Drug Policy

Jack Cafferty and Clarence Page Attack Drug Prohibition

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CNN's Jack Cafferty calls the war on drugs "insane" and recommends repealing prohibition:

What do you suppose the total price tag is for this failed war on drugs? One senior Harvard economist [Jeffrey Miron] estimates we spend $44 billion a year fighting the war on drugs. He says if they were legal, governments would realize about $33 billion a year in tax revenue. Net swing of $77 billion. Could we use that money today for something else? You bet your ass we could. Plus the cartels would be out of business. Instantly. Goodbye crime and violence.

If drugs were legalized, we could empty out a lot of our prison cells. People will use this stuff whether it's legal or not. Just like they do booze. And you could make the argument that in some cases alcohol is just as dangerous as some drugs. I know.

Which shows that a cranky TV populist, even an ex-drunk, doesn't have to side with the prohibitionists. Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page does not go as far as Cafferty  (or his Tribune colleague Steve Chapman), but he does scold President Obama for laughing off that online question about marijuana legalization. Page argues that the federal government should let 50 flowers bloom in the garden of cannabis policy:

Unlike Roosevelt, Obama does not have to amend the Constitution to end our marijuana confusion. He only has to get out of the way and allow the states to enforce their own drug laws. That's not a laughable notion. It's only sensible.

It has always seemed to me that a decent respect for the constitutional distinction between state and national matters is the most likely route by which substantial drug policy reform will occur.

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  1. meh. he doesn't just have to get out of the way, he'd have to sign some modification of the Controlled Substances Act, etc. Admittedly, at that point Congress would have approved it and sent it to him.

  2. Decent respect for the constitutional huh?

  3. And you could make the argument that in some cases alcohol is just as dangerous as some drugs.

    Only if you're being disingenuous. Alcohol is much more dangerous the just about any other recreational drug.

  4. What stage of rationality is the debate now? Still a pipe dream? Maybe a piece of sand just entered the oyster? pardon me....

    I'd like to get high with Cafferty, or in any other situation, generally.

  5. Alcohol is much more dangerous the just about any other recreational drug.

    Except for pyromethamphetacrack. You are instantly addicted after one hit, and set on fire.

    Pyromethamphetacrack is whack.

  6. "You are instantly addicted after one hit, and set on fire."

    Don't you just hate when that happens?

  7. And the only way to ease the pain of pyromethamphetacrack burns is more pyromethamphetacrack.

    It's a sick, sick, hilarious drug.

  8. Tingy Wah,
    Excellent point. No "respect for the constitutional distinction between state and national matters" is possible without repeal of the CSA

  9. I like the idea of decriminalizing marijuana, but dislike the idea of giving it a sin tax. Much more, I dislike the idea of the federal government having any influence in the realm of who can sell it and who cannot. Legality aside, the drug trade is one of the best examples of a semi-free market we have. Someone can go to a seller, get their product and do with it what they like. If the seller has bad business practices there's always competition. Albeit, death may be an outcome in such competition (akin to the shutting down of a company due to inability to compete in an active market), sellers will always do their best to keep competitive and make the best deals to the consumer. I'd rather much buy product from someone who grows the product themself in a private garden than trust the government to legislate, cultivate, and dictate where/when/what I can buy.

  10. If anything, I could see the govt. legalizing drugs, then continuing to jack up the sin tax (a la tobacco) and claim--with their bare faces hanging out--that their goal wasn't neo (neo-neo?) prohibition.

  11. Who said anything about the government cultivating and distributing it? Why would they be in charge of pot farming? Why wouldn't you be growing your own?

    I would think that once it's legal there'll be crappy corporate grown shwag and mids (think Budweiser), and boutique, craft buds (like a Dogfishhead). Not to mention seeds for sale....

    Not that I expect any of this to happen, nor does it change how I do things now.

  12. I can understand how the idea of federalism would be laughable to Barack Obama.

    Oooooh, snap!

  13. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama does not have to amend the Constitution to end our marijuana confusion. He only has to get out of the way and allow the states to enforce their own drug laws. That's not a laughable notion. It's only sensible.

    With some misgivings I support federalism. That's all I want from the feds. One state will legalize and tax it, the others will see the benefits and stampede to get a slice of the reefer pie.

  14. Legality aside, the drug trade is one of the best examples of a semi-free market we have. Someone can go to a seller, get their product and do with it what they like.

    Legality aside, every market is a perfectly free market. I mean, once you disregard the law, what exactly, is there that makes any market unfree?

  15. If anything, I could see the govt. legalizing drugs, then continuing to jack up the sin tax (a la tobacco) and claim--with their bare faces hanging out--that their goal wasn't neo (neo-neo?) prohibition.

