The International War on Drugs Hits Close to Home

Celebrating 100 years of failure and futility

The United Nations is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the “international war on drugs.” Yes, it was in 1909 that 13 countries joined together in the “International Opium Commission” to halt the Chinese opium trade. And how did that go? According to the Associated Press, although strongman Mao Zedong managed (or so his government claims) to make significant inroads in the 1950s, nowadays “Government statistics put the number of known addicts in China at 1.2 million, including 700,000 heroin users, more than two-thirds of them under the age of 35.”

Strangely, after a century's worth of attempts to forcefully stamp out two perfectly legitimate and useful human urges—to make a decent living, and to pleasurably alter our consciousness—drug warriors are no closer to victory. The chief of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, even confesses to feeling “somewhat frustrated” that his impossible job is so darn impossible.

While international despair over drug war failure raises its—utterly valid and appropriate—head, folks in the United States, which is the undisputed kingpin of this losing war, have begun noticing some of the horrible side-effects of drug war enforcement coming home to roost. In Arizona, legislators are alarmed at the growing importation of Mexican drug gang-style kidnappings (already happening at a rate of around one a day in Phoenix), and fear that military-level street violence will cross the border soon as well.

Showing the ultimate in political frustration, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard actually agreed with a CNN reporter that when it comes to marijuana legalization, there’s “a strong argument for getting that debate front and center and finding whatever options we might have to cut off the devastation in Mexico. What we fear here on the Arizona border is the cartel on cartel battle is going to end up spreading across the border.”

Sure, the U.S. has already suffered great fiscal drain and hideous human costs in terms of lives wasted in prison from its drug war, but the chaotic and hideous violence it engenders in Mexico has been mostly a matter for tourists to worry about. A recent study from the Cato Institute noted 131 U.S. citizens killed from 2005-2008, explaining that police in many border states besides Arizona (and border patrol agents) increasingly find themselves up against the violence of the Mexican drug trade.

Nor is it only libertarian think tanks taking notice. In just the past couple of weeks, sources from international news and analysis mavens ranging from Stratfor to Foreign Policy have reported on something that is not news to most Mexicans: The violence associated with the drug war in Mexico, almost all of it attributable to the fact that drugs are illegal, is reaching absurd levels, including endemic kidnappings, beheadings, and the use of military weapons like rocket-propelled grenades in public battles. Nearly 6,300 murders in Mexico can be laid at the feet of the drug trade for 2008; and so far 2009 has already seen over 1,000.

Politicians might not see it, but just about anyone else with a moment’s thought will acknowledge that we don’t usually see that sort of rampant bloody murder associated with the trade in legal items—however good or bad for you they might be.

This past week, however, has shown some signs of drug war sanity from unlikely places. Foremost among them was a report issued by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, where three former Latin American leaders, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (former president of Brazil), César Gaviria (former president of Colombia), and Ernesto Zedillo (former president of Mexico), admit, as they wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that ends by considering the decriminalization of pot possession, that:

Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven't worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our countries. Latin America remains the world's largest exporter of cocaine and cannabis, and is fast becoming a major supplier of opium and heroin. Today, we are further than ever from the goal of eradicating drugs.

The reactions of U.S. drug policy makers, including former drug czar John Walters and another unnamed official, were more interesting and more depressing. They insisted that spiraling Mexican drug violence is in fact a sign of desperation, and that turf wars indicate that the good guys are actually getting closer to winning.

They aren’t. They really aren’t. Drug control efforts have little effect on the price and availability of cocaine. Afghanistan continues to pump out opium, with any success in some areas overwhelmed by failures in others. Total production went up to a record high in 2007, followed by a very small decline in 2008, which even U.N. drug eradication officials stress can’t be credited to government eradication efforts. The vaunted U.S.-funded “Plan Colombia” has failed to seriously limit coca production while harming small Colombian farmers—and at great expense. West Africa has a growing cocaine “problem." And international interdiction efforts in general have never made a permanent or significant dent in worldwide production or use of drugs. The War on Drugs isn’t working, and never has. And there’s no reason it ought to even if it could.

The Drug War tends to be a quiet public policy matter, of interest only to what more sophisticated and jaded policy folk can write off as boring fanatics and aggrieved family members. It is rarely at the top of any politician's concerns—neither major party, after all, can score points against the other on the matter. It remains a quiet and mostly unquestioned fact of reality, even as it is now widely understood and accepted that even the president of the United States sometimes must have to get high. Almost everyone knows that all sorts of normal, effective human beings occasionally choose to violate existing drug laws. (Nearly half of U.S. citizens have tried pot in their life, for example.) Medical marijuana tends to be quite popular when voters get a chance to consider it, and the executive branch is finally ready to let states go their own way on that issue.

Still, no one seriously expects anything significant to change. The international drug war ought to be of enormous meta-interest to students of policy, political science, and philosophy because it reveals better than almost any other issue the essentially unreasonable nature of our rulers—and our populace. There are few other huge policy matters in which the reason for pursuing a goal is more obviously ludicrous, archaic, and disconnected from any reasonable conception of a larger public good (and yet never questioned), and where the effort is more obviously utterly futile and wasted.

And yet the vast majority of documents studying, chronicling, and counting what’s countable about the drug war, even supposedly ameliorist ones that suggest a switch from, say, military means to medical ones in fighting the drug scourge, refuse to question the root of the absurdity. It is generally assumed (without even an attempt at proof) that stopping people from using the drugs they choose to use is as unquestioned a good as increasing human wealth or preserving human life.

In this era of stunning government debt, of the alleged need for domestic stimulus, and with frequent lip-service dedication paid to spending cuts, the U.S. is still planning to spend $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2009 on international drug war efforts (and those figures from the State Department don’t seem to include the full costs of the multi-year $1.4 billion “Merida Initiative” for drug war waging in Mexico). Those efforts include violent interdiction, corrupting the courts and police departments of our allies, and destroying small farmers’ livelihoods (while also throwing in some development aid to allegedly help them). Our 1986 “Anti-Drug Abuse Act” makes everything from trade to aid policy dependent on how well we think our allies are helping us destroy themselves in the name of our drug war. The U.N.’s dispirited drug warrior Costa even talks of how, “We must have the courage to look at the dramatic, unintended consequences of drug control: the emergence of a criminal market of staggering proportions.” But he won’t take that next, short, simple mental step towards abolishing his own job.

One might think that the first place a reasonable politician would look to save a billion or so bucks a year is the category of efforts clearly marked “utterly ridiculous and proven completely futile”—such as the international drug war. But that will almost certainly not happen. If anything should make one hopeless about the future of sensible governance, it's the ongoing, apparently never-ending international war on drugs.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty is author of Radicals for Capitalism (PublicAffairs) and Gun Control on Trial (Cato Institute).

