In drug war, the beginning of the end?

By Bernd Debusmann
August 20, 2010

MEXICO/

Between 1971, when Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs, and 2008, the latest year for which official figures are available, American law enforcement officials made more than 40 million drug arrests. That number roughly equals the population of California, or of the 33 biggest U.S. cities.

Forty million arrests speak volumes about America’s longest war, which was meant to throttle drug production at home and abroad, cut supplies across the borders, and keep people from using drugs. The marathon effort has boosted the prison industry but failed so obviously to meet its objectives that there is a growing chorus of calls for the legalization of illicit drugs.

In the United States, that brings together odd bedfellows. Libertarians in the tea party movement, for example, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of former police officers, narcotics agents, judges and prosecutors who favor legalizing all drugs, not only marijuana, the world’s most widely-used illicit drug.

In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon has proposed a debate on the legalization of drugs – an implicit admission that the war he launched against his country’s drug cartels in 2006 cannot be won by force alone. (The death toll has just risen above 28,000 and keeps climbing). Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, followed up by declaring that since prohibition strategies had failed, Mexico should consider legalizing “the production, sale and distribution of drugs.”

It’s difficult to see how that could work without parallel moves in the United States, the main market for Mexican drugs, and it’s equally difficult to imagine Congress or state legislatures signing off on the regulated sale of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.

But there is growing acceptance that marijuana should be treated differently. Support for less rigid policies spans the political spectrum and has come from unexpected quarters. Sarah Palin, the darling of the American right, recently stepped into the debate on marijuana by describing its use as a “minimal problem” which should not be a priority for law enforcement.
That’s a view widely shared. Last year, a blue-ribbon panel chaired by three former Latin American presidents (Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil) published a report that rated the drug war a failure and urged governments to look into “decriminalizing” the possession of marijuana for personal use.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

“Taking all this together, there is reason to believe that we are at the beginning of the end of the drug war as we know it,” says Aaron Houston, a veteran Washington lobbyist for marijuana policy reform.

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But how many people in the late 1920s, at the height of the government’s fight against the likes of Al Capone, would have foreseen that alcohol prohibition would end in just a few years?  Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 and is now considered a failed experiment in social engineering.

Alcohol and marijuana prohibition have much in common: both in effect handed production, sales and distribution of a commodity in high demand to criminal organizations, both filled the prisons (America’s population behind bars is now the world’s largest), both diverted the resources of law enforcement, and both created millions of scoff-laws.

According to government estimates, up to 100 million Americans have tried marijuana at least once and the list of prominent citizens who admit having smoked it at one point or another is impressive. It includes President Barack Obama, his predecessor, George W. Bush, Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator John Kerry, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Vice President Al Gore. Not to forget Bill (I didn’t inhale) Clinton.

The argument for making marijuana legal is straightforward: it is thought to account for around 60 percent of the profits of international drug cartels, estimated at up to $60 billion annually. Take almost two thirds of that business away and the cartels’ power to corrupt and confront the state, as they do in Mexico, will decline sharply.

How close (or far) the United States is to an end to marijuana prohibition will become clear on November 2, when voters in California decide on a ballot initiative known as Proposition 19. Its official title, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, reflects what marijuana reform advocates around the country have long campaigned for – treat it like alcohol and tobacco.

The act would allow Californians over 21 to own, cultivate or transport up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. This is distinct from marijuana for medical purposes, which is already legal in California and 13 other states, as well as the District of Columbia.

Public opinion polls on the proposition so far give no clear picture. A yes vote would be virtually certain to hasten changes elsewhere — California is not only America’s most populous state, it also has a long track record for setting trends.


Photo caption: Mexican soldiers stand guard outside at the morgue after the arrival of the body of Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a major Mexican drug trafficker, in Guadalajara City July 30, 2010. Coronel was killed during an army operation, the government said on Thursday, marking a major coup in President Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs. REUTERS/Henry Romero

36 comments

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/

The time has come to abolish the DEA and the ONDCP.
The drug war has cost trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans in prison or probation.
More people are using illegal drugs now than when Nixon ramped up the drug war. The toll includes people like the Atlanta grandmother who was shot and killed in her own home and then the cops planted drugs.$4 million + dollars in damages were given to her family.
The time has come to end the drug war and pass legislation that makes it hard for presidents to assault Americans like this again.
Which has caused more harm? The use of drugs or the drug war?
IMHO the drug war wins hands down

Posted by cashman57 | Report as abusive

“Take almost two thirds of that business away and the cartels’ power to corrupt and confront the state, as they do in Mexico, will decline sharply.”

