MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I'm curious what you think about the 'war on drugs', which was coined by Nixon in 1971.  And yes, he thought of everything the right-wingers have ever done.

Tags: MyDD, Open Thread (all tags)

Comments

91 Comments

Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The War on Drugs, domestically and internationally, is one of the biggest black eyes on the American system of governance.  It's a waste of money, a waste of human resources, and a hand-out to the most ruthless, despicable forces around the world (including the Taliban and FARC), who only turn a profit because of the inflated prices brought on by the enforcement regime.  On a strictly democratic note, it has resulted in an unbelieveably high proportion of citizens being imprisoned by the state.

I think this is the one issue where Milton Friedman made the most sense.

And I think that it's only the flagrant political cowardice of our elected officials that has kept these destructive laws on the books and money in the pockets of suppliers and thugs.  Regulation and taxation are anathema to Republicans, but in this instance they are the exact solutions we should be looking towards.

by Jay R 2007-04-08 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

A disaster that has destroyed many lives.

A historical note is that Nixon originally appointed a Presidential Commission to study the drug problem.  They recommended a health care approach, not a law enforcement approach.  Nixon ignored them, scored a few cheap political points and the war on drugs was born.  Carter tried to reverse it but was killed politically when his top drug policy guy, Dr. Peter Bourne, smoked a little pot at a party and was outed by NORMAL founder Keith Stroup.

by howardpark 2007-04-08 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I think Bourne actually snorted cocaine at that party...somewhat more damaging to his credibility...your point still stands though

by lorax 2007-04-08 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

It's a war on black and brown people and the poor, and it fuels the prison industrial complex.

by Sonya 2007-04-08 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

To call it a War on Drugs is a misnomer. It's a war on people.

It'd be better to legalize all things hemp and tax and regulate marijuana.

Hard drugs should be decriminalized. Instead of prisons, Rehab centers should be provided where people with addiction problems could go to get treatment and help to get off drugs, get back on their feet and back into the job market.

Gov. Richardson (D-NM) has signed a medical marijuana bill, and a bill that would allow addicts to go to a rehab center for treatment without having their stash used as evidence against them for criminal charges.

All incarcerated non-violent marijuana users should be pardoned.

Arrests and incarcerations are no way to treat addiction, which is a medical problem.

by Hempy 2007-04-08 09:33PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I think of some things like the DARE program that encourages children to stay away from drugs and I think it's successful.

I think of others, such as mandatory sentencing and insufficient rehab efforts and shake my head.

I do think the government has a right to make drugs illegal.

by Vox Populi 2007-04-08 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I agree the government has a right to make them illegal.  That doesn't mean that they should, though.

by jallen 2007-04-08 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

   I agree that things like the DARE program are worth having. That's about education, not interdiction. And if it works, great.

   But I believe drug control is analogous to gun control. In both cases, the government is ostensibly regulating a potentially lethal object/substance that can produce tragic results when abused.

   I believe it is intellectually dishonest to support drug control and not gun control, and vice versa. And for the record, I am diametrically opposed to gun control; I'm a staunch Second Amendment supporter.

   Maybe the government has the right to regulate substances; I haven't thought about that particular philosophical point all that thoroughly. But IF the state has such a right, it needs to apply it coherently and within bounds of REASON. And there is nothing rational about our drug laws.

  There is NO rational basis -- none -- for the imaginary legal line between alcohol and marijuana, for instance. And the hysteria of the drug warriors when they oppose perfectly sensible medical-marijuana initiatives betrays their true nature -- they're simply busybodies indulging their authoritarian impulses.

  The War on Drugs, as currently construed, is nothing more than a vestige of the Puritanism that continues to infest our society.

 

by Master Jack 2007-04-08 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I believe in the Second Amendment as well, but I don't think reasonable gun control violates it.  There's a difference between owning a handgun, rifle or shotgun for hunting/home protection purposes and having a dozen modified assault rifles.

I do think there is a valid moral aspect on the drug war as well.  Crackheads are a bane to our society, and the people who use and the people who deal should be imprisoned.  The dealers shouldn't have a right to "rehab."  What they do destroys lives, whether in a meta sense or in reality.  Additionally, they do not have a disease to be cured.  The users should have rehab opportunities.

I hold nothing against the pro-drug lobby.  I have lots of friends who casually smoke marijuana or use other illegal substances.  I choose not to partake in their enjoyment and avoid situations where others are doing so.

Back to the government right to regulate, think about what regulatory services they already provide.  The have to approve and reject medicine to proect the public, they inspect and approve our food, the list goes on.

Would a society that allows free drug use be productive?  Is there such an example?

by Vox Populi 2007-04-08 01:22PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

  We have free nicotine and alcohol use in our country. I think our society is productive despite this.

  Crackheads are a problem, yes; so are chronic alcoholics. That's not an argument for making crack illegal; it IS an argument for steering people away from the substance to begin with.

  What would happen if we legalized drugs tomorrow? I'll speculate: we'll have a short-term spike in drug use, as people prone to experiment find their personal limits; some will permanently screw up their lives, but most won't. Then it will level off and we'll function well enough -- after all, tobacco is perfectly legal and available, and 80% of Americans decline to indulge in it. And most people who consume alcohol aren't alcoholics.

 And we will save an IMMENSE amount of taxpayer money on drug interdiction and prison-building, and rapists and murderers -- REAL criminals -- won't be getting early parole due to jails overcrowded with pot "offenders".

