36 comments for “Winning the Drug War

  1. Marksman2000
    October 16, 2005 at 9:46 pm

    Outstanding post, Jill. It’s too bad most Americans won’t listen.

    The problem is that we’ve wasted decades trying to pound this “Just Say No” propaganda through citizens’ heads. It’s just gone too far to step in and reverse everything now. Can you imagine what the stereotypical soccer mom or bible-thumpin’ Southern Baptist thinks about this idea? In my state, we still have dry counties. Can you see yourself trying to explain to these knuck-knucks that crack and meth could be bought at 7-11?

  2. scarshapedstar
    October 16, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    Yep. Republican Jesus loves prohibition and that’s the be-all and end-all in the Age of Unenlightenment.

    Better luck next life.

  3. Scott1960
    October 16, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    Hear, hear. Too bad the ‘War on Drugs’ is so popular with the average American. The original look here! Fear! Scary! We’ll protect you! Theme of administrations. Drugs WERE legal in this and other countries for a long time. I guess now we all deserve to be treated like children for some reason.

  4. RandomGuy
    October 16, 2005 at 11:37 pm

    Plan Colombia: legalize production here, where we have major [economic, technical, and factor endowment] advantages over Colombia, and clobber the price of domestic consumption. As one guy put it, “like dropping a 5000 gallon water balloon on the campfire of drugs in Latin-American politics.” Not to mention what $69 billion could do for innercity well-being at home.

    I didn’t used to be ideologically in strong favor of legalization, but I might be logically in favor of it now.

  5. October 16, 2005 at 11:47 pm

    I agree. I think using drugs is stupid, but it is better off treated as a public health problem than a police matter.

  6. OHNOES
    October 17, 2005 at 4:43 am

    Well, personally, I think it would allow natural selection to take root among a large section of our population if we also refused to give any sort of government medical assistance to those suffering from “self-induced” drug-related health matters.

    There you go, a reason for you all to say the word “Fundie” in the next 30 posts, at least until it is realized that I’m being kinda facetious here.

    KEKEKEKEKEKE!

  7. RandomGuy
    October 17, 2005 at 6:24 am

    It’s not an entirely invalid point, but I believe the situation would require a much higher resolution (or complexity) of answer. For example, OD caused by personal stupidity vs. OD caused by a bad batch from a company having passed inspection and currently approved by the ‘new-DEA’ (ie, if Merck makes a bad batch of crack, is the occasional user responsible because it was still his choice to use despite the surgeon general’s warning on the box?)
    Another, more immediate thinking point: do we abolish the prescription system? Do we establish a pseudoprescription system for the newly legalized drugs (admittedly, though I first thought it silly, this would be another line of defense against (?!) unusually severe crack addiction (/?!) until the doctors got further corrupted)? It would seem a bit arbitrary if we only regulated with supply side quality controls cocaine and heroin, while still requiring ongoing treatment and repeated authorization for access to adderall and risperdal…

  8. October 17, 2005 at 7:29 am

    You’re all missing the deep game. The drug war is not working, only by traditional ‘reality’ analyis. If you study it from the persepctive of the Bush admin, it’s going well.

    The drug war, for them, is not a means to an end. It is an end itself. It serves fund law enforcement, it serves to ennoble thru conflict, those of whom the Bush officials regard as ‘folks.’

    It serves as a surrepitious way to fight various insurgencies, while diluting congressional accountability and war powers.

    The fact that it makes no dent in usuage, is irrelevant. In fact, it helps faith based assistance.

    Billions of dollars are made in the testing industry and the “incarceration community.”

    Whether intended or not, the drug war has become as essential building block in the growth of the Gruesome Society, which is what is replacing the great society.

    I do not support drug use, but sometimes you have to ask, “what’s more harmful? the drugs or the war against drugs?”

  9. B Moe
    October 17, 2005 at 9:58 am

    Great post. And I seriously support legalization. I am suprised to see that this is a Neo-Con plot though. Could someone please link to some places where Kerry, Clinton, Dean, or some other Democratic leaders have come out for legalization? I was under the impression they were fairly strongly anti-drug also, guess I was wrong.

  10. OHNOES
    October 17, 2005 at 10:41 am

    Well, I’m the sort that wishes he could indict for secondhand smoke, so best not to ask my opinion on the matter.

  11. October 17, 2005 at 10:48 am

    Great post. And I seriously support legalization. I am suprised to see that this is a Neo-Con plot though. Could someone please link to some places where Kerry, Clinton, Dean, or some other Democratic leaders have come out for legalization? I was under the impression they were fairly strongly anti-drug also, guess I was wrong.

