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The War on Drugs should have ended a long time ago, and everyone knows this.   It rips apart communities, sends millions of non-violent teenagers through the criminal justice system, and dumps the rest of us with an enormous prison tab.  

 In his new film, The House I Live In, Eugene Jarecki asks why so little has changed forty years after Richard Nixon’s fateful announcement to “go on the offensive.”   The documentary weaves masterfully from the personal to the historical.   Most poignantly, Jarecki takes traditionally unsympathetic characters in this narrative- prison wardens and sheriffs, and shows that they get it too.   The only people who show no depth of understanding whatsoever are the politicians.  

Where do we stand in 2012?   Fortunately, the tide in America’s savage domestic war is on the verge of breaking.  

This past March, Pat Robertson called for the legalization of marijuana.  In arguing that marijuana should be treated like alcohol, Robertson conceded, "this war on drugs just hasn't succeeded."
A month later conservative icon George Will said enough is enough in an April column that declared the War on Drugs an expensive failure.  
"We're warehousing addicted people every day in state prisons in New Jersey, giving them no treatment," lamented right-wing heartthrob Governor Chris Christie, making a moral and economic case for ending the War on Drugs.
On the libertarian end of the spectrum, Ron Paul has long trumpeted his opposition to the War on Drugs, and Libertarian Party candidate Governor Gary Johnson has made it practically his only issue.  

While President Obama has generally followed the bipartisan approach to rigid enforcement, comments from inside the administration give reason for hope.   When I asked Eugene Jarecki what he made of then-Senator Obama's forceful comments against the War on Drugs in 2004, in contrast to his current record, Jarecki spoke of a highly encouraging conversation he had with Obama officials during the 2008 transition.   Jarecki readily acknowledged the shortcoming of the administration in this area, and while he believes that the President's people have their hearts in the right place, they are facing a wall of Congressional opposition.    Jarecki's film details the enormous economic impact of the prison industrial complex on rural communities across the country.   Similar realities caused even President Bush to get rebuffed when he tried to shut down unneccesary military bases towards the end of his administration.  

If reasonable people (and even unreasonable people!) can agree that the War on Drugs has failed by every metric imaginable, and needs to end yesterday, where do we go from here?  Despite Ron Paul, and despite Gary Johnson, the War on Drugs is as invisible as ever in the debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.   This is an issue that has to be spearheaded at the local level.   Colorado and Washington are on the verge of legalizing small amounts of marijuana.   Support for Amendment 64 in Colorado stands at a staggering 51-40% in the latest poll.  

As a New Yorker, I will do everything I can to make this a critical issue in 2013, when we will elect a new mayor and dozens of other local offices.   There is cause for hope; all of the major contenders have criticized "stop and frisk", an ugly policing tactic made possible by current drug laws.  Now is the time to ask them to take the extra step.  If local governments can lead, we can ask President Obama to join us and end the War on Drugs during his second term.   As John and Yoko once said, the war is over when you want it to be.

UPDATE: Thank you to folks for your comments below, especially to those providing real numbers for the amount we would save as a nation if we stopped locking people up for non-violent drug crimes.  
I once again encourage folks to check out The House We Live In, which hammers this point home.   Director Eugene Jarecki is taking a very grassroots approach to getting his movie shown.  If you think you could drum up a crowd for a viewing in your local theater, please call his office at 212.352.3060 to let them know.  I am not affiliated with the film, but Jarecki did Q & A after the Saturday night viewing, and he is one impressive dude.  
Other ways you can get involve include reaching out to organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and NORML, or just grab the issue and take it on yourself.  If and when President Obama wins, we'll have a perfect window to hammer this issue home.

Originally posted to janosnation on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 11:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform, DFH Local No 420, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hopeful diary. What waste and suffering (14+ / 0-)

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 11:16:44 AM PDT

  •  The war on American drug users has been (27+ / 0-)

    yielded tragically devastating consequences, and has been an unwise squandering of limited resources.

    Several recent international committees, and scientific studies, such as the 10 year analysis of Portugal's shift to using health care treatment, counseling, and mental health approaches rather than police, criminal, and military interdiction models show these treatment models work better than punitive criminal ones.

    We spend $50,000/year/prisoner to incarcerate people, and apparently approximately half of our nations 2 million prisoners are being held for drug offenses, with a disproportionate percentages being minorities.

    In addition, to be unwise, cruel, racists, and classist, this level of stupidity is no longer affordable.  