 We'll be trading a large law-enforcement problem for a more manageable public-health problem. It's obvious that what we do now is NOT working.

 

by Master Jack 2007-04-08 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Would a society that allows free drug use be productive?  Is there such an example?

Everywhere in the world before the 20th century? I mean the "war on drugs" really only got started in the 1970s, and up until the 1930s drug use was unrestricted in the United States.  You could buy heroin at the corner store without a perscription.

Also, we allow alcohol, why not Marijuana.  It causes much fewer problems then Alcohol.

by delmoi 2007-04-08 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I pretty much agree with Jack, but I look at it from a utilitarian viewpoint instead of from a libertarian viewpoint.

Drugs and guns are both here to stay. Even if guns were outlawed tomorrow they would still be everywhere, just like the drugs are. I'd love to see less guns in this country but I don't think it would ever happen. Americans love their guns and love their drugs. When there is demand there will be supply.

by wiretapp 2007-04-08 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

utilitarian = pragmastic

by wiretapp 2007-04-08 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Don't studies show kids in Dare actually have a higher percentage of drug use?

by MNPundit 2007-04-08 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I remember my dare program...

it taught me how to make a pipe out of a coke can.  the police officer also told me where (which region) in the Allegheny forest i could find pot growing.  My thoughts on this are that people are going to use drugs if they want to, if they are legal or not.  

"Did you know America ranks the lowest in education but the highest in drug use? It's nice to be number one, but we can fix that. All we need to do is start the war on education. If it's anywhere near as successful as our war on drugs, in no time we'll all be hooked on phonics"
- Leighann Lord

it makes sense.  but i am not about to debate the educational issue.

by SleepingIn 2007-04-09 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The DARE program has not been successful.  Those kids attending DARE programs are slightly (not statistically significant) more likely to use drugs than those who have not been so propagandized.

by AlphaHydroxy 2007-04-08 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Maybe the program needs to be a bit more gritty.

Show pictures of crackheads mouths.  Show the mangled bodies of children after a meth lab explodes.  Show the bodies of drive-by victims who were hit by stray bullets in a turf war.

Be graphic, explicit and honest.  This is how you win.

by Vox Populi 2007-04-08 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

That was part of the problem.  DARE was about scaring kids rather than informing them.  Once the kids realized that most of it was b.s., they easily dismissed the rest.

Think Driver's Ed. and the scare tactics there.

by pseudo999 2007-04-08 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I took a college level course on drugs and behavior and it REALLY made me want to try heroin. I had never wanted to try before taking that course. The course was totally non-gritty and looked at it from a purely scientific point of few instead of preaching to us how bad drugs are. I'm not sure if that would have changed anything though.

by wiretapp 2007-04-08 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs


   The best anti-drug piece I ever saw was the movie Trainspotting.

  It was criticized by clueless fossils like Bob Dole (who didn't even see it) as "promoting" drug use. My curiosity piqued, I rented it -- and came out of it thinking "there's NO way anyone TRIES heroin after watching THIS", given how grisly the withdrawal scenes were. If this is "glamour", I don't want to see the opposite...

 My brother watched it with his 11-year-old kid, who proclaimed afterwards that "drugs are evil".

 

by Master Jack 2007-04-08 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Best anti-drug movie is "Dea Ringers" directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jeremy Irons and Geneviève Bujold. Also one of the best psychological horror movies. Happens to be about prescription drug abuse.

by billybob 2007-04-08 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Correction: "Dead Ringers"

by billybob 2007-04-08 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I had the same reaction to Requiem for a Dream. Those films would make quite a double feature.

by Gpack3 2007-04-08 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Yeah they could add "Spun" and just show high school kids those 3 films instead of the stupid DARE programs. It would be much more effective. From what I understand those movies show a pretty accurate discription of what its like for an addict of those three drugs (requiem: coke, trainspotting: heroin, spun: meth).

The truth is that most of those drugs really aren't that harmful to the body if the correct dosages are taken. Meth is prolly the worst because it causes brain damage to stay up for that many days. A one time usage of any of those drugs wouldn't cause very much harm but its the addiction that gets really bad. Eventually the drugs don't make you feel good anymore and you just need them because of addiction then your body really starts to deteriorate.

One of the things we learned in class is that most of the damage to drug addicts bodies isn't caused by the drugs themselves but by the neglect of their bodies that comes from that type of lifestyle.

by wiretapp 2007-04-08 10:47PM | 0 recs
Huh?

Requiem was about Heroin, not coke.

The problem with DARE is that it tries to make drugs like weed seem as bad as Heroin.  What kind of movie would you get if you focused on stoners? Pretty boring I imagine (Unless for stoners, like a lot of movies are)

by delmoi 2007-04-09 01:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Huh?

"Marijuana is not a drug. I used to suck dick for coke. Now that's an addiction. You ever suck some dick for marijuana?"

Ahh, Bob Saget.

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-09 05:44AM | 0 recs
The problem with being honest about drugs

Is that the truth is that some drugs are really not that bad for you.  Not worse then Alcohol, or smoking nicotine for sure. What can you honestly say about Marijuana that makes it so bad? What can you honestly say about, say, Mushrooms.  

by delmoi 2007-04-08 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The problem with being honest about drugs

Oh, I could say some things about mushrooms.

