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July 7, 2012

"Numbers Tell of Failure in Drug War"

The title of this post is the headline of this recent New York Times piece. Here are excerpts:

When policy makers in Washington worry about Mexico these days, they think in terms of a handful of numbers: Mexico’s 19,500 hectares devoted to poppy cultivation for heroin; its 17,500 hectares growing cannabis; the 95 percent of American cocaine imports brought by Mexican cartels through Mexico and Central America.

They are thinking about the wrong numbers.  If there is one number that embodies the seemingly intractable challenge imposed by the illegal drug trade on the relationship between the United States and Mexico, it is $177.26.  That is the retail price, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data, of one gram of pure cocaine from your typical local pusher. That is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago.

This number contains pretty much all you need to evaluate the Mexican and American governments’ “war” to eradicate illegal drugs from the streets of the United States.  They would do well to heed its message.  What it says is that the struggle on which they have spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed....

[C]onceived to eradicate the illegal drug market, the war on drugs cannot be won. Once they understand this, the Mexican and American governments may consider refocusing their strategies to take aim at what really matters: the health and security of their citizens, communities and nations....

The only dimension along which the war on drugs might be conceived as a success is political. If you ask Americans how concerned they are about drugs, they will give you roughly the same answer they have given for years: not so much.

In a Gallup poll, only 31 percent of Americans said they thought the government was making much progress dealing with illegal drugs, the lowest share since 1997.  But fewer people say they worry about drug abuse than 10 years ago.  Only 29 percent of Americans think it is an extremely or very serious problem where they live, the lowest share in the last decade.

But the government has spent $20 billion to $25 billion a year on counternarcotics efforts over the last decade.  That is a pretty high price tag for political cover, to stop drugs from becoming a prominent issue on voters’ radar screen.  It becomes unacceptably high if you add in the real costs of the drug wars.  That includes more than 55,000 Mexicans and tens of thousands of Central Americans killed by drug-fueled violence since Mexico’s departing president, Felipe Calderón, declared war six years ago against the traffickers ferrying drugs across the border.

And the domestic costs are enormous, too.  Almost one in five inmates in state prisons and half of those in federal prisons are serving time for drug offenses. In 2010, 1.64 million people were arrested for drug violations.  Four out of five arrests were for possession.  Nearly half were for possession of often-tiny amounts of marijuana....

Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard who studies drug policy closely, has suggested that legalizing all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the United States of some $65 billion a year, mostly by cutting public spending on enforcement as well as through reduced crime and corruption.

A study by analysts at the RAND Corporation, a California research organization, suggested that if marijuana were legalized in California and the drug spilled from there to other states, Mexican drug cartels would lose about a fifth of their annual income of some $6.5 billion from illegal exports to the United States....

Legalization may carry risks, too.  Peter H. Reuter, one of the authors of the RAND study, who is now a professor of public policy in the department of criminology of the University of Maryland, said he worried that legalizing drugs would vastly expand drug abuse, leading to other potential social and health costs.  Supporters of the war on drugs insist that without it, consumption would have soared to the heights of the 1980s and perhaps beyond.

There are other options.  The Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose membership includes former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Brazil and Poland, has called on national governments to “depenalize” if not necessarily legalize drug possession and sales....

A war on drugs whose objective is to eradicate the drug market — to stop drugs from arriving in the United States and stop Americans from swallowing, smoking, inhaling or injecting them — is a war that cannot be won. What we care about is the harm that drugs, drug trafficking and drug policy do to individuals, society and even national security. Reducing this harm is a goal worth fighting for.

July 7, 2012 at 04:33 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I can't repeat the word, stupid or dumbass, often enough.

"Legalizing drugs would vastly expand drug abuse, leading to other potential social and health costs."

Marijuana kills dozens of people a year, mostly in car crashes. Illegal.

Alcohol kills 100,0000, and cigarettes, 400,000 a year. They are each 10 times more addictive than marijuana. Legal and advertised.

One of the biggest reasons to legalize marijuana is to make the lawyer profession look less stupid. They truly function with less sense than mentally retarded kids in special ed.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 7, 2012 5:58:40 PM

As far as crime rates, marijuana will likely drop them because it will make people want to stay home, watch TV, and eat. They will become too apathetic and fat to snatch purses or get into fight.

