We have had the “War on Drugs” since the 70’s. In the 80’s, the “War” went from just skirmishes to an all out nuclear war on drugs.
Now, thirty years later what have we accomplished? Has the “War on Drugs” become just another epic government failure like the “War on Poverty” with the only thing accomplished being massive government spending and an equally massive erosion of our Constitutional Rights?
My perspective on the “War on Drugs” is a little different from most people. I practiced law for 24 years. Ten of those years were as a prosecutor. The rest were as a criminal defense lawyer. Three of my years prosecuting I spent as a drug prosecutor.
In my line of work I have met and worked with more drug dealers and users than the average person would see in a lifetime. I have no sympathy for drug dealers and while I have some pity for drug users, controlled substances of all kinds including Marijuana are something to be avoided at all costs.
The “War on Drugs” has created several things. None of them are really good. First it has created a massive government bureaucracy at not only the Federal level of government but also at the state and local levels as well. The Federal Government pumps billions of dollars out in the “War on drugs.” This money is spent on law enforcement, prosecutors, defense lawyers, prisons, corrections employees, social workers, advertising and the list goes on beyond belief.
The “War on Drugs” like the War on Poverty has been a total failure. Despite thirty year of the “War on Drugs” being an all out assault, drug use is still at record levels. By any stretch of the imagination, this war has failed. Like the War on Poverty, if it were a real war, we would be borrowing John Boehner’s freshly laundered white flag of surrender.
The second casualty has been Constitutional Rights. The Fourth Amendment has been shredded. One of the worst abuses has been the asset forfeiture laws, which allows law enforcement to seize cash; even without a crime being committed on the “suspicion” the cash is drug proceeds.
Unfortunately for those caught on those Kafkaesque nightmares, the presumption is the money is contraband and the only way someone can get their money back is to file suit. That of course costs money because lawyers do not work for free.
Finally, the “War on Drugs” has created powerful criminal enterprises. These are the narco-terrorist gangs in Mexico, Central America and South America as well as street gangs here in America. The end result of these gangs has been a trail of bodies and other carnage that rivals a real war. These gangs work in various areas but their bread and butter is drugs.
If the “War on Drugs” has been a failure and has created more problems that it has solved, what do we do?
Many libertarians and liberals think nirvana would be the simple legalization of all drugs. Everyone could just sit around stoned; chilling out to the Grateful Dead and all would be good.
No, it isn’t going to work out like that.
First, there can never be decriminalization of drugs. But there can be regulation and registration.
If we want to dismantle the massive government creation called the “War on Drugs” and save billions of dollars as well as destroy the criminal enterprises we call gangs, regulation and registration would do that.
If you want to be a legal drug user, then you register. There should be draconian penalties for the use of drugs by non-registered drug users.
If you want to use drugs, you will be allowed that choice. Liberty means we have the right to make choices. Liberty also means we have the right to make stupid choices. Using drugs is a stupid choice, but you do have the Constitutional Right to be stupid.
However, with choices there are always consequences.
If you register as a legal drug user, there are certain things you are not going to be able to do. You are not going to pilot a jumbo jet or drive a forty ton truck. You aren’t going to be doing open-heart surgery on someone, nor will you be a cop.
But if you want to be a stoner, you can do it. You will just have to understand that certain jobs will be off limits to you and you will have to wait until you are 21 to register.
If you want to be a registered drug user, you are not going to get public assistance. If you want to get high, you can do it on your own dime.
Registering drug users will change the whole dynamic. Instead of having to travel to crime-ridden areas to buy drugs from gang members, registered drug users can go down to a store and buy what they want. Prices will collapse since the drugs are no longer contraband and the street gangs in America and the narco-terrorists in Mexico, Central and South America will be out of business. Mexico might even be pulled back from the brink of being a failed state.
The “War on Drugs” has been a complete failure. We have created a massive, expensive government apparatus to combat illegal drugs at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and we have nothing to show for it. Because of this “prohibition” as some like to call it, we have created massive criminal enterprises that would die if drug use and distribution were regulated instead of being made contraband.
If we are looking for places to reduce spending and perhaps increase taxable activities, this is a no-brainer.
We have tried to fight the “War on Drugs” for close to 40 years. Those efforts have failed. At what point to we realize insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?
At what point do we say we need to do something different?
Judson, I understand that little has been gained from one point of view but nobody can tell us how many lives have been saved by at least holding the line on an eliment that can and will continue to destroy lives. Putting lipstick on the pig doesnt give us a beauty queen and won't solve this problem either. If we continue to cave in to the eliments they soon bring the house down but if we fight the weather and continue to paint and repair as well as seal the cracks then the house continues to stand. Don't give in just because a few that are tired of being called illegal in all cases want to change the name. God Bless and MERRY CHRISTMAS from Canada for a couple more weeks....
Good God, man when did you start using? What are you thinking? The people that won't cooperate with our current war on drugs will just roll over and comply with a bunch of different idiotic rules? That is insanity.
Judson, I hear you, but under the scenario you just described, who in the world would actually register to be a legal drug user? No one, because they'd rightfully be branded with a Scarlet Letter "D" (drug user) and no one would hire them or even trust them. No one would want to rent property to them. No one would give them a driver's license or any sort of responsibility. So, drug use would go right back under the table, under the radar, as it is now, because no one would want to register as a legal drug user.
