Monday, December 28, 2009

Unwinnable War on Drugs: 6k Murders in Mexico

1. WALL STREET JOURNAL -- In the 40 years since U.S. President Richard Nixon declared a "war on drugs," the supply and use of drugs has not changed in any fundamental way. The only difference: a taxpayer bill of more than $1 trillion. A senior Mexican official who has spent more than two decades helping fight the government's war on drugs summed up recently what he's learned from his long career: "This war is not winnable."

Growing numbers of Mexican and U.S. officials say—at least privately—that the biggest step in hurting the business operations of Mexican cartels would be simply to legalize their main product: marijuana. Long the world's most popular illegal drug, marijuana accounts for more than half the revenues of Mexican cartels.


2.
WASHINGTON POST -- Senior Mexican officials have begun a sweeping review of the military's two-year occupation of this dangerous border city (Ciudad Juarez), concluding that the U.S.-backed deployment of thousands of soldiers against drug traffickers has failed to control the violence and crime, according to officials in both countries. "The most terrifying question that everyone asks is, 'If the army comes in and can't control the situation, what happens to us now?'" asks sociology professor Hugo Almada.

With more than 2,500 homicides, Juarez accounts for more than one-third of the 6,000 drug-related murders in Mexico this year; since April, when a surge of federal troops brought a brief lull in the death toll, the city has resumed a pace of eight to 10 murders a day. The violence has also spilled over into the suburban neighborhoods of El Paso. In a macabre daily ritual, assassins now appear to time their killings so that they get play on the afternoon and evening television news shows. The city estimates that the violence has created 7,000 orphans and displaced 100,000 people, many of whom have fled across the Rio Grande to Texas.

68 Comments:

At 12/28/2009 10:35 AM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

If we legalize murder, we can save a lot of money on prisons. Obviously, the war on murder has not yielded results either.

 
At 12/28/2009 10:40 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

it seems to me there have been changes in US drug use. the price of drugs is down and purity is up. that tells you everything you need to know about how the war is going.

if the goal is to keep drugs away from kids, then legalization is the right way to go. when i was 16, it was easy to buy drugs, but hard to buy beer...

 
At 12/28/2009 10:42 AM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Just repeating the lessons we learned from booze prohibition in the twentieth century. If people want to hide from the world with chemicals they will. Legalize and tax the stuff, we need the revenues, the potency will be regulated, in fact you could set the tax up on THC content the higher the THC content the higher the tax.

 
At 12/28/2009 10:51 AM, Blogger bob wright said...

If pot is illegal, why is alcohol legal?

 
At 12/28/2009 10:53 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Today's marijuana is 25x more potent than that of the 1970's. When will these folks want to legalize opium? Only those who are raising children should be the decision-makers on this idea. Basically, it's saying to all kids "have a joint" or whatever else is legalized.

 
At 12/28/2009 11:03 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

tom-

that's a really silly argument. the reason kids can get drugs so easily is BECAUSE they are illegal. the black market will sell to kids. liquor stores won't. this is why decriminalization is not enough. it leaves the distribution mechanism intact. if drugs worked like beer, it would be much more difficult for a kid to buy them.

bruce-

countries like portugal and holland that have decriminalized drugs have seen no uptick in use or addiction problems. the drug market is already saturated. there is no evidence that decriminalization or legalization increases use.

i doubt the same could be said of murder...

 
At 12/28/2009 11:24 AM, Blogger Colin said...

For all those who favor continued prohibition: are you also in favor of alcohol prohibition? Why or why not? If so, also explain why marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

Plainly in the war on drugs the cure is worse than the alleged problem. Remember, every police officer assigned to fight drugs is one less officer available to combat other types of crime. And every jail cell housing an inmate convicted of a drug crime is one less cell for another criminal.

Furthermore, from a moral/political standpoint, the war on drugs is nothing more than the nanny state run amok. It is impossible to reconcile a belief in individual liberty and freedom with the drug war, which is nothing more than the regulation of behavior which only affects oneself.

 
At 12/28/2009 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Growing numbers of Mexican and U.S. officials say—at least privately—that the biggest step in hurting the business operations of Mexican cartels would be simply to legalize their main product: marijuana.

Of course, why didn't we think of this sooner? Those Mexican drug cartels are simply too stupid to switch to coke or meth. This is a "no-brainer".