But why would the cartels give up so easily? Nobody willingly embraces unemployment, and it seems unreasonable to expect them to do so. They have the mechanisms in place to traffic, and traffic they will. There are plenty of much more dangerous drugs for them to traffic (see the coverage in the UK press of “Ivory Wave”) and they know how to get them to teenagers. Or maybe they’ll switch away from recreational drugs altogether. Maybe they’ll traffic people. Instead of harming their customers, they’ll be harming innocent women. Or maybe they’ll traffic fake pharmaceuticals. Then they’ll be harming entire populations.

One thing is certain. With the power and wealth they’ve tasted, they won’t go quietly. Advocates of legalisation need some credible strategy for dealing with whatever they decide to do next.

Posted by Ian_Kemmish | Report as abusive

I think the most reasonable arguement for legalizing pot (along with most other drugs) is that its illegality is a non-issue for nearly everyone when it comes time to inhale or not. People who pass do so for health or moral reasons, and people who accept do so because they want to.

I certainly agree with Ian, however, that the cartels and gangs will not suddenly go away if drugs are legalized. The prohibition era gangsters went away quietly after repeal, but prohibition only lasted 13 years. The cartels in mexico are mostly made up of 2nd (or 3rd) generation gang members. Violent, crime-filled lives are all they know.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

Do not forget that the war on drugs included the 1989 invasion of Panama by George Bush Sr., to dislodge dictator General Manuel Noriega, a close American ally, who, like Saddam Hussein, became an embarrassment for the USA. The American appetite for South American drugs has for decades been simply insatiable. The Mexican drug cartels in collaboration with the supply chain cartels of Colombia represent a textbook example of economic organization created to satisfy a bottomless market in the industrialized world (read the US and Europe). Anybody who travels to Mexico or Colombia will soon realize that the Narco-dollar has replaced the peso as their national currency. US authorities are either blind or highly incompetent as they try to deal with the laundering of this new currency or with the domestic consumption of narcotics. The very wealthy current president of Panama has been accused of being a major money launderer. The US courts treated consumption of powder cocaine (consummed by white suburbanites) as a lesser crime than the consumption of crack cocaine (consummed by poor inner city dwellers)under the convenient assumption that the powder version was less dangerous. The judges were, of course, mostly white. Just recently it has been discovered that both versions of cocaine are equally strong. Marijuana should be placed on a fast track to legalization ipso-facto, in order to release resources to either deal with the hard drugs or consider a way to also make them legal. To blame Mexico for the American drug problem is like saying that if only that gangster Al Capone had not existed, alcohol prohibition in the US would have been a great sucess. Yeah, sure.

Posted by millik | Report as abusive

Multiply 40 million times (2) or (3) becuase you can’t leave out family. They get locked up too… parents, brother’s, sister’s. It doesn’t just change one person! The Drug War re-directs livlihood’s and well beings, into a profitized system of punishment for the Prisons and shareholders. The people who use drugs recreationally, or have used run the gambit from Presidents to Popes. We’re all built to be imperfect, so anyone who believes different, must be Republican.

Posted by schmetterling | Report as abusive

The thing to legalize is the sale. Legalizing use while criminalizing sale has been the worst of mistakes, it just connects criminals to an open market.

Learn from the end of prohibition. Have the government sell drugs! Government stores, like liquor, at low price and accessible only to adults. There is nothing like a low price government monopoly to vaporize competition and the essential thing here is to eliminate any chance of it being profitable to criminals.

Of course abusive conduct (both sales and use) will be persist but with the core revenues sucked out, what remains can be properly treated as a health problem (addiction and overuse) and a small criminal element which no longer overpowers the police.

Unless we are brave enough to undercut the source, legalization is not going to be a fix.

Posted by ExLoony | Report as abusive

The war on drugs a failure?????

