze in his house. It is policies like this in the U.S that make me loose faith in the system and the America people in general and Im American toboot!

Posted by Mule | Report as abusive

President Obama held an Virtual Internet White House Questions and Answers show on 3/26/09 and one of the questions regarded legalization or at least decriminalization of marijuana. I think the US Gov’t needs to realize is that if pot were handeled by the Gov’t as alcohol and cigarettes are (taxed) then that revenue would probably mean that we all payed lower taxes and the over flow of dollars would end the recession and stop putting the money into the hands of the cartels/terrorists. Come on folks, is it worse to smoke a little weed or is it worse to put money into those peoples pockets?? Lets get real here!

Posted by Charlie | Report as abusive

The violence associated with illegal drugs is a direct result of the greed of those selling the drugs. Greed for more turf, in other words, greed for more money. Why is there so much money trading hands? Because of these ridiculous laws prohibiting legal use, which is what makes these commodities so valuable and that value is what drives the greed that in turn fuels the violence. Take away the prohibition laws and you make the drug business a non-profitable business. That is how you attack the money and in turn stop the violence.
As for personal users and the adverse impact on themselves and those around them, that is an issue of personal responsibility, just like the decision to drink in moderation. That is something that cannot be legislated no matter how hard you try. Legalize and tax and watch income taxes get cut in half.

Posted by Adam | Report as abusive

Charlie good post but with the medicinal and pain-killing uses of marijuana the big drug lobby won’t allow legalization or decriminalization to go through without a big, billion dollar fight.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

The federal government has no right telling the people what they can put into their bodies.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Interesting article.

What about the offshore accounts, Swiss and Cayman? If the drug czars invest-launder their money in and thru the mexican oil complex, via shell companies and offshore accounts, why not seize it. Tax, levy or tariff, what ever you want to call it. Apply international pressure on the digital pipeline. A new global tax.

Offshore money creates quite a pandors box, eh?

The sun never sets on the Swiss-BCS net.

Posted by Global Tax | Report as abusive

The drub problem was and is always simple.

Go after the user, and the user’s parents if the user is a minor. Do a drug test, [ no court case, no judge..just two quick tests and the test is the court] person fails the test, cut off a finger..automatic and swift punishment and send the offender to the doc and then home. Quite simple, they will never run out of toes and fingers, I doubt seriously they are doing much drugs after that. In the case of the minor..take the mothers finger off first and then the fathers, rotating them till the kid or kids stop.

Word gets out, not that many toes and fingers would be lost after that.

If nobody is buying drugs there is no more drug problem.

Posted by Jon Barry | Report as abusive

Definitions of laws make things either legal or illegal. I reckon the solution is to remove the legal barrier to drug supply, and then tax the living daylights out of it to garner revenues for fixing problems on the consumption end.
Free-market principles are demonstrably worthwhile. We don’t see gun-toting fishmongers or criminal gangs peddling milk powder now, do we?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

As the time have been changing from time to time from our day-to-day life. We cannot be controled or cannot be change suddenly by inforcing other wills. Even though we know that it’s illegal. As restless as the wind people are becoming more worsed. But like another poster said “No Demand = No Supply”….. Even though we can’t do that – why? People are the problem. We should try more harder to abolish from our society…… “better late than never”. And also I wanted to put in mind that “what will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”. As the BIBLE says.

Posted by zingsho | Report as abusive

WOW. DID WE JUST ASK A DARE OFFICER HOW TO SOLVE THE DRUG WAR. I’m beginning to question whether or not ANYONE in a position of strength in these bureacracies has completed or even READ research on their subject. These people aren’t trained to think about the problem, they’re trained to do what the government tells them; snuff out “criminals”. They do it well, but they’re doing it to no end with OUR tax money.

Why would he, or any other dea agent, actually want to stop the drug war, THEY make money off of it. This fool associates himself with DARE saying we need more money towards those programs. We have proven these Let our scientists decide how drugs should be handled based on facts gathered from legitimate non-government influenced research.
We have caused irreversible damage by creating a black market on our shores. How many thosands of miles of shore does the U.S. have….it take what 13 trucks of coke to supply the US for a year? We can never stop that, embrace it and make our own market. Cartels laugh at us while we burn their crops because they know their money grows out of the ground. Their money falls into our hands and we light it on fire….great job guys.

EDUCATE YOURSELF. www.drugwarfacts.org <— research completed by real professionals and scientists….not greedy bureacrats.

This drug war is argueably the number one problem with america.

Here’s an example of how bogus our legislation is:
I live in south dakota, which is one of the last states to have “possesion by ingestion” laws. This means that if I test positive on a drug test, the government can charge me automatically with possesion and ingestion. POSSESION for thc IN my body. Whats even worse, when you get charged with possesion the container can be weighed and added to the charge as if it were the substance. I”m a 175 pound person…i can get charged with possesion of 175lbs of marijuana even though they never found any on my person…BRILLIANT

Posted by Alex Olsen | Report as abusive

Imagine what the huge pharmaceutical companies could do if they were legally allowed to develop and sell recreational drugs.

We’d have safe, harmless, enjoyable drugs with no side effects and no addictive properties. There’d be alcohol substitutes, pot substitutes, harmless substitutes for heroin, meth, cocaine, and everything else.

With one change of the law, we’d have no more drunk drivers killing innocents, no more dopey potheads making expensive mistakes at work, no more drug addicts living in the gutters and feeding off our tax money, no more corrupt government officials, and no more ruthless drug dealers.

Ending alcohol prohibition worked. Now let’s end prohibition on other drugs, too.

Posted by Sigh | Report as abusive

We should start by legalizing marijuana and see what happens. The taxes collected on income and gross sales tax would solve many problems. Will we ever learn from “Prohibition”? BTW, I’m 65, don’t smoke it (anymore), but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…..

Posted by Jo Carey | Report as abusive

What if the Feds had gone down to Miami and set up a special “drug port” where the quality of narcotics are tested and approved for import, and collected a 50% tax on a rational street value of the drug. Disallow concoctions and trade only in pure drugs in the light of day. Imagine the huge sums of wealth that would have gone to our governments for social services, instead of to the SHADOW ECONOMY that threatens to topple the real one with its weight. Wake up, a rational approach to legalization is the best way…do not put the government and the people at odds with these laws and there will be far more support for the government as a result.

Posted by B | Report as abusive

I wonder whether Job Berry has never broken any law such as going through a red light or parking in a disabled parking space. People who fail to solve issues by evaluating “cause and effect” often use biased judgment to identify problem root causes. I believe a person without a finger might decide to use others to do his dirty work. Will your stand on cutting fingers change if the one-fingered criminal was to use your son or daughter?

Legalize the non-lethal drugs and put legislation in place to fine those who use it in certain places or give it to minors. Spend money on education and awareness. If you were to ban alcohol in North America, you would get the same problem as you have today with drugs.

Posted by JB | Report as abusive

In response to the person about the bible,The first commandment is ; You shall have no other Gods but me. Drugs are modern day Idols people use to worship themselves and to excape reality. I do believe that if the Gov. regulated drugs like cigs or alcahol it would end most of the violence that goes with it and making drugs a ugly thing like ciggarette smoking has been protraid only the people aready using would continue.

Posted by edaddy98 | Report as abusive

Alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s created so many problems with gangs and violence, so they ended prohibition. Let’s legalize drugs and regulate them like we do with alcohol and tobacco. That will put an end to the violent gangs, and save taxpayers billions of dollars locking up non-violent drug users. Some people are willing to end our freedom and raise our taxes to fight this unwinnable war on drugs. I would rather put up with a few drug abusing losers than live in a police state.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

Any country with heavy illegal drug use is a backward third world country. Case in point look what has happened to America with it’s ever increasing stupidity factor AKA dumbing down of America. Solution: a devil’s island off the coast to hold hard drug dealers and smugglers (forever) with no bars or cages. The island is the prison. Soft drug dealers be fined up their kazoo so indirectly they are contributing to society. Soft drug users be fined and cut off from any safety net (food stamps etc). Soft drug prices need to be reasonable otherwise Mexican drug cartels will under cut the prices.

Posted by WW. Terry | Report as abusive

Just keep everything the same…status quo…no real change in any policy, and we can assume that everything will stay exactly the same…
If alcohol or prescriptions were illegal, there would still be a market for that, and the violence that prohibition illicit…
The Drug Cartels don’t want any change in drug policy…
Perhaps some of the people getting paid off to look the other way, would rather keep the status quo, also..
And the jail business would suffer also, as people would need to be laid off, if non-violent drug offenders were released…
In this area, I don’t see any change we can believe in!
R.G. Madison, WI

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

To the poster from South Dakota, your whole part of the country is filled with Neanderthal, petty thinking (a la Dick Cheney…and yes I know he’s not from your state).
However, Cheney’s mindset is prevalent there, and that is what makes your region a backwater.

So it is not a surprise the upper western states will have their heads up their a…. for as long as possible. I suggest moving or engaging the system and changing it.

I boycott your entire region based on it’s “Cheney-like” attitudes. Won’t buy anything from your parts,visit it …. or have anything to do with its inhabitants.

Let’s hope Dick Cheney dies soon and your region joins the 21st century.

Posted by Sonny | Report as abusive

gobal tax
Are you just stuped or are you from the middle east? cutting ppls finger off for a failed drug test omg get real will ya???? AM all for a eye for a eye but you take the cake. The ONLY reasonable answer to this is tax it and make it legel that way we can controll it and regalage it like beer and cigs. Gov. ports of emtry sounds like a good idea to me at lest for starters. what we’v been doing for years aint working so maybe we should try soemthing new.

Posted by warmarine | Report as abusive

Great column! The “war” on drugs is lost. We are broke. We are paying for police and prison guards to babysit people who did nothing but get busted with drugs. Alcohol is a far more dangerous drug than pot.

Drug laws are a license for the gov’t to steal and take away civil rights. Police and gov’t agencies have a huge incentive for drug busts…they get to KEEP the cars, money etc. from those convicted of drug offenses!

So let me get this straight. I can run someone over with my car and kill them, but I get to keep the car. If I’m caught selling drugs, then the state has the “right” to confiscate my car, my house, my money.

It is way past time this farce was dealt with in an adult manner. People will use drugs. Some will even
become president. Some unluckier ones will have felony
drug convictions and lose their student loans and never
get a job.

Posted by Drug &#8220;War&#8221; is Lost Cause | Report as abusive

Advocates of legalizing illicit drugs think all the problems will go away if we just “legalize and tax them.” Proponents of such a strategy are either users driven by self-interest, or woefully ignorant of the realities of drug abuse. As a prosecutor, I see daily what addiction to drugs does to people. I spoke to a heroin addict recently, who told me he’d broken into roughly 1,000 houses. His life? Steal- pawn – buy drugs – get high – repeat. We don’t see people breaking into houses to get cigarettes or alcohol. We rarely see people overdosing and dying from alcohol. Legalizing drugs such as heroin, cocaine and other hard street drugs would skyrocket crime – – I’d venture 80-90% of the property crime in my county is driven by drug abuse. Legalizing it means easier supply – but more addicts, who won’t be able to hold a job, and will need money for their fix. Do you know why they call heroin addicts “junkies”? Because they’ll steal anything – including junk – to sell to get money for their high.

My philosophy? Users get treatment for first time possession. They commit a crime other than possession? They do time, drugs are not an “excuse” for crime in my book. Dealers go to prison. Forfeit money and assets of the dealers to take the profit out of dealing. I’ve put dealers who gave drugs to young people (15, 21) in prison. The young people? The didn’t get prosecuted. Why? Oh, yeah, they are deceased from overdose.

