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February 14, 2011

A list of themes for stopping drug war "madness"

Ethan Nadelmann has this notable new essay titled "The Disastrous War on Drugs Turns 40: 5 Ways to Stop the Madness."  I am interested in reader reactions to his suggested five key themes stressed at the end of this essay:

Count on five themes to emerge over and over during this anniversary year.

1.  Marijuana legalization is no longer a question of whether but when and how....

2.  Over-incarceration is the problem, not the solution....

3.  The war on drugs is "the new Jim Crow."...

4.  Politics must no longer be allowed to trump science -- and compassion, common sense and fiscal prudence -- in dealing with illegal drugs....

5. Legalization has to be on the table.

February 14, 2011 at 05:14 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Can't argue with any of those themes. But I always wonder why you don't see more people arguing that marijuana should be legalized simply because we should be free to make our own choices about our life. America is supposed to be a nation that value freedom, and yet this is a choice the government will not allow us to make. We can smoke tobacco until we die of cancer or emphysema, we can drink alcohol until we die of cirrhosis, we can eat fatty foods until we die of heart failure, but we cannot ingest a relatively harmless substance because the Government wants to protect us!

What is the point of freedom if you are free to choose only what the Government allows you to choose?

Posted by: anonymous | Feb 14, 2011 10:17:48 PM

anonymous, your argument makes perfect sense.

Posted by: anon1 | Feb 14, 2011 10:30:47 PM

Ethan Nadelmann is an articulate spokesman for marijuana legalization. It is making more sense to people across the political spectrum. It will be legal, the question is how this can happen cleanly. State by state is is a start, but this does not solve the problem. State laws leave loop holes and nuances that will be litigated forever.

The US Congress can cleanly solve the problem,but the legacy of those in prison will muck it up if the legislation is not thoughtful.

Posted by: beth | Feb 14, 2011 11:39:55 PM

I add another theme.

The lawyer running the criminal law is a lame dumbass, allowing highly addictive substance that have killed millions of people to remain legal, while clamping down on less harmful, less addictive substances.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 15, 2011 2:47:24 AM

Politics always trumps science, compassion, common sense and fiscal prudence. Always has. Why should it stop now?

Posted by: John K | Feb 15, 2011 1:35:32 PM

John K --

What part of science, compassion, common sense and fiscal prudence suggests that we make meth, heroin or LSD more easily available?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 15, 2011 1:49:12 PM

Bill why do you always lump marijuana in with the hard drugs? You are smart enough to know the huge differences between marijuana and heroin! The only thing they have in common is that currently they are illegal... c'mon

Posted by: Anon | Feb 15, 2011 11:06:34 PM

Anon --

"Bill why do you always lump marijuana in with the hard drugs?"

I don't, but I did in this instance because Nadelmann did. After saying, "Marijuana legalization is no longer a question of whether but when and how....," he went on to add, separately, "Legalization has to be on the table."

Taken in context, this latter remark is incoherent unless understood as addresing drugs harder than marijuana.

P.S. Of course it's not your task to answer the question I put to John K, but I notice that he's not answering it either. The reason he doesn't answer is that, as your note to me implies, "I'll do what I want with my own body!" is a nifty anthem as long as the conversation can be confined to pot, but loses its zest, and quite a few of its adherents, when the conversation cannot be so limited.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 16, 2011 1:41:05 PM

I took this as referring only to marijuana. Making 2 points that may well be redundant, but that happens in lists of talking points all the time.


Bill Otis writes----------
I don't, but I did in this instance because Nadelmann did. After saying, "Marijuana legalization is no longer a question of whether but when and how....," he went on to add, separately, "Legalization has to be on the table."

Taken in context, this latter remark is incoherent unless understood as addresing drugs harder than marijuana.
-----------

Posted by: anonymous | Feb 16, 2011 2:28:20 PM

anonymous --

The problem goes beyond that the two points are stated separately. The problem is that they say different things.

Nadelmann's first point is that "Marijuana legalization is no longer a question..." Note that this refers specifically and by name to marijuana, and essentially states that the debate is over.

Nadelmann's later point -- without limitation to any specific drug -- is that "Legalization has to be on the table." Of course, if legalization has to be "on the table," that means the debate is on-going, and not, as he said earlier about marijuana, that it's over.

Thus the natural reading is that Nadelmann is referring to legalization of drugs harder than marijuana. That would include exactly the drugs I mentioned -- meth, heroin and LSD.

Do you favor their legalization?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 16, 2011 2:49:08 PM


Sounds great to me. These laws have become a menace to society. How long are Americans going to sit back and allow our politicians to squander, borrowed money on failed policies? How many people have have to be killed, and imprisoned before we just say? "We lost the war on drugs." Its time to move on.

Concerned citizen

Posted by: Elaine Niles | Feb 16, 2011 9:54:53 PM

I'm not the same anonymous at 2:28, but I for one would not mind legalized LSD. It would have to be marketed carefully, but its availability would pose few problems. Like other hallucinogens such as peyote and psilocybin mushrooms, It's a relatively benign drug, with little potential for addiction, few harmful side effects, and no realistic chance of death by overdose. It can be disturbing for people who might ingest it unaware or who suffer from psychological problems, but that's not a reason to make something illegal. We forget that Albert Hoffman (who discovered it by accident after spilling it on his skin) took what we would consider massive doses, multiple times, to explore its effects. So did his colleagues. None of them, to my knowledge, suffered any lasting damage, and Mr. Hoffman himself had a long and successful career as a chemist. I have known many people who have used LSD, and for all of them it was not something that they felt a need to use more than a few times in their lives.

As for other drugs, my own personal view is that truly dangerous drugs should be illegal to sell and manufacture, but the simple possession or use should not be illegal. Unfortunately, our current drug policy has almost nothing to do with public safety or health; if it did, alcohol and tobacco would be considered Schedule I narcotics and marijuana would be available in the corner store. If we really are concerned about the danger to health posed by drugs, we should act like their use is a health problem, not a crime problem.

Posted by: anonymous | Feb 16, 2011 11:31:54 PM

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