    Between, just the incarceration cost of $50 billion per year, and the estimated $30 to $40 billion of potential taxes that could be gained from legal Marijuana sales we avoid the slashes to Medicaid, and Medicare that will put our elderly and most needy in dire straights.  A cascading of stupidity that never ends.  

    My hope was that President Obama would pardon these offenders.  

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 11:20:50 AM PDT

    •  I do worry about Crystal Meth (11+ / 0-)

      in rural areas, like Northern Indiana, and many parts of Kentucky.

      Meth is a monster.  Pot is well....pot.

      Legalize pot.

      Allow European style studies on needle exchange, drug availability, amd revised usage with the profoundly terminal illness patient.

      The nation we save from Republican sharpsters will be our own. We need a Democratic Congress, and to reelect President Obama....this won't be easy...we better get started NOW!

      by boilerman10 on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 01:15:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure what the last sentence means (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, ozsea1, Loose Fur

        recced for the rest.

        "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

        by kestrel9000 on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 01:24:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think I understand (8+ / 0-)

          There has been an unfortunately tendency in the medical profession to strictly control the amount of pain-relieving medication available to terminally ill patients for two reasons:

          1)  Fear that the medication itself will lead to the death of the patient, raising the spectre of "assisted suicide" and potential lawsuits by families who have not accepted the patient's terminal condition or are praying for a miracle, and

          2)  Fear that the patient will become "addicted" to the medication, despite the fact that studies have shown that people who take opiates, especially, for pain do not get addicted.  It's continuing the opiate after the pain has diminished that causes the problems.

          These two fears lead to under-medicating the patient, which makes their last days agony, destroys any quality of life they may still have, and very possibly shortens their final days because unrelenting pain wears you out.

          Recently, there's been a shift towards "self-medication" -- usually a morphine (or other high-level painkiller) pump that the patient can operate -- which has helped a lot of patients dealing with serious pain issues in both terminal and non-terminal cases.

          "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

          by stormicats on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 04:35:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Meth is the drug that Hippies wouldn't take ... (17+ / 0-)

        The grassroots "Speed Kills" of the '70s campaign had been very effective.  (As for that matter had been "Crack is Whack.")

        At the start of the Reagan administration, smoking "Crank" -- crystal meth -- was on a hip/cool scale about equal to sniffing glue or drinking sterno.   There people who would do it and they provided awful object lessons to everyone else.

        As a result, there was no developed commercial market for crystal meth, or for the precursor drugs ... and most meth heads were dependent on product cooked from cough medicine by small scale suppliers.

        THEN the DEA started paying felony arrest bounties on those small time cookers as if they were major drug processors -- and every small town constabulary geared up to find the cookers.  In the mean time, access to the cough medicines was more strictly controlled.

        The result: the maturation of  sophisticated, well armed and well financed manufacturing smuggling and distribution organizations.  A shame and a nuisance has become a plague and a scourge.

        As had happened in the past with cocaine, marijuana and heroin.  Small numbers of private tragedies became commercialized into full blown public health issues.

        Now, (in New York State at least) we're working the same magic with "Prescription Opioids".

      •  yes, meth is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        US Blues, elginblt

        a monster. So are many things which are legal. Life is dangerous. The war on drugs as it is being waged is more dangerous. Let's cut our losses. Much of the meth problem is the violence, which is, in fact, exacerbated by the drug, but which is ultimately based in the laws against it and the penalties. Take away the profound fear of being caught, and the violence will decrease.

        Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
        Mark Twain

        by phaktor on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 07:51:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I would rather crack addicts get thier fix at the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elginblt

        pharmacist.  Think about it.  It could be your child that falls down that particular hole.  Addition should be humanely treated not with the goal of quitting but with the goal of harm reduction.  Many people actually do quit hard drug addition over time.  Heroin and meth are supposedly easier to quit than cigarettes.

    •  Our war on drugs is bankrolling (0+ / 0-)

      drug cartels and gangs.  I would guess that more people die because of them than die from taking drugs.

  •  Phonebank for Amendment 64! (9+ / 0-)

    You don't even have to live in Colorado. You can phonebank from home online.