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  • BakedPenguin||

    What Doherty said.

  • Fred||

    There are few other huge policy matters in which the reason for pursuing a goal is more obviously ludicrous, archaic, and disconnected from any reasonable conception of a larger public good (and yet never questioned), and where the effort is more obviously utterly futile and wasted.

    Do you seriously think drug addiction is a good thing?

  • Rationalitate||

    Do you seriously think drug addiction is a good thing?

    Hard to say it's a "good" thing, but many addictions are essentially harmless. Heroin addiction, for example. It's very difficult to overdose on heroin - the vast majority of the time, addicts die from the interaction between heroin and either alcohol or benzodiazepines, which they use to tide them over when heroin is in short supply/too expensive. Which, of course, only happens because heroin is illegal - no one ever heard of a caffeine or nicotine shortage. The rest of the time, the overdose is due to the fact that the user isn't aware of the purity of their supply. Again, a result of the black market, not of heroin itself.

  • ||

    Fred, here's the deal. No one gives a shit what you think, or imply. Get it? People like drugs from beer to crack and everything in between. So stop trying to save people, let them be. Addiction to anything can be harmful, but trying to stop it is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. So stop trying.

  • Brian Doherty||

    I don't think car wrecks are a good thing either. Yet I don't support an international war on cars.

  • ||

    For Juanita*

    Finding love
    is like finding one answer
    to all of your prayers.

    *She'll be by. When you are hopelessly in love, you just know these things.

  • Tyler||

    I bet the same thing would happen if there was a caffeine Prohibition.

    The millions of addicts in America would need their fix, but it could only be profitably handled on the black market in powder form. Soon enough, criminals would discover a way to free base the chemical into an even more profitable- and unfortunately, deadly- form.

    Meanwhile, coffee cartels in South America would be battling over land used to grow coffee, and the even more deadly espresso.

    It's all bullshit. Almost as dumb as making a weed that makes you hungry and giggly illegal because it "makes the darky think he's as good as the white man," then producing propaganda to make it look like the root cause of its illegality wasn't just blatant racism.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Fred, do you seriously think that someone who decides to take an unapproved-of substance deserves to be treated as a rapist or arsonist would be treated? Even if they violate no one else rights in doing so?

    Rationalitate - Heroin sometimes gets cut with quinine, which can be deadly at certain concentrations. The "heroin" can also actually be heavily cut fentanyl, which is 30x as potent as heroin.

    Codeine is probably the most toxic commonly used opiate, and it kills by causing pulmonary edema - so the commonly used opiate antagonists are useless against it.

  • ||

    Brian Doherty wonders why our leaders won't make the sensible moves that ought to follow that realization.



    Because, so far, easing up on the drug war has been an electoral loser. I know that Reason knows about Tom Campbell, who ran for Senate in California and was crushed by a larger-than-normal margin. He played up marijuana decriminalization, and it didn't win him anything.

    Maybe times are changing, but politicians are cowards about it for a reason.

  • ||

    Do you seriously think drug addiction is a good thing?

    It's a reality thing.

    The number of functioning alcoholics who go to work, produce wealth, pay taxes and live, to them, reasonably happy lives is huge. My SWAG is a seven didgit figure but it could be eight. Drug proscribing politicians and their supporters are acting the exact same way that AA reminds its members is the definition of insanity, repeating the same actions expecting different results.

    Might as well go bail out the fucking ocean.

  • Fred||

    Fred, do you seriously think that someone who decides to take an unapproved-of substance deserves to be treated as a rapist or arsonist would be treated? Even if they violate no one else rights in doing so?

    No, that is why we have drug courts to send first time offenders to treatment.

  • BakedPenguin||

    But what about addicts, Fred? If they keep using, and keep getting caught, you believe they should go to prison even if they don't DUI, steal, hurt anyone, etc.?

    J sub D - add to that the number of daily pot users who hold down jobs, are productive members of society, etc. While pot is only psychologically addictive, they would qualify under most definitions.

  • ||

    Fred, treatment for what? They aren't sick. People use drugs because they enjoy them. I drank beer last night because I enjoy it. If beer were illegal, I would still drink it, but you would have me report for treatment?

  • bill||

    Fred,

    Here's my advice.

    MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS!

  • Douglas Gray||

    I'd put up with 1000 live drug addicts to save one murder victim, so if legalizing cocaine would prevent the turf war killings in Mexico, I'd be all for it........thing is....would legalization do away with the turf wars.............I'm nut sure......any input anyone......??

  • ||

    Do you seriously think drug addiction is a good thing?

    Abso-fucking-lutley. It is way better than the alternative...like killing dogs, killing old ladies, ransacking houses, ripping apart families, corrupting cops, inciting racism, etc.

    I was smoking daily AND holding down a government job. The job was so simple I could have done it stoned, if I wanted to. When my fiancee broke up with me, it kept me from doing something stupid like killing myself. It definitely helped me through that difficult time.

    I tried wellbutrin for depression....that shit really fucked me up. You just can't stop antidepressants cold turkey. I stopped wellbutrin cold turkey and I would be in a room wondering what I was doing in there. I could however, and did often, quit weed for weeks at a time without any detrimental side effects.

    No one wants to hear this but there are functioning crack heads. Human being are notorious beings for the ability to adapt to their environment. There are people who are adapting to somewhat consistent use of methamphetamine AND holding down jobs.

    And exactly what does addicted mean? Does it mean something you can't live with out? Well then I am addicted to oxygen, food, and masturbating (which i am going to copyright so I can make some money).

    So yes Fred, addiction is a good thing. It is the price we impose upon ourselves so as to not kill idiots like you.

  • BakedPenguin||

    troy - masturbating is a procedure. You'd need to patent it, not copyright it. If you write a how-to manual, or make a how-to video, you can copyright that.

    Douglas - it's been said many times before, but no one is killing each other over the alcohol turf.

  • ||

    J sub D - add to that the number of daily pot users who hold down jobs, are productive members of society, etc. While pot is only psychologically addictive, they would qualify under most definitions.

    Nay, nay my spheniscid friend. These people need TREATMENT, ordered by the courts, so that they, with their brand new career killing conviction, can become more productive members of society. So sayeth Fred, morally secure in his judgement on how others should live their lives.

    Puritan asshole that he is, he conveniently did not address my reality and insanity points.

  • ||

    Rationalitate,

    You have fallen into a common trap used to justify the failed drug war. You are confusing the issue of drug abuse with the issue of arresting people for possessing, selling, and using drugs.

    The drug war does nothing to address the issue of addiction, and the people who are advocating for an end to the drug war are not taking that position because they want to see everyone get addicted to drugs.