We have a amazing prison industrial complex in place for stripping the voting rights of a disproportionate amount of our citizens that dont share the right wing christian view on what people should do with their time and income. We have a elected body of rhetoric writers and more people in prison and law enforcement agencies than ever existed, this counry needs the war on drugs since we aren’t export driven or industrial as when the US gained its world status. Its not going away any time soon.

just a hint of sarcasm there, I’ll be watching what sort of new “crimes” the current or near future ruling body comes up with to sustain the income of former DEA, Narcotics enforcement agencies and prison faculty.

In a nutshell, a artificially sustained (taxes) war on a concept is doomed (come recession) to failure.

Posted by seeker79 | Report as abusive

If all drugs were legal and not just decriminalized then the rug would be wiped out from under the gangs…. be they Mexican, American, or otherwise. Ian you are right that they gangs will not go away willingly, but your argument that the gangs will turn to fake pharmaceuticals and human trafficing are flawed. Though only in the way that fake pharmaceuticals and human trafficing are already rampant in this world. Perhaps if the DEA was abolished the government could use the money that has been allotted the DEA to go after the people who make fake meds and who traffic human beings. That takes place in America everday… just ask that poor little girl who went over her friend’s house and was sold by the father of her “friend” to all his friends to use and abuse for the weekend.
What if we stopped the companys that are making the weapons that are being exported all around the world to gang-bangers on every continent? If the gangs have no money and guns coming in then their power would quickly dry up. If a heroin user was able to walk into a clinic and get a clean needle as well as a clean hit of heroin then my guess is that they would not be doing it on the streets and buying from the guy who gets his supply from the gangs. So we cannot just legalize marijuana, we should make all illicit drugs legal. Giving the gangs nothing to fall back on. I know people fear that drug use will increase with legalization but that is not true. Those who are going to chose to put chemicals into their body will do it whether they are allowed to or not. Most people are bright enough to stay away from dangerous drugs, whether they are they illegal heroin or the presription-legal oxycontin, also known as “hill-billy heroin” which is available in every pharmacy. And might I remind everyone that not all people who enjoy a cocktail after work are alcoholics.
In this day and age, more and more people are coming to grips with the fact that what people chose to put in their own bodies cannot be legislated. I have heard the quote that “it is always darkest before the dawn” and I belive it is an apt quote for this situation. End the war on drugs and on our citizens. The only so called benefit to the war on drugs has been the privatizing of prisons across the continent, and I do not think that the non-violent offenders that fill our prisons would agree that turning the prison system into a capitalistic enterprise was a good idea.

Posted by shameOnCorps | Report as abusive

BTW, thank you Mr. Debusmann for such a clear and concise article on legalization. I truely hope that the end is nigh and that in twenty years all will look back in wonder at the foolishness of the prohibition era. I must also give you props on being the first reporter that has made me question my distaste for Sarah Palin, which is a great feat in itself as I waas very disturbed by the “real America” statements she’s made.

Posted by shameOnCorps | Report as abusive

As a society we take too long to acknowledge the hypocrisy of our collective behavior. We have known for decades that the drug war was destroying lives; too often with minimal justification. Just as we’ve known that pot, contrary to alcohol and tobacco, has not killed anyone in over 10K years of worldwide use. Still, we’ve watched the prison population rise to unprecedented hights, a clear indication that our approach was flawed. But then somehow, in all consciousness of the facts (several government drug commission reports later) we continue to forcefully implement methods that have not worked EVER!
Today we say it’s about time! well yes indeed, what a liberating relief to come in the near future for many individuals and their families. What a waste of time for a huge list of victims. What a failure on the part of governments.
Green technology is slow to get support while we all know the planet is running out of time. Cigarettes are proven to cause cancer, they are still addictive and still widely popular. We are hypocrites.
I’m hopeful that the next generations will have more social values at heart and will be tired of our lies and failures. Wishful thinking! most likely, men will be men. God help us :-)

Posted by fito364 | Report as abusive

Nixon was advised long ago to legalize drugs by a panel of scholars he sponsored…He ignored their recommendation and declared the war on drugs. Another fine example of republicans saying one thing ( government staying out of peoples business ) and doing completely the opposite…Another fine example of their failed idiotic 17th century policies too I might add.

Posted by RayGunsmess | Report as abusive

Drewbie and Ian:
Neither of you are looking at the big picture, or you don’t understand how cartels work in order to fully understand how easily their power can be reduced through regulating drug trafficking and production. This article also does not claim the cartels will simply give up.

