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A Crack in the Logic of the Drug War Coalition?

President Obama is currently attending the Summit of the American in Cartagena, Colombia (which has, unfortunately, become more about prostitutes than foreign policy).

An interesting aspect of the talks was raised in an LAT  piece:  At Latin America summit, Obama to face push for drug legalization

Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, wants the 33 leaders at the Summit of the Americas to consider whether the solution should include regulating marijuana, and perhaps cocaine, the way alcohol and tobacco are. Other member states also are calling for that dialogue despite the political discomfort it may cause Obama back home.

“You haven’t had this pressure from the region before,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington. “I think the [Obama] administration is willing to entertain the discussion, but hoping it doesn’t turn into a critique of the U.S. and put the U.S. on the defensive.”

This is an intriguing development, and one that, quite frankly, makes sense.  Of course, as the quote from Shifter notes, this is unlikely to become a major public discussion in the United States anytime soon and certainly not something that a president running for re-election is going to champion.  As the piece notes:

White House officials say Obama will not change his drug policy. They hope to keep talk of legalization behind closed doors while he focuses publicly on other tactics, including improving security forces, reforming governance and enhancing economic opportunities.

It is certainly true that while there has been some softening on the question of decriminalization/legalization in the US in some quarters of late, at least on the topic of marijuana, it remains the case that the topic is one of political suicide for candidates and office holders.  As the piece concludes:

“I don’t think anybody thinks the current policy works right now, but public opinion hasn’t gotten to the point of accepting the idea of legalization,” said David Damore, a political scientist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who writes about U.S. and Latino politics. “There’s nothing to be gained from it politically, and it opens you up to an attack.”

And so the policy continues, despite its price tag and its dubious success record (to put it kindly).

In fact, USAT reports today:  Obama opposes drug legalization

Drug trafficking is a big topic at this weekend’s Summit of the Americas, but President Obama still opposes one suggestion: Decriminalization of drugs.

He doesn’t mind the debate, however.

“It is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places,” Obama said Saturday during the 33-nation summit in Cartagena, Colombia.

He added, however, that his administration believes “that legalization is not the answer.”

I suppose that it is some small, yet significant, movement for a US president to at least state that there is a potential debate.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    Legalizing pot is one thing, that might have a net positive, but legalizing coke and dope is trading a law enforcement problem for an even bigger health problem. Look at the problems victorian england had from opium dens operating in the open.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  2. Al says:

    @Chad S: Portugal has proven just the opposite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  3. An Interested Party says:

    It is certainly true that while there has been some softening on the question of decriminalization/legalization in the US in some quarters of late, at least on the topic of marijuana, it remains the case that the topic is one of political suicide for candidates and office holders.

    How pathetic that even talking about decriminalization is the kiss of death for politicians…so the War on Drugs continues, despite all the damage that is doing to our country…as for the President himself, I can just imagine the reaction he would get if he said anything other than that he opposes legalization…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    It won’t happen anytime soon because too many people in the prison industrial complex are making a lot of money.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  5. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    @Al: Legalizing pot and other soft drugs is a no brainer. No doubt. Should be done tomorrow. Narcotics, however, and other hard drugs, present much more complex scenarios. Portugal is not exactly a proper analogy. Portugal’s entire population is less than 11 million. New York City and Los Angeles together have more people. You also have to factor in respective national crime rates and the ways in which full legalization might result even in more vicious and aggressive actions by major dealers, as they compete over smaller and smaller pies. What might have worked in Lisbon could turn out to be an unmitigated disaster in the likes of Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  6. An Interested Party says:

    What might have worked in Lisbon could turn out to be an unmitigated disaster in the likes of Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc.

