Fresh thinking on the war on drugs?

By Bernd Debusmann
September 3, 2009

Bernd Debusmann- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -There are times when silence can be as eloquent as words. Take the case of Washington’s reaction to announcements, in quick succession, from Mexico and Argentina of changes in their drug policies that run counter to America’s own rigidly prohibitionist federal laws. No U.S. expressions of dismay or alarm.Contrast that with three years ago, when Mexico was close to enacting timid reforms almost identical to those that became effective on August 21. In 2006, shouts of shock and horror from the administration of George W. Bush reached such a pitch that the then Mexican president, Vicente Fox, abruptly vetoed a bill his own party had written and he had supported.What has changed? Was it a matter of something happening in August, when most of official Washington is on holiday? Or was it a sign of greater American readiness to rethink a war on drugs that has, in almost four decades, failed to curb production and stifle consumption of illicit drugs? And that despite law enforcement efforts that resulted in an average of around 4,700 arrests for drug offences every single day since the beginning of the millennium. (Just under 40 percent of those arrests are for possession of marijuana).Or was it a matter of more countries realising that, as drug reform advocate Ethan Nadelmann puts it, “looking to the United States as a role model for drug control is like looking to apartheid-era South Africa for how to deal with race.” Nadelmann heads the Drug Policy Alliance, one of several groups lobbying for reform of U.S. drug policies.Under the Mexican law that took effect in August, it is legal to possess small, precisely specified amounts, for personal use, of  marijuana, heroin, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD. In Argentina, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional criminal sanctions for the possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal use. The ruling opened the door to legislation similar to Mexico’s.Brazil decriminalised drug possession in 2006; Ecuador is likely to follow suit this year. In much of Europe, drug use (as opposed to drug trafficking) is treated as an administrative offence rather than a criminal act. America’s hard-line approach has helped to make the United States the country with the world’s largest prison population.Advocates of more flexible policies say they feel the winds of change beginning to rise in the administration of  Barack Obama, a president who has admitted that in his youth, he smoked marijuana frequently and used “a little blow”(of cocaine) when he could afford it. But hopes for a break from long-standing orthodoxy might be premature, even though a recent Zogby poll showed 52 percent support for treating marijuana as a legal, taxed and regulated drug.AMSTERDAM’S SCHIZOPHRENIC PRAGMATISM “As regards to legalization, it is not in the president’s vocabulary and it is not in mine,” Obama’s drug czar, former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske said in July. “Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefits.”Oddly, he made the statement in California, where an estimated 250,000 people can legally buy marijuana with a letter of recommendation from their physician. The drug is used for a variety of illnesses, from chronic pain to insomnia and depression. There is extensive academic literature on the medical benefits of marijuana.Medical opinion, however, conflicts with the congressionally-mandated job description Kerlikowske inherited when he took up the post. It says that the director of the Office of National Drug Policy, the White House group in charge of drug war strategy, must “oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act.”Schedule I of the act, which took force in 1970 during the administration of Richard Nixon, the president who formally declared “war on drugs”, places marijuana alongside powerfully addictive drugs such as heroin. The wrong-headed classification matches that of an international treaty, the 1961 United Nations Single Convention of Narcotics Drugs. The convention is a major obstacle for signatory countries that want to legalize drugs.No country has actually done that. Even the Netherlands, the Mecca of marijuana aficionados, operates on a system best described as schizophrenic pragmatism. Amsterdam’s “coffee shops” are allowed to have 500 grams of marijuana on the premises and sell no more than 5 grams per person to people over 18. The runners who re-supply the shops routinely carry more than the legal quantity and violate the law. So do importers.While the failure of the drug war and the prohibitionist ideology that drives it have been analysed in great detail in scores of sober assessments by academics and government commissions, there have been few studies of the “how to” of legalization. What, for example, would happen to the criminal mafias that are now running a violent illicit business with a turnover estimated at more than $300 billion a year?Some drug traffickers would switch to other criminal activities and it is realistic to expect increases in such areas as cyber crime and extortion, according to Steve Rolles, Head of Research of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, a British think tank. “But the big picture will undoubtedly show a significant net fall in overall criminal activity in the longer term,” he said in an interview. “Getting rid of illegal drug markets is about reducing opportunities for crime.”Rolles is author of the optimistically titled “After the war on drugs: Blueprint for Regulation,” a book scheduled for publication in November and meant to kickstart a debate on what he sees as something of a blank slate – the specifics of regulation for currently illegal drugs.On a global scale, nothing much can happen unless there are changes in the world’s largest and most lucrative market for drugs, the United States. If they happen, they won’t happen fast. “I see this as a multi-generational effort, with incremental changes,” said Nadelmann, who has been involved in drug policy since he taught at Princeton University in the late 1980s. “But for the first time, I feel I have the wind in my back and not in my face.”(You can contact the author at