The other problem is, when you legalize something, even with a lot of restrictions, you sanction it. You condone it. We will suffer as a society if we continue to legalize things that are wrong. We have really gone downhill since legalizing baby-killing in 1973, don't you think? We have legalized so many things that we should not have made legal, and our society has suffered for it immensely.
I think the so-called War On Drugs has failed because our government was never really in it to win it. It was always half-hearted. They looked the other way on too many things. We took, and are taking, way too much crap from the Mexicans. We need to tell the Mexican government, clean up your act regarding the drug cartels, and if you don't, watch us slam the border shut and hit you with major sanctions. The Mexican nation needs us. We do not need them. At all. If the Mexicans say, hey, you know what, we cannot wipe out these drug cartels by ourselves, can you help us? We should say, heck yeah, and then show the drug cartels what a real war looks like. It would be over in about a day. That is, of course, if we had a Congress and a President who would go along with such a plan, which of course, we do not have at the moment.
I just think illegal drugs are of the Devil. The Bible says we should take every thought captive to Christ. Drugs addle the mind and make the user lose touch with reality and stop caring about important things. No wonder the Obama administration loves drug use! They'd love it if we were all stoned out of our minds! Then who would stand up to them?
We should NOT give them our stamp of approval by legalizing drugs, even under the restrictions you propose.
A.I., You can not win a war on drugs any more than you can on alcohol. Fill up the jails all you want and there will be more of them just like in Al Capone days.....it will not stop. Also your righteousness needs to check your own medicine cabinet, they have many of the same contents as "illegal" drugs. They should be called controlled drugs. In my State statistics show that 15 people die from using legal drugs to each person that dies from illegal drugs.
"Many libertarians and liberals think nirvana would be the simple legalization of all drugs. Everyone could just sit around stoned; chilling out to the Grateful Dead and all would be good."
This reasoning is just as much a fallacy as believing that a lack of gun control leads to 'Blood in the streets' and 'Wild-West gunfights'.
At times and places when recreational drug use was not regulated, the number of addicts and users has actually been lower than it is now in the US.
When Alcohol was banned, we DID have blood in the streets from gang shootouts, widespread corruption, massive infractions on civil liberties, etc. Just like our current insane 'War on Drugs' is causing now. Then, as now, you had 'pushers' trying to sell a very profitable product, gangs fighting battles over turf, and people getting injured by impure products.
We could put every single addict into full-time rehab for much less than what our idiotic 'War on Drugs' costs.
Registration of users is a bad idea. It would not change a thing. Do you think that registering beer drinkers is a good idea? Your average pot smoker is no more of a danger than someone who has a bottle of beer in the evening, or a glass of wine with dinner. As for more dangerous drugs, your proposal still leads to a black market in drugs, which is the root of the problem. Do away with the black market by de-criminalizing drugs, and all you are left with is addicts. If cocaine is legally available from the drug store for a fraction of it's current price, where is the incentive for pushers and gangs? and if the price is a small fraction of what it is now, even the worst addicts would not need to rob and steal nearly as much in order to support that habit.
We currently mandate rehab for alcoholics who commit certain crimes. Why should that be different for drug abuse?
Never going to happen, Judson!
The list of negatives is almost endless!
One of the first things that comes to mind is unemployment. Imagine the armies of Federal drug agents suddenly put on the Welfare roles. And the drug dealers, who would lose their gainful employment!
Then think of bank failures! Could HSBC survive without money laundering?
Forget your idea of registering as well. Why, you'd be stepping on 4th, 5th amendment rights at the very least. 10th as well most certainly, with all the state laws on the books.
Nope, the "War on Drugs" is enshrined in the very fabric of this Nation. Forget it!
Here is an interesting hypothesis; would have this nation ever had the problem with drugs except for the altruism of the welfare state?
When society puts money into the hands of people—without any responsibility, and they spend it with the same amount of effort—irresponsible…then who created the problem?
If we had a war—war mind you—on drugs, let’s begin at the beginning. If we made it that one could only get government assistance, by complying with the laws of that same society—what do you think would be the results?
The war—I hate that identification—the assault on our society by the cultural communist (Democratic Party) using the ideology of Antonio Gramsci…to destroy the very foundations of the American society…have been successful with legislation presented as altruistic; while the very purpose is to destroy this nation.
History has realities; let’s identify the danger—and you will find the problem is always the government, and that the instigator in the destruction is always the Democratic aka communist cells of nihilism!
Think I read somewhere that Oklahoma? Texas? instituted drug testing for everyone getting any kind of government assistance.
Juls, I am proud to say that Florida is now doing drug testing for welfare recipients, thanks to our Governor Rick Scott. Boy, you should have seen the Left going nuts when he put that policy into place. But, that policy has the support of the vast majority of Floridians.
Good for Florida! Now, if we could just make drug testing mandatory for members of Congress then we'll really have something!! :)
Lol, that would explain a lot!
oh yes.. obama needs to be drug tested too... he has already admitted to smoking pot and doing cocaine..