Drug Policy

John Walters' Well-Kept Secret: 'Our Drug Policy Is a Success'

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Drug czar John Walters marks the 75th anniversary of Repeal Day in today's Wall Street Journal by rehashing his argument that the government is (finally!) winning its war on the intoxicants that, unlike alcohol, remain illegal:

Our policy has been a success—although that success is one of Washington's best kept secrets.

Reported drug use among eighth, 10th and 12th graders has declined for six straight years. Teen use of cocaine, marijuana and inhalants is down significantly, while consumption of methamphetamine and hallucinogens like LSD and Ecstasy has all but collapsed.

The number of workplace tests that are positive for cocaine is down sharply, to the lowest levels on record. Even the sudden spike of meth use—remember the headlines from just a few years ago?— has yielded to a combination of state and federal regulations controlling meth ingredients.

As usual, Walters does not make a serious attempt to show that declines in reported drug use under the Bush administration have anything to do with its policies. And even if we accept his post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning, the numbers do not support his claim of success. Survey data for the last few decades indicate that drug use has gone up and down with no apparent relationship to changes in personnel or policy. In the Monitoring the Future Study, for example, the percentage of high school seniors reporting illegal drug use in the previous month peaked in 1997, four years before George W. Bush took office. And Walters is wrong when he claims that "reported drug use among eighth, 10th and 12th graders has declined for six straight years." There was an uptick in reported drug use among both sophomores and seniors between 2006 and 2007. Does he want to take credit for that as well?

Hallucinogen use by teenagers, which Walters brags "has all but collapsed," has been falling more or less steadily since 1995, three years into the first term of an administration that Walters has repeatedly blasted as soft on drugs. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicates that cocaine use, which Walters implies has fallen sharply under Bush, has been essentially flat since 2002, the first year of the survey. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, the pedecessor to the NSDUH, cocaine use fell from the mid-1980s to the early '90s and was essentially flat through 2001. Methamphetamine use has been falling since 1999 among eighth-graders, since 2000 among sophomores and seniors, and since 2001 in the general population 12 and older. Evidently the Bush administration's drug policies are so effective they work retroactively. Or maybe Walters counts a decrease in "the headlines from just a few years ago" as a success, regardless of the underlying reality.

For drug warriors, of course, the numbers don't really matter, because their response is always the same: Let's keep doing what we're doing. If drug use goes down, it means we're succeeding, so we should get more money. If drug use goes up, we need to redouble our efforts, so we should get more money.

In any case, it's not clear why a decline in drug use per se should count as a victory without evidence that the harm associated with drug use has declined commensurately. If a dramatic reduction in reported drug use were achieved by eliminating every occasional pot smoker, for example, the benefit in terms of health, productivity, and improved social functioning would be negligible. Furthermore, Walters completely fails to consider the other side of the ledger: the enormous costs of the war on drugs (which Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance discusses in a companion article). Even a committed paternalist, if he is honest, has to ask whether the damage prevented by drug prohibition outweighs the damage it inflicts.

"The good news in drug policy," Walters writes, "is that we know what works, and that is moral seriousness." Moral seriousness on this subject would require taking into account half a million nonviolent drug offenders behind bars, the victims of black market violence, avoidable deaths caused by the unreliable quality and unsanitary practices that prohibition fosters, the risk-premium subsidy to thugs and terrorists, the corruption of law enforcement officials, and the loss of civil liberties resulting from the drug war's perversion of the Constitution. Walters' claim to moral seriousness is therefore hard to take seriously. I'd settle for a little bit of intellectual seriousness from whomever Barack Obama chooses to succeed Walters, but it seems to be incompatible with the job.

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  1. All you skeevy potheads oughta read the full article. If the government needs to abridge your first ammendment rights to silence you’re pro-drug psychobabble I am okay with that. Waters is right, the children are the potential future drug users, and we need to keep them scared. Yes Virginia, there is a war on drugs, and don’t tell anyone, but we’re winning.

