Category: Drug laws

War on Drugs: An economic analysis

| March 19, 2015 | Reply

The War on Drugs is terrible for taxpayers and users, because it treats a medical problem as though it were a criminal problem, filling our expensive prisons with millions of non-violent persons, and making violent persons out of non-violent persons. Yet we carry on with this “war.” This article by Benjamin Powell focuses on an economic analysis of the “War,” discussing the many other counterproductive aspects of the war. Here is an excerpt:

Prohibition also creates more problems for non-users. Because it increases the cost for addicts to support their habit, many resort to stealing in order to get their needed high. In a study of the U.S. drug war on Latin America, economist David R. Henderson estimated that if the same mark-ups applied to cocaine as to coffee, which would be roughly accurate with cocaine legalization, then cocaine’s price in the United States would fall by about 97%.[12] If cocaine and other narcotics lost the price premium caused by the drug war, few, if any, addicts would need to resort to crime to afford their habit.

On the supply side of the market, the drug business is violent precisely because it is illegal. Illegal businesses can’t settle disputes in court, so they do so through violence. If drugs were legalized, drug suppliers could settle disputes by turning to courts and arbitrators. One reason that large dealer networks and organized crime outcompete smaller dealers is that they can partially provide their own internal dispute resolution.

When alcohol was prohibited in the early twentieth century, violent criminal gangs catered to the nation’s thirst for alcohol. When Prohibition ended, normal businesses returned to the market and violence subsided.

Economist Jeffery Miron found that both alcohol prohibition and drug prohibition enforcement efforts have increased the homicide rate in the United States. He estimates that the homicide rate is 25-75 percent higher due to prohibition.[13] In short, the violence associated with drugs, both by users to support their habit and by gangs supplying the drugs, is a product of prohibition rather than a rationale for prohibition.

These costs, taken together with the above supply and demand analysis, indicate that the very concerns that animate drug prohibitionists—the harm to users and the violence in society—should cause them to oppose drug prohibition.


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Time to end the “war on drugs”

| November 12, 2014 | 1 Reply

What’s the drug war about? American psychosis, born of racism, but now one humongous wholly misguided attempt to put children into a protective bubble. But now there is some hope for change in the right direction, according to Ethan Nadelmann’s TED talk. He is Director of Drug Policy Alliance. Brilliant talk, concluding with a call to end the drug war.


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Colorado Supreme Court agrees to hear case involving paraplegic man who was fired for using medical marijuana.

| January 29, 2014 | Reply

There is some good news for Brandon Coats. He is a paraplegic man who had excellent job reviews as a customer service at DISH Network in Denver. He was a properly registered user of medical marijuana, which provided relief from the considerable pain he suffered. His employer fired him following a random drug testing, finding THC in his blood. He never used marijuana on the job and he was never under the influence on the job. Colorado attorney Michael Evans has represented Brandon Coats throughout this litigation. John Campbell and I (of Campbell Law, LLC) assisted Mr. Evans in the drafting the Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Colorado Supreme Court. Two days ago, we were happy to learn that the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear this case. We will be assisting with writing the brief in the coming weeks.  Here is the Colorado Supreme Court’s  January 27, 2014 ruling.

In our Petition, we had asserted:

After prolonged treatment with various conventional, prescribed medications failed, a licensed Colorado physician recommended that Mr. Coats medically use marijuana. Mr. Coats registered and received state-approval for medical marijuana use. Thereafter, he used marijuana only in the privacy of his own home and after working hours, in compliance with Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 14. . . . Despite satisfactory job performance, an absence of work place accommodation, and lack of impairment, DISH fired Mr. Coats solely based on an unknown amount of THC found in his body, the presence of which was the result of his exclusive use of medical marijuana in the privacy of his own home after work. Colorado’s Lawful Activity Statute prohibits employers from discriminating against or terminating employees for engaging in legal off-duty conduct. Both Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 14 and § 16 permit the use of marijuana for Colorado residents like Mr. Coats.