Posted by Drug Warrior | Report as abusive

When my children grow up, I will not hold a grudge against a bartender for serving them a beer. But I will hold that grudge against anyone who would give our loved ones heroin. Thankfully, there is a legal response to deal with those who would give strong drugs to those we care about. If strong drugs are legalized, our efforts to keep loved ones clean of addiction will become illegal.

Posted by Dennis | Report as abusive

I guess everyone is entitled to an opinion – no matter how wrongheaded it is. Comparing the criminalization of illicit drugs to prohibition is just plain ridiculous. Ditto the comment about cops, prosecutors, and judges trying to “grow” their business. Trust me, I’d have plenty to do as a prosecutor otherwise.

Alcohol and drugs are not the same. Alcohol can be abused, to be sure; but it can be consumed safely. Many illicit drugs, in large measure, cannot.

Leave that aside for a moment. The WAR on drugs is NOT just against the cartels and major distributors. The true WAR on drugs is those abusers who commit crime to get those few dollars to buy heroin or coke. Even if the possession of either was not a felony, ancillary crime would stay high? Why? Generally, an addict has no other means to get money OTHER than to steal from you or me to support his or her habit.

Make it “legal” to possess and use will just result in more addicts, and more property crime to support their habits. Legal doesn’t mean “free.” Junkies still need those few dollars to feed their habit.

Drugs are not “harmless.” I’ve prosecuted dealers in several OD death cases – including two women who provided powerful Rx drugs to a 15 y.o. who died from an O.D. Fifteen. Dead. Overdosed.

So, yeah… let’s legalize drugs and tax them… and then I’ll deal with the carnage, while you move on to Global Warming, or something else you know little about.

Posted by Drug Warrior | Report as abusive

Good to see most have woken up the fallacy that prohibition works.
It enriches police and criminals, and turns the former into the latter through corruption. This is inevitable as history shows because the power of money is just too great.
The religious influence is sadder. Why do religious groups not oppose prohibition? Gullibility. they are primed to obey, even when common sense is in the way. To the true Christians out there: Would Jesus prefer the crime and corruption due to prohibition, or would he prefer the harm minimalist approach?
You have been fooled! Prohibition only benefits crims.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

We can fool some of the People some of the time…. The Money wins in the end.
Legalization is simply not the answer.
For some drugs are not a problem. For others it destroys their lives. Today we cannot care for our elderly or be confident in our futures. This especially is the worst time for legalization of even minor depressants like marijuana. This would not only create another economic strain, but, create a society of lazy zombies and mental cases. Could that be exactly what Barrack Hussein Obama wants? I would venture to say… yes.

Posted by cyeager | Report as abusive

The idea that legalizing ,and as a result cheapening narcotics and also taking the “forbidden” allure out of it will really bring about a real change in use and habits. Those who think the whole society will become addicted must have a pretty low opinion of themselves and everyone in their lives. I mean I can get any drug I want pretty easily, butI like to drink and I do, drugs just don’t do it for me, and I speak for a lot of people.They make a lot of us either jittery or stupid or both and I fail to see the point.Half the enjoyment seems to be in the illegal nature of it from what I can tell just as I am sure that a lot of people actually started drinking during prohibition cause it was illegal and therefore fun. The idea that the American society will collapse and we’ll become a nation of addicts is ludicrious and those who think it have a very low opinion of their fellow countrymen.

Posted by dom | Report as abusive

its time to rework the lawbooks make drugs legal its something that should have been done a long time ago we are a police state because of it look at all the money that has been wasted I could go on and on take away the profit motive and we could deal with it in a more peacefull way am I wrong?

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Well,in a nutshell i will say that I hope they never legalize it cause the money being made growing good sensimilla is incredible. If the American gov wants to be that stupid and blind that’s fine with me.Is it worth the risk? Why don’t you ask all your thieving bankers if it was worth the risk to be able to abscond with almost the entire economy right from under your noses as you fretted about AIG and golf outings.They laughed all the way to their Swiss bank accounts. I say keep it illegal and give someone else a chance to make their fortune, expensive pot doesn’t hurt anyone.Kind of like expensive wine really.

Posted by caliman | Report as abusive

The problem is indeed that collectively the US is the biggest drug addict in the world. Over-indebted, over-fed, and over-dosed. Their anthropology is moving quickly down the toilet swirl.

Posted by Mguel Zarcero | Report as abusive

I think eventually, all drugs should be legalized, and controlled through education. That would take away all the “cool” factor away from them, and the stigma that comes with addiction, which prevents people from getting help. Also, people should be allowed to do harm to themselves if it makes them happy (it’s protected by the constitution) as long as they don’t harm others.

As for people getting themselves killed by doing drugs, there are many ways to get yourself killed, like jumping off a cliff… that doesn’t mean we put border control agents on all cliffs to prevent people from jumping. It’s up to parents and teachers to tell kids that jumping is not a good idea… and if they still decide to jump, well, that’s natural selection =)

We should start by legalizing marajiuana… That is by far the most prevalent of the currently illegal drugs. As soon as it is legalized, drug-related crime will go down 90% and the tax money could be used to address our budget deficits, fund green technology, and teach kids not to use drugs.

Posted by IR | Report as abusive

I’m sure none of you hippies are drugged-out on pot.

Posted by mason | Report as abusive

Why are hippies predictable? They claim to be orginal and free-thinking, yet follow an extremely easy to predict pattern of personality.
Hey man free drugs, religion is evil, hate coporations and think the exact oppposite of everything else.
Is marijuana ok, yeah sure. It’s effects are on par with alcohol. The problem is that marijuana is a gateway drug, this is a vertiuble fact. Because unlike many of you hippies; I have actually sold drugs and used a large a variety of drugs. So through personal attestment of the damage viewed and self-inflicted I know that marijuana is a gateway drug. Do you think herion addicts decided to wake up one day and to inject a needle in their arm?? It starts with marijuana. As well as alcohol.
Prohibition was true can easily be dismissed as an anamoly, an outlier. As any semi-intelligent person or college graduate would know, that a single event is really indicitive of nothing. And futhermore in recent times repeals of prohibtion have led to increased drug usage. Did you know that?
Marijuana was legal in alaska for more than a decade, I believe from the late 70s to 1991. The reason the law was repealed was due to the fact of increased drug usage among the youth. The worst demographic we as a society want, to indulge in drugs. And at the least, it disproves the theory of prohibtion.
SO ladies and gentlemen, I am against incareration(sp) for the initial drug possesions, hut what is the solution. Each viewpoint on the issue has failed to work.

Posted by mason | Report as abusive

Why are hippies predictable? They claim to be orginal and free-thinking, yet follow an extremely easy to predict pattern of personality.
Hey man free drugs, religion is evil, hate coporations and think the exact oppposite of everything else.
Is marijuana ok, yeah sure. It’s effects are on par with alcohol. The problem is that marijuana is a gateway drug, this is a vertiuble fact. Because unlike many of you hippies; I have actually sold drugs and used a large a variety of drugs. So through personal attestment of the damage viewed and self-inflicted I know that marijuana is a gateway drug. Do you think herion addicts decided to wake up one day and to inject a needle in their arm?? It starts with marijuana. As well as alcohol.
Prohibition was true can easily be dismissed as an anamoly, an outlier. As any semi-intelligent person or college graduate would know, that a single event is really indicitive of nothing. And futhermore in recent times repeals of prohibtion have led to increased drug usage. Did you know that?
Marijuana was legal in alaska for more than a decade, I believe from the late 70s to 1991. The reason the law was repealed was due to the fact of increased drug usage among the youth. The worst demographic we as a society want, to indulge in drugs. And at the least, it disproves the theory of prohibtion.
SO ladies and gentlemen, I am against incareration(sp) for the initial drug possesions, hut what is the solution. Each viewpoint on the issue has failed to work.

Posted by john | Report as abusive

Got this quote from an archived newspaper from April 15, 1929.

“School officials, welfare workers and police announced they would start an investigation to drive out the bootleggers who have been furnishing liquor to school children.”

Does this sound familiar? How about this quote from 2008

“Colorado Springs police confirm to 11 News they are conducting a drug investigation at Cheyenne Mountain High School. Police say the investigation began when a detective was asked to assist school officials with a student who had been in possession…”

Is it possible that making drugs illegal had the same effect back in the 1920’s? Only then it was alcohol.

See, when you make something illegal, you create a criminal. Before it was illegal, he was just this guy. A good guy, who was enjoying his glass of beer. But then, you said he was a criminal. So he acted that way. Then you repealed the law that said he was a criminal, so he didn’t act like one anymore.

What happens to the drug users when you tell them they aren’t criminals. Every time a law is made a citizen somewhere becomes a criminal. Some actions deserve to be criminalized. Murder, rape, theft, child abuse; these actions deserve to be labeled crimes. But drug abuse shouldn’t be a crime.

But, we have to be aware of the economic dangers of legalization. Sure the government will gain many billions of much needed dollars per year in revenue. However, the unemployment rate will go up because millions of people who are in prision will now be looking for gainful employment. Hundreds of thousands of corrections officers, policement, lawyers (I don’t hear any crying over the lawyers), DEA agents, and others profiting on the War on Drugs will also be looking for jobs. As well, sources of revenue for dealers and drug traffickers will dry up. Michael Phelps will get to design and market his own line of bongs.

Perhaps we should live with the violence and death and moral decay of our current system. After all, we wouldn’t want to put anyone out of work. Isn’t some corruption and violence and the risk of contaminated drugs in the supply a better alternative to higher revenue, lower crime, a .2% increase in unemployment, and better control of the quality and availability of drugs being sold in the United states.

Its a tough choice.

Posted by Lord Astral | Report as abusive

Drug legalisation is futile. Prevention and protection fail. An overcrowded society, broken by boredom and inequality, will continue to seek escape at any price.

Posted by Bill van Heerden | Report as abusive

March 26th, 2009 5:14 pm GMT – Posted by Jon Barry

The drub problem was and is always simple.
Jon Barry is a complete moron, why doesn’t he go live in the middle east with the rest of the animals that believe in this sort of thing, look what he wrote:

“Go after the user, and the user’s parents if the user is a minor. Do a drug test, [ no court case, no judge..just two quick tests and the test is the court] person fails the test, cut off a finger..automatic and swift punishment and send the offender to the doc and then home. Quite simple, they will never run out of toes and fingers, I doubt seriously they are doing much drugs after that. In the case of the minor..take the mothers finger off first and then the fathers, rotating them till the kid or kids stop.”

Posted by Adam | Report as abusive

Singapore has no drug problem. Get caught with more than 15 grams of herion, you are executed within 30 days, usually. The social stigma in Singapore is very, very high, and that means that most druggies are caught, quickly. REgistered addict and Singapore gives you your fix.

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

The problem is the war on drugs has become a huge industry employing thousands of privately run prisons, prison guards, agents, cops, and a hole host of others. Sadly, it’s no longer which policy is right; it’s which makes more money.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Drug Warrior, people like you are part of the problem.. You have become so indoctrinated by the system as it exists today that you shut out ideas that could actually improve the system. Yes, alcohol is a DRUG and you will never convince any intelligent person otherwise. Prohibition only increases the value to the point of violence as a means of controlling capitol. You make me sick, is it lonely up there on your pedestal? Ohhh, I went to law school…good for you dude, I am sorry you never learned to think outside the box.

