Why do we fight the war
As an example let
Is this man a criminal? And does he deserve to go to jail for this act?
And if so...why?
This is the question
which I would like everyone to explore. I am not going to argue over the
morality of the use of drugs. That choice must be decided by each individual
based on their own personal upbringing. But I do want to discuss why we
feel the need to legislate people's behavior and to treat drug users as
What is the proper role of the government in our personal lives?
Think long and think
hard on the following question:
Government and authority is essential and exists to protect the rights and personal liberties of the individual. For this reason, anarchy as a form of government is not practical. Authority is needed to protect the rights of the individual from others who would deny them such rights. We have laws to protect us from and punish those who violate the rights of others. Murder, rape, robbery, arson are all examples of violating the rights of another individual.
But do we need the government making such personal and private decisions about what we can and cannot do with our own bodies? Do we need the government setting a standard of moral and ethical behavior for all to follow? Do we want a government that feels the need and has the power to legislate to us such personal and private individual decisions?
Think of the hundreds
of hazardous things that we can do with our bodies.
So why not marijuana? Why can society and the government set aside a list of chemicals that we can legally take into our body while at the same time set aside a list of chemicals that we cannot legally take into our body? How can one logically argue in support of the right to smoke tobacco while at the same time propose stiffer penalties for smoking marijuana? How can one logically argue that smoking tobacco is perfectly legal, but that smoking marijuana should result in a jail sentence? Why are there so many politicians that want to curb the powers of the FDA, who at the same time want to increase the power of the DEA?
If somebody chooses to harm or abuse their own bodies, is there really any way to stop them? Do we want the government, or for that matter, another person, to decide what is harmful and what isn't? Do you want to surrender control of your own body to another person? For that is the nature of our government, to be governed over by another person. Do you want a government that protects you from others, or do you want a government that protects you from yourself? Do you want a government that will treat you like a criminal for choosing an action that hurts nobody but yourself? Do you want a government that will treat you like a criminal for choosing a behavior that "society" has deemed unacceptable or unmoral, even if nobody else is involved?
Is it right for the government to treat drug users as criminals?
Even the people who
wrote the Harrison Act and the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 agreed that a
general prohibition on what people could put into their own bodies was
plainly an unconstitutional infringement on personal liberties. There
is no fundamental reason why a constitutional amendment should be required
to prohibit one chemical and not another.
What balance needs to be made between individuals rights?
One could argue about the dangers of these to other individuals. But I argue: what dangers? There is a big difference between government mandated safety laws that protect the individual from others and that protect the individual from themselves.
So what about government mandated speed limits? Speed limits are not there only for your safety, but the safety of others. To protect other drivers from the risk caused by others driving at unsafe speeds. Drinking alcohol is legal because it poses no threat to anybody except the user. But driving while drunk poses a danger to others. And any violence initiated while drunk also poses a danger to others. If you choose to drink to excess and therefore cause any danger to another individual's rights, then and only then have you have broken the law. And you have not broken the law because you were intoxicated, you broke the law because you violated another individual's rights. Whether or not you were intoxicated is irrelevant. You accept personal responsibility for ALL of your actions, including all actions you take while intoxicated.
We need not worry about airline pilots or bus drivers driving while stoned. The same laws that prevent them from performing their jobs while intoxicated, would still apply to all other drugs and intoxicants. Company mandated drug tests are perfectly legal as a condition of employment. Drug users deserve to lose their jobs, but they do not deserve to be treated as criminals. There are already laws that exist that protect us from intoxicated drivers. Those same laws apply to people who drive cars while using any intoxicating drugs.
Violence is not caused by using illegal drugs. Violence is a result of drugs being illegal. All major authorities agree that the vast majority of drug-related violent crime is caused by the prohibition against drugs, rather than the drugs themselves. This was the same situation which was true during the alcohol Prohibition of 1919-1933. Alcohol Prohibition gave rise to a violent criminal organization. Violent crime dropped 65 percent in the year Prohibition was repealed. Violence rises from drugs because of the artificially inflated price and profits caused by the black market sale of drugs. As long as drugs are illegal, this market will exist, and so will the violence associated with controlling it.
Legalizing drugs will not lead to great outbreaks of drug addiction. Marijuana was outlawed in 1937. I don't remember reading about widespread addictions in this country before that time. Amsterdam has not become the nightmare drug-infested city as some people claim. After legalizing marijuana in the Netherlands, it was shown that the number of users rose temporarily, but then leveled off to about the same level of users as before legalization.
