Bring It On!

War on Drugs in Jeopardy?

October 14th, 2008 | by Tom Harper |

The Wall Street Casino — if you win you get to keep all your profits; if you lose, the taxpayers will bail you out — might not be the only American institution that’s in trouble. With Mexico’s grisly drug-related violence getting worse every day, the Mexican government is about to say “F#$%&!# You!” to America’s War on Drugs. Somebody has to do it.

Most people who favor the War on Drugs are completely removed and sheltered from the unimaginable suffering caused by this war. They’re like those chickenhawks who keep talking about which countries “we” should attack. “We” always means Somebody Else.

If you think of “Drugs!” as just some awful menace you keep hearing about in the news, then a “war on drugs” — a big crackdown! — might seem like a good idea. Then again, if you keep finding mutilated corpses in your neighborhood — the collateral damage from the wars between rival drug gangs — you might think drug laws are the problem more than the drugs themselves.

So far this year Mexico has had about 3,500 murders attributed directly to the drug wars. A lot of these murder victims include women and children. It isn’t just gang members killing each other.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón started out as a gung ho drug warrior. But on October 2nd, he proposed legislation that would decriminalize possession of marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin. It would just be small amounts for personal use. But still, Harry Anslinger and J. Edgar Hoover must be turning in their graves.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox wanted to decriminalize marijuana several years ago, but he was shouted down by the Bush Administration. That was when Dumbya had a lot more political capital. Things are a little different now.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said:

“President Calderón’s proposal to decriminalize personal possession of illicit drugs is consistent with the broader trend throughout Western Europe, Canada, and other parts of Latin America to stop treating drug use and possession as a criminal problem. But it contrasts sharply with the approach taken in the United States…Looking to the U.S. as a role model for drug control is like looking to apartheid South Africa for how to deal with race.”

My sentiments exactly.

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  1. 5 Responses to “War on Drugs in Jeopardy?”

  2. By windspike on Oct 14, 2008 | Reply

    dare I say legalize it, then tax the hell out of it?

  3. By steve on Oct 15, 2008 | Reply

    So say you legalize drugs… could employers fire someone for using them or not hire them for using them recreationally?

    Totally staying out of TJ. I was gonna head over there one day for some cheap shopping. NOT!!

  4. By Paul Watson on Oct 15, 2008 | Reply

    Given there are currently company policies on the perfectly legal alcohol, I would imagine they could, yes.

  5. By Liberal Jarhead on Oct 15, 2008 | Reply

    Damn straight, WS - legalize it, regulate it, and tax it just as we do liquor. It would accomplish several good things at once:

    1. It would deprive organized crime groups of an enormous source of money and power, and reduce what they have to fight over. There was a reason the Mafia fought the repeal of Prohibition.

    2. It would generate a big cash flow stream for the treasury - you want to talk tax cuts and a balanced budget? There’s a big piece of it.

    3. It would enable the FDA to regulate the quality of the products being sold, reducing a lot of medical problems that cost the taxpayers huge sums due to poisonings, overdoses, and sharing dirty needles or trading unsafe sex for drugs.

    4. It would make it a lot easier for people who realized they needed treatment to quit, to admit that and seek the treatment.

    5. No more standoff between the Feds and several states on medical use of marijuana, which leaves very sick people suffering needlessly.

    6. Law enforcement people and funding could be freed up to do work that more effectively makes our society safer, like going after organized crime based on their activities that are still illegal and do a lot of harm.

    7. It would massively reduce our huge prison population, many of whom are locked up for non-violent drug offenses, turning each of those people from a liability costing the taxpayers about $25K a year to secure, house, and feed into another taxpayer, anteing up with the rest of us every April instead of using up tax dollars that are needed elsewhere.

    As far as jobs go, a lot of jobs have very reasonable rules about coming to work under the influence. It works best if it’s handled as a safety and performance issue.

    It might be smart to test the waters with relatively tame drugs first, like MJ, and apply whatever inevitable lessons are learned in that process to legalizing stronger drugs.

    But I wholeheartedly agree, based on having worked in addiction treatment programs off and on for the last 22 years, that legalization and regulation would very likely work better than our current “war on drugs” approach. The objections people voice are typically (1) based on religion, which is not supposed to shape our laws; (2) based on exceptional situations like violent crimes involving drugs - which would still be prosecuted as violent crimes; and (3) based on misinformation and lack of knowledge about drugs and addiction and their impact on society.

  6. By Windspike on Oct 15, 2008 | Reply

    Most people don’t have a problem with abuse of drugs and alcohol. Those that do need support and treatment programs. Incarceration isn’t working is substantially more expensive than methadone clinics. We could tear down whole segments of the prisons problems and legitimize a whole marginalized set of business men and women by legalizing it. Fear of drug use hasn’t got us any where, as Reagan’s Just Say No War On Drugs proves. Just wasted cash.

    Legalize, regulate, and tax the crap out of it sounds like a good option - or at least a try. Then we would be better quality drugs, less leathal, and people could use the revenue generated to get people the help they need.

    Now Steve, do you think that if drugs like Pot were legalized that there would be a proliferation of drug us at work? Come on, you have got to be sucking hard on your own crack pipe to believe that. Most people want to be productive and do good things at work. You are a Theory X kind of person, now aren’t you? All people are bad?

    I’m with LJ all the way.

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