Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cops, Prosecutors and Judges Say: "Legalize It"

WASHINGTON, DC -- "In conjunction with this week's 40th anniversary of President Nixon declaring "war on drugs," a very expensive war on peaceful Americans who get high using intoxicants the government disapproves of (thanks to Don Boudreaux for this editing) a group of police, judges and jailers who support legalization released a report today showing how the Obama administration is ramping up a war it disingenuously claims that it ended two years ago.

Following the report's release at a press conference this morning, the pro-legalization law enforcers attempted to hand-deliver a copy to Obama administration drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, who is a former Seattle chief of police.  Instead of making time to listen to the concerns of fellow law enforcers who have dedicated their careers to protecting public safety, he simply sent a staffer to the lobby to receive a copy of the cops' report.

The full text of the pro-legalization cops' report is available online here

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" war on peaceful people who get high using intoxicants the government disapproves of, and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence."

24 Comments:

At 6/15/2011 10:05 PM, Blogger DL said...

There are derivative issues to consider, in particular drug testing. Drug testing for persons responsible for public safety such as train operators and crane operators. More controversial still, drug testing for welfare recipients.

And in a related vein, the rights of employers to fire employees who test positive (for drug use).

From a purely economic standpoint, legalization of drugs would seem to be a great idea, but from a legal standpoint, I’m not sure how legalization would affect the ability of employers, and the government to impose drug testing requirements, and to take action (of some sort) against those who are shown to be harboring detectable levels of illicit drugs in their system.

 
At 6/16/2011 1:00 AM, Blogger Robotech said...

Simple. From a legal standpoint, you treat it exactly as you would alcohol use on the job. From an economic standpoint, the government would benefit from sales and other tax revenues, and the drop in enforcement costs. I suspect that there would be an increased market for more testing kits to ensure that workers are not currently under the influence.

Frankly, you'd have thought that the lessons taught from the fiasco of the 18th Amendment and Prohibition would have shown the impracticality of major drug bans. But lessons "taught" are not the same as lessons "learned", especially when it comes to governments and politicians. And so, history repeats.

 
At 6/16/2011 1:49 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"There are derivative issues to consider, in particular drug testing. Drug testing for persons responsible for public safety such as train operators and crane operators. More controversial still, drug testing for welfare recipients."

Why do you feel there should be testing for legal substances? would you want to test welfare recipients for legal substances?

 
At 6/16/2011 2:16 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Why do you feel there should be testing for legal substances? would you want to test welfare recipients for legal substances?"...

Hmmm, one of the major supporters of drug testing employees in certain fields of employment is the insurance industry...

Trains, planes, tractor trailer rig, earth moving equipment all carry potential massive liabilties if the employee in control is out of control...

 
At 6/16/2011 2:32 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Trains, planes, tractor trailer rig, earth moving equipment all carry potential massive liabilties if the employee in control is out of control..."

I agree. I was more interested in why DL thought welfare recipients should be tested for drug use, especially if such use was legal.

As Robotech points out, impairment on the job for ANY reason should be dealt with.

 
At 6/16/2011 4:53 AM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

I understand and agree with the point, but this is an example of the authoritarian fallacy. The facts stand on their own regardless of who acknowledges or denies them.

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges are pro and con on many issues. They form advocacy groups, lobby for legislation, issue press releases, etc. This is just one.

Would a statistically valid sampling showing that these people overwhelmingly do not want legalization change our minds?

 
At 6/16/2011 6:00 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

What is the reason for drugs to be banned in the first place?

there is a distinction between being able to buy them - and where you might use them.

If drugs would be more easily bought - and used - and even if employers could require testing what about those who would, in their own time take a vehicle onto surface streets and the interstate highways?

I realize that there are probably already a large number of weed-smoking folks on the interstates already - AS WELL AS - those who take LEGAL drugs but should not be operating a vehicle while using them - but do anyhow.

but it does go back to what the reason to ban drugs is in the first place and what govt's role should be (or not be).

 
At 6/16/2011 8:25 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Trains, planes, tractor trailer rig, earth moving equipment all carry potential massive liabilties if the employee in control is out of control..."

oh, you mean like if they drink alcohol or take prescription drugs?

 
At 6/16/2011 9:01 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" oh, you mean like if they drink alcohol or take prescription drugs? "

well... more to the point... what should be the role of govt in this?

 
At 6/16/2011 9:56 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"The philosophic argument is that, in a free society, adults should be permitted to do whatever they please, always provided that they are prepared to take the consequences of their own choices and that they cause no direct harm to others. The locus classicus for this point of view is John Stuart Mill’s famous essay On Liberty: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of the community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others,” Mill wrote. “His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” This radical individualism allows society no part whatever in shaping, determining, or enforcing a moral code: in short, we have nothing in common but our contractual agreement not to interfere with one another as we go about seeking our private pleasures ... Mill came to see the limitations of his own principle as a guide for policy and to deny that all pleasures were of equal significance for human existence. It was better, he said, to be Socrates discontented than a fool satisfied."