What the article does claim is that the cartels could loose as much as 60% of their profits, and without money they can’t buy crooked cops or pay off politicians, or hire hit men to eliminate competition. Most people involved with drug production and trafficking are not even part of the actual cartels or gangs involved. They are just hired help to do a well paying, (yet dangerous), job in a country that doesn’t offer much economic opportunities for those seeking legal work.

Cutting the drug cartels profits by 60% would dramatically reduce their ability to overpower local governments and police forces, and would have a domino effect by shifting the balance of power from their hands into the hands of government police forces.

You can make all the excuses you want for why you think this wouldn’t have a significant effect on the reduction of power by drug cartels and violent gangs, but the experts, the one’s who’s opinions matter, don’t agree with that logic.

Ian, you say that advocates of legalization “need some credible strategy for dealing with whatever they do next”, but what about the advocates of prohibition? Why aren’t you demanding answers to why this 40 year war has done nothing to curb drug use and has destabilized entire governments? The evidence for legalization as a much better method of regulating drug use is all around, as well as included in this article you didn’t appear to read thoroughly. It’s not the advocates of legalization’s fault that those supporting prohibition refuse to look at the evidence themselves.

Posted by Cali099 | Report as abusive

it would be about time.
and time to push professions lairs like Joe Cal off the
stage, so society can move on and away from this horrible
endless “war”.

Who’s Joe Cal?
it’s short for the guy who way back in the 1980′s
said Marijuana was getting much stronger, when all he was
really doing was mixing oranges and apples by comparing
the leaves of that plant that was once sold as “cans”
(an ounce for $10)for the buds or flowers of the plant that were later sold in grams for much more money.

The point being the “buds” were stronger then and the
buds and are stronger now. Nothing had changed in the
plant itself.

Lair!

But that’s not the end of it. In the 2000nds he tried
to rehash the story as if it were something new!

Lair, lair, pants onfire.

This is the kind of lies that has fueled the “drug war”
for decades.

Lies, lies, lies.

Lets do bring this tragedy to an end.

Posted by dfrogy | Report as abusive

shameOnCorps said, “Those who are going to chose to put chemicals into their body will do it whether they are allowed to or not. Most people are bright enough to stay away from dangerous drugs, whether they are they illegal heroin or the presription-legal oxycontin, also known as “hill-billy heroin” which is available in every pharmacy. And might I remind everyone that not all people who enjoy a cocktail after work are alcoholics.”

Amen.

Just to add a personal touch to this, I was one of those who DID choose to put an illegal substance in my body (marijuana) and I found it’s effects on my life were MUCH more positive than putting a legal substance in my body (alcohol). One I was able to quit in a day without withdrawals and the other I wasn’t. One played a part in my gaining 45 pounds (which I then had to lose through hard work and nutrition) and the other didn’t. One caused grogginess, anger and apathy in the morning, the other didn’t. One kept me from being at my best for my family and friends, the other helped me open up socially (and be happily involved with my family). One killed my grandfather. The other has done nothing of the sort.

We could talk of the positive effects of legalization on our society as a whole and that is something we may just have to experience for ourselves. I tend to agree with these folks here who’ve commented so far. Personally, though, I would hope people would open their eyes to the personal stories and evidence of marijuana’s benign affect on small-time, recreational users. For those naysayers out there, 15 years of smoking (on and off) without incident is proof enough for me.

Thanks to all those who stand up here and speak their opinions without buying into the outdated fear of “reefer madness.” We’ve got to be better HUMANITARIANS!

Posted by Whodathunkit | Report as abusive

The analogy drawn by the columnist between our failed attempt at alcohol prohibition and our failed attempt at marajuana prohibition provides a mighty precedent for legalizing marajuana. The circumstances are virtually identical except that marajuana is far less debilitating and poses far less health risk compared to alcohol.

To me, marajuana legalization is a no-brainer. However, I can’t accept the same rationale for serious and addictive narcotics. Enforcement of these prohibitions might be more successful if they were not encumbered by the marajuana issue.