    "Poor man wanna be rich, Rich man wanna be King, and the King ain't satisfied till he rules everything." Bruce Springsteen.

    by Johnnythebandit on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 11:24:08 AM PDT

  •  I agree with the idea of significant changes (4+ / 0-)

    to national drug policy. It doesn't mean though that the government just throws out all laws about drugs. That would be very harmful. We do need a sensible set of laws attuned to some realities. So, in breaking it down, here's what I think FWIW:

    1. Legalization for adults to use marijuana. Like alcohol, it should still be illegal for minors to use this drug.

    2. Continued total prohibition for manufacture and sale of narcotics. Decriminalization for use and possession of small amounts.

    3. Better control of prescription drugs to prevent abuse, arguably the nation's most serious drug abuse problem.

    4. Improved and expanded treatment facilities.

    5. More research on treatment of addiction. Actually, we are very close to effective cures for addiction.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 01:09:02 PM PDT

    •  Mostly agree (4+ / 0-)

      Great points, Anne.  My only issue is with #2.  In the long run, prohibition for any substance for which there is demand is unsustainable.  That's not to say the easing of that prohibition shouldn't be extremely gradual and cautious, and that the product itself shouldn't be highly regulated.  

      http://livingthedream.org

      by janosnation on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 01:11:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some drugs are just so addictive (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, elkhunter, native

        and so dangerous, like Meth, that we just have to keep a lid on it. Hopefully, prohibition of very dangerous drugs coupled with a saner policy with less harmful drugs will steer people away from them. Crystal meth is a very nasty drug with a pretty gigantic high attached to it. I don't really see any way around that. You cannot have a regulated sale policy for some drugs. But we do need to be thinking of focusing our resources where they do some good.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 01:34:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If there is demand... (9+ / 0-)

          ...it will get filled somehow, always.

          The only question is how much destruction you are willing to inflict on your fellow humans trying to stop it.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 04:06:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Does that also go for assault rifles? (0+ / 0-)

            And hand grenades? And rocket launchers?

            For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

            by Anne Elk on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 06:34:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  imo, yes (0+ / 0-)

              "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe

              by jlynne on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 12:02:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Then we parted company a long time ago. (0+ / 0-)

                For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

                by Anne Elk on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 08:03:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I doubt it. (0+ / 0-)

                  His point is only that if there are people who want rocket launchers, there will be people who provide them.  Doesn't mean you can't try to control the exchange.

                  "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe

                  by jlynne on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 09:59:42 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Control it? (0+ / 0-)

                    Is that another way of saying "prohibit"? Or you think there should be a permit process for rocket launchers?

                    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

                    by Anne Elk on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:10:45 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  by "prohibit" (0+ / 0-)

                      are you suggesting that no rocket launchers be allowed on the planet?  

                      Much as I might like the idea, it's not feasible.  Any weapon that is produced for any "legitimate" purpose, i.e., military, home defense, etc., is going to be produced for illegitimate purposes, i.e., terrorism, crime, etc., as well.  

                      So "control" is about drawing lines between the legitimate and the illegitimate.  It is effectively a permitting process, yes.  

                      "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe

                      by jlynne on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 12:27:34 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Talking of planets, what planet are you from? (0+ / 0-)

                        I am, of course, talking about private citizens in the USA. And have been all along. And, like 99.9% of Americans, I don't want any Americans owning rocket launchers. No permits, no conditional use. Nada.

                        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

                        by Anne Elk on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 02:03:49 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  No Americans (0+ / 0-)

                          Military?
                          Police?
                          Security forces?

                          Where do you draw the line, because I don't want the local cops having rocket launchers either, but they do.  They are "permitted."

                          "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe

                          by jlynne on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 02:26:56 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

        •  "keep a lid on it" (5+ / 0-)

          It just doesn't work that way. You know it. I know it. We all know it. If there's a demand, it will be created. Your choice isn't either to lid it or give it away. The choice is putting people in a cage for selling it or saving that money and putting some of it toward treating those suffering from addiction and other mental illnesses.

          "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

          by 2020adam on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 04:27:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not a question of keeping a lid on it. (0+ / 0-)

            It's a question of channeling demand into less harmful routes. There is a big difference between "throw them all in jail" and "whatever". I think there is a middle way.

            For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

            by Anne Elk on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 06:33:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Leave moderate users alone. (0+ / 0-)

            I suspect that like alcohol, most would not become addicted.

        •  Disagree - regulated sale makes it a medical issue (6+ / 0-)

          Meth is ripe for abuse and highly addictive, and ingesting it is basically poisoning yourself.  However, you can say the exact same thing about alcohol.  Regulating the sale would remove some of the most harmful parts of meth - the black-market crime and associated violence - and turn  meth addiction mostly into a medical/social issue, much like alcohol.