... the city has resumed a pace of eight to 10 murders a day. The violence has also spilled over into the suburban neighborhoods ... The city estimates that the violence has created 7,000 orphans and displaced 100,000 people, many of whom have fled ...

Is this Chicago or Detroit that we're talking about?

 
At 12/28/2009 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

War on drugs? When did that start?
Tell me this, do they have a drug problem in Singapore?

 
At 12/28/2009 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MONTREAL, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Daily consumption of marijuana in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain, Canadian researchers say.

Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, a psychiatric researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, says the damaging effects of marijuana on young brains are worse than originally thought.

[...]

The study, published in Neurobiology of Disease, also demonstrates that marijuana consumption causes more serious damage during adolescence than adulthood.

UPI

Yeah, I can see it all now, legitimate companies lining up to assume the liability associated with pot sales.

 
At 12/28/2009 11:56 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

anon-

singapore is small and rich. it's also a virtual police state.

harsh punishments aren't doing a damn thing in Thailand, viet nam, laos, cambodia, and china...

 
At 12/28/2009 12:01 PM, Blogger Antinomian said...

The name of the plague on society is prohibition, not drugs. Cartels would have no customers if the customers had liberty to garden and share nature's bounty. Lack of liberty causes the plague. Liberty cures it. Aspirin is a drug. Where is the aspirin violence? Only prohibition causes violence. Don't reform prohibition, just repeal it. There is no baby in this bloodbath-water. The way forward is to repeal the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

 
At 12/28/2009 12:06 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Bush proposed, and the US Congress approved, a $1.4 billion give-away to Mexico to "fight the war on drugs."
Except the people we give money to may be drug-runners, as in Afghanistan.
Is this stupid or what?

 
At 12/28/2009 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An honest debate on marijuana policy also carefully considers the costs of our current approach. Arrest rates for marijuana are relatively high, reaching about 800,000 last year. Though these numbers are technically recorded under the category of "possession," the story that is seldom told is that hardly any of these possession arrests result in jail time (that is why former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani made headlines when he aggressively arrested public marijuana users and detained them for 12 to 24 hours in the 1990s).

One of the most astute minds in the field of drug policy, Carnegie Mellon's Jonathan Caulkins, formerly the co-director of Rand's drug policy research center, found that more than 85% of people in prison for all drug-law violations were clearly involved in drug distribution, and that the records of most of the remaining prisoners had at least some suggestion of distribution involvement (many prisoners plea down from more serious charges to possession in exchange for information about the drug trade). Only about half a percent of the total prison population was there for marijuana possession, he found. He noted that this figure was consistent with other mainstream estimates but not with estimates from the Marijuana Policy Project (a legalization interest group), which, according to Caulkins, "naively ... assumes that all inmates convicted of possession were not involved in trafficking." Caulkins concluded that "an implication of the new figure is that marijuana decriminalization would have almost no impact on prison populations." This is not meant to imply that marijuana arrests do not have costs, but rather, that these concerns have been highly exaggerated.

LA Times

 
At 12/28/2009 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regular marijuana use robs men of sexual highs

Active ingredients in marijuana found to spread and prolong pain.

Cannabis alters human DNA.

Study finds half of men arrested test positive for drugs.

Long term cannabis users may have structural brain abnormalities.

Teenage cannabis smokers face bigger risk of full-blown mental illness later in life.

 
At 12/28/2009 12:41 PM, Blogger Colin said...

Bruce:

Your analogy is absurd. Murder is the violation of another person's rights. Drugs are not. If I do drugs in the privacy of my own home it impacts you not at all.

Yes, you can make an argument that drug use produces bad citizens, which in turn affects you. But so does alcohol abuse and watching too much television -- should those also be prohibited?

The drug war is a litmus test for those who believe in individual liberty. Those who profess a commitment to freedom while advocating a war on drugs are pretenders in the cause of liberty.

 
At 12/28/2009 12:44 PM, Blogger Colin said...

Anonymous:

Let's assume that all of your links are absolutely 100% accurate. So what? If you think the affects of weed are bad, you should look at what alcohol does. Should that be banned? Was alcohol prohibition a success?

But far more important, if you want to wreck your own body with drugs, that is your right. It belongs to you and no one else. Your body is not the property of the government.

 
At 12/28/2009 12:47 PM, Blogger Brad Evans said...

