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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the moral majority tried the penal solution to the use of the drug alcohol; and fourteen years later that law was repealed.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 re-taught with horrible consequences.  The War on Drugs: . . . .


1).  Has reduced the U.S. industries of drug cultivation and manufacturing to a fraction of what they were in the 70s.


2).     Billions of dollars now flow out of this country to purchase drugs at greatly inflated prices.


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


4).  Drug profits turn ordinary citizens into criminals.  People because of association, need, and drug usage have become involved in the drug trade, but whom are otherwise law abiding. 


5).     Increased enforcement has caused the replacement at the top of the non—violent 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 90’s that was no longer true. 


6).  During the 70s when enforcement was increased, smuggler began bring in huge quantities of cocaine, because measured in dollars it occupies one-hundredth the space of marijuana.  With decreasing availability of pot and an increasing availability of cocaine, sales of cocaine, the far more pernicious drug, skyrocketed.  Violence also rose as South American Cartels set up shop in this country.


7).  In foreign countries the drug-export trade has become organized, powerful, and violent.


8).       Foreign governments are corrupted as drug cartels buy politicians--much like the way big business buy policies from American politicians.


9).  In some countries the influence of “drug barons” rivals that of the Catholic Church.


10). The expanded enforcement efforts during the 80s have had little effect upon supply or price