Finally, every illegal drug user in the US should regard themselves as murderers because their demand is fueling the carnage in Mexico and elsewhere. While addiction is difficult to overcome – impossible for some – there is no excuse for being a first time user. Furthermore, entertainers who glamorize or make light of illegal drug use should regard themselves as accomplices in the destruction of peoples’ lives through addiction and as a result of drug violence. In our politically correct age, why do we tolerate this murderous behavior?

Posted by John-B | Report as abusive

The scofflaw effect cannot be minimized, at least in the U.S. I smoked marijuana for the first time as a college freshman in California. Up until that time I was a clean-cut, law abiding kid who viewed the police as a benevolent, helpful force, who, if not exactly my friend, certainly were not my enemy. That view changed almost overnight. I liked smoking pot. I preferred it to beer. All of my friends at the time got high and we hung out and laughed a lot and stayed out of trouble (mostly). But, it quickly became clear to me that the police would arrest me and throw me in jail without mercy for doing something that I viewed as a happy diversion. They were always sniffing the air when they saw a group of us go by as though they were just looking for a reason to hassle us. it got to the point that whenever I saw a police cruiser pass by I froze like an animal who spots a predator. And the longer this went on the more convinced I was that I could never go to the police for anything, even if I had a legitimate issue. I am much older now, but this mistrust of the police has never left me. There have been occasions when I should have gone to the police, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The idea of getting involved with them is still anathema to me.

Posted by IntoTheTardis | Report as abusive

This is only beginning. The drug cartels control a $40 billion per year industry and they are just getting going fighting this battle

Posted by STORYBURNthere | Report as abusive

John-B It is retarded to regard those who use illegal drugs as murders simply because someone else along the way in the production or distribution of the drug committed murder. We could probably apply that flawed logic to many other situations. Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over an expecting a different result. In spite of billions of dollars spent on law enforcement and incarcerating drug users, distributors and producers the drugs are still easily available. Like alcohol prohibition those effects are a waste of time and resources. Those that want to do drugs will those that don’t won’t. Let’s stop shooting ourselves in the foot over this issue. In this case, we are keeling down to get a better aim. Legalization would get the criminal element out of it and put your murderer logic to bed.

Posted by thisisamess | Report as abusive

Funny how something that can get you in jail one week is considered totally legal the next… If you think that’s even remotely fair, then you should back-up the legalization of marihuana.
I’m Dutch, and I’m positive – although the situation in the US isn’t 100% comparable – that legalization of soft-drugs is a good move.

Prohibiting people to smoke/eat marihuana is ridiculous, it doesn’t damage you any more (or less) than ‘accepted drugs’ like sigarettes and alcohol. Legalization also removes the stigma of users, without increasing (and I’m talking long-term) the overall use. We have the same (or lower!) usage rates than our surrounding countries. If you can get your weed at a store who is supplied and quality controlled by the government, you don’t have to go to that shady dealer around the corner, and your chances of coming into contact with harddrugs decreases dramatically.

True the drug cartels might find another way to make money, but the legalization will defenitely hurt them.

From a personal point of view, I think a government has nothing to say over me (or anybody else) about using a product that contains THC (working substance of marihuana) if it doesn’t harm me any more than products that are already available (like alcohol), NOBODY dies of pot in The Netherlands, and 4000+ people die of drinking and driving each year (not to mention alcohol intoxications). Marihuana also impairs less of your driving skill than alcohol and even fatigue, and there’s a billion reasons more you should take marihuana over alcohol.

The sooner the better.

Posted by p00n | Report as abusive

Legalise it, tax it, regulate it and educate honestly (the good and the bad) about it. However, I am slightly pessimistic because of one big sticking point, which is the perceived problem of driving high and impaired. If legalisation is successful, I think the pro-pot people will have to deal with the need to accept more thorough driver/worker impairment testing, assuming an increase in the number of new people using pot. A realistically calibrated test of driver/worker impairment would be welcome, because nearly all current drug testing for pot is driven by zero tolerance, which is bunkham.

Posted by Foztah | Report as abusive

Didn’t prohibition end with the great Depression? They had to do something to ease the pain and the boredom. Government at all levels must have had budget problems as well.

Of course, a frustrated, irritable, and angry population is far easier to aim at an enemy – any enemy – than one that is on some form of soma. Hitler, with his tea total ways, knew that. Roosevelt and Churchill, especially Churchill were lushes. Churchill used to leave empty bottles under his bed when he visited the White House.

