Q: Where does the Constitution authorize the federal government to wage the war on drugs? A: The surge in Iraq worked!

I think this was my favorite moment from the John Stossel drug war show last week. The exchange between an audience questioner and former ONDCP official and narcotics officer Paul Chabot comes at the 2:55 mark.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I need a transcription. My speakers have died

  • Subsidize Me!||

    I can't stand self-aggrandizing military veterans.

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    What a tool.

  • ||

    Are you serious? Is that a serious question?

  • James Madison||

    At least you acknowledge that the Constitution of 1789 is a dead letter and that your Government views it with contempt.

  • ||

    We need to keep fighting the good fight because we're fighting it and we'll keep fighting it because it's what we do.

    I would like everyone in America to watch that because what Paul said is exactly true. They fight it because it's what they do. Really? That's it?

  • ||

    Results be DAMNED! They fight fights, and that you would want to stop them from fighting a fight is outright offensive!

  • ||

    You heard Slim Charles. If it's a lie, then we fight on that lie.

  • x,y||

    +1

    Just finished rewatching Season 3 (third time).

  • ▲ ▲||

    The first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club.

  • Ted S.||

    The first rule of paradox club is, there is no paradox club.

  • Spartacus||

    The first rule of tautology club is the one labeled with a 1.

  • ||

    People use drugs because they are using them, and they will keeping using because that's what they do.

  • ||

    People use drugs because they kick ass. Plus, life is bullshit and people need to escape their own heads sometimes. There is no mystery why people do drugs. It is our birthright to enjoy the seeds and plants of the earth.

  • ||

    "Let me answer it this way: in no way whatsoever."

    Stossel tried to point out that he didn't actually address the point at all, but he just brushed that off too. I would have like to see Stossel be a bit more reluctant to let him off the hook.

    That's one of the things I hate about TV news, even the relatively good shows -- there are constantly time limits and just this stiff friendliness that has to be maintained on the air. It really stifles the debate.

  • ||

    So Stossel should give the guy who doesn't answer the question posed to him MORE time to dodge the question, rather than letting the other guys actually address the point?

  • ||

    Sure. If he wants to dig a deeper hole I say give him a backhoe.

  • ||

    I can definitely see the value there...but i think letting the other guys speak their piece is more valuable. Of course, I agree with them, so I'm biased....

  • ||

    Yeah, fair enough -- again, that's why the format sucks. It's all about run time. I'm not trying to bash Stossel, just saying that I find it frustrating to watch this stuff play out on TV.

  • ||

    There really is no rational case for the drug war as it is currently being fought. So, the defenders do the best with what they have.

  • ||

    What about the children?

  • Virginia||

    Blow them up and/or shoot them.

  • Astrid||

    Something tells me you're not the real Juanita.

  • Joe||

    The US is a free country, freedom means drug free. Straight edge is the only way to be. Anyone who drinks, smokes, does drugs, has premarital sex or doesn't eat a strict vegan diet needs to be beaten up until they are straight. Let freedom ring.

  • ||

    I'm sick of only focusing on "premarital" sex. I mean, when did marital sex suddenly become permissible? Goddamn libruls.

  • ||

    Martial sex frequently results in children. Wont somebody THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!

  • ||

    yeah, i said martial sex. Some rough stuff.

  • NeonCat||

    Plenty of people love a man in uniform…

  • Al Gore||

    Lower. Lower. Lowwwwer.

    Too low!

    Lowerrrr.

  • ||

    We have failed to uphold Brannigan's Law. However I did make it with a hot alien babe. And in the end, is that not what man has dreamt of since first he looked up at the stars?

    ...Kif, I'm asking you a question!

  • Steve Chaos||

    Brannigan's Law is like Brannigan's love: hard and fast.

  • ||

    I cast my vote for the bald-headed guy in the middle as the next President of the United States. He has the right look to appeal to the lefties, and he has a brain.

  • ||

    I don't know. I mean, Obama proves that Americans will vote for a black guy....but will they vote for someone with "more than 2 brain cells to rub together"?

  • ||

    They will allow up to three, but that is the outside limit.

  • ||

    Sounds like a dare to me.

  • Virginia||

    Is that guy a true believer? He comes off as someone just trying to protect their paycheck. Maybe the solution is finding him a job on the other side of the issue. Obviously it would be a real job and not a bureaucratic position like what he held at the jobs program ONDCP. Maybe he can dig post holes or other odd chores that get neglected when the kids leave for school in the morning.

  • ||

    Who knows what he actually thinks. He gets paid to sing the drug war song. And that is what he does.

  • Sam Grove||

    Because that's what they do.

  • ||

    Even so, they'd simply find another clown clone to replace him.