On the other hand, half the murder victims are drunk. Half the murderers are drunk. And half the suicides are drunk. Very few have any treatment medication in their bodies because they are self-medicating with alcohol.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 7, 2012 6:02:35 PM

The problem with prohibition is that it has never been based on science, logic, or reason. Its origins stem from blatant racist delirium in the early 20th century; it was ratcheted up with fear of the counterculture in the 60's and 70's; and then finally turned up to 11 in the Reagan years when politicians imagined that the problems caused by the war on drugs could be solved by more war.

At not one point in these processes have our leaders ever stopped and asked if science and statistics bore out any of the fearful claims about drugs, or whether prohibition might be causing more problems than drugs. So, we spend billions to imprison people for using and selling relatively benign drugs like marijuana, while truly toxic substances like tobacco and transfats are legal and widely available. We accept unquestioningly assertions that substances are "addictive" without even really understanding what that even means--so much so, that now there is an addiction for every taste, and people are "addicted" to the Internet, to sex, to texting, or to whatever else they enjoy to the point that they earn the disapprobation of others. We prefer to see heroin addicts contract and die from HIV and various forms of hepatitis, because providing them with clean needles is "promoting" drug use, which they will engage in anyway. It has gotten so bad that I once saw and anthropologist openly wonder whether he was allowed to mention on TV that an ancient society he studied used marijuana in its rituals. Our approach to drugs is more like a superstition than a rational policy. And the consequence, beyond just the deprivation of freedom that none of the Tea Party types seem to have any problem with, is an erosion of the Fourth Amendment, the militarization of the police, and the destruction of the lives of millions of people caught on the wrong end of the warn on drugs.

But again, drug prohibition has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with fantasy, paranoia, and nowadays, with moneyed interests who might perish if drug policy shifted from a war to a public health approach.

Posted by: C.E. | Jul 8, 2012 1:49:51 AM

Also, here is an interesting link on drug usage around the world: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2012/jul/02/drug-use-map-world?CMP=twt_gu

Drug usage does not seem to correlate well with a country's approach to drug policy. Portugal, which has decriminalized most drugs, has relatively low rates of drug usage. The U.S., which relies on prohibition, has a relatively high rate of marijuana use, but Mexico, where a lot of the stuff comes from to begin with and where law enforcement can charitably be described as ineffective, has a low rate of marijuana use. The Netherlands, which has a far more relaxed attitude toward marijuana than the US, only has half the usage rate we do. The big surprise is the United States' relatively low rate of opiate use, although I have to wonder if the data include use of prescription opiates like Oxycontin and Vicodin.

Posted by: C.E. | Jul 8, 2012 2:04:56 AM

cue Bill to explain how the drug war is essential and has been a great success.

Posted by: John K | Jul 8, 2012 8:03:10 AM

cue to John K to read the dozen or so posts (at least) I've previously put up on this subject.

The present article is almost entirely a re-tread. When you guys do something new -- like win a SCOTUS case or get the CSA repealed or even slightly amended -- get back to me. But the same old is really getting to be the same old.

P.S. You could do more to pique my interest with something that hasn't been gone over and over for the past few decades, like the campaign to Free Jerry Sandusky Because His Prosecutors Were A Bunch Of Thugs Like They All Are Just Read Any Post By John K.

...I mean, they ARE a bunch of thugs, aren't they, John? Fifty-odd charges? My Lord, what a bunch of count stacking! And they intimidated him from taking the stand! Just what you'd expect from the Nazis.

C'mon John. We've been over this drug stuff a zillion times. Let's get with something at least a little new, like exposing those as-ever evil Sandusky prosecutors. I'll bet they're STILL hiding Brady material. Dontcha think?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 8, 2012 9:46:13 AM

Funny how they never mention that countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have some of the lowest death rates from drugs in the world, and some of the harshest penalties. For instance, in Malaysia and Vietnam you can get the death penalty for 3 ounces of a hard drug.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 8, 2012 10:28:16 AM

Is that your aim, Tar...to continue shaping America in the image of countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines?