In my neighborhood the drugs of choice are beer, wine or grass. The state sells the beer and wine and has a monopoly on the liquor business. We’re too old to party like idiot teens and it tends to make for easy discussions. Nothing more. And the older I get the less I need of anything to relax and feel at ease.

The over drinkers tend to get more aggressive and start to bicker or start to act like fools. The over smokers tend to get withdrawn or just go to sleep. Perhaps the smokers tend to talk too much or say too much. But we tend to be able to talk about just about anything without coming to violent disagreement. With experience, one can actually remember the discussion the next day. I’m not at all sure that is the case with the drunks.

And I agree with the comments that suggest legalized and low cost drugs will take the profit incentive out of bootlegging. But I don’t get the connection between legalized drugs and human trafficking? The human trafficking and sex slave trade is going on largely in the S.E. Asian countries, the Eastern European countries and the Islamic North African countries – so I’ve read in UN news digests. They all tend to have officially rigid attitudes about drugs and drink (expect perhaps the Middle European countries). The Russians apparently live on Vodka. Ouch.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

we are ready for this one. this will save huge pile s of federal money that can help with bigger problems.

Posted by vinster888 | Report as abusive

Dangerous drugs are unfortunately very legal through Doctor prescriptions. Pharmaceutical companies are pushing drugs onto Doctors and the Doctors are either pushing them onto patients or patients have seen them advertised and want to try them for whatever they think ails them. These drugs are being fully tested by the guinea pig patients until they are found to be dangerous or very dangerous and then pulled from the market.
Most drugs that can be grown from natural plants are well known and have been used for centuries. Many of these drugs have understood side effects and are relatively well tolerated by the majority. Some of these natural drugs are very harmful and they are known to be. Many of these very old drugs have been used and found to be safe until they are manipulated in a laboratory. I am actually all for scientific research and it has been very beneficial for humans in so many ways.
The incredible destruction brought about by The War On Drugs is very difficult to fathom. So many promising college students caught using or selling marijuana whose lives are forever changed detrimentally. The promise of so many young people and the contributions that they could have made to society. The hard workers that don’t qualify for jobs or lose jobs because of a War on Drugs. No wonder USA finds it can barely compete in an ever more competitive world. It is time to make marijuana use legal.

Posted by napaeric | Report as abusive

Our government has lied to us for over 70 years about the effects of marijuana contrary to medical research. They did this deliberately to make rich men even richer at the expense of the rest of us.

Nixon threw out the Shaffer report because it didn’t support his “war on drugs”. Even today, some people still believe smoking pot is a moral issue.

As far as I can tell the only immoral thing related to pot is the government lying to the public about its effects, and using it as an excuse to circumvent our rights.

It is time to hold the government accountable for its actions and its inaction.

Posted by Get_a_Clue | Report as abusive

@paintcan
There is no connection between legalising drugs and human trafficking. Ian_Kemish, the second commenter theorised that if marijuana was legalised the drug cartels/gangs would switch to trafficking not only hard drugs and fake medications but also people. I brought his theory up in my post to point out that human trafficking (and his other fears) already take place everyday in our world. :)

Posted by shameOnCorps | Report as abusive

@John_B

You wrote “To me, marajuana legalization is a no-brainer. However, I can’t accept the same rationale for serious and addictive narcotics. Enforcement of these prohibitions might be more successful if they were not encumbered by the marajuana issue.

Finally, every illegal drug user in the US should regard themselves as murderers because their demand is fueling the carnage in Mexico and elsewhere.”

