Free Markets, Free People

Drug Czar Wants To Banish Idea US Fighting “War On Drugs”

I don’t know if this is a bit of clever semantics or a real shift in policy, it’s just too early to tell, but if true, it may signal the beginning of a move toward sanity as it concerns drugs:

The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting “a war on drugs,” a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation’s drug issues.

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” he said. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”

But, of course, that’s precisely what a “war on drugs” has to be – a war on users, suppliers, growers, processors and the supporting network of people who get it from A to B. That’s precisely what we’ve been fighting from its inception and it is a war that’s being lost. It is time to consider the problem again and approach it with a different strategy. After all if input (I) + process(P) = output(O) and you never vary I or P, how can you expect O to ever be any different?

The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment’s role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said.

Drugs are only a “criminal justice” problem because government chose prohibition – a policy that had been tried and failed miserably decades before – over a more rational and sane approach to drug use. There is no reason that a program that is much less of a threat to all of our freedoms and liberty shouldn’t be tried in the face of the miserable failure of the “war on drugs”. Perhaps then we’d see the violence inherent in the market created by government prohibition, as well as world record incarceration rates, subside dramatically. We can do this much, much better than we’re doing now.

~McQ

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25 Responses to Drug Czar Wants To Banish Idea US Fighting “War On Drugs”

  • Paging Dr. Orwell! Orwell, Dr. Orwell! The Clown™ and His Clownettes™ are looking for you! They want to steal your language!

    • Umm…  what!?

    • Sorry, man… But that’s gotta be like the worst “paging Dr.”  joke I’ve ever seen.

      I mean, “Paging Dr. … someone wants to steal your language.”  WTF?

      That’s like oil and water, like whiskey and cottage cheese.
      That joke just literally makes me sick.

      You suck at this.

      • “You suck at this.”

        Wow. Now that was what I would call a real cutting remark.

        Did you spend all day thinking that one up? Or did your mommy do it for you?

        Yikes.

        • Did you spend all day thinking that one up?

          Uh, you could ask that about your original post. The original terminology was Orwellian, so if Obama improves things, he’d be making it less so.

  • “Mission Accomplished”?  :)

  • Bruce;

    I wonder if this isn’t something deeper on display… ‘war’ after all sounds to confrotational.
    Sorta klike Iraq became a ‘police action’, and the war on terror became whatever alphabet soup it became after Obama got ahold of it.
    I’m telling you, Freud would have a field day with these people

    • ‘war’ after all sounds to confrotational.

      Sorta klike Iraq

      Don’t you mean, “too confrontational” and “sorta like“?
      Now I’m usually not one to harp on misspelled words or typos, we’re all human and make mistakes from time to time, but with you Bithead, it’s like you don’t even care.  Perhaps you need a keyboard with large buttons like old people have for their telephones.

      …and the war on terror became whatever alphabet soup it became after Obama got ahold of it.

      You mean like the “Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism”?  In 2005?  Under the Bush administration?
      Like that?

      Aren’t you the most partisan hack ever to visit the blogoshpere?
      And this is rich,
      I wonder if this isn’t something deeper on display …

      Coming from the most shallow commenter QandO has ever seen, what do you know about, “something deeper”?

      • Did you visit the Flying Saucer today?

        • Heh.
          No, as I started work today at 4am, I finished early in the day and color had made its way to my face by high noon.  So I knew that such a civilized place as The Flying Saucer had no use for the likes of me.  And as I found myself at home only to discover my wife’s six-pack of St. Pauli Girl that she warned me not to drink (which is like asking a fish not to swim), the color was not about to fade.

          So…

          Disagree with me!  Dammit!
          As I am feeling very disagreeable.

          Cheers.

  • It’s all about HOPE & CHANGE!

  • This is a strategic shift in support of socialist medicine.  Drug use will be a whole different state rationale, now, and we will see a trade of the War on Drugs for “investment” in socialist medicine.

    In no way can I count any of it a good thing.

  • if there is a shift I suppose that is somewhat welcome, but it is a pathetic and sorry substitute for just ending prohibition.