Does the $1 trillion figure include costs of prosecuting, incarcerating, etc.?

 
At 12/28/2009 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... if you want to wreck your own body with drugs, that is your right. It belongs to you and no one else.

What a load of crap. I guess that's why we have laws that make it a crime for hospitals to deny care, the cost of which gets passed on to me as a increase in my health insurance premiums. Get back to me when we're stepping over sick people in the streets.

 
At 12/28/2009 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right, alcohol is legal. So, put down the doobie and have a drink. Stop pushing drugs to our kids and clogging up the legal system.

I'll bet that the moment pot is legalized, stoners will shun it as "not hip enough". The whole cachet with pot is that it's use is emblematic of rebellion against authority. Time to grow up.

 
At 12/28/2009 1:14 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Let me get this straight: The USA government opposes recreational and hard drugs, but supports the opium-infused and corrupt regime in Afghanistan?
Under Bush-Obama, Afghanistan has become the Opium Wal-Mart to the World. Our soldiers are dying there to prop up the narco-state. And we are spending $1 million per year per soldier in marginal costs to stay there.
Yeah, we are againt drugs--unless we are for them.

 
At 12/28/2009 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the $1 trillion figure include costs of prosecuting, incarcerating, etc.?

More importantly, how do they calaculate the costs associated with doing nothing?

 
At 12/28/2009 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I offer all of "Benny the man's" comments as evidence of the mind altering and destroying effects of regular drug use.

 
At 12/28/2009 1:19 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

50% of males arrested for a crime test positive for drugs?

i bet you could hit that with a random sample of people 18-50 and exceed it easily if you just sampled college students...

bet you it would be 90% with stockbrokers.

 
At 12/28/2009 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The drug war is a litmus test for those who believe in individual liberty. Those who profess a commitment to freedom while advocating a war on drugs are pretenders in the cause of liberty.

Didn't you steal this quote from Thomas Jefferson? Or, was it John Adams?

No, no, Adams said, "Give me a doobie, or give me death".

Yeah, you can't have liberty without a little bud, dude.

 
At 12/28/2009 2:07 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

anon-

you are missing his point on liberty.

if the government has the right to tell you what to consume, that takes away your liberty.

if they can tell you not to smoke pot, then they can tell you not to smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol, or not to eat cantaloupe, or big macs or whatever.

fast food does far more harm to the health of americans than drugs. shall we ban that too?

once you give them the right to determine what you can and cannot consume, they have taken away you liberty and if you believe that to be a good thing, then you have failed the litmus test and admitted that THEY ought to adjudicate what's best for YOU.

that's an awfully slippery slope.

 
At 12/28/2009 2:10 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Stopping murders is a good reason to stop marijuana use (you know who you are).

Of course, legalizing marijuana won't stop marijuana use, like legalizing terror won't stop terrorism.

 
At 12/28/2009 2:27 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Anon-

Aside from a very occasional glass of port, I do not take drugs.

But, what other people chose to do is their business, and not mine nor the government's.

We are in fact propping up a narco-state in Afghanistan, the Opium Wal-Mart to the world. I could do coke for days on end--matching Bush jr. snort for snort-- and that would still be the truth.

 
At 12/28/2009 2:32 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

I still haven't heard whether those who favor keeping marijuana illegal also favor making alcohol illegal.

Should we return to prohibition?

Don't your arguments for keeping marijuana illegal also apply to alcohol?

How is it that alcohol is OK but marijuana is not?

 
At 12/28/2009 2:42 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Bob, you need to deal with the world the way it is, not the way you believe it should be.

Marijuana is illegal. Alcohol is legal.

 
At 12/28/2009 2:58 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Morganovich-

Not only what you say is true, but more: If enough activities are illegal, then the government can go after you for "smoking pot" when what they are really prosecuting you for is being a dissenter. Left wing or right wing.
You had a drink? Go to jail. Unless you gave money to the right party or admiistration, or even local police chief. Or just the cop making the bust. All odious.
Sheesh, our tax laws are so complicated, that at any time any of us could get prosecuted for some sort of tax evasion etc.
KISS--the less that is illegal, the better.

 
At 12/28/2009 3:04 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Alcohol and gambling are legal. More than 10 times more Americans use alcohol than marijuana, and more than 10 times more Americans gamble than use marijuana.