  • ||

    "They are totally obedient, taking any order without question. We modified their genetic structure to make them less independent than the original host."

  • ||

    "No! Drugs are for losers, and hypnosis is for losers with big, weird eyebrows."

  • ||

    New ep tonight....ep.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Something's wrong. Murder isn't working, and that's all we're good at.

  • ||

    Why do dogs lick their balls?

    Because they can.

  • ||

    So cops have to shoot them, because they're jealous of that ability. I KNEW it!

  • Nipplemancer||

    Imagine a world where cops can lick their own balls. "Drug war wha?" slurp, slurp

  • Warty||

    It's always painful to watch someone so badly misjudge their crowd.

    Well-dressed man: "I'm a veteran, therefore my opinion is correct."
    Filthy libertarian crowd: "..."

  • Sally||

    Q: Where does the Constitution authorize the federal government to wage the war on drugs?

    The commerce clause. Because drugs cross state borders. In the controlled substances act it states that because it cannot be known if drugs have crosses a state border, it is assumed that they have. This is much like how when you have over a certain amount it is assumed that you have intent to distribute.

  • ||

    Wouldn't that just give the federal government the duty to regulate the sale and transport across state lines for taxation purposes? If you're going to use the Commerce Clause, you have to allow the transaction to BE commerce. Bans on something mean it is not commerce, it is usurpation of the rights of people to be free.

  • Sally||

    A ban on something means you banned commerce, based on the fact that without the ban you have a substantial effect on the commerce so the ban affects commerce.

  • ||

    Can anybody else make any sense of this? I keep trying to read it from different angles, I even turned myself upside down, and looked at it in a mirror, and i still get nothing.

  • Sally||

    No ban = commerce.

    Ban = no commerce.

    Therefore the ban effects commerce and is thus constitutional.

  • Sally||

    Also, whether or not the drugs have crossed state borders is immaterial, because the CSA states that it is assumed that they have.

  • Astrid||

    What color is the sky on your planet?

  • ||

    Assumptions: sometimes they only make an Ass out of U, and I get off scottfree.

  • ||

    The point is that the commerce is meant to keep commerce between the states "regular". Creating rules about how interstate transcations work, and the fairness of them. It was never intended to be used for prohibition.

    Considered the prohibition of alcohol which did cross state lines. It was not via the commerce clause, but via a constitutional amendment.

    Proper use of the commerce clause toward drugs would deal with the fairness of trade between the states, not to create the absence of trade.

  • ||

    Using your argument, ban = no commerce. Therefore, your next statement that says the ban effects commerce is impossible. Please use your arguments to make a computer blow up, because that would be sweet.

  • ||

    I get where Sally is coming from, but it's like doing physics as time approaches the Big Bang: things break down.

    The ban is justified while drugs are legal as a way of influencing commerce. But when a substance is banned there isn't commerce (theoretically, in the eyes of Da Fed). So then the ban isn't unconstitutional. So repeal the ban. Then it's commerce again; ban it!

    Infinite loop. Yay!

  • ||

    But can we harness that loop for Green Energy?

  • ||

    What about the plants they pull out of the ground. Obviously not interstate commerce at that point.

  • ||

    Sally, are you a Supreme court justice? Your reasoning is impenetrable, hence impecable.

  • ||

    Very good point!

  • Joe_D||

    It's a catch-22. If drugs were legal, they could be taxed and regulated by the fed because they would be interstate commerce. They are not legal, and therefore are not interstate commerce and can't be regulated.

    I think the resolution of this might sound a lot like the pro-life "potential human being" thing.

  • ||

    It's like the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.

    Nerd overload.

  • Robert||

    What they say is not that they're illegal, but that here are the rules you have to follow nto make it legal, and go on from there. As long as they make it possible for someone to legally satisfy the conditions, then there's commerce that they're regulating.

  • Robert||

    There's far too much emphasis on this US Constitutional question. State narcotics laws preceded the federal ones, and you don't see the states doing any more toward repeal of them than to legalize med mj.

  • Tim Lincecum||

    Ummm....except in california where we will be legalizing cannabis use for all adults over 21 in november.

  • ||

    Paul didn't answer a single thing. I hope he watches the show and sees how transparent he was throughout.

    Good, you're a vet. I'm glad you made it out alive. Further, I'm sorry your offended at the fact that there are bigger poppy fields now, but your offense aside, why do you think that happened?

    Even further, so you got into the military to stop terrorism? To try to hold bin Laden responsible for 9/11? Or wage a war on drugs?

  • ||

    DEA clown pwn3d. Fuck yeah, America.

  • ||

    I think expected to be arguing some retarded hippies....not ex-agents with cogent points and real experience in the issue.