Posted by Adam | Report as abusive

Prohibition remains prohibition, whatever substance it forbids to use.

Remember alcohool prohibition didnt work.

Reminds me Soviet attempt to forbid religions, people were praying in their basements.

War on Drugs is a joke, unfortunately many non-violent people pay an heavy price being jailed sometimes more than hitmen, rapists, and for drugs use go wonder…

How much longer will it take for the US citizens to raise against the absurdity of that war. We only created a huge black market, street violence, corruption, lobbies, private prisons needing more and more people prosecuted.

If only I could see one good thing about that so called “War on drugs”, one field where they succeeded that wasnt immediately washed by another cartel providing MORE drugs I would be glad.

The problem with our policy is that it’s totaly wrong. Everyone looses, except the very few that make HUGE money within the system. I beleive it is time to try some other policies, and why not legalization at least a try, because remember there’s almost no way we could fail as bad as we did with the War on Drugs, worth a try.

Posted by Wiz | Report as abusive

The balloon analogy is very good. To extend the analogy if the size of the balloon is determined by the profit to be made then the way to puncture the balloon is to remove the profit. This is a medical and economic problem. For cocaine and heroin provide it for free with a doctor’s perscription which would destroy the market and eliminated the pushers. Provide the doctors with the ability to route users into counseling and detox programs. Legalize marijuana and tax it just like cigarettes. For stuff like meth keep it illegal and increase the education programs.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

The type of drug policies actually in law in this country would be more appropriate in a more oppressive regime like China, the old U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany. There is no intellectual excuse for destroying so many people’s lives and causing wars and voilence. How many millions have been killed because of the war on drugs because of the crime, violence, and power struggles it causes. Stop the Drug Czar, stop evil organizations like DARE, get rid of the DEA, etc. Ahh, and violence immediately goes down and police can focus on real crime.

Posted by DrugCzarRealNameisJosephGoebbel | Report as abusive

Good luck Prohibitionists, trying to control human nature. [Suckers], how can you ever win a war against narcotics when it’s allied with poverty? And Anderson’s shabby journalism with the evil man you watched on CNN last night was embarassing to watch. Especially his suggestion that addicts are guilty of the wave of murders going on in Mexico. Of course murderers shall lay blame on others. It’s only logical for the accused to spread blame, but the bottom line is addicts, from pot smokers to crackheads, didn’t hold guns to the heads of Mexicans and pull the triggers. You ignoramaces, have you forgotten human nature? Whenever you’re dealing with an addict, no matter whether they’re smoking in a room among others, or shooting herion alone, they’re addiction shall not beg your forgiveness. You wanna fight drug use effectively? Put down your worthless Bibles and stop praying. Legalize and tax the drugs. Put the funds raised in a nationwide anti-drug and rehab program and salvage countless numbers of otherwise failed lives. I’m sure you would rather see impoverished junkies get free therapy then tax paid jail time without any recourse towards rehabilitation.

Posted by Freddy | Report as abusive

How to handle gambling, alcohol, prostitution, leisure drugs, – legalize and tax. No need for income tax. No need for tariffs. At last the citizens will look forward to paying their taxes. There is no more balloon. Come on folks – When has ever legislating morality created a virtuous nation?

Posted by dailyLama | Report as abusive

Nothing surprising here, you have one nut job in Jon Barry advocating torture, Palin 2012 baby.

Then you have a city prosecutor, a member of the system, supporting the system that pays his bills.

Then you have the most annoying, the idiots who think that everyone who wants the drug war to end are drug using hippies. Again, never used weed or any illegal drug once in my life and never will and I’m 100% for legalizing all drugs.

I’m big on personal freedom, I don’t own a gun but want people to be able to own them. I’m agnostic but I want everyone to be able to choose their religion, even if I deem them crazy or silly.

Those of us who want the drug war over are also aware of how bad drugs are, we’re also aware of how bad killing people with guns are, killing people while driving is, this is all about personal responsibility. Drugs are bad, but locking up non-violent drug users and turning them into violent members of society is not only stupid, it’s insane.

I respect the perspective of people who want drugs to remain illegal as long as they’re including alcohol and nicotine because no rational person can tell me marijuana is more destructive than alcohol.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

I have followed all this with interest. The bottom line is that not a single fix will actually work other than the one I propose. It might sound harsh, but that is exactly what was required when China had a terrible opium problem, a problem that the British created.

If the user is not targeted and with something other than incarceration [unreasonably costly, and already the US has the largest per capita of people in prison, way larger than any other country in the world] then this war cannot be won. Legalizing drugs only makes zombies of our citizens who partake and more and more would absolutely partake, and the decline of the US as a leading nation will continue its already downward spiral.

This punishment of chopping off a finger or toe is harsh, but truthfully, what kid or person would do this anymore if a few of them had it done. So, it is fine to place the user in jail, but the burden then is on the people who pay taxes and do not use drugs to keep them in the jail, and it is expensive. We already have high taxes and they are going to get higher because of the wars we have, the greed of wall street, the lack of a decent health care system, and the lack of a viable mass transit system plus the continuation of the drain of our wealth to feed the automobiles we drive because our auto manufactures had trained our drivers to be addicted to SUV’s and the like.

Now we are advocating that we either legalize the drugs, or jail the users and dealers. The dealers have more money to throw at the problem than our government.

Sure a finger or toe is extreme, but in reality, is it. In less than a year after this would be implemented, drug use would be so reduced that it would not longer be a problem. Is it better that 8000 people have already been killed by each other in drug wars, or would those lives be better served in some productive way, and what about the drug overdoses in this country? How many deaths does that cause. Nobody really wants to solve the problem. We would rather just talk about it.

Drug tests are pretty darn foolproof, and they can be made totally foolproof. If you fail, you lose a digit. You would never lose a second one. You would quit. I guess you could let the loser chose which one to lose on the first time and the second time it could be a thumb which would be pretty serious.

Quit talking about the problem and do what is truly the only real viable solution which we can all afford. It will save lives, money and make better people out of those who stop using due to the punishment. Jail in this country has already proven to be no deterrent to anything.

Jon Barry

Posted by Jon Barry | Report as abusive

Jon Barry just please stop posting you’re insane.

Your daugher gets caught with an ounce of weed, you gonna be ok with the government hacking off her thumb?

Yes our government is trash, but advocating us to be more like the Chinese government is the stupidest blather I’ve ever read.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Lions and tiger and bears…oh my! What a bunch of prattle.. Gateway drugs, chopping body parts off of users, blah, blah,blah. The whole thing is about money. That’s it. Money. The “cartels” in Latin America are poor boys looking for the gold. And they found it. Good for them. Just like the boys at AIG, Merrill Lynch, etc. they found the gold and like anyone caught in the throws of “gold fever” these guys will react violently when their “stash of cash” is threatened. And this threat can be either real or perceived. So all the talk around doing something about the drug trade is just that…talk. The real issue is money and disparity in distribution. The Cartels that control the money are simply more dangerous than any drug “cartel” could be. The real Cartels will go to war and kill millions in the course of insuring that the money does flow. They destroy millions of lives by controlling the money and enforcing poverty on millions of others. And we in America see these Cartels as something to praise and give homage to? The collapse of this country is not because someone is smoking a joint in secret, but because of the volume of innocent blood on our hands. We are awash in it. From the European conquest of the New World and the killing of millions of natives to the invasion of Iraq and the killing of millions of Iraqis since 1991. Our addiction is MONEY and OIL. Focus people, its not about patriotism, it’s about human survival. Let’s get off the real drugs and look at a future where all resources are the property of humans not the property of a few stoned, drunk, myopic, money crazed bankers who can’t control themselves and haven’t had an original thought since day one.

Posted by rummel | Report as abusive

Logic and reason are concepts Americans have not warmed up to in over 50 years. Clearly common sense is not very common. As long as public policy is debated from the stand point of dogma and other preconceived notions, working solutions to mitigate the ills that drug use visits upon society will elude us.

Thomas Jefferson stated the sole legitimate function of government is to intercede where the the actions of one party or individual interferes with another party or parties exercise of their inalienable rights. Nothing more.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

the consensus seems to be pointing to certainly some degree of legalisation with a sliding grade of censorship in place to protect the young.

with the exception of heroin (quite the one way street for most) in my opinion, there does appear to be less consequences to the individual and those in the immediate vicinity when the drug of choice is of an organic nature. good quality, old-school bush buds, indulged on a daily basis with the odd blast of high-cut cocaine for special occasions, when there was a little bit of Tim Buckley playing and the festive mood was nigh was a good thing.

from the day the chemists became involved a whole range of social dehabilitatingconditions became apparent.

it must be remembered that mind altering substances were first developed by the Nazi regime for prisoner interorgations and torture. from my understanding these manufactured drugs were the precursors to LSD(acid) subtly infiltrated into Western Society after WW2 by rogue spies. acid has familied out into all the drugs of a severe problematic nature, for example:
max grade hydroponic, chemically enhanced pot
ice etc

these drugs are nasty pieces of work with an even nastier lineage and should be treated as highly dangerous.

I am of the firm belief if a (currently illicit) recreational drug can be grown organically, biodynamically, in a sustainable manner and nourished by the gods of the sun and rains it should be freely available to the market.

after all the world is converging to a free market economy ~ make it free Man ~ I want ta jamm it wit you…

Posted by sweeny&#8217;60s | Report as abusive

Michael- you are almost entirely correct. Marijuana is much more carcinogenic than tobacco particularly as it is usually smoked filterless. It is one of the most complex plant substances with over 200 active chemicals,some of which have not been studied. However here in Ireland cigarettes kill twenty people a day and most hospital interaction is alcohol related. One further idea- all prisons should be self financing-why should any semi skilled labour,manufacturing or service endeavour be exported when criminals are housed and fed for nil effort and at a 70,000 euro/dollar cost annually.

Posted by phrage | Report as abusive

It is amusing to see the authoritarian sadists of both left and right persuasion agree that torture, whether by incarceration or more grisly methods is the “right” approach to dealing with what is clearly a personal medical issue.

Suggested reading would be David D. Friedman’s works on the economics of law and law enforcement. Posner’s works are also pretty good.

Posted by Alfred Montestruc | Report as abusive

You’d think people could learn from history! Prohibition was the biggest single cause for the advancement of massive organized crime in America between 1919 and 1933, when the only source of alcohol was through criminal gangs.

Exactly the same is true of drugs – you can only get them through criminals (unless you have genuine medical reasons), so prohibition of drugs is having the effect of encouraging criminal organizations.

Several European countries who were brave enough to try it have found that de-criminalizing drugs have not had any increase in drug abuse, but they have seen a signicant reduction in violent crime by addicts needing money to buy illegal drugs. They have also seen a significant reduction in drug-related deaths due to overdose and adulteration.

This only supports the idea of a paradigm shift on the subject. Real, scientifically- based education is the best way to get our teenagers on board, not the rabid anti-drug nonsense taught in the past. Smoking pot does not make anyone into a rapist, murderer or thief, any more than a couple of beers does.

What smoking pot does currently is put users in touch with criminals (dealers), which in turn opens them up to pressure to try something new – smoking pot isn’t the gate-way, but having to go to a drug dealer is!

Posted by Marius Rowell | Report as abusive


Most people who write about this issue don’t really understand the difference. They automatically “assume” that the only way to take the money out of illegal drugs is just by making them “legal.”

That causes enormous confusion. There are clear differences.

