WAR ON DRUGS
In the early part of this century the moral majority tried the penal solution to the use of the drug alcohol; and
fourteen years later that law was repealed. This lesson is being retaught with
1. Billions of dollars flow out of this country to purchase
drugs at greatly inflated prices.
2. Approximately 1/2 of all organized crime s revenues come from drugs.
3. Drug profits creates a criminal element, people because of association,
need, and personal drug usage have become involved in the drug trade, but who otherwise are law abiding.
4. Increased enforcement has caused the replacement at the
top of the nonviolent middle-class entrepreneurial smugglers, dealers, and manufacturers with the more violent lower class
participants. In the seventies those coming of good families dominated the top
position in the United States drug business. By the 90s that was no longer true.
5. Because of being less bulky (easier to smuggle and hide),
the more pernicious drug cocaine has become increasing popular, and available. It
also brought with it South American smugglers and distributors and then also Mexican smugglers and distributors.
6. Eradication in one country when moderately successful
entails new producers in other countriesdemand creates production.
7. In many countries there is a price to pay when a government
supports the U.S. eradication program, they are considered to be also under the influence of U.S. banking.
8. The U.S. the industries of drug manufacturing and marijuana
cultivation have greatly increased.
9. The expanded enforcement efforts during the 80s have had little
effect upon supply, and has caused only slight rise in the price.
10. In some countries the influence of drug barons has surpassed the Catholic
11. In 1987 the minimum estimate cost of drug enforcement was $10 billion (3
federal, 5 state, and 2 local). That figure has risen to over $20 billion
for 1990, and $16 billion for courts and prison.
12. High cost of
drugs causes a lower standard of living for the drug users and their family.
13. The legal
system is over burdened by the 750,000 drug arrests per year, 3/4 of which are for simple possession.
14. Police are taken away from work on serious crimes, ones with victims.
to drugs has caused cuts in funding for rehabilitation and
needle exchange programs--25% of AIDS is spread through I.V usage.
16. Lack of quality control leads to poisonings
legislation has prevented these drugs from being used for legitimate medical purposes.
people to use more harmful legal drugs; i.e., alcohol over marijuana. Also doctors
are prevented from substituting opiates and marijuana, when abstinence from alcohol for addicts is not a viable alternative.
Such treatment was once common.
19. Divides society
and families because it forms users into groups which hide their activities from nonusers.
20. Creates moral confusion:
the inconsistent application of a moral code, which permits the use of certain drugs for recreation and not others. Thus the moral foundation for the drug laws has been removed, for the higher ethics (differentiated from
homilies) requires that moral principles be universalizable).
21. Creates cynicism towards the courts, laws, police, and politicians
because of their roles in the violation of our moral sense of justice.
22. Creates mistrust and disrespect of the police, because of their
use of entrapment, snitches, and other means of deception.
23. Freedoms have been eroded including the pursuit of pleasure
that is essentially safe. Privacy has been lost through drug testing, phone taps, and searches; moreover,
association with drug users becomes risky because of guilt by association (much like the McCarthy era).
24. Punitive penalties have
disrupted the lives of 750,000 citizens each year, who have been arrested, plus countless more friends, families, and lovers.
25. Current drug policies attack the more benign drugs while permitting the use of far
more harmful substance. Alcohol costs over $100 billion dollars per year and
is responsible for between 50,000 and 200,000 deaths per year (depending on study cited, including 10,000 overdoses). Cigarettes
cause over 450,000 deaths per year, including 50,000 non-smokers via second-had smoke. Illegal drugs, according to the national
Council on Alcoholism, caused 3,562 deaths for 1965.
use of illicit drugs should be permitted because the penal solution has caused far greater harm. Secondly, only a small percentage of the populace has an addictive personality. Estimates from several studies have shown it to be around 4% These people are beyond control and will abuse whatever is available; laws will not change their behavior. And those who abuse drugs for social reasons restrict one substance and they will find another, whatever
their group favors.
addition to preventing the just listed consequences, legalization would have the following benefits:
1. Through taxation of illicit drugs, billions of dollars could
be raised by federal, state, and local governments (instead smugglers, and dealers now reap the profits).
2. Revenues realized through taxation could be used to fund social
programs; thereby, getting at the true root of the drug problem. Such efforts would go a long way towards curing the social ills that plague
our society, and at the same time reduce drug abuse.
3. By creating a nurturing attitude through social
programs, a more effective attack would be mounted upon recreational drugs and
cigarettes. Respect of society, promoted in part through social programs would
create a pervasive attitude of being part of a just society, and as such there would be greater peer conditioning against
4. Through differential taxation of the most and least favored
drugs, usage would be affected.
Policy of Punitive Penalties Have Failed
Decriminalization has been
tried with marijuana in eleven states without an increase in usage, and similarly in numerous countries in Europe. In the Netherlands consumption of marijuana declined 40% from 1976 to 1985.
In the 19th century there was no drug control in this country. The dramatic
growth of heroin usage in the 60s dropped off for reasons other than enforcement; and so too did the overall decline in drug
usage of recent years, for it began before the war on drugs started. A dispassionate
look at the evidence reveals that the major social drug problems are cigarettes, alcohol, pharmaceutical tranquilizers,
and then illicit drugs, in that order--as measured by costs, and mortality. To
attack with laws illicit drugs is hypocritical, unjust, and unnecessary.
zealous bureaucrats, promoting their own causes, created the repression and spread the myth that the use of drugs destroys
the moral fiber of our country. Politicians have turned drugs into a scapegoat:
a safe political cause, a diversion while our cities deteriorate and both the national and foreign debts dramatically increase. They'd rather pump tax money into the military, whose contractors contribute to their
reelection, than into social programs. And it is the social programs, properly
ran, that create the respect for society and unity of purpose that do more for shaping the behavior of citizens than the use
of force. It is the social pressures that has resulted in a much lower substance
abuse level in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark, countries that scant enforce their drug laws.
repression so great, users fail to stand up and be countedthere are nearly 40 million yearly users of illicit drugs. Repression has gone too far, responsibility and choice should be returned to the people. Given all the facts, one can plainly see that a redirection of drug policy is needed
to bring it in line with reality: introduction has cause the more voluminous
drug marijuana to be replaced with cocaine, harm and repression has gone too far.
Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs and Consequences, and Alternatives, Ethan A. Nadelmann, Science, Vol. 245, Sept
1989, pp 93947. Truly exceptional article. Many more use recreational drugs in
excess do to social factors. Change these factors and their behavior changes.
need, of course, to elect humanitarians instead of politicians for to run such programs.