  • ||

    The problem is that he wasn't pwn3d.

    If Stossel had turned to him at the end and said "You didn't answer a single point or question", THEN he would have been pwn3d.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    No one plays hardball anymore :/

  • Chris Matthews||

    We do when our legs aren't tingling.

  • ||

    Or, if one of the other panelists, preferably the bald-head guy had said, "since you dodged the actual question, let me answer it. There is no constitutional authority for the war on drugs. In fact, it makes a mockery of the entire notion of constitutional authority and has taken us down the dark road to a police state." Then, the earnest junkie-at-age-twelve would have been truly pwn3d!

  • Rich||

    Chabot: "We have more youth entering rehab today for marijuana than every other drug combined."

    Including alcohol? Citation needed.

    Also, how many of those entering rehab do so to avoid prison or other hassles?

  • ||

    Self-Fulfilling Prophecy FTW!

  • ||

    (in response to the "Also, how many of those entering rehab do so to avoid prison or other hassles?" part.)

  • CatoTheElder||

    For marijuana, I'd guess that the percentage of those entering treatment solely to avoid prison or to qualify for deferred adjudication approaches 100%.

  • ||

    That was my point.

    Put people in rehab after arresting them, then you can point at how many people are in rehab.

    maybe "self fulfilling prophecy" is not the right term?

  • ||

    Also, how many of those entering rehab do so to avoid prison or other hassles?

    Like, every single fucking one of them. Seriously -- does anybody here know a person that independently sought professional help for smoking herb?

    Yes, this is a highly scientific survey.

  • ||

    "WTF, you in here for WEED? You ever sucked dick for weed?!"

    "ummmm"

    "I didn't think so. BOO THIS MAN!"

  • MWG||

  • ||

    And remember, that is just for referrals directly from the court system. If my immediate circle of friends is any indication, there is also a healthy percentage of kids forced to go by their parents. Or hell, even the occasional nagging-ass wife who wants her husband to "become a better person".

  • ||

    If you watch the entire episode, Paul's answer is always "a resounding no". What the question is doesn't matter

  • jtuf||

    Many politicians on Captial Hill advocate amnesty for illegal aliens, saying that it is impossible to round up and jail a population of 12 million illegal aliens. However, those same politicians think it possible to arrest the 14 million Americans that have used marijuana in the past month.

  • ||

    +100. That is a great point. I wish I had thought of that.

  • ||

    I'm only going to award +25. Pointing out that politicians are retarded is a bit redundant.

  • ||

    No that is impossible. However, with strict enough laws it is possible to sufficiently terrify those 14 million into quitting. How about life in prison with no parole to anyone caught, and death to anyone caught dealing or with intent to distribute, with no appeals allowed.

  • ||

    The death penalty could be a useful tool in the war on drugs. The American people want death! Give me liberty or give me death is what they say.

  • ||

    Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death!

  • ||

    So my choice is liberty or death? Liberty please. Thanks very much.

  • Byron||

    "I asked for the vegetarian."

  • ||

    If drugs = death and you want people who use drugs to die, why not just let them use drugs?

    (Did you ever see that scene in Scanners where that dude's head blew up?)

  • ||

    Hey, we could use death penalty to stop illegal immigration too! "You wanted a better life? How about no life at all, muthafucka?! YEEEEEEEHAWWWWWWWW"

    Hey, where are your papers Juanita?

    (No, I'm not feeding the troll, I'm playing along.)

  • Sally||

    That is 14 million Americans who need treatment.

  • ||

    So, more than that need treatments for stupidity, which affects our country more than drugs.

  • ||

    WHOA, slow down. No way in hell I'm paying for all the treatment needed to cure Teh Stupid.

  • Sudden||

    Considering that the "treatment" is supposed to be our public education system, I would wager money that the "treatment" is in fact the disease.

  • ||

    I don't want to pay for that either....

  • ||

    Why?

    I get the feeling that you're one of the people who thinks that Reefer Madness is one of the great scientific documentaries of the 20th Century.

  • ||

    I have no interest in treatment. I like pot and can afford it.

  • Joe||

    Freedom is drug free, in a truly free country, straight edge is the only way to go.

  • Little Kid||

    But I can still spin around til I fall down, right?

    Fucker.

  • CM Punk||

    That's what I'm talking about!

  • ¢||

    Obama proves that Americans will vote for a black guy

    Of a kind.

    But the guy in the clip isn't a safe, take-home-to-mama, son-of-an-African-politican, quota-gaming "black guy." He's fuckin' black.

    The Sex and the City vote Obama swung in on won't vote for a black guy. Those are scary.