Legalization: Refers to making it entire legal to use, sell, destribute and possess various drugs, usually with licensure and taxes.

Decriminalization: Refers to conferring “legal permission” to possess a certain amount of a drug, but does not extend to the sale of it. Sales are usually permitted under a “don’t ask,don’t tell” format with specific quantities permitted.

There is a huge difference. The drug cartels FEAR decriminalization, because it will take the enormous profits out of drugs, since obtaining it will not be illegal, as long as it is sold in “small” amounts.

Of course addicts will still be destroyed by the drugs. That has never changed.

What is NOT discussed, is that the actual percentage of clinical addicts does NOT typically change very much in ANY society, no matter the legal policy of that population.

I pose the question to those who don’t use drugs: “Would you start using them if they were decriminalized?”

The percentage who answer yes is not different in any population, no matter what legal policies exist at the time. I do not abuse drugs or alcohol. Neither do my children. They won’t either, even if it is legal to possess various drugs.

That’s my point, and it is backed by the literature.

And yes, inhaled pot is just as dangerous to the lungs as tobacco, and may be worse. Your lungs were not “manufactured” to breathe in junk. Even third graders would easily understand that.

I have no objection to your using drugs, but I don’t want to be in an auto-accident that you cause because of it…nor do I want to pay your health-care costs as a result of your using.

And, I believe I speak for many other posters on this as well.

And yes, I am a doctor.


Posted by sanjosemike | Report as abusive

Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Apparently this has been a success on many fronts. See Glenn Greenwald’s Cato Institute study or his article, ‘The Success of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal\':
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2 009/03/14/portugal/

And, marijuana is less likely to cause cancer than tobacco smoke:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200 5/10/051019003339.htm

If self or societal harm is the only reason why these drugs should be outlawed, than why not outlaw tobacco (kills 400,000 per in the US alone) or alcohol?

I wish an honest talk about drugs, drug abuse, & solving the problem could occur in this country without the propaganda. Prohibition and draconian penalties just raise both the price & level of violence, putting more profits into the pockets of the cartels and bolstering their control and influence.

Posted by tito | Report as abusive

“Parents: The Anti-Drug” doth not drug abuse policy maketh. Neither doth “Just Say No.”

Posted by Panchi | Report as abusive

Rather than squeezing the balloon, you’ve got to let the air out of the ballon somehow. How to extend the analogy is the question… Should you gently open it or just prick it so it’ll pop?

Posted by Panchi | Report as abusive

Nothing is going to stop people from buying drugs. History has shown us 3 very simple facts.
1. People continue to buy illegal drugs – legal
prohibition of drugs has failed – as it failed with
2. Legalize drugs and you eliminate the profit motive
for drug cartels.
3. Eliminate a profit motive for drug cartels, and they
no longer obtain ower.

Posted by David Long | Report as abusive

First, a disclaimer: I am a regular user of heavy drugs.
No, not for recreational purpose. Right now, there’s an unopened package of 60 pills of Oxycodone in my medicine cabinet. And another one, about half-finished. And I will give all of them, and then some cash on top of it, for one good, not herniated, spinal disk – too bad only God seems to be able to give me one, and He seems to be not in a hurry to answer my prayers. The doctors can provide only temporary relief. And as many narcotics prescriptions as I care to ask for.
No, I’m not high now. Not the last couple of months, but I truly fear the moment I’ll need to take the drugs again. Who ever had that kind of back pain would understand.
The point is, I have free access to the drugs, and they cost me next to nothing – just $10 copay for 60 pills, and I didn’t become a junkie. Nor anyone in my family, even though I don’t keep drugs in a vault.
Jon Barry, what you’d suggest to do with me and all other legit drug users? When I take the drugs I sure would fail the test. As far as I know the tests don’t differ between opioid painkillers and opium derived recreational drugs, besides prescription drugs are known to be illicitly traded and used for recreation purposes. Chopping off fingers and toes out of court just for failing the test? I only have so many fingers. And unlike the junkies I have no free choice – I take the drugs when and because it hurts.
Drug Warrior, you should know better that a junkie will do anything for a fix he/she craves. They would beg, steal, prostitute themselves, some would even murder. So would alcoholics, by the way. But usually junkies get it, one way or the other. Wouldn’t it be better that they could get it openly, reasonably priced, guaranteed quality, and in quantities that would not cause OD? All without enriching the local dealer and all the criminal chain behind him? And if prices go down (no risk premium) there would be less need for them to commit crimes. And if drugs are destigmatized, some of those junkies would actually be able to hold on to jobs – it’s none of employer’s business if an employee has a few drinks after work, same should be with joints and pills, as long as he/she doesn’t report to work high. And you know better about how law enforcement deals with whoever and however provides alcohol to minors or involves them into sexual activities – the ones who provide drugs to minors should be dealt with the same way, or even harsher if you wish so.
Sure there will be some individuals that destroy themselves – but they can do so now with alcohol. However the whole criminal chain of drug production, trafficking, and distribution will get dismantled by itself, since there’ll be no money to make in it. And instead of armed gangs, the police will be dealing with DWI by narcotics, but are they not doing so now with DWI by alcohol?

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Decriminalization of drugs is the only answer. It is an outrage that the nation that most adamantly touts the wonders of free markets wages a supply-side war on its most destructive habit. What a joke–by our own economic reasoning, the war on drugs has been doomed to failure from the start. The demand for drugs is the problem. Period. The problem is us–not Mexico, not Afghanistan, not Burma.

It is heartening to hear Obama administration officials name demand as the key issue. In fact, since it has identified health care reform as a major initiative, no time has ever been better for killing the war on drugs. Let’s eliminate a huge chunk of the massive public spending on drugs and drug-related accidents and deaths by targeting the war on drugs within the development of comprehensive and reasonable health care reform. Let’s finally end this insanity.

Posted by Brandon | Report as abusive

Legalize the stuff,and the drugs mafia will be gone until tomorrow!

Posted by Peter Miller | Report as abusive

The fear mongerers seem to think (not know) that decriminalization will create more addicts and more property crime. This has not been proven in societies where heroin has been decriminalized. Here are a few examples:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2 009/03/14/portugal/index.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/world/ europe/01swiss.html

You can find much more on this subject on the web. It appears that society does not crumble, crime does not skyrocket and those addicts can live more normal lives as productive citizens when the risk factor is removed and the price crashes. On average a hundred dollar a day habit in the US cost about as much as a latte from Starbucks where heroin is legal. So the argument of users having to commit crime to get their fix dissolves.

Now lets take a look at the most prevalent drug used in the world, marijuana. Study after study has shown this drug to be less harmful to the user and society than alcohol or tobacco yet it is still illegal. The fear mongers will tell you it is “dangerous” to your health. It is bad for your lungs. So is living in LA but life long studies in Jamaica by the NIMH seems to disagree with the fear monger’s finding. It seems that the rate of lung cancer is no greater than a non-smoker (tobacco) and there does not seem to be any psychological issues with long term use. Here is a site with various research. you can google the research titles for more info from the studies.

http://www.schmoo.co.uk/thclub/research. htm

In study after study the absolute worst drug for both your health and society is alcohol. Yet, somehow our society seems to be able to deal with its legality.

So why do the fear mongers continue to cower at the idea of legalization? Could their be other hidden agendas?

If the US legalized recreational drugs today who would be hurt? Not the users. Dealers would change and new forms of distribution would arise and be licensed so that is a wash. So who? Just ask yourself “where’s the Money!” The money is in Wholesale distribution. These are the “cartels” they keep speaking about. Law Enforcement would lose funding (this includes the DEA and FBI) and some of us who lived through the Viet Nam war would also say the CIA. Commercialized prisons would lose since there would be a significant drop in new inmates. If you haven’t noticed I just listed some very powerful lobbyists. And, their army are the people who have a type of personality that makes them think they know what is best for everyone else regardless of personal freedoms and rights. Like the one who thinks all we have to do is start lopping off body parts and demand will stop. All they want is for you to toe their line regardless of the Constitution or what this country was founded upon, freedom. The right to be left alone unless you are violating someone else’s rights. Even our Founding Fathers smoked Marijuana. They just called it Hemp.

I am tired of the Right Wing Christians and any other religion, Wealthy International cartels, and self serving law enforcement swaying our Congress to maintain laws that go against what this nation was founded upon.

Tell your Congressmen! Tell the White House! Tell them you are fed up the the stupidity and destructiveness of the War on Drugs.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

This is a complex problem and there are no simple solutions.
For instance, where I live, in Louisiana, the LEGAL drug companies now dominate the illegal drug trade. Most of the addicts I know use legal pills – illegally. The drug companies know this, the doctors know this and the pharmacists know this – but they all want the money.
At least half the women I know and about
1/4 of the men eat pills. Oxycontin, Soma, Lortabs – the list is endless. Some of them get the pills free – insurance or government pays. Many get almost unlimited prescriptions and sell the extra pills or give them away.
I’m talking about people with jobs, families and houses – not people skulking in an alley. These pills are very potent and quite addictive. I have seen what they do to the users. They – and their
families – pay a price, just like with any drug. How are you going to stop the big drug companies who have congress in their back pockets? The biggest drug dealers where I live are doctors and pharmacists.

Posted by jacques redou | Report as abusive

If the problem is illegal drugs, and yes, I acknowledge that there is also a problem with legal drugs, then you have to stop the user from using them. I was in Viet Nam as a helicopter pilot there in 1969. I had never run into marijuana until I got there, and even then not until I was officer of the guard near the end of my tour. When I came home, people were smoking it all over the place. I watched over the years as more and more drugs became popular, cocaine was at parties all over the place, popular with the new young white collar crowd.

Our country used to be a safe place, no drive by shootings when I was a kid, and now, no place is safe. We have blacks killing blacks over drugs, latins killing latins over drugs, and all we ever do is incarcerate more and more people, and the new rich in the ghettos, well, they are the drug dealers. It provides a way to have money where these youth would never get it otherwise.

All that is ever done is talk. Since I came back from Viet Nam, how many people have died from illegal drugs? I am sure a whole lot more than died from 9/11, which we spent billions on.

Like alcohol, a great legal drug, the death toll is thousands and thousands. And you ask, would I like my daughter to be spared her finger if she was caught. Well, ask yourself this. Spare your daughter the finger, and go to her funeral when she over doses, or go to the stranger’s funeral after she does a head on collision with him in a car accident where she is loaded. How many accidents kill people like this.

It is easy for you to say to do nothing as is what almost everyone else says. Who here wants to pay the additional taxes to jail all the users. Nobody. It is all talk, and there is no beating these dealers unless we stop the traffic. You cannot stop the traffic as long as there are users. Today, there is justice. If you have money, you can beat any drug arrest, and if you are broke, there is only so long that they are going to keep you in jail.

We can continue to have the problem, and it is already more than 40 years a major problem with the problem getting worse every year. No end in sight.

No, I want to spare my daughter, and I want to spare her victims, I want recreational drug use ended. It has killed enough people already. Where does it end..never unless really drastic action that means business is taken. Nobody is up to the task. It is sad. Better to just watch the others die than to do what it takes.

Jon Barry

Posted by Jon Barry | Report as abusive

Jon I guess I respect your opinion but it’s 100% wrong.

You didn’t really answer the question but the reality is, no you wouldn’t be ok with your daughter having her thumb hacked off for having an ounce of weed. Sounds like you wouldn’t mind someone else’s daughter losing her thumb though, just as long as you don’t know her.

Drugs don’t kill people, people kill people. Same with guns, same with alcohol. Just as anyone who’s willing to commit suicide these people need help, not to be criminalized or further criminalized like you’re advocating for.

Ironic thing is these right wingers who advocate for less government think every issue should be solved by more government. National security, War on Drugs, church funding, the mouth I was born with only has one side to talke out of, unlike all of them.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Where do I start? First of all to control drugs you regulate drugs. If you make them illegal you lose control and give it to others who operate outside the law. In almost every instance when drugs laws have been relaxed the use has DROPPED. Marijuana is MUCH safer than alcohol and tobacco. It has been proven to be, at most, as addictive as caffeine. But, I digress. Personally, I think all drugs should be legal as they have been in the past. Deal with abusers as a health issue. Does anyone thing prohibition has worked?
A study commissioned by the US government said criminalization of hemp causes many more problems than allowing its use. Prohibition has caused enormous problems including turning our country into a virtual police state. There are a lot of people making a lot of money on the status quo. They don’t want to see changes to our policies. Drug companies may lose money. Law enforcement and prisons systems lose money. Logging and paper and even wood products would suffer. Distillers would suffer. I could go on and on. Who funds the opposition to most legislation? Distillers and prison guard unions do. Surprised? Oh, by the way, drug tests, especially the inexpensive ones are notoriously inaccurate. Anyone who espouses we judge or make any important decisions (much less mutilating our citizens) based on these tests is a fool. Think people. Look at our history.
Look who benefits from prohibition and who suffers. I haven’t included citations but they are easy to find here -> www.norml. org. Changing our drug laws can make enormous improvements to our quality of life and the lives around us. Be logical and use science based making decisions. The are no real arguments left to justify the “War on Drugs”. Thanks for reading all of this,
Did you know many recent studies show strong anti-tumor and antibacterial properties of marijuana? See Harvard lung cancer study released this week.

Posted by Ken Sherman | Report as abusive

“Since I came back from Viet Nam, how many people have died from illegal drugs? […] Like alcohol, a great legal drug, the death toll is thousands and thousands.”

The number of people who have died from illegal drugs is likely very small: marijuana and LSD don’t kill people at all, and it is doubtful whether most of the deaths attributed to opiates (overdoses, etc.) actually are due to the drug itself, rather than impurities. Unlike illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes do kill huge numbers of people because they directly destroy people’s health.

Legalizing drugs with medicine-like supervision, quality control and distribution would probably eliminate drug deaths altogether.

It’s also doubtful that legalization would increase the number of users much; anybody who wants to obtain drugs can obtain them today.

“No, I want to spare my daughter, and I want to spare her victims, I want recreational drug use ended.”

Well, you can want a lot of things, but the number of lives it costs to end recreational drug use is likely much higher than the number of lives drug use itself costs. It’s people like you who are responsible for most of the drug-related deaths in this country.

Posted by Mike Jones | Report as abusive

As a person who does not use marijuana (not since college, anyway) and uses alcohol moderately, many find it odd to hear me say that I would prefer legal use of marijuana to legal use of alcohol (and cigarettes). We know how the story ended with the prohibition of alcohol. The societal ramifications of prohibitionist policies are unacceptable, and I don’t think it’s a secret that alcohol is far more harmful physically and socially than than marijuana.

If I may quote Ken Sherman to argue an unrelated point:
“If you make them illegal you lose control and give it to others who operate outside the law”

This is exactly the language liberals should consider in re: gun laws. Funny, how that argument only has merit when spoken by a liberal.

Posted by doctherooster | Report as abusive

“For our own good” is the reason the government throws peaceful drug users into prison with murderers and rapists. Hey, I appreciate the concern but please don’t do us any favors!

And I thought our country was all about pro-choice with our own bodies. What it really means is we can kill our babies (another’s body) but we cannot control what we put into our own bodies. Whatever happened to “The Land of the Free?”

Posted by Geo | Report as abusive

Why blame it on Mexico? The drugs that the US imports are making far more money for the US drug dealers than the estimated $53 billion (no typo here) going to Mexico. American demand makes Mexican supply.

Posted by John Harding | Report as abusive

Make pot legal which eliminates 70% of the cartel’s profit. Tax the hell out of gun & ammo manufacturers and restrict production of military type assault weapons. Focus on meth, coke and heroin, the real killers. Problem solved.

Posted by Falconium | Report as abusive

Contact your congressman and let them know you are fed up with the devastation the War on Drugs is doing not only to this country but other countries around the world. Tell them you want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize and medicalize heroin and cocaine. To much of our tax money goes down the drain and is causing pain and suffering in support of the War on Drugs. The prohibitionists need to be stopped! This is a free country. We do not want more repressive laws. We want to take the profits of the drug trade away from the gangsters and put it in the hands of honest entrepreneurs where sales can be regulated and taxed. We want law enforcement to focus on real crime like rape, murder, theft and other crimes with real victims.


Also contact the White House:


Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive


One thing for sure is that the war on drugs has failed. Another thing is that, in my opinion, we cannot legislate morality. And, too often, additction to any substance has been confused with insufficient levels of morality.

So, for a moment, let’s attempt to take the emotionalism and the politics out of addiction to chemicals. I am including the legal (alcohol, nicotine, and all prescribed narcotics) as well as the street-traded chemicals. Evidence supports that when people want a chemical, they will obtain it. When the chemical has the profit of the black market associated with it, they will kill each other for it. Witness Prohibition in the United States and Al Capone and friends. Illegalization of alcohol only made huge profits and gangland style killings. Same of more drinking, same or more levels of alcoholism, just more killing for profits.

Ergo, the war on drugs. You cannot end addition from legislation. What you can end is obscene profits and gangland killings. If we want to stop the violence, study Prohibition and draw lessons from our own history.

Posted by A M Lane | Report as abusive

Amerika’s so called ‘War on Drrrugs’ is an immoral and despicable policy promoted and $ustained by myopic fascist dunderheads with the insight of rabid dogs. The soidisant ‘War’ has disenfranchised the lives (and the livelihoods) of tens of millions of Americans over the decades; it is a complete waste of resources. A national disgrace! Let me reiterate! A national disgrace!

Drrrug prohibition has created vast untaxed and unregulated black market $ystems… created a huge prison industry… and also has fostered an extremely violent gang culture that corrodes the foundations and institutions of civil $ociety. Elliot Ness did NOT put an end to the violent gangs of the 1920s and 1930s. Ending prohibition did that. Wake up! See it!

100 years from now… people will look back at the damn ‘War on Drrrugs’ in a manner that we presently view $lavery, child pornography, poligamy, cannibalism, etc.

The ‘War on Drrrugs’ must be replaced with decriminalization, legalization, regulation and taxation… the things that drrrug cartels and the prison industry fear the most!

Posted by RICHARD RALPH ROEHL | Report as abusive

Government leaders in the U.S. are above the law. They conduct themselves with impunity. Why is the Spanish court looking into war crimes and international law violations and our justice system is silent? As long as drugs remain illegal, what is done with the profits can not be determined. This cash cow is the perfect slush fund for government operatives who assist in the delivery of narcotics across our borders. The scope of coups, wars and other illegal activities that have been secretly funded by inner circles of our government can never be fully known.

Successful prosecutors follow the money. With legal transactions there is a paper trail. Regulation, taxation account transactions of all parties involved can be monitored if probable cause is established. This would make it to difficult to funnel money around the world to be used for supporting violent unrest and destabilization of governments that exercise self determination and not our will.

We cannot see the forest for the tree.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

The illegal drug industry is too big to fail. As long as Congress controls the War on Drugs, the illegal drug industry has a perfect way to keep themselves in business. Al Capone wasn’t rich enough or smart enough to keep Prohibition going, but the illegal drug industry is much bigger than his operation, and they can hire all the PR people they want to so that the War on Drugs will go on forever.

Posted by J Smit | Report as abusive


Everyone has the right to have an opinion but I am also confirming that your almost 100% wrong.

You mentionned Singapore as an example, I wouldnt do so. They may get rid of the simple drug users but with their secret banking system they welcome the money of drug traffickers as long as they have enough millions…

Besides you could mention China who also have a crazy repressive system against users, and well even without looking for anything there I got proposed some pot.

There is NONE who can stop the traffic, not me, not you nor your ideas. The only thing we may control a little is the production by taking the prices of all drugs so low that none makes huge profits anymore.

You can loose a million lives trying to solve the issue another way, wont work !

Just take a look where the drugs are made, you may find it funny that in many cases there is a war going in the area. No other way to sponsor military ops.

A great example, Lebanon was #1 Hash producer during their civil war years, peace happened there finaly and well you cant almost find any pot coming from this place anymore. Now it’s Morocco who’s #1 and guess what, they have a decades long conflict going in the western Sahara.

It is no secret that in most cases the States or organized rebels are behind drugs production (Afghanistan, Colombia, Morroco, and so on), you wouldnt be able to get any war going with income taxes of morrocans beleive me.

The real problem is to quit thinking with our hearts and start to do so with our brains, and maybe one day we will eradicate a good part of this misery.

Posted by Wiz | Report as abusive

Legalize it! Make it available in small quantities very cheap! Take the profit out of the crooks hands! They will move to a new money source!

Posted by rachael | Report as abusive

a war on the supply side of drugs serves only to increase the price of the drug delivered to the users and its efficacy hangs on an assumed price elasticity of demand. among the many reasons for the failure of the war on drug supply the most important one i believe is that the assumed price elasticity does not exist. if we could take the billions spent on the war on drug supply the prices would fall to where it would be more economical in many places to grow corn and crop substitution programs could be encouraged. the money saved could be used to treat the addicts and to whittle down the demand. the war on drug supply will not work.

Posted by Cha-am Jamal | Report as abusive

No one has really addressed the issue that I think most people fear if drugs were decriminalized. Our social and economic paradigm in this country will shift from the ‘have and have-nots’ in regards to income or wealth, to ‘user or non-user’. Think about it… just because drugs may become decriminalized that dosen’t mean you can now get high and still drive a passenger bus or a frieght train. There will still be alot of laws. But then you will have the freedom of choice, and with that you will have to decide between drug use or being on the low end of society. Drug users will still not be able to get many jobs, live in nice areas, and be rejected in some fashion or another.
I fully belive that drug related violent crime will decrease. I believe a great number of problems could be solved. I don’t believe usage will decrease, at least not right away. I think it may actually increase at first until young people see the way that ‘users’ are treated by ‘non-users’ and won’t want to be like that.
What will all the people do who have jobs in law-enforcement in regards to drugs? What about all the extra prision gaurds? And what about the average joe or even the above above-average joe who still steals a bong hit on the weekends on a line of blow at the club on the sneak? Do these people want to be seen at 7-11 picking up a ‘heavy-bag’, even if it is ‘just a taste’ and then be labeled a ‘user’?
Well folks… I think its a test of morality and social responsibility that needs to be taken by this country. I’d rather see people high and happy than dead from drug violence. I’d rather see people discriminated against as ‘users’ because of thier own CHOICE to use drugs, rather than by the color of thier skin or language they speak. It’s Darwinian law folks, the strong will survive.

Posted by Luke | Report as abusive

An opinion piece that features “wrongheaded” starts out injured.
“Wrongheaded” exists only in the mind of its speaker, and has no value at all.
Lose it.