    The War on Drugs has already been an unmitigated disaster in places like Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  7. matt says:

    @Chad S: Or you could look at modern day examples such as Portugal… Naw it’s better to stick to old fear mongering..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:
    If you have full legalization you don’t have dealers. You have the equivalent of liquor stores. And they almost never engage in shoot-outs.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  9. walt moffett says:

    Since its now “entirely legitimate to have a conversation …” guess the step after inauguration will be a long discussion about when, where, what chairs, tables and refreshments will be served, “what are we talking about now?” wash, rinse, repeat until polling numbers show the need for bold new initatives, displays of political courage ….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Chad S says:

    @Al: @matt:

    Its not fear mongering, and Portugal didn’t just open the floodgates to all drugs, they still seize drugs on a regular basis(cocaine especially) and have combined a strict limit on how much drugs one can have. So, unless we’re ramping up the “drug war” into checking/licensing all drug users(which is what they did) on a regular basis, its not a good exemplar for the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  11. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    @An Interested Party: Perhaps. That’s debatable. Many locals there would disagree with your premise. If a heroin addict and part-time dealer burglarizes your home you might prefer that they be sent away to prison, rather than to be sent to a methadone clinic to try to get better. It’s all a matter of perspective. In that regard you can’t realistically compare LIsbon’s crime rate to Los Angeles’ crime rate.

    That all said, keep in mind I’m in favor of full legalization of such items as marijuana, mushrooms and peyote. Narcotics and other hard drugs, however, present much more difficult and complex scenarios. Legalizing heroin and crack is not quite as cut and dried as legalizing pot. Legalizing the likes of heroin in America is not analogous to legalizing heroin in the likes of Portugal and Holland. Those are my primary points.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  12. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    @michael reynolds: Michael, don’t be naive. Do you think after full legalization that heroin, crank and crack dealers in places like Detroit and Philly are going to switch gears, go off to college and become bankers and accountants? No sir. What will happen is they’ll start cutting purer, more powerful and thus more dangerous products. They’ll tap into that hard core segment of users for whom the legal and regulated versions are not up to snuff, excuse the pun. Then since they’ll be competing for a smaller pie with similarly-minded criminals they’ll inevitably become even more desperate and even more vicious.

    Definitely we should legalize pot. I’m behind that 111%. Hard drugs, however, in my mind, are a whole other kettle of fish.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  13. Scott O. says:

    Portugal did not legalize drugs, they decriminalized them.

    “In July 2001 in Portugal a new law maintained the status of illegality for using or possessing any drug for personal use without authorization. The offense was changed from a criminal one, with prison a possible punishment, to an administrative one if the possessing was no more than up to ten days’ supply of that substance.”

    “Individuals found in possession of small quantities of drugs are issued summons. The drugs are confiscated, and the suspect is interviewed by a “Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction””

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Portugal

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:
    There is no basis in fact or logic for your argument.

    By your reasoning we’d have bootleggers selling super-booze. We do have a few bootleggers left, but rather than the alcohol market gravitating toward stronger product, it’s moved to beer and wine. 80 proof Bourbon outsells 100 proof Bourbon.

    In point of fact a heroin addict given a legal supply would most likely follow an on-off path, going into rehab occasionally to lower his tolerance. Even a junkie knows OD’s kill. Of course some will go right down the tube — just like they do now. But they’ll go right down the tube while paying taxes, not occupying prison space, and not creating a profit motive for widespread slaughter.

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  15. michael reynolds says:

    There’s a simple question for opponents of legalization: if heroin were legal would you use it?

    I would not. Likewise cocaine, which I have tried, and meth and the rest. Nothing whatsoever would change in my life, expect that I’d be paying lower taxes and my police force would be police again, and not militarized thugs.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  16. David M says:

    I’m pretty sure Portugal has decriminalized most drugs as opposed to legalizing them. That said, it’s still time to drastically reform most drug laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. anjin-san says:

    Legalize pot – do it now. Make penalties to people who furnish to minors tough enough to have real deterrent value. Tax it. Use some of the money to pay for drug rehab. Take the money we are spending on locking up people for pot and invest it in education.

    Try that for a few years, see how it goes, then tackle the rest of the problem.

    There is no magic bullet, no perfect solution. The one thing we do know for sure is that the war on drugs is not working and that it is more about money and power than saving people from drugs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. G.A. says:

    Once again, most of you people don’t know crap about drugs or addictions.

    If you have full legalization you don’t have dealers. You have the equivalent of liquor stores. And they almost never engage in shoot-outs.

    lol, do the drunks?

    Where does every one get the money for their stuff, Obamacare?

    Ignorant libs….man!!!

    oh ya I forgot you guys don’t care much about broken families, neighborhoods, money, jobs, accident victims, black people, theft, murderer, drug babies, abortions, prostitutes, ect ect ect….

    silly me, maybe I am just biased because i lived and live it up close?