I won't.  But I could.

by Jay R 2007-04-08 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The problem with being honest about drugs

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wire Story?id=2975214&page=2

I can't find the whole list anymore, but Coke and Heroin are hands down the most dangerous... Alcohol and Tobacco are more dangerous than Pot or Extasy (which was a surprise to me... X was among the least dangerous, along with LSD... ALthough I think some of the pot stats may be off because a lot of pot smokers are cigarette smokers, but without seeing all the study facts, I don't know).  

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-09 05:53AM | 0 recs
Bullshit

That kind of scare-tactic stuff isn't even honest. There are plenty of people with fucked up mouths who don't use drugs, and meth labs and drive by victims are the result of the war on drugs not the drugs themselves.

by delmoi 2007-04-08 02:36PM | 0 recs
DARE is a failure

DARE is a total failure and a corrupt governmetn institution to boot.  

The drug was is a sick joke that does  more harm than good,  particularly in low income communities and communities of of color.

http://www.csdp.org/news/news/darerevise d.htm
http://www.fcda.org/trimble.htm

by Mike Connery 2007-04-08 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: DARE is a failure

Indeed. The issue isn't that drug education can't reduce addiction and other bad things, but that because this has been a cultural issue from the outset, people are unwilling to think critically about what the outcomes are.

People reflexively defend dare because it feels good for them to "do something," and because there's a whole cottage-industry around it.

by Josh Koenig 2007-04-08 02:38PM | 0 recs
No Evidence DARE Works

There is not a scintilla of evidence that DARE works.  It has been the subject of many longitudinal studies and none have found any positive outcomes.  It has become another program that pays salaries that local governments do not want to give up and has evolved its own lobby.

http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/libr ary/uicnews.htm

DARE by law must treat all illegal drugs the same.  Imagine how effective DARE is when it tries to convince 15-year olds that a toke is just as bad for you as crystal meth.  DARE is a joke -- ask any teenager.

by Arthurkc 2007-04-08 01:50PM | 0 recs
DARE Doesn't Work

One of the pernicious side-effects of the War on Drugs is that it involves a huge collateral war on truth, and the purported effectiveness of programs like DARE is a prime example.

Studies as far back as 1994 such as this one found that DARE was not effective, and were suppressed for saying so.  DARE proponents argued that the studies were not valid, because they studied techniques that were no longer used.  Even if so (which turned out not to be true), this was hardly a counter-argument, since neither the original program, nor the updated versions were based on empirical data.  It was all just Strict Father feel good junk.

The Drug Policy Alliance D.A.R.E. Fact Sheet, Compiled by Ariel Kalishman, Drug Policy Alliance. April 2003 (almost nine full years after the above study) states:

  • In the 20 years since DARE began, studies have consistently shown that DARE has no significant effect on students' use of drugs.
  • The General Accounting Office of the US Government found "no significant differences in illicit drug use between students who received DARE . . . and students who did not." (1)
  • Estimated costs of DARE annually: $1 to 1.3 billion. (2)
  • In 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General placed DARE under the category of "Ineffective Programs." (3)
  • The National Academy of Sciences has called DARE ineffective. (4)
  • The Department of Education prohibited schools from spending its Safe and Drug-Free Schools money on DARE because they did not consider it effective in reducing drug use. DARE America, the parent organization of the DARE program, has continues to receive money because they are trying to update the curriculum. (5)
  • Problems with the "New" Dare, which was developed by DARE America in response to decades of criticism about the failures of DARE. The new version is being currently being researched for efficacy.
              1. It is fundamentally the same as the original program, with only superficial changes. The same student handbook will be used, with the same messages that do not work. (6)
               2. Preliminary evaluations have found rates of drug use among students participating in the "New" DARE are the same as the rates among students who are taught using the old, failed DARE. (7)
  • Even DARE America's president and founding director has admitted the program's shortcomings. ``There's quite a bit we can do to make it better and we realize that,'' said Glenn Levant. (8)
  • DARE America's vice-president, Nancy J. Kaufman, has admitted that abstinence-only education is empty rhetoric. "Realistically, people understand that for a great number of adolescents, they might try something at least once." (9)
  • The head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Zili Sloboda, noted that DARE is far from the only anti-drug program that does not work, but has drawn the most criticism because it is the largest. (10)
Footnotes available with the original at the link provided above.

The War on Drugs is a good model for the War on Terror.  Faulty premises.  Faulty strategy. Faulty  leadership. Faulty data.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot: tens hundreds of thousands of ruined lives.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-08 02:38PM | 0 recs
Depending on how you define "ruined"

I would say that millions of people have been adversely effected by the WoD.

by delmoi 2007-04-08 03:10PM | 0 recs
Effected vs. Ruined

I'm trying to be very conservative in my estimates.    Obviously millions--tens of millions--have been effected.  "Ruined" is a stronger term, and can fairly be applied to those serving ridiculously long sentences.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-08 06:12PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Artificially made drugs like Meth, X and Acid and Drugs that come from plants but have to be heavily processed such as Coke or Heroin, sure I agree with you... at that point, the manufacturing becomes an added outside element and should fall into the same catergory as prescriptions drugs.

However, plants that grow naturally, such as Pot, Mushrooms, Peyote, etc. that are NOT processed should not be banned by the government... they do not have the right to ban what plants can be consumed in their native form.  

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-09 05:25AM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

the very first Get Your War On:

http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war.html

by deberg 2007-04-08 12:51PM | 0 recs
It's a joke.