Never mind the irony (lunacy?) of heralding countries that reduce drug-related death rates by killing people who possess drugs.

Posted by: John K | Jul 8, 2012 10:42:55 AM

TQ: How many executions for possession in those countries?

How many deaths from cigarettes and alcohol? Those have to be banned first.

The illogic makes government look stupid.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 8, 2012 11:14:09 AM

Bill tries, in vain, to justify the drug war as part and parcel of the fabric of the rule of law. In his view, we all should dutifully click our heels and salute to the drug war. (Never mind the sheer nonsense of the drug war: e.g., the anti-scientific listing of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, and the immorality of stripping away liberty for mere voluntary possession of certain substances (e.g., marijuana, but not alcohol), and the massive expansion of government necessary to perpetuate the asinine drug war, and it's economic unsustainability.)

He claims he would respect and submit to de-criminalization / legalization.

However, in his heart of hearts, Bill actually believes the drug war is good. He thinks so, because he thinks he knows better than others, including doctors and scientists, what individuals should and should not be able to put into their bodies. This is a function of his arrogance and authoritarianism. He knows better than you. He "knows" drugs are icky and bad. And, by god, he'll put you in a cage to teach you, if necessary.

The drug war is a great evil. Bill Otis is its face --- along with Barack Obama and Michele Leonhart.

Just as many people used to believe slavery was good, that anti-miscegenation laws were good, that codified discrimination against homosexuals was good, that Jim Crow laws were good, Bill and his band of merry travelers believe the drug war is good. They were sucked in by reefer madness propaganda, and they can't get out.

They are big government, big brother, in-your-face, drug warriors.

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jul 8, 2012 11:57:51 AM

From Reason Magazine (Bill Otis won't read or understand):

The DEA's Classification of Pot: Destroyed but Still Standing

Jacob Sullum

In a recent Open Neurology Journal article, four University of California at San Diego researchers review the evidence concerning marijuana's medical utility and conclude that its continued classification as a Schedule I drug is "not tenable." The authors, led by psychiatrist Igor Grant, who directs the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, examined studies involving smoked and vaporized marijuana as well as synthetic THC capsules (such as Marinol) and extracts such as Sativex, an oral spray that has been approved in several countries and is undergoing Phase III trials in the United States. They note that "control of nausea and vomiting and the promotion of weight gain in chronic inanition are already licensed uses of oral THC" and that "recent research indicates that cannabis may also be effective in the treatment of painful peripheral neuropathy and muscle spasticity from conditions such as multiple sclerosis." In light of this evidence, they say, it is plainly unjustified to keep marijuana on Schedule I, supposedly reserved for drugs with "a high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use" that cannot be used safely, even under medical supervision: The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug as well as the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value are obstacles to medical progress in this area. Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking. It is true cannabis has some abuse potential, but its profile more closely resembles drugs in Schedule III (where codeine and dronabinol [synthetic THC] are listed). The continuing conflict between scientific evidence and political ideology will hopefully be reconciled in a judicious manner. Hopefully! "Government-Sponsored Study Destroys DEA's Classification of Marijuana," Stephen Webster excitedly declares at The Raw Story, referring to state funding for Grant et al.'s research review. But the DEA's classification of marijuana has been destroyed so many times I've lost count. Twenty-four years ago, an administrative law judge, responding to a legal challenge initiated in 1972, recommended that marijuana be taken off Schedule I, calling it "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." DEA Administrator John Lawn overruled him in a decision that was upheld by a federal appeals court in 1994. All of Lawn's successors have taken the same position in response to petitions asking them to reschedule marijuana. Still, surely an administration whose drug policy watchwords are science and compassion will finally reclassify marijuana in a way that more accurately reflects its hazards and potential benefits. Or maybe not. Last year, as I noted in the October issue of Reason and as Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws reminds us, the Obama administration "formally denied a nine-year-old administrative petition filed by NORML and a coalition of public interest organizations calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana." Michele Leonhart, Obama's choice to head the DEA, is so committed to anti-pot orthodoxy that she'd rather look like an idiot in front of Congress than concede that marijuana is less dangerous than any other drug. Oh, well. Maybe in the second term.