There is no evidence that smoking marijuana leads to the use of harder drugs. In the first place, it is chemically illogical that the consumption of any drug could give someone the craving for another drug that they have never had.
Many of the arguments against legalization of drugs can be debunked with one simple fact. Whether drugs are legal or illegal one simple fact remains: if somebody WANTS to use drugs, they will find a way to do so. It is probably easier for a child to buy drugs on the black market than it is for them to buy alcohol from a liquor store.
Legalization does not mean endorsement by the government. The United States government was not created to legislate morality or behavior onto its citizens. The people have the right to make such decisions on their own. There is a big difference between the government saying "We will not treat drug users as criminals" and "its ok to use drugs." And children should not be raised by the government. Children should be raised by their parents.
On the subject of
public health and safety. Every year...
Why did Prohibition fail?
A quick lesson in
history and civics...
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.
White-out looks a little silly on such a wonderful document as our Constitution. Why haven't we learned from the mistakes of our own past failed policies?
The only thing that the 14-year old failed experiment known as Prohibition gave us that was successful was The Untouchables. It makes good TV and cinema. And it won an Oscar for Sean Connery. Robert DeNiro made a great Al Capone too didn't he? But in all of these debates over the War on Drugs, nobody (not even Eliot Ness) seems to ask this simple question: Why didn't Prohibition work?
After years and years
of fighting the War on Drugs, one startling conclusion has been made.
NOTHING has been done that has stopped or even slowed the amount of drugs
being used or coming into this country. As long as people remain uneducated
about the dangers of drugs, the demand, and therefore, the market for
drugs will exist. By making drugs illegal, we are simply turning that
demand over to the black market. And as long as the black market profit
exists for drugs, no matter how many citizens of this country that you
lock behind bars, there will always be somebody else to take over his
share of the market. The invisible hand of capitalism works this way.
Ask any economist about supply and demand. The fact remains that the black
market artificially inflates the price of and the profit to be made on
drugs. Locking drug dealers in jails is not the answer. The profit to
be made on the sale of illegal drugs far outweighs the risks that these
dealers are willing to take with the authorities.
How many prisons do we need?
Even though drugs are illegal, millions of people try or use drugs everyday. According to the latest surveys, cited by the DEA themselves, there are about 12.7 million people who have used some illegal drug in the last month and perhaps 30 to 40 million who have used some illegal drug within the last year. Of the 12.7 million who used illegal drugs in the last month, about 10 million are presumed to be casual drug users, and about 2.7 million are addicts.
The Department of Justice announced that there are now 1.5 million people in prisons across the United States. Of that number 59.6% are there for drug offenses.
No other industrialized nation locks up as many of its citizens into jails as the United States of America. (We always have to be #1, don't we?)
And why the difference in the length of sentences for powder cocaine and for crack cocaine? Why are the majority of drug offenders who are locked up in our jails from the minority and inner-city populations? Is it because if we were to start locking up middle class white suburban teenagers that there would TRULY be an outrage over the war on drugs? Let's face some more facts. Who do you think is the primary user of marijuana and many other drugs? If you are a white, middle-class parent living in suburbia, you had better be checking your child's sock drawers more closely. If it turns out that you were a bad parent, do your children then deserve to go to jail?
And sending the United
States military to drug-producing countries is also futile. You could
send the troops to Columbia to stop the flow of cocaine and to China to
stop the flow of heroin. But another country will start to produce a supply
to meet the demand that the United States creates. The same flawed logic
being applied to locking up drug dealers is being applied here.
How to WIN the War on Drugs?
Take the outrageously
inflated profit out of the War on Drugs and a number of things will happen:
Politicians today do not have the courage to admit the War on Drugs is a failure. Personally, I think that too many of them let their judgement be blurred by millions of dollars from tobacco companies, who wouldn't be able to take the competition from another drug on the market. This is a highly emotional issue, and emotions can sometimes blur logical judgement. If you personally know someone who has suffered from using drugs, ask yourself which would have helped them more: personal involvement and treatment or a jail sentence. Does it make sense to send a drug addict to jail, where they can have access to more drugs?
I challenge each
and every person who reads this essay to rethink their opinions on the
War on Drugs. To examine the hypocrisy in our nations drug policy. There
is only one way to win the War on Drugs. The answer is not through criminalizing
the act. Only each individual can win the battle with their own war. When
it comes to drugs, use the best weapon we have and "just say no."
Thanks to Clifford A. Schaffer, whose above essays I heavily "borrowed" from.
And this from the