 Democrats know it's a joke.
  Republicans know it's a joke.
  Just about anyone who studies the issue carefully and objectively concludes that it's a joke.

 And yet the premise of the War on Drugs is never seriously challenged, not publicly. And any political figure who does challenge it is quickly destroyed.

 Why is that?

 Because the War on Drugs is not about curtailing drug abuse, or about keeping drugs away from minors, or about public health, or about any of that. If the War on Drugs were about any or all of that, it would have been publicly scrapped decades ago, seeing how ineffective it's been in those departments.

 So what IS the War on Drugs about? It's about social control. It's about having laws on the books that enable authorities to arrest and imprison people for fairly innocuous behavior (certainly in the case of pot). It's about keeping the population -- and especially the lower-income portion of the population -- looking over its shoulder.

 And at THAT level, the War on Drugs has been an extraordinary success. And that is why despite all the evidence as to how ineffective it is in actually curbing drug abuse, there is never any serious discussion on actually coming up with a rational, public-health approach to fighting drug abuse. That's never been the point of the War on Drugs.

 In the early sixties, before the Surgeon General's famous report, about one-half of American adults smoked. Today the rate is about 20%.

 How did we drive that number so far down? Through education. Through social persuasion. We made it very socially inconvenient to be a smoker. But we NEVER made it illegal -- we knew that would open another big can of worms, as we saw during Prohibition. And it was an extraordinarily successful long-term approach.

 That's the approach we should take regarding drug abuse -- but we won't. Decriminalizing drugs would be too damaging to the interests of too many powerful people to be seriously considered.

 The War on Drugs serves its actual purpose well. It's just that its stated purpose bears no resemblance to its actual purpose. Like our Israel policy and like single-payer health care, it's an issue we're not allowed to have a serious, rational discussion about in our country.

by Master Jack 2007-04-08 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: It's a joke.

" How did we drive that number so far down? Through education. Through social persuasion. We made it very socially inconvenient to be a smoker. But we NEVER made it illegal -- we knew that would open another big can of worms, as we saw during Prohibition. And it was an extraordinarily successful long-term approach."

I think you have to do both, persuasion and deterrent. The difference with tobacco is that people in withdrawal from tobacco don't go out and shoot other people. People that are hooked on nicotene don't go out and prostitute themselves and decide to shoot up peoples houses to steal $20.

There are lots of things that need to be done. I think a huge thing that needs to be done is a revitalization of rural and urban communities so that there are real meaningful good-paying jobs that people can have so they don't feel hopeless and don't feel like drugs are a good escape. But drugs are such a drain on society and cause so many lives to be wasted that you can't just legalize it and hope the problem goes away through by banning heroin use in restaurants.  

by adamterando 2007-04-08 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: It's a joke.

  The problem is that the "deterrence" DOES NOT WORK. Drug use is NOT going down, despite 35 years of the War on Drugs. Any other public program that yielded such dismal results would have had the plug pulled on it years ago.

  And WHY does a cocaine addict have to rob a 7-11 to finance his next hit while a nicotine addict doesn't? Precisely because cocaine is illegal and nicotine isn't -- that's what creates the black market to begin with.

 All we've done with the War on Drugs is drive the market underground. As with Prohibition, that causes more problems than it solves.

 Drugs are a drain on society, yes. So is alcoholism -- and that's perfectly legal.

 And I do agree that if we fix the economy so that poor people have access to meaningful jobs, drug abuse will go down on its own, whatever its legality. It would be nice if we were to try THAT for a change.

by Master Jack 2007-04-08 01:22PM | 0 recs
Re: It's a joke.

"And WHY does a cocaine addict have to rob a 7-11 to finance his next hit while a nicotine addict doesn't? Precisely because cocaine is illegal and nicotine isn't -- that's what creates the black market to begin with."

No. That is completely false. The reason the crack-head goes out and robs a 7-11 is because of the drug itself. Their sense of reality is completely warped. Now you might say that someone who is jonesing for a nicotine fix also has a warped sense of reality. But the fact is, the effects of nicotine do not have the same mental and physical  damaging effects as do illegal drugs. It's just a whole other world. And society greatly suffers because of it.  

by adamterando 2007-04-08 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: It's a joke.

Sorry, but the parent was right and you're wrong. A smoker only needs $5 a day to maintain his habit. A crack or heroin addict needs much more.

They aren't robbing stores because they have a "warped sense of reality", they're doing it to get money for drugs, and they need that money because prohibition has made the drugs so expensive.

by taradinoc 2007-04-08 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: It's a joke.

No. That is completely false. The reason the crack-head goes out and robs a 7-11 is because of the drug itself. Their sense of reality is completely warped.

Crack doesn't "warp" your sense of reality. And anyway, Alcohol probably causes more violence then all other drugs combined.  People run over each other, people beat up their wives, etc while drunk. Why isn't alcohol illegal, if we're going by how bad it makes you behave.

Besides, even if it did "warp" your perspective, it wouldn't make you do those things when you weren't on it

by delmoi 2007-04-08 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: It's a joke.

think you have to do both, persuasion and deterrent. The difference with tobacco is that people in withdrawal from tobacco don't go out and shoot other people. People that are hooked on nicotene don't go out and prostitute themselves and decide to shoot up peoples houses to steal $20.