          During alcohol prohibition, many people were injured or killed by "bathtub gin" created with ethanol and other impurities by people who didn't know or care what they were doing.  Same with meth - we've outsourced meth production to whoever can make it at the lowest cost and not get caught - with no regulation or quality control.  What is sold as "meth" on the street could be cut with anything.  What is already a poison becomes much more potent, or has unknown side effects.  If they end up in a hospital or jail, you have no idea what they actually ingested.

          As a thought experiment, let's say the U.S. government started producing pure methamphetamine and selling it nationwide, through government-run stores, at the going street price to people over 21 with ID.  Limits are:  you have to register with the store, you get one "dose" per person per day, and it's illegal to buy meth and then re-sell or give it to someone else.

          1.  The black market for producing and/or importing meth would collapse overnight.  No incentive to buy possibly adulterated crap from a stranger when you can go get reliable, pure product straight from the government and not get screwed, beaten, or taken advantage of.
          2.  The violence associated with producing and/or importing meth would largely cease overnight, with a corresponding drop in violent deaths, incarceration rates, court cases, etc.
          3.  Any glamour that meth gets for being "counterculture" or "illegal" goes away.  If you have to go stand in line to buy your own meth in broad daylight at the same drab government store as anyone else it kinda takes the shine off.
          4.  You now have a database with most of the people in the country who are buying meth.  You can target them with treatment programs to break addiction every time they come into the store.  If nothing else you actually have reliable statistics on meth usage.
          5.  Most of the previously untrackable money previously going to drug dealers is now going to the government.

          For the first few years you would want to keep prices low (slightly below previous street value) in order to break the crime cycle.  Over time though, you would raise the prices (probably through taxes) to discourage purchases and wean people off it, pretty much exactly like we've done with cigarettes.

          Don't get me wrong, this isn't a perfect solution.  It's still messy and people will still be addicted.  Lots of people would blame the government for promoting drugs and causing addiction.  People living around "distribution centers" would scream bloody murder.  But violent crime would drop, and meth would become a health care issue instead of a criminal justice issue.  If we could start to get a handle on it - if we could start by reducing the meth problem to, say, the same scale of problem with have with prescription drugs like Oxycodone, it would be much better than what we have going now.

          •  No. You can't. You really can't. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kurt

            It's really funny in a bitter way that, while activists are demanding that GMO foods be labeled, you want to sell crystal meth right next to the peanut butter. Good luck with that. Most Americans don't want poisone sold just like any other product. Spend some time with addicts, maybe you will change your mind.

            For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

            by Anne Elk on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 06:31:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not next to the peanut butter but, at the (0+ / 0-)

              pharmacy.  It should be as simple as filling a prescription.  Each person with a script would be monitored by a doctor until such time they are able to quit.  Otherwise, leave moderate users alone even marketing small doses for the obese.

        •  There is a very tight (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          qofdisks

          "lid on it" as we speak. They call it the drug war. It doesn't work. The stuff is still there, and there is just as much. No matter how dangerous you believe the stuff is, what we are doing is more dangerous. Yes, some beautiful young people will die from drugs like these if you legalize them. Guess what -- many young beautiful people already die even though there is a war on the stuff. Life is dangerous. Some people get hurt. Get over it. Move ahead.

          Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
          Mark Twain

          by phaktor on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 07:29:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is what defines addiction (8+ / 0-)

      The central problem with drug policy, if you actually read it is this. Addition is defined strictly as any non-medicinal use. This means that DEA scheduling is based primarily around whether or not people would enjoy using a substance, even if it does have significant medicinal use (such as Cannabis).

      You won't be able to revise drug policy successfully until we consider only the actual short and long-term health problems of a substance use in our evaluations; rather than basing our standard harm on an irrational phobia that society will end if people are allowed to pursue their happiness through getting high.

    •  No. I disagree. This is (0+ / 0-)

      the conventional starting point from which the drug war arose. First, what sense does it make to make small amounts for personal use legal while providing no way to legally obtain the stuff? You are leaving control of the drugs in the hands of organized crime, which makes the problem worse. Also, 2 and 3 are not mutually exclusive. "Narcotics", if you mean opioids, are the most effective pain killers known to science. They will be in increasing demand as the baby boom generation ages and their bodies begin the natural process of decay (painful decay, unfortunately -- a product of living longer). I think 5 is true to some extent (more research), but we are nowhere near a complete understanding of what we even mean by the term "addiction".

      Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
      Mark Twain

      by phaktor on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 07:35:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ahh, but drugs are BAD! (6+ / 0-)

    So therefore, the incarceration, persecution and execution of users is totally justified.

    And if you don't believe that, you're obviously a drug user who needs to be pursued, locked up and executed.

    Q.E.D.

    /Drug Warrior Justification

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 01:09:35 PM PDT

  •  Legalize marijuana, and tax the hoo-hoo out of it (6+ / 0-)

    We'd save billions we spend on law enforcement and jail costs, and we'd bring in billions in taxes.  It would make a big dent in the deficit.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 01:14:15 PM PDT

  •  Public health problem (4+ / 0-)

    Treat drug use as a public health problem.  Continue to use a law enforcement approach for big time makers or dealers, but treat users and small time dealers as the public health problem.  (Just like we'd treat a seller of deadly methyl alcohol liquor or deadly adulterated food as a criminal.)

  •  Pot,yes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnrhoffman, native

    harder drugs,no.

    •  Well, classifying weed together (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, elkhunter, qofdisks, bewild

      with "hard" drugs is a mistake. Marijuana is more akin to coffee, tobacco, or alcohol. It is not nearly as addictive as tobacco or alcohol though, and not nearly as unhealthy either.

      One can argue about legalizing all drugs -- that's a complicated issue. But I don't see any down side to legalizing pot. It should never have been criminalized in the first place.

      "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

      by native on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 05:19:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cannabis is not addictive. (5+ / 0-)

        Unlike tobacco, alcohol (which can kill you if you do it cold turkey, ask a doctor) or even caffeine. All three of which have miserable (and in the case of alcohol, life threatening) withdrawal symptoms.

        This is an urban legend.

        Cannabis does interfere with how you store memories, on a neurochemical level. But recent testing shows that such effects may only be transitory:

        Abstract from the US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health

        The cognitive effects of long-term cannabis use are insufficiently understood. Most studies concur that cognitive deficits persist at least several days after stopping heavy cannabis use. But studies differ on whether such deficits persist long term or whether they are correlated with increasing duration of lifetime cannabis use. The authors administered neuropsychological tests to 77 current heavy cannabis users who had smoked cannabis at least 5000 times in their lives, and to 87 control subjects who had smoked no more than 50 times in their lives. The heavy smokers showed deficits on memory of word lists on Days 0, 1, and 7 of a supervised abstinence period. By Day 28, however, few significant differences were found between users and controls on the test measures, and there were few significant associations between total lifetime cannabis consumption and test performance. Although these findings may be affected by residual confounding, as in all retrospective studies, they suggest that cannabis-associated cognitive deficits are reversible and related to recent cannabis exposure rather than irreversible and related to cumulative lifetime use.

        "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.''
        -- SCOTUS Justice O.W. Holmes Jr
        "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"
        -- Angie in WA State

        by Angie in WA State on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 06:24:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In fact, I think smoking weed (0+ / 0-)

          is actually good for you. It's healthy, like a kind of psychic vitamin. Opens up your brain a bit, and calms you down.

          I find this whole discussion of whether or not marijuana causes harm to be ridiculous. Anyone who's ever smoked it knows it is totally benign. The entire controversy is patently absurd.

          "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

          by native on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:09:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ahem: (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native, Damnit Janet, mrkvica, jlynne, qofdisks

    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

    by Bisbonian on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 02:31:38 PM PDT

  •  Our biggest obstacle is the federal/state conflict (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1, kurt

    All states' rights issues aside, there are federal rules in place that force the government to enforce them.  We need to address federal legislation on the drug war and reconcile it with current state legislation before we can move forward.

    Then those 47% comments came along and it turned out that cartoon caricature Mitt Romney was actually real Mitt Romney. - Josh Marshall

    by Jensequitur on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 02:35:45 PM PDT

    •  "force" enforcement? It is easy, stop (0+ / 0-)

      appropriating money for enforcement.  Congress has always cut funding on enforcement of laws and regulations at the bidding of their corporate masters.  No money, no enforcement.

  •  If you have Libertarian friends (6+ / 0-)

    voting Romney, remind them that a guy who belongs to a religion that thinks coffee is an evil drug is not likely to be particularly good on leglizing drugs, even pot.

