Friday, December 23, 2011

Richard Branson: Time to End The War on Drugs

After visiting Portugal, Richard Branson was impressed with the country's success with its decade-old effort to decriminalize drug use, and now says that it's time to end the worldwide War on Drugs War on Peaceful People Who Voluntarily Choose To Use Intoxicants Not Currently Approved of By Various Governments, Who Will Put Users in Cages if Caught.  In his own words, here's Richard Branson:

"Visited Portugal, as one of the Global Drug Commissioners, to congratulate them on the success of their drug policies over the last 10 years.

Ten years ago the Portuguese Government responded to widespread public concern over drugs by rejecting a “war on drugs” approach and instead decriminalized drug possession and use. It further rebuffed convention by placing the responsibility for decreasing drug demand as well as managing dependency under the Ministry of Health rather than the Ministry of Justice. With this, the official response towards drug-dependent persons shifted from viewing them as criminals to treating them as patients.

Now with a decade of experience Portugal provides a valuable case study of how decriminalization coupled with evidence-based strategies can reduce drug consumption, dependence, recidivism and HIV infection and create safer communities for all.
Compared to the European Union and the US, Portugal drug use numbers are impressive.

Following decriminalization, Portugal has the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the EU: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%, Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

Portugal’s 10 year experiment shows clearly that enough is enough. It is time to end the war on drugs worldwide. We must stop criminalizing drug users. Health and treatment should be offered to drug users – not prison. Bad drugs policies affect literally hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities across the world. We need to provide medical help to those that have problematic use – not criminal retribution."

25 Comments:

At 12/24/2011 8:49 AM, Blogger The King said...

Good post. But, would the Portuguese experience scale in the U.S.?

 
At 12/24/2011 1:17 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Richard Branson was impressed ..."

Well, then that's the end of it. If Richard Branson says so, we will just have to abandon our reasoned arguments and submit. Not likely.

"... the official response towards drug-dependent persons shifted from viewing them as criminals to treating them as patients."

As I've pointed out before, with numerous supporting links, this is true in the U.S. as well. The vast majority of drug charges end in treatment and not incarceration. In fact, most judges and many treatment advocates reject legalization for that very reason. The courts, they argue, are able to require that users enroll and seek help with their addiction - help that they would not be required to get if drug use were legalized. What's more, for every tax dollar collected from alcohol and tobacco sales in the U.S., we spend nearly nine on treatment. Who's going to pay for the increased costs associated with the treatment of drug abuse under a legalization scheme?

"... would the Portuguese experience scale in the U.S.?" -- King

No. The advocates for every leftist program under the sun have used small, mostly European populations as exemplars of their schemes. Every policy from socialized medicine to gun control has received this treatment. And when it is pointed out that the subset of the U.S. population conforming to their sample group has much better outcomes here, they instantly go deaf and dumb.

There have been a greater number of European countries that have experimented with drug legalization, only to have to walk back from those policies once the societal costs become clear. Richard Branson comes from one of those countries. Funny, how he has not talked about that experiment.

 
At 12/24/2011 1:53 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

The War on Terror, the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty--all wars designed by federal agencies to be permanent, consume maximum amount of tax dollars, and funnel money to grifters and federal employees seeking early retirement.

End all wars, including these three really stupid federal wars.

 
At 12/24/2011 3:24 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

The War on Drugs---except we establish a narco-Islamic state in Afghanistan, now the world's kingpin on opium. US Marines guard opium fields of warlords loyal to Karzai, a regime regarded as the most corrupt anywhere on the globe.

The Taliban had eliminated opium in Afghanistan. They were religious nuts.

Now, $2 trillion U.S. tax dollars later, opium is Afghanie's cash crop and main industry. No doubt our intelligence agencies are in hip-deep. Pallets with billions in US cash make way in US-run airplanes.

Hey---for another 10 years and $1-2 trillion we can fight the Taliban to a standstill, and dominate global heroin markets.



Hoo-ray for the War on Drugs and The War on Terror!



So what is our drug policy---promote heroin,

 
At 12/24/2011 7:03 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

And while we are at it let's get rid of all the war metaphors and war itself! We don't need any more wars!
We need reason and compassion and kindness and patience.
No more war!

 
At 12/24/2011 7:13 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Portugal is not the U.S.:

Portugal drug law show results ten years on, experts say
Jul 1, 2011

"...(drug) users are today supported by a system that does not treat them as delinquents but as sick people."

My comment: Drug use in the U.S. is viewed more as recreation, medicine, or candy.

 
At 12/24/2011 11:53 PM, Blogger Expected Optimism said...

Following decriminalization, Portugal has the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the EU: 10%.

This sentence has literally zero meaning without the context of what that rate was before decriminalization.