 
At 12/28/2009 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still haven't heard whether those who favor keeping marijuana illegal also favor making alcohol illegal.

The fact that society has debated the costs associated with alcohol consumption and come down on the side of legalization has nothing to do with marijuana. Human beings can, and do, discover and invent numerous ways to alter consciousness, each with some associated cost to society. That is the nature of mind altering substances, they do not only effect the user, but his friends, family and the greater society as well. That is why the legality of such substances should be determined through the democratic process.

Should we return to prohibition?

Prohibition, like it's reversal, was the result of societal consensus reached through the democratic process. First, you have to convince the American people that pot should be legal.

Don't your arguments for keeping marijuana illegal also apply to alcohol?

Yes, and my arguments supporting the right to bear arms also apply to cruise missiles and Apache gunships, though I don't think everyone should have the right to own them.

The arguments wouldn't change if we were talking about crack cocaine, should that be legal too? If not, why not? And if so, should that be the result of democratic consensus, or not?

How is it that alcohol is OK but marijuana is not?

See response to prohibition.

 
At 12/28/2009 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are in fact propping up a narco-state in Afghanistan ...

Yes, and I've heard that Afghanistan is also a hot for burkas and bad dentistry. Is there no end to George Bush's crimes?

 
At 12/28/2009 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, if we simply put Colin's and Benny's comments together we find that Afghanistan has passed the crucial "litmus test for those who believe in individual liberty". It turns out that we've been "propping up" a bastion of freedom. Who knew?

 
At 12/28/2009 3:41 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

anon-

your rationale for keeping drugs illegal is totally flawed. freedom to do and consume as you wish so long as it does not harm others ought to be a fundamental right. it ought not be subject to democratic approval and or tyranny of the majority.

you'd never accept such restrictions on your speech or what you read or what you eat.

 
At 12/28/2009 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

freedom to do and consume as you wish so long as it does not harm others ought to be a fundamental right.

The key here is, "so long as it does not harm others". In fact, all mind altering substances impose costs on others. Employers, motorists, spouses, children and the greater society are all effected even by casual usage. I really do not care what you do so long as you do not impose yourself on me in any way, directly or indirectly.

Your concept of freedom is what is flawed. Freedom is not anarchy. Free men form societies, create governments and establish laws in order to secure the greatest exercise of individual liberty. You are free to "do and consume" anything that is legal. And, if what you choose to "do or consume" is illegal, you are free to lobby for a change in the law.

 
At 12/28/2009 4:41 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

anon-

those same arguments apply to lots of legal things.

you'd be healthier if you didn't drink vodka, shall we ban that? much domestic violence is the result of alcohol, shall we ban that? there is a huge social cost from obesity. shall we ban high calorie food?

there are already laws to handle harm done to others.

if you "really do not care what you do so long as you do not impose yourself on me in any way, directly or indirectly" why do you care if i smoke pot and watch scooby doo reruns?

you are taking potential harm as certain and ignoring it with other substances.

there is no evidence that making drugs illegal reduces harm. there is substantial evidence that decriminalizing it reduces harm (as seen in usage and drug treatment rates).

legitimate laws can be broken into 2 simple categories:

1. do what you have promised.
2. do not harm others or their property.

anything beyond that ought to have a damn good reason. there is no such reason for drugs, there just isn't.

your anarchy straw man is not a valid argument. i am not proposing total freedom. drug use will not go up under legalization. would it change your behavior? criminalization imposes high economic and social costs. it's the problem, not the drugs.

do you really think you are getting your money's worth from the war against drugs?

all your argument comes down to is "i do not trust other people to govern themselves and i want them limited".

you assume any drug user must be somehow harmful. they aren't. limiting destructive behavior towards others is fine, but limiting what i can and can't do personally because of what i MIGHT do is an untenable position. by that logic we should ban cars because people will drive carelessly and harm others.

 
At 12/28/2009 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... why do you care if i smoke pot and watch scooby doo reruns?

It's just scary how close I was on this one. If you tell me you're wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, I'm calling the Psychic Friends Network for a job.

... there is no evidence that making drugs illegal reduces harm ...

I guessing that you missed the crack-cocaine epidemic. Google it.

... all your argument comes down to is "i do not trust other people to govern themselves and i want them limited".