    If I made it come across as a NeoCon plot, my apologies. As the op/ed said, politicians on all sides of the fence won’t touch this one. Being “tough on crime” and “tough on drugs” seems to be a political theme in both mainstream right and left.

  12. B Moe
    October 17, 2005 at 10:58 am

    Actually that was aimed at some of the posters above, sorry I wasn’t more clear. This is an issue I think we need to make non-partisan if it has a chance to go anywhere is my point.

  13. Marksman2000
    October 17, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Exhale.

  14. OHNOES
    October 17, 2005 at 1:07 pm

    Being “tough on crime” and “tough on drugs” seems to be a political theme in both mainstream right and left.

    Of course. That’s the easy stance to take. Just imagine the alternative “Easy on crime” “Easy on drugs.” Not too appealing.

    Same way with deficit reduction. Coming down in favor of tax hikes and spending cuts is not a particularly good political stance. Agreeing to raise taxes to get a deficit reduction package compromise politically maimed the President Bush the elder.

    I’m in a position where I don’t like drinking, smoking, OR drugs, so legalizing ANY of them makes me nauseous.

  15. October 17, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    Props to the posters above who picked up on the sinister intent of the “war on drugs” metaphor. One of my Ph.D. candidate-TAs was writing her dissertation precisely about that metaphor and its impact on public policy… The exact same bullshit we get from Bush today about “cutting and runing” is the same bullshit introduced when people talk about relaxing drug policy. We simply won’t be able to back out of that policy with war-happy fearmongers running our country — and that extends to people of all political persuasions.

    I was almost sure I was going to be searched by a baliff when excused from a jury in pre-trial selection. I was asked about my statement on the selection card that I thought ONDCP / war on drugs was one of the worst sinks for taxpayer money ever invented. Seriously, people were looking at me like I had three heads.

  16. Lisa
    October 17, 2005 at 4:01 pm

    It’s a shame more Americans don’t think of welfare programs as an unaviodable expense, instead of the useless drug war. We’d have much less crime and much happier citizens.

  17. KnifeGhost
    October 17, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war.html

    Second cartoon down……

    I’m pro-legalization, but, like Chuck said, if you say that in any kind of mixed company, people have no idea how to react.

    I tink making the link to Prohibition is a great way to frame it — the comparison is apt, and there are very few people who are infavour of re-prohibiting booze.

    And, oh noes, I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or even drink coffee, but I recognize that that’s my personal choice, and denying people access to them does far more trouble than it alleviates….

    I tend to be against a prescription form of legalization — tryingt o tell a crack addict how much he can have per week seems profoundly inhumane, and will lead to many of the same problems we see now…. PEople who can’t get it legally will get it illegally….

    And it’s important to add that these drugs will have to be CHEAP if we hope to do any good. Even if they stay constant in price after legalization, we’d still have people who have to steal or engage in prostitution to feed their habit.

    Actually, fuck it. Make them FREE. It may lead to increased use int he short term, but I think once people come out of their hedonistic drug stupour, we’ll have A: a lot of people who’ve learned how to use drugs responsibly, and B: a lot of people who want nothing to do with drugs. We will also have a lot of burn-outs, but if we want to avoid the Nanny State we have to be willing to accept that….

  18. RandomGuy
    October 17, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    Interesting point in favor of ohnoes: “My unhealthy habit doesn’t give other people cancer” is a favourite quote of an obese friend of mine who hates second hand smoke.

  19. B Moe
    October 17, 2005 at 9:35 pm

    I’m pro-legalization, but, like Chuck said, if you say that in any kind of mixed company, people have no idea how to react.

    The problem is with most non-users, they only are aware of the fuck-ups. Most people obviously keep it secret if they use drugs recreationally and responsibly and none of their straight aquaintances are the wiser. All the straights ever see are the people that go over the top and fuck up bad or just get unlucky and get busted, so the impact of drug use on society gets skewed badly in their eyes..

  20. OHNOES
    October 17, 2005 at 9:42 pm

    tryingt o tell a crack addict how much he can have per week seems profoundly inhumane

    Because feeding addiction is humane, for sure!

    The exact same bullshit we get from Bush today about “cutting and runing”

    Heh… hehehe…. HAHAHAHAHA!

    It’s a shame more Americans don’t think of welfare programs as an unaviodable expense, instead of the useless drug war. We’d have much less crime and much happier citizens.