They would if it was more expensive.  Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world. In Nazi Germany Jews would give up their meager food rations for smokes. Criminally minded people would run around shooting people for a fix if they needed to.  They don't because nicotine is not illegal. Most regular drug users don't run around shooting people either. The ones who do do it because they're criminals, not because of the drugs.

by delmoi 2007-04-08 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: It's a joke.

Now this is just surreal. In the midst of a stimulating argument about the about the social construction of abberant behavior (normative drugs vs. illegal drugs, medical treatment vs. criminalization), suddenly my man delmoi here essentializes "criminals." Just bizarre.

by nvalvo 2007-04-09 12:23AM | 0 recs
Well...

Obviously you would agree that people running around shooting each other, etc are bad, right? Why not call them criminals?

I guess you can technically say all illegal drug users are technically criminals, but that's not what I meant.

by delmoi 2007-04-09 01:31AM | 0 recs
I wish it was a joke

In practice, it is a war on inner city black communities, criminalizing young black men. White boys who do the same stuff get treatment. The whole thing has always been a con to enable right wing politicians to stoke racism in the white electorate without saying the dirty words that would get them criticized.

Meanwhile, the drugs themselves are devastating to poor communities, white, black and brown, that get torn apart by the illegal enterprises that deal them.

by janinsanfran 2007-04-08 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The collateral damage from the War on Drugs is far worse than the damage that drugs do.  There are over 2.2 million Americans in our nations prisons and jails.  We have 5% of the worlds population and 25% of the worlds prisoners.  What does this say about democracy? About a third of these prisoners are incarcerated for possession and sale only.

The Constitution and the legal system have taken  enormous damage.  "Drug exceptions" have gutted the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth amendments, not just for drug crimes, but for all Americans.  

The Enforcement-Prosecutorial-Judicial-Priso n Complex has become enormous. So large, that California spends more on prisons than it does on higher education.  Prisons are being privatized in many states to reduce costs.  Prisoners are being used as slave labor for everything from the manufacture of office furniture to telemarketing.  

Our government continues to lie about the dangers of drugs.  The Lancet, a sort of edgy British Medical Journal, has recently published a paper ranking drug harms.  Their listing of same may be found here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/647405 3.stm

I have barely touched on the many harms that the so called War on Drugs does to our nation.  I don't have the time to write a full account of the damage that I know of.

Drug abuse is a public health issue, not a legal one.  Trying to use the Penal system to solve the drug problem is like using a hammer to clean a window.

by AlphaHydroxy 2007-04-08 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

   One thing hasn't been mentioned is the ridiculously long sentences drug offenders receive.  "Three strikes" laws, according to the Supreme Court, are constitutional.  Now petty drug traffickers are put in jail for life.  We have waaayyy too many people in jail.  I think it's about 1/120 US citizens are in jail - the largest proportion of any country in the world.  It's a travesty, and it doesn't need to be that way.

by cilerder86 2007-04-08 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is quite the horror.  Apologies that I can't supply links at the moment, but this is old news and old information to me.  Because of that, some of the information might be slightly inaccurate.

First, historically, certain classes of drugs have been made illegal only when there is a class disparity between who uses the drugs.  While opium was a drug used by the upper middle class, it was perfectly legal.  When it became a drug mostly associated with the underclass, suddenly it was illegal.  The same for marijuana (associated with black people) and a host of other recreational drugs (cocaine, crack cocaine, etc.).

Point number two:  The War on Drugs has always been used as a politically expedient excuse for otherwise unpopular political actions.  Unlike a commentator above, I am not saying the War on Drugs spawned these horrible policies.  I am saying it has been a great way to get these policies enacted.

Example #1:  Invading Panama.  Once Bush, Sr., decided he wanted to invade Panama, he needed an excuse to do so.  Polls at the time showed that most of America just didn't care much about the drug issue, or Panama.  But after a propoganda campaign, Bush, Sr., convinced most of America that the tin-pot dictator posed an existential threat to the U.S. (sound familiar?), and that threat came through the drug trade.  Afterwards, people thought the fabric of the U.S. was coming apart at the seams due to drug abuse.  The invasion was successful, and the drug shipments stopped.  Wait.  Actually, only the invasion was successful.

Example #2.  I have no support for the following, but I also surmise that Nixon's war on drugs was probably an outgrowth of efforts to stamp down on his political enemies, who were associated with the drug culture.

Example #3.  Keeping down the negroes.  This goes right to the heart of my first point.  Whether conscious or not, the drug war has created an almost permanent underclass.  These people cannot rise in life because of their prison history.  Good jobs become impossible to find.  Education is cut short.  Families are broken up.  The cycle continues.  These felonies are mainly for non-violent drug offenses, with extended, mandatory jail sentences for no good reason, based upon fear.

A short autobiographical note:  I don't do drugs.  I don't smoke cigarettes, I never smoked pot.  The most I have smoked is a hookah, and that no more than 4 times in my life.  I do no illegal drugs.  I have never done any illegal drugs.

by pseudo999 2007-04-08 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

According to the 2005 survey of drug use by the Dept. of Health & Human Services there are about 9.6 million people in the 12 and older age range that use marijuana or hashish only, 15.8 million that use marijuana and some other drug and 4.3 that use some other drug and no marijuana for a total of 35.0 million. In my view this is proof by demonstration that the war on drugs is a failure. The DARE program does not appear to have made any difference but the cops like it because it gives them some extra money.