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jul 8, 2012 12:04:36 PM

From CATO (Bill Otis will also be unable to read and/or comprehend this):

Cato Study: 'War on Drugs' Squanders $88 Billion a Year

September 27, 2010

Media Contact: (202) 789-5200

Drug criminalization policies in the United States drain $88 billion annually from state, local and federal government coffers, according to a report released Monday by the Cato Institute.

"The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition," by Harvard economist and Cato Senior Fellow Jeffrey Miron and Katherine Waldock, concludes that current drug policy costs governments $41.3 billion each year to implement, while depriving their budgets of $46.7 billion in potential revenues from taxation of legal drug sales.

The revenue figure was derived assuming roughly the same taxation rate currently used for alcohol and tobacco sales. Also factored in is the tax revenue on the income earned by producers--currently concealed in a shadowy black market--that would be subject to standard income and sales taxation.

"State and federal governments in the United States face massive looming fiscal deficits," Miron and Waldock write. "One policy change that can reduce deficits is ending the drug war."

While other Cato Institute studies have looked in detail at the overall ineffectiveness of drug criminalization policy--and its unintended ill effects, such as massive violence among drug traffickers--this latest report focuses on the fiscal impact of drug prohibition. Miron and Waldock provide state-by-state and federal data on both the revenue and expenditure sides, detailing the outlays for aspects of the drug war such as prosecution and incarceration, as well as the budgets for agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

The study also breaks down all of its data according to type of drug--marijuana, cocaine/heroin, and synthetics.

One of the study's key foci is on the significance of "stand-alone" drug arrests. These are arrests solely for a drug offense--usually a minor, victimless infraction such as possession--rather than a drug offense that is incidental to a violent or other more serious crime. Despite an alarming lack of hard data kept by enforcement agencies on that important distinction, it is safe to conclude that as many as 50 percent of all drug-related arrests are not associated with any other crime, the report notes.

Among the study's other key findings:

Cash-strapped California spends twice that of any other state on all aspects of drug prohibition--more than $5.37 billion. Other top spenders include New York ($2.37 billion), Texas ($1.67 billion) and Florida ($1.49 billion).

While there are numerous state ballot initiatives to relax restrictions on marijuana--and one in California to legalize possession outright--marijuana alone still accounts for 9.6 percent of all felony convictions nationwide. Cocaine and heroin together account for 15.1 percent of felony convictions.

The percentage of state and local police budgets dedicated to prosecuting sales and manufacture of drugs is 1.74 percent. For drug possession, the figure is more than double that--4.28 percent.

Drug cases consume more than one sixth of total state and local judicial budgets--17.27 percent.

Click here to read the full report - http://www.cato.org/pressroom.php?display=news&id=189; http://www.cato.org/publications/white-paper/budgetary-impact-ending-drug-prohibition

 

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jul 8, 2012 12:16:20 PM

Bill Otis has been smacked down fairly thoroughly.

Posted by: Vince Wright | Jul 8, 2012 1:35:48 PM

@SC.

I agree with you: illogical. But as I've stated here before the answer is to ban alcohol.

123D should apply to every drink, every bong hit, every injection, every huff.

Then we can talk...

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 8, 2012 1:47:02 PM

SC,

From the top Singapore diplomat to the UK: "8.2% of the UK population are cannabis abusers; in Singapore it is 0.005%. For ecstasy, the figures are 1.8% for the UK and 0.003% for Singapore; and for opiates - such as heroin, opium and morphine - 0.9% for the UK and 0.005% for Singapore," claimed Teo. "We do not have traffickers pushing drugs openly in the streets, nor do we need to run needle exchange centres."

From 1991 to 2004, the country executed approximately 400 people for drug trafficking.

