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Time to wind down the "War on Drugs"
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It has become the "War on Liberty".

For those who think that the War on Terror has curtailed liberty, it can't hold a candle to the War on Drugs. What is heartening is more and more reasonable people are figuring that out:
"You can get over an addiction, but you can never get over a conviction," Jack A. Cole, who spent 14 years as an undercover narcotics officer for the New Jersey State Police, told me. Cole now heads a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), ex-cops who oppose current drug policy.
If ever a policy was ripe for review, it is the current drug policy. Consider:
The lunatic War on Drugs has produced some extraordinary statistics. Since it started in 1970, American law enforcement has arrested 38 million people for nonviolent drug offenses, nearly 2 million last year alone. The number of people jailed for violent crimes has risen 300 percent, but the prison population of nonviolent drug offenders has soared 2,558 percent.

The reason is "get-tough" mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. "We're putting violent criminals back on the street to make room in our cells for nonviolent drug offenders," Cole notes.

The insanity continues under Democratic and Republican presidents alike. During the Clinton era, more people were arrested for nonviolent drug offenses than in all the previous years of the war combined.
The reason our prison population is the highest in the free world is a direct result of the above. Ad in "civil forfeiture" and you have a real liberty friendly policy.

We seem to have not learned the fairly obvious lesson of prohibition and how that doesn't "stop" a certain type behavior but only drives it underground and creates an huge opportunity for criminal enterprise (and the murder, mayhem and ruined lives that go along with it). You'd think we'd be smart enough to realize that by now.
Revulsion against the War on Drugs is starting to gain momentum. The National Conference of Mayors recently voted to end the conflict, as has the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. Cole wants to embolden politicians to say what everyone knows — that the war has been a dismal $1 trillion failure. If they do that, he said, "they're not going to lose one more vote than they gain."
It is time to push for a change in the national drug policy and to look for more sane alternatives than those which we now have. I'd like to see this:
Here's a guaranteed way for one of the leading presidential contenders to rise above the pack: Promise a pullback from the War on Drugs.
But unfortunately I don't think we'll see that anytime soon. Such a position, without the proper ground work, would be political suicide. There needs to be a well-sponsored, serious and high visibility conversation about the present policy that is the "War on Drugs". There are much better ways to approach the problem without resorting to our current tactics and suffering their results.

The purpose of government, as any libertarian will tell you, is to protect people from force and fraud. It is not there to criminalize behavior it disapproves of unless that behavior also involves force or fraud. It is there to protect the liberty of its people (and liberty includes the right to do stupid and possibly, self-destructive things).

Beyond that, government becomes an instrument of oppression as it curtails liberty. That is the position this government now finds itself in as it pursues this particular policy.

Time to rethink it.

Want to pull out of a war? I can't think of a more perfect on than this one.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
The availability of cocaine and heroine and other drugs is different today than most of the time period before 1970.

And we can end the war on drugs when
a) my money no longer is used to enable drug use. (no welfare for drug users, no legal requirement to not turn away drug users from hospitals who can’t pay)
b) I can shoot anyone in the face who approaches my underage children with drugs.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
and

c) If they have managed to do so behind my back, I can shoot anyone in the face who has sold my underage children drugs.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
I could get behind legalizing most drugs, but I would like to see some sort of enhancement to sentencing for crimes commited while high.

Wanna smoke crack? That’s fine. Snap and beat the crap out of someone while on a bender? 25 years minimum.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
The Government can’t even keep drugs out of prisons.

This War on our Freedom has gutted the Bill of Rights. We can end this War and now is
the time to do it.

How? Vote for Ron Paul in the Republican Primary. Paul is the only Republican who will end this senseless war at the Federal level.

Steve

 
Written By: Wiseburn
URL: http://
Vote for Ron Paul in the Republican Primary. Paul is the only Republican who will end this senseless war at the Federal level.
Paul has NO CHANCE in the primary. And even if he did, he wouldn’t have ANY in the general.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
a) Tax it, make the users and costs associated self-sufficient, with perhaps a little over to kick into general funds. Works for alcohol & cigarettes.

b) Licence it, make the conditions of sale onerous upon the licence holders and crack down on all unlicenced sales.

c) How many people have you shot so far? Cos there is a much better than even chance a teenager will have been offered drugs, today.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I don’t recall ever being offered drugs. No dealer I have ever known went around actively soliciting sales... that is a bust waiting to happen. If I wanted some of the Devil’s Weed, I had to go looking. People don’t have to sell drugs, they sell themselves quite nicely.

jpm100, I think there is a much higher (no, not intended) chance that your underage kids will go looking for drugs than there is someone tries to push drugs on your kids.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://
Treat drugs just like we treat alcohol and tobacco. Then deal with the consequences just as we do for the consequences of alcohol and tobacco use.
 
Written By: Paul
URL: http://
"Works for alcohol & cigarettes."

Users of alcohol and tobacco are generally more functional than drug addicts, and can earn the money to support their habits. I have yet to hear of someone stealing to support their Marlboro jones. Other than kids, that is.

"b) Licence it, make the conditions of sale onerous upon the licence holders and crack down on all unlicenced sales."

Sort of like prescription drugs?

"No dealer I have ever known went around actively soliciting sales..."

You don’t hang out in the right places. I’ll bet you have not been solicited for sex, either.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"jpm100, I think there is a much higher (no, not intended) chance that your underage kids will go looking for drugs than there is someone tries to push drugs on your kids."
I wasn’t going to say it.