In 2005 there were 89,972 federal prisoners and 250,900 state prisoners where drugs was the most serious charge. About one for every 880 persons in the United States. This is an insane waste of public funds.

by JSN 2007-04-08 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Here in the Philippines they execute drug dealers.  Consequently, drug use is very low.  Do you think the US should have something similar?

by Vox Populi 2007-04-08 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Hard to say. You could end up with Dickensian England where they had strict penalties for petty theft that never got upheld because the juries didn't want to put people away for that long.

by adamterando 2007-04-08 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Oh fer cryin' out loud...

One, this argument assumes drug abuse is per se bad and should be illegal.  Two, it assumes capital punishment has no other downsides, and assumes capital punishment is justified for drug dealing.  Three, it doesn't even try to figure out other ways to solve the problem.

Most of the civilized world has banned capital punishment.  Europe, for instance, seems to have found other ways to deal with their drug problems rather than resorting immediately to killing off people.

by pseudo999 2007-04-08 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Indeed.  

If the nation had the death penalty for moving violations, you would see a drop in fatality rates on the highways.

If you had the death penalty for tax evasion, the IRS would have considerably fewer problems with tax cheats.

Personally, I think there should be a death penalty for lying to Congress.  And that includes saying "I don't recall".  People with faulty memories would have the incentive to take better notes.

by RickD 2007-04-08 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

How do you know there is a cause-effect relationship?

by jallen 2007-04-08 02:07PM | 0 recs
War on Drugs: Worst. Metaphor. Ever.

Actually, there are probably much worse ones.  But it is the first thing that pops into my head.

Didn't we already try this once before?  I think they called it "Prohibition."

At least then, they realized they needed a Constitutional Amendment to declare metaphoric wars.

'Course, it wasn't hipster Negro musicians and lazy Messicans what was drinking all that booze.  It was furrin'-speaking German immigrants!

Say, couldn't we just declare war on exotic, off-world Star Trek drugs, and leave the terrestrial ones alone?

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-08 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The "War on Drugs" should be more accurately called "The Entitlement of the Police State".  I've always seen the WoD as the Republican/Theocrat extension/continuation of the Jim Crow laws.

I figure by the time they've figured out how to get Jeb elected, we'll drop the pretense and just refer to "Our Nation's Permanent State of War" and embrace the facist dreams of this collection of perverts, freaks and weirdo's.

by CybScryb 2007-04-08 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The problem is there are just as many Dems supporting these laws as Gopers

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-09 06:01AM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Seems that most of us agree that the War on Drugs is a failure.  A bigger question for us to address here: why do Democratic politicians refuse to enact better public policy on this issue?  Surely they are afraid of alienating moderate voters, but that doesn't need to be so.  The progressive movement should begin a concerted effort to educate voters about the harm caused by the War on Drugs and what a better drug policy would look like, starting on the state level.  Medical marijuana laws are a very, very small step in the right direction, but let's not let our Democratic lawmakers off the hook on the drug issue by applauding their moves towards medical marijuana and then forgetting about the broader policy changes that taxpayers, drug users, police, and society at large could all benefit from.

by lorax 2007-04-08 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

It's an excuse to harass minorities and the poor.  Drug laws have always been about racial or classic animosity. (Against mexicans (marijuana) Chinese (opium) Blacks (heroin) Hippies (Marijuana again) Blacks again (Crack) Poor Whites (Meth)).

Crack and Cocaine are the same drug, but Crack is punished 100x times as strongly, mostly due to racist hysteria. Poor blacks smoke crack, rich white stockbrokers snort blow.

Bathtub meth is probably pretty bad for you, but it's more a symptom of the war on drugs.  As safer drugs are hard to get in rural areas, people try to produce their own, and end up creating one of the most addictive.

Having marijuana illegal but Alcohol legal is preposterous. Weed is far less bad for you then Booze.

by delmoi 2007-04-08 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

According to the BBC Chart...

1. Heroin

  1. Coke
  2. Barbituates
  3. Meth
  4. Alcohol (only SLIGHTLY less than Meth)

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-09 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Weed is 11, below TObacco as well. After #10 on the list there is a big drop in the numbers,

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-09 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

I have blogged about this issue in Maryland and Baltimore City considerably.  Links here:

here and here

The "war on drugs'" mission is admirable, but it's results are horrible.  It doesn't work. That is all that needs to be said.  It is completly ineffective both at rehabilitation and crime reduction.

The solution of course is legalization, and the creation of what a colleague of mine refers to as "monopolized narcotics markets", which would both reduce crime by removing the profit motive, and create a large revenue stream for intensive rehab and treatment programs.  This is not likely to happen anytime soon, so common sense changes are what we need to focus on and lobby for now at the state level.  

In Maryland for example, this session we reformed the Mandatory minimum sentencing laws (though not as much as we could have), and I believe Delaware has made progress on a similar bill.

I am wary of policies or arguments over this issue which continue to view drug use as a criminal act.  Until the nation begins to view drug use as separate from criminal activity, we will have to settle for the slow reform process evidenced in Maryland and Delaware.  

by andy k 2007-04-08 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The medical aspects of drug use are complex because there are many types of drugs and the results when pure drugs are used with what appears to be the proper dosage can vary. For some drugs it is necessary to do repeated lab tests to get the correct dosage. The results with impure drugs and uncontrolled dosages  are unpredictable.