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They should just give hopeless addicts a prescription for their drugs and let them work at MacDonalds to pay for it all. That way there would be no illegal drug industry working hard to addict the next generation. As to marijuana, it should be legal to grow and to give away, or to buy with a prescription, but no mass marketing industry should be allowed to form around it.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

While the US has a military presence in Afganistan, the opportunity to erradicate the opium fields there should not be squandered. This scourge of humanity can now be crippled. Maybe it will begin anew after our mission is completed but so many slaves could be freed long enough to get a second chance in life. Make no mistake, these plants are yet another avenue to corrupt our youth, our commerce and is truly a clear and present danger. Whatever is spent will pale in comparison to the price we pay already. We need to act in our own interests. now.

Posted by Burnerjack | Report as abusive

The government will never win the war on drugs because it is not a war against drugs at all – you cannot wage war against inanimate objects – it is a war against people – the people that use drugs. The government will never win through its bully tactics of intimidation and coercion because people will simply continue to do as they please regardless of what some trumped up “Drug Czar” says. This war on people has only served to criminalize otherwise peaceful citizens, create a trade vacuum that was promptly filled by violent and bloodthirsty mobsters instead of peaceful proprietors, and pointlessly waste military and diplomatic capital on entangling and convoluted Latin American foreign policies. The government must at some point come to terms with its second prohibition failure and finally realize that the enormous human and monetary costs of this ridiculous policy have vastly outweighed any perceived benefit.

Posted by matthew | Report as abusive

As a person with contemporarily defined “dis-order”ADHD who has experienced “it” for a lifetime, the frustration can be literally disableing at times. Although by no means stupid, I seem slow to some oraloof and off-track which has caused me social wreckageas well as occupational detrement. In the past, potuse eased the full-time burden of (catching up) or getting up to speed as some of you out there may know. Pot was instrumental in helping me put others to ease as well as myself and put my mental books in alphabetical order. Adderall is great, but balance is better. Enoughis “enough” when the desired effects are aquired, notlike alcohol which is a death sentence for me. Let’s go.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

No “fresh thinking” is needed – just some old fashion thinking from the time when George Washington farmed hemp. It’s this: Government has no business telling adults what they may eat, drink, smoke, or otherwise ingest. Neither does it have any business telling adults what substances they may buy and sell.Thomas Jefferson would be outraged to know that the Commerce Clause is routinely used to justify control of completely private and personal behavior.

Posted by Jive Dadson | Report as abusive

thinker: tee, hee, hee, hee. Of course we all know that it’s the same kind of wrong to pick up a penny found on the ground (‘cus you know -it’s kinda like stealing), as it is to murder someone; wrong is just wrong. Any thinking person is clearly aware of this.the Shah: not being facetious in your case, but there is actually one use for alcohol that I do know of. When someone ingests methanol (wood alcohol, bad moonshine), ethanol (grain alcohol, vodka) is infused intravenously as an antidote. But yeah, for any primary sort of illness, not so much.

Ok, Mr. Ham, yes I take it back. I must have inhaled.Mr. Jared: Who says they’re not?Mr. Scott. HE also gave us poison ivy, you roll in some lately? Leave God out of this. If there were not a “Law” you would not know what is wrong and what is right.Don’t the police upold HIS Law?Try to steal, perjur, and murder, won’t they lock you up?But of course, you’ve been tokin so much you have breakfast with Gabriel.Say hello to Carlos Castaneda and Elvis.

