Drug Policy

In the Drug War, Drugs Are Winning

The case for legalizing marijuana


When someone next door is coping with trouble, the neighborly thing to do is help. Mexico has a growing problem with extreme violence. And many people in California have a good idea of how to help.

Mexico has been wracked by murders connected to the drug trade. Last year, it suffered more than 6,500 drug-related killings, triple the number in 2007. And 2010 looks worse.

As of mid-March, more than 2,000 people have died in drug-related homicides—which puts Mexico on pace for more than 10,000 such deaths this year. That's more than one every hour.

This is not an epidemic of crazed meth addicts slaughtering people at random. It's the byproduct of a war involving narcotics traffickers, who sometimes kill each other, sometimes kill police and soldiers, sometimes kill journalists who report their crimes, and sometimes kill innocent bystanders.

So what can the Golden State offer in the way of assistance? Something potentially valuable. In November, Californians will vote on a ballot initiative that would make it legal not only to use marijuana but to grow and sell it.

You may think this would help only by allowing Mexicans to flee northward and escape their troubles in a stoner fog. But it would do more. Mexico is the biggest supplier of cannabis to the United States. Control of that market is one of the things that Mexican drug cartels are willing to kill for.

Legalizing weed in this country would be their worst nightmare. Why? Because it would offer Americans a legitimate supply of the stuff.

Criminal organizations would no longer be able to demand huge premiums to compensate for the major risks that go with forbidden commerce. If the referendum passes, some 39 million Californians will have access at lower prices, from regulated domestic producers.

So the drug cartels would see a large share of their profits go up in smoke. Those profits are what enables them to establish sophisticated smuggling operations, buy guns and airplanes, recruit foot soldiers, and bribe government officials. Those profits are also what makes all those efforts—and the murderous violence the merchants employ—worth the trouble.

By now, it should be clear that using force to wipe out the drug trade is a task on the order of bailing out the Atlantic Ocean with a teaspoon. Law enforcement can interdict shipments and imprison dealers, but the success is invariably short-lived.

Each seized cargo is an opportunity for another seller to fill the gap. Each arrested trafficker is an invitation for a competitor to grab his business. The more vigorous and successful the law enforcement campaign, the higher the prices drug suppliers can command—and the more people will be enticed to enter the market. It's a self-defeating process.

All this would be academic if Americans (and Mexicans) would simply lose their taste for illicit drugs. But we might as well hope the Sahara Desert will run out of sand.

There has always been a demand for mind-altering substances, and there always will be. That's why, despite all the resources the U.S. government has expended on locking up sellers and their customers, drug use is higher today than it was two decades ago.

Prohibition is no match for the obstinacy and ingenuity of many human beings. Iran has a repressive theocratic regime that imposes severe penalties for using and selling drugs—including death by hanging. Yet it has one of the highest rates of addiction in the world.

President Obama's promise of change is inapplicable in this realm. The Bush administration provided hundreds of millions of dollars to help Mexico fight the drug war. The Obama administration intends to keep sending money, the only real difference being that it will go to the police instead of the military.

On a recent trip to Mexico City, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Americans' demand for drugs helps sustain the Mexican merchants and resolved to address the problem. "We are looking at everything that can work," she said.

Well, almost everything. The most viable option is the one that is considered unthinkable. The head of Obama's Office of National Drug Control Policy has said that "legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, nor is it in mine."

No, but failure is.


NEXT: Texas Justice

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  1. Good Monday Morning reason!

  2. For a magazine called ‘Reason’, it makes no sense to always have the first post be the same “Good Morning” from the same sock puppet.

    1. Lighten up, Francis.

    2. I don’t care is she is real but Suki is like the fisrt whiff of a morning coffee…or your first toke of the day.

      1. Reality is so overrated anyway.

        1. Bleek, we have a brain to flee from reality and also escape back into it.

    3. Sounds like someone had to sleep in his own wet spot last night, lol!

    4. Science, Johnny, it is too early in the morning to drink. But the rules are the rules….

      1. It is 4:55 PM in Afghanistan, so have one for me.

        1. Thank you for your service to my family. I will raise a few in your honor this evening.

        2. ? should be your temporary symbol

    5. For a magazine called Reason, it seems to focus a lot on drug legalization. I can think of….oh say 1000 other problems in this country of much more importance.

      1. Yeah but if everybody can get high without having to sweat the man coming down on them, they’ll chillax a bit more and the thousands of other things won’t be as pressing, man.

        1. If pot is legalized, the only winners will be Big Taco, Big Pizza and the conveninece industrial complex. Is that what you want?

          1. Are you serious man? thats nuts, not everyone gets the munchies when they smoke. I can promise that this is a thing that needs to change, it will help bring prosper and the good change United States needs, Pot is not a drug, it is a plant. Last year, U.S. spent over 9 Billion dollars on the war against marijunana/drugs. Stupid huh? just for pot. When we could be making 9 Billion per year on taxing it/ legalizing it. It can be used to power or cars, our homes. It is nuts that this government still locks up people for it. Very sad sad thing.

      2. Where would you rather live, in Gaza or someplace where drugs are legal?

      3. I don’t know. I’d say that thousands of innocent people being murdered every year and thousands more getting fined or locked up is pretty damn important.

      4. Wegie, I must have told you a million times not to exaggerate.

        1. Exaggerate, I know exactly what you mean. He made me a promise too but I still have my brains;-)

          1. Don’t blame him, he learned from me!

            1. I’m still trying to teach that old dog a new trick. Where did I put his leash?

      5. Wegie, point to one of those 1000 problems and I can tell you how drug prohibition has contributed to it, or how eliminating drug prohibition can help solve it…and more than just “getting high to forget about it.”

      6. Wait, blowing shitloads of money on government programs that facilitate police corruption, empower international criminal gangs, and gradually turn local LEOs into home-invading paramilitary arms of the federal government isn’t a big deal for the republic?

        The drug war doesn’t just affect dope smokers, genius.

      7. 5,600 dead Mexicans per year. $22,000,000,000 spent on the War on Drugs. 850,000 marijuana arrests. 1,700,000 drug arrests. 1000 more important things? I would love to see that list.

      8. Yeah, you are right, having dead people on your conscience…fuck, that is something Christ would do.

      9. dumb fuck, i wanna see this list.

      10. Many of those 1000 problems are linked to the Dope War. The violent crime rate is artificially high because of the dope laws, just as it was over alcohol during Prohibition. Cut that crime rate, and a lot of other things get more sane at the same time. Also, you have more resources to devote to them which are now being diverted to the Dope War.

      11. Somehow, I doubt that, within the context of the USA, there are 1000 things more important than the government waging a war against the people, both here and abroad.

      12. Then why squander all those billions, arming the DEA thugs, then investigating, adjudicating, and incarcerating people who have done you no harm?
        Dejanos en paz.

  3. I just noticed something this morning. There was a commercial for the Chevy Malibu, and those clowns actually had the balls to use the slogan “May the best car win.” The fuck?

    1. That’s pretty f’d up.

      1. No, f’d up is waking up naked and hungover next to your sister. This is something way worse.

  4. I obviously have had neither and need both.;-)

  5. The favorite prohibitionist counterargument is that the cartels will “simply switch to other crimes”. But I’m not exactly sure how that works — they’re already moving coke, smack, meth, and everything else right? Is the demand for these other drugs going to skyrocket simply because more guys are sitting around hoping to sell them?

    It’s just not really clear to me how ripping away 2/3 of a cartel’s revenue stream isn’t going hurt it because its members will just go and profit from other crimes.

    1. I suppose that would assume that other non-weed drugs and crimes would bring in enough revenue for the drug dealers/lords/agents to make up the difference. Taking away most of their income means they have less to invest in corrupting politicians and cops.

      1. I suppose that would assume that other non-weed drugs and crimes would bring in enough revenue for the drug dealers/lords/agents to make up the difference.

        Again though: why would revenue from those other illicit substances increase? They already make money from that stuff — without a significant increase in demand, how could they “make up the difference”?

        I suppose the theory is that if we legalize weed, all of a sudden way more people here are going to use heroin or meth? Why exactly would that be the case?

        1. Because it is a stepping stone, more weed means more hard drugs, period end of discussion.

          1. Good. Legalize those as well.

          2. Obvious troll is obvious

          3. Marijuana is only a stepping stone because it is illegal, and the sellers of one illegal chemical often sell other illegal chemicals.

            Though being that marijuana tends to make a person paranoid and withdrawn, while alcohol does the opposite, I’d think alcohol is more of a gateway than marijuana.