  2. I think Walters has confused “moral seriousness” with fanaticism.

  3. “The good news in drug policy,” Walters writes, “is that we know what works, and that is moral seriousness.” Moral seriousness on this subject would require taking into account half a million nonviolent drug offenders behind bars, the victims of black market violence, avoidable deaths caused by the unreliable quality and unsanitary practices that prohibition fosters, the risk premium subsidy to thugs and terrorists, the corruption of law enforcement officials, and the loss of civil liberties resulting from the drug war’s perversion of the Constitution.

    You forgot* deaths of innocents,** denied scholarships, and reduced career oportunities. I’m certain that others can add to the list of outrages the descend from denying folks the right to control their own fucking bodies.

    * I’m not faulting you. The list is extremely lengthy.

    ** REMEEMBER KATHRYN JOHNSTON!

  4. moral seriousness? is the war on drugs a moral issue? is the government telling me that getting high is inherently immoral? is shooting heroin like beating a dog or eating an infant? is my government really telling me that they are enforcing morality?

    what fucking clowns

    calcium, you twat, it’s there is a war on drugs and drugs are still winning…nutsack

  5. Dude, he knows what works, and it’s moral super serial.

  6. Is Calcium a troll? He can’t be serious.

  7. Why should Reason dignify the “data” to which Walters cites? Common sense, logic and intellectual honesty all require that such “data” be summarily dismissed and those who rely upon the same to be derided.

  8. You know, not a single real (not counting trolls) commenter on here is pro drug war. None of the conservatives or liberals, even. Is there anyone here that can logically argue in favor of drug prohibition in good faith?

  9. BURN HER!!! Oh, whoops, wrong thread… well not really so… BURN HIM ANYWAY!!!

  10. In good faith, it is my opinion that drug legalization would be disastrous. It would foster in the anti-American, anti-government attitudes that some of you display here. The children of this country would grow up with moral decay and no sense of responsibility. Drug use is not inherently bad, it is the attitude that goes with it that is destroying this nation. Marijuana is the litmus test for whether or not someone truly cares about the future of this country. To smoke a joint is the same as burning our flag and future.

  11. BDB,
    I am sure that a couple of former growers/couriers ’round these parts might be able to show you a positive side to the WOsD. The black market is what puts cash in the pockets of those who defy the government after all.

  12. You know, not a single real (not counting trolls) commenter on here is pro drug war.

    I am not a troll, I am a human being!

  13. Phalkor, is that you?

  14. You know, not a single real (not counting trolls) commenter on here is pro drug war. None of the conservatives or liberals, even. Is there anyone here that can logically argue in favor of drug prohibition in good faith?

    Only if you live here.

  15. The best blogs attract the most trolls after all. I’m getting hungry.

  16. Keep DOPE Alive !!!

  17. Calcium is a troll… Just like juanita

  18. kwix, you caught me!

  19. I think NSDUH is one of the best government acronyms ever.

  20. The question on everyone’s mind is:

    Does Phalkor = Cesar?

    Please let it be so!

  21. Why should Reason dignify the “data” to which Walters cites? Common sense, logic and intellectual honesty all require that such “data” be summarily dismissed and those who rely upon the same to be derided.

    I almost agree on principle, but a good look at their own data pretty clearly shows that they are full of shit and their policies are useless. Here is a good example of someone who has used the government’s own data to thoroughly debunk their claims: http://www.briancbennett.com/ . Even if they are not good data, using the government’s own data in arguments against them gives you a good firm footing for your arguments. Still don’t have much hope of changing many of these assholes’ minds, though.

  22. the sad part is that while calcium’s trolling comments are trolling here…a lot of people believe that shit

  23. 1. Kids are taking many more drugs today than at any time in the past: they are mere prescribed by a doctor but still used to elevate mood and alter behavior in any event.

    2. Kids would probably use more illegal drugs if they had anytime to themselves in this age of over protective parents. I would love to see a chart showing time spent in organized activity and/or at home with mommy against drug use. Kids just don’t have the opportunity they once had. Of course that is the same for all kinds of activities, many of them good for kids.

  24. Amen Zeb!
    Here is a link to Brian C Bennett’s site for those too lazy to copy and paste. Worth pouring through each and every graph!