Drug treatment is involves abstention until the physical dependence in ended and support to help the patient continue to abstain. There is evidence that if the patient suffers a relapse the physical dependence can be restored fairly quickly and the entire treatment process has to start over. In other words drug treatment is slow and uncertain. The public is demanding a quick fix which the medical system is unable to provide. Incarceration is not a quick fix.

by JSN 2007-04-08 06:15PM | 0 recs
No Political Will to made drugs legal

for the foreseeable future.

I agree that three strikes is an economic transfer from urban areas to the rural white prisons.  $30,000 + to keep an inmate incarcerated for a year and less $10,000 per student for head start annually.

The logical system is to legalize drugs and offer assistance to the addicts. If addicts are not on the street stealing and killing for a fix then much of our crime will disappear. To say nothing about the turf wars for drug dealers. It will cost society less in carnage as well as taxpayers dollars.

Remember BigPharm works to keep narcotics our of the US medical system so you know they will not allow legalization of recreational drugs.

by Organic George 2007-04-08 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: No Political Will to made drugs legal

Unfortunately, you are right... There is no legal will.  The best situation would be to move for this to be a state by state decision... Let the states decide which is legal or illegal in their states.

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-09 06:15AM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

If Democrats legalized drugs, they would be dead as a party forever.  Yes, I'm taking a political perspective on this.  I won't be saying anymore on the issue because I'm in the minority.

by Vox Populi 2007-04-08 02:55PM | 0 recs
Whatever, Nostradamus.

[see subject]

by delmoi 2007-04-08 03:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Whatever, Nostradamus.

Take your pipe and shove it.

by Vox Populi 2007-04-08 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Whatever, Nostradamus.

This comment is addressed to ??

by RickD 2007-04-08 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

You might be right, if dems were to be so silly as to make all drugs legal with no restrictions.  Just think, walk into a pharmacy, and get anything you want right off the shelf!

Obviously, I'm drawing out the straw man position on legalization for effect.  But seriously, regulation is what's needed, not a complete lack of prohibition, and it should be phased in incrementally over years.

Marijuana is a no-brainer in my mind, a drug that people doesn't cause fights or drunk driving like alcohol, and for which there are no known OD cases.  Many governors, including Republican governor Robert Ehrlich and Democrat Bill Richardson, have signed medical marijuana bills, and so far as I can tell, have not paid a political price.  So, prima facia evidence says that they would not be dead as a party forever for this first simple step.

After that... well, I'm not sure where the right place to end up is, whether it's Amsterdam-style pseduo-legalization or what.  But not incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people
annually for marijuana possession seems like a good start.  Just cite people who smoke in public, and let people smoke what they want in the privacy of their own homes.

by aip 2007-04-08 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Per my colleague andy k above, a better issue frame AND policy would be to discuss "state drug monopoly" rather than "legalization".  I want the state to provide it under controlled conditions, to provide help to addicts when they do. When they do, it will suck the profit motive and violence out of drugs.  Dealers will leave town because people won't have the motive to pay street prices, so no money to make and no money to protect through witness intimidation.

The other advantage of state monopoly is that drug users who are victims or witnesses to crimes will be less reluctant to self-incriminate when they come forward, and also will not be dependent on a dealer who may threaten not only to cut them off but kill them if they talk.

Mayor Kurt Schmoke caught unholy Hell for barely discussing this years ago, but I have the sneaking suspicion that more than one drug dealer has paid off politicians to be pro drug war, since only the drug war slashes supply to keep prices and profits high enough to risk a murder charge to protect.  

An end to the drug war would be a TOTAL FINANCIAL DISASTER to drug-dealing gangs. Maybe the Crips and Bloods can stay cash risk by faking bus passes or drivers' licenses or running the numbers, but my bet is that their broke asses disband 20 minutes after state distribution.

by Bruce Godfrey 2007-04-08 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

FWIW, most Republicans I know don't give a crap about the "War on Drugs".  It's the most transparent political cudgel to be used.  It's scare tactic politics, and it's pathetic.

To beat it back, a better long-term strategy will be needed than simply to run on a "hey, let's legalize drugs!" strategy.  There are a lot of approaches to be taken:

1) point out that having small cities and counties use SWAT teams to execute warrants for minor drug offenses is ludicrous

2) point out the absurd fatality rate involved in the delivery of said warrants (I'm sure this has all been covered before by the blogosphere)

3) point out that, absent the criminal network supplying drugs, users of illegal drugs such as marijuana and heroin are only hurting themselves - to the extent that even that is true

4) point out that marijuana is, in fact, a fairly benign substance, esp. in compared to alcohol and tobacco.  Alcohol usage is much more likely to lead to violence than marijuana usage.

5) point out that the entire "War On Drugs" is simply a way to produce money-wasting police departments and prisons filled with people whose sole crime is to use a drug not approved of by the alcohol or tobacco lobbies.

A fight like this has to be won with the public first before it's brought to the legislature.

by RickD 2007-04-08 03:21PM | 0 recs
The Number One Cash Crop In America Is?

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id= 2735017&page=1

It's the right thing to do to support the medical use of marijuana. I believe that once hemp is legalized, marijuana's legalization won't be far behind. Hemp farming does have widespread bipartisan support, or there wouldn't be so many state governments passing laws to allow their farmers to grow hemp.

Hemp farming is banned because hemp farms could hide the cultivation of marijuana. It seems to me, that the prohibition of marijuana protects the prohibition of hemp. I wonder what would happen if we didn't need to use so much sustainable acreage for timber and corn. Hemp has little THC. There is no credible reason for banning it.