Posted by Napoleon | Report as abusive

I believe that Obama wants to do something about this, and I hope he does it soon. Because once he does not pass his health care package (which he is not going to do) and when the Afghan war spirals down the toilet (which it is destined to do) he will find himself, as so many Democrats before him, unwilling to spend any political capital doing something this risky..

Posted by Josh Geller | Report as abusive

How many people do you know died from someone drinking alcohol? How many people you know have died from someone smoking pot?

Posted by Dennis S | Report as abusive

@ Michael Scott:What country in this world can you by it on the street @ 50 dollars an OUNCE?In Ireland its 50 euro per 3.5 grams, that 100 per QUARTER of an ounce! :(

Posted by Johnny Be Good | Report as abusive

John Murray – Burnerjack (or who ever you really are)The Connection Between Panic and Anxiety and “Self Medicating” [website]How many pharmaceutical companies buy their base product from Afganistan farmers? And why are you aligned with the pill pushers, which have more side effects than cures? We only pay $50 an ounce to American Farmers during droughts, otherwise WE GROW OUR OWN! Smile for the cameras in England mate. The Bible Christians know who you are! Just say NO! (To taxation).

People opposed to legalization simply dont understand our own history, or economics, or reality. You cannot prohibit the mutual exchange of goods by consentual parties. If one person has an item and another wishes to buy it, a sale will occur. It doesnt matter if that item is food, gas, drugs, prostitution, alcohol, or anything else. We learned that lesson in the 20′s, but people refuse to see history repeating itself. Whens the last time you saw gangsters in the street gunning each other down over whiskey distribution? When the law tries to interfere with commerce, violence ensues. Legalize, regulate, and tax it. Its NOT going to go away, so stop spending money trying to stop it, and start figuring out how to profit from it.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

Or for that matter, how many people drank too much and had a car accident. I know of none who smoked marijuana and did any such thing.You might end up eating a whole box of Twinkies however ! This whole illegal American policy on soft drugs is nothing but a farce to illegally line the pockets of corrupt government officials at the expence of innocent citizens trying to take a little break not to mention overcrowding the prisons where the real criminals should be.

Posted by laurence | Report as abusive

It should be a crime against Democracy to arrest and Jail individuals for Laws no Longer supported. I hope down the road we can take all the politicians who knowingly ignored the will of the voters to court.

Posted by todd | Report as abusive

Napoleon I hope the day comes that you realize not everyone who’s pro-freedoms are big potheads. I’ve never smoked weed in my life, never will, I hate the smell of it. I just don’t like the idea of government being so powerful they can regulate what plants grow in your yard or what type of air it is you breath in.Here’s some points that have always amazed me.1.) People who call themselves “fiscal conservatives” are the ones saying the trillions we’ve spent on the War on Drugs isn’t enough.2.) The people who say they want “limited government” are the ones who want government to control what natural plants you buy, what you grow, what you breath in, what your doctor prescribes to you, etc. It’s amazing.3.) The people who say they’re big on “personal liberties” want personal things you do in the liberty of your own home regulated.What’s going on here?

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

I believe many politicians are making money from pharmecutical companies that want marijuana illegal. Those companies know how good marijuana is, but want to keep their profits high, no pun intended.This is about the greed of American politicians. On the upside though, many more people are speaking out in favor of legalizing marijuana. Those same politicians can’t hang on anymore. It’s like herding cats or putting the genie back in the bottle.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Call in VOTE for Medical Cannabis973-409-3274Call, listen, and press #One million votes and demandletter goes to ObamaDownload Florida petition at: ort – Police Against Prohibition

Posted by scottportraits | Report as abusive

It is simple really – D is for Drugs – D is for Death – D is for don’t do it…..end of….

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

Yes, but Larry, this is not about whether one should or shouldn’t use drugs. D is also for Disastrous unintended consequences – and if one wishes to avoid death as long as possible, one should also avoid alcohol, driving a car, eating fatty foods skiing and any number of other recreational activities that are fun but carry a small element of risk, and which nobody thinks it would be productive to make it a criminal offense to indulge in. The disastrous unintended consequences of prohibition also include death – really quite a lot of death if you look at the murder rates in Mexico, Columbia, Afghanistan… would you really say to the family of someone killed in the crossfire of a fight between drug-trafficking gangs who (exist only because of prohibition) that their death was worth paying?