  25. BDB,

    I think there are quite a few commenters here who support our government licensed gateway system to purchase prescription drugs and favor a “treatment not prison” progressive approach to anything “harder” than marijuana.They would count as prohibitionists by any libertarian definition.

  26. In good faith, it is my opinion that drug legalization would be disastrous. It would foster in the anti-American, anti-government attitudes that some of you display here. The children of this country would grow up with moral decay and no sense of responsibility. Drug use is not inherently bad, it is the attitude that goes with it that is destroying this nation. Marijuana is the litmus test for whether or not someone truly cares about the future of this country. To smoke a joint is the same as burning our flag and future.

    PURE comedy gold!

  27. Is there anyone here that can logically argue in favor of drug prohibition in good faith?

    The serious argument seems to be: drug use is always bad, so it must remain illegal. This week, I got an e-mail from an indignant woman criticizing a column I wrote where I mentioned that using drugs is only bad if you get caught; otherwise, a drug user can still go on to be elected president of the United States.

    The woman was trying to be fair; she gave me credit for being well-meaning in that she’s pretty sure I don’t actually want all of America’s children to become hopeless addicts, but in her mind, saying “I did drugs in my youth and turned out fine, because I never got arrested” is akin to saying “I once ran out into busy traffic without looking where I was going, and no cars hit me” … I personally got lucky, but running out in traffic is still very dangerous and must remain illegal.

  28. Phalkor isn’t me. He is probably some pothead who thinks it’s funny to spout off about how evil the drug war is on police websites. Then he cries like a little girl when they threaten to supoena his ip address and shoot his dog while he tries to light his bong. The very thought makes me all tingly with glee.

    Of course the data is false, guys! You skeevy potheads would never admit to your outrageous wrongdoings. I am convinced there are more people taking drugs than ever. That is why we need to redouble our efforts. Isn’t obvious that society is crumbling beneath our very feet?

    Take heart, simple libertarians, someday you will understand the moral danger of intoxicants.

  29. not to shit on the government’s parade, but we’re citing the number of 8th graders who report on a survey that they’ve used an illicit drug recently. uhh…what? this is a reliable measure of anything? I’m sorry, but if I got this survey when I was 13 and I had smoked a joint in the last month, why the fuck would I admit it?

    maybe kids are just getting smarter? maybe the ridiculous, merciless drug policies are just making kids realize, “well, shit, maybe I should keep this on the down-low”. but y’know, at least we’re winning the war with Eurasia, so keep up the support folks.

  30. Take heart, simple libertarians, someday you will understand the moral danger of intoxicants.

    Carrie Nation back from the grave and ready to scold!

  31. “Of course the data is false, guys! You skeevy potheads would never admit to your outrageous wrongdoings. I am convinced there are more people taking drugs than ever. That is why we need to redouble our efforts. Isn’t obvious that society is crumbling beneath our very feet?”

    More people are also buying cars than ever. Has the government’s car policy been a dismal failure?

  32. Next thing you know they’ll tell us they raised chocalate rations when I know for a fact that they were reduced just last week!

  33. “The number of workplace tests that are positive for cocaine is down sharply, to the lowest levels on record.”

    Could this be because of companies laying people off, or going out of business completely, leaving less piss tasting testing?

    As far as the war on some drugs market is concerned, any business which can make a profit after losing half of its product in seizures is pretty darned successful.

    Sorry Johnny Pee Walters, no gold star for you, not yours.

  34. “The good news in drug policy,” said Walters, “is that I’m still getting a fucking paycheck for this disaster.”

  35. “Next thing you know they’ll tell us they raised chocalate rations when I know for a fact that they were reduced just last week!”

    My razor blades don’t last as long as they used to.

  36. Calcium strikes me as mere sarcastic parody, but the sad part is that it’s hard to distinguish between blatant parody (or trolling) and real-life the positions of drug warriors.

    In a sense, they parody themselves…

  37. it might also be worth noting in the time that they’re citing, the internet, the best source of relatively anonymous information, has allowed for the publication of information on drug-testing, including how to beat tests, etc.

  38. Not even Lefiti/concerned observer tries to argue in favor of drug prohibition! Not even LoneWacko/Orange Line Special does! Think about it.