In its recent Order, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to consider the following two issues:

Whether the Lawful Activities Statute, C.R.S. section 24-34-402.5, protects employees from discretionary discharge for lawful use of medical marijuana outside the job where the use does not affect job performance.

Whether the Medical Marijuana Amendment makes the use of medical marijuana “lawful” and confers a right to use medical marijuana to persons lawfully registered with the state.

For more information about this compelling case, see this article from the Denver Post.


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Cops and ex-cops step up to condemn the war on drugs

| May 19, 2013 | 1 Reply

Numerous cops and ex-cops have stepped up to condemn the “war on drugs.” , They go by the name LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and they are now thousands strong. Here is the mission of LEAP:

The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition.

LEAP’s goals are: (1) To educate the public, the media and policy makers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology and (2) To restore the public’s respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law enforcements involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

LEAP’s main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly growing speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate current and former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the excessive financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.


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Inside Denmark’s fixing rooms

| May 4, 2013 | Reply

Within Denmark’s fixing rooms, addicts are provided the drugs (such as heroine, methadone or cocaine) they would otherwise break laws to obtain. Nurses supervise. England is debating whether to open its own fixing rooms.

In Copenhagen’s fixing room, eight people at a time, and another four in a van parked up in the courtyard, inject, in the knowledge that they are being watched over by nurses and are taking their drugs in a clean environment using sterile needles, a dose of saline solution, a cotton bud and a pump, all provided by staff. . . . Year on year, burglaries in the wider area are down by about 3%, theft from vehicles and violence down about 5%, and possession of weapons also down. “From the police perspective, I can see the benefits,” said Orye. “It feels calmer.”


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Half of us are mentally ill

| April 12, 2013 | Reply

Almost half of Americans fall within one or more of the descriptions in the DSN5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual–5th edition). Why so many? Because, according to the Slate article titled “Abnormal is the New Normal,” we diagnose mental illness more accurately, because more of us are mentally ill and because we’ve expanded the definition of what constitutes mental illness. “Caffeine intoxication,” anyone?


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The “war on drugs” by the numbers

| April 7, 2013 | 8 Replies

Think by Numbers describes the so-called “war on drugs” with statistics. I think this government program is better described as a welfare program for those who want to believe that they are making communities safer when they are actually cranking up the price of substances that are, for the most part, comparable to substances already offered legally by Big Pharma, thereby injecting violence into communities–especially in the case of marijuana. This article is written in the form a letter to President Obama:

Every minute someone is arrested for simple drug possession in the United States. In 2011, marijuana possession arrests totaled 663,032. Despite your claims that going after recreational pot users in states where it is legal is not “a top priority”, your administration has continued to aggressively target dispensaries that are in compliance with state law. I and others have shouldered the $10 billion annual cost of arresting and incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people for the possession of marijuana. These arrests are often for small quantities for personal use. . . . What’s worse, the money you are stealing from me isn’t even having any impact on the level of illicit drug use. You are just tearing apart thousands of families for no reason. Addiction rates are at exactly the same level that they were before we spent $1.5 trillion dollars on “drug control measures”.

Do check out the graphs in the article. If you want the same conclusions from the perspective of career law enforcement officers, check out the website of “Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).


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Arrest priorities

| January 21, 2013 | Reply

As of 2011, American law enforcement arrested significantly more people for possession of marijuana than for violent crime. Actions speak louder than words. Our priority is to shove hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding people into the “criminal justice” meat-grinder than to spend that money hunting down violent people (or for that matter, white collar criminals).


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Decriminalization cuts drug use in half in Portugal

| November 15, 2012 | 2 Replies

According to an article in Forbes:

Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half. . . Currently 40,000 people in Portugal are being treated for drug abuse. This is a far cheaper, far more humane way to tackle the problem. Rather than locking up 100,000 criminals, the Portuguese are working to cure 40,000 patients and fine-tuning a whole new canon of drug treatment knowledge at the same time.


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