"The idea that freedom is merely the ability to act upon one’s whims is surely very thin and hardly begins to capture the complexities of human existence; a man whose appetite is his law strikes us not as liberated but enslaved. And when such a narrowly conceived freedom is made the touchstone of public policy, a dissolution of society is bound to follow. No culture that makes publicly sanctioned self-indulgence its highest good can long survive: a radical egotism is bound to ensue, in which any limitations upon personal behavior are experienced as infringements of basic rights. Distinctions between the important and the trivial, between the freedom to criticize received ideas and the freedom to take LSD, are precisely the standards that keep societies from barbarism."

Don't Legalize Drugs, City Journal

 
At 6/16/2011 10:39 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

The vast majority of law enforcement officers OPPOSE drug legalization. Why? Because they know one simple fact: The vast majority of drug related crimes are committed by people ON DRUGS, not by those seeking money to buy drugs.

"Crime, violence and drug use go hand in hand. Six times as many homicides are committed by people under the influence of drugs, as by those who are looking for money to buy drugs. Most drug crimes aren’t committed by people trying to pay for drugs; they’re committed by people on drugs."

U.S. Justice Dept., DEA

They also know that legalization would decrease price and increase availability of narcotics resulting in increased usage and increased crime.

"Alaska’s experiment with Legalization in the 1970s led to the state’s teens using marijuana at more than twice the rate of other youths nationally. This led Alaska’s residents to vote to re-criminalize marijuana in 1990 ... since legalization of marijuana in Holland, heroin addiction levels have tripled."

U.S. Justice Dept., DEA

- California decriminalized marijuana in 1976, and, within the first six months, arrests for driving under the influence of drugs rose 46 percent for adults and 71.4 percent for juveniles.

- The Justice Department reports that most inmates (77.4 percent male and 83.6 percent female) have a drug history and the majority were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their current offense.

- The National Youth Survey found that 25 percent of youths who admitted to cocaine or heroin use also committed 40 percent of all the index crimes reported. The survey also found that youths who tested positive for cannabis have more than twice as many non-drug-related felony referrals to juvenile court as compared with those found to have tested negative.

- Princeton University professor John Dilulio found that only 2 percent of those in federal prisons were convicted of pure drug possession. They generally committed other and violent crimes to earn a sentence. However, 70 percent of current inmates were on illegal drugs when arrested and, if drugs become cheaper, violent crime could reasonably be expected to increase.

Many drug users commit murder, child and spouse abuse, rape, property damage, assault and other violent crimes under the influence of drugs. Drug laws have turned drug users to a drug-free lifestyle through mandatory treatment. 40% - 50% are in treatment as a result of the criminal justice system. It is the threat of incarceration that provides the impetus for drug users to enter and complete these treatment programs.

 
At 6/16/2011 11:18 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

che-

that seems like a bunch of misleading anecdotal alarmism.

2% may be users, but 1/3-1/2 are in for dealing etc. all that would go away if you legalize drugs.

you keep reasserting that 2% straw man, but it's not the relevant figure. in 2009 50.7% of all federally sentenced prisoners were for drug related offenses. that's 95,000 people that year alone.

and the "people on drugs kill, rob, and beat their wives" stuff is nonsense. compare marijuana or extacy to alcohol in terms of violent crimes. there is nothing like the incidence.

"if drugs become cheaper, violent crime could reasonably be expected to increase."

if this were true, then rates of alcoholic violence should have increased after prohibition was repealed. i am unaware of any such facts.

compare the current violence inherent in drug distribution with and remotely plausible increase from use, and you're still WAY ahead.

"The National Youth Survey found that 25 percent of youths who admitted to cocaine or heroin use also committed 40 percent of all the index crimes reported."

correlation is not causation. and how much of this is driven by drug distribution? people who sell drugs are around them all the time, they tend to use them, etc.

legalizing alcohol reduced crime dramatically. you have yet to produce a single reason why leagizing drugs would be different.

 
At 6/16/2011 11:19 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

I'd argue for consistency here: either all intoxicants should be illegal (including alcohol) or legal. To allow the government to make arbitrary decisions about what drugs are legal (alcohol) and illegal (weed) is inconsistent and unacceptable. Of course, I'd argue for the consistency of legalization over the consistency of 100% prohibition including beer.

 
At 6/16/2011 11:45 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

well I'd argue that ONE WAY to approach the issue is to use facts with regard to crimes committed while on certain kinds of drugs.

some drug can induce psychosis and all manner of bad behaviors.

others can be relatively benign...

is it the govt's role to make these judgments?

