Selflessness, The Good, and Happiness--jk
Happiness & Scientific Psychology--jk
The Art of Loving: A Behaviorist Approach--jk
A Lesson on Love from Cats--jk
THE DECALOGUE: Greek Moral Philosophy Modernized--jk
THE GOOD LIFE--Greek Philosophers Teachings
No Free Lunches: The Role of the Stock Market--jk
Plato's Dream Fulfilled by Science--jk
The lessons from the previous essay, How Congress Works--jk
On Dying Atheist: A Doctor's Words


            WAR            ON            DRUGS


In the early part of this century the moral majority tried the penal solution to the use of the drug alcohol; and fourteen years later that law was repealed.  This lesson is being retaught with horrible consequences:


1.    Billions of dollars flow out of this country to purchase drugs at greatly inflated prices.


2.  Approximately 1/2 of all organized crime s revenues come from drugs.


3.   Drug profits creates a criminal element, people because of association, need, and personal drug usage have become involved in the drug trade, but who otherwise are law abiding. 


4.    Increased enforcement has caused the replacement at the top of the nonviolent middle-class entrepreneurial smugglers, dealers, and manufacturers with the more violent lower class participants.  In the seventies those coming of good families dominated the top position in the United States drug business.  By the 90s that was no longer true. 


5.    Because of being less bulky (easier to smuggle and hide), the more pernicious drug cocaine has become increasing popular, and available.  It also brought with it South American smugglers and distributors and then also Mexican smugglers and distributors.


6.    Eradication in one country when moderately successful entails new producers in other countriesdemand creates production.


7.   In many countries there is a price to pay when a government supports the U.S. eradication program, they are considered to be also under the influence of U.S. banking.


8.   The U.S. the industries of drug manufacturing and marijuana cultivation have greatly increased.


9.   The expanded enforcement efforts during the 80s have had little effect upon supply, and has caused only slight rise in the price.


10. In some countries the influence of drug barons has surpassed the Catholic Church.


11. In 1987 the minimum estimate cost of drug enforcement was $10 billion (3 federal, 5 state, and 2 local).  That figure has risen to over $20 billion for 1990, and $16 billion for courts and prison.


12. High cost of drugs causes a lower standard of living for the drug users and their family.


 13. The legal system is over burdened by the 750,000 drug arrests per year, 3/4 of which are for simple possession.


14. Police are taken away from work on serious crimes, ones with victims.


15.     Opposition to drugs has caused cuts in funding for     rehabilitation and needle exchange programs--25% of AIDS is spread through I.V usage.


16. Lack of quality control leads to poisonings and overdoses.


17.     Restrictive legislation has prevented these drugs from being used for legitimate medical purposes. 


18.     Encourages people to use more harmful legal drugs; i.e., alcohol over marijuana.  Also doctors are prevented from substituting opiates and marijuana, when abstinence from alcohol for addicts is not a viable alternative.  Such treatment was once common.


19.     Divides society and families because it forms users into groups which hide their activities from nonusers.


20.    Creates moral confusion: the inconsistent application of a moral code, which permits the use of certain drugs for recreation and not others.  Thus the moral foundation for the drug laws has been removed, for the higher ethics (differentiated from homilies) requires that moral principles be universalizable).


21.     Creates cynicism towards the courts, laws, police, and politicians because of their roles in the violation of our moral sense of justice. 


22.      Creates mistrust and disrespect of the police, because of their use of entrapment, snitches, and other means of deception.


23.      Freedoms have been eroded including the pursuit of pleasure that is essentially safe.[1]  Privacy has been lost through drug testing, phone taps, and searches; moreover, association with drug users becomes risky because of guilt by association (much like the McCarthy era).


24.     Punitive penalties have disrupted the lives of 750,000 citizens each year, who have been arrested, plus countless more friends, families, and lovers.