    Give me a thumbs down if you know more then a dozen people who have died from over doses personally….

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 21

  19. @G.A.: There is a great deal of tragedy to be associated with these substances, yes.

    However: I would note that everything you are talking about took place under the current set of policies. Yet, you seem to be arguing in their favor. This does not track.

    (Of course, and sadly, no policy will do away with all these problems).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  20. David M says:

    As far as the hard drugs go, do any the people who think heroin should stay illegal support needle exchange or other harm reduction programs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. John Burgess says:

    @michael reynolds: There are a large number of doctors who use heroin and other opiates. They prescribe for themselves or get a doctor friend to do it. They are not engaged in shoot-outs. Most do not ramp up their usage to the point where they become dangerous to themselves or others. In fact, they function without drawing notice.

    I think it’d be extremely interesting (and enlightening for many) if with Google’s ‘magic glasses’ the narcotic state of passersby on the street were indicated — with not legal sanction, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Ron Beasley says:

    The reality is anyone who wants drugs now can get them. There is just a violent crime layer between them and the drugs. If you legalize them you illuminate the violent drug dealers but you won’t get anymore addicts. During prohibition people actually drank more not less. Legal pot might actually lower the use of other drugs including the national narcotic – alcohol. My thought would be to legalize the natural plant products – opium, coca leaves, pot, peyote buttons etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. anjin-san says:

    @ GA

    Why do you think you have an exclusive view into the damage associated with substance abuse? I assure you, I have been to plenty of funerals. I spent 17 years of my life as a drunk/addict, I am now 22 years clean and sober. Thinking your experiences and insights are unique is addict thinking, you might want to get to a meeting.

    One of the reasons people OD is that they can’t be certain of doses with street drugs. The cost of street drugs is vastly inflated because they are illegal. I’m not arguing in favor of heroin use, but if you have access to clean needles and you know the purity of the dope you are using and that it is not cut with garbage, you can use heroin for a long time without harming your body nearly as much as you would with comparable alcohol or tobacco use.

    8-10% of the population are natural born addicts. No law will stand between them and getting high – hell, people in prison still get high.

    Your attempt to cast this as a left/right issue suggest scoring debate points is more important to you than easing the suffering of addicts and mitigating the harm substance abuse does to society. Dude, you should be ashamed of yourself.

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  24. @anjin-san:

    8-10% of the population are natural born addicts. No law will stand between them and getting high – hell, people in prison still get high.

    Exactly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  25. Chad S says:

    @David M: I personally support programs like that

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. An Interested Party says:

    Perhaps. That’s debatable. Many locals there would disagree with your premise. If a heroin addict and part-time dealer burglarizes your home you might prefer that they be sent away to prison, rather than to be sent to a methadone clinic to try to get better. It’s all a matter of perspective. In that regard you can’t realistically compare LIsbon’s crime rate to Los Angeles’ crime rate.

    Many other locals there would disagree with your premise…while they worry about their children getting shot while walking to school or going to the corner store because they are in the middle of a turf war between gangs looking to control the local drug trade, they might prefer if the profit motive was taken away from those gangs dealing drugs…it certainly is a matter of perspective, like it’s much easier for you to talk about how the War on Drugs should continue from where you sit…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  27. Al says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: Ah yes, the old “X is magic” argument. At least pot is no longer magic. As Steven said, I suppose that it is some small, yet significant, movement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. anjin-san says:

    If a heroin addict and part-time dealer burglarizes your home

    Heroin is expensive largely because it is illegal. If the price came down, crime to fund fixes would come down.

    you might prefer that they be sent away to prison

    Push down, pop up. Send one to jail, another takes his place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. Al says:

    Also, just to keep things straight, the government telling you which drugs you can take (and paying for a much, much bigger police force to make sure you follow the rules) is necessary for a functioning society but the government making you buy health insurance is tyranny, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  30. Ron Beasley says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I wonder if those numbers include alcohol.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Scott O. says:

    you might prefer that they be sent away to prison

    Did I miss something? Has anyone argued that burglaries should be legalized?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  32. Al says:

    @Ron Beasley: They’d have too. Alcoholism isn’t exactly an outlier.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. @Al:

    There was not any legalization of drugs in Portugal; drug traffic continues to be a crime; and consuption is not a crime, but continues to be a “contra-ordenação” (something similar to a traffic infraction), punishable with fines.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Al says:

    @Miguel Madeira: First off, yes I know that. I brought up Portugal specifically to counter Chad’s argument letting up on “harder” drugs would be a public heath nightmare. The same argument was made when Portugal was contemplating decriminalization and it didn’t come to pass. In fact, things got better instead of worse.