The federal government really could do more to supervise the production and importation of oxycotin and other prescription drugs that are just as misused as illegal drugs. My opinion is  that the war on drugs doesn't work, and we no longer have to resources to sustain such a war when the war on terror is so expensive.

by misscee 2007-04-09 06:45AM | 0 recs
another failed "war" metaphor

Oh look, another "war" metaphor, this time instead of on a war on a verb like terrorism, which has been used for millennia, it's on a noun this time, mind-altering chemicals, which have also been in use for millennia.  Let me guess how this one ends: ummm... never?   I think everyone should oppose war metaphors on general principle.

On the positive side, I support the Drug Policy Alliance, and their about weekly newsletter goes over the failure of the drug laws and successes in reform.  There is a lot of progress being made these days, mostly at the local and state level, though I do hope we start making progress on the federal level over the next decade.

by aip 2007-04-08 03:00PM | 0 recs
Re: another failed "war" metaphor

Wars on abstractions always fail.  We've had metaphorical wars against poverty, drugs, and terror, and none of them has done anything to diminish its alleged target.  

People need to understand that "war" is something much different from shouting slogans in public.  

by RickD 2007-04-08 03:23PM | 0 recs
War on Poverty

Poverty dropped from 19% in 1964 to 11% by 1974. Obviously there are macroeconomic factors plus all the fuss about correctly measuring the poverty rate and the inflation rate that skew the numbers, but it's hard to say that the Great Society didn't help the poor.

by CT student 2007-04-08 04:02PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is nothing but a war against the black, brown, and poor.  It's a disgrace, and drugs need to be legalized and regulated.  Drug prohibition is just as much of a failure as alcohol prohibition and needs to end.

by econlibVA 2007-04-08 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

It's particularly worth noting that everybody knows that people of a certain economic class can always get drugs without any need to worry about economic consequences.  Anti-drug laws never apply to the Bush family or to the Limbaughs of the world.

by RickD 2007-04-08 03:24PM | 0 recs
No Prescription Drugs

Look, I think it should all be legal.  You go to your doctor, you buy what you want. The two most deadly drugs, alcohol and nicotine (by delivery mechanism--nicorettes won't kill you) are legal. Seems silly to restrict access to other, less deadly, drugs.

by jayackroyd 2007-04-08 03:23PM | 0 recs
Really Doing Education

Looking at some comments about how to properly educate got me thinking.  Scaring is bullshit, this has been called out by other people on the comment thread already.  What DARE and other programs should really be about is HONESTY.  It's the same with those stupid college programs about driking too much, no one stops partying because they saw a movie where a kid dies, or is forced to listen to a harrowing 911 call.  What does work, is telling people what to look for, when you can tell your friend is in trouble, and in the college setting offering medical amenesty.

The more you treat people as objects that need to be scared into submission, the more they just ignore you.

by dailyrorschach 2007-04-08 03:46PM | 0 recs
Prison-Industrial Complex
War on Drugs=Lock up black men
Rockefeller Laws=throw away the key
by CT student 2007-04-08 04:02PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

The War On Drugs - Nixon's Perfect Antidote For Blacks & Hippies!  And Now, Every Republican's Key To Power!

by leonard145b 2007-04-08 04:08PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

<<<
The War on Drugs is a good model for the War on Terror.
>>>

It is an especially good model in the sense that it has conditioned damn near all of us to be accepting of life in a surveillance society.  The War on Terror is just the most recent excuse for the government/corporate nexus to increase their intrusion into our private lives.

by themikeaustin 2007-04-08 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

One of the reasons that we repealed Prohibition is that the Mob prospered so much from supplying alcohol back in the day. Today the drug trade enriches terrorists in Afghanistan, drug lords in Colombia, and gangs in the US inner cities. Legalization would put all these criminals out of business. Regulated but legal drugs would also have known purity and potency, eliminating the risk of poisoning for users.  I agree with the posters who say that the same kind of education that has discouraged smokers, would also discourage drug users.

by sunlight7 2007-04-08 05:06PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

 The War on Drugs should have been named a war on people it's been a total failure ever since 1915 with the passing of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act which basically made Cocaine and Opium(Herion & Morphine)illegal.

by liberatarianmoderate 2007-04-08 05:41PM | 0 recs
Leagalize It!!!

Remember, Jesus hung around with people who got stoned!

by jfoster 2007-04-08 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

Legalize industrial hemp and marijuana. Decriminalize hard drugs and provide treatment instead of harsh mandantory jail time. Pardon all non-violent marijuana offenders. Compensation for forfeiture laws regarding small amounts of plants grown for personal use. Especially for the targeted LEGAL medicinal marijuana patients who were paraded in front of a judge as they were practically unable to walk.  This isn't a war on drugs, and the government isn't trying to win. It fuels a multibillion dollar government program. This is a war on blacks, marijuana, and civil liberty.

by SocialDem 2007-04-08 10:05PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Poll: War on Drugs

the war on drugs isn't real, well, more real that the one on terrorism. at this rate this is an endless war (again, just like terrorism) and it's made to be this way... to last. unless the people are more informed and made well aware that drugs are bad it's almost pointless to spend time in a drug rehab program (it isn't bullet-proof).

by sehebre 2007-07-20 09:14AM | 0 recs

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