    I tried this last night with an acquaintance, and it actually made him think twice.

    I then commiserated with him that his party was overrun with social conservatives who had to be kowtowed to because the evangelicals are a large part of the Republican ground game and that they would not cease to be so without Republicans getting their clocks cleaned for a few elections.

    He is a student in VT, but is planning on voting in his home state.  I reminded him that liberal Democratic VT is very libertarian, and he might consider that when thinking about which party these days is the best choice for Libertarians.  (He often calls VT a libertarian paradise (with small l)

  •  sending substance abusers to prison (7+ / 0-)

    makes about as much sense as sending criminals to the hospital.

    Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List-686 pages of hyperlinks in PDF format Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called "The Present".

    by elkhunter on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 03:07:13 PM PDT

  •  I think we should grow hemp. (5+ / 0-)

    Carbon capture, phytoremediation, paper, cloth, fiber, food, fuel.........

    We can buy hemp, but we aren't allowed to grow it. So Canada grows lots of hemp and we can't.

  •  Failure? (11+ / 0-)

    The War on Drugs has militarized and funded law enforcement, damaged civil rights with forfeiture laws, and slammed hundreds of thousands of poor people into prison.

    It's only a failure if you though the goal was public health.

    •  Precisely, public health and saftety mean nothing (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      2020adam, kurt, elkhunter, qofdisks

      I keep looking for principles underlying actions that directly benefit or keep the little people in mind in this drug war.  I never find one.

      How the fuck were we supposed to motivate young people when our leadership decided drooling Ronnie repression was good for us?

      Matt Taibbi is dumfounded this election is so close.  Well, when you fuck over the little people all the time don't expect a landslide.

      Y'all should watch me vomit for 12 hours.  A life wasted, the Feds waiting around with their handcuffs so hopefully they can watch me vomit in prison.

      How proud we all are.  So very proud of DC.

      •  I am sorry for your vomiting. I pray you find (0+ / 0-)

        relief with your medicine.  Sending soothing and healing thoughts.
        In fact, sending waves of good thoughts to all of you suffering out there who have found some return to being human through the miracle of marijuana.  

  •  Follow the money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, kurt

    Everyone at this site knows about the private prison industry.

    But prison guard unions also give lots of money to politicians, including Democratic politicians.

    The drug war will never end.

    •  Their impact varies (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native, fearlessfred14, kurt

      Certainly the California Prison Guard Union is considered very powerful.  Even they, however, are expressing concern about the drug war, as their members have become unsafe in overcrowded prisons.

      I do tend to follow the money in New York.  The Correctional Association doesn't have too much power in NYC, and while the prison industry certainly is very powerful upstate, having downstate politicians with backbone can put the issue front and center.

      http://livingthedream.org

      by janosnation on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 04:57:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your second sentence is right on (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, kurt

        Prison guards like having work, but they also like having some minimal measure of workplace safety. Unlike the prison administrators, they have to spend hours in the prison. Also, it's not like we're going to have to tear down all our prisons if we decriminalize pot. There are many other kinds of criminal who can keep our prisons at capacity (just not at 250% like they are in California!)

        Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

        by fearlessfred14 on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 05:39:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. Who profits? Distributors. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, qofdisks

      And they're certainly giving support to politicians who promise to "crack down" on drugs. Because illegal drugs are profitable drugs, and even more profitable when you can bribe the government to bust your competitors.

      This is exactly what happened when booze wasn't legal as well.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 11:55:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  An economy based on throwing people in jail (6+ / 0-)

    and keeping them there is a fucking sick economy.

    "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

    by native on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 05:27:30 PM PDT

    •  It is making our society sick. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native

      Having so many in prison is coarsening the culture.  Prison mentality is spilling over into our culture.

      •  You bet it is. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        qofdisks

        Even here on DKos we have commenters desiring to throw miscreants in prison, and have them anally raped by giant Black guys, or tatooed White gangs.

        In these overcrowded prisons we breed a culture of revenge. We do not expect rehabilitation, we encourage subjugation and humiliation. For profit!

        And so we focus on punishment, on cruelty, on righteousness, rather than on healing.

        "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

        by native on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 10:47:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Milton Friedman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    He was for the legalization of drugs, too.

    But I can't help but to think of the problems of legal drugs would create. Consider the horror to Chinese society during the opium war when so many were doped.