You’re the one in the front line of this fight, JPM. Anyone who wants to deal in facts really has to face this one. You teach your kids how not to fall down, how to cross the street, and how and why to stay away from all kinds of things that are un-healthy to them, including this. Nobody else can take that responsibility for you, and what’s more is that millions of people manage to do it. It’s on you, just like them.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Just a curious question for those wanting to continue the War on Drugs.

It is my understanding that before many drugs were declared illegal (cocaine, heroin etc.) the number of addicts was about 3% of the population. This I believe was a combination of all chemical addictions, such as alcohol and drugs.

The current number of addicts in the population is also supposed to be currently 3%. It does not seem like the war is doing much but employ a lot of police officers.


 
Written By: Mike Boelter
URL: http://
According to a British documentary from many years ago, when Mrs. Thatcher became PM in Great Britain she converted their drug use and small sales by addicts drug policy from a medical attack to a criminal one like the US policy. They realized that it didn’t work and went back to the medical attack. They found out that those who were small time dealers usually did it to pay for their drug problem. It was found that if addicts could be maintained by the state, they were able to work and support their families, did not sell drugs nor did they attempted to induce others to become drug users. Supposedly the problem resolved itself because on the average a drug user was dead in 5 years or off of drugs under the medical program. I don’t remember any economic information, but it seems logical to me that a program using medical maintenance would alleviate the court and prison costs and require less of a police presence. With less drug money in circulation the corruption aspect of the drug war might be reduced. If the emphasis on drug busts would go down then situations such as the killing of the elderly lady in Atlanta Georgia would not occur.

Our drug culture will not be stopped by strong enforcement or by a medical approach alone, but by individuals finding out that life can be good without drugs. Criminalizing drug use as was noted in the post destroys lives on a different level. My oldest went down the path toward addiction in high school and I, with the schools help, managed to save him from a criminal record; there were consequences but not criminal in nature. He was smart enough to realize where he was headed and cleaned himself up, joined the military and after over 20 years retired. What he and I went through was very difficult for both of us, but his life was not wrecked because of a blind adherence to the War on Drugs dogma.
 
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
While I whole-heartedly concur that we need a radical shift in policy, I guarantee you that any candidate who suggested it would be committing professional suicide.

People are afraid of drugs, and have been inculcated with the notion that the only solution to the problem is the criminal justice system and the punitive approach.

It is a frustrating reality.
 
Written By: Steven Taylor
URL: http://poliblogger.com
Then deal with the consequences just as we do for the consequences of alcohol and tobacco use.
Sue the drug manufacturers for costs incurred by state medical facilities?
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Paul has NO CHANCE in the primary. And even if he did, he wouldn’t have ANY in the general.
I’m sure if Don were really clairvoyant, he wouldn’t need to read this blog. But he’s in good company of Naysayers including Sunday Morning news host George Snuffalopagus.

I strongly disagree with Don. I’m at work and can’t check the gambling odds (filtered) but I would say Paul has has at least a small chance. It’s certainly much larger than six months ago.

We’ll know a lot more about Dr. Paul’s chances on Jan 9.

It’s highly likely he will be on the [primary] ballot in all 50 states (at least those states that have ballots).

He has over 75,000 meetup members, 37,000 campaign contributers on one day alone (Nov. 5th) Over 20,000 signed up to donate at least $100 on Dec. 16 http://teaparty07.com/

Get ready for the Second American Revolution.

Getting back to the Drug War, Check out Dr. Paul’s position on Medical Marijuana
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHS_y94H1Dk

Steve
 
Written By: Wiseburn
URL: http://
jpm100, I think there is a much higher (no, not intended) chance that your underage kids will go looking for drugs than there is someone tries to push drugs on your kids.
So, what’s your point. My point is young kids are dumb and can’t be trusted to make mature decisions about drugs. Others take advantage of that. You’re point out nothing I didn’t take into account when I made my statement.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
My point is young kids are dumb and can’t be trusted to make mature decisions about drugs. Others take advantage of that.
The question is are your kids better off without a war on drugs or without one. Let’s break it down.

First the chance of them using. Legalization moves selling off the streets and into controlled environments. Can kids still get alcohol and cigarettes? Sure. But do you have alcohol or cigarette "pushers" hanging outside schools? Not so much. The war on drugs shifts the incentives for dealing such that kids are ideal targets. A legalized system would at least decrease (though not eliminate) those incentives.

Second, the secondary criminal effects. Currently, all money going to drugs is channeled to criminals. Just as prohibition created much of the organized crime of the time, so drug prohibition funds most of the crime of today. Eliminating that would instantly slash funds to most of the criminal organizations in the country. That’s an improvement in safety for all of us.

Third, border security. The vast amounts of money flowing around drugs mean that there are vast incentives to punch massive holes in our border enforcement. As long as there is a constant movement of tons of illegal goods every day, it will remain easy to slip weapons in along with that. Closing the incentive decreases the total flow and makes it at least somewhat more difficult for those wishing to smuggle more dangerous items in. This is an overall increase in security for all of us.

In a situation where a policy is destroying domestic liberties, undermining entire communities, and making the situation it’s designed to help worse in the process, it’s pretty easy to say that that policy should be eliminated. Your kids will be safer both from drugs and other risks in a world without drug prohibition.
 
Written By: Magyar
URL: http://

 
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