25.  Current drug policies attack the more benign drugs while permitting the use of far more harmful substance.  Alcohol costs over $100 billion dollars per year and is responsible for between 50,000 and 200,000 deaths per year (depending on study cited, including 10,000 overdoses). Cigarettes cause over 450,000 deaths per year, including 50,000 non-smokers via second-had smoke. Illegal drugs, according to the national Council on Alcoholism, caused 3,562 deaths for 1965.[2]



The use of illicit drugs should be permitted because the penal solution has caused far greater harm.  Secondly, only a small percentage of the populace has an addictive personality.  Estimates from several studies have shown it to be around 4%[3] These people are beyond control and will abuse whatever is available; laws will not change their behavior.  And those who abuse drugs for social reasons restrict one substance and they will find another, whatever their group favors. 


In addition to preventing the just listed consequences, legalization would have the following benefits:


1.      Through taxation of illicit drugs, billions of dollars could be raised by federal, state, and local governments (instead smugglers, and dealers now reap the profits).


2.      Revenues realized through taxation could be used to fund social programs; thereby, getting at the true root of the drug problem.[4]  Such efforts would go a long way towards curing the social ills that plague our society, and at the same time reduce drug abuse.


3.  By creating a nurturing attitude through social programs, a more effective attack would be mounted upon recreational drugs   and cigarettes.  Respect of society, promoted in part through social programs would create a pervasive attitude of being part of a just society, and as such there would be greater peer conditioning against self-harm.


4.      Through differential taxation of the most and least favored drugs, usage would be affected.





The Policy of Punitive Penalties Have Failed


 Decriminalization has been tried with marijuana in eleven states without an increase in usage, and similarly in numerous countries in Europe.  In the Netherlands consumption of marijuana declined 40% from 1976 to 1985.  In the 19th century there was no drug control in this country.  The dramatic growth of heroin usage in the 60s dropped off for reasons other than enforcement; and so too did the overall decline in drug usage of recent years, for it began before the war on drugs started.  A dispassionate look at the evidence reveals that the major social drug problems are cigarettes, alcohol, pharmaceutical tranquil­izers, and then illicit drugs, in that order--as measured by costs, and mortality.  To attack with laws illicit drugs is hypocritical, unjust, and unnecessary.


Over zealous bureaucrats, promoting their own causes, created the repression and spread the myth that the use of drugs destroys the moral fiber of our country.  Politicians have turned drugs into a scapegoat: a safe political cause, a diversion while our cities deteriorate and both the national and foreign debts dramatically increase.  They'd rather pump tax money into the military, whose contractors contribute to their reelection, than into social programs.  And it is the social programs, properly ran, that create the respect for society and unity of purpose that do more for shaping the behavior of citizens than the use of force.  It is the social pressures that has resulted in a much lower substance abuse level in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark, countries that scant enforce their drug laws.


With repression so great, users fail to stand up and be countedthere are nearly 40 million yearly users of illicit drugs.  Repression has gone too far, responsibility and choice should be returned to the people.  Given all the facts, one can plainly see that a redirection of drug policy is needed to bring it in line with reality:  introduction has cause the more voluminous drug marijuana to be replaced with cocaine, harm and repression has gone too far.


[1]    Some have argued that the erosion of constitutional rights is a result of the drug war, and now the war on terrorism.  This process of judicial activism that has made a mockery of the plain meaning of our Bill of Rights was firmly established when Justice William O. Douglas retired in October of 1975, and the conservatives with his replacement obtained a majority on the Supreme Court (see American Justice:  Revealed Through Published Federal Cases). 

[2]        Nadelmann, supra.

[3]   Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs and Consequences, and Alternatives, Ethan A. Nadelmann, Science, Vol. 245, Sept 1989, pp 93947. Truly exceptional article.  Many more use recreational drugs in excess do to social factors.  Change these factors and their behavior changes. 

 [4]   We would need, of course, to elect humanitarians instead of politicians for to run such programs.


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