            1. I would argue that it is the severe punishments against marijuana users that cause paranoia, not the drug.

    2. I think it is probably a good idea to legalize pot because it would reduce crime, and it is probably not all that much worse than alcohol. It would reduce Mexico’s violence.

      However, I think maybe we shouldn’t though because it would be like surrendering, should we really just give up, we have been fighting a long time? I also don’t know how we would be able to keep kids off drugs if they are legal, arresting users sends the message that drug abuse and addiction is not to be tolerated.

      1. hahaha

        Susan, you crack me up.

        1. Haha uh-oh, did I feed a troll?

      2. However, I think maybe we shouldn’t though because it would be like surrendering, should we really just give up, we have been fighting a long time?

        I think that if you’re losing very badly in a fight you never should have started in the first place, then yeah surrender is probably a good option. Remember that this war we’ve been fighting for decades has not done a thing — not one thing — to reduce the availability and use of all illicit drugs.

        I also don’t know how we would be able to keep kids off drugs if they are legal, arresting users sends the message that drug abuse and addiction is not to be tolerated.

        Kids have a much easier time obtaining marijuana than either alcohol or tobacco, so it’s clear that legalizing a drug does not make it more available to children. Also, “sending a message” is not an intellectually sound justification for any law. We should be concerned with effective policy, not propaganda.

        1. Yup. By making alcohol and cigarette sales legal, the underground distribution has vanished, so now everyone has to provide ID to buy them. At the very least it makes kids find an adult to help them or get a fake ID. With illegal drugs, all a kid needs is money and a friend who knows a guy.

          1. I think I agree, it is maybe easier now for children under 21 to get pot than alcohol and tobacco. I think the main reason to continue what we are doing is just that we have done it so long and many jobs depend on it, also, it doesn’t look good to just give up.

            1. Keep hitting your head against a brick wall, you probably won’t ever clear the wall, but think of the EMTs and the docs and nurses that are requiring it! Besides it is better to have some cranial bleeding than to be thought some idiot quitter.

            2. So you’re in favor of maintaining prohibition and locking up 800,000 people per year simply because of inertia? Who cares what “looks good” or how long we’ve been pursuing the wrong strategy? That’s just not an acceptable justification for horribly flawed policy.

              1. We are in a recession, we need the jobs. If the problem is the racism of the law, then we need to have more white people arrested. As I said, to just give up makes us look like what we have done for 70+ years is stupid.

                1. Keep banging your head Susan, keep banging your head……

                2. A legal marijuana market could provide at least as many legitimate jobs as the war against marijuana provides. Besides, it’s not as if we have great success solving murders and rapes — we could re-direct the anti-marijuana resources instead of just cutting them.

                  And as I said, “what we have done for 70+ years” is stupid! Sticking our heads in the sand to try and save our image only extends that stupidity. Saving face is not an adequate reason to keep waging this unwinnable, insanely wasteful war.

                3. Susan is a troll. Please dont feed.

        2. I’m almost 70 years old, spent all of my twenties and until age 35 fighting the War in Vietnam. A fight even McNamera admitted we should never have started in the first place. Same for the War on Some Drugs. The most abused drugs are prescription drugs, but Big Pharma doesn’t want you to think about that one! As long as I have breath in me, I’ll be fighting against this needless War on Some Drugs!


      3. So since it is legal to fuck fat ugly chicks sends the message “GO FUCK FAT UGLY CHICKS?”

    3. History shows us that they’d adjust to the new setup, soon concentrating on getting their sons elected President.

    4. “”The favorite prohibitionist counterargument is that the cartels will “simply switch to other crimes”.””

      Soon they will make a killing in the tobacco, sugar, salt, and transfat blackmarket.

      1. Use a fryer, go to jail.

    5. Which is a ridiculous argument in many ways. First of all, they seem to be suggesting that prohibition is necessary as a sort of jobs program for criminals. And we are supposed to be convinced that this is worth all of the bloodshed and ruined lives.

  6. Sam: No, Dewey, you don’t want this. Get outta here!
    Dewey Cox: You know what, I don’t want no hangover. I can’t get no hangover.
    Sam: It doesn’t give you a hangover!
    Dewey Cox: Wha-I get addicted to it or something?
    Sam: It’s not habit-forming!
    Dewey Cox: Oh, okay… well, I don’t know… I don’t want to overdose on it.
    Sam: You can’t OD on it!
    Dewey Cox: It’s not gonna make me wanna have sex, is it?
    Sam: It makes sex even better!
    Dewey Cox: Sounds kind of expensive.
    Sam: It’s the cheapest drug there is.
    Dewey Cox: [at a loss and out of excuses] Hmm.
    Sam: You don’t want it!
    Dewey Cox: I think I kinda want it.
    Sam: Okay, but just this once. Come on in.

  7. The supporters of the initiative should print up a bunch of posters of the alarmist graphic you guys put with this post. That’s all, no embellishment. The extremism of the ad would (pardon the pun) sober people up to the ridiculousness of pot prohibition.

  8. The only governments that successfully control markets for substance abuse are the ones that make their citizens so poor no one can afford the contraband.

    No money = no drugs…problem solved!

  9. “legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary”

    Sure it is. He “legalized” mandatory insurance, didn’t he?

  10. The Drug War will not end because it would require our government to admit failure.

    1. Blame Canada.

    2. We can’t do that after so long, it would send the wrong message.

      1. Ugh, give it up. Please explain succinctly why public policy should have anything to do with “sending a message” — wrong or right.

        The idea that bad policy should be maintained simply for PR reasons is petty and short-sighted.

        1. Ugh, give it up. Please explain succinctly why public policy should have anything to do with “sending a message” — wrong or right.

          To motivate children to be good citizens.

          1. Motivate or coerce?

          2. To motivate children to be good citizens.

            Even if you accept that as a legitimate premise for legislation, do you really believe our War on Drugs has motivated “children” to be “good citizens”? And, if so, are you seeking to prohibit alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc?

            Where is the cutoff? And at what point do objectively bad results — like record-setting mass imprisonment and ever-increasing international violence — outweigh the theoretical paternalistic advantage you’re citing?

            1. Where is the cutoff? And at what point do objectively bad results — like record-setting mass imprisonment and ever-increasing international violence — outweigh the theoretical paternalistic advantage you’re citing?

              If the substance is intoxicating, therefore it is dangerous because it makes people lose control and do stupid things. Caffeine and tobacco fail that test. Alcohol may be almost as bad a drugs like pot and heroin but it has historical acceptance, other drugs can be stopped before they are accepted.

              1. You do realize that saying “drugs like pot and heroin” makes very little sense? The only thing that makes them like at all is their illegality. They are totally unrelated substances with totally different effects and mechanisms of action in the body. You have a lot to learn about history and pharmacology.

              2. If the substance is intoxicating, therefore it is dangerous because it makes people lose control and do stupid things

                That’s a statement of opinion. I contend that marijuana does nothing to “make people lose control.” And I think clinical evidence suggests my contention is at least as valid as yours.

                1. Oh, and tobacco certainly is intoxicating. I rarely smoke it, and just a puff or two off a cigarette gets me buzzing hard.

              3. Let me give you a brief history lesson.

                Marijuana was made illegal because black people used it.
                Cocaine was make illegal because Mexicans used it.
                Opiates were made illegal because the Chinese used them.
                Alcohol Prohibition was repealed because white people used it.

                When you say “accepted”, in an historical context you are saying “accepted by white people”.

                Tell me Susan, are you racist?

                1. Ah, the racist angle.

                  Are you really Jesse Jackson jk?

                  1. I’d say “the racist angle” is actually quite relevant if the topic is the War on Drugs.

          3. To motivate children to be good citizens.

            It is not the business of others to motivate my children. If you want to motivate some children, have your own. No one, and I mean no one, will indoctinate my children…. except for myself.

            1. They will need to pass dare to graduate.

              1. What makes you think that they will “graduate”? A high school, or collegiate, “degree” does not an educated person make.

                My son is 8. He has read Anthem, The Odyssey and The Iliad. He is reading “The Jungle” right now, which is more than I can say for the majority of the “educated” in this country.

                The last thing in the world I care about is the opinions of those who are not even aware of these books, ie, most of the employees of the public school system.

              2. I think we all know that Drugs Are Really Expensive and why.

              3. I have always liked that D.A.R.E. program.

                After all Drugs Are Really Enjoyable
                After all Drugs Are Really Exciting
                After all Drugs Are Really Everything

            2. Which is exactly the reason I’m opting my kid out of attending DARE in his school. I refuse to subject my son to blatant government propaganda.

              Teaching children how to be good citizens is the parents’ job, not the government’s by coercing them via blatant lies and excessive imprisonments that cost taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

          4. “”To motivate children to be good citizens.””

            I already have a mom and dad. The last I checked, neither of them wanted to share parenting responsiblities with the government.

      2. The message being sent now is “We’re STUPID!”

        . . .and you’re OKAY with that . . ?

    3. Conservative hero Wm. F. Buckley Jr. had this to say in 1990’s about The Drug War RACKET and what it had become:
      WE ARE speaking of a plague that consumes an estimated $75 billion per year of public money, exacts an estimated $70 billion a year from consumers, is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the million Americans who are today in jail, occupies an estimated 50 per cent of the trial time of our judiciary, and takes the time of 400,000 policemen — yet a plague for which no cure is at hand, nor in prospect.
      Perhaps you, ladies and gentlemen of the Bar, will understand it if I chronicle my own itinerary on the subject of drugs and public policy. When I ran for mayor of New York, the political race was jocular, but the thought given to municipal problems was entirely serious, and in my paper on drugs and in my post-election book I advocated their continued embargo, but on unusual grounds. I had read — and I think the evidence continues to affirm it — that drug-taking is a gregarious activity. What this means, I said, is that an addict is in pursuit of company and therefore attempts to entice others to share with him his habit. Under the circumstances, I said, it can reasonably be held that drug-taking is a contagious disease and, accordingly, subject to the conventional restrictions employed to shield the innocent from Typhoid Mary. Some sport was made of my position by libertarians, including Professor Milton Friedman, who asked whether the police might legitimately be summoned if it were established that keeping company with me was a contagious activity.
      I recall all of this in search of philosophical perspective. Back in 1965 I sought to pay conventional deference to libertarian presumptions against outlawing any activity potentially harmful only to the person who engages in that activity. I cited John Stuart Mill and, while at it, opined that there was no warrant for requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet. I was seeking, and I thought I had found, a reason to override the presumption against intercession by the state.
      About ten years later, I deferred to a different allegiance, this one not the presumptive opposition to state intervention, but a different order of priorities. A conservative should evaluate the practicality of a legal constriction, as for instance in those states whose statute books continue to outlaw sodomy, which interdiction is unenforceable, making the law nothing more than print-on-paper. I came to the conclusion that the so-called war against drugs was not working, that it would not work absent a change in the structure of the civil rights to which we are accustomed and to which we cling as a valuable part of our patrimony. And that therefore if that war against drugs is not working, we should look into what effects the war has, a canvass of the casualties consequent on its failure to work. That consideration encouraged me to weigh utilitarian principles: the Benthamite calculus of pain and pleasure introduced by the illegalization of drugs.
      A YEAR or so ago I thought to calculate a ratio, however roughly arrived at, toward the elaboration of which I would need to place a dollar figure on deprivations that do not lend themselves to quantification. Yet the law, lacking any other recourse, every day countenances such quantifications, as when asking a jury to put a dollar figure on the damage done by the loss of a plaintiff’s right arm, amputated by defective machinery at the factory. My enterprise became allegorical in character — I couldn’t do the arithmetic — but the model, I think, proves useful in sharpening perspectives.
      Professor Steven Duke of Yale Law School, in his valuable book, America’s Longest War: Rethinking Our Tragic Crusade against Drugs, and scholarly essay, “Drug Prohibition: An Unnatural Disaster,” reminds us that it isn’t the use of illegal drugs that we have any business complaining about, it is the abuse of such drugs. It is acknowledged that tens of millions of Americans (I have seen the figure 85 million) have at one time or another consumed, or exposed themselves to, an illegal drug. But the estimate authorized by the federal agency charged with such explorations is that there are not more than 1 million regular cocaine users, defined as those who have used the drug at least once in the preceding week. There are (again, an informed estimate) 5 million Americans who regularly use marijuana; and again, an estimated 70 million who once upon a time, or even twice upon a time, inhaled marijuana. From the above we reasonably deduce that Americans who abuse a drug, here defined as Americans who become addicted to it or even habituated to it, are a very small percentage of those who have experimented with a drug, or who continue to use a drug without any observable distraction in their lives or careers. About such users one might say that they are the equivalent of those Americans who drink liquor but do not become alcoholics, or those Americans who smoke cigarettes but do not suffer a shortened lifespan as a result.
      Curiosity naturally flows to ask, next, How many users of illegal drugs in fact die from the use of them? The answer is complicated in part because marijuana finds itself lumped together with cocaine and heroin, and nobody has ever been found dead from marijuana. The question of deaths from cocaine is complicated by the factor of impurity. It would not be useful to draw any conclusions about alcohol consumption, for instance, by observing that, in 1931, one thousand Americans died from alcohol consumption if it happened that half of those deaths, or more than half, were the result of drinking alcohol with toxic ingredients extrinsic to the drug as conventionally used. When alcohol was illegal, the consumer could never know whether he had been given relatively harmless alcohol to drink — such alcoholic beverages as we find today in the liquor store — or whether the bootlegger had come up with paralyzing rotgut. By the same token, purchasers of illegal cocaine and heroin cannot know whether they are consuming a drug that would qualify for regulated consumption after clinical analysis.
      But we do know this, and I approach the nexus of my inquiry, which is that more people die every year as a result of the war against drugs than die from what we call, generically, overdosing. These fatalities include, perhaps most prominently, drug merchants who compete for commercial territory, but include also people who are robbed and killed by those desperate for money to buy the drug to which they have become addicted.
      This is perhaps the moment to note that the pharmaceutical cost of cocaine and heroin is approximately 2 per cent of the street price of those drugs. Since a cocaine addict can spend as much as $1,000 per week to sustain his habit, he would need to come up with that $1,000. The approximate fencing cost of stolen goods is 80 per cent, so that to come up with $1,000 can require stealing $5,000 worth of jewels, cars, whatever. We can see that at free-market rates, $20 per week would provide the addict with the cocaine which, in this wartime drug situation, requires of him $1,000.
      My mind turned, then, to auxiliary expenses — auxiliary pains, if you wish. The crime rate, whatever one made of its modest curtsy last year toward diminution, continues its secular rise. Serious crime is 480 per cent higher than in 1965. The correlation is not absolute, but it is suggestive: crime is reduced by the number of available enforcers of law and order, namely policemen. The heralded new crime legislation, passed last year and acclaimed by President Clinton, provides for 100,000 extra policemen, even if only for a limited amount of time. But 400,000 policemen would be freed to pursue criminals engaged in activity other than the sale and distribution of drugs if such sale and distribution, at a price at which there was no profit, were to be done by, say, a federal drugstore.
      So then we attempt to put a value on the goods stolen by addicts. The figure arrived at by Professor Duke is $10 billion. But we need to add to this pain of stolen property, surely, the extra-material pain suffered by victims of robbers. If someone breaks into your house at night, perhaps holding you at gunpoint while taking your money and your jewelry and whatever, it is reasonable to assign a higher “cost” to the episode than the commercial value of the stolen money and jewelry. If we were modest, we might reasonably, however arbitrarily, put at $1,000 the “value” of the victim’s pain. But then the hurt, the psychological trauma, might be evaluated by a jury at ten times, or one hundred times, that sum.
      But we must consider other factors, not readily quantifiable, but no less tangible. Fifty years ago, to walk at night across Central Park was no more adventurous than to walk down Fifth Avenue. But walking across the park is no longer done, save by the kind of people who climb the Matterhorn. Is it fair to put a value on a lost amenity? If the Metropolitan Museum were to close, mightn’t we, without fear of distortion, judge that we had been deprived of something valuable? What value might we assign to confidence that, at night, one can sleep without fear of intrusion by criminals seeking money or goods exchangeable for drugs?
      Pursuing utilitarian analysis, we ask: What are the relative costs, on the one hand, of medical and psychological treatment for addicts and, on the other, incarceration for drug offenses? It transpires that treatment is seven times more cost-effective. By this is meant that one dollar spent on the treatment of an addict reduces the probability of continued addiction seven times more than one dollar spent on incarceration. Looked at another way: Treatment is not now available for almost half of those who would benefit from it. Yet we are willing to build more and more jails in which to isolate drug users even though at one-seventh the cost of building and maintaining jail space and pursuing, detaining, and prosecuting the drug user, we could subsidize commensurately effective medical care and psychological treatment.
      I HAVE spared you, even as I spared myself, an arithmetical consummation of my inquiry, but the data here cited instruct us that the cost of the drug war is many times more painful, in all its manifestations, than would be the licensing of drugs combined with intensive education of non-users and intensive education designed to warn those who experiment with drugs. We have seen a substantial reduction in the use of tobacco over the last thirty years, and this is not because tobacco became illegal but because a sentient community began, in substantial numbers, to apprehend the high cost of tobacco to human health, even as, we can assume, a growing number of Americans desist from practicing unsafe sex and using polluted needles in this age of AIDS. If 80 million Americans can experiment with drugs and resist addiction using information publicly available, we can reasonably hope that approximately the same number would resist the temptation to purchase such drugs even if they were available at a federal drugstore at the mere cost of production.
      And added to the above is the point of civil justice. Those who suffer from the abuse of drugs have themselves to blame for it. This does not mean that society is absolved from active concern for their plight. It does mean that their plight is subordinate to the plight of those citizens who do not experiment with drugs but whose life, liberty, and property are substantially affected by the illegalization of the drugs sought after by the minority.
      I have not spoken of the cost to our society of the astonishing legal weapons available now to policemen and prosecutors; of the penalty of forfeiture of one’s home and property for violation of laws which, though designed to advance the war against drugs, could legally be used — I am told by learned counsel — as penalties for the neglect of one’s pets. I leave it at this, that it is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors.

  11. The interesting thing to see is if legalizing marijuana will turn a lot of drug users away from the harder stuff, like cocaine and meth, and take out the rest of the drug trade.

    1. A more interesting thing to see would be if society would collapse if people were given ownership of their lives and bodies and if some people decided that it is no one’s business but your own what you do with your own body. It might be interesting in general to try actually living by the principles of personal, individual liberty that this country was supposedly founded on.

      1. If everyone was intelligent enough, our country would be on top, forever. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

    2. Given that they’re hardcore stimulants, pot’s not likely to be a good substitute.

      1. Yes, but not everyone gets addicted to the ‘hardcore’ stuff immediately, so it might turn off some would-be crackheads.

  12. Legalization will bring many more problems of a different sort that will lead to government intervention “To fix the problem” and more state revenue for the California legislature to waist. Just wait and see how the pot heads will be up in arms once California raises the prices so high that it will be sold underground and the state government of California will be in competing with the illegal market once again. They will find a way to make it illegal to grow large amounts for your self. It’s all about the money.

    1. So your position is, what….that we should keep locking people up for smoking pot? I mean, I get your basic premise, but I still don’t see how legalizing could be a bad change, no matter what the regulatory scheme looked like.

    2. it is indeed all about the money, but once the home growth momentum starts growing and snowballing, you won’t be able to stop it totally…only the most severe police state tactics will make a dent…and more and more people are waking up against that..I have faith that more and more and more instances of civil disobedience will crowd out the control freak attitudes of the various institutions in place…you know that they are loosing control and you see the signs everywhere. The weed legalization movement is highly funded (pun intended)…it’s not just a few poor burnouts who show up…many are showing up in freedoms cause…I hope we can be more optimistic than what you are talking about Suck It Up Crybaby, but you made some interesting points…basically there’ll always be somethin’ to complain about somewhere…overall, I think we are heading in the right direction…at the same time as this, we need to also be in protest against Patriot Act and other surveillance measures that would enable police to spy on peoples grow houses, that is an issue that I’m sure you’re not ignoring either, are ya?

      1. You may be surprised what measures this administration will go to if they get there way through a second term.

  13. it is indeed, about that time! Time will come soon that the legalization of psychedelic mushrooms will come to us…I only hope it will come sooner!

    1. Magic Mushrooms are illegal? Then why does God grow them all over the woods outside Seattle?

      1. Because it’s the only way to get people to go to Seattle . . ?

      2. God already has numerous warrants out on him, from a variety of civilizations.

  14. The DEA estimates that it nabs around 10% of all drugs entering the USA. That means that 90% make it to the US, and that doesn’t even factor in domestic product. The point is, this country would look the exact same after legalization, save for fewer people in jail cells.

  15. This is just idiotic. I’m nearly 56. The “War on Drugs” has been going on since I was a kid at least and has done nothing but harmed this country for all of these years and yet, somehow, we are still having this debate like it just dawned on somebody that prohition causes far more problems than it solves and, in fact, solves not a single problem.

    1. We need the jobs the prison industry provides. We are in a recesion.

      1. Yeah let’s sacrifice the livelihood and freedom of hundreds of thousands of young people — mostly male minorities — in the name of keeping prison guards employed. The ends always justify the means, huh?

        1. Perhaps it is too expensive now with the recession, I mean imprisoning potheads is a luxury we just can’t afford. Still, prisons bring much needed jobs to Americas rural areas.

          1. So what do you support? Keeping prison guards employed, or freeing up critical public resources and promoting a freer society?

            You have to pick one or the other.

            1. Probably legalize pot and find something else that needs to be banned, still, I can’t see our society allowing the use of intoxicants.

              1. You seem to be saying that it is important that enough thing be banned so that prisons can employ enough people. I am sure this cannot be the case, so please clarify what you are trying to say here. No reasonable person could claim that prison employment is a good in and of itself.

              2. OK well I commend you for realizing the impracticality of maintaining marijuana prohibition.

                Of course, we already allow “the use of intoxicants”; alcohol and tobacco are two of the more dangerous recreational substances man has ever encountered. Also, I just don’t see our employment of prison guards as a very honorable priority — the suffering caused by that loss of employment is dwarfed by the misery brought about in a single day of waging the war on drugs.

                1. “””Of course, we already allow “the use of intoxicants”; alcohol and tobacco are two of the more dangerous recreational substances man has ever encountered. “””

                  True, and look what we are trying to do about those. Society is moving against smoking and drinking. So why move to favor something you’re looking to stomp out. From their perspective of course.

                  1. I don’t think anyone is seriously considering the legal prohibition of either alcohol or tobacco. Say what you will about the recent trends involving those substances — I think there are plenty of valid objections — but those changes represent regulation, not prohibition. And regulation can only exist for a legally produced and sold commodity.

              3. “Probably legalize pot and find something else that needs to be banned, still, I can’t see our society allowing the use of intoxicants.”

                Intoxicants like alcohol and nicotine? FYI, marijuana is non-toxic unlike much of the stuff you can buy at your local drugstore.

          2. We could put them to work digging and then filling holes or breaking windows or some such.

            1. I am completely serious when I say that I saw a HuffPo poster suggest we ought to ban the use of machinery as much as possible on public projects. Just imagine all the jobs we would create if we mandated the use of shovels!

              1. And just imagine all the jobs if those shovels were later mandatorily substituted by spoons.

              2. Well, the Chinese did it and they now own your government. Maybe It ain’t such a bad idea, after all.

    2. “”This is just idiotic. I’m nearly 56. The “War on Drugs” has been going on since I was a kid at least””

      One could argue that the drug war started in the 1800s to combat opium dens. The drug war is about 150 years old.

      1. Few people seem to be aware of the “Opium Wars” fought between China and Britain. The Chinese lost control of much of their country in their failed attempt to outlaw it.

        No surprise, for most Americans history started some time after 1960….

  16. the funny thing is that the price of a quarter ounce of commercial pot has not changed in 20 years…now the hydro is a different story. But $40 will still get ya a quarter of some decent stuff.

    1. True entertainment value. Cheaper than beer.

      1. And less annoying than your drunk buddy who, “loves ya man!”

    2. Haha, nothing I’ve ever bought for 40 bucks a quarter should be described as “decent”, unless that definition includes stems, seeds, and a level of compression usually reserved for diamond mines and submarine hulls. I’d rather pay twice as much and smoke stuff that does something besides giving me a headache.

      1. sorry to hear about your bad luck…but tell me…just what product has not increased in price over the last 20 years? That was my main point.

        1. Hah, hey that’s how it works, there’s no “bad luck” to lament there. Believe me, I can get my hands on the good stuff.

          And yeah, I think we have medical marijuana and the high-end product explosion to thank for suppressing the value of commercial product. The marijuana market reminds me a lot of wine — consumer demand is much more quality-sensitive than some other industries.

          1. Like years ago there was high end Colombian Gold, mid range “Commercial” and low end “Gack”

            1. Right, except now that Mexican “commercial” is the lowest-grade stuff around, and those old-school Columbian and Thai strains line up well with your average $35/eighth bag of beasters. The high-end strains that saturate the quasi-legal market these days have an octane rating that just couldn’t be found back in the day.

            2. “”Like years ago there was high end Colombian Gold, mid range “Commercial” and low end “Gack”””

              Like 30 years ago?

          2. well I’m glad to hear that…the good stuff is indeed nice to have on occasion. My friend had some “purple kush” awhile back…that stuff was baggie lickin’ good.

            pot and wine huh…yeah…I guess Boone’s Farm still sells for about $3 a bottle

        2. “What product has not increased in price over the last 20 years?”

          Given inflation, not much. Computers are a pretty good example, though. You couldn’t buy an iphone at any price point 20 years ago.

    3. Last I heard a 1/2 oz was going for $70.
      In high school, just over 20 years ago, a 1/4oz was $35.

      1. I recently paid $280 for a half ounce. Obviously prices are highly variable, based mostly on quality and location.

        1. Depends on what you want.
          I’m happy with commercial sativa. If I wanted to I could search out some hydroponic indica, and pay the price, but it isn’t that important to me.

          1. Yeah for some reason I usually am only presented with the choice between cheap bricked-up crap from Mexico and pricey high-end indoor domestic stuff (this is in central North Carolina).

            I used to live in Upstate NY, and had a much easier time finding that perfectly serviceable middle-of-the-road type stuff.

        2. That’s just about $9,000 a pound. Which is comparable to the prices charged in Amsterdam, where all VAT, State, and Local taxes are paid.

          Compare that $9,000 a pound to the price for a pound of tobacco.

          Prior to the SCHIP tobacco taxes going into effect a year ago in the UInited States I was paying $12 a pound for tobacco.

          Now tobacco is infinitely harder to grow than marijuana, yet a business was able to make a profit selling tobacco for just about 700x cheaper than the street retail price of marijuana.

          That’s an insane profit margin. GE and Microsoft are happy if they see profits of 10% a year.

          Now here’s the thing. It’s not the drug dealers or users that set the price so artificially high, it’s the Governments of this world.

          An artificially high price that comes with profits that that people would be willing to kill for.

          Which means that the Government is also the causal factor behind all the violence that protecting those profit entails.

          Don’t believe it?

          When was the last time you saw a Beer Truck being protected by machine guns on a US street?

          During the Prohibition it was a common occurrence, but once the US Government repealed Prohibition those machine guns and the gangsters that wielded them disappeared.

      2. Where you are in the country makes a big difference.

    4. You can thank the war on drugs for increases in efficiency of growing and potency.

      1. And thank it we should. Since the only consistently documented negative health consequence of cannabis use involves the inhalation of combusted plant material, one might think that inhaling less plant material would be good.

        And any good toker knows that a single hit of some danky-dank will take you a lot further than a huge joint of Mexican ditchweed.


    1. Dear Troll,

      We Pinkos, Commies and Potheads took over this country a long time ago. Get over it or move to Iran.

  18. I am wondering if this will actually solve the violence problem in Mexico. If the initiative is passed, where is California going to get its weed? Yeah people can grow their own but most people won’t….for the same reason people could grow their own tobacco but don’t. It is my understanding that private gardens wold be limited to 25 square feet.

    So where would the weed come from and why not Mexico?

    1. Where would Cali’s weed come from? Humboldt County, same place most it is grown now.

      1. Except I read an Article where the Humboldt County growers are worried that legalization will harm their market and may come out against the legalization effort.

        1. So how is that relevant? You think that means that in a legal market nobody from Humboldt would grow? Believe me, there are more than enough potential suppliers to meet the legal demand. Collectively, Humboldt could make just as much legal pot money as it does illegal pot money.

          1. Rhayader is absolutely correct! I grew up in Humboldt County, lived in Blue Lake and Eureka, and know people who have been growers. They would welcome legalization, because it would reduce the number of poachers they hire shot-gun toting guards to protect their crops against, and all those helicopters from the DEA. It’s a “roadside weed,” and takes very little effort to cultivate and grow, but is expensive to protect and conceal. That’s why so many growers are going indoors, especially in the Sunset district in San Francisco! With solar panels, the electric bill doesn’t draw so much attention, and the bud they grow is killer. “One Hit Sh-t!” as we say.


        2. Yeah, their profit margins won’t be as high. Boo freakin’ hoo. I can’t imagine I care, just like I don’t care about Exxon-Mobil’s profit margin.

    2. Ever heard of the Emerald Cup? Yeah, it’s a pot-growing tournament for a region of pot-growers in California.

    3. Tobacco requires some serious curing and processing while marijuana simply needs to be dried.
      Tobacco requires specific conditions to thrive while marijuana is a weed.
      Tobacco has some serious pests that require serious attention while marijuana does not.

      There really is no comparison between the two.

      Maybe if you compared growing your own marijuana to brewing your own beer. That might be a good comparison.

    4. The bill would allow local governments to make their own regulations concerning the large-scale commercial cultivation for sale. So while personal gardens are limited to 25 square feet, a given county or municipality could set up a licensing system that would allow registered producers to keep much larger farms.

      I have a feeling that in a legalized market, there would be tremendous pressure on officials in areas like Humboldt and Mendocino to create exactly that sort of supply chain.

      1. Considering the FEDs have ignored California’s Medical M.J. laws I don’t think they will allow California to go forth with this either. I think the FEDs are wrong but that silly SCOTUS ruling on growing Wheat for private use in the 40’s will be the precedent used to maintain the war on M.J.

        1. Eh, actually I think Obama will do his absolute best to ignore the issue, and he’ll avoid moving in either direction on it. Neither alternative — the zero-tolerance crackdown nor the federal re-scheduling of cannabis — seems to hold much political promise for him. I think he’d rather stick his head in the sand and let California do what California is going to do.

          So yeah, the feds will constantly have that sword dangling over the heads of state-legal marijuana sellers. It’s an uneasy truce. But I don’t expect any major federal pushback in California during this administration.

          And hey, if there is a clash, bring it on.

      2. Remember, as far as Govt is concerned, this is all about taxes. The Govts will try to regulate it in such a way that they can effectively tax it. Growing your own is very hard to tax.

    5. You have no idea how much pot you can grow in 25 feet of garden space! Enough to get you through the year, not just the night!

  19. You can be ‘pro-legalization and anti-organized crime’, but the ‘I am anti-legalization and anti-organized crime’ stance is no longer credible or valid.

    If you are against legalization, you are part of the problem, just like the users. And you don’t even have the totally lame “I am addicted” excuse to justify your anti-social behavior.

    1. Intellectual Ethan A. Nadelmann analyzes Prohibition

      We turned to Mr. Nadelmann to pursue the inquiry. Formerly in the Political Science Department at Princeton, he is now the director of the Lindesmith Center, a drug-policy research institute in New York City. He is the author of Cops across Borders: The Internationalization of U.S. Criminal Law Enforcement.

      THE essayists assembled here do not agree exactly on which aspect of the war on drugs is most disgraceful, or on which alternative to our current policies is most desirable, but we do agree, as Mr. Buckley expected, on the following: The “war on drugs” has failed to accomplish its stated objectives, and it cannot succeed so long as we remain a free society, bound by our Constitution. Our prohibitionist approach to drug control is responsible for most of the ills commonly associated with America’s “drug problem.” And some measure of legal availability and regulation is essential if we are to reduce significantly the negative consequences of both drug use and our drug-control policies.

      Proponents of the war on drugs focus on one apparent success: The substantial decline during the 1980s in the number of Americans who consumed marijuana and cocaine. Yet that decline began well before the Federal Government intensified its “war on drugs” in 1986, and it succeeded principally in reducing illicit drug use among middle-class Americans, who were least likely to develop drug-related problems.

      Far more significant were the dramatic increases in drug- and prohibition-related disease, death, and crime. Crack cocaine — as much a creature of prohibition as 180-proof moonshine during alcohol prohibition — became the drug of choice in most inner cities. AIDS spread rapidly among injecting drug addicts, their lovers, and their children, while government policies restricted the availability of clean syringes that might have stemmed the epidemic. And prohibition-related violence reached unprecedented levels as a new generation of Al Capones competed for turf, killing not just one another but innocent bystanders, witnesses, and law-enforcement officials.

      There are several basic truths about drugs and drug policy which a growing number of Americans have come to acknowledge.

      1. Most people can use most drugs without doing much harm to themselves or anyone else, as Mr. Buckley reminds us, citing Professor Duke. Only a tiny percentage of the 70 million Americans who have tried marijuana have gone on to have problems with that or any other drug. The same is true of the tens of millions of Americans who have used cocaine or hallucinogens. Most of those who did have a problem at one time or another don’t any more. That a few million Americans have serious problems with illicit drugs today is an issue meriting responsible national attention, but it is no reason to demonize those drugs and the people who use them.

      We’re unlikely to evolve toward a more effective and humane drug policy unless we begin to change the ways we think about drugs and drug control.

      Perspective can be had from what is truly the most pervasive drug scandal in the United States: the epidemic of undertreatment of pain. “Addiction” to (i.e., dependence on) opiates among the terminally ill is the appropriate course of medical treatment. The only reason for the failure to prescribe adequate doses of pain-relieving opiates is the “opiaphobia” that causes doctors to ignore the medical evidence, nurses to turn away from their patients’ cries of pain, and some patients themselves to elect to suffer debilitating and demoralizing pain rather than submit to a proper dose of drugs.

      The tendency to put anti-drug ideology ahead of compassionate treatment of pain is apparent in another area. Thousands of Americans now smoke marijuana for purely medical reasons: among others, to ease the nausea of chemotherapy; to reduce the pain of multiple sclerosis; to alleviate the symptoms of glaucoma; to improve appetite dangerously reduced from AIDS. They use it as an effective medicine, yet they are technically regarded as criminals, and every year many are jailed. Although more than 75 per cent of Americans believe that marijuana should be available legally for medical purposes, the Federal Government refuses to legalize access or even to sponsor research.

      2. Drugs are here to stay. The time has come to abandon the concept of a “drug-free society.” We need to focus on learning to live with drugs in such a way that they do the least possible harm. So far as I can ascertain, the societies that have proved most successful in minimizing drug-related harm aren’t those that have sought to banish drugs, but those that have figured out how to control and manage drug use through community discipline, including the establishment of powerful social norms. That is precisely the challenge now confronting American society regarding alcohol: How do we live with a very powerful and dangerous drug — more powerful and dangerous than many illicit drugs — that, we have learned, cannot be effectively prohibited?

      Virtually all Americans have used some psychoactive substance, whether caffeine or nicotine or marijuana. In many cases, the use of cocaine and heroin represents a form of self-medication against physical and emotional pain among people who do not have access to psychotherapy or Prozac. The market in illicit drugs is as great as it is in the inner cities because palliatives for pain and depression are harder to come by and because there are fewer economic opportunities that can compete with the profits of violating prohibition.

      3. Prohibition is no way to run a drug policy. We learned that with alcohol during the first third of this century and we’re probably wise enough as a society not to try to repeat the mistake with nicotine. Prohibitions for kids make sense. It’s reasonable to prohibit drug-related misbehavior that endangers others, such as driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, or smoking in enclosed spaces. But whatever its benefits in deterring some Americans from becoming drug abusers, America’s indiscriminate drug prohibition is responsible for too much crime, disease, and death to qualify as sensible policy.

      4. There is a wide range of choice in drug-policy options between the free-market approach favored by Milton Friedman and Thomas Szasz, and the zero-tolerance approach of William Bennett. These options fall under the concept of harm reduction. That concept holds that drug policies need to focus on reducing crime, whether engendered by drugs or by the prohibition of drugs. And it holds that disease and death can be diminished even among people who can’t, or won’t, stop taking drugs. This pragmatic approach is followed in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, and parts of Germany, Austria, Britain, and a growing number of other countries.

      American drug warriors like to denigrate the Dutch, but the fact remains that Dutch drug policy has been dramatically more successful than U.S. drug policy. The average age of heroin addicts in the Netherlands has been increasing for almost a decade; HIV rates among addicts are dramatically lower than in the United States; police don’t waste resources on non-disruptive drug users but, rather, focus on major dealers or petty dealers who create public nuisances. The decriminalized cannabis markets are regulated in a quasi-legal fashion far more effective and inexpensive than the U.S. equivalent.

      The Swiss have embarked on a national experiment of prescribing heroin to addicts. The two-year-old plan, begun in Zurich, is designed to determine whether they can reduce drug- and prohibition-related crime, disease, and death by making pharmaceutical heroin legally available to addicts at regulated clinics. The results of the experiment have been sufficiently encouraging that it is being extended to over a dozen Swiss cities. Similar experiments are being initiated by the Dutch and Australians. There are no good scientific or ethical reasons not to try a heroin-prescription experiment in the United States.

      Our Federal Government puts politics over science by ignoring extensive scientific evidence that sterile syringes can reduce the spread of AIDS. Connecticut permitted needle sales in drugstores in 1992, and the policy resulted in a 40 per cent decrease in needle sharing among injecting drug users, at no cost to taxpayers.

      We see similar foolishness when it comes to methadone. Methadone is to street heroin more or less what nicotine chewing-gum and skin patches are to cigarettes. Hundreds of studies, as well as a National Academy of Sciences report last year, have concluded that methadone is more effective than any other treatment in reducing heroin-related crime, disease, and death. In Australia and much of Europe, addicts who want to reduce or quit their heroin use can obtain a prescription for methadone from a GP and fill the prescription at a local pharmacy. In the United States, by contrast, methadone is available only at highly regulated and expensive clinics.

      A WARNING of the prohibitionists is that there’s no going back once we reverse course and legalize drugs. But what the reforms in Europe and Australia demonstrate is that our choices are not all or nothing. Virtually all the steps described above represent modest and relatively low-risk initiatives to reduce drug and prohibition-related harms within our current prohibition regime. At the same time, these steps are helpful in thinking through the consequences of more far-reaching drug-policy reform. You don’t need to go for formal legalization to embark on numerous reforms that would yield great dividends. But these run into opiaphobia.

      The blame is widespread. Cowardly Presidents, unwilling to assume leadership for reform. A Congress so concerned with appearing tough on crime that it is unwilling to analyze alternative approaches. A drug czar who debases public debate by equating legalization with genocide. A drug enforcement/treatment complex so hooked on government dollars that the anti-drug crusade has become a vested interest.

      But perhaps the worst offender is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — not so much the agents who risk their lives trying to apprehend major drug traffickers as the ideologically driven bureaucrats who intimidate and persecute doctors for prescribing pain medication in medically appropriate (but legally suspicious) doses, who hobble methadone programs with their overregulation, who acknowledge that law enforcement alone cannot solve the drug problem but then proceed to undermine innovative public-health initiatives.

      I am often baffled by the resistance of conservatives to drug-policy reform, but encouraged by the willingness of many to reassess their views once they have heard the evidence. Conservatives who oppose the expansion of federal power cannot look approvingly on the growth of the federal drug-enforcement bureaucracy and federal efforts to coerce states into adopting federally formulated drug policies. Those who focus on the victimization of Americans by predatory criminals can hardly support our massive diversion of law-enforcement resources to apprehending and imprisoning nonviolent vice merchants and consumers. Those concerned with overregulation can hardly countenance our current handling of methadone, our refusal to allow over-the-counter sale of sterile syringes, our prohibition of medical marijuana. And conservatives who turn to the Bible for guidance on current affairs can find little justification there for our war on drugs and the people who use and sell them.

  20. Offstage voice — “So, how exactly would you legalize drugs, Jabez?”

    Well, thanks for asking! Thirty damn years I been waiting to hear that question. About time…

    Here’s one way —
    1) ALL “chemicals of concern” are available by prescription, but ONLY by prescription.
    2) Anyone who tests positive, but has no script, is in violation and goes straight to detox, which involves sitting in a cell until you are clean. THEN you get to go before a judge…
    3) Once a specialist has certified that an applicant a) is knowledgeable as to the nature of his chosen chemical, b) is of age and legal standing, and c) not a member of a “clean-only” profession (e.g., airline pilot), then a script and a “credit card” are issued. Restrictions appropriate to the chemical are issued (think driving privilege, being pregnant, etc).
    4) When the script is filled, all relevant info is entered into the DL/ID card database.
    5) Anyone in violation goes to detox, then a judge.

    I think you will find that even indigent addicts are model citizens and cheap to care for. Imagine being a oxy addict and having your pharmacist “suggest” that there are job openings available at (fill-in-the-blank). }:D

    NO AMNESTY need be granted to those who are engaged in illegal distribution, or have engaged in drug-related crime in the past. I note that illegal drug-rings taken down won’t be immediately replaced by new players, nor will cops be unemployed in the medium term.

    1. Why such an emphasis on registration and licensing? Wouldn’t it be better to simply apply some common-sense restrictions — age limits, per-sale weight limits, etc — on the sale of those substances, versus creating a vast government-run system to track the identities and habits of individual users?

      What is the logic behind “prescribing” a recreational drug for one adult, and then locking up another adult for testing positive for the same recreational drug? On what basis would prescriptions be given out for recreational drug use in the first place?

      1. Go figure an argument for self government that even a religious con like me can agree with.

      2. “Wouldn’t it be better to simply apply some common-sense restrictions — age limits, per-sale weight limits, etc — on the sale of those substances, versus creating a vast government-run system to track the identities and habits of individual users?”

        It depends on the chemical. Alcohol, tobacco, and pot should be treated as on-demand chemicals.

        Meth, heroin, and cocaine (as examples) are more problematic. Dosage, user profession, driving habits, and weapons possession are legitimate societal concerns.

        Further, the more dangerous chemicals should not easily “leak” to non-qualified users. Non-qualifications might include age, mental condition, criminal record or even employment status (again, I use airline pilot as example).

        “What is the logic behind “prescribing” a recreational drug for one adult, and then locking up another adult for testing positive for the same recreational drug”

        The primary goal is to eliminate the black market. The government can easily compete on quality and price, but your “common-sense restrictions” are unenforceable where unmonitored sales take place. Hence, the government monopoly on the more dangerous stuff.

        “On what basis would prescriptions be given out for recreational drug use in the first place?”

        The expressed desire of the user, and/or pre-existing usage.

        Lastly, I think advocating sale of all drugs OTC, w/ “common sense restrictions” that are unmonitored and unenforced is a complete non-starter politically, and amounts to working to maintain the status quo.

        1. As far as the “clean-only profession” issue, isn’t that something that could (and should) be governed by employers and professional licensing agencies?

          The primary goal is to eliminate the black market. The government can easily compete on quality and price, but your “common-sense restrictions” are unenforceable where unmonitored sales take place. Hence, the government monopoly on the more dangerous stuff.

          Yeah I mean we’re all in favor of minimizing the black market as effectively as possible. I’m just not sure a “government monopoly” would be an effective way to do so. Fair enough though.

          Lastly, I think advocating sale of all drugs OTC, w/ “common sense restrictions” that are unmonitored and unenforced is a complete non-starter politically, and amounts to working to maintain the status quo.

          Yeah unfortunately, that’s your strongest point. From a pragmatic standpoint, nothing will change without first being Nanny-fied.

          1. “As far as the “clean-only profession” issue, isn’t that something that could (and should) be governed by employers and professional licensing agencies?”

            Heh. I can do this one now.

            Could be done that way, frankly, if my local sheriff (as example) decides he wants a meth script, I am not sure I want to wait for the annual drug test to find out }:D)

            1. But what business is it of yours if the local Sheriff wants to use a legal drug? So long as he is never under the influence while on the job, and keeps performing his duties as required, why does it matter what he did on Friday night?

              I actually do sympathize — somewhat — with that sort of regulatory scheme when we’re talking about public sector employees. But to extend that sort of “prescription” model to the general private sector seems like an overly Orwellian solution to the “problem” of people privately consuming chemicals.

              1. Like the rabbit, I am always late —

                “But what business is it of yours if the local Sheriff wants to use a legal drug? So long as he is never under the influence while on the job, …”

                I will assume because you used the “under the influence” terminology that you are cognizant of the fact that some drugs, including meth, can affect performance of critical tasks. So, I just point 0ut that being a sheriff is a 24/7 job, and won’t delve into the implications of having a law enforcement officer strung out on meth.

                Heh. Or even point out that strictly speaking, it ain’t legal in this scenario, because he is a sheriff…

                In cases where the critical tasks being performed are not likely to critically affect the lives of other people, I am obviously more sanguine.

                “But to extend that sort of “prescription” model to the general private sector seems like an overly Orwellian solution to the “problem” of people privately consuming chemicals.”

                1) Again, there is the matter of political practicality. Popular support for OTC meth and heroin is probably on a par with the support for legalized car theft. I really want to put the cartels, et. al., out of business WITHOUT losing my rights. Removing the demand side of the equation can do that.
                2) These are extremely dangerous chemicals. I have seen (in the 60’s and 70’s) what even pharmaceutical meth can do to people, much less the outright poison sold these days. If after time, the data don’t support this or that restriction, then policy can be changed.
                3) I see no moral problem in the State acting as supplier to informed users, even to the point of addiction and possible lethal overdose, although the technology exists to make the latter unlikely. After all, the State does lots of nasty stuff the private sector isn’t allowed to, like execute people and incarcerate them. But relative to the truly dangerous chemicals, the State does have compelling interest in knowing that whoever is getting these drugs is a) actually taking them, b) not engaged in actions likely to have a negative outcome for others (like flying an airplane), and c) not consuming dosages which are counter-productive in recreational terms.

                So, who you are, what you do, how much you take, and how often you take it are going to be things you have to give up to the State if you are going to partake of the “chemicals of most concern” — or put the cartels out of business…

                I point out the obvious when I note that pot is not o[ great concern, beyond the DUI laws that already exist.

                Another point; this is obviously a potential goldmine in terms of scientific data, something sadly lacking at the moment.

      3. The logic is:

        taxes, taxes, and more taxes.

        1. Well, yeah, but you have to be careful not to create yet another black market. So _reasonable_ taxes…

      4. Anyhow — the “thirty years” crack was no exaggeration, so thanks for the response and I definitely want to further discuss/defend this proposal.

        I have to do some stuff this afternoon, but will come back and reply to any posts this evening (> 8 PM EST).

      5. On what basis would prescriptions be given out for recreational drug use in the first place?

        Probably the same basis as birth control pills, hair growth pills, and pills for erection of the penis. They’re not for your health, but you want them for your lifestyle, and the doctor considers them safe for you.

        1. in this case, the doctor does NOT consider them safe, because they aren’t. They are extremely dangerous. He will let you have them anyway, once he is sure you know that…

  21. With the knowledge we have on the illegalization of Cannabis being attributed to racism, it’s surprising that any political figure fights for no change in legislation(or has no comment on the matter). Especially any political figures with a history of the negative impact of racism on their person.

    Ignoring drug abusers* for arguments sake…How does Cannabis negatively effect ones life? Why do so many Conservatives feel the need to keep it illegal? The only way that Cannabis effects anyone on a day by day basis, is by wasting billions of dollars on keeping it illegal.

    In my opinion, the only reason that Conservatives argue against Cannabis, is because the people they look up to argue against it. Many of these people don’t realize that the politicians are being bribed to hold their position; and often times, when not at work partake in Cannabis use. If instead of blindly following the words of others, they took the time to look at both sides of the argument equally, I think that more than 41% of people would vote for its legalization.

    * We can’t continue to punish the innocent for the stupidity of few. Alcohol is legal, driving while intoxicated is illegal. This is the type of laws we need. Laws that only punish those that endanger others.

    1. Why do so many Conservatives feel the need to keep it illegal?

      For some of them, for its own sake. To have something to distinguish establishment from anti-establishment, and to assert and prove the dominance of the establishment.

      In my opinion, the only reason that Conservatives argue against Cannabis, is because the people they look up to argue against it. Many of these people don’t realize that the politicians are being bribed to hold their position; and often times, when not at work partake in Cannabis use.

      That’s true of more than in the first category, except that it’s not just people who are bribed who they’re listening to; they’re also listening to people in the first category above, i.e. people who have a cynical reason.

  22. See my (satirical) report on the weekend meeting in Afghanistan, “Karzai Scolds Obama Over His Failures.” Karzai lectured Obama on “corruption,” governance,” and the “immoral and counter-productive ‘war on drugs.'”


  23. So what does California do when the coming Republican controlled Congress ties highway funding to a repeal of a voter-approved initiative legalizing cannabis?

    I guess we’ll have to wait until Fall of ’11 to find out.

    1. Damn dude, that’s probably exactly how it will happen too. What a downer. I need to pack a bowl just to get back to even.

    2. Point out, in direct and personal terms that —

      There is blood on the hands of those who GUARANTEE the existence of a black market by refusing to allow any changes to a 100 years-old approach that has resulted in uncounted tragedies on many levels. Just in the past week, many innocent people have died horrible deaths, or been ensnared in hopeless tyranny. And next week is just around the corner…

      You can be ‘pro-legalization and anti-organized crime’, but the ‘I am anti-legalization and anti-organized crime’ stance is no longer credible or valid. If you are anti-legalization, you are PRO-CRIME and PRO-TYRANNY. The numbers are in, the ship has sailed, there ain’t no wiggle room…

      If you are against legalization, you are part of the crime problem, _just like the users_. And you don’t even have the totally lame “I am addicted” excuse to justify your anti-social behavior.

  24. First off, legalizing pot will not stop the drug war, and will barely slow down the cartels, gangs or whatever they call themselves now. Like any other businesses, they’ll simply find another “product” they can sell to Americans.

    Secondly, as the mom of kids who have been in rehab because of pot, legalization would send a horrible message to youth. Pot is nowhere near as harmless as the legalization crowd believes.

    1. We shouldn’t make legislation on the experience of an individual. Legislation should come from statistics, facts, and scientific truths.

      1. Conrad, in the 1970’s I did a debate on the use, statistics and reasons why we should have passed Prop 13(Legalize Marijuana). My psychology was very impressed. I received an A. But corporate America and many who for whatever reasons have the chosen to allow this Border problem continue. I can only figure it makes them money, Do you know that after the REEFER MADNESS days the government made first The Stamp Act then went on to create trademarks for the different kinds like packages of cigarettes’ so they have the stats and a backup plan! It’s a matter of what makes politicians the most money and that will become the law. Just like, in the 70’s we had a middle class. Not, broke or homeless or on the hill in silk suits talking on how they know our tough situations. This isn’t an attack on you, just my opinion….and we know how that goes.

        1. I am well aware of all these things.

    2. Firstly, if the cartels could sell another illegal “product” to Americans for an outrageous profit then why are they spending so much time with marijuana?

      Secondly, your kids were using pot during prohibtion, how effective has outlawing been? And by the way, pot is not physically addictive so why would they need rehab? Maybe you should spend your time parenting or locking up your medicine cabinent and refrigerator. More than likely your kids got a hold of your vicodin and ritalin prescriptions and mixed it with the cases of malt liquor you keep around.

    3. Sorry, Little Dorrit —

      That is just bull.

      BTW, the youth of the time period to 1937 inclusive didn’t seem to be harmed by the “message”.

      What the hell do you think they burned in those vases back in Solomon’s day? You think pot was not a part of Moses’s daily life?

      Raw opium was sold OTC in Philadelphia when the Framers were working on the Constitution…

      Sheesh, lady, get a grip… you are part of the problem.

  25. Reason Magazine, where every other article is about drug legalization!

    1. One of the most important issues of our time, if not the most important.

      Unless you really like dictatorships, or fascist oligarchies, or whatever…

      1. Didn’t you know jabez? Not-talking about things makes them get better!

      2. I’m completely pro-legalization. I agree it’s the most important issue of our time. Millions of people locked in cages for putting something into their own bodies is an atrocity.

        I was just pointing out the fact that it’s a popular issue.

    2. …or the phrase I prefer, “Abolition of Prohibition Laws”! Don’t you just love the word “prohibition”, Tom?

  26. Cannabis was legal in America until the end of Prohibition, so the revenue agents could simply become narcos and keep their jobs. It’s less harmful than tobacco, (documented), and less addictive than alcohol. But everyone making a buck off the War on Some Drugs ? from the DEA agents to the Mexican smugglers to the neighborhood dealer ? doesn’t want to see it legalized. I don’t even smoke it very often anymore, but think I should have the right to smoke it, grow it, or buy it anywhere, at “Safeway,” and pay my taxes on it. The hypocrisy of these laws is obvious to anyone with half a brain, especially true conservatives, i.e., libertarians!

    Go Green!

    Dennis G.

    1. and for years Coke contained coke. I won’t be happy until it does again. Drug hysteria is just that, hysteria. Americans do hysteria well – drugs, sex, violence. Mind you, Americans don’t have any actual interest in preventing any of those things, they just want to be hysterical about them.

  27. I do see this train of thought as a likely solution. Myself; I’ve been thinking not only to legalize marijauna growth & use, but dispensories also which would help with with state taxes…. Also, I haven’t the exact numbers-but should we take the money that is used to fight marijauna and the taxes made from Dispensories could then be opened up for other uses….such as say BORDER CONTROL. Anyone who lives in a border state can help by letting the people who belong here stay and the other’s can get sponsors learn English and our ways, embrace America.Become citizens just like my Great-Grand Father did when he came from Norway. Do what it takes to protect FREEDOM since it isn’t free; Why do we continue to give it away. I am a California Native and my bloodline fought at the border brother against brother cousin etc… Suppossedly I have an Great-Aunt in Baha,MX. She is said to have chosen MEXICO. I am proud to be an AMERICAN pot smoker.

    1. And what about the fundamental tenet of self ownership which seems to me essential to the idea of liberty in any meaningful sense of the word. You either own yourself or you don’t. If you don’t, it is absurd to kid yourself about being free.

      1. And it’s also absurd to claim that we ever ended slavery. All we did was expand slavery and continue it by other means. Uncle Sam said to the Southern slave-owner, “Now there, sir, you can’t own slaves. Only I can own slaves — including you.”

  28. Hey, we stole California, Alto California, from Mexico fair and square! I know a guy who wants to make Mexico our 51st state! But the reason so many people from Mexico are coming here to survive is NAFTA, which has murdered their farming and small biz. Mexico is just now reaching the same population it had when the Spaniards arrived, before that particular genocide. Don’t get me started, as a part-Lakota, on the genocide in Norte Americano!


    1. Ay tuk rrrr jaarrrbs!

  29. People who have to dope themselves up to face the world are losers.


    Don’t take away MY rights, MY money or MY freedom, just because it offends you that someone chooses to be a loser. You DEA stormtroopers are far more an offense to this country than some guy burning his brain out.

  30. There is no drug war. But there is a drug massacre.

  31. I am NOT in favor of drug use! But why will alcohol (a drug) prohibition fail and drug prohibition won’t?

  32. You know what I find baffling? It’s the way so many advocates of liberty casually accept the notion, while advocating decriminalization, that the government needs to and should regulate substances in some way or that they even really can. The only difference I see between this view and the view of those who think substances should be flat out banned is the degree to which government should dictate access to substances. Even libertarians, it seems, can not seem to wrap their heads around authentic liberty and self ownership. Government should not be involved at all in drugs or alcohol or marriage or 99% of the stuff they are involved in. Our personal life choices should not be government issues in any way whatsoever.

    1. 1) “They” can regulate “substances”. Really.
      2) Very few people feel that 10-year olds are “self-owned” in the sense that their behavior should not be constrained. Very few people think that the guy they pay to fly their plane is “self-owned”, or that his “personal life choices should not be government issues”.
      3) People are dissolving their “enemies” in acid baths. It is not likely that all victims are killed prior, nor are they likely all “involved in the drug trade”. Orphans are created daily. Other people think that this situation makes a fine excuse to establish a police state. In some cases, they are quite likely the same people, and they are hard at work in very practical and ruthless fashion, making their dreams come true. It is very clear that they will succeed unless there are substantive changes made to the system, i.e., the status quo.

      Your life is at stake here, too. Is nattering on about first-level “libertarian” concepts that have zero historical and political relevance really helpful relative to the task at hand?

      In other words, do you hope to dismantle the narco-fascist conspiracy through political action, or are you actually working, albeit unknowingly, to maintain the status quo?

  33. The handwriting has been on the wall for a long time-the downfall of the war on drugs will be economic. As all other services to the public suffer as a result of this or that graft, mulcting or simple insufficiency, and it becomes apparent even to the stupidest among us that we just can’t AFFORD to keep up a war on drugs, legalization will occur. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, nicht wahr?
    Since many trademarks for named cannabis products were enjoined years ago, it will be a matter for licensing and royalties to determine our new enthusiasm for the next economic surge.
    I say fasten your safety belts; it promises to be a really profitable ride. Hell, maybe we’ll even be able to kick the other “war” habit with all the profits….Naaaaahhhh!!!

  34. Legalize, tax and regulate. The main reason the cartels are functioning is because of the money. Cut out the cash flow and the cartels die from within. Our law enforcement already practices this tactic. They work up the ladder and take out the stash houses.

  35. Let MEXICO make all drugs legal: they’d make billions being a drug destination.

    Then set up purchase depots just inside the American border. Buy everything the drug traffickers want to bring over at slightly higher than street value.

    Saves us money in the end without supplying the moron American druggies, who will, at least in large part, be forced to travel TO Mexico to get their fix.

    Maybe they’ll STAY their useless asses there.

  36. Right on, Steve. I have only one semantic quibble: the many deaths are not “drug-related”, they’re prohibition-related, and the pedantic, theocratic prohibitionists must not be allowed to elide that fact.

  37. Legalizing drugs would do the same thing as legalizing same-sex marriage — it would violate the god-given right of Christians to not be offended.


    1. I can’t hear you when you’re shouting. Caps at the beginning and for proper nouns.

      Or, get your damn glasses fixed!

  39. The MExican Military is a drug cartel, the MExican Government is a drug cartel. So when the U.S. sends them millions and guns, the balance shifts into the favor of the seemingly legal drug cartel.

    U.S. Cannabis laws= Federally Funded Terrorism which has now led into Discrimination based on which state you live in.

    If a plant can power our cars, feed the poor, cloth the world, heal the sick,clean our air pollution and thousands of other uses, is it not a crime to call it a drug and dismiss all research of it? Futhermore is it not a crime not to change the current Cannabis laws?

    1. Cannabis has no medical value, and cannot do any of those things that you claim.

      Or, maybe it can.


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  42. which puts Mexico on pace for more than 10,000 such deaths this yea

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