    I suspect that it is all tied in like Beck says with socialising medicine.

  • “Drugs are only a “criminal justice” problem because government chose prohibition – a policy that had been tried and failed miserably decades before – over a more rational and sane approach to drug use.”

    I disagree.  There is no longer prohibition on alcohol but there is still a “criminal justice” factor because alcohol use figures prominently in assaults and other aggressive behaviors.  I think that meth use creates far more criminal problems than alcohol in areas of child abandonment, abuse, etc as well robbery, theft to support the unemployable user.  Of course we could just decriminalize child abuse and that would lower the crime rate.
    And don’t ever attempt to use my money to rehab them 4-5-or 6 times.

    • But alcohol, in and of itself, isn’t a “criminal justice” problem. IOW, if you use it and don’t bother anyone or violate their rights, no one is going to kick down your door and drag you off to jail for merely possessing it, are they? As I said, the prohibition choice is what threw it into being a “criminal justice” problem. Otherwise it is no different than the possession of anything else – use it responsibly, don’t violate anyone else’s rights and you shouldn’t have any “criminal justice” problems, should you?

      • There is no reason that a program that is much less of a threat to all of our freedoms and liberty shouldn’t be tried in the face of the miserable failure of the “war on drugs”.

        Take out that “should” and we get an interesting question:

        What are the reasons that a program that is much less of a threat to all of our freedoms and liberty isn’t be tried in the face of the miserable failure of the “war on drugs”?

        So Obama is trying something new, whether it’s not simply relabeling the same old and shoveling money around remains to be seen, but it’s good that there is pressure for something better. Here’s what I think the problems are:

        The anti-drug-war side hasn’t made clear what the end game is. Most people are familiar with incrementalism and assume that any single step is part of an incrementalist strategy. So you say “medical marijuana” and they hear “legalize everything and shut down the FDA.”
        People think some of their neighbors really need to be locked up, and they think drug laws do that. The biggest problem in convincing them otherwise is that career criminals will probably be so even without laws targeting drug distribution. And a lot of people really do like tough laws, prohibitions, regulations, rules and lots of government involvement in everyday life.
        Cops and prosecutors draw heavily from the above mindset, and they are a focused lobby against ending the war on drugs. This isn’t to put down cops because it means they tend to do what we voted for which is almost always a good thing, but it does mean that you should be highly skeptical of prosecutorial or police discretion when evaluating a law.
        As bad as the effects of the WoD have been, most people are completely unaffected by it and to them the damages are theoretical at best. That also means it doesn’t look like a miserable failure to most people.
        To last any length of time, you can’t have some system whereby something is technically illegal but not prosecuted.
        Points 1 and 4 are stuff we can work with, and points 2 and 3 are pretty much invariant. Point 5 is why I think there’s been 0 progress for so long. Some countries have tried to have it both ways and they seem to swing back to prohibition for one reason or another.
        Which leads me to another question: At what point will the damages accrued by the WoD push the political balance to the point where widespread legalization becomes viable?
        One downside of American resiliency is that I’m afraid we can soak up a lot of death and destruction before things change.

    • I disagree.

      Perfect.

      There is no longer prohibition on alcohol but there is still a “criminal justice” factor because alcohol use figures prominently in assaults and other aggressive behaviors.

      The prominence from alcohol that you claim only speaks to the cause, motive, or indiscretion to the crime of assault and other aggressive behavior.  It doesn’t matter if I punch you in the mouth when I’m sober, or when I’ve had a few, the crime of assault is still the same crime.  And just because I may get hammered and want to punch you in the mouth, is no reason to prohibit McQ from getting hammered and wanting to hug you. =P

      Using your logic, then you must agree with hate crimes legislation; If a white guy beats up a black guy, or vice versa, we must criminalize racism as used “prominently in assault or other aggressive behavior.”

      The act of getting smashed or high should not be the underlying crime, only real crimes that may happen stoned or sober.
      No need to bother the rest of us.

      Cheers.

    • Besides, prohibition in itself, “figures prominently in assault and other aggressive behaviour.”  Does it not?