    Government handouts make EVERYONE happy!

    And it’s important to add that these drugs will have to be CHEAP if we hope to do any good. Even if they stay constant in price after legalization, we’d still have people who have to steal or engage in prostitution to feed their habit.

    For starters, that makes no economic sense, unless you like the idea of the government subsidizing the drug market. “Hrrm, people are likely to steal this product, so to prevent that, we should make it cheap.”

    I mean, honestly, if you want to get a drug legalization stance taken seriously, then at least admit that CRIME FRICKEN EXISTS, and we don’t as a nation try to base policies around removing the impetus for crime! If drugs are legalized, STEALING DRUGS IS STILL A CRIME! If you have to steal drugs, YOU SHOULD NOT BE BUYING THEM! Let’s make alcohol, and cigarettes cheap too. Because it is inhumane to be addicted to those and not be fed a constant supply of your fix!

    Now I know many people here are reasonable, but dangit… I gotta drop some ground rules. The pro-drug legalization lobby cannot gain ANY credibility if they don’t at least come across as still tough on crime, and see addiction as a DISEASE, something that taxpayers are not keen on paying for other people to get cured of. When you attack legal prohibition on something that most citizens find distasteful, the absolute last way you want to come off looking like is that “Man, MJ should be legal because I want my daily blunt without fear of The Man…” et al. That’s why people who sound pro-drug-legalization get ugly looks. Because it is assumed by most people that the only people who seek to legalize drugs WANT DRUGS or are on some level counter-establishment or annoying-hippie or what not. And I know that not all of you are…

  21. October 17, 2005 at 9:42 pm

    Are you all on LSD? Not that there’s anything wrong with it, of course.

  22. OHNOES
    October 17, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    Though if I failed at catching sarcasm in the previous post, I take blame for it.

  23. October 17, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    I agree, people should be allowed to do with their bodies as they please

  24. OHNOES
    October 18, 2005 at 1:27 am

    I agree, people should be allowed to do with their bodies as they please

    I agree so long as they get to pay for it. ;)

  25. October 18, 2005 at 1:52 am

    Why some people use drugs:
    A well known secret

    Addiction or Self Medication?

    Why the drug companies don’t like it.
    The War On Unpatented Drugs

    Scam

  26. October 18, 2005 at 7:23 am

    The same people who criticize the “War on Poverty” as an abject failure will cling to the death to save the “War on Drugs” in spite of the fact that the WoDs has done far less to address the problems of drug abuse then the WoP has done to address the issue of poverty.

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  28. KnifeGhost
    October 18, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    Oh Noes, I’m talking about enacting policies that will lead to less crime, not that will encourage crime. You may have misunderstood my post.

    My point was that legal but expensive drugs will not alleviate one of the major problems with prohibition that we have now, which is that people engage in crime to get money to buy drugs. I’m not talking about stealing _drugs_, I’m talking about stealing car stereos, VCRs, wallets, iPods, cars, so on to sell and use that money to buy drugs. If drugs are cheap and legal, that problem goes away.

    And quite frankly, people who want drugs now are getting them. I’m sure there are very few people sitting out there thinking “I would fucking love to shoot heroin, but the motherfucker’s illegal.” I’m comfortable assuming that most people who are in favour of legalization aren’t serious drug users.

    “For starters, that makes no economic sense, unless you like the idea of the government subsidizing the drug market”

    I think I just flat-out advocated that the government subsidize the drug market, so yes, I like that idea.

  29. OHNOES
    October 18, 2005 at 7:53 pm

    I’m talking about stealing car stereos, VCRs, wallets, iPods, cars, so on to sell and use that money to buy drugs. If drugs are cheap and legal, that problem goes away.

    Oh, I know that you meant that this will lead to less crime. I think it quite reasonably follows that if you lower the prices on EVERY commodity, nobody will steal anything. Conversely, if you laced every legalized packet of crack with cyanide, the theft problem would evaporate. Personally, I think it is ridiculous that you would ask me to pay taxes so that I can ensure that drug addicts don’t stoop to theft to feed their habit. If they cannot afford the drugs, then addiction to them is THEIR OWN PROBLEM TO DEAL WITH. If they feel that they have to break the law to make their habit, either stealing the drugs or fencing to get drugs (But, let’s be reasonable. If drugs are available in stores, then they’re probably more likely to steal the drugs.), then they should not get cheaper drugs, they should GO TO JAIL, if they act on their criminal. I have no sympathy for them. Addiction is a disease, and I will not let my tax dollars go to feed that sort of thing. Especially among people who let their addiction drive them to criminal acts.