    If you truly care about the problems of addiction, then you should support drug policy reform since our current policies make the problems of addiction worse by forcing those who need help to incriminate themselves before they can receive it.

  • Fred||

    Here's my advice.

    OBEY THE LAW!

  • ||

    Who says the drug war is futile and has failed? It all depends on what its goals are, no? The fact that it isn't winnable doesn't mean it isn't achieving its goals, does it?

    War is the health of the state, and I submit that no war has been better for the Total State than the Drug War.

  • ktc2||

    "OBEY THE LAW!" SAYETH FRED

    LOL.

    Law, what a joke. Law is nothing but the dictates of the most blatantly evil whores in our entire nation, our politicians. (Apology to actual whores who provide a valuable service in exchange for their money)

    Obeying the law is he moral equivalent of "Just obeying orders".

  • ||

    Here's my advice.

    OBEY THE LAW!


    Here's mine.

    KISS MY FREEDOM LOVING ASS!

  • Dopertarian||

    Wow Nixon started the War on Drugs 100 years ago

  • Fred||

    If you truly care about the problems of addiction, then you should support drug policy reform since our current policies make the problems of addiction worse by forcing those who need help to incriminate themselves before they can receive it.

    The drug war prevents people from trying drugs, thus becoming addicts. Also, as I said first time offenders get treatment in drug court.

    These people need TREATMENT, ordered by the courts, so that they, with their brand new career killing conviction, can become more productive members of society.

    These people won't have a career regardless if their addicts, the point is to make an example to prevent others from ruining there lives.

    If people obeyed the law there would be no buyers, thus no sellers, thus no market and no addicts, it is user accountability.

  • ||

    These people won't have a career regardless if their addicts, the point is to make an example to prevent others from ruining there lives.

    The U.S. Navy, the most capable seagoing armed force in the world, is largely run by functional alcoholics. They are called Chief Petty Officers.

  • xixtrays||

    "The drug war prevents people from trying drugs....."

    It sure does. And that's why we should never question our elected officials.

  • ||

    Fred,
    The drug war prevents people from trying drugs, thus becoming addicts.

    The war on drugs cannot prevent people from trying drugs, by definition. If there is a WAR on drugs is because people are already trying drugs, not because they are not.

    Also, as I said first time offenders get treatment in drug court.

    I fail to see how that is supposed to be better than having people seek treatment by themselves.

    These people won't have a career regardless if their [sic] addicts, the point is to make an example to prevent others from ruining there lives.

    There are various ethical and moral problems with this idea, Fred. First of all, isn't it cruel to impose a punishment on someone just to make an example of him? If that person did not commit an act of aggression against another person, then why is punishment imposed and even allowed? You have to justify this first, before assuming it should be.

    If people obeyed the law there would be no buyers, thus no sellers, thus no market and no addicts, it is user accountability.

    You beg the question, Fred - you assume there is nothing wrong with the law in order to argue that people should abide it. If the law is unreasonable, contradictory or impossible to interpret or follow, then how can you conclude a desired result?

    It is clear people do not obey many laws, because these try to control people's personal behaviors by imposition. If people's actions are not aggressive towards others, then imposing a prohibition on these actions becomes a contradiction - you use aggression to stamp out a non-aggressive act.

    Law is not meant to make people virtuous, but to protect our natural rights from the transgressions or aggressive gestures of others.

  • ||

    Brian Doherty,
    I don't think car wrecks are a good thing either. Yet I don't support an international war on cars.

    I have used exactly the same, excellent counterargument when discussing the war on anything, and yet some true believers in saving the souls of everyone still have the gall to retort with "it is not the same thing!" W.T.F.???

  • Douglas Gray||

    Baked Penguin:

    When prohibition was in effect, there may have been some killings connected with it, but nothing like what they have in Mexico today. That's why I raised the question.....

  • ||

    When alcohol prohibition was ended, there was a modest federal police force devoted to eradicating alcohol consumption. They no longer had a reason to exist. Harry Anslinger proceeded to tell a willing congress transparent lies about the killer weed and these police were morphed into a federal narc force. This force grew and grew. The states followed suit.

    We now have a huge number of narcs and prison employees who are dependent on continuation of the drug war for their livihoods. If the drug war is ended, who will these people be deployed against? What new crimes will be created? Who will be their new victims?

    Any attempt to end the drug war needs to answer this question. What constructive employment can be found for the drug warriors?

  • ktc2||

    NCDan,

    Obama's new DEA Chief: The wars over. There's no more work. We're destitute.

    Agents: Ohhhhh.

    Obama's new DEA Chief: I'm afraid I have no choice but to sell you all for medical experiments.

    Well, I can dream right?

  • ||

    Fred - fiendish troll or true believer?

    Orwell was right about perpetual warfare - he just got the enemy wrong.

  • Ska||

    Pot farmers and heroine dealers.

  • Ska||

    uh,
    Any attempt to end the drug war needs to answer this question. What constructive employment can be found for the drug warriors?


    See above. *fucking edit buttons*

  • ||

    The drug war prevents people from trying drugs, thus becoming addicts. Also, as I said first time offenders get treatment in drug court.

    This is unjust, because informed consenting adults should be allowed to use drugs if they want. The act of using drugs does not in and of itself harm others, so there should be a strong presumption in favor of legalization of drugs as a matter of individual freedom.

    Your reasons for opposing freedom of ingestion seem to be paternalistic:

    These people won't have a career regardless if their addicts, the point is to make an example to prevent others from ruining there lives.

    It is clearly possible to use drugs without "ruining" one's life. It is even possible to be addicted to drugs (by the clinical definition) without having it ruin one's life.

    And there are benefits to using drugs: people enjoy it. Some people enjoy certain drugs so much that they consider using them to be worth the risks (and there is no general reason to presume they are wrong). Since each individual has a unique type of direct knowledge of how much he or she enjoys using a drug, each person is in a better position weigh the benefits against potential for harm for him or her self.

    Also consider that with some drugs, the risks are negligible for occasional use in small amounts.

    If drugs are legalized, an addict who thinks the addiction is ruining his or her life can voluntarily go for detoxification and/or rehabilitation. If a drug user (addicted or not) who thinks his or her drug use has a net positive effect on his or her life would be free to continue. A person who doesn't think using drugs is worth the risk of addiction or health problems would be free to not take them. That is how it should be.

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    Ska wins the thread.

    Yes, some former drug warriors could easily turn to future pot farmers and merchants.