      Think Al Capone.  Think Columbian drug cartels.  Think South Central L.A.

      There’s an argument to be made that the decriminalization of drugs would actually decrease violence.

      See Radley Balko.

      Cheers.

  • After all if input (I) + process(P) = output(O) and you never vary I or P, how can you expect O to ever be any different?

    Arrrgh, fake math! Let’s try p(i) = o. But since I does vary (since they’re not the same drug users they were 10 years ago) you’d expect the output to vary as well.
    I still agree with the essence of your argument.

  • Bruce, Pogue:  I’m just saying that the rates of crime are higher among abusers than it is among non-users.  I expect there to be an increase in drug usage if it’s legalized.  Therefore a corresponding increase in crime due to increased drug usage.
    True, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re sober when you punch me in the mouth   It’s just more likely that you’ll do it under the influence when your judgement is impaired.  Perhaps it’s naive but I think the chances are greater that I’ll get punched in a bar than at a MacDonalds.
    “Think Al Capone.  Think Columbian drug cartels.  Think South Central L.A
    I could google up some domestic violence reports and list them like you just did.  In fact, here’s one.  Now we can decriminalize drugs and wait for the another law to be broken and then punish it or work to protect those children.
    As to my taxes for rehab-that’s kind of a punch in the mouth.

    • Tom – that’s true among those who abuse alcohol too. That’s not a reason to criminalize alcohol.

    • I’m just saying that the rates of crime are higher among abusers than it is among non-users.  I expect there to be an increase in drug usage if it’s legalized.  Therefore a corresponding increase in crime due to increased drug usage.

      You maybe right.  But couldn’t an argument be made that if law enforcement resources were freed up from the prosecution of benign engagement of recreational drug use and put forward to real crimes against others, that your statistics would be altered in a positive way?
      Bottom line is we’ll never know unless it is tried.  And since clearly prohibition hasn’t worked, and it’s been that way since prohibition existed, isn’t it time to look to alternative measures? 
      I’ll admit that it is too complicated and unpredictable to firmly suggest one way or another, but at least admitting that something else should be done is the first step to a cognitive recovery process.

      True, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re sober when you punch me in the mouth   It’s just more likely that you’ll do it under the influence when your judgement is impaired.

      Errr… Maybe.

      Perhaps it’s naive but I think the chances are greater that I’ll get punched in a bar than at a MacDonalds.

      Oh no… I’d be just as likely to punch you in the mouth at a MacDonalds as I would to punch you in the mouth at McDonald’s Pub.
      But of course, if you were at McDonald’s Pub, you probably be asking for it much more than you would if you were just a patron at a MacDonalds.

      I’m just kidding man.  I have no reason to believe that I would have any inclination to punch you in the mouth.  ;)

      Some of these other guys here commenting at QandO… well… It would be so on.

      As to my taxes for rehab-that’s kind of a punch in the mouth.

      Yeah, we would all be bleeding.  Whuddayagunna do, though?

      Cheers.

    • Bruce, Pogue:  I’m just saying that the rates of crime are higher among abusers than it is among non-users.  I expect there to be an increase in drug usage if it’s legalized.  Therefore a corresponding increase in crime due to increased drug usage.

      Again, use alcohol prohibition as a model:  did violence increase or decrease after its repeal?  Are their gang turf wars over alcohol and cigarettes that I’m unaware of?

      A lot of violence among drug users is directly related to the fact that drugs are illegal.  Drug owners cannot call the police if their property is stolen, and therefore they protect their property with violence.  Drugs are expensive, therefore people steal in order to buy them.  Drugs are valuable, therefore people protect them violently.  And lots of dealers/users have criminal records related to drug possession and have trouble getting regular jobs; this leads to them engaging in criminal activity to earn a living.  If drugs weren’t illegal, these behaviors would be greatly reduced.

  • Coming from the most shallow commenter QandO has ever seen, what do you know about, “something deeper”?

    Erb’s been here? Seriously, Pouge… try again. When you start in being the typo police, I know you’re bringing nothing else to the table.