    I’m sure there are very few people sitting out there thinking “I would fucking love to shoot heroin, but the motherfucker’s illegal.”

    But I AM sure that there are people out there saying, “Gee, I love shooting heroin, but this whole having to hide it from the pigs thing is a pain in the butt. Besides, I’m only hurting myself… except for when I fence other people’s radios.” or other such nonsense.

    People engaging in crime to get money is a constant, it is not a drug specific thing. The fact that it happens with drugs so often should only symbolize what a terrible thing addiction is.

  30. OHNOES
    October 18, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    Note, I failed to elaborate on the cyanide bit. Pretend this sentence is inserted, “Any NUMBER of ridiculous plans can cure the crime problem.”

  31. KnifeGhost
    October 18, 2005 at 8:27 pm

    “But I AM sure that there are people out there saying, “Gee, I love shooting heroin, but this whole having to hide it from the pigs thing is a pain in the butt. Besides, I’m only hurting myself… except for when I fence other people’s radios.” or other such nonsense.”

    And if they’re getting cheap legal drugs, they don’t have to steal your radio or hide their habit from the cops.

    If you think you’re saving money under War on Drugs, you’re missing a ery large point. Right now insane amounts of money is being spent on the War on Drugs ($19 billion yearly), and I’m not sure that even includes the legals costs of prosecuting and incarcerating people quite often for simple possession. That’s fucking expensive. I posit, without data, that giving people cheap drugs would be hugely less expensive.

    Which leads to another problem. Nice middle-class people don’t like the idea that people will get high on their taxes, but they’re just fine with the idea that they’ll be harassed, beaten, arrested, and locked up for feeding their addiction.

    Now, you call addiction a disease, then make the claim that addiction is the addict’s problem to deal with. Would you also say “tough shit, you got cancer, if you can’t afford to pay for it that’s your problem”? I dunno, maybe you would. I’m Canadian, so it’s considered right for nice middle-class people to believe in universal halth care, but it may not be where you’re from. I think there are serious limitations in the disease model of addiction, mainly because it denies or glosses over the initial decision that was made to use drugs, or the fact that some people, given the choice, continue to use drugs. It’s very smugly middle-class to assume that the decision to use drug is universally Wrong, and therefore punishable by law, or to be explained as a medical problem. Some people are presented with several bad options, and to them at that time the decision to start using drugs is the most attractive — quite often it’s a matter of physical or emotional self-medication.

    I’m rambling. My point is that drug use stems from a lot of different factors, and it’s not as simple as A Choice or A Disease. We should be giving free, safe, and non-judgemental service to people who want to escape addiction, and getting off the backs of people who don’t. That’s not to say that drug addiction exempts you from criminal law, but to say that if we want to minimize that crime, we should change the structures that lead to it. I’m tempted to say that if you wouldn’t want to subsidize this program, tough shit, but I realize that if such a thing were to ever happen it would require the support of people like you. Just think of it this way. What you gain by subsidizing a few junkies’ habits far outweighs what you lose. You meaning society.

  32. OHNOES
    October 19, 2005 at 11:25 am

    I don’t oppose this sort of subsidizing out of some kind of hatred of the drug addicts, I oppose this because the very philosophy of spending to “compromise” with people who would commit crime to be absurd. If software were cheap, I wouldn’t pirate it using university bandwidth, but I don’t expect the government to subsidize THAT industry, and thus save the money watchdog groups spend to prevent piracy.

    In that sense, I don’t particularly care if it would be less expensive to subsidize legal drugs. As far as I’m concerned, that proposal is off the table entirely. Heck, if such a proposal were enacted, it’d probably also apply to the currently legal addictive substances, cigarettes and alcohol.

    And if they’re getting cheap legal drugs, they don’t have to steal your radio or hide their habit from the cops.

    They don’t HAVE to steal my stereo. Nobody is forcing them but themselves. If they had a shred of moral decency, they wouldn’t make others pay for their habit. (I’ll just let Jill call “THE HYPOCRISY” here. :P)

    Would you also say “tough shit, you got cancer, if you can’t afford to pay for it that’s your problem”? I dunno, maybe you would.

    I would (Assuming the cancer was the result of first-hand smoke), but I’d feel more comfortable about saying it about people born after the 60s or so.

    Which leads to another problem. Nice middle-class people don’t like the idea that people will get high on their taxes, but they’re just fine with the idea that they’ll be harassed, beaten, arrested, and locked up for feeding their addiction.