    Second, even decriminalization is light years away from Obama’s “More War on Drugs” position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. george says:

    If a heroin addict and part-time dealer burglarizes your home you might prefer that they be sent away to prison, rather than to be sent to a methadone clinic to try to get better.

    Actually, wouldn’t they be sent to jail for the B&E? I don’t see why them being a heroin addict would change that sentence – drunks still get sent to jail for their crimes (other than DUI, and even that is becoming more sane … ie they’re being sentenced more often now).

    Possession would not be a crime. Committing a crime while high (or stoned, or drunk) still would be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. anjin-san says:

    What might have worked in Lisbon could turn out to be an unmitigated disaster in the likes of Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia,

    Pretty easy to argue that what we have been doing in Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia has been an unmitigated disaster. Inner city war zones, corrupt, militarized police, vast resources going to prisons and not schools or hospitals, families with multiple generations in prison…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  37. anjin-san says:

    Obama’s “More War on Drugs” position.

    A grave disappointment, and this is coming from someone who is wearing an Obama tshirt as he types…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  38. Davebo says:

    Tsar Nicholas

    If you don’t consider mushrooms a “hard drug” then you either obviously have never tried them or couldn’t tell a Psilocybin from Shinola.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  39. MarkedMan says:

    I think the current situation is unworkable and should be changed, but I have to admit I have no idea how to change it. Legalization/Decriminalization has it’s own problems. Parts of Amsterdam are a blight with a huge population of junkies stumbling around all day in neighborhoods with children, passed out in parks and basically behaving like junkies. Do you really want these people passing the time of day with your children, telling them what an incredible high heroin gives, while you are at the office working? (Admittedly, the problem is on the decline in Amsterdam, but that’s because they are re-criminalizing to some extent.) This is not an easy problem.

    And if you go all the way to legalization, what is to stop companies from striving to make the drugs more addictive? It’s in their best economic interests. And lest you think that isn’t going to happen, remember that the lawsuits of the 80’s and 90’s showed that is exactly what the tobacco companies did – fund research to make their products more addictive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. G.A. says:

    However: I would note that everything you are talking about took place under the current set of policies. Yet, you seem to be arguing in their favor. This does not track.

    And legalizing them is gonna help?I think the policies suck for the most paid but legalizing…

    I laid out a perfectly good case not to do that.

    8-10% of the population are natural born addicts. No law will stand between them and getting high – hell, people in prison still get high.

    What about the ones this will create. And 8-10 sounds very very low.

    Your attempt to cast this as a left/right issue suggest scoring debate points is more important to you than easing the suffering of addicts and mitigating the harm substance abuse does to society. Dude, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    I am not trying to score debate points I am trying to sock you into reality…

    How an X addict could ever advocate legalizing drugs is beyond me…

    And don’t even tell me that most of the problem does not come from your sacred culture.Been there done that learned from my hippie father and all his 60’s friends.

    One of the reasons people OD is that they can’t be certain of doses with street drugs.

    The reason people OD is because they do the drugs that other glorify and make excuses for.

    Ya my dad died twice when he was hit in a drunken car accident then he choked to death in a home with a crushed body many years later, one of my my best friends was killed by a drunk driver last year, about 10 people I new and worked with ODed in the last 5 years, they was all under 25. The list goes on an on,much of my awesome neiorhood wash hooked on or had their life ruined from this crap.Or died!!!

    Hell ya, just think if we could have got it from the store.

    Dude, you should be ashamed of yourself

    I am.

    And forgive me for getting angry, I not just play this time and have beacome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  41. Tillman says:

    @G.A.:

    What about the ones this will create. And 8-10 sounds very very low.

    Free country, as they say. Also, thirty-some million people sounds about right. I wouldn’t say it’s above 15%.

    Further – and it is important that you do not construe the following as demeaning the deaths of those you knew – many other people are dying as well. This isn’t just about war zones in American cities, it’s about the ones that already exist and are already killing thousands elsewhere.