 
At 6/16/2011 1:50 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

larry-

"some drug can induce psychosis and all manner of bad behaviors."

alcohol for example?

you will not find another drug that does even a fraction of the damage the alcohol does. few are more addictive and create more violence and poor judgment. (perhaps PCP is worse, but i doubt folks would use it just because it was legal. heroin addiction is supposed to be terrible, but if you quit cold turkey, it just hurts, quitting liquor cold turkey can kill an alcoholic.). our society manages to absorb these problems for booze, why assume it could not from anything else.

the other flaw in your reasoning is that the rugs are ALREADY being used anyway and by much younger people that they would be if they were legal. it's hard top buy beer at 14, but easy to buy drugs. you'd get safer drugs too. you wouldn't get a bad batch of something driving people around the bend.

people used to get all kinds of bad craziness from wood alcohol being mixed into their hooch.

 
At 6/16/2011 2:00 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

LSD and related drugs including PCP come to mind.

I'm not arguing in favor of or opposed as much as pointing out that not all drugs are equal in the damage than can result.

Quite a few people can smoke weed without wigging out .. and perhaps all those folks who did wig out on LSD, PCP, etc.. are just making excuses, eh?

 
At 6/16/2011 2:00 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"well... more to the point... what should be the role of govt in this?"

to stay out of the way and allow you such recreational drug choices as you like so long as you do not harm and endanger others.

if you want to smoke meth on your home and listen to metallica, go for it. just like booze, enjoy it safely, and it's your business, get drunk and go out on your suburban lawn to play 12 gauge skeet with beer cans, well, for that you get arrested.

i have no problem with them setting a legal age for use (though perhaps 18, not 21. 18 is majority. you can vote or get drafted, you should be able to have a beer)

the real question seems to me to be "what business of the government's is it what you drink/smoke/pop/snort in your house"?

 
At 6/16/2011 2:08 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Morganovich: "The real question seems to me to be "what business of the government's is it what you drink/smoke/pop/snort in your house"?

Amen. That is really the key question. And the burden of any departure from non-interference is on the prohibitionists to explain how they can justify a SWAT team breaking into a private house, arrest a peaceful citizen for smoking or growing weeds from his garden, and put that person behind bars for getting high on weeds planted in a garden.

 
At 6/16/2011 4:10 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"I'd argue for consistency here: either all intoxicants should be illegal (including alcohol) or legal. To allow the government to make arbitrary decisions about what drugs are legal is inconsistent and unacceptable. Of course, I'd argue for the consistency of legalization over the consistency of 100% prohibition including beer."

Why should all intoxicants be treated exactly the same under the law? Alcohol has about a 10 percent addiction rate versus cocaine at about 75 percent. Further, some drugs have longer lasting and more hallucinogenic effects than others. Saying that alcohol is bad and therefore we should legalize everything else that's bad isn't a rational argument.

"Amen. That is really the key question. And the burden of any departure from non-interference is on the prohibitionists to explain how they can justify a SWAT team breaking into a private house, arrest a peaceful citizen for smoking or growing weeds from his garden, and put that person behind bars for getting high on weeds planted in a garden."

If you are arguing that only weed should be legalized, and only if it is grown by the user in their own garden, and only for his or her personal use, fine. But that is not what you are arguing. You would have crack cocaine, LSD, PCP and methamphetamine treated like beer and wine. Their is absolutely no compelling reason for the government to have to treat all intoxicants alike. The government does not treat all acts of theft identically, or acts of murder for that matter. As for the idea that all individual drug use and it's consequences can be contained within one's home, that is just complete bullshit. There would very few, if any, laws with regard to drug use if that were true.

You have either failed to read the anti-legalization arguments or failed to understand them - which I find hard to believe - because you skirt around both the philosophical and pragmatic arguments presented.

 
At 6/16/2011 4:26 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

............so......if one is not in favor of all drugs being "legal" then does that mean that one does favor ...... govt regulation?

is it "inconsistent" to argue FOR ....SOME .... regulation?

 
At 6/16/2011 4:51 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Their is absolutely no compelling reason ..."

Should be "There", sorry.

 
At 6/16/2011 9:28 PM, Blogger DL said...

Ron H.,

Mainly, I'm trying to play "devil's advocate".

I do think we're better off on balance by legalizing all of the (currently illicit) narcotics.

 
At 6/16/2011 11:31 PM, Blogger DL said...

Ron H.

Another point...
The only reason why I even thought to bring up the issue of drug testing for welfare recipients is because it was in the news recently.
The governor of Florida (a couple of weeks ago) signed legislation requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening

http://bit.ly/mdfl8K

 
At 6/18/2011 9:29 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

This seems like a no-brainer to me. As David Beito showed, the major reason for FDR's high popularity in a weak economy was his signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which allowed for the legal sale of beer in the United States. If Obama wants to get reelected (and he probably will) all he has to do is end the Drug War.

 

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