  • ||

    No shit. Culturally there is nothing particularly black about Obama. If you really want to drive liberals nuts, point out that Clearance Thomas, a guy who grew up in the rural south and was the only black guy at an all white school, has more in common with black people his age than Obama ever will.

  • ||

    And they'll just call you a racist.

    Got another strategy?

  • ||

    But they always do that.

  • ||

    Very true, and CT was poor, dirt poor.

    BHO was raised in an upper middle class white household. He is, essentially, the negative image of the Steve Martin character in the movie, "The Jerk", except without the humor.

  • ||

    The other thing to is that there is a different dynamic among white and black people when there is a large third minority present. You notice this in the Southwest. In the Southwest, black and white people tend to get along a lot better and bond with each other more, because there are so many Hispanics. Being in the minority and being natives to the country in the presence of a bunch of non natives makes them stick together more than they normally would. I would imagine the same is true in Hawaii where the majority of the population are Asians and native Hawaiians. Growing up black in Hawaii is nothing like growing up black in most of the lower 48.

  • Navin Johnson||

    Have you seen him dance?

  • RC'z Law||

    Clearance Thomas

    Let's hope not. He's the best one we've got!

  • ||

    But Mr. Franklin speaks SO well!

  • ||

    I can't decide what is more annoying about Chabot - his high-school debate team mannerisms or his douchey hair. If you google the dude, you'll also see that he says he went to rehab for marijuana addiction at 12. Who the #&@!$ gets addicted to pot at 12, and how does that make him qualified to speak on continued prohibition??

  • ||

    No shit? What kind of reprobate gets addicted to pot in the first place.

  • Chabot||

    See?! See how dangerous that shit is?!

  • ||

    Do we want to cross the line and make this shit legal ? May answer would be...oh, you know my anwer, and it's resounding

  • ||

    Mommy and Daddy Chabot caught him coughing on a joint and sent him to brainwashing treatment.

  • ||

    You gotta admit, the Brainwashers did a damn good job.

  • Spoonman.||

    How the shit do you even get your hands on weed at age goddamn 12? The hell?

  • ||

    Stealing money from your parents. The guy has a real solid moral upbringing.

  • ||

    Or stealing weed from your parents.

  • Bender Bending Rodriguez||

    From YOU Dad awright?! I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!!!!

  • ||

    From YOU Dad awright?! I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING STEALING FROM YOU!!!!

    FTFY

  • ||

    Older sisters.

  • ||

    This is the Commerce Clause in its entirety:

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes

    Please note that it does not give authority to regulate commerce within a State, even if that commerce "affects" commerce "among" the States. I know what SCOTUS said, and they are wrong.

    I think the question of what kinds of laws constitute "regulation" is a tough one, but its not crazy to say that banning something would be permissible regulation. Congress could ban the importation of slaves from foreign nations under this clause, so it could presumably ban an interstate traffic in slaves and, by extension, drugs.

    What Congress does not have is the Constitutional authority to regulate commerce or other economic activity occurring entirely within the jurisdiction of a state.

  • Supremacy Clause||

    HA! Puny mortal!

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

  • Spartacus||

    I know you're kidding, but just to be preemptive...

    The key phrase there is "in Pursuance thereof," which refers back to the Constitution. The supremacy clause cannot be used to argue for priority of unconstitutional laws, since they are not in pursuance of the constitution.

    The only legitimate question is constitutionality; the supremacy clause is moot, being either unnecessary or inapplicable.

  • 14th Amendment||

    "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."

    Wanna bet? Supremacy Clause, I got your back!

  • GILMORE||

    What is most upsetting is that most likely 90% of the viewers watching probably nodded at his (non) response.

    Rhetoric trumps logic every day.

  • GILMORE||

    Oh, and the guy doesnt know what 'misnomer' means either.

    Dear god, help us

  • ||

    Y'all give Brian Lamb a lot of credit for cspan. But what did they do this morning? Invite the Drug Czar on to the Washington Journal to dispense a load of bullshit about the war on drugs. Will they have a legalization supporter on the refute him? Don't hold your breath.

  • AA||

    I'm an Iraq vet too, who was there for the initial invasion in March "03. And I know from experience that that other vet in the video is a douche.

  • ||

    Just from his general douchebaggery, or do you have juicy and possibly illegal details for us?

  • AA||

    Well I was stationed in Germany for the other 18 months in the ARMY, so yes, there are juicy and possibly illegal details ;) but I won't get into that.

  • ||

    Awww damn. Well I'll offer a thanks to you and John for your service anyway.

  • AA||

    Thanks, but he is still a douche.

  • ||

    I was there to. And I agree, he is a douche.

  • Kevin||

    "There's violent people behind those doors."

    There's violent people kicking in those doors, too.

  • Pedant||

    Mr. Chabot, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement