Drug War

Ending the Global Drug War: Voices from the Front Lines


"Ever since the War on Drugs, everything has hit the fan," says Romesh Bhattacharji, former Narcotics Commissioner of India. Rather than continue the unnecessary and costly drug war, Bhattacharji advises the United States to simply "Relax, take it easy, [and] tolerate."

Last month, at the Cato Institute's "Ending the Global War on Drugs" conference, Bhattacharji's sentiments were echoed by ex-drug czars, cops, politicians, intellectuals, liberal and conservative journalists, and even the former President of Brazil. Reason.tv attended the event and spoke with a number of the featured speakers, including:

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com

Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal

Tucker Carlson, The Daily Caller

Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou, Speaker of the House of Deputies, Uruguay

Leigh Maddox, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; University of Maryland School of Law

Enrique Gomez Hurtado, former Senator, Colombia

Larry Campbell, Senator, Canada

Romesh Bhattacharji, former Narcotics Commissioner, India

Eric Sterling, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

Harry G. Levine, Queens College (N.Y.)

Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Cato Institute

About 6.15 minutes.?? Produced and Edited by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Joshua Swain, with help from Seth McKelvey.?? Graphics by Meredith Bragg.

For more Reason coverage on the Drug War, go here.

For Cato Institute Drug War coverage and research, go here.

Visit Reason.tv for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

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  1. We don’t do “relax”.

    1. 3 year old comments. This should be interesting.

      1. Oh my god, again?

        Ok, I’ll admit, I’m not so great at checking timestamps.

        Strange, when I read the post I was kind of like, haven’t we seen this before?

        1. I’m looking forward to getting into an argument with 2011 me soon.

          1. I never really liked 2011 me.

            1. Even at the time?

          2. One time I came home at the end of a long day and thought “You know what would be a delightful diversion? Seeing what interesting stuff was linked to-day in Reason’s Morning Links.” So I popped “Morning Links (the day’s date) site:reason.com” into google and started perusing the comments. To my great skin-crawling surprise, I had already commented on one of the links! I checked the date and it was the Links from that day, a year earlier.

      2. They’re just trying to confuse the new trolls.

      3. I like it. This blog-and-comment format, where the parade is supposed to pass quickly (hence the name “Hit and Run”), never satisfied me as much as the old e-mail list format (or Usenet or some Web or Fidonet formats), where subjects never went out of date, could be started and subthreaded by anyone, kept up by those interested, dropped by those not.

      4. We have always been at war with Heroin-Asia.

  2. Article link gave me a 404. 16 short of chuckle-worthy.

  3. Who are you trying to fool? You know good and well that all these people are just Republicans who want to smoke pot.

    1. What about the Mexican buttsex?

  4. Man, that creepy music loop made me so anxious.

  5. The Narcotics Commissioner of India telling the the federal government of the United States to take it easy and “tolerate”. Holy God, have we come downhill.

  6. The “War on Drugs” will never end because of this:

    There are too many companies making money selling tools to fight it.

    There are too many companies making money selling services to house these horrible criminals (drug users) once they have been caught.

    Legalized drugs would make these same companies NO money, because if it were not for legislation, drugs would be cheap.

    So lobbyists make sure that they do not become legal.

    We need get the money out of the control of the government so we can make more sane rational decisions.

    End of story.

    1. Then how did the war start? There were businesses making money who ceased making that money when it became illegal. There was much more money in the business than there has ever been in stopping the business. Why didn’t the moneyed interests stop the inception of these prohibitions?

      1. Drugs were cheap and not much more profitable than beer or pretzels when they were legal. Prohibition, besides being expensive in itself, vastly inflated the prices of those cheap botanical substances, fueling an arms race of sorts. Do you think D.C. parasites want to give up their huge salaries for a job that only requires them to occasionally play stupid in front of Congress and the media?


        1. The margins may have increased, but the total amount of money in the legal business was incomparably greater than the amount of money there is in keeping these things illegal. It is inconceivable that a giant industry would allow itself to be muscled out by relatively small concerns like that if money were the only object.

  7. Our ancesters knew how to live. From a review of a new book on Queen Anne

    After scoring a point against his arch-rival the Earl of Oxford, Anne’s secretary of state Lord Bolingbroke boasted of how he had spent the day: ‘In the morning I went to the Queen and ruined the dog [ie Oxford]; at dinner I got drunk with champagne; and at night was put to bed to the prettiest whore in England.’

    1. Unfortunately, for a Lord “put to bed” meant raped and “prettiest whore” meant whatever unlucky pretty peasant girl happend to be in the vicinity, married or not. Not to piss on your fantasy.

      1. Not to piss on your fantasy.

        Maybe you just watered and fertilized it?

  8. It’s nice to see people advocating the end of the WoD, but this is hardly the front lines. Former law enforcement, tenured professors, retired appointees, journalists, and political zombies looking for a way to keep their names in the news. Granted, there are two (ostensibly) sitting members of legislative bodies, but one of them represents a made up country (hint: it ain’t the guy from Uruguay).

    Show me some people wearing badges or sitting US politicians saying we need to stop the madness, and I will say we are making progress.

    1. Canada a made-up country? Dude, that’s harsh!

      1. Larry Campbell’s a hack. Former Crown pathologist and then Vancouver’s mayor. Crusader for any left-wing cause that a hippie could wet dream. Not that i disagree with his stance here. But the guy is a world-class grandstander.

        1. I’ll take your word about Larry Campbell, but I was talking about Canada.

    2. Us CIA, Skull And Bonesmen are for the drug war…just because we think it is good.

  9. Saying that the war on drugs cannot be won is not really correct. If you gave police the authority to shoot anyone in possession of illegal drugs, you could probably almost eliminate these substances from society. And you would get rid of a lot of evil lawbreakers too, which could be seen as an additional benefit. Of course, once all these illegal substances are not available anymore, people will switch to glue and paint and so on. But at least we would have won the war on drugs.

    1. I believe I pretty much have the authority to shoot anybody I please.

      1. Of course Sir, you all are heroes after all, and heroes don’t do wrong. And you are doing a good job in terms of killing people in this country, but you should really focus on the people who truly deserve to be punished: people who use mind altering substances which some crooks in Congress said are evil. These people are the worst scum on earth and deserve to die. I mean, imprisoning them and having them butt raped by murderers is good, but it would be much better if we could just shoot them all immediately. So please, dear US police, it is not just bums with mental problems, or random Native Americans, or children in houses that were mistakenly SWAT raided that should be shot. We need to focus on the real trouble makers, and we need to shoot a lot more of them. Please apologize the hint of criticism towards you, you are still heroes of course.

    2. Saying that the war on drugs cannot be won is not really correct. If you gave police the authority to shoot anyone in possession of illegal drugs, you could probably almost eliminate these substances from society.

      Since you cannot give police this authority, it follows that you cannot win the war on drugs.

      1. That’s not correct, Singapore is not far away from what I propose, and they have a much smaller drug problem than the US. The logical consequence is that we need to take their strategy and crank it up a notch.

        1. You know, I really hate trains running late.

        2. bad for prison industry…We prefer to keep society closer to the edge of chaos. The only way to herd the sheeple in the proper directions is to keep them fearful.

        3. That’s what Newt wants to do – execute Willie Nelson. That’ll save the children.

          Of course you’ll have to execute our last 3 presidents and Micheal Phelps. And say adios to most all our great entertainers and musicians … and half the population of the U.S.

          Meh, easier to just execute the squares who are all uptight about weed. Nature FTW!

        4. Right, Sven. As soon as I got to Singapore, the taxi driver asked me if I wanted to buy some pot or opium. The only difference from anywhere else is price.

      2. Actually you could just nuke the entire country. No more drug use or “bad” (gay, unmarried, non-missionary position, non-procreative)sex and no heathens. God will be so pleased.

    3. if you shot all the rulebreakes then who would be in the prisons I have invested in? 2 million beds…gotta fillem up to keep the PE happy.

      1. how about imprisoning them evil illegal immigrants for 10-20 years before we deport them? as punishment for their heinous crimes…

    4. Saying that the war on drugs cannot be won is not really correct. If you gave police the authority to shoot anyone in possession of illegal drugs, you could probably almost eliminate these substances from society.

      No you wouldn’t, actually. China and several other countries have the death penalty for drug dealers.

      While I agree that the harshest of penalties will reduce a behavior in the population, it’ll never eliminate it.

      Bottom line, there’s always someone who thinks they can get away with it.

      IF that weren’t true, people would have stopped putting up cinnamon challenge videos on Youtube years ago.

    5. If the police had that authority, why wouldn’t the criminals just shoot the police first every time there’s a potential problem? They’d have nothing to lose.

  10. Nicole has enchanted us here at Hegre-Art with her sultry beauty. We are sure she will do the same for you.

    Her striking good looks and breast-length brunette hair are only the start. Nicole has a degree in psychology. She has a wisdom and an understanding of the human heart not often found in a woman of only 22 years. Perhaps that is why she has that haunting smile. A touch of mystery mingling with sensuality.

    But in front of the camera there are no secrets. Everything is laid bare.

    Those famous Ukrainian looks and figure come to perfection in Nicole. From her amazing long legs to her raven hair – and everywhere in between – she excels.

    1. And then she became the worst.

    2. Link or STFU.

    3. Pornbot, you’re back. I missed you dude.

  11. thank you ,good blog..

  12. I for one think the drug war is awesome!!!


  13. Governments not only should stop arresting and jailing people who consume psychoactive substances that politicians do not like; they should “stop imposing ‘compulsory treatment’ on people whose only offense is drug use or possession.”

    Where’s the government power in this scenario? I believe it’s a no-go.

  14. Anyone having a good day and want to have it ruined? David Harvey and Gar Alperovitz dig into the failure of capitalism, the hope presented by worker co-ops, and what activists fighting for a just economy must do to get there.

    Well, capitalism is money that is used to make more money, or the other way I look at it – the way in which social labor is appropriated by private persons? The accumulation of capital to me is what is central. So capitalism is not a thing, it’s a process. It’s the process of circulation; of money making more money that is appropriated by individuals. One of the things I would want to do is to say that the more and more of the economy we can take out of that circulation process, the better off we will be. The trend over the last thirty to forty years is to take everything from housing, to education – let’s take something like education – more and more it’s become more integrated into the circulation of capital with the result that students are now living in indebtedness and the money kind of calculations drive universities up, preschool, and all of the rest of it. This is something that you want to be reversed and go in the other direction. In other words, we should have an education system that’s de-commodified, taken out of the commodity realm; taken out of the realm of the circulation of capital.

    1. You look at healthcare, you look at education, you look at water, you look at basic utilities, you look at housing; there’s a mission here and one of the things we can do is de-commodify all of those things and start saying we can find a way of providing those things socially without going through this business of some people getting extremely rich on playing in the housing market as they did before the housing market crashed in 2007.

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA! Yeah, let’s have the government control the entire housing market. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Now why hasn’t anyone thought of this before.

      2. This video is worthy of the Derpetologist.

        Those two throwbacks deserve to live under their ideology. Somewhere far away from me.

    2. Well, capitalism is money that is used to make more money, or the other way I look at it – the way in which social labor is appropriated by private persons? The accumulation of capital to me is what is central. So capitalism is not a thing, it’s a process. It’s the process of circulation; of money making more money that is appropriated by individuals.

      Not gonna read past…

      1. The first guy they talk about is the author of a companion’s guide to Marx’s Capital Volume II and the other guy wrote a book called What Then Must We Do? about ‘Democratizing wealth and building an alternative economy.’

        Come on. You know you want to watch it. Know your enemy.

        1. When I used to listen to NPR they had like an evening program on the weekdays called, I dunno, ‘alternative voices’ or some such thing. And they’d always play a short clip of the next guest’s talk. It was usually a word salad of ‘social justice; democratizing wealth; post-capitalism society; alternative economies’

          Pretty much all the words you just used there. I know my enemy all too well.

          1. Brilliant line from that video: “Capitalism’s what, 200 years old? About 200. And we can’t have another 200 years of this.”

            Yeah, who would want to have another 200 years of the greatest expansion of wealth in the history of the human species?

            1. I, for one, would rather go back to hunting dinosaurs with pointy sticks.

          2. He also claims we see ‘more and more pressing environmental problems’ despite the fact that most wealthy capitalist countries are very clean and have good air and water quality. You want to know who had none of those things? The Soviets.

            1. Hilarious. One guy says something reasonable:

              What I find hilarious about communists is they believe socialism = freedom, but the thing is, if you have freedom, capitalism and a money system to support free trade is an inevitability, so the only way to maintain a socialist model is through oppressive force. Not to mention, a socialist model leaves the front door to power unlocked for the worst of humanity. The twentieth century was chock full of examples.

              Who can take Harvey seriously anyway? I’ve listened to his speeches and it’s just a bunch of rambling, buzz-word laden nonsense.?

              This is the response:

              The point of this conversation is to ask what a new economic system would look like, as neither corporate capitalism or state socialism have worked. If you believe that there is a limit on how great income inequality can grow and a limit on how much industrial growth the earth can bare, then the necessity of a new way of organizing our economy is obvious. The question is then, what would a democratic, decentralized, and humane economy look like??

              They cannot speak without meaningless buzz words.

              1. The best economic system is one in which I am as powerful as Stalin.

  15. Per capita, Britain is poorer than every American state.

    Fraser has used the average PPP for the US. But as we can see there’s different PPP adjustments for different States. If $100 will buy you $115 worth of goods in Mississippi this is the same statement as the correct PPP adjustment for Mississippi incomes, or in this case GDP, is 100:115. Or, if you prefer, Mississippi’s properly PPP adjusted GDP per capita is $40,400 or so: well above the UK’s $36,200.

    And yes, it is generally (although not necessarily wholly) true that PPP adjustments like this raise income and or GDP in poorer places and lower them in richer. So we would expect properly adjusting for all poor State GDPs by State PPPs to increase the recorded incomes in all of those poor States.

    Britain really is poorer than even the poorest of the US States, yes, including even Mississippi.

    1. Cuba has a higher PPP per capita than Mexico, according to the world bank:


      1. That’s interesting. The problem is there’s nothing to actually buy in Cuba.

        I also don’t know how they could measure that given that Cuba isn’t exactly honest with their reported statistics.

        1. I think I could get by on cigars and rum.

  16. OT:

    However, gay rights groups have condemned the union.

    Otago University Students’ Association Queer Support co-ordinator Neill Ballantyne, of Dunedin, said the wedding was an”insult” because marriage equality was a”hard fought” battle for gay people.

    “Something like this trivialises what we fought for.” The competition promoted the marriage of two men as something negative,”as something outrageous that you’d never consider”, Mr Ballantyne said.

    LegaliseLove Aotearoa Wellington co-chairman Joseph Habgood said the competition attacked the legitimacy of same-sex marriages.

    “The point of this competition is that men marrying each other is still something they think is worth having a laugh at …

    1. Rights for me, but not for thee, ya Cis.

    2. Something like this trivialises what we fought for.

      What they fought for is the trivialization of marriage, and they got it.

      1. “We want to be able to marry for whatever reason we want! Uh, but not that reason.”

      2. Same-sex couples (real ones, not the fake one in the link) appreciate your trivialization of their relationships.

        1. If they truly love each other, why would anyone care?

        2. Same-sex couples (real ones, not the fake one in the link) appreciate your trivialization of their relationships.

          What’s the difference? I thought marriage was too restrictive before – now people want to marry whoever they want to for whatever reason and it’s a problem?

          It’s almost like gay marriage advocates didn’t want equality, they just wanted theirs.

    3. They hug like front row scrummers. See the wrinkles in one’s sleeve? The photographer must’ve just told the other to unclench his hand. My guess is that the one with the longer beard’s the hooker.

  17. Sounds like a very good plan to me dude.


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