  39. Here is a link to Brian C Bennett’s site for those too lazy to copy and paste.

    *Sheepishly raises hand*
    Salamat.

  40. it might also be worth noting in the time that they’re citing, the internet, the best source of relatively anonymous information, has allowed for the publication of information on drug-testing, including how to beat tests, etc.

    It worked for me at my current job…

  41. Not even Lefiti/concerned observer tries to argue in favor of drug prohibition! Not even LoneWacko/Orange Line Special does! Think about it.

    *makes devil sign with hand and waves it in front of face*

    Yeah, this is me, not giving a fuck…

  42. So far the best way to deal with trolls is to spoof them with unrelenting zeal. What kind of zeal you ask?

    How about the zeal of the righteous drug warrior! The temperance movement will live again!

    All I wanna know is who’s coming with me?

  43. What surprised me with the WSJ editorial pages this morning is the neighboring opinion piece (right beside Walters) that argues FOR legalizing drugs.

  44. Think about it.

    I thought about it, really, I did. Everyone has their pet issue, this is mine. I see society crumbling around me and I want to say something. It makes sense to say it to the people who willingly hope for anarchy, you, the libertarians.

    If you’re unwilling to take me seriously, that’s fine. Remember when some guy on PCP stabs you and jacks your car that I was here all along warning you about the danger of your ideas.

    Drugs don’t kill people, libertarians with visions of anarchy dancing in their heads do.

  45. Also consider: we live in an era where cops will hold traffic checkpoints to make sure everybody has their seatbelts fastened, and many people approve of this from a public-safety perspective. (It is dangerous to drive without a seatbelt, the cops are just looking out for your best interests, stop complaining.) It’s easy to support a war on drugs if you simultaneously believe that drugs are unrelentingly bad, AND that government is supposed to view its citizens with the same protective “I know what’s best” attitude that parents have toward their five-year-old children.

  46. “Remember when some guy on PCP stabs you and jacks your car that I was here all along warning you about the danger of your ideas.”

    yeah but if i take enough acid i won’t actually FEEL it and it’ll be easier to forgive him afterward.

  47. The guy on PCP that stabs me and jack my car is going to do PCP no matter what the legality of it is.

    And he won’t have to jack my car for it cause legal PCP will cost a lot less that it does now.

  48. He won’t steal your car for the money. He would steal it because in druggy, anarcho-libertopia there will be no one to stop it.

  49. But will it taste and smell better? That’s the real question.

  50. Calcium has to be a parody. Even Juanita is more plausible.

  51. not on topic:
    More people are also buying cars than ever.

    Worldwide, yes. In the US not so much

  52. if someone takes PCP, stabs you, and jacks your car, it seems to make more sense to prosecute the person for stabbing you and jacking your car. no one has outlawed religion, governments, or money yet, despite the fact that these institutions have caused, and continue to cause far more violence.

    no one here is advocating that you should be able to take drugs then go out and stab people, only responsible drug use. there are plenty of pcp users that don’t commit other crimes, and these people are doing nothing wrong.

  53. guys! stop arguing with the troll.

  54. Does anyone even do PCP deliberately? From all accounts I have heard it is just unpleasant and has horrible side/after-effects.

  55. let me correct my previous statement: people have historically outlawed religion (a la USSR), but like outlawing drugs, nothing good came of it.

  56. “Remember when some guy on PCP stabs you and jacks your car that I was here all along warning you about the danger of your ideas.”

    And since you are considering this happening in the current environment of illegal PCP, how is continuing current policy going to suddenly start working? Does that make any sense?

  57. I AM ON PCP, CALCIUM SMASH!!!

    MY BONES ARE SO STRONG!

  58. “I once ran out into busy traffic without looking where I was going, and no cars hit me”

    Jaywalking’s not illegal because it’s dangerous. Jaywalking’s illegal because the state owns the roads.

    The state has no power to make jaywalking illegal in my driveway.

    Her problem is that she thinks the laws against running into traffic are justified by the presence of danger, and therefore she thinks it follows that the state can make other dangerous things illegal, too. [I don’t agree with her that drugs are dangerous in the sense she means, but I don’t need to debunk that assumption to rebut her here.] But that’s not what justifies the jaywalking laws.