    @Davebo:

    If you don’t consider mushrooms a “hard drug” then you either obviously have never tried them or couldn’t tell a Psilocybin from Shinola.

    Uhh, well, psilocybin isn’t a narcotic, so it’s not a “hard” drug by default.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. Tillman says:

    @anjin-san: Yeah, he inhaled, but apparently whatever he inhaled made him think people should go to prison for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. Ron Beasley says:

    It still amazes me that we didn’t learn anything from the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition doesn’t work it only creates new problems. As I said before anyone who wants drugs now can get them. The only thing legalization will do is eliminate the dangerous criminal distributors. The major resistance is coming from those who profit from putting people in jail. Let us not forget that the biggest drug problem today is legal prescription opiates cranked out by big pharma but used illegally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Resistance is also coming from marijuana growers, which should tell people a lot. The drug dealers oppose legalization.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  45. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    That fact of prescription opiates and alcohol being big drug problems today will be used without any shame by advocates of harsh drug penalties and the prison corruption and graft industry. The mere specter of Reefer-mad cannabis fiends prowling colleges and high schools will be used to scare elderly voters into line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: That was certainly true in CA. Here in Oregon possession of less than an ounce is a violation – like a jaywalking ticket. But they still go after growers. The only reason I quit smoking pot was employers started requiring drug tests. Pot shows up in a drug test weeks after you smoke it – the national narcotic, alcohol , As a result we have alcoholics instead of pot heads. The last time I looked there was no lethal dose for pot and it is not addictive unlike alcohol.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  47. Ron Beasley says:

    @Lit3Bolt: I wonder if this 66 year old aging hippie qualifies as an elderly voter. I remember seeing Reefer Madness when I was in my 20s and laughing and I imagine I would still laugh today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. anjin-san says:

    I am not trying to score debate points I am trying to sock you into reality…

    Really? Was how does the wisecrack about Obamacare inject reality into the discussion?

    What about the ones this will create.

    People with addictive personalities will find a path to service their addiction. If they never touch illegal drugs they will get addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs, tobacco, food, or some combination thereof. People who don’t have addictive personalities will either not be tempted to try drugs, or they will and will either be uninterested or will become occasional users. Ever watch a normal person drink? They will have a glass of wine with dinner, and they may pour a second, but they probably will not finish it because they don’t like the way they feel when they drink too much.

    The reason people OD is because they do the drugs that other glorify and make excuses for.

    How an X addict could ever advocate legalizing drugs is beyond me…

    Part of the genius of Bill W. & Dr. Bob was they found things that worked, and rejected things that did not. The 12 steps and 12 traditions are marvels of practical wisdom. The war on drugs does not work. It does more damage to society than the drugs do. Time to try something else. My idea of easing the pain of the addict that still suffers does not include locking him in a cage.

    And don’t even tell me that most of the problem does not come from your sacred culture.Been there done that learned from my hippie father and all his 60′s friends

    Substance abuse and addiction have been problems throughout human history, If you don’t understand that you are a complete waste of time. Some of the most respectable people in the world were drug addicts in the 19th century.
    .

    The reason people OD is because they do the drugs that other glorify and make excuses for

    ODs were much more rare in the days when opiates were legal in the US. People knew what they were taking, they got it from a doctor, a pharmacist, or an opium den that would not stay in business if it’s customers died. People ARE going to do the drugs. History shows us that the law does not prevent drug use. How can we we alleviate the suffering of addicts? How can we minimize the harm to society? These are the only things that matter. If you have problems with hippies, go talk to a therapist. People ODing in the year 2012 has nothing to do with Timothy Leary. Grow up.

    You want to talk about the people you know who have died? I have 2 members of my immediate family who smoked heavily and died of lung cancer. The government subsidizes tobacco, and I don’t hear conservatives arguing to abolish the subsidies. Are you arguing we should outlaw tobacco? I can’t keep track of how many people I know have died as a result of alcohol abuse. Are you arguing for the return of prohibition? And we have not even gotten into prescription drugs…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  49. anjin-san says:

    It still amazes me that we didn’t learn anything from the prohibition of alcohol.