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Rocky, you suggest that a “Truth Commission” be established and that thinking is a first step. Along this thought process, a website ( has been established to encourage a debate on Drug Prohibition and to create a new drug policy online.

Posted by Jim Hilsenteger | Report as abusive

War on Drugs its a big JOKE. WHY?? You get a person on trail for selling and it goes on for years and they are on bail doing the same thing to pay the lawyer to fine loop-holes.Just like driving D.U.I.They post a bond go in front of the Judge get a fine walk out don’t pay the fine can’t Drive for 6 months and BINGO in front of the Judge again now they post bond pay a lawyer receive a letter stating you are unable to drive until 2011. I know a person that the date has been push up to the year 2019 his son will be driving before the father.SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE TO PROTECT OUR KIDS WALKING TO AND FROM SCHOOL.

Posted by Jacklou59 | Report as abusive

Ya know, I keep hearing about job losses, unemployment and closing businesses doors, but one set of doors you don’t see closing is bars. Even the folks that have lost their jobs stop in for a beer or six. So, imagine if there were an Amsterdam style coffee shop on the way from the unemployment office. Stop in, toke up a doobie and head on to the house. We have just doubled the size of the intoxication business. We’ve just created more jobs. This country’s un and underemployment rate is 16.8. That’s a heap of people. Legalize the weed and create jobs.

Posted by Freddie | Report as abusive

Look at the current legislation in America. Randomly pick any law out of the bunch, and you will see a freedom which has been restricted.To think that Americans have at any point in history had the complete liberty to do as they please is false. America has always had laws which control the community.In order for everyone to have equal protection and freedom under the law, they must all submit themselves to the laws of the nation. It is the rule of law which makes our society.So to think that the government can restrict the possesion or use of a substance is not unusual. Even substances with genuine medical applications can be subject to regulation.Marijuana is restricted by the law because of the strong correlation of mental illness and other health effects. This correlation is well established in the medical community, and is not something which can be overturned by a single study.If medical study (comprehensive study, mind you) overturns this correlation, then there will be no further reason to restrict the possession or use of marijuana. That’s just common sense.People try to put up a smokescreen by saying correlation does not equal causation. True. But all medical, scientific and business theory uses correlation as the chief way of determining relationships between variables. So to say a strong correlation should be ignored is just silly.People also try to redefine this debate by saying it is a matter of liberty, or democracy, or medical rights, or their opinion, on whether or not they choose to believe medical information which contradicts their desire to have a drug habit.But until the link presumption between marijuana and mental illness is overturned by medical study, none of these excuses will cut it.The government has the power and reasons to restrict marijuana, and so it is done.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

A lot of people argue for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.I wonder how many actually would use it for medicinal purposes?I also wonder how many would instead use it for ‘medicinal’ purposes by telling a few little fibs to their local GP. But a few lies here and there isn’t bad when you need to get high, right?The other argument being thrown around is that most legal medical drugs are available to the public, even those with a couple of nasty side effects.Of course, what the supporters of that argument fail to mention is that most of those drugs are subject to regulation and oversight. And most of these regulations, if applied to marijuana, would prevent most potheads from getting their hands on it anyway.But whatever. Those arguments arn’t supposed to stand up to scrutiny anyway. Just for preaching to the converted, who realise that the real reason is a bit hollow.

