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January 16, 2009

Terrific commentary and assessment of the war on drugs

The site Culture11 has these three terrific new pieces concerning the war on drugs:

All three pieces are must-reads not only for persons concerned about drug policy and reform, but for anyone interested in the economy, civil rights, government power, health care, or really any other major public policy concern.  (I guess I am saying the entire Obama transition team ought to read all the pieces.) 

Here is the openning subtitles of each piece:

From Balko: "Prohibition militarizes police, enriches our enemies, undermines our laws, and condemns our sick to suffering."

From Freddoso: "Legalization won’t end the violence, but it will fry plenty of brains."

From Bartholomew: "America can’t afford marijuana prohibition – it’s a matter of dollars and sense."

January 16, 2009 at 02:45 PM | Permalink


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Legalization will not end the violence because a parallel black market will inexorably develop. Proponents are full of false, pre-conceived notions. Simply, addicts will not be sated with Uncle Sam's daily dose nor will they cotton to any restrictions being placed by the government on their vice.

Posted by: mjs | Jan 16, 2009 5:15:06 PM

The fact that ending criminalization will not result in a utopia is not too surprising.

In fact, it's a strawman. William Buckley Jr. was for legalization in various ways. I don't think he thought the result would be no negative effects. He thought there would be a net drop off.

The "anti" article notes that "Wider drug use would inevitably exacerbate these costs." That is the costs of drug use. But, criminalization has its own costs.

For instance, the article cites drug addicted beggers and crime (in part, drugs reduce inhibitions). But, criminalization worsens both areas in many ways, some quite dangerous.

Since any plan with some chance of passing would not include simple legalization, I think the one-sided nature of the article suggests a core flaw. It is however somewhat useful in finding the right mix, and going into it with realistic expecations.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 16, 2009 6:28:37 PM

Legalization does not necessarily mean that Uncle Sam will give a daily dose. Alcohol and tobacco are legal and Uncle Sam does not decide the dose.

Posted by: beth | Jan 16, 2009 6:34:59 PM

End the war on cannabis. Stop making the drug cartels richer and more dangerous!!

Posted by: anon | Jan 16, 2009 7:07:28 PM

mjs wrote: "Legalization will not end the violence because a parallel black market will inexorably develop. ... Simply, addicts will not be sated with Uncle Sam's daily dose nor will they cotton to any restrictions being placed by the government on their vice."

Like the black market that developed for alcoholics since alcohol became regulated by the government (well, everywhere except Vegas and Louisiana)?

I'm pretty sure you're wrong. First, as with alcohol, only a small minority of drug users are drug abusers. Second, as long as the regulations placed on drugs are not overly burdensome, it will not be worth the effort to create a black market, because there will be only a very small population of people it could serve. (I would consider regulations on alcohol in most states to be pretty burdensome: it can't be sold before noon on Sundays in many places or late at night in most places; still, no black market.)

Posted by: DK | Jan 16, 2009 10:41:07 PM

Drugs don't actually "fry brains" ... that's just drug war propaganda. Alcohol is more dangerous to one's brain than heroin, cocain, or any other controlled substance.

Even if drugs DID "fry brains" that's no reason to make it illegal. Prison is far more dangerous to one's health than drug use, and ultimately it comes down to a matter of personal choice and individual, cognitive liberty. Free people have the basic, fundamental right to harm themselves and act in imprudent, stupid ways so long as they do not endanger other people or other people's property. If you want to chop off your own arm, go for it - you should have the right to do so (and you do). If you want to go skydiving - you can. And the fact that your parachute might fail to open not only harming/killing you, but possibly causing you to land on and harm someone else and/or their property doesn't seem to matter.

At the end of the day, drug prohibition began as racism, and continues because millions of people profit from it and would lose money and power (including the drug dealers) if prohibition suddenly ended such that a pound of pure, unadulterated heroin could be purchased for $10/lb at WalMart.

Posted by: BruceM | Jan 20, 2009 3:14:09 AM

Obvious! Obvious prohibition didn't work! Obvious the War on Drugs doesn't work! Obvious nothing is going to change, unless we the people demand change just like in the past election.
Its time that we the people rise up and vote the obvious. Open minded blogs can open minds. Spread the word. Its obvious!

Posted by: Freeman | Feb 16, 2009 3:38:16 PM

i think the covermant makes drugs sound worse then they realy are!it is a money maker to the citys.they wont stop sending people to jail for drugs do to its to big of a money maker for the system.sending people to jail for a long time over drugs is sort of stupid.when they are letting people who carry guns and killing off with a lighter sentance.you get cought with a gun? you get 1 year.you get cought with drugs?it the end for you.you get 4 or more years.the system needs to sit down and re write its self.

Posted by: gunner | Apr 9, 2009 9:36:19 PM

Sorry to tell everyone who reads this site but, all drugs are made by the govermant!oxys,exctasy,coke cain was in cokeocola,and the govermant see's that we use it and like it.and they dont like it. so they sit down and think! we can make money off this in the court system.let's call it war on drug's! and we will send people to jail so that the govermant can send the stats money to harbor the dealers and the use'erand the govermant wants to know why we are all in a money jam?stop putting people in jail for small crimesand giving the states money to feed them and harbor them.prisons should be used the right way. for killers.rape,violent crimes.not for some one who is ussing or dealing something that the govermant allowed to be use till they saw it was a profit for the state's!are govermant need's to rewrite the laws and sentancing giudlines.drinking kills more people in the world than someone ussing drugs.you never hear of a person that uses drugs driving and killing someone.we need to stand up and let the govermant know drinking is far worse and they get off light.

Posted by: steve | Apr 9, 2009 9:55:57 PM

how is a person who sell's drugs hurting anyone? I've never heard of a drug dealer to force anyone to buy their product!! Also putting them in jail isn't going to stop their customers from buying it from some other dealer or trying to make it themselves! The goverment should look at the history of alcohol before it was finally legalized If there's a demand for something people are golng to aquire it one way or another.

Posted by: douglas | Dec 18, 2009 5:17:21 AM

Thanks for those link resources. They were really so useful.
Nice sharing and keep posting.

Posted by: Addiction Treatment | Jan 20, 2010 6:13:47 AM

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