  59. By the way, once again this is an example of the fact that ANY policy can be made to look like a success if you just refuse to consider the costs of that policy, including the opportunity costs.

    Since the administration thinks it’s OK to ignore the costs of the Iraq war while evaluating its success, why wouldn’t they also ignore the costs of the drug war while evaluating its success?

  60. back on topic:

    If we can get the federal goverment out of the habit (so to speak) of overiding local and state initiatives that decriminalize cannabis possession (and retail sales), this will present a great victory for those who oppose the war on drugs.

    I predict, however, that this will also represent the high water mark. The sad fact is that a majority of the public (and not just in America) feel wrt Walters and his ilk that ‘they want him on that wall, they *need* him on that wall.’

  61. The state has no power to make jaywalking illegal in my driveway.

    True

    [I don’t agree with her that drugs are dangerous in the sense she means, but I don’t need to debunk that assumption to rebut her here.]

    There is some danger, but really much, much less than people think, and for MJ effectively zero. Lots of other legal things have some danger, C2-H5-OH, skydiving, scuba, but the point is in a free society they are an adult choice.

  62. Fluffy, so you’re saying the state does not own my body, therefore I ought to be able to put whatever I want into it? Are you saying that violent drug addicts are responsible for their own actions and it is not “evil drugs” that cause them to menace our fragile society?

    The state owns the street, therfore I may not jaywalk. I own my body. Hmmm…I’m pondering.

  63. calcium, what makes the drugs you choose to put in your body any different than any of the drugs someone else puts into theirs? and don’t try to tell me you don’t ingest any drugs. caffeine is a drug. alcohol is a drug. nicotine is (one of THE MOST addictive) drug. any pathogen that has any effect on the human body can be considered a drug. the short answer to the question i posed is that, like a good sheeple, you blindly accept whatever the government is shoving down your throat. it is so much easier when you don’t have to think for yourself!

  64. I’ve got a word or two
    To say about the things that you do
    You’re telling all those lies
    About the good things that we can have
    If we close our eyes

    Do what you want to do
    And go where you’re going to
    Think for yourself
    ‘Cause I won’t be there with you

    I left you far behind
    The ruins of the life that you have in mind
    And though you still can’t see
    I know your mind’s made up
    You’re gonna cause more misery

    Do what you want to do
    And go where you’re going to
    Think for yourself
    ‘Cause I won’t be there with you

    Although your mind’s opaque
    Try thinking more if just for your own sake
    The future still looks good
    And you’ve got time to rectify
    All the things that you should

    Do what you want to do
    And go where you’re going to
    Think for yourself
    ‘Cause I won’t be there with you

    Do what you want to do
    And go where you’re going to
    Think for yourself
    ‘Cause I won’t be there with you
    Think for yourself
    ‘Cause I won’t be there with you

  65. JHC you people, stop feeding the troll.

    Back on topic again:
    Hallucinogen use by teenagers, which Walters brags “has all but collapsed,” has been falling more or less steadily since 1995

    I was surprised to discover that my first thought here was: this is a good thing?

    Hallucinogens have their place. I worry that if teenagers aren’t using them, nobody’s having fun with them, and that makes me sad inside.

    It also makes me a Cool Dad, come to think of it.

  66. running out in traffic is still very dangerous and must remain illegal.

    Why?

  67. These policies have successfully:

    1) Continued lining the pockets of drug cartels/gangs.

    2) Continued giving more and more power to the government at all levels.

    3) Continued growing the LE/prison industry.

    So clearly, from the point of view of any government henchman the policies have been a success.

  68. running out in traffic is still very dangerous and must remain illegal.

    Why?

    Because, as I mentioned already, many people — probably more each year — seriously believe that government’s job is to protect citizens the same way parents protect their kindergarten-aged offspring: we know what’s best, so we make the rules and you have to follow them, for your own good, or you will be punished.