    After all, they are already skilled in distinguishing variants and brands and quality of drugs, which is a necessary precondition for successful career. And, they also know some potential customers ... personally :-)

  • ||

    Enough philosophizing about right and wrong, good and evil. Let's talk about alternatives. I live in Amsterdam. Coffee shops supply the stoners with weed - there's still an issue about who supplies the coffee shops, but that's an issue about growers, not users. The city registers junkies and has at least one social worker for each, including rugged do-gooders who follow the hard-core treatment-resistant homeless junkies around and try to get them into a program. Amsterdam has yet to find a solution for the cocaine situation, however. Since I've moved here I've watched acquaintances go from snorting the powder to smoking crack. Once on crack they are hopeless addicts that prey on what few friends they have left. Coke may not be the physically addicting scourge heroin is, but it twists the mind in subtle ways. Finding a way to persuade cokeheads and crackheads to get treatment is IMHO the biggest challenge in this arena.
    Peace!

  • ||

    It's worth noting that recreational drug use and addiction are not illegal in this country. Addicts are free of worry from arrest or forced "treatment" as long as they aren't harming anyone else or likely to, as in the case of impaired driving. Addicts and casual users can buy their drugs at any corner market without fear of a shootout. These users and abusers of addictive, unhealthy, mood-altering drugs are all around us every day. They are our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. It's just that their drugs are currently legal.

  • ||

    Fred - fiendish troll or true believer?

    Yeah I can't tell either.

  • ||

    While we're celebrating failures, let's cheer on the Kansas City Royals' success over the last 20 years.

  • ||

    Drug war whores are not an insignificant problem. If i remember correctly, the LARGEST lobbying group in the california legislature was the prison guards. This industry is almost as big as the education industry and needs no qualification other than a willingness to be a fascist tool. Its not an easy problem.

  • oat willie||

    "Any attempt to end the drug war needs to answer this question. What constructive employment can be found for the drug warriors?"

    We have plenty of openings in the janitorial arts. But they have to actually do something productive while they work as janitors, like mopping floors, scrubbing toilets, dumping trash and wiping horizontal surfaces.

    The work is hard, the pay is not so good, but you are actually performing a service that needs doing. Good janitors are a scarce commodity these days.

    /Maybe jizz mopper is more their speed

  • Michael||

    Brian Doherty,

    Thank you for this article. I am in complete and utter agreement. It really is shocking that our country can so eagerly push the battle against our drug consumption onto a substantial portion of Latin America (and Afghanistan- and look how well that's working). And it appears the US public is only concerned if the violence we have precipitated begins to seep across our border.

    I really do need your help, however, in how to respond to the concerns of friends (and my wife) who ask what the alternative to our era of drug prohibition is. For example, there is likely some deterrent value in the prohibition of substances harmful to the user. People are inclined to follow rules set for them, even if they break those rules given enough incentive. When I have children, I suppose I would prefer that my warnings against drugs had some sort of statutory analogue. Of course, I recognize that the level of harm of some drugs, such as marijuana, is debatable. And yes, the deterrent value may be more than outweighed, especially for younger people, by the lure of illegality. Further, I absolutely recognize the cognitive dissonance of prohibiting marijuana while allowing other harmful products such as fast food (and yes, some people are resolving that dissonance in favor of extending regulation to things such as trans fat).

    Second, how would a policy of legalized drugs mesh with a policy of universal or semi-universal health care, which seems inevitable? Should taxpayers be asked to pay for the side effects of legalized drugs? I suppose the government could refuse care to people who choose to take drugs. But I don't want to have the government surveillance necessary to monitor who is and who isn't taking drugs in order to selectively refuse medical care. Plus, I am sure that there would be many sad cases of people using drugs and then having an unrelated medical condition for which they are refused treatment. How exactly would the government decide? How many bureaucrats would be employed making and administering those distinctions? Further, how many times would taxpayers pay for a person's rehab? Once? Twice? If a drug addict is not a contributing member of society, should taxpayers be forced to pay for housing? Food? Allowing a person, even a crack addict, to die is a hard thing to accept, even if it is the direct and forewarned result of the person's choices. I don't believe our society could let that happen.

    Third, while drugs have their primary effect on the individual, what about the secondary effects? I'm not speaking of marijuana. When a heavy cocaine user inevitably loses their job, and needs to sustain their addiction, will the government provide cocaine? Treatment? Involuntary treatment? Because, if not, crime is the primary alternative to holding a job. I suppose this may be a moot point if there are no additional addicts, and therefore no additional crime, under a legalized drug regime, although it is probably not good to blindly make that assumption. Certainly, without the black market, the price would be markedly reduced, and so perhaps addicts could feed their addiction based only on returning soda bottles in states with a deposit.

    Other secondary effects are the children of addicts. Is our society prepared to ignore a generation of children whose parents devote far more attention and resources to their addiction than to their children, making their children far more likely to be nonproductive? While they might provide an effective warning against the perils of drug abuse, I would imagine our society is not ready- taxpayers again would end up paying for the consequences of the addicted parents.

    And one of the more oft-quoted effects, driving under the influence, does seem to be a problem. There seems to be a real inability in the U.S. to adequately deter driving under the influence of legal substances, specifically alcohol. It seems that a society based on preventing harm to others should affix large punishments to knowingly endangering others. But the penalties for the first few offenses are diminishingly small. When people are concerned about losing their license, they drink and drive and hope they don't get caught. When people know automatic 1-year incarceration results from the first offense, it seems they would make a common practice of arranging for a cab before going to a party. It seems worrying that the lack of backbone for penalties would then extend to driving under the influence of newly legalized substances. I do not want the social stigma and legal consequences of such behavior to be diminished in the slightest.

    In summary, how does a society that takes care of many of the needs of many of its citizens (and the trend here is certainly in the more needs and more citizens direction) cope with the poor choices of some? I would like to advocate personal responsibility. If you want to become an addict, you have to figure out how not to die cold and hungry on the street. However, since that is not a reality in this country, doesn't the government have a vested interest in not letting the citizens it cares for engage in wasteful and expensive (from a health and productivity standpoint) behavior?

    When the only internally consistent societal frameworks appear to be anarchism (which is unwise and unsustainable), libertarianism, and statism, and we are trending towards statism, how can libertarian policies like drug legalization be successfully incorporated?

    Mr. Doherty, I have long awaited an intelligent response to these concerns. Commentards and trolls- please do not respond.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Michael...

    Thread sufficiently killed, congratulations. Perhaps you'd try email next time?

  • ||

    Illegal arms dealing and human trafficking are bigger industries than illegal drug trafficking and I don't see anyone saying that the war on those two illegal activities have failed and should be stopped.

  • ||

    Illegal arms dealing and human trafficking are bigger industries than illegal drug trafficking and I don't see anyone saying that the war on those two illegal activities have failed and should be stopped.

    Involutary human trafficking is not a victimless crime. Drug use is.

    Arms trafficking is more of a gray area. I would argue that selling rocket launchers or machine guns to the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, FARC, etc. is not a victimless crime. Some people may have more innocent examples of "arms trafficking" in mind. But then again, some poeple are saying that certain aspects of gun control policy should be repealed.

  • ||

    I'm not Brian Doherty (and I'm not clear on the definition of "commentard"), but I'll respond.

    Second, how would a policy of legalized drugs mesh with a policy of universal or semi-universal health care, which seems inevitable? Should taxpayers be asked to pay for the side effects of legalized drugs? I suppose the government could refuse care to people who choose to take drugs. But I don't want to have the government surveillance necessary to monitor who is and who isn't taking drugs in order to selectively refuse medical care. Plus, I am sure that there would be many sad cases of people using drugs and then having an unrelated medical condition for which they are refused treatment. How exactly would the government decide?

    Well, I'd prefer that we not have fully-government-run universal health care in the first place. But there are ways of dealing with it. For example, taxing the drugs would generate some revenue to partially alleviate the problem. Another is what you mention: refusing tax-funded treatment to users (an exception can be made if the condition is known to be unrelated to drug use). The monitoring system could be relatively non-invasive, for example the drugs could be sold at licensed outlets only and they could be required to check IDs and record keep track of who purchased how much. If you don't want your name in that database, you are still free to not buy any. But I will say that I don't think such a monitoring/treatment refusal system is optimal, and we don't have such a system for alcohol or tobacco.

    Further, how many times would taxpayers pay for a person's rehab? Once? Twice? If a drug addict is not a contributing member of society, should taxpayers be forced to pay for housing? Food? Allowing a person, even a crack addict, to die is a hard thing to accept, even if it is the direct and forewarned result of the person's choices. I don't believe our society could let that happen.

    Third, while drugs have their primary effect on the individual, what about the secondary effects? I'm not speaking of marijuana. When a heavy cocaine user inevitably loses their job, and needs to sustain their addiction, will the government provide cocaine? Treatment? Involuntary treatment? Because, if not, crime is the primary alternative to holding a job. I suppose this may be a moot point if there are no additional addicts, and therefore no additional crime, under a legalized drug regime, although it is probably not good to blindly make that assumption. Certainly, without the black market, the price would be markedly reduced, and so perhaps addicts could feed their addiction based only on returning soda bottles in states with a deposit.


    We could deal with that the same way we deal with the problem of poverty in general. It is not just an issue of drug users who can't be productive because they're high. There are people in dire straights because they can't obtain and maintain employment for reasons that have nothing to do with drugs, drug users who are willing and able to do their jobs but get fired because of irrational puritanism (re-enforced by the illegal status of those drugs), and people who have jobs that don't pay enough to maintain a decent standard of living.

    Unlike libertarians (I'm more of a Classic Liberal myself), I think there is some role to be played by the government in alleviating poverty. I'd prefer that they do this mainly through something like a Basic Income.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

    Poor and/or unemployed people who want to use drugs could spend some of their public assistance money on them. Those who don't want to don't have to. If you think it is important that people contribute to society instead of some getting a free ride, we can have the government be an employer of last resort. The state could employ people in low-wage unskilled labor jobs working on infrastructure and such. Probably the only people who would take such jobs would be those with a dearth of good employment options elsewhere (and that dearth may or may not have anything to do with drugs, but that shouldn't be a government concern). The economic contribution of those people will be small, but it will be more than zero.

    As for treatment, I don't have a problem with offering voluntary treatment to people an unlimited number of times. If your concern is about the expense to taxpayers we could fund it with user fees, which even poor users could afford if there were a Basic Income or something like it in place. Of course the Basic Income would be tax-funded, but the point is taxpayers would be on the hook the same amount whether a recipient goes for drug treatment or not. Also consider that taxpayers have to pay for drug enforcement now anyway, and that taxing the drugs would generate revenue.

    If someone commits a crime and it is apparently drug-motivated, they could be given mandatory treatment in addition to the prison sentence. But as you mention, more people (ever addicts) could get the money for drugs honestly if they were cheap and legal.

    Other secondary effects are the children of addicts. Is our society prepared to ignore a generation of children whose parents devote far more attention and resources to their addiction than to their children, making their children far more likely to be nonproductive? While they might provide an effective warning against the perils of drug abuse, I would imagine our society is not ready- taxpayers again would end up paying for the consequences of the addicted parents.

    Deal with that the same way we currently deal with alcoholic parents.

    And one of the more oft-quoted effects, driving under the influence, does seem to be a problem. There seems to be a real inability in the U.S. to adequately deter driving under the influence of legal substances, specifically alcohol. It seems that a society based on preventing harm to others should affix large punishments to knowingly endangering others. But the penalties for the first few offenses are diminishingly small. When people are concerned about losing their license, they drink and drive and hope they don't get caught. When people know automatic 1-year incarceration results from the first offense, it seems they would make a common practice of arranging for a cab before going to a party. It seems worrying that the lack of backbone for penalties would then extend to driving under the influence of newly legalized substances. I do not want the social stigma and legal consequences of such behavior to be diminished in the slightest.

    If you want to increase the penalties for driving while intoxicated (whether it is with alcohol or some other drug), be my guest. Ditto for increasing patrols to catch violators. But we don't need drugs to be illegal to do that.

  • ||

    Why is the drug trade violent? There's no inherent reason for it to be. The cartels make so much money they could easily afford to make jail time acceptable for any of their people who get caught. And where's the evidence that the cartels will become non-violent if drugs are legalized? As opposed to terrorizing legal dealers?

    Talk about faith-based policy.

  • ||

    As far as legalizing pot, please do. Up here in Canada, posession of ammounts for personal use is basically decriminalized (de facto, not de jure). No one's going to hassle you if you don't grow or deal significant ammounts and keep it private. Pot has negative health consequences, but not really more serious than tobacco (especially since no one does 50 joints a day, but many smoke two packs). It may as well be regulated like Alcohol.

    The rest of them, I don't think so. The problem is that they are addictive. Alcohol is not, unless your're a genetically disposed alcoholic. Pot is not, except that you like it and thus keep using it (so called psychologically addictive). Other drugs, notably heroin, crack and meth, are increadibly addictive, potentially from the first use.

    There are examples of nations where substances are legal and widely addictive. In Russia, alcoholism is epidemic. Who knows what it is about the Russian psyche, genetics or situation, but millions are alcoholic. Experts (a psychologist interviewed in the Economist, nov 29, for anyone who cares) estimate that 30% of male deaths are directly or indirectly alcohol related. This for a drug that isn't nearly as addictive, and is largely better for the user's health, than crack, etc.

    As for the regulate and tax approach, doesn't really work. We have a big problem here with tobacco smuggling. We tax the hell out of it, and still don't cover its costs to our public healthcare system. But natives (who get them tax free, at about a fifth the price) smuggle them off reserves and sell them basically door to door. If the black or gray market can do it cheaper (and they almost certainly can), the no one uses the white one.

    I'm not arguing that the war on drugs is effective (its really impossible to say, since we don't know how much drugs would be produced without it). It probably isn't, and we ought to look at new tactics. But any kind of legalization of addictive drugs is going to cause massive social problems.

  • ||

    Michael,

    Here's my answer to you...

    nd it appears the US public is only concerned if the violence we have precipitated begins to seep across our border.

    With all due respect, of course. The world is a large place and, for most of us, it's hard enough to try and control the things that impact your our own lives. For what it's worth, "we" don't forment the violence… the economic conditions do. Violence is a natural social byproduct of highly prized, but scarce resources. A few minutes in front of Wiki will find you a dozen 'real' wars driven by the same circumstances. The largest difference is the scarcity is entirely artificial, creating pressures that would not exist in the normal market.

    I really do need your help, however, in how to respond to the concerns of friends (and my wife) who ask what the alternative to our era of drug prohibition is.

    In the purest Socratic tradition, answer a question with a question: "Are you satisfied the policies and philosophies we employ are providing the best results?". If the answer is an unqualified 'yes', well, there's not much use in arguing with cognitive dissonance. Only time really will have a chance at changing their mind; reason will not. If the answer is "no", start the dialogue. A perfect plan won't magically appear. We as a people need to start exercising some critical thought. Drugs have negative social and health consequences in any aspect you choose to evaluate them, but they need to be evaluated with the same filters all dangerous things are: how do we best manage the risk? Prohibition didn't work, so what do we try next?

    For example, there is likely some deterrent value in the prohibition of substances harmful to the user. People are inclined to follow rules set for them, even if they break those rules given enough incentive.

    Quick clarification: People are not inclined to follow the law. People are inclined to follow the rules of their peer group. If you don't believe me, start paying attention to cars on the highway. Most people are content to move at the speed of the cars in their immediate area… even if this means moving at an illegal rate. This concept is so powerful laws actually exist in some states that allow police to ticket drivers moving at the legal speed limit for 'impeding the flow of traffic'.

    When I have children, I suppose I would prefer that my warnings against drugs had some sort of statutory analogue. Of course, I recognize that the level of harm of some drugs, such as marijuana, is debatable. And yes, the deterrent value may be more than outweighed, especially for younger people, by the lure of illegality. Further, I absolutely recognize the cognitive dissonance of prohibiting marijuana while allowing other harmful products such as fast food (and yes, some people are resolving that dissonance in favor of extending regulation to things such as trans fat).

    The government is NOT an analogue for a parent, nor are laws a highly successful deterrent (I would also add, IMHO, a law which cannot be consistently enforced is actually worse than no law as it degrades the actual deterrent value of the enforceable laws). If you want your children to avoid drugs, be a positive role model, be knowledgeable, and be approachable. Be prepared to honestly assess the impact of drugs on their life. Drugs feel good. Saying anything else makes you a liar (or grossly uninformed), and unreliable. The best defense from addiction, is to teach them how to feel good as a result of their actions. The biggest risk I've seen from drugs is they steal ambition and instill contentment.


    Second, how would a policy of legalized drugs mesh with a policy of universal or semi-universal health care, which seems inevitable? Should taxpayers be asked to pay for the side effects of legalized drugs?

    First, I would say don't put the cart before the horse. Second, if intoxicants as a rule are legalized, they will be taxed. Considering the black market inflates the price of intoxicants from tens to thousands of times higher than the production costs, there's a lot of room for legal revenue generation. On a side note, placing an embargo on medical care based on personal behavior is a slippery slope. What about the aforementioned fast food eaters, sports enthusiasts, drinkers, unsafe sex practitioners, or fast drivers? Life ends in death, and along the way you're probably going to get hurt. Accept that and move on. If we forbid medical care for any risky behavior, we'd either have a society of shut-ins or no one at all with medical care.


    Third, while drugs have their primary effect on the individual, what about the secondary effects? I'm not speaking of marijuana. When a heavy cocaine user inevitably loses their job, and needs to sustain their addiction, will the government provide cocaine? Treatment? Involuntary treatment? Because, if not, crime is the primary alternative to holding a job. I suppose this may be a moot point if there are no additional addicts, and therefore no additional crime, under a legalized drug regime, although it is probably not good to blindly make that assumption. Certainly, without the black market, the price would be markedly reduced, and so perhaps addicts could feed their addiction based only on returning soda bottles in states with a deposit.

    What do we do know? For one thing, we assist in artificially inflating the price of their addiction virtually assuring economic destruction (which in turn drives many addictive personalities deeper in to addiction to avoid the negative feelings). We currently support several million marginal US citizens, some for good reasons, many for bad. But, honestly, we don't know what the consequences will be. Studies from other countries tend to indicate street crime will go down and addicts tend to be more open about seeking treatment _before_ hitting rock bottom. Besides, drug users tend to be motivated to get their drug. Crime is a byproduct of the cost of addiction being higher than the earning power of the individual. Why are so few alchoholics criminals? Because Mad Dog is $2 a bottle.

    I would also question your assessment that 'a heavy cocaine user inevitably loses their job'. I personally have known several 'heavy' cocaine users, who not only didn't lose their jobs but proceeded to excel. You know much less about your co-workers than you think you do. For every toothless meth-head, or scabbed over heroin addict, there are dozens of highly functional (and good) people living their lives with an addiction.


    Other secondary effects are the children of addicts. Is our society prepared to ignore a generation of children whose parents devote far more attention and resources to their addiction than to their children, making their children far more likely to be nonproductive? While they might provide an effective warning against the perils of drug abuse, I would imagine our society is not ready- taxpayers again would end up paying for the consequences of the addicted parents.

    Why the presumption there would be more addicts than today? Did decriminalizing homosexuality create more gay people? No, but it allowed those who were inclined to live a lifestyle they wanted, and had been forbidden from, in the open. You are also making presumptions that parental behavior will change with legalization/decriminalization. You use words like 'imagine' and 'likely', however there's no evidence of these suppositions. Fear is anecdotally powerful, in that a single bad outcome can color how we interpret the event forever after. From a survival standpoint, that makes sense. If I watch someone eat a green berry and die, I'm going to be very leery of eating green berries. However, when we discuss populations like the US, horror stories are inevitable. With 300 million people in this country, there will ALWAYS be a horror story. It's our job as rational people to be write laws to improve the lives of the majority (while protecting the rights of the minority).