    Well, we learned something. There is a lot of money to be made in the criminal justice/prison business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  50. matt says:

    @Davebo: Mushrooms are very mild in comparison to LSD and such.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  51. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting the result to change is the definition of insanity.

    Unfortunately, it is also the definition of Tzar N.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  52. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    I’m not arguing in favor of heroin use, but if you have access to clean needles and you know the purity of the dope you are using and that it is not cut with garbage, you can use heroin for a long time without harming your body nearly as much as you would with comparable alcohol or tobacco use.

    We have tried synthetic heroin as prescription drug for (serious) addicts over here. While the costs are not insubstantial (about 10.000€ per person per year) they are cheaper than classic substitution programmes with methadone.

    On average, crime rates dropped like a stone, between 10% and 20% of the addicts managed to get clean and the general health of the recipients increased dramatically.

    Given that before therapy addicts needed about 250€ per day to finance their addiction, mostly obtained via crime and/or prostitution, the total societal benefit may be even higher than the numbers suggest.

    Studies from Spain, the Netherlands and Swiss came to the same conclusions.

    As a result the substitution programme has been signed into law with votes from the conservative party. To date no negative results are apparent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  53. Al says:

    @Ebenezer Arvigenius: The problem is that you can’t compare the Netherlands, Spain or Switzerland to the US because they have different sized populations and demographics. These differences magically invalidate any comparison. You also can’t compare Prohibition to the War on Drugs because we’re talking about different kinds of drugs. Plus, America in the 1920’s is different demographically from America today. As I’ve already proven, different magically makes any comparison invalid.

    It’s a shame that there’s all this magic involved because science shows that current drug policies don’t work in Colombia, Mexico, the United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Japan, the People’s Republic of China or New Zealand.

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  54. Rob in CT says:

    Sadly, the status quo is deeply entrenched. So, despite the obvious truth that the WoD is a massive failure, it’s not going anywhere for a while.

    Re: % of the population that has addictive personalities… who knows what the right number is. Depends on how broadly you define things (see also: the “Almost Alcholic” discussion). I’ve got a somewhat addictive personality. It shows up in my life often. Food, drink, computer games (damn you, Sid Meier!), books, online discussion forums… you name it, I can get “into” it deeper than is probably healthy. And yet I’ve quit smoking (years ago, not last week) and have thus far managed to keep myself under some semblance of control. There is, I suspect, a spectrum and it’s partly nature and partly nurture. And currently, our “nurture” sucks.

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  55. The Olde Man says:

    Hmmm! With GM plants running unsupervised all over the place, you folks are positive that Phillip Morris or somebody ldoes not have a lab working overtime to GM some real ‘popskull’ totally addictive Cannabis?

    There’d be a lot of money in that.

    BTW, to cut out the Cartagena Drug Lords, we got to grow (or manufacture) the stuff ourself, right? I wonder how much food growing land would be devoted to that, maybe as much as tobacco in the olde days?.

    As for taxing, tough to do with something you can grow in your basement. We would need a whole passel of revenuers to enforce the tax.

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  56. @The Olde Man:

    Well, if the issue is Colombia, then the drug in question is cocaine, as derived from the coca bush and that is something that cannot be grown in the US.

    If we are talking marijuana, that stuff grows almost anywhere. In terms of distribution and taxing, there are plenty of models in place, from the medicinal marijuana shops in California to the cafes in Amsterdam. Really, it isn’t that complicated.

    I am not opposed to allowing people to grow their own for personal use, quite frankly.

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  57. matt says:

    @The Olde Man:You can grow tobacco in your basement. Hell you can brew your own beer and spirits in your basement. MOst people are too damned lazy to do so though..

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  58. Harry J Anslinger says:

    3/4 of all marijuana arrests are of people of color, yet whites use at a higher rate. If you are not for legalization you are either a sellout or a racist.

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  59. pnwlove says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: If they break into your house, they should go to prison. If all they’ve done is engage in the use of their drug, then treatment should be available for them. How about something like this: possession of cocaine, heroine, meth, etc – the truly physiologically addictive drugs that can lead to theft for habit maintenance – is not a crime, and money currently spent on prohibition enforcement is used to greatly expand access to treatment. IF someone breaks into your home or robs you on the street, then the drug possession drastically increases the penalty, just like if they’d used a gun.

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