    Ah, but once the government gets hooked on an excise tax, the last thing they want to do is anything like prohibition. At that point, like any other business, their game becomes revenue maximization.

    You can see the beginnings of a glimmer of this with cigarette taxes.

  16. "Legality aside, the drug trade is one of the best examples of a semi-free market we have"

    Well yeah, except for the 7,000 Mexican tortured and murdered last year. That part kinda brings me down. Furtunately a bong hit will fix that.

  17. I can understand how the idea of federalism would be laughable to Barack Obama

    The problem with the 'state rights' crowd is that they want to use their pet concept to decrease freedom for their inhabitants.

  18. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama does not have to amend the Constitution to end our marijuana confusion.

    Roosevelt didn't have to amend the Constitution to outlaw marijuana either.He just signed the bill passed by Congress and it became Federal Law.

  19. Pyromethamphetacrack made my day. Thanks, sugarless.

  20. Roosevelt didn't have to amend the Constitution to outlaw marijuana either.He just signed the bill passed by Congress and it became Federal Law.

    He actually just taxed it to death.

    It took one of your GOP Big Breathren to make it illegal.

    But facts are foreign to you.

  21. Pyromethamphetacrack made my day.

    OMG! Weren't you listening?!? For the love of Vishnu, don't try it! Not even once!

    (Where have you been? You missed the masturbation/homunculus thread.)

  22. There exists a drug so sinister and addictive that merely hinting at its potency or decribing a fraction of its effect on the human psyche would instantly enslave all withing earshot to its soul-draining grip.

    I obviously can't tell you what it is, but be aware that you may already be addicted.

  23. There exists a drug so sinister and addictive that merely hinting at its potency or decribing a fraction of its effect on the human psyche would instantly enslave all withing earshot to its soul-draining grip.

    I obviously can't tell you what it is, but be aware that you may already be addicted.

    Is is...language?

    OH NOES! We are trapped in its merciless grip. It is EVERYWHERE!!!

  24. (Where have you been? You missed the masturbation/homunculus thread.)

    Every once in a while, Reason becomes annoying, and I take a break. What is this thing about honunculi and whacking off?

  25. Every once in a while, Reason becomes annoying, and I take a break. What is this thing about honunculi and whacking off?

    PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF.

  26. the others will see the benefits and stampede to get a slice of the reefer pie.

    Mmm... reefer pie. OM NOM NOM

  27. He's buying time till he wins a 2nd term, notice he didn't really say that weed shouldn't be legalized. He just said it wouldn't fix the economy which is true. The signals Eric Holder is sending off and the hiring of the Sheriff from Seattle as drug czar are good indication that at least decriminalization might happen.

  28. There exists a drug so sinister and addictive that merely hinting at its potency or decribing a fraction of its effect on the human psyche would instantly enslave all withing earshot to its soul-draining grip.

    I obviously can't tell you what it is, but be aware that you may already be addicted.

    Sex. My guess is sex.

    Nick @ 10:15 that is not me, if Obama wants it legalized he better act now or at least plant the seeds, end the MMJ raids, stop laughing it off like a jackass, and get it done, because with everything else he's doing economically and the disdain people have for Congress right now, 2010 could swing things closer to even, and IF he's re-elected in 2012, the House or Senate could be totally swung to the GOP, and those bible-thumping drugs are bad, mkay dickwads ain't gonna pass legalization legislation.

  29. SIV is right wrt FDR--and how exactly would Obama allow 50 flowers to bloom for pot? Issue an executive order asking the DOJ not to prosecute marijuana violations under the CSA but go ahead with all the rest? Perhaps issue a secret order of a similar kind? Or are you hoping he re-reads the interstate commerce clause in favor of states?

  30. As a person involved in the prohibition elimination movement, for over 20 years, I'm amused by the latest wave of editorial statements regarding the legalization / decrim of cannabis.

    On the one hand, I'm optimistic, things may finally be sinking in and the discussion has been engaged. On the other, I'm already bored and wish we could cut to the chase and allow everyone to buy cannabis legally and use it in a responsible manner.

    I look at the drug legalization debate as the Berlin Wall, no one knew it was coming down anytime soon, then people just started destroying it. Remember that guy with the sledgehammer on the news just beating the hell out of the wall? I want to be that guy, except the wall will be the war on some drugs.

    Meanwhile, cannabis will continue to be enjoyed and the respect for law enforcement will continue to slide, if it can any further. Unenforceable laws which punish people for a responsible, voluntary, non-violent behavior only breeds contempt for law enforcement officials and allows a black market to flourish with no regard to fraud or liability laws.

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