This is just nonsense. It's interesting that the people most enthusiastic about legalizing pot are also the most socialist in their world view. Yeah, yeah, I know that Libertarians favor legalization, but they are the minority, most are dyed-in-the-wool leftists.

Again, you are free to work to change the law. I know that that can seem like a daunting task to a regular pot smoker, but that is the way our system works.

 
At 12/28/2009 6:03 PM, Blogger QT said...

morganovich

"you are taking potential harm as certain and ignoring it with other substances."

well said.

Anon,

Funny that many of similar adverse health claims can be made about of tobacco?

Smoking linked to brain damage

Smoking and fertility

Smoking linked to DNA damage

After years of tolerating, and even encouraging, smoking among people with mental illness, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize the hazards of smoking. Two things have been especially powerful: the spread of facts about the dangers of secondhand smoke and a recent analysis showing that people with chronic mental illness die 25 years earlier than the rest of the population, with many of those lost years attributable to smoking.

Prevalence of Smoking among sufferers of mental illness.

 
At 12/28/2009 6:16 PM, Blogger Colin said...

Wow, if we simply put Colin's and Benny's comments together we find that Afghanistan has passed the crucial "litmus test for those who believe in individual liberty". It turns out that we've been "propping up" a bastion of freedom. Who knew?

Except...the US has gone after drug producers in Afghanistan, which has both made the US less liked and pushed up drug prices, to the benefit of the Taliban which grows it.

 
At 12/28/2009 6:21 PM, Blogger Colin said...

Question to all of those who favor continued prohibition: What do you make of the fact that drug use in Portugal went down after legalization? Does that impact your thoughts on the matter at all?

What would it take for you to admit the drug war is a failure? What would it take for you to change your mind?

The fact is, we have fought the drug war and lost. Those countries which have engaged in legalization have had favorable outcomes while our policies have produced disaster. It produces more crime, takes up more police resources, and has reduced our freedom.

Furthermore, before the US launched the drug war, were we worse off? Back in 1900 were we all a bunch of cocaine addicts? You realize, of course, that crack cocaine is a direct product of the drug war. Look up its history.

Once upon a time I used to support drug prohibition too. Then I realized my thinking behind it was more emotion-based than reason-based and I changed positions. Think with your head on this one, not your heart.

 
At 12/28/2009 6:25 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

QT, second hand smoke is a good reason why marijuana should remain illegal (innocent bystanders don't get high on tobacco second hand smoke). Of course, elitists, and their families, can avoid marijuana second hand smoke living in their ivory towers.

 
At 12/28/2009 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 408p. I don't think anyone is advocating making it legal to drive while under the influence (it is already illegal in most places). Likewise employers would be able to deal with the usage of weed just like booze. Even before prohibition if you worked on a railroad and showed up drunk you were out on your ear. Second hand smoke can be taken care of by the same rules that apply to tobacco. Basically the rules will become you can use it at home, just like the rules for tobacco are becoming and for booze to a lesser extent. The second hand issue argues to treat weed like tobacco in terms of where you can use it, combined with the prohibition of use in safety sensitive positions, including driving a car. One can get into a superfreakomonics arguement about walking around stoned, but really the only one likley to get hurt if you do is you.

 
At 12/28/2009 7:01 PM, Blogger QT said...

Colin,

I did a 180 on this too when I looked at this from the standpoint of the economics of supply & demand...and from that standpoint, intradiction of marijuana makes absolutely no sense.

Hard core drugs like crack, crystal meth. are way more dangerous to the brain and should be illegal. Marijuana would provide a far less dangerous alternative to hard core drugs...one that could be taxed, quality controlled, and sales restricted to adults.

 
At 12/28/2009 7:09 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Peak Trader-
Second-hand smoke?
So, are we gonna outlaw cigarettes now?
Boy, if ever there was a curse on our society, cigarettes are it. Filthy, disgusting, and addictive as hell. Carcinogenic to boot.
Many people start drinking and smoking in college. They stop drinking after college.
Free will? Ever try to stop a friend or family member from smoking cigarettes? They won't be your friend for long. Family members you keep, as there is no changing that, except for early death from smoking.
I would almost give up being a libertarian if we could outlaw cigarettes.
My government will not let me buy nicorette gum w/o a prescription--but fire up, baby, fire up!

 
At 12/28/2009 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you make of the fact that drug use in Portugal went down after legalization? Does that impact your thoughts on the matter at all?