You are assumed to be trafficking if you are in possession of:

•Heroin - 2 grams or more
•Cocaine - 3 grams or more
•Morphine - 3 grams ore more
•MDMA (ecstasy) - 10 grams or more
•Hashish - 10 grams or more
•Cannabis - 15 grams or more
•Opium - 100 grams or more
•Methamphetamine - 25 grams or more

As per Schedule 2 of the Act, a mandatory death penalty is prescribed if you are convicted of possessing any of the following:
•Heroin - 15 grams or more
•Cocaine - 30 grams or more
•Morphine - 30 grams or more
•Hashish - 200 grams or more
•Methamphetamine - 250 grams or more
•Cannabis - 500 grams or more
•Opium - 1,200 grams or more

Singapore has a death rate of 0 per 100,000 because of drug use. So when people compare the US to Portugal or The Netherlands, it draws no more than a guffaw.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 8, 2012 1:54:00 PM

SC,

I would also point out that A) the Singapore has a high incarceration rate, B) one of the lowest overall crime rates in the world C) had the best CPI score of any country in 2010 (least corrupt).

IMO, none of that is a coincidence.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 8, 2012 2:02:32 PM

CCDC and Vince --

For guys who are so cocksure of their arguments, you do a spectacularly bad job of selling them to anyone but your fellow Druggie True Believers. This never stops you from congratulaing yourselves on how brilliant you are.

Fine. Go win your case in court or in Congress. Go get public opinion on your side for heroin and meth -- both of which you want legalized.

Go ahead, guys. Then get back to me. Until then, it's just the same old same old.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 8, 2012 2:18:55 PM

John K --

What -- no answer about the count stacking and defendant intimidation I noted? Why not? You're routinely plenty loud and indignant about how prosecutors are a bunch of Nazis using Bull Connor tactics against the innocent accused (which is all or nearly all of them).

C'mon, John, cat got your tongue?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 8, 2012 2:23:28 PM

CCDC's post on this thread at Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jul 8, 2012 11:57:51 AM indirectly refers to, but does not cite or quote, a post I addressed to him today on an earlier thread. I repeat that post below, starting with a line that CCDC largely re-incorporates now:

"So Bill --- what about anti-miscegenation laws, Jim Crow laws, and laws like that upheld in Bowers v. Hardwick?"

Gee, CCDC, you forgot to mention that those laws were challenged, and tossed out, through the very legal process you claim the right to disregard. This is the big difference you just whistle past.

Your side has repeatedly challenged the drug laws in court on exactly the grounds you argue here. But you lost, most recently in Gonzales v. Raich, an opinion authored by the Court's then-most liberal member, Justice Stevens. D'ya think he supported Jim Crow and all that other diversionary stuff you routinely throw in? Sure.

And if you're counting on "evolving standards," count again. You know quite well that your side would lose Raich today by a fatter margin than you lost it originally. You had three dissents back then. You'd get one today.

Yelping that every law is to be presumed to have no more authority than Jim Crow, etc., is not only blatantly false as a factual and historical matter, but the road to what you apparently really want, to wit, vigilantism.

No one individual gets to decide for himself what laws, or what categories of laws, are good or bad, and then act as he sees fit based on this solipsistic conclusion. This is really too elementary to have to explain to someone who is (or claims to be) a lawyer.

Should Mr. A, an expert psychologist, get to decide that the age of consent should be 10, and therefore, with impunity, he gets to have sex with a childishly willing little girl?

Should Mr. B, a wealthy businessman, get to decide that taxes are too high, so he's not going to pay his? (And besides, his share is just a drop in the collective bucket, so -- he correctly concludes -- the actual harm of cheating is de minimis if it really exists at all).

Should Mr. C, a sicko, get to decide that a marathon of torturing puppies in the privacy of his basement at home is how he has the "inalienable right" to get his kicks, so the laws against animal cruelty don't apply to him?

In the process of forming civilization, the human race decided to replace every-man-gets-to-decide-for-himself -- otherwise known as the law of the jungle -- with a different kind of law, now known as the rule of law. The human race did this because it dawned on us, although apparently not on you, that the surrender of a degree of personal autonomy is worth it in exchange for the peace, safety and overall decency of community life and commonly accepted rules.

The surrendered autonomy occasionally chafes each of us. I get it, thanks. The beauty of democracy is that we have the opportunity continuously to re-think and re-adjust the laws we have adpoted. This process is abetted by having, as we do, an independent judiciary.

You have made (or shouted, as usual with you) all your arguments about legalizing pot, meth, heroin and all the rest of it. But you have been losing for at least 40 years. You lost with the CSA, with Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, with Raich, with Prop 19, and even with the current Administration, the most liberal in history.