Posted by Rick Carey | Report as abusive

Legaliziing drugs will not make them safe. Elvis died from legal drugs.
No government will make drugs available to young folk. So if you take the adult market from criminals, they will only have kids to sell to.
There are no easy answers, are there?
Our world is both financially bankrupt and morally bankrupt. There comes a time when a garment is beyond fixing with another patch.
Graham Mewburn

Posted by Graham Mewburn | Report as abusive

Obviously the War on Drugs has been incredibly beneficial to its backers. Otherwise why is it going on forever? That’s very Orwellian. Either it provides a rich revenue stream (from tax payers) or it’s just another way to keep special interests in control.

Humans are more efficient than we give them credit for. If it really was a failure, its backers would have stopped long ago and turned to some other scheme.

Posted by Radio | Report as abusive

As long as I know dealers do not card anyone actually, dont see much more risk than nowadays with legalization.

Agreing with no simple solution though, but once you realize your policy totaly failed, you may want to try something else…

Posted by Wiz | Report as abusive

The war on poverty has failed. The war on drugs has failed. The war on terror has failed. This commentary has over 100 hits, more than all the other at currently at the Great Debate. The internet questions posed to the President were equally as voluminous. Obama played it down and refuses to even acknowledge a change in course might be needed.

Henry Ford figured out how to make fiberglass bodies from Hemp in the 1930s. They were stronger than steel and the resources renewable. Steel and mining interests lobbied congress for a hemp irradication act and got it. Through the late 30s we destroyed all wild hemp and have prohibited its cultivation ever since.

Marijauna is also refined as mood enhancer for those with affected disorders as well as glaucoma and nausea for chemo therapy patients. All good reasons to legalize marijauna cultivation. However, black market business’ provides untraceable earnings. Black money can be spent on wars and coups with little or no ability to identify the financiers. ( Read ” Blowback” by Chalmers Johnson)

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I find it interesting that Jon thinks somehow drugs sprang up after the Nam. Marijuana goes back to our Founding Fathers who grew hemp. They also grew marijuana which is hemp grown in less density and where the males are removed prior to pollination.

“(Washington’s)…August 7, 1765 diary entry, “began to separate the male from the female () plants,” describes a harvesting technique favored to enhance the potency of smoking cannabis…”

“Dr. Burke, president of the American Historical Reference Society and a consultant for the Smithsonian Institute, counted seven early presidents as cannabis smokers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor and Franklin Pierce. 41 “Early letters from our founding fathers refer to the pleasures of hemp smoking,” said Burke. Pierce, Taylor and Jackson, all military men, smoked it with their troops. Cannabis was twice as popular among American soldiers in the Mexican War as in Vietnam: Pierce wrote to his family that it was “about the only good thing” about that war.”

Opium was also available in a variety of forms.

Granted the rebellious nature of the sixties aided in these pursuits drifting into Whit Anglo-Saxon neighborhoods and into mainstream America. What mainstream America discovered is that the propaganda the government had been selling the people for so long was flat out wrong. They were lying to us or have you forgotten Refer Madness and it kills brain cells? The government continued where William Hurst left off and promoted so many lies in order to demonize marijuana that when the truth hit in the 60’s the government lost all credibility with the majority of that generation. Jon, being of the minority, now believes that the US was safe before drugs and now it is not and is having trouble seeing that the reason was the laws that were once used to control blacks, Mexicans and the Chinese were now fueling a burgeoning black market since good white folks were now using these recreational drugs. And if you think these laws were created for some other reason than to control groups of people please be my guest and look up the congressional and state proceedings. If the wording of those proceedings were used today the politican who uttered them would be thrown out of politics his career ruined.

Today we reap what the idiots sowed so long ago and for reasons we have forgotten.

Hurst wanted hemp outlawed because a hemp gin was created that would make the price of hemp lower than cotton and would put him out of business. He started a campaign with his news paper to demonize Marijuana. And in congressional testimony “The specific reason given for the outlawing of the hemp plant was its supposed violent “effect on the degenerate races.” (Testimony of Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger, in testimony before Congress in hearings on the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937).

Opium was outlawed to save the white women from getting tricked into going into opium dens where they would get high and let the Chinese degenerates rape them

At the beginning of the 1900s Cocaine was considered the “safe” drug. It was even used in Coca Cola. Not until its addictive quality was discovered and that it was in a variety of commercial products did it get removed. In 1914 it was outlawed for commercial use.

The Harrison Act and the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 was the beginning of the Drug War. However, “even the people who wrote the Harrison Act and the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 agreed that a general prohibition on what people could put into their own bodies was plainly an unconstitutional infringement on personal liberties. For comparison, see the history of the constitutional amendment which was required to prohibit alcohol. There is no fundamental reason why a constitutional amendment should be required to prohibit one chemical and not another.”

And somehow today people like Jon, Prohibitionists, think it is the drugs fault, this was the idea promoted in the sixties but in reality it was a bunch of greedy buffoons who were out to protect their pocket books and their misconceived fears of the “degenerate races.”

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

The only effective policy with respect to drugs tried in the last century was President Nixon’s move to expand drug treatment for users and punish dealers more severely. Back when the drugs of choice were hemp (today’s highly “improved” cannabis source is 1000 times more potent, and has been found to cause brain damage in heavy users, unlike it’s ancestor plant) opium, and a mild form of cocaine, unlimited personal use might have been the answer, but with the advent of horribly destructive drugs like methamphetamine (produced mainly domestically), PCP, and other synthetics such a policy is socially destructive. Treat users and arrest the dealers.

Posted by drzarkov | Report as abusive

The thing about legalization is that recreational drugs can be controlled, taxed, and regulated. Most people who Want to use drugs are already using them. The money of course goes untaxed and helps finance more violence and corruption.
Who More than the cartels wants to keep drugs illegal here? Corrupeted law enforcement officials who would lose income(untaxed) if street drugs were legal? The gangs fighting for turf to sell drugs?
Lots of vested interests in that market.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

Marijuana was outlawed through the use of lies and false scientific studies. Most of the “facts” published in the 30’s have been proven to be false.

The fact is that in a “free” country we have allowed many of our citizens to have their liberty and rights taken away based on lies and false information, all for the benefit of a few. This is unconstitutional and should not be tolerated.

Many people still believe these falsehoods even today. So why is it with all our advances in science and medicine that it is still illegal unless someone is profiting from the status quo?

Growers don’t want it legalized, neither do the sellers or drug cartels. So let’s keep ruining people’s lives by taking away their money and freedom so the few can continue to profit at their expense.

Our prisons are overcrowded. California is looking at releasing criminals early to address the overcrowding issue. Legalizing drugs would help address this issue.

I say legalize Marijuana to remove the criminal element and create much needed tax revenue at a time when it is most needed.

Posted by Vern | Report as abusive

The claim, made by dzarkov, that cannabis is now “1,000 times more potent” and “causes brain damage” is an example of uncritical acceptance of the “lies and false scientific studies” mentioned by Vern. I have raised this issue with British government ministers. I have figures for THC content of modern so-called “Skunk”, from the British Home Office, sent to me, in a letter from the British Home Secretary (Jacqui Smith) which show that the THC content of ‘Skunk’ is far lower than the published figures for THC content of hashish in the 70s (Robert M. Julien, ‘Primer of Drug Action’, 3rd ed, 1975). I also know this from personal experience. I smoked a lot of cannabis in Britain and Holland in the 60s and early 70s. Most of it was potent hashish, although my American friends tended to be more used to smoking ‘grass’. The LSD was also (probably) about ten times more potent in those days. Since that time I have studied neurobiology at degree level. I have searched the neurobiological literature, but I cannot find any credible evidence for the allegation that cannabis causes brain damage. All I can find are psychiatric (voodoo science) studies that make this claim on the basis of methodologically flawed ‘experiments’. “Skunk” is a marketing term, invented by dealers and growers. It is in these people’s interest to have us believe that their cannabis is stronger. It is also in the interests of prohibitionist governments, law enforcement agencies and private prison companies, because it seems to provide an excuse for persecuting cannabis users. It is also in the interest of organised dealers for cannabis to be illegal as it helps to keeps prices high. So the interests of the politicians, police-persons, criminal dealers etc are the same.

Posted by Bill Farnaby | Report as abusive

In a free society people should be able to decide how they choose to live. In many of the comments the approach is to deny choice. I believe drug addiction is a problem that could solve itself. Addiction is not an event, it’s a process. By using force to intervene you just prolong the process. Certainly, my approach would be messy, however, if drugs would suddenly become legal, does that mean everyone would run out and start using drugs? Somehow I doubt it. The drug laws have done nothing but fill our prisons with people that don’t belong there. If your a drug user, you will use whether it’s legal or not. If you don’t use, are you going to start just because it’s legal. Alcohol is legal, but I choose not to drink.

Posted by Sarge Vassiljev | Report as abusive

Please read my blog “restructure america & tide over present economic & political crisis”. My observatin is that like oil, major part of dollar is going out of USA is drug. Ban on drug or stringent action will not help. Sir Isaac Newtons theory is that “every action is opposite reason”. So in a democracy there should be no ban for anything including drug. It will create corruption and poor victim should be innocent people. On the other hand, the drug cartels will easily escape with the support of law enforcing authority and other agencies and they can mobilise and make a coup on the govt.

I am advocating that peoples’ civil liberties should be protected. At the same time, no democracy should control by drug cartel, oil cartels, stock, arms, corporate, ‘media?’ and other cartels. I am advocating legalising drugs and ensure that it is taxed and consumer should get at a very reasonable price. Govt. get more revenue and ensure stop of emerging a power parallel system which is threat to all democracy. This is the 21st century, which we need to change the historic blunter of banning anything and everything. That becomes a crisis of all democracies.

On the other hand, it can stop USA to save billions and trillions of dollars every year going out of USA if govt. legalise, allow to produce locally in US, taxing on these products, stop abusing drug users and instead giving freedom to choose and allow them to use under medical prescription etc.

Other major benefit is that, USA want to get back its “Super Power Tag”, it has full control on world’s parallel economy. Through policy changes and innovative policies, it can retain its power and also applying and using innovative latest scientific technologies with new policies under “civil liberties” banner will make a major global impact. It will strengthen USA and its currency around the world and Dollar curtail erosion of valuation of dollar.

It is the time of review all the polices and programmes of USA and I think US Lobbies, corporates and govt. sit together and find out best solution and debate on this issue for the sake of future of America. I think present ‘incumbant’ Obama can make a change. ‘Yes, change we can’.

Posted by commonman | Report as abusive

The U.S. insisted on the first international anti-drug laws over 90 years ago under President Woodrow Wilson, which the Europeans thought misguided. How can you make personal habits illegal? Such laws are inherently unenforceable. That was one of 4 BIG MISTAKES made by him, which we are still paying for dearly. Since then, we learned alcohol prohibition doesn’t work. But still the solution isn’t obvious to everyone. It was almost criminal to even talk about legalization through the Reagan-Bush-Clinton years. Legalization remains a third-rail issue in American politics. Fortunately, the states are slowly fixing it. Only for marijuana, only for medical, and only 14 states. But California crime is down.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

What this is really about is huge sums of money going to the wrong families. If people spend small amounts of money on marijuana, they won’t spend huge amounts in the MALLS. Why ? Because they’ll be busy relaxing at HOME !
Any guesses who puts pressure on law-makers to keep the status quo ?

Posted by Sanat | Report as abusive

Legaliziing drugs will not make them safe. Elvis died from legal drugs.
No government will make drugs available to young folk. So if you take the adult market from criminals, they will only have kids to sell to.
There are no easy answers, are there?
Our world is both financially bankrupt and morally bankrupt. There comes a time when a garment is beyond fixing with another patch.
Graham Mewburn

March 29th, 2009 10:37 pm GMT – Posted by Rick Carey


You state that No Government would sale drugs to kids.


