Our insane drug war, revisited

July 20, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More

Mother Jones has hammered our drug war with undeniable facts . . . well, undeniable unless you are a government official in charge of the “drug war.”   In fact, as authors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery advise us, the entire history of the U.S. “war on drugs” is actually a governmental war on truth.

[T]he drug war has never been about facts—about, dare we say, soberly weighing which policies might alleviate suffering, save taxpayers money, rob the cartels of revenue. Instead, we’ve been stuck in a cycle of prohibition, failure, and counterfactual claims of success. (To wit: Since 1998, the ONDCP has spent $1.4 billion on youth anti-pot ads. It also spent $43 million to study their effectiveness. When the study found that kids who’ve seen the ads are more likely to smoke pot, the ONDCP buried the evidence, choosing to spend hundreds of millions more on the counterproductive ads.) What would a fact-based drug policy look like? It would put considerably more money into treatment, the method proven to best reduce use. It would likely leave in place the prohibition on “hard” drugs, but make enforcement fair . . . And it would likely decriminalize but tightly regulate marijuana, which study after study shows is less dangerous or addictive than cigarettes or alcohol, has undeniable medicinal properties, and isn’t a gateway drug to anything harder than Doritos.

If you want to see a bunch of demoralized people wasting time, park yourself at your local drug court and watch a judge slapping faux sentences on marijuana users and small-time peddlers.  Everyone involved knows that the system is a joke–a money sucking time-wasting absurd joke that ruins lives, because every so often someone gets ripped from his or her family, thrown into prison for years.  The crime (just to remind you) is that these users wanted to feel pleasure.  And sometimes its more absurd: the criminal wanted to escape stress or anxiety and he didn’t have a fancy health insurance policy that would allow a doctor to hand him legal pills that do the same thing.   And maybe he didn’t want to legally rot out his liver with alcohol, which is the other way of getting a similar high.

As I’ve made clear many times, I am not promoting drug use of any kind.  I just had serious surgery and I could have loaded up on narcotics that were made available to me, but I didn’t because I don’t want that or need that.   I’m a lucky person in that regard.   I am not interested in altering my mind through chemicals.  I am trying to convince my daughters that they should strive for clean drug-free living.   But I am aware that many people want or need relief from stressful lives (or from their own misfiring brains) or maybe they want the option to simply chill out. I certainly don’t want to stand in their way any more than I would tell a patient to not take those pills prescribed by her doctor.

It’s time to stop spending billions of tax dollars on a drug war that doesn’t stop drug use and only ramps up violence, destabilizes governments and steals critical services from taxpayers. The drug war is highly immoral, but we won’t be able to fix the situation until we have the courage to have an honest conversation.

Related posts:

The most harmful thing about marijuana is jail (reporting on the opinion of a conservative judge).

The Economist’s argument to stop the war on drugs.  (includes the mind-scrambling statistic that the U.S. spend $40 B each year trying to stop the use of illegal drugs).

Johann Hari’s argument that It’s time to stop the drug war. (more shocking statistics)

It isn’t dangerous to use marijuana. (Really, no more dangerous than Doritos)


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Category: Addictions, American Culture, hypocrisy, law and order, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. hemaworstje says:

    well i am lighting my reefer as we speak , bought legit in the local coffeeshop

    and can puff it in the face of a policeofficer.

    The netherlands have statistics that prove we have less addict on hard drugs.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    And our local paper recently ran an AP article about how California is seriously considering taxing whatever pot is sold legally (according to state law): California sprouts marijuana 'green rush'

    Maybe returning to the 1930's hemp trade would save a few billion on the deficit, as well. Note: Hemp is not Marijuana much like Sweet Bell Peppers are not habaneros. You can't get a buzz from commercial hemp, the growing of which is also a federal felony.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Two prominent East Bay marijuana advocates got clearance from the state today to try to put a pot-legalization initiative on the November 2010 California ballot. [The measure] would allow anyone over 21 to possess or grow marijuana for personal use. It would allow each local government to decide whether to tax and regulate marijuana sales.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/

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