    And one of the more oft-quoted effects, driving under the influence, does seem to be a problem. There seems to be a real inability in the U.S. to adequately deter driving under the influence of legal substances, specifically alcohol. It seems that a society based on preventing harm to others should affix large punishments to knowingly endangering others. But the penalties for the first few offenses are diminishingly small. When people are concerned about losing their license, they drink and drive and hope they don't get caught. When people know automatic 1-year incarceration results from the first offense, it seems they would make a common practice of arranging for a cab before going to a party. It seems worrying that the lack of backbone for penalties would then extend to driving under the influence of newly legalized substances. I do not want the social stigma and legal consequences of such behavior to be diminished in the slightest.

    I totally agree, we fail to impress upon society the dangers of driving under the influence. That a few grams of plant extract _in possession_ is a greater crime than the illegal operation of an incendiary/kinetic weapon endangering other people is ludicrous. Personally, I'm in favor of making blood analyzers available to patrol officers and providing enhanced sentencing guidelines for anti-social crimes performed while inebriated. Personal responsibility lies in ensuring a safe environment _before_ placing yourself in a diminished capacity.


    In summary, how does a society that takes care of many of the needs of many of its citizens (and the trend here is certainly in the more needs and more citizens direction) cope with the poor choices of some? I would like to advocate personal responsibility. If you want to become an addict, you have to figure out how not to die cold and hungry on the street.

    I don't know the answer, but I suspect society will not change in as large of a fashion as you anticipate. The peer group drives the behavior of the individual far more than any law, and even though alchohol is perfectly legal most of the US is not alcoholic, and significant portions of the population rarely consume the stuff. People die cold and hungry on the street today, often with little or no government assistance. Often without an illegal drug habit.

    However, since that is not a reality in this country, doesn't the government have a vested interest in not letting the citizens it cares for engage in wasteful and expensive (from a health and productivity standpoint) behavior?

    Well, that's a loaded question. Does a democratic government have a vested interest in reducing wasteful or expensive behavior a minority advocates for? Personally, I'd always felt the purpose of democracy was to create an environment that protected the rights and safety of the people, not maximize the efficiency of the economy.

    What's your definition of 'wasteful'? I feel that maintaining the single largest prison population (and the corresponding framework to support it) in the free world is inordinately wasteful. I think the disenfranchisement of large percentages of minority groups is disgraceful, and damaging to the health of those groups. I think making the single most valuable global commodity illegal is criminal insanity, especially when it ensures the channeling of huge amounts of money in to the hands of some of the most unethical people in the world.

    When the only internally consistent societal frameworks appear to be anarchism (which is unwise and unsustainable), libertarianism, and statism, and we are trending towards statism, how can libertarian policies like drug legalization be successfully incorporated?

    I don't accept the premise of your question. First, the Supreme Court exists in the US to protect against statism, as most of the Constitution exists to explicitly limit the controls of statism. Two, Freedoms and controls can exist side by side. You are free to own a firearm, but you are not free to use it to endanger another. Personally, I think our founding forefathers didn't add an amendment that protected the 'freedom of ingestion' simply because they never anticipated the need to protect so basic of a right.

  • Matthew Besson||

    Bravo.

  • ||

    Fred: "These people won't have a career regardless if their addicts, the point is to make an example to prevent others from ruining there lives."

    J sub D: "The U.S. Navy, the most capable seagoing armed force in the world, is largely run by functional alcoholics. They are called Chief Petty Officers."

    But Fred isn't a functional alcoholic, J. He's a functional illiterate.

    Helpfully,

    JR

  • ||

    Douglas Gray: "When prohibition was in effect, there may have been some killings connected with it, but nothing like what they have in Mexico today."

    The historical ignorance that lies behind this comment is vast. Read up on the Prohibition years in Chicago and Detroit sometime.

    JR

  • ||

    Steve D: "Why is the drug trade violent? There's no inherent reason for it to be. The cartels make so much money they could easily afford to make jail time acceptable for any of their people who get caught. And where's the evidence that the cartels will become non-violent if drugs are legalized? As opposed to terrorizing legal dealers?

    "Talk about faith-based policy."

    After Prohibition was repealed, why didn't the Capone gang in Chicago and the Purple Gang in Detroit start terrorizing legal dealers?

    Talk about head-up-you-ass-based commentary.

    JR

  • ||

    Uh, that should have been "head-up-your-ass-based commentary."

    JR

  • ||

    neongod: "As far as legalizing pot, please do. . . . The rest of them, I don't think so. The problem is that they are addictive."

    Jeffrey Schaler, in his valuable book Addiction is a Choice, describes the idea of physiological addiction to drugs as a "far-fetched, scientifically worthless fantasy." He's right.

    JR

  • ||

    I have been a consumer of marijuana primarily,and in my arthritic old age, opiates, and for fifty years I have wondered why these and other drugs are illegal.
    I know how they got that way; I just cannot see why in the face of all logic and reason they stay that way.
    Could it possibly be that our legislators and significant voters have vested financial interests in keeping things this way? Are they getting under-the-table benefits for the human suffering caused by the laws as they are?
    I am legally using morphine but it wasn't always this way, and my heart breaks a little more every time I hear a recent release

  • chiefupstart||

    @Jeff Have you ever done any volunteer service in a poor neighborhood or lived in an area with rampant drug abuse? I have and I also volunteer at a local womens' shelter. The pain inflicted upon innocent people (kids, spouses) by drug addiction (especially meth) is absolutely hellish. But hey, so long as you don't have to see any of it, shouldn't matter to you. Just keep on belittling and screaming at those who might have a different albeit slightly more informed opinion about the problem of drugs in society than you. Why is some peoples' freedom always the freedom to turn your life and the lives of others into complete dogshit?

  • ||

    Yes, upstart, I have lived in poor neighborhoods. I have had junkies fixing in doorways off the alley outside my front door. I assure you I've seen just as much as you have. The main difference between us, I guess, is that I don't attribute magical properties to piles of powder or leaves, and I lend no credence to pseudo-scientific balderdash like so-called "drug addiction." This puts me in a somewhat better position to interpret and even understand what I've seen. I prefer understanding to mindless hysteria and belief in miracles.

    JR

  • ||

    Half of Americans have tried pot? What, did some just not like it, or is seeing 1 out of every 2 people stoned a likely possible outcome if drugs were legalized?

  • E||

    There is no drug problem, there's a problem with people. If you really want to try to save people, then make cigarettes illegal. Oh hey, alcohol, there's another one. The millions of innocent lives killed in drug wars that could be saved if drugs were legally accessible for everyone is a bad thing? You optimists have a good heart but no brains. People will be addicted to drugs/alcohol NO MATTER WHAT. And to tell you the truth, I'd rather have the meth addict down the street purchase their drugs legally than have them rob and/or even kill for them. If someone wants to fuck up their own life then LET THEM DO IT.