    I got my driver’s license long before seatbelts became mandatory, yet I have never, ever driven without my seatbelt on (mainly because I’m the worrying type). And there are people who simply cannot understand why, despite this, I oppose mandatory-seatbelt laws, and ESPECIALLY oppose seatbelt checkpoints: the law is there for people’s own good, and I myself always comply with the law anyway, and do I WANT there to be increased fatalities in car accidents? Am I really arguing people should have the right to increase their risk of injury if they have a car accident? And I say yes and they say I’m insane.

    These are the people who sincerely don’t understand the opposition to transfat bans: transfats are BAD for you! How can you claim to care about people if you want them to eat things that are BAD for them? And they think drugs are even worse, because they’re not just bad for you; they’re bad for everyone around you when you’re transformed into a mindless criminal zombie.

    Which is why I brought up the “running into traffic” example: we probably all know some kid, or were once some kid, who ran out into traffic and didn’t get hurt. But that exception does not negate the rule that running into traffic is dangerous. Likewise, no matter how many people did drugs and turned out fine — even getting into the White House — they’re still convinced these are rare exceptions.

  69. uh… last time i checked, alcohol counted as a drug. so did tobacco/nicotine. so… what’s all this about how all drugs should be illegal? puh-leaze. if people can’t see that such absolutist opinions are inherently hypocritcal and based on cultural norms, i don’t have a lot of hope for the decriminalization of anything anymore.

  70. I changed my mind, guys! I think for myself!
    I drop acid!

    I think it is the responsibility of any thinking person to drop acid at least once during their lifetime. It is astounding!

  71. “These policies have successfully:

    1) Continued lining the pockets of drug cartels/gangs.

    2) Continued giving more and more power to the government at all levels.

    3) Continued growing the LE/prison industry.

    So clearly, from the point of view of any government henchman the policies have been a success.”

    4) Continued growth in the drug testing and addiction / responsible use rehabilitation industrial complex.

    5) Giving insurance another reason to deny coverage. (because someone having illegal drug metabolites in their system makes them want to hurt themselves and damage property)

  72. Does anyone even do PCP deliberately? From all accounts I have heard it is just unpleasant and has horrible side/after-effects.

    An alleged friend once slipped me a mickey of PCP. It’s a pretty fucked up drug for me. I’ve known people who like the high. To each their own, who am I to judge, yada, yada, yada.

  73. I think for me, I have no problem with the government doing drug and alcohol education in the schools. If the war on drugs was just that and some ad campaigns to target problem drugs (like the meth campaigns) I’d be all for it. Education hurts nobody and it doesn’t involve violating liberties. I also support sex education and consumer finance courses in public schools. Perhaps teens are doing drugs less because they are now better educated on the dangers of them, just like fewer people would go into bankruptcy by taking out debts they’ll never be able to pay for, or fewer people would get pregnant because of not using birth control – had they known better.

    When it comes to the War on Drugs, its the stuff like the crazy raids and the mandatory minimums, the destruction of families and emphasis on punishment instead of treatment that gets my knickers in a twist. The drug war should be focused primarily on education, treatment and stopping violent criminals and users who truly endanger the safety others.

  74. “For drug warriors, of course, the numbers don’t really matter, because their response is always the same: Let’s keep doing what we’re doing. If drug use goes down, it means we’re succeeding, so we should get more money. If drug use goes up, we need to redouble our efforts, so we should get more money.”

    This “logic” applies to anything and everything government does.
    Latest example is trying to bail the nation out of depression.

  75. Even if we accept his post hoc logic, and even if we accept the figures he cites of lower drug use, does that justify drug prohibition? I think he’s implicitly saying that if alcohol prohibition had been successful, we should not have repealed prohibition.

    The government has NO BUSINESS banning citizens’ use of intoxicating substances. The government can tax those substances and make sure they’re not sold in impure/adulterated conditions, but that’s it. Prohibition of any substance that makes people feel better will always fail – it’s impossible. Even in crazier countries with mandatory penalties of death, drugs continue to be used and sold.

    Drug prohibition is NOT successful – it’s the largest failure of the U.S. government since alcohol prohibition. But even if it WERE somehow successful, that doesn’t make it right, nor justified.