Posted by Drugbert | Report as abusive

Anon,Most people view being an alcoholic as a disease, why doesn’t government go back to prohibition to save these poor people from their disease?Anon for being such an intelligent person that you are, I’m amazed how on every single issue you have the upmost faith in government.Drugbert,How many people use alcohol or cigarrettes for medicinal purposes? ZeroPeople shouldn’t have to lie to bureaucrats to be able to smoke weed in the freedom of their own home, hurting no one. That’s the problem.Your argument is against people who only want it to be used medicinally, I’m a non-smoker and I want weed available at every grocery store/pharmacy/gas station for people to have the liberty to purchase.This debate will never go anywhere until the pro-big government crowd starts to realize that not everyone who wants to have the freedom to choose whether or not to smoke isn’t a pothead. I’ve never smoked pot in my life, but it should be legal.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

There are 2 very powerful lobbies that want to keep drugs illegal. First people within the banking lobbies realize that most of Latin America and especially Mexico and Columbia could not make their huge loan payments without the laundered proceeds from the cartels. Second, the wine and spirits lobby has pointed out to congress that the per capita consumption of alcohol in the US has been a downward slope for over 30 years. The only thing keeping these companies alive has been the population increase.SNL had the best take on the subject years ago with Eddie Murphy saying “I’m gonna bust a cap in yo ass, just as soon as I finish eating these Doritos”. Everyone knows some mean drunks but no one ever has seen a marijuana induced rampage. No wife beater beat his wife after getting high. Alcohol does more damage to society than pot ever could. The war on drugs hasn’t stopped people from self-medicating with what they choose. It has just made the drugs more expensive.

Posted by Henry in Virginia | Report as abusive

Johnny Be GoodSorry, I haven’t bought Marijuana from gangsters in years. And you are paying way too much, so you should GROW YOUR OWN! Secret: Don’t show off your plants, don’t tell your girlfriend, and don’t sell it! IF Marijuana is so dangerous, why is the company (Trichrome Technolgies) that grows for the government, growing 27% THC content, the highest (pun intended) THC content in the world?

Like I said. Americans have never had the liberty to do as they please. They have always been subjected to laws which regulate society.If people want the freedom to take Marijuana, then there needs to be proper study done over a long period, to look at links between mental addiction and mental illness.That shouldn’t be so hard, should it? If the exhaustive study is done, and no correlation found, there will be no further reason to restrict possesion and use.To all those who say “it doesn’t harm anyone” or “it isn’t addictive”, I say again that study should be done. Then your arguments will have some basis aside from opinion and isolated studies.Yet even though this solution seems easy, supporters seem strangely reluctant to go for it. Possibly because they are afraid that if the study fails, they will completely destroy their chances of success.So instead they go for the unconditional liberty angle. The gist of their argument being that even though the government restricts thousands of substances and activities, for some reason marijuana shouldn’t be.I also find it amusing that a person can spend money on drugs and directly fund crime and suffering. But even as their money leaves their very hand, they refuse to accept blame. They blame the law for the fact they commit a crime. Does that seem empty to you?This issue will never go anywhere until the pro-marijuana croud realise that this issue is about mental health and addiction.Until further study is done, no other excuses will cut it. If they think they can somehow push through decriminalisation without this medical study, they count on a popular support they do not have.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

as far as the 1961 United Nations Single Convention of Narcotics Drugs, all laws should be revised and updated with every new generation (35 years)and law enforcement persons can begin getting trained to fill the new job openings that will become available with the regulation of all recreational drugs or production, distribution and sales

Posted by Rosa Urroz | Report as abusive

Anon: you are right. There are thousands and thousands of laws as stupid as those which are described as the “War On Drugs”. The difference is that we don’t imprison 1.5% of our population for anything other than drugs.Your taste is that people not do drugs. That’s fine. If it’s important to you, pay for it. But don’t expect me to pay for your outrageous conceit that all people everywhere should be forced to live by your values.The life of a human being is an expression of his values, through his actions. To take from him the freedom to choose takes from him a vital piece of who he is. It also takes from him a vital opportunity to learn. If people are always “leanin’ on his dream”, then how is he to determine that his dream is faulty?I’ve got a suggestion for you. Mind your own damn business.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

Rich.At no time did I ever say that you, or anyone, needed to conform to my values.All I said was that society imposes laws on the individual which they must obey. America is, and has, always been that way. And not all those laws are ones you or I will agree with.What you choose to do is none of my business, I agree.But I also have a suggestion for you. If you breach a law which society chooses to impose on you, then your conduct becomes society’s business.If people want to decriminalise a drug with a known correlation with mental illness and psychological addiction, the only way they can do it is with medical study which rebuts this correlation.Now what can you possibly find offensive about that? If the study is done, there is no issues.That, or argue in court that the government doesn’t have the power to make laws regarding drugs. Just don’t expect it to work.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

All drugs used to be legal in America. At one time a 10-year-old could buy morphine and cocaine from the corner drugstore. Marijuana grew (and still grows) wild. Nobody thought anything about the elderly smoking marijuana to alleviate the aches and pains of old age. Few people ever got high or addicted; certainly not enough to cause any trouble. Drug addiction became a problem only after the government made certain drugs illegal. Addiction is now viewed as a moral and social problem rather than a health problem. If all drugs were legal, those with addictions would be more apt to come forward with their problem rather than keep it hidden. Like prostitution, as long as such behavior is illegal the black market will thrive. How many drug dealers or addicts have you heard say that they want all drugs legalized? They don’t because a drug addict doesn’t want his addiction revealed to the whole world, and the dealer doesn’t want anyone butting in on his profits. As for me, I don’t believe a government has a right to tell me what I can and cannot put into my body. Any government which can declare marijuana and cocaine illegal can also declare aspirin, cough syrup,and herbs illegal as well. Do you want your government to have that kind of power?

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive

I have always thought it was funny that the U.S.A. has the largest drug and alcohol in the world and we are the ones with the most laws and more people in prison for these crimes. When will lawmakers understand tht half the attaction to drugs and alcohol is the fact that its against the law, therefore, when kids want to defy their parents guess where they turn.I was once asked if I would rather work with people who smoked pot or drank alcohol. I choose smoking pot because if someone had a hard day and went home and smoked a joint to relax he was fine the next day at work. Those who drank alcohol to relax were either still drunk or to hung over to work.When I was overseas I seen kids going into stores to buy wine yet Europe don’t have half the problem with alcohol as the U.S.A. does. The same is true with drugs.I beleive that if pot was legal we would have fewer crack and meth heads walking around committing crimes. People choose these drugs because they can get high for a small amount of money. The different is that pot is not addicting like crack and meth is.So lawmakers need to get a clue.It’s time to update the laws.

Posted by Tina | Report as abusive

Anon–A 2005 meta analysis ( sf/resources/TR_18/$file/TR.121.PDF) of available data which evaluated several hypotheses regarding the correlation of cannabis and psychosis found that there is no support for the hypothesis that cannabis can cause cases of psychosis which would not have occurred otherwise. Marijuana studies generally yield one of two conclusions–those who favor marijuana claim it is harmless, and those who do not favor it claim it is harmful. But to suggest that yet another pointless study is needed to determine whether marijuana is safe enough for the public is asinine; life itself is inherently dangerous, as are cigarettes, alcohol, lead, cadmium, beryllium, and coal dust, all of which are legal yet proven unsafe. Your argument is misplaced.

Posted by jb | Report as abusive

JB. That study was an interesting read.Unfortunately, it had a flaw. It operated far too generally.It simply looked at total mental illness recorded, and total marijuana use recorded, and concluded that there is no apparent relation to the two figures.The study failed to account for:- not all marijuana users end up with a mental illness,- not all mental illness is diagnosed.- mental illness can be caused by a variety of causes and other drugs.- there has been improvement in mental illness treatment over the years.So it is no wonder that such a general study failed to find any relation. So it’s conclusion regarding the marijuana and the creation of mental illness is far from concrete.And regarding other theories, such as the aggravation or relapse of existing mental illness, it makes no real conclusion.Perhaps if this study looked at specific individuals, it would have been more convincing. As it stands, it is far too general to be of much use in this debate.At best, it shows how research will NOT be done regarding this issue.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

the drug trade should be legalized and tax ,etc.,the same way they did with alcohol . I f they decrimialized the drug trade then there is no ” atraction’ to be in the drug bussines.