    Oh... and by the way... if you good hearted save the world optimists want to start cracking down on drug use/trade, start with the CIA.

  • ||

    Fantastic article!

    One small issue:
    "Politicians might not see it, but just about anyone else with a moment's thought will acknowledge that we don't usually see that sort of rampant bloody murder associated with the trade in legal items-however good or bad for you they might be."

    Tell that to Iraqis, Sudanese, Nigerians, Chadians, Burmese - all victims of fossil fuel regimes. In Iraq, the war was mostly about Iraq's 200 billion barrels of sweet light crude, and oil concessions are now being directed to Exxon, Chevron, BP, Total, ConocoP - all firms that had been locked out by Saddam... and Iraqi oil is now sold only for dollars, not euros... and there are a million dead people, four or five million refugees - imagine that happening to California, a similar-sized region.

    Nice use of the Chinese opium example - and the Afghanistan opium issue is the same. Indeed, the British during their Afghanistan period also used their warships to open up Chinese markets to Indian opium - the famous British opium wars, 1839-1860. The British were among the world's first big-time international drug dealers, and their concerns were largely economic, like today.

    Check out the Time magazine report, Banking on Cocaine, which describes the world's largest investigation into drug money laundering in Mexico in the late 90s - shut down after it started leading to large U.S. banks like Citigroup.

    www.time.com/time/magazine/1998/int/980601/latin_america.banking_on5.html

    In Afghanistan today, the same dynamic applies - most of our allies in the Karzai government apparently get kickbacks from the heroin-opium trade, which is set up like the cocaine-coca paste trade - the farmers make nothing and barely survive, and the middlemen make all the money. PR efforts try and portray the Taliban as the only ones involved in heroin, just as in China in the 1950s, when Anslinger tried to pin all heroin traffic on a "global communist conspiracy", when it reality it was the Chinese generals who has been pushed back into the Burmese mountains who were really in control of the trade - go see "American Gangster", which is about the heroin trade in the 1960s - today, such international drug dealers would be more likely to be in Pakistan or Central Asia than in Burma and Laos.

    That's why attacks on farmers will never reduce supply - the middlemen will simply double their offered price for raw opium or coca leaf, and the subsistence farmers in the next valley back in will then start growing it. Farmers make less than 1% of the money involved - for every $100,000 worth of cocaine, they make $1000. It would be as if beer were illegal and selling for $100 for a sixpack, while Prohibition types tried to shut down barley farming in response.

  • ||

    Another drug article, yea... My problem with reason magazine, not that anyone cares, is that they are more libertarian in a social sense than in terms of fighting big government. They seem more concerned about my ability to light up a dooby and have sex with prostitutes than fighting bigger government. They're so out of their minds sometimes that they had an article arguing for libertarian reason for voting for Obama. That's crazy. More recently, they have one article warning us not to call people communists, and another article about why the author misses Bill Clinton. Give me a break. Here's a news flash Reason: society will become more liberal in terms of drugs and sex without you ever writing a word. While we're loosing the battle for smaller government, you'll probably be able to smoke weed with your prostitute. Congrats.

  • ||

    Your article assumes the only crime associated with drugs is that committed by the cartels. I have seen what drug addition does to people. It destroys lives, not only of the user but all of the users family and friends. The addict more often than not, ends up homeless and desparate. He commits crime to get money for the drug. He only wants the drug. He does not care whether he buys it from a street vendor or the local pharmacy. Legal or not, he will still commit the crime to get the money for his habit. Legalizing the drug will not reduce this type of crime.

  • ||

    "My problem with reason magazine, not that anyone cares, is that they are more libertarian in a social sense than in terms of fighting big government."

    Right. It isn't big government that gave us the war on drugs and keeps it going. It's small government. Keen insight.

    "They seem more concerned about my ability to light up a dooby and have sex with prostitutes than fighting bigger government."

    Right. Since the war on drugs is not a project of big government, ending it will have no effect whatever on big government. Subtle analysis!

    "Here's a news flash Reason: society will become more liberal in terms of drugs and sex without you ever writing a word. While we're loosing [sic] the battle for smaller government, you'll probably be able to smoke weed with your prostitute. Congrats."

    Right. Society has been becoming more and more "liberal in terms of drugs and sex" for nearly a hundred years now. Richard Nixon was more "liberal in terms of drugs and sex" than, say, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ronald Reagan was even more "liberal in terms of drugs and sex" than Richard Nixon. Astute observation.

    JR

  • ||

    "Your article assumes the only crime associated with drugs is that committed by the cartels. I have seen what drug addition does to people. It destroys lives, not only of the user but all of the users [sic] family and friends. The addict more often than not, ends up homeless and desparate [sic]. He commits crime to get money for the drug. He only wants the drug. He does not care whether he buys it from a street vendor or the local pharmacy. Legal or not, he will still commit the crime to get the money for his habit. Legalizing the drug will not reduce this type of crime."

    True. Legalizing drugs will not reduce crime that mostly exists in the fevered imaginations of ignoramuses.

    JR

  • ||

    @Jeff Riggenbach

    "Right. It isn't big government that gave us the war on drugs and keeps it going. It's small government. Keen insight."

    The Netherlands: a big socialist state where I can smoke pot and have sex with hookers. First point defeated.

    "Right. Since the war on drugs is not a project of big government, ending it will have no effect whatever on big government. Subtle analysis!"

    The Netherlands again. Wow, this is too easy.

    "Right. Society has been becoming more and more "liberal in terms of drugs and sex" for nearly a hundred years now. Richard Nixon was more "liberal in terms of drugs and sex" than, say, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ronald Reagan was even more "liberal in terms of drugs and sex" than Richard Nixon. Astute observation."

    The 60-70s were obviously more liberal in terms of drugs and sex than the 50-60s. Duh. And, the 80s were obviously more liberal than the 60-70s. Your last stupid point defeated, once again.

    You're more snide than you're intelligent.

  • ||

    "The Netherlands: a big socialist state where I can smoke pot and have sex with hookers."

    Right. And if the Netherlands were to change its policy and prohibit both pot and hookers, government there would (magically) not be any bigger. It would be smaller. Brilliant insight!

    "The 60-70s were obviously more liberal in terms of drugs and sex than the 50-60s. Duh."

    Right. That's why the number of people locked in cages for smoking pot during the 60s-70s was so much smaller than the number locked in cages for doing the same thing in the 50s-60s. Duh.

    "And, the 80s were obviously more liberal than the 60-70s."

    Right. That's why, in the 60s-70s, you could have your home seized because someone had found a joint somewhere on your property, while, by the time of the 80s, this was no longer legally possible. Duh.

    "You're more snide than you're intelligent."

    And your stupidity dwarfs even your evident ignorance.

    JR

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

  • changqin||

    good

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