As it happens, according to this report (PDF), the actual rate is 11.7%, not 10%, and that's up from 7.6% in 2001. Branson either doesn't know what he's talking about or he's intentionally misleading his audience. Take your pick.

 
At 12/25/2011 10:48 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Good post. But, would the Portuguese experience scale in the U.S.?

If you mean would use and criminal activity go down the answer is yes. All you have to do is to look at Prohibition to see the outcome.

 
At 12/25/2011 10:56 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Well, then that's the end of it. If Richard Branson says so, we will just have to abandon our reasoned arguments and submit. Not likely.

Actually, you have no reasoned arguments. They are emotional in nature.

As I've pointed out before, with numerous supporting links, this is true in the U.S. as well. The vast majority of drug charges end in treatment and not incarceration. In fact, most judges and many treatment advocates reject legalization for that very reason.

What nonsense. The problem is giving government the choice to treat different individuals differently even though they may have committed a victimless crime. When that happens you have police and judges discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual preferences, race, religious beliefs, political affiliation, etc. There is no room for any of that in a just society.

What's more, for every tax dollar collected from alcohol and tobacco sales in the U.S., we spend nearly nine on treatment.

This is a 'pants on fire' statement. And why would you expect the taxpayers to pay for alcohol or tobacco treatment? The last time I checked people who smoked and drank paid much higher premiums for life insurance and health care. That makes the 'treatment' you are talking about mostly self funded.

 
At 12/25/2011 11:03 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

No. The advocates for every leftist program under the sun have used small, mostly European populations as exemplars of their schemes.

Not at all. The perfect example is Prohibition. When alcohol was made legal it crippled criminal activity and government corruption, reduced prices for consumers, allowed producers to provide safer products, and ended the property tax riots in the United States.

 
At 12/26/2011 1:39 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> What's more, for every tax dollar collected from alcohol and tobacco sales in the U.S., we spend nearly nine on treatment. Who's going to pay for the increased costs associated with the treatment of drug abuse under a legalization scheme?


Yeah, cite the source for that one. Or did you pull it from a place that's never seen the sun?

 
At 12/26/2011 7:24 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"If you mean would use and criminal activity go down the answer is yes. All you have to do is to look at Prohibition to see the outcome"...

No vangeIV one check the history of crime rates and see that crime rates go up and down...

 
At 12/26/2011 7:30 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"The last time I checked people who smoked and drank paid much higher premiums for life insurance and health care"...

Not true vangeIV in all cases...

I don't pay more for health insurance than the guy I work next to isn't a smoker...

Alcohol and tobacco are are more expensive today than ever due to the taxes placed on them...

Just what are the states and federal government wasting all that money on?

 
At 12/26/2011 11:38 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

No vangeIV one check the history of crime rates and see that crime rates go up and down

Really? You mean that after Prohibition ended crime rates went up? Cite a valid source for that claim please.

 
At 12/26/2011 11:44 AM, Blogger bart said...

The perfect example is Prohibition. When alcohol was made legal it crippled criminal activity and government corruption, reduced prices for consumers, allowed producers to provide safer products, and ended the property tax riots in the United States.

+1

Game. Set. Match.

 
At 12/26/2011 11:45 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

I don't pay more for health insurance than the guy I work next to isn't a smoker...

Insurance companies have actuaries that help to set the premiums. Smokers pay more than non-smokers. Of course, they could lie but if that is the case they will find that they are denied coverage if their illness is smoking related.

http://www.everydaymoney.ca/2010/04/life-insurance-an-expensive-proposition-for-smokers.html

 
At 12/26/2011 11:48 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Alcohol and tobacco are are more expensive today than ever due to the taxes placed on them...

Yes they are. The government gets a lot of cash out of smokers and drinkers.

Just what are the states and federal government wasting all that money on?

Just look at the budget. Do you think that the $1 trillion paid for the Iraq war just came out of income taxes?

 
At 12/26/2011 2:41 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Just look at the budget. Do you think that the $1 trillion paid for the Iraq war just came out of income taxes?"...

A trillion dollars?!?!

You should do some homework vangeIV...

BTW yes I do expect that income taxes alone could've paid for the the Iraq portion of the war...

If money wasn't wasted on federal social & welfare spending it wouldn't have been any problem at all...

 
At 12/26/2011 2:43 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Really? You mean that after Prohibition ended crime rates went up?"...

Really vangeIV, you can't figure out how to use links?!?!

 
At 12/26/2011 3:04 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

I see that "Vange" is back with another avalanche of idiocy.

"Actually, you have no reasoned arguments. They are emotional in nature." -- Vag

It's not surprising that someone who embraces a degenerate moral equivalence between murderous tyrannies and free societies is unable to discern reason in any argument.