    Legalization won't make the problems we don't like with drugs go away.

    Health costs will be passed to taxpayers at an alarming rate.

    Poverty will increase as addictions to drugs increase and people lose jobs.

    Idle fears? I don't think so.

    I don't think our war on poverty is working but corralling some of the problem is better than nothing.

    •  There are alarming costs now (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tobendaro, Apost8, bewild

      The federal budget alone has $15 billion for the anti drug war. current State spending on law enforcement, prisons, judges, cops and so on likely doubles that figure.

      And i sincerely doubt that keeping drugs illegal reduces the number of people with drug problems by 10%.

      Anyone can get it now, but it costs more and triggers crimes, and current drug sales support a massive  organized crime army that has made a large portion of the world practically ungovernable, including but not limited to Mexico and central and south america.

      I quake at the idea of legal heroin, cocaine, and meth, but the alternative is even worse.

    •  I think you have some faulty assumptions there. (6+ / 0-)

      Criminialization and "nothing" are not the only alternatives for addressing addiction. When you stop punishing people for help seeking, you might just get more help seeking. That would indeed create health care costs. But treatment is significantly cheaper (and works better) than locking people up and throwing away the key. Addiction is a mental health disorder. The health care system is where it belongs. Not criminal justice.

      You also assume that a significant proportion of the currently abstinent and casual user populations will suddenly shoot, snort or swallow mass quantities of anything they can get their hands on just because it's not a crime anymore. Certainly this is not what happened in Portugal.

      Finally, substance use occurs on a continuous spectrum. It is not a dichotomous behavior (either abuse/dependence or total abstinence). Not all substance use renders a person incapable of functioning productively.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 08:39:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just mention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    the Opium Wars, as a data point.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    This wasn't a war on drugs, it was a war in which drugs were used, extremely effectively, as a weapon.

  •  I couldn't agree more, but a problem is that the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks

    Obama administration - despite the rhetoric - has for four years had far higher rates of attacks/prosecutions of state-legal marijuana sellers than did Bush.  That's Bush, not Johnson or Paul.  In effect, the lame establishment wing of the GOP has been better on this issue of basic civil rights than Obama and the Democratic Party, never mind Rand and Ron Paul.  Anyone who thinks voting for Obama is somehow a step in the right direction in this regard, is going to be sorely mistaken.

  •  Pinning your hopes to end drug war on Obama? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bewild, qofdisks

    Good luck with that.

    •  Obama is a reasonable (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      janosnation

      man. He had to foreswear drugs to make it to where he is. Absolutely. Any connection to drugs would have blown him out of the water. It would have been exploited to no end. But we are no longer in the same situation. He has made it now. There is no need to worry about what might prevent election. His second term would be the time to approach him about this. He agrees with most of us on everything else. If there really is a difference between liberals and conservatives, he must see the folly in the war on drugs. My suspicion is he would come around.

      On the other hand, this tells us just how powerful the drug warrior coalition is in the government at all levels. We are fighting a beast which is embedded deeply in our system, and controls huge amounts of capital. In fact, that is part of it. Who wants some yankee doodle junk product when they can have a joint for the same price?

      Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
      Mark Twain

      by phaktor on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 07:47:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Soft on crime." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    janosnation, qofdisks

    That is the label every politician is afraid of being branded with.

    The only way politicians are going to support legalization, a reversal of 40 years of entrenched policy, is if the public convinces them that an overwhelming majority of us want it and that they will not be punished when it comes time for re-election.

    That said, I think a lot of people are finally coming around to the understanding that the drug war is a tremendous waste of resources and human life.  The fact that legalization is even being discussed by the mainstream reflects is a huge change.  I think it will be happen, but it's going to take continued pressure.

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 06:52:20 AM PDT

  •  The war on drugs is a war on consciousness (0+ / 0-)

    It's about our relationship to the multiple states of consciousness our nervous system affords us. Controlling access to the variety is a way of maintaining control by those in authority, because when the mind is opened their control games lose interest. People no longer wish to participate in the fear-mongering on which our cultural mythos is constructed- fear of god, fear of church, fear of government, etc.

    The illegal drugs are most often the ones that afford access to, glimpses of a bigger picture. They don't leave us there permanently, that takes work, but used consciously with the proper set and setting (thanks Dr. Leary) these agents open us to possibilities beyond fear. And that's what the control freaks fear- us discovering our freedom.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 08:13:46 AM PDT

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