I believe that prohibition has made a mess of many people lives with the lies that have been spread. The government has used propaganda on its citizens for years without realising the effect that propaganda could have. As a school child growing up with the DARE campaign I was taught that all drugs were equally as bad and that all drugs would turn me insane and destroy my life. Imagine my shock when just before my twentieth birthday I tried marijuana and did not go insane, but instead had a fun evening that did not come attached to a hang-over the next day. Thinking back to my DARE days I was upset that I had been lied to. I no longer believed the propaganda about any of the drugs, not just marijuana. Lucky for me, the university I was attending had a wide range of drug fuelled cliches, so I could see the effect that cocaine and other chemical drugs had on people’s lives without trying them myself.
The point I am trying to make is that by telling people that marijuana is on par with heroin, once people find out the marijuana tales are lies then some people think that all the information put out about chemical drugs are also lies. People then think that these drugs are not dangerous the way they are portrayed to be. Many Chemicals are highly addictive and change the brain after just one use, and should never have been lumped in with cannabis, a non-addictive plant.
Because these chemical drugs can be so dangerous I believe that they should not be made and sold on the streets. That is how chemicals become even more dangerous. If they were made legally and distributed to legal clinics where addicts could go to take care of their addiction then I believe the accessibility of these drugs to anyone other then addicts would be nil. As it stands with prohibition, the crack dealer in the sub-burbs usually has no qualms about selling to anyone vaguely interested, including children.
As to your oppinion about illegal drug users being murderers; I have to ask you who made these drugs illegal and put many prized commodities into the hands of criminal elements? It was not the citizens or the druggies of America my friend, it was a small group of men in the government who pushed through their prohibition agenda to further their own business dealings. Our government made Mexico’s and Canada’s beds as hotspots for gang activity and drug trafficking by trying to legislate people’s personal choices. In doing so we made trafficking very profitable and a worth while venture for anyone crazy, reckless, or desperate enough to give it a shot. Good job Uncle Sam. Henceforth, any and all who continue to support the inane “war on drugs” are the true murderers.

Posted by shameOnCorps | Report as abusive

“…marajuana is far less debilitating and poses far less health risk compared to alcohol.”

In what respect is it less debilitating/risky? And based on what consumption levels?

I’m for legalization, but statements like this are are not helpful or informative. They’re simply part of the rhetorical s**t storm that surrounds any hot political issue.

Posted by 5tudentT | Report as abusive

@5tudenT
It is less debilitating/risky in the respect that you can smoke/eat marijuana for twenty four hours a day non-stop without dropping dead. Try that with beer, wine, or straight liquor and see what happens. The very worst thing that could happen from ingesting marijuana is you could feel paranoid or anxious. On the other hand, marijuana can relieve those same problems for someone with mental health issues. It affects people in different ways, we are all unique. If you over consume cannabis the second worst thing that could happen is you fall asleep. The third worst thing that could happen with marijuana is that you attack a bag of chips or a chocolate cake with utter abandonment and perhaps complete conviction that you will not be eating during the next week.
People die directly because of alcohol everyday. Whether it be from operating machinery when intoxicated, a run in with someone who is DUI, or from alcohol poisoning. Not to mention from the alcohol fueled violent rages that some people experience. Yet I have never found an instance where a person died from marijauna consumption alone. I say marijuana consumption alone because there are many people that smoke marijuana with tobbaco, which we all know is deadly and leads to lung cancer. I am an older drinker and a toker. I do not speak rhetorically about this issue, I speak from experience. I have seen friends wind up in the hospital from booze and even from sugar, or lack thereof. Never cannabis.
God made grass, man made beer. Who do you trust? ;)

Posted by shameOnCorps | Report as abusive

The drug cartels are not going to vanish overnight, but perhaps they can take the same avenue as the bootleggers of the US Prohibition. After prohibition was repealed, many of the bootleggers went legitimate. Some went into racing, others went on to start their own multi-million dollar liquor companies. Though, they should be held accountable for the violence and death they have caused. I am sure there was gun fire and violence during alcohol prohibition, but no where on the scale of what is going on today.

Posted by crimsondrac | Report as abusive

Arresting criminals was never the problem. Locking them up in high class kennels was always the problem. I can design a workable work-out prison in a few hours. Teach, rehabilitate, have prisoners produce. If they don’t want to, then nothing personal, keep them in the kennel.

Posted by picomanning | Report as abusive

The United States of America has a great deal of catching up to do when it comes to allowing Doctors, specifically Specialists in the treatment of Pain, to freely prescribe the medications that contemporary science and medicine agree, no, insist WILL help eliminate/control/manage pain for patients who present with illnesses that will respond in the positive to their use.

The government must stop wantonly and without any nefarious information, the going into practitioners files, under the guise of “protecting people from unscrupulous misuse”
and deciding if a patient is ‘overmedicated’ according to them, and changing or eliminating medications from patients by using the power they have over that practitioners license to prescribe the “narcotics” in question.