You also state “if you take the adult market from criminals, they will only have kids to sell to.”

Thats not true …because the cartels who sale certain drugs illegally will be forced to obtain a license and registration from their governments thus will abide by the laws of restrictions placed on their product to maintain their business only now its legal for them to do so and they do not have to tote a gun to protect their interest in an open market! However they would see a tremendous drop in the prices of their product because in an open market there will be sane competition. You might still see a small group just selling to teens but YOU SEE THAT ALREADY…but with regulation that market would dwindle…I’d prefer a more regulated way to handle this problem.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

bilderberg group???

Posted by danny | Report as abusive

You cannot legislate morality. People are going to do drugs whether they are legal or not, and whether they are dangerous or not. The war on drugs (prohibition) is a failure and should be stopped. You cannot legislate morality.

Posted by McKockiner | Report as abusive

I’ve never been happier to read a comment board, seems like at least the people who visit Reuters actually get it.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Going on, imagine if this same column and comment board were taking place on Foxnews.com, all us rational folks would be attacked!

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Admittedly, marijuana is a joke. The worst effect of smoking pot is never accomplishing anything. But what would possibly be the use of “legal” cocaine? Heroine? Are you kidding me? These drugs are extremely harmful to the point of deadly.

Sure, smoking is bad but a pot smoker is not going to overdose on smoke for 25 to 50 years down the road. Although I hope pot smokers refrain from operating heavy machinery or driving vehicles while under the influence, for the most part, marijuanna is harmless. The right amount of heroine, taken the right way, can kill a user about as quick as cyanide.

I’m not a prude, but people that use these particular drugs, heroine and cocaine, commit real crimes against others, partiularly property crime in order to sustain a drug habit. Heroine addicts can’t care who they harm. Why would a heroine addict care? They spend too much time staring at their shoes. The only time they care is when they are withdrawing and, at that point, they only care about themselves.

Sure, alcohol is harmful and deadly, but how can we ever control that fire by adding more fuel to it? I really don’t see any compelling argument for legalizing cocaine or heroine.

Posted by chollie | Report as abusive

After prohibition failed for the same basic reasons they made alcohol and ”controlled” substance that can be consumed and taxed legally. It would be far better to make the drugs available to adults and eliminate the corruption and mafias!
Will anyone have the courage to give it a try?

Posted by Tom Westheimer | Report as abusive

How about legalizing all kinds of drugs but controlling sales. Just like spirits, no sales to minors (below age 21). What’s more, imposing “drug user insurance” requirement. Only customers with paid drug-insurance could buy drugs. That insurance would pay for claims and health costs of drug abusers. This way the hard-working, honest and drug-avoiding taxpayers would not pay a dime to those, who use drugs.
How about alcohol-user insurance, and tobacco-user insurance?
I’m a healthy, non-smoking and non-drinking man. I eat healthy diet and participate in several sport disciplines.
Why am I paying the same Medicare and health insurance premium, as any other smoking, drinking and drug-abusing lazy sick fatso????
Letting the lazy, smokers, drinkers, drug-abusers, pay more in insurance would be the best incentive for them to change their lifestyle.

BTW, campaigns to discourage smoking by making it socially unacceptable did nothing. The cancer scare did all the work.

Posted by practical-investor.com | Report as abusive

Michael Ham ,

You stated “Sure, alcohol is harmful and deadly, but how can we ever control that fire by adding more fuel to it? I really don’t see any compelling argument for legalizing cocaine or heroine.”

if there is any fuel added to the fire its already being added. Legal or not legal. With stronger drugs such as Cocaine, Meth, Heroin, etc… you make those available for free or at a low cost through health clinics thus you create a registry of those who are using these harsher drugs…and you also then have the ability to help and educate these if they so desire it, because they are no longer in the dark. This will eliminate the home making of these deadly drugs and the dangers that come with it. People are not going to pay a high price on the street for something they can get for a lower cost or free thats professionally made in a lab…Young people who are perhaps already addicted to these stronger drugs can then be helped but as it is right now with the criminal justice system handling these cases. Many of these kids could die before anyone knows they are using. Its time we look at this problem for what it really is a social health problem.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

Since most of the Mexican killings along the border, are centered in both, Juarez, and Tiajuana, it seems rather obvious that many of the drugs being smuggled into our United States, pass through these areas.

The El Paso border area, across from Juarez, was recently reinforced with a considerable amount of fence, which undoubtedly put additional pressure on the cartels, making it much more difficult to smuggle drugs in this area, by limiting the number of remaining drug routes available.

El Paso Border Patrol Sector Apprehensions—Length 268 miles

01-29-09 In the El Paso sector, crews finished 79 miles of the planned 81 miles of “vehicle fencing,” usually concrete or metal barriers that were mostly installed in the flat New Mexico desert west of El Paso, Cordero said. The 15- to 18-foot tall metal “pedestrian fencing” needs about 11 miles to reach the planned 56 miles in the El Paso region.

At least part of the answer to continued smuggling attempts has to be more fence.

Less than 400 miles of pedestrian fence have been built, in lieu of the legislated, and promised, 800 milles of double-layered fence.

Keep Building The Fence!! It Works!!

Posted by Buzzm1 | Report as abusive

Alcohol killed my father and a good friend from high school. Cigarettes killed my mother, my aunt and my uncle.

Nobody I know has been killed by drugs. Time to end the prohibition. Most of us will not use drugs. Those who do, much like alcoholics, need medical help.

John Berry, your call to cut off the fingers and toes of drug users, that is truly evil. Seek psychological help and pray to God for forgiveness for your vile and violent thoughts. God bless you.

Posted by Chazzzz | Report as abusive

buzz, they tried a wall in Germany and it didn’t work. Build a wall and the suppliers will find another way.

The business is just too profitable. Bitter laugh, the drug industry is probably the last profitable industry in our crashing banana republic.

You ever been to a pumpkin chunkin contest? Build a wall and they’ll just toss the drugs over the boarder with trebuchets.

Posted by Chazzzz | Report as abusive


Legalizing these drugs won’t make them cheap if you tax them, which is what I’m advocating for. When I was in high school and even middle school I could’ve smoked weed everyday and done a line of cocaine if I wanted to, all for free cuz my classmates had it.

I’m 23 and if you older parents aren’t aware that’s the situation your kids are in. I didn’t go to an inner city school, just a normal size somewhat rural school.

Even though I don’t trust this government, I’d rather they control the prices than drug dealers and I’d rather have them determine the availability to minors.

Heroine is a terrible drug, none of us anti-drug war people are denying that. But it’s going to be available whether we waste money or not on drug war spending so we may as well save the money or at least spend it on putting these people in clinics where they can become healthy members of society rather than throwing them all in jail cells and waiting for them to get out and do the same thing all over again.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

News reports show that an amazingly high proportion of teenagers say they could easily obtain drugs, even some of the most dangerous. But in general they don’t, because they’re not that stupid.

The only possible justification for prohibition is to prevent innocent non-users from taking up addictive drugs. A certain number do anyway, despite prohibition. The number probably wouldn’t rise much after legalization and might fall, since a large number of pushers now have an economic interest in enticing new users.

And the economic cost of free, no-questions treatment is trivial compared with the strategy of prosecution.

Posted by Rob Spooner | Report as abusive

As a recovering alcoholic (30 years straight) I would suggest all countries treat drug addiction as a health problem… when an addict ‘needs’ their fix .. they will get it… legalize it; tax it; put it in the medical professions hand so the addict can get counseling along with the drugs they need… take the profit out of the ‘trade’ and the ‘war on drugs’ will cease to exist… and we may go a long way towards eliminating our national debt.

Posted by lee L. | Report as abusive

I think Jefferson noted rather dramatically that the price of freedom is vigilance. I take that to mean that whatever we wan tto be free from will require us to be on-guard against it so long as it exist. As a society we have chosen to be free-from-drugs, whatever that means, whether we can afford to be isn’t just the price of vigialnce but the opportunity cost, or in this case the contingent liability represented by some form of legalized consumption of now illicit drugs. The best historical example I can point out is the Opium Wars between Britain and the Qing Dynasty in China (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_War if you want more detail.) For Britain read Drug Cartels and Qing Dynasty read USA…when you consider the consequences there’s a lot more at stake than the money to maintain vigilance.

Posted by Stanley | Report as abusive

Seems to be 3 Major Drug Cartels fighting it out in Mexico..The Columbian Cartel , the Mexican Cartel & the Mexican ”POLICE” Cartel. All want total control…and the U.S.A. gives money to the Mexican Police Cartel…what are they thinking???

Posted by GGREENWOOD4 | Report as abusive

the dark days of prohibition must come to an absolute end. prohibition didn’t work in the early 20th century, it’s not working today, and it *never* will work in the future. the very notion of prohibition is draconian, oppressive and intrinsically flawed; the ridiculous polices that have resulted from it have only created more social problems by marginalizing & persecuting casual users, punishing & prosecuting addicts & abusers and has lead to increased poverty & crime rates across the board, plus increased health care costs due to disease transmission… on and on and on.

moreover, prohibition has undermined the formal economy – while the underground economy is flourishing, simply because our government(s) have essentially hand-delivered the illicit drug trade on a silver platter to organized crime bosses and the brutal & lawless drug cartels – simply *because* of our government’s senseless prohibitionist policies and its futile war on drugs… which, if you think about it, is really a war on everyday people, and it’s viciously cruel, brutal & uncivilized and ultimately, destructive to social order.

we must shift our focus from the insanely expensive policies of prohibition & punishment to a health-oriented, harm reduction approach to drug use. we need a system that provides treatment, counselling & support services for *addicts* who *abuse* drugs (most people who use recreational drugs, particularly marijuana, are NOT addicts & abusers, and most ‘casual drug users’ actually lead perfectly healthy & productive lives). if you think about it for a moment, *many* of us put ‘drugs’ into our body every day, in one form or another (caffeine, alcohol, nicotene, codeine, morphine, sedatives, relaxants, anxiolytics, anti-depressants, et al… an innumerable array of psychoactive substances). society at large uses drugs, just as we have for thousands of years, and will continue to do until the end of time… that’s just life. drug use, whether prescription or recreational, is simply another facet of the human experience. while many will never use drugs, and good for them btw, it just makes no sense whatsoever to demonize and punish those who do – of their own free will – choose to use psychoactive substances.

obviously, children must be protected from early exposure to drugs, of any kind really, prescription or recreation, and that’s were government regulation comes in. but despite what fear-mongering prohibitionists like to parrot, children are NOT being targetted by ‘drug pushers’. the illicit drug trade is a multi-billion dollar BUSINESS, and its customers are ADULTS with gobs of money, not kids on playgrounds and schoolyards. of course, those with an anti-drug agenda know full well that when the public is kept afraid (of drugs or whatever), they’ll believe anything. if we truly want to get a grip on substance abuse (and not just drugs, then legalization, regulation and taxation of ALL drugs is the way forward, and the only way to get ourselves out of this asinine drug-war debacle.

a medically-based, harm reduction model would cost a mere fraction of what is currently being spent (in the hundreds of billions each year) on *failed* policies of drug prohibition & eradication – and it would actually WORK to reduce drug dependancy and associated health problems. but perhaps even more important, our prisons wouldn’t be overflowing with people who don’t belong there (which is another huge burden on the tax payer and an injustice to society overall), and crime rates would drop dramatically if drugs were simply legalized, regulated and taxed… just like we’ve learned to do with other psychoactive substances (alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and so on).

it should also be said… we can no longer allow OUR government to persecute & oppress its own people, to strip us of our inalienable rights and the sole dominion over our OWN lives, including whatever substances that we may (or may not) *choose* to put into our bodies, of our own free will.

just END the stupid war on drugs already
and look ahead to solutions that will actually *benefit* society

Posted by francis gerard | Report as abusive

There are more people clogging up our hospitals and health systems as a direct result of alcohol and tobacco use (or misuse?)than illegal drugs, yet we haven’t recently banned the use of these legal drugs. There’s simply too much government revenue at stake.
With regard to illegal drugs, prohibition has never worked and never will.
As a society we need to change our approach. Decriminalization for personal use (or misuse), as opposed to legalization, may be the next way forward. Ask any junkie if they are happy being a junkie and I’m sure there will be a resounding NO! Drug misuse is a health issue and should be treated as such. If ‘registered drug users’ were given access (supervised) to the drugs they crave at low or no cost you would prevent a lot of the crime they do to get the money for their drugs. Also, the stigma attached with having such a health problem may help them build up the courage and determination to work on overcoming their habit.
Finally, if you take the money out of the equation it simply won’t be viable for the producers and dealers of illegal drugs to carry on.