  76. “I once ran out into busy traffic without looking where I was going, and no cars hit me”

    Jaywalking’s not illegal because it’s dangerous. Jaywalking’s illegal because the state owns the roads.

    Or you can argue that it’s illegal because the dangers of jaywalking create real negative externalities, while drug use does not. Most anti-drug people would more likely accept that argument over yours because by being anti-drug they’re already anti-freedom, and then when they say that drugs have negative externalities, too, that’s when you come in and tell them they’re wrong there, too.

  77. Jaywalking causes traffic and endangers people other than the jaywalker – cars that have to slam on their breaks to avoid hitting a pedestrian create a dangerous situation where drivers can be rear-ended quite easily. The risk for property damage alone is worthy of making jaywalking a crime. That being said, it should not be anything greater than the low-level misdemeanor that it is. If jaywalking were a first degree felony, or even the lowest-level felony, it would be an illegitimate form of government action.

  78. is my government really telling me that they are enforcing morality?

    Thou shalt not kill.
    Stealing is wrong.
    Rape is immoral.

    What the fuck do you think criminal law is about if not morality?

    Does anyone even do PCP deliberately? From all accounts I have heard it is just unpleasant and has horrible side/after-effects.

    Not as bad as alcohol, except when its worse.

    Fairly fun drug unless its not…but boy that bad trip is bad.

  79. Which is why I brought up the “running into traffic” example: we probably all know some kid, or were once some kid, who ran out into traffic and didn’t get hurt. But that exception does not negate the rule that running into traffic is dangerous. Likewise, no matter how many people did drugs and turned out fine — even getting into the White House — they’re still convinced these are rare exceptions.

    Jennifer is clumsily talking around an important point. Reason often wants to make the argument that the WoD is bad because the evidence for the harm that drugs cause is overblown.

    It takes the form, drugs should be legal because they aren’t really that dangerous, don’t really create many problems.

    This is an ineffective argument.

    The WoD is motivated by real world negative consequences that ARE tied to drug use that everyone has seen in someone in their life…it is a misguided solution to a real problem.

    The approach should be, YES, drug abuse is a problem, here is a plan that would better address the problem….

    Or, yes drugs are bad, but people have a right to screw up their life.

  80. and then when they say that drugs have negative externalities, too, that’s when you come in and tell them they’re wrong there, too.

    Incorrect, move to the back of the line.

  81. Could all the great writers here PLEASE share these insightful viewpoints at the Wall Street Journal, in response to the John Walter’s editorial? Important people are reading Walter’s drivel, and some may be capable of critical thought.

    Knocking around ideas with people who agree with you (and a few token shills) can be constructive, but the message needs to get out there. If, for instance, most of the writers here left the same points with the WSJ consistently — in addition to sharing here — maybe the WSJ would stop shamelessly shilling for the ONDCP and DEA.

    Discussion forums are free PR and great way to leave a written record of the truth – to help “guide” the ethically-challenged media and politicians.

    Continually bombarding the LIARS with the truth will clip their “lying wings” and make it a lot more difficult to keep the lying-status-quo.

  82. The price of heroin has fallen 600% since the beginning of the drug war, is available in every city in America, and is now 80-90% pure as opposed to 5% in the sixties; you call that winning?

  83. “Survey data for the last few decades indicate that drug use has gone up and down with no apparent relationship to changes in personnel or policy.”

    YOU DARE CHALLENGE THE MIGHTY OZ!?

  84. I TRIED TO SHARE SOME INFO AT THE WSJ…

    I am LIVID that the WSJ continues to refuse to print non-inflammatory comments and the links that I submit – like links to the recent Brookings Institution Report on the Drug War Failure; to the NYTime’s John Tierney’s article on the Drug Czar; or to the great Drug War debunking website someone linked-to here (with charts, graphs and FACTS!!)

    The WSJ BUILT-IN ONDCP/DEA CENSORS already closed discussion in response to the Drug Czar’s piece, because the responses were mostly critical of the Prohibition Flop.

    Media helps shape our elected officials’ perceptions; and if larger media like the WSJ — with pretty good credibility — refuse to print “the other side,” (other than their token Nadlemann piece every three years) something is very wrong.