Posted by r. salinas | Report as abusive

Anon,Literally 100′s of studies have been already published in highly-credible, peer-reviewed medical journals investigating the measurable neurobiologic effects of smoking dope.Why so many? Because the pharmaceutical industry has identified that marijuana exerts a positive reduction in anxiety mechanisms.Keep in mind that patented antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications represent a nearly $50 billion annual market. That is on the low side. And the profits are huge. Really, really huge. Even after accounting for inflated research costs, greater than 90% of the gross sales revenue of these medications is pure profit.The rate of publication has accelerated markedly. Much of it is focused upon presumed links between marijuana use and schizophrenia. The evidence of such a link, at least from my view (and that of many others who work in this field), is weak. Remarkably weak.Patented medications produce a much stronger negative effect on manic and schizophrenic symptoms. That is, giving someone a Prozac-type drug, has a much higher potential of resulting in a ‘freak-out’ than smoking marijuana or ingesting it in laboratory-grade oral preparations.My own personal belief is that marijuana is a safer and more effective means of managing depression and anxiety than anything one might get from a prescription pad.Of course, that is just my opinion.

Posted by joel taylor | Report as abusive

sounds like were between the devil and the deap blus sea, were wrong if we tolorate it and wrong if we don’t. yes we could legalize it and hopefully have less people in prison. but with this we will have other conquences, a more permissive society who will ignore morality more and crime will find other and deeper avenues of worthless endeavers to make easy money. what about government health care [and it will come sometime] who is going to pay for all the drug related health care problems which is really bad allready and will get worse.people just giveing into doing what they dam please, getting worse as it goes aloung. i say keep drugs illeagal.

Posted by louis kayser | Report as abusive

OUR DRUG LAWS WERE WRITTEN BY “CRACKERS”!!”Crackers” also “wrote” the “Jim Crow” laws that enslaved Blacks in the U.S. before, during, and long after, the U.S. Civil War. So, is there any wonder why we still have these Medieval drug laws on the books?Governments don’t like to change. They don’t like their laws to change either. Change has always come from the bottom up… when the people DEMAND it. We are going to have to DEMAND that our drug laws be changed to suit the “will of the people”. Nothing else is going to work. Change came when the Civil Rights Movement DEMANDED change. Change came to the Voting Rights Movement when women and Blacks DEMANDED a right to vote. Prohibition ended when we DEMANDED it end.Politicians usually don’t stick their neck out for change because they want to be reelected. They change “positions” when the people DEMAND change, or when they think they will be voted out of office.The bottom line for change in Marijuana drug laws is for the people to DEMAND it from their representatives in all levels of government. Only when we stop listening to their bullshit are we going to see any real change.That happened to the Republican Party in the last two elections, and it will happen to Obama if he recants on his campaign promises.Change doesn’t come easily, and simple talk has never changed anything. We have to DEMAND that Marijuana be legalized. Nothing else will work!!

Posted by AlteredStates | Report as abusive

Anon–That is exactly my point; as decriminalization invites moral, ethical, social, and political bias, few if any studies will ever prove satisfactorily conclusive, as suggested by the given example. Consequently, I am unwilling to oblige yet another study, either public or private, whose results are invariably if not obviously alloyed by supernumerary agenda. That said, I thank you for taking the time to read the study, albeit flawed.

Posted by jb | Report as abusive

I firmly believe the drug war is not winnable! Prohibition does not work. Sure, using drugs can lead to self destruction, an financial ruin, that’s life.The largest group of drug dealer’s in the U.S. today, goes by the name of doctor. Yes prescription drug abuse is a worse problem than the illegal stuff. I think drug addiction should be treated as a medical problem, instead of a criminal one.It’s time to rethink this drug war, let people choose for themselves how to live their lives.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

I used pot to cure my alcohol addiction, control my anxiety & my insomnia.For five years now I have not wanted to stick a fork in someones eye or light them on fire.For the first time ever I am living a happy normal life.It makes no sense for any government to make me a criminal because I smoke pot.Come on I 51 years old it helps me live a normal life.

People have to find their own way to make their own mistakes. If America is “the land of the free” and based on the principles of God, then it should follow his principle of freewill. People who want drugs are going to find a way to get them no matter how much money is thrown into the drug war. Look at prohiition…if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. The problem is the DEA makes so much money busting a dealer with one joint in their house and assumes that everything in that house is/are ill-gotten gains. What i do in my house is my business, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anothers persuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happines, let me pursue mine.