"This is a 'pants on fire' statement." -- Vag

"For every $1 of taxes collected from the sale of tobacco and alcohol, we incur $9 in state and federal health-care, criminal justice and social-service costs." -- WSJ

"The perfect example is Prohibition. When alcohol was made legal it crippled criminal activity and government corruption ..." -- Vag

"... some of us remember that Bobby Kennedy was leading organized-crime strike forces against extremely dangerous mafia families, decades after the end of Prohibition. Just as ending Prohibition did not destroy organized crime in the U.S., legalizing drugs will not break the terrorist criminal groups in Mexico. In fact, the real pattern of violence from the mafia families in the U.S. to the cartels in Colombia suggests it is when they are threatened and destabilized that violence skyrockets." -- WSJ

Perhaps, you could dazzle us all with another 20 consecutive posts of unsupported bullshit.

 
At 12/27/2011 2:34 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Perhaps, you could dazzle us all with another 20 consecutive posts of unsupported bullshit"...

LOL! Bingo che!

 
At 12/27/2011 9:03 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

A trillion dollars?!?!

You should do some homework vangeIV...


LOL

Even your optimistic scenario has the war costing $709 billion in 2010. But the costs have certainly escalated and the CBO report quoted in the link you cited does not include interest costs.

Of course, there are other estimates given by the CBO that include all costs. If we look at all of them we find that the "CBO estimated that of the $2.4 trillion long-term price tag for the war, about $1.9 trillion of that would be spent on Iraq."

So what we have is a supposedly 'conservative' president who runs up more than $2 trillion in costs by occupying countries while supposedly waging a war on terror against groups, many of which it helped create in the first place and is still supporting in the Balkans, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Why did all those American soldiers die if the US and NATO are supporting al Qaeda in their proxy wars and are going to let al Qaeda fly its flag in Tripoli and Damascus?

 
At 12/27/2011 9:30 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

BTW yes I do expect that income taxes alone could've paid for the the Iraq portion of the war...

If money wasn't wasted on federal social & welfare spending it wouldn't have been any problem at all...


Nonsense. If American taxpayers had to fund the war out of their income taxes the Republican Party would be relegated to the dustbin of history just as the Whigs and Federalists were. And given how the Party is pushing another moron for President as it pursues an 'anyone but Paul' strategy it would not surprise me to see it get destroyed as it gets exposed as an incompetent and useless tool for the warfare industry. While the Democrats are terrible at least they are honest about wanting to tax the rich to 'help' the poor. They do not claim to be pro-capitalism even as they do everything that they can to undermine it as the statist Republicans do. I expect to see the independents grow in size and look for an alternative to both of the corrupt parties.

The facts are clear. The war was sold as necessary because Saddam had WMDs. He didn't and Iraq is in worse shape today than it was before the invasion. The war was sold as low cost because it would be paid with Iraqi oil. But that never happened. While Iraq's oil production has began to recover the proceeds are not going to the US Treasury and the American taxpayer is still paying to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure.

The war was based on a lie. The Republican party will pay for that lie, particularly if an idiot like Perry, Bachman, Gingrich, or Santorum gets elected as president.

 
At 12/27/2011 9:46 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Really vangeIV, you can't figure out how to use links?!?!

Crime did not go up after Prohibition. The murder rate fell after Prohibition was repealed. Corruption declined as mobsters had no need to buy off cops. There were health benefits as drinkers stopped going blind and dying because toxic wood alcohol made its way into the product stream. Etc. Etc. Etc.

 
At 12/27/2011 10:10 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

It's not surprising that someone who embraces a degenerate moral equivalence between murderous tyrannies and free societies is unable to discern reason in any argument.

No. I can see when so-called free societies kill innocents it is wrong even though its leading representatives do not.

And when every aspect of your life is regulated and you can be put in jail without having the right to face your accusers in front of a judge and jury you are not free. As I have argued elsewhere, when you can be fined and put in jail for having a toilet tank that uses 'too much' water you are not living in a free society. When you can't smoke inside your own business, home, or vehicle you do not live in a free society.

Perhaps, you could dazzle us all with another 20 consecutive posts of unsupported bullshit.

It was not me who made the ridiculous statement that, "For every $1 of taxes collected from the sale of tobacco and alcohol, we incur $9 in state and federal health-care, criminal justice and social-service costs." That came from an opinion piece by known liar and big-government supporter Bill Bennett. There is no valid support for that statement and the WSJ makes it clear that it is made in its Opinion section.

I know that the idiots on the left and right like to pretend that there is no difference between opinion and fact but there is.

Here is a better reference that uses actual data to make the opposite argument. Note that the data shows that making something illegal does not mean that people will stop doing it.

The Califano and Bennett article is a joke. It does not account for the fact that when a smoker or drinker dies earlier Medicare 'saves' the huge costs that is incurred for chronic disease treatment. The authors play exactly the same game that the left does and select politically motivated groups that provide 'studies' to support their flawed claims.

Sorry but you have to do better than an opinion piece.

 

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