Someday, you might win. If and when you do, I will think it unwise, but unlike you I will accept it -- that's my part of surrendering personal opinion to the (overall and in the long run more beneficial) rule of law.

Until then, you can blow all the smoke you want, literally and otherwise, but understand that your high horse will do you no good when you're caught.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 8, 2012 2:50:07 PM

I see no substantive response from Bill Otis to the points made in the libertarian publications quoted by CCDC.

May it be that he is unable to formulate any response?

Furthermore, isn't Bill Otis the one who gets all indignant about remarks that he characterizes as ad hominem? Yet, he seems to feel justified in launching quite a few ad hominem attacks himself.

Seems to me that Bill Otis is a big government hypocrite who doesn't have much game.

Posted by: Eric Leslie | Jul 8, 2012 3:15:20 PM

Eric Leslie --

"I see no substantive response from Bill Otis to the points made in the libertarian publications quoted by CCDC."

That's because you're too lazy to look for the many posts I have put up on this subject. I have no intention of remedying your laziness for you, nor am I going to jump to attention with every Reason or Cato or NYT or NORML or MSNBC or High Times or whatever repackaging of the Drugs-Are-Wonderful campaign.

You guys are great at congratulating each other, but not so hot at winning over anyone but Those Who Are Already Believers.

Go win a case, or go win Prop 19, or go win the Hinchey Amendment (is that thing still kicking around?), but just post after post rehashing the same slogans month in and month out gets B-O-R-I-N-G.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 8, 2012 3:36:35 PM

Leap (Law enforcement against prohibition) of marijuana).Even some law enforcement officers are against marijuana prohibition, this should speak volumes.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 8, 2012 4:23:30 PM

I favor either legalization of marijuana to profit from it, or the prohibition of alcohol and cigarettes with the most Draconian enforcement. Prohibition this time around must have majority support or it will not work, as it failed in the 1920's. We cannot force the population to accept it. They must vote for it directly.

What I oppose is the current stupid situation, which I suspect is a government make work scheme accomplishing nothing of any use to anyone save government workers, at the great cost to the population, especially minorities.

Given current American culture, which choice is more likely to succeed. I am guessing legalization of marijuana, and not draconian measures to prohibit alcohol and cigarettes (remember cigarettes kill 400,000 people a year, mostly in very rough, painful, prolonged fashion, and one has a 50% chance of permanent addiction after only 50 cigarettes, more addictive than crack.)

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 8, 2012 6:28:10 PM

Bill: I think we share love of country.

Assume, there will be no effective prohibition of alcohol or cigarettes the way our culture is today. For example, no 50 lashes for buyers, summary executions of 10,000 dealers a year. It would take that much criminal remedy to stop all drinking and smoking.

I have proposed an alternative. Legalize all adult pleasures, gambling, prostitution, smoking marijuana, name any adult pleasure, put it on the market. Defund all criminal enterprises save that of the legal profession running government that would profit from taxing them.

However issue adult pleasure licenses. If these pleasures begin to pose a risk to health, safety, function, you lose the license, and no one may supply you upon Draconian penalties.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 8, 2012 6:35:13 PM

Anon stated: "Even some law enforcement officers are against marijuana prohibition, this should speak volumes."

And even some people on death row are for the death penalty.

So?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 8, 2012 7:25:21 PM

TarlsQtr- Funny that's is exactly what I thought when I read your BS above about other countries!

Posted by: Anon | Jul 8, 2012 8:33:48 PM

I think Bill Otis is great. He makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: Charles Mansin | Jul 8, 2012 10:02:12 PM

The problem with the "Ha! It's still illegal, so suck it!" approach is that it doesn't address the actual issue. One could just as easily have gloated, "Well, separate but equal is the law, so until you actually change the law, stop whining" back in the 40's. Or, "Hey, the law doesn't give women the right to vote, so until the law changes, stop complaining and get back in the kitchen." Actually, people did do that, but the ones who spoke up loudly, who motivated people to act, who whipped up public pressure, were the ones who accomplished change. Unfortunately, in the meantime, people of color were deprived of opportunities and women were deprived of their chance to participate in the political system. I guess the ones who never lived to see the change should be glad that it happened eventually; only, they were already dead when it happened.