What do you make of the fact that Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have all experimented with being more accepting of drugs, only to change course once the consequences became clear?

Does that impact your thoughts on the matter at all?

 
At 12/28/2009 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Furthermore, before the US launched the drug war, were we worse off? Back in 1900 were we all a bunch of cocaine addicts?

Ummm, yes:

The origins of federal drug laws were a response to disastrous drug and violence epidemics when virtually every family had access to opiate- and cocaine-based remedies around the end of the 19th century. Drugs were available without penalty. Addiction was rampant, with an estimated 250,000 opiate addicts in the U.S. population of 76 million.

WSJ

 
At 12/28/2009 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny that many of similar adverse health claims can be made about of tobacco?

Yes, but at least tobacco users will be asked to shoulder the burden of their habit, unlike drug users:

Under the Senate Finance Committee version of the health-care bill, health insurance companies would be allowed to charge tobacco users premiums up to 50 percent higher than those of non-users, while marijuana and crack cocaine smokers could not be penalized with higher premiums.

CNS News

 
At 12/28/2009 8:03 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Anon:
If those figures you cite are correct, then 1 in 300 people was a coke- or dope-addict, back when cocaine and heroin was not nly legal but widely promoted.
1 in 300?
That is what we are worried about?
Can we outlaw cigarettes first, and worry about a few dopers later?

 
At 12/28/2009 8:05 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

To clarify:

"The origins of federal drug laws were a response to disastrous drug and violence epidemics when virtually every family had access to opiate- and cocaine-based remedies around the end of the 19th century. Drugs were available without penalty. Addiction was rampant, with an estimated 250,000 opiate addicts in the U.S. population of 76 million."

That works out to 1 in 300, roughly.

Big deal.

 
At 12/28/2009 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That works out to 1 in 300, roughly ... Big deal.

China was brought to it's knees with a far lesser ratio of opium addicts than 1 in 300.

 
At 12/28/2009 8:37 PM, Blogger Colin said...

What do you make of the fact that Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have all experimented with being more accepting of drugs, only to change course once the consequences became clear?

Does that impact your thoughts on the matter at all?


With regard to the Netherlands, I am aware that they have less drug abuse than many of their neighbors:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_the_Netherlands#Results_of_the_drug_policy

As for Sweden and its zero tolerance policy, I would note the following:

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), in 2005 the rate of drug-related deaths per capita in Sweden was more than twice that of the Netherlands.

I would also note that Sweden has never legalized drugs, rather experimenting with a program where doctors could prescribe certain types of drugs from 1965-67.

With regard to the UK, I am aware that the country's drug policy chief was fired this year for stating that marijuana, ecstasy and LSD are less dangerous than alcohol.

So yes, those countries do impact my thinking -- they reinforce my belief in the futility and waste of the drug war.

 
At 12/28/2009 8:42 PM, Blogger Colin said...

China was brought to it's knees with a far lesser ratio of opium addicts than 1 in 300.

According to wikipedia it was much higher than that -- 27 percent of the male population:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium#Prohibition_and_conflict_in_China

 
At 12/28/2009 8:45 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Gambling became legal in the U.S. in 1931.

From article:

What is unique about the current gambling situation is the speed at which it has gone from an undercurrent in American society to high-profile, socially recognized activity.

Gambling statistics

Two-thirds of the adult population placed some kind of bet last year.

"Players" with household incomes under $10,000 bet nearly three times as much on lotteries as those with incomes over $50,000.

After casinos opened in Atlantic City, the total number of crimes within a thirty-mile radius increased 100 percent.

The average debt incurred by a male pathological gambler in the U.S. is between $55,000 and $90,000 (it is $15,000 for female gamblers).

The suicide rate for pathological gamblers is twenty times higher than for non-gamblers (one in five attempts suicide).

Sixty-five percent of pathological gamblers commit crimes to support their gambling habit.

 
At 12/28/2009 8:48 PM, Blogger Colin said...

Addiction was rampant, with an estimated 250,000 opiate addicts in the U.S. population of 76 million.

That works out to an addiction rate of 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, according to wikipedia:

The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) reported in 1999 that cocaine was used by 3.7 million Americans, or 1.7% of the household population age 12 and older. Estimates of the current number of those who use cocaine regularly (at least once per month) vary, but 1.5 million is a widely accepted figure within the research community.