For this reason, and this reason specifically, I believe this silly ‘War on Drugs’ must STOP!!! It has gone from attempts to stop drugs from being used illegally, to smuggling in of drugs to this “innocent bucolic” country, to now the easiest target, the need for medical use of these drugs. We have allowed a monster to be born and supported by us. Eliminate it, before damage done is irreversible.

Posted by PAIN | Report as abusive

“You can make all the excuses you want for why you think this wouldn’t have a significant effect on the reduction of power by drug cartels and violent gangs, but the experts, the one’s who’s opinions matter, don’t agree with that logic.”

Posted by Cali099

What ‘experts’ are you talking about? What field of study qualifies such a position? How do you know I don’t have such a background, and that my opinion doesn’t matter?

Besides, I never disagreed with your ‘experts’, except perhaps in timescale. Legalization won’t bring them down in a day, a year, or even a decade. Due to the duration of the war, this isn’t a job for them. It’s a lifestyle, handed down to them by their parents. They don’t need funding to hire “hitmen.” They are hitmen.

Right now they have money and guns. Legalize, and they have guns, but no money. I’m sure they’ll figure out ways to use what they’ve got to get what they want.

Again, I agreed with the article and your ‘experts’ – leagalization is the way to go. But we need to be prepared for the side effects.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

Create legal channels for marijuana usage and you will end its role as a gateway drug to harder stuff. Plus, as a legal product it will undoubtedly be a leading job creation engine over the next 25 to 50 years. Best of all, we could airlift it into Gaza, North Korea, and other international hot spots and it would probably mellow everyone out and prevent a war or two. . .

Posted by JeffHBCA | Report as abusive

shameOnCorps

You could drink water for twenty four hours straight and that would kill you too. Your argument… holds no water.

“God made grass…” Your religious inclinations seem to have messed up your ability to reason. Or maybe it’s the grass.

Or maybe the smiley at the end means it’s all tongue in cheek. In that case, very amusing.

Posted by 5tudentT | Report as abusive

There can be no doubt that the war against drugs was lost long ago. That point came when the risk to society of making drugs illegal was outweighed by the benefits society would gain by making them legal. Certainly, the risk to society of making drugs illegal in terms of violence, supporting organized crime, costing billions to imprison users and dealers, making criminals out of many ordinary Americans, who did nothing but attempt to enjoy the freedom of using the substance of their choice in situations that presented no risk of harm to others, and the cost of lost productivity from Americans, who cannot find jobs they’re very capable of doing because of a drug conviction far outweighs the benefits of legalization, i.e., the tax revenue to be gained by taxing the sales of drugs, the billions saved in freeing up most prison space that could then be used to imprison criminals who commit crimes against the person and/or property of others (these crimes cost Americans a huge sum of money and more with the loss of life, etc.), the production that could be gained from Americans, who lose control of their ability to use drugs reasonably, through rehabilitation and treatment, and regaining the freedom we’ve always claimed to have but hypocritically take away (the legalization of alcohol and tobacco being a good example of this hypocrisy). For me, that should be the end of the discussion based on good, common sense. The conclusion – legalize all drugs.

Posted by caliguy55 | Report as abusive

CORRECTION

There can be no doubt that the war against drugs was lost long ago. That point came when the risk to society of making drugs illegal was outweighed by the benefits society would gain by making them legal. Certainly, the risk to society of making drugs illegal in terms of violence, supporting organized crime, costing billions to imprison users and dealers, making criminals out of many ordinary Americans, who did nothing but attempt to enjoy the freedom of using the substance of their choice in situations that presented no risk of harm to others, and the cost of lost productivity from Americans, who cannot find jobs they’re very capable of doing because of a drug conviction is far outweighed by the benefits of legalization, i.e., the tax revenue to be gained by taxing the sales of drugs, the billions saved in freeing up most prison space that could then be used to imprison criminals who commit crimes against the person and/or property of others (these crimes cost Americans a huge sum of money and more with the loss of life, etc.), the production that could be gained from Americans, who lose control of their ability to use drugs reasonably, through rehabilitation and treatment, and regaining the freedom we’ve always claimed to have but hypocritically take away (the legalization of alcohol and tobacco being a good example of this hypocrisy). For me, that should be the end of the discussion based on good, common sense. The conclusion – legalize all drugs.

Posted by caliguy55 | Report as abusive