And I suppose we could impose the death penalty for parking violations and reduce parking violations to nearly zero. I think Steve Martin proposed that years ago. But why would anyone want to execute someone for such a stupid reason?

Posted by: Anon | Jul 8, 2012 10:42:28 PM

Anon stated: "TarlsQtr- Funny that's is exactly what I thought when I read your BS above about other countries!"

Great. That was exactly my point. It was in response to the ad nauseum comments regarding the comparable lower drug use rates of places like The Netherlands, Portugal, etc. If you and CE want to use illogical arguments (and you obviously do), then the illogic cuts both ways.

For CE, if the lower use of drugs in the Netherlands proves that a hands off approach is better than the U.S. approach, then the Singapore approach (death penalty for traffickers) MUST also prove that their approach is better than the Netherland's.

Then you attempted to prove (or at least support the premise) that legalization was the best course based upon the fact that a small amount of police support it. If true, then the support for the DP by some on death row "proves" that the DP is the correct course of action.

I used your very own "logic." If it now seems less than adequate, look in the mirror.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 8, 2012 10:56:45 PM

Anon stated: "The problem with the "Ha! It's still illegal, so suck it!" approach is that it doesn't address the actual issue."

And the "You are just a big government dirtbag, scum prosecutor, drug warrior, arrogant authoritarian" approach addresses the issue how?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 8, 2012 11:02:53 PM

Anon --

I agree with you that, ab initio, the question is about the merits of the drug laws. Quite obviously, and as you point out, that question cannot be decided merely by saying that we do in fact have such laws.

The problem is that it's no longer ab initio, and the merits have been debated again and again since I was in middle school. Very little if anything new gets added on either side.

That being the state of play, the question at this point is whether those opposed to the drug laws get to violate them with impunity simply because they continue to insist that they're right about this forever-and-a-day debate. And the answer, as I have pointed out, is that neither they nor anyone who believes in the rule of law gets to make his own law no matter how thoroughly convinced they are that they know better than what Congress and the courts have decided.

Finally, it's mistaken, indeed it's absurd, and probably insulting, to suggest that the "freedom" to do drugs has anything remotely approaching the moral urgency of ending slavery or laws enforcing semi-slavery (like the Jim Crow laws). People don't want to end the drug laws because they want equality and basic human dignity. With the exception of some scattered libertarians here and there, they want to end the drug laws because they want to get blasted.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 9, 2012 9:52:27 AM

Todate our country has strict OWI laws, to say the least.. Brought on largely by the MADD tribe...The Legal Beagles let it go for decades...We currently have a severe alcohol problem in America, in spite of continually lowering the BAC levels..

America has a Severe drug problem, heroin is getting much worse than it was even 2-3 yrs ago..

The feds war on drugs truly SUCKS...Its expensive, ineffective and has holes so large that its the most
solvent stable economy in America...One is arrested and 2 replace him...

BUT, its like a cop that pulled me over for speeding out of a bunch of cars rolling down the
interstate... I complained, you didn't get those people and how can you be sure it was me...
He said, your right I can't catch everybody.. But I got you didn't I now...

Drugs is bad buisiness...It erodes people...and those around them...Its on going.
Users don't bottom out then magically get better... Its an addiction.. They only go for the
next fix...FOREVER till they go to prison or overdose...

Federal drug sentences are way out of wack, truely...Even when they get out, they get supervised release
on top of the sentence...A slip and they go back, and get supervised release when they get out..
Its never ending..

I wish the Feds could be more successful at the entry points of USA...But its not like,
doing a traffic stop on your local highway, is it..The trafficers are smart and creative.

Therefore, ( did you ever think I was gonna have a point ) we cannot legalize drugs.

With alochol, the drunks sober up part way and go to work the next day..
With drugs, the users get up whenever and find a way to get their fix, any way they can.
Do you want you kids or your cousins or neighborhood kids doing this.
Sadly more of them are and we just don't know it... There are no quick fixs for Alcohol or drugs..

Posted by: Abe | Jul 9, 2012 11:34:41 AM

A definite war they have their hands full

Posted by: Orestes | Aug 21, 2012 12:01:32 AM

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