Posted by M Chambers | Report as abusive

The only succesful DEA/CIA drug task force I ever heard of from a cartel member, was the one that taught them how to process crack cocaine, from the coke they imported into ghettos all over America during the Nicaragua ‘Crisis’. Vietnam was about heroin trade gains, not godless communism. Afghanistan as the worlds biggest heroin producer, has always been in conflict for this reason. Russia pulled out because it couldnt sustain a fighting force in the face of this. Obama goes into Afghanistan, US heroin use will triple. Why? Because the government supplies the drugs not the cartels. Get rid of the government, you get rid of the drugs problem.

Posted by GWB123 | Report as abusive


I’m sorry, I got a little mixed up with who posted what…it was actually Chollie I was quoting, in my earlier post to you…

Yeah I agree with you…I however believe if they would legalize these illegal drugs…it would defeat the purpose to put high prices on it…because most who are addicted are probably broke… anyways..especially those ones that are addicted to the more harsher drugs…but of course America could dig their way out of this economic crisis by ending the costly war on drugs.

I do think there is a lot of potential income for american farmers and land owners if they could be allowed to grow and sale…marijuana, or hemp for the market …there would be plenty of opportunity for new greener businesses for sure…especially where hemp is concerned.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

It is obvious that society wants to be free from the pain and suffering, cost, and hypocrisy of prohibition. If not for the propaganda, misinformation and the fake moral outrage the prohibitionists sling, this nation would have been free of this burden when alcohol prohibition was repealed. Instead they found ways to circumvent the Constitution in order to spread their plight.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

“Admittedly, marijuana is a joke. The worst effect of smoking pot is never accomplishing anything. But what would possibly be the use of “legal” cocaine? Heroine? Are you kidding me? These drugs are extremely harmful to the point of deadly.” – Posted by chollie

Do you know what Heroin is? It was trademarked by no one else but Bayer at about the same time as their another famous drug aspirin. From 1898 through to 1910, under the name Heroin, diacetylmorphine was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant. If not for some idiots discovering it as the simple way to get high and often OD, it would still be available OTC just like aspirin. It is still in use in some countries, most notably England, as a prescription painkiller. And legitimate painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycodone also are opium derivatives just as Heroin is. Opioids have lots of uses beside pain management – it’s cough suppressant (ever thought that Robitussin – that common OTC drug – contains a small quantity of Codeine, another relative of Heroin). They’re the best sleeping aid I ever tried. When you have intestinal issues, they help when Imodium can’t. And many other uses I can’t describe accurately – I’m not a doctor, just an unfortunate regular user (prescribed Ocycodone for back pain management). I tried all of them – OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Tramadol, whatnot. And I only laugh hearing ads about Advil, Tylenol, Aleeve claiming them to be “every pain medicine”. The whole pack of Tylenol would not give as much relief as one 5mg Oxycodone pill, especially at night time when pain wouldn’t let you get asleep. And you don’t risk your liver like when you take Tylenol or other NSAIDs in large quantities.
The key is – use it, but don’t abuse it. Oh, and don’t drive under influence – it makes you too slow to react. That’s the only negative side effect I experienced in many years of use. Well, there’s always a choice – stay home or don’t take it until you’re done driving.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

if all the congress or people who think they are in charge were having their sons killed and their daughters turned into prostitutes, i bet they would come up with a solution.good luck, X drug addict

Posted by casey | Report as abusive

Every time you buy a fifth of whiskey you buy a lethal dose of alcohol. I know because a friend of mine died before the paramedics could arrive after he was dared to chug a fifth of Jack D. I have seen US servicemen die from drinking to much water trying to cleans there system of pot. Everything is “potentially” dangerous. If we outlawed everything that was “potentially” dangerous everything would be outlawed. Cars kill more people every year than heroin and cocaine combined. Most ODs occur when a user gets hold of a batch that is more pure than the last. This is one of the problems with dealing with the black market. There are no standards! These arguments are based upon Prohibitionist propaganda. It is dangerous; it is evil: it will kill all our children…Bull! Folks, the most dangerous and most debilitating drug out there is alcohol and what makes heroin and cocaine so dangerous is the War on Drugs because the worst thing that will most likely happen to a user is the government will destroy their life and throw them in prison.

Posted by B. Free | Report as abusive

It astounds me on a daily basis that, during the days of alcohol prohibition, the link between that and crime was obvious, it was in the streets.

The very same happens with the drug war, but on a global level, buy creating illict substances you create a black market, increasing crime and funding criminal organizations, you are literally making a source of money for them. they love it and ts exactly what they need.

drug use in and of itself is older than written language, and some theorize that some drugs may have taken a role in the progress of mankind itself.
you may as well try to eriadicate the english language, it would be easier.

it is wise to remember than while drug use stretches back some 100,000 years, our idea of “drug war” only goes back about 50.
harm reduction is the only sane alternative, your opinion and morality make no difference whatsoever, and forcing them through violence is a crime against humanity itself.

Posted by jeremy | Report as abusive

The following article addresses many of the points raised above. This article and related articles can be found at http://groups.google.com/group/GordonDru gAbusePrevention/

The Harm Caused to Individuals and Society by the Use of Marijuana by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.
May 26, 2009 Copyright 2009 by Paula D. Gordon. All rights reserved.

The view that marijuana is harmless or even “relatively harmless” is a view that is widely shared. That a view is widely shared does not mean that it is a sound view or that it has any basis in knowledge or fact.

Of course, the fact that marijuana is a plant that is widely available in nature has nothing to do with the potential harm that it can do if it is smoked or ingested. To assume otherwise is to engage in vague or magical thinking. It is common knowledge that there are plants and substances of all kinds that are harmful if ingested. For instance, hemlock is deadly as are some mushrooms. Smoking anything has some harmful consequences.

However widely shared a view it may be, the view that marihuana is harmless or even “relatively harmless,” it is a view that reflects a lack of knowledge concerning the immediate and the short term and long term effects of marijuana. It is also a view that reflects a lack of knowledge of the less widely recognized effects of marijuana use of contact highs and flashbacks (spontaneous recurrence of a drug high without using the substance at the time of the recurrence.) Similarly, the view reflects a lack of awareness of the civil liberties implications of being subject to contact highs and other effects as a result of being in the proximity of those who are using marijuana. Certainly, a rational public policy needs to be based on such a knowledge base.

One way I try to determine what the knowledge base might be of a person who seems unaware of the harmful effects of marijuana is to pose these questions:

• Do you know of research that shows that the use of marijuana can negatively affect motivation, long and short term memory, concentration, judgment, reasoning, and common sense?

• Do you know of the research of Harris Isbell and others who found that there can be idiosyncratic psychotomimetic (psychosis-like) effects from the administration of delta 9 THC in human subjects? (Delta 9 THC is the active principle of marijuana.)

• Do you know of the research findings that marijuana smoke can be inhaled by bystanders who then can experience marijuana highs and idiosyncratic effects?

• Do you know of the research in humans and animals showing the deleterious changes in lung tissue as a result of exposure to marijuana smoke?

• Do you know that contact high and flashback effects can occur as a result of the use of marijuana and do you think that the occurrence of such effects can have any negative consequences?

• Do you see any deleterious impacts to the civil liberties of others, including children, the elderly, mentally impaired, and other sensitive individuals, when they are unwillingly or unwittingly subjected to marijuana smoke or contact highs?

For further references and discussion of the effects mentioned here, see the articles and reports at http://groups.google.com/group/GordonDru gAbusePrevention/ or contact me at pgordon@erols.com .

With regard to the policies that are needed when it comes to psychoactive, mind altering substances, I believe that there should be an increasing emphasis on effective diversion programs (including drug court programs) and early intervention with judicial backup but no record if successful re-education and treatment are completed. Such approaches need to go on hand in hand with a massive prevention-education effort aimed at helping dissuade users from using a substance that has such negative effects on the mental, psychological, and physical health of users and on the health and functioning of those in their proximity, as well as on the overall well being of society.

After the conclusions of the deliberations in Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin was asked later by a woman what kind of a government the new nation had. He is said to have replied: “A republic Madame, if we can keep it.” A new question: If we sanction or tacitly encourage the recreational and/or chronic use of psychoactive, mind-altering drugs, including marijuana, and if we do not actively discourage their use, can we still keep our republic? I think not, since keeping our republic depends on an educated and informed psychologically and mentally healthy and stable citizenry who value the common good and who are capable of bring sound reasoning, good judgment, the exercise of common sense, and understanding to bear on recognizing and addressing exceedingly complex and challenging problems and threats that are currently looming before us.

Answers to the six earlier questions can clearly reflect a very different set of values and assumptions concerning what kind of nation we want America to be, and what kind of nation and what kind of world we want to pass on to the future generations. The answers can also reveal very different knowledge bases concerning the effects of psychoactive, mind-altering drugs and very different perspectives on what constitutes mental and psychological health and what the value of mental and psychological health is. From my vantage point, playing Russian Roulette with anyone’s mental and psychological health is simply not a smart thing to do. Turning any part or all of the United States into an Amsterdam or letting it evolve into an Amsterdam would seriously undermine our capacity to realize the promise of America and, from my perspective, it would throw to the winds the great gifts that the Founding Fathers bequeathed to us and entrusted to our keeping, the same gifts that following generations have fought and are fighting to keep.


Posted by Paula Gordon | Report as abusive

A good overview of the situation with marijuana.

Posted by StopSmokerMen | Report as abusive

[…] Read what others say…   What say you?   Bill […]

Posted by Legalize Drugs? &laquo; Mall 50 Blog | Report as abusive

Logic and reason are concepts Americans have not warmed up to in over 50 years. Clearly common sense is not very common. As long as public policy is debated from the stand point of dogma and other preconceived notions, working solutions to mitigate the ills that drug use visits upon society will elude us.

Thomas Jefferson stated the sole legitimate function of government is to intercede where the the actions of one party or individual interferes with another party or parties exercise of their inalienable rights. Nothing more.

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[…] the parlance of law enforcement, the term “balloon effect” resonated throughout the late 20th and early 21st […]

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