    Yep. In fact, I openly support it. You say that like it is a bad thing. :P

    Nah, I’d prefer if they were harassed, beaten, arrested, and locked up for stealing my stereo.

    It’s very smugly middle-class to assume that the decision to use drug is universally Wrong, and therefore punishable by law, or to be explained as a medical problem. Some people are presented with several bad options, and to them at that time the decision to start using drugs is the most attractive — quite often it’s a matter of physical or emotional self-medication.

    So I’m not street enough to have an informed opinion on the matter? ;)

    I don’t know about you, but I’m perfectly okay with describing the state of being physically and/or psychologically addicted to an outside substance as a disease, because, regardless of circumstances, it is. Human beings are not naturally supposed to be so dependent. Personally, I find that once you acknowledge that simple fact, then you can examine why the person felt they needed to take drugs. Addiction’s not a disease that’s easily medicated, so one would expect the sort of psychoanalysis you believe to be warranted for addicts.

    Some people are presented with several bad options, and to them at that time the decision to start using drugs is the most attractive — quite often it’s a matter of physical or emotional self-medication.

    Meh, kinda generic feel-good banter. That doesn’t exempt them from being addicted, and if they steal my stereo, then all the extenuating circumstances in the world won’t make them not a thief. I mean, is someone putting a gun against their head and telling them to shoot up or get shot? I’m having a difficult time swallowing anything diminishing the fact that they chose to use drugs.

    And, I’m very much in support of addiction counseling under certain circumstances. I’d like that more than jail-time for the low-level junkies caught for possession. The limit to how much I want to pay for it as a taxpayer is debatable, but I could yield much easier on it.

  33. KnifeGhost
    October 19, 2005 at 12:49 pm

    The essential point of my argument is that legalization is less costly, both economically and societally, than prohibition. You’re paying less under legalizaton than prohibition.

    Bah, I’m not going to convince you of anything. I’ll just leave you with this. Does it make more sense to punish crime, or remove the conditions that creat the crime? And how much street crime do you think is caused by addiction to and high price of video games? Jack Thompson may disagree, but I think it’s a hell of a lot less than drug related crime.

  34. OHNOES
    October 19, 2005 at 12:59 pm

    The essential point of my argument is that legalization is less costly, both economically and societally, than prohibition. You’re paying less under legalizaton than prohibition.

    Well, I don’t dispute THAT phrasing, but I’m of the sort that thinks that addiction to drugs weakens the individual (Thus making an otherwise rational person steal my stereo) and, by following that a society is a function of the sum of its parts, weakens society if too mainstream, so there might be unintended consequences. But, yes, in theory, barring unintended consequences, you aren’t incorrect.

    Removing the circumstances that create crime could then follow through to be removing guns, people that agitate us, unequal distribution of wealth, and all but one of the genders and the races. I prefer to punish crime.

  35. OHNOES
    October 19, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    And, as for universal health care, to me, it is choosing whether to make the almighty dollar or the government the decider of who receives care and who doesn’t. To me, the answer is obviously NOT the government. :P

  36. KnifeGhost
    October 20, 2005 at 11:15 pm

    “I’m of the sort that thinks that addiction to drugs weakens the individual (Thus making an otherwise rational person steal my stereo)”

    Ok. I’ll spell it out. You get addicted to heroin. Heroin is expensive. You need money to buy it or you get dopesick. You could get a job. Oh, shit, nobody will hire you cause you’re a junkie, not that you’d be able to handle work strung out. Well, fuck, you need money somehow. your choices are A: prostitution, B: robbery, or C: theft. You, being a rational person, see theft as the least worst option, and you go for it. An otherwise rational person just stole my stereo.

    Although it’s arguable if we can honestly call someone with the clock ticking until they feel withdrawals “otherwise rational.”

    This is uncharacteristic of me, but whatever. Guns don’t cause crime. They’re used in crime.

    If people agitiating cause you to commit crime, the problem is in you.

    I’m all for removing unequal distribution of wealth. Not on a Marxist model, but on an anarchist one.

    Having different genders and races doesn’t cause crime. Some crime is the result of societal structures, attitudes, so on, engendered in and about different groups of people. It doesn’t follow that simple difference leads to antagonism.

    And, being a good anarchist, I don’t think the government is the best equipped to decide who gets health care and who doesn’t (although typically it’s answer is “everybody”), but I think money is FAR FAR worse.

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