    The WSJ’s transparent censorship gives the drug warriors a constant-pass, despite them falling ridiculously short of their stated objectives & wasting a shit-load of OUR money.

    I realize some of the more conservative folk here may think the WSJ is not that bad — maybe on financial issues; but if you’d followed their coverage of Medical Cannabis over the last several years, you’d see a concerted effort to conceal the facts and to push a bunch of lies and propaganda.

    My only consolation is knowing this rabid censorship is going to harm the WSJ’s credibility in the long run, and the papers presenting more objective news will acquire the WSJ’s readers over time. People are pretty sick of FOX-type stuff and are looking for less propaganda in their News.

  85. Dear Mr. Walters

    As an Australian on the other side of the planet, your drug policy looks like anything but a success.

    Is it common in the US for those with a high profile like yourself (Drug Czar – strangest title in political history), to make such ridiculous and misleading statements? If this happened in any other country, you would be considered unfit to be taken seriously. You certainly would be removed quickly to avoid anymore embarrassment.

    Whether someone is anti or pro drug law reform, it’s hard to ignore the obvious cherry picking of data and layers of misinformation that you use as evidence. If this is the best you can come up with then the “War on Drugs” is even more doomed than first thought.

  86. Why are they trying to keep their success a secret? Did Walters just ruin some sort of surprise?

  87. “Or, yes drugs are bad, but people have a right to screw up their life.”

    I’m ambivalent about the war on drugs at the moment, but just to play devil’s advocate…

    I agree that people have the right to screw up their lives. My question is, when you screw up your life are you and your anti-WOD friends going to demand the use of my tax dollars to help you un-screw it? And which would be cheaper: repairing or maintaining your screwed-up life, or keeping you in prison?

    Either way, I have to pay for your stupidity. Maybe that’s why I’m ambivalent.

  88. Asking the drug czar whether the war on drugs makes sense is like asking the social security administrator whether social security is a good idea. What is he supposed to say?

  89. Bugs,

    With regard to health issue of drug addiction, treatment is a lot more effective and a lot less costly than incarceration. No comparison.

    The millions we save by ending the enforcement of outdated laws could be put toward treatment, which is woefully underfunded.

  90. In response to Mr. Calcium, do you really presume to know the cost of eliminating prohibition? I’d say that harm reduction is a far more sensible and far less fanatic outlook on drug policy. Prohibition forces drug use into the dirty cracks of our society instead of the kind of safe environment that drug users really need.

    You really think pot heads are ‘skeevy’? What do you wager that many responsible adults, who are very successful, go home everyday and enjoy a bowl? I’m going to guess it happens all the time, from CEOs to PhDs. Stop the bigotry and accept that you’re not better than everyone else because you believe your government can do no wrong, or that squandering the rights of your fellow man and pushing your value system on them is the ‘right’ thing to do.

  91. Of course, the “Drug Czar” job description mandates opposing drug policy reform at every turn and in every state, (and neighboring country), that considers it. Which is why it is constitutional for Walters to travel around and lobby against progressive voter initiatives on the taxpayer’s dime.

    Nonetheless, I nominate Dr. Ethan Nadelmann to direct the ONDCP. 🙂

    http://nadelmannfordrugczar.com/

  92. We keep hearing from the Drug War advocates that we’re doing it “for the kids”. It’s all about the kids. I know several people who didn’t try drugs at all until they were adults and got out into the real world only to find out that it sucks and they wanted to escape from it.
    I think that fewer “kids” would do drugs if they were legalized, produced by pharmaceutical companies properly, without who knows what in them, and taxed. Thus the “taboo” about the usage wouldn’t exist.
    Also, what sort of income does the government, from the Federal level down to the local level, take in from cigarette and alcohol taxes and permits?? The DEA could stop pretending to fight a war that if they actually won would be job threatening to themselves and become the “tax” and “permit” police to make sure those were collected properly. There would be less drug gang crime, not only here but in Mexico and Colombia and around the world, and a LOT more money for the good ol’ gov’ment, if the numbers about current drug use are actually true.
    Someone needs to figure out how much the government is missing out on and that drug gangs ARE collecting and wake Washington DC up to these facts.

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