That 1.5 million figure works out to 0.5 percent.

Another prohibition failure.

 
At 12/28/2009 8:49 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

1 in 300? Less than 1 in 300 becomes a junkie if dope is promoted?

This is why we are fighting an eternal drug war?

Jeez, Louise, I wonder how much crime would drop if we gave crack away free?

Maybe we can arrange for Afghanistan to send us their opium to supply a government give-away. If that 1 in 300 will just dope-up and leave the rest of us alone, we would be better off, I am sure.

 
At 12/28/2009 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to wikipedia it was much higher than that -- 27 percent of the male population

Dose that include male infants and children? Get a grip.

 
At 12/28/2009 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that 1 in 300 will just dope-up and leave the rest of us alone, we would be better off, I am sure.

It's a real tag-team of stupid. That 76 million would include infants, children, elderly, etc. Put down the bong.

 
At 12/28/2009 9:33 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

QT, getting people addicted to a vice and then taxing them is not good economics, unless you're doing the taxing. A future generation may elevate legal marijuana, like gambling was elevated after legalization. I think, we have enough legal vices. I stated before, if you want to win the war on drugs, follow the Japanese model.

 
At 12/28/2009 9:56 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

You'll never be able to get rid of perpetrators, but you can rehabilitate victims.

 
At 12/28/2009 9:57 PM, Blogger QT said...

Benny,

I can think of an upside to being completely somnabulent throughout the Obama administration...particularly the trial of KSM who has been accorded the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen.

 
At 12/28/2009 10:10 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

anon-

i don't use drugs nor watch scooby doo. it was an example. however, i support other people's right to do so.

your ignorant ad hominem isn't going to work. do you ever actually address arguments as opposed to spouting non sequitor, setting up straw men, and attempting to impugn character and motive?

stoned people don't pick fights or beat their wife, drunk people do. ecstasy use causes dancing and backrubs, hardly great social evils. neither drug is physically addictive (unlike alcohol or cigarettes). neither does as much damage.

even at its peak, the "crack epidemic" did far less harm per year than alcohol. most of the harm it did was due to ti being illegal and fostering violent gangs around distribution.

but this is all peripheral - what right do you or a government have to tell private citizens what they can and can't consume in their own homes?

you assume all drug use causes harm. it doesn't. further, all the harm caused is dwarfed by the harm caused by making them illegal. remember how well prohibition worked? it's a losing fight for a morally bankrupt totalitarian cause.

punishing everyone because a few people misbehave it like banning stereos because a few people play them too loud.

that's where totalitarianism starts. if you can't see that, don't be surprised when you lose your freedom.

 
At 12/28/2009 10:43 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

a simpler way to put it is this:

freedom includes the freedom to make bad choices.

trying to legislate away bad outcomes results in tyranny. you punish the many to avoid the bad choices of a few. this is antithetical to freedom.

if 51% of americans voted to ban work on the sabbath, you'd be OK with that?

i hope not. it's tyranny of the majority. it's a nanny state.

our founders enshrined individual rights into government to prevent just such outcomes.

you don't ban credit cards because some people spend too much, nor gambling because some people lose too much, nor alcohol because some people are alcoholic. that is not freedom.

freedom will always mean mistakes are made. that's life. if you don't have enough sense to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, that's up to you. most people do. people learn.

your argument ultimately boils down to "people can't handle freedom so i will take their choices away". you sound like Dostoevsky's "grand inquisitor".

having the freedom to make your own choices involves allowing others to make choices you wouldn't or might disapprove of. if you take that away from them, don't be surprised when they do it to you somewhere else.

 
At 12/28/2009 11:44 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

QT-
Okay, you got in your Obama bash.

 
At 12/29/2009 1:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got news for folks - marijuana is basically legalized in LA. There are over 1000 dispensaries in the city. Anyone can get a doctor's note for $50 to get marijuana. Murder is down 40%, and we can still turn out movies that make hundreds of millions of dollars globally :)

 
At 12/29/2009 4:20 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

There's propaganda on both sides. However, there will always be a market for marijuana. Some people want to sell it legally, and are more than willing to pay taxes on it, while some people will buy it, for whatever reason.

 
At 12/29/2009 7:56 AM, Anonymous union thug said...

Party on.

 

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