Posted by RC | Report as abusive

Steve Rolles almost seems like he thinks he’s doing drug users a favor. He realizes the war is ridiculous. Fair enough. But to think that some how there needs to be a procedure in place in order to “allow” people to uses drugs seems a bit dumb.Stop arresting people for it. That would be a good start. Allow producers to produce. The government doesn’t HAVE TO have it’s hand in EVERYTHING people do. It would seem reasonable that some kind of regulation should take place. But it needs to be case by case. There are some fields of endeavor for which regulation is suited. No one wants for example, to have a surgeon operating on them under the influence of any drugs.But for other areas of life where neither the safety, or general well being of another are adversely affected, there is no need for regulation.The article seems to speak to the idea that you as a person can’t just be allowed to do as you will so long as you harm no one. You aren’t mature enough for that. “They” (US govt) have to figure out how to “ease” you into it. You must remember to pay uncle Sam his cut in taxes for what he used to put you in jail for using.There need be no “regulation” of the users. There needs to be prosecution of the criminals. That is to say, those that bring violence, or take away the freedoms and choices of others to live in peace.

Join us in California by donating or volunteering for the California Cannabis Initiative who is working hard at bringing us the Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010 to the ballot box. Lets end this needless war that has drained our local, state and federal treasuries and has destroyed more families and lives than any drug itself could have ever done.To join or help the fight go to http://www.californiacannabisinitiative. orgOscar ChavezCalifornia Cannabis InitiativeSan Bernardino County Coordinator

Posted by OscarC | Report as abusive

I’d like to ask a question to everyone who’s about to post.First state your age, then answer this: What was easier for you to get in middle school and high school, marijuana or alcohol?For me it’s not even close, I went to rural school and I could’ve smoked weed everyday for free in middle school and high school if i wanted. Alcohol, never in middle school and we were lucky to have a party every 2 or 3 months where it was available.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

America has a growing and crippling problem. It is bogged down in a war which it cannot win. A social undertaking which has drained the coffers of this great nation.The war I refer to, of course, is the war against theft.How many untold billions have been wasted in combating theft? Yet as anyone can see, the amount of theft in America has only grown in the last decade. Every drop of this money has been completely wasted.Americans, from the young to the old, use theft. It is convenient, and allows us to easily satisfy our impulsive desires. It allows us a chance to increase our own personal pleasure, at the cost of other innocent people.Look at the result these laws have had on our society. We know people will steal. But now the theft of jail makes it more likely thieves will use violence to avoid being punished.All the theft-related violence and murder in the last decade is a direct result of the laws against theft. I think we can all agree that it is not the thieves that hurt these people, it is the prohibition of theft.Yet as we speak, thousands of Americans languish in jails, simply for obeying their basic nature. Does that seem fair to you? Go out into the streets and ask any thief if the law is fair. You know how they will answer.The laws against theft in this nation is splitting families. Theft harms nobody. It is essentially a victimless crime. It happens to a person we do not know, or do not care about. And that means it never happened at all.I think that all of us can agree that the laws against theft are wrong. In fact, countless criminals have been worsened by being jailed, because we took the obscene decision to punish them for breaking the law.America is supposed to be the land of the free. Instead, our liberty is being trodden on. We have the liberty to steal, and the freedom from having to consider the consequences our conduct may have on other people.Vote now America! Legalise theft and save this great nation!And no, I don’t mean government stimulus (Though it comes a damn shade close…)

Posted by Anonlogy | Report as abusive

Michael Ham, I agree completely.As Marijuana is much more easily accessable to children then alcohol, it is logical that Marijuana should be subject to stricter restriction then alcohol.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

Haha,This is why I would think everyone who’s worried about the effects of Marijuana should want it to be legalized, put the decision of who to sell to in government and store clerk’s hands rather than Drug Cartel and street thugs hands.Oh and I’m 24 by the way, so i’m sure schools are pretty much the same as when i went.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

If you were truly concerned about the possible health effects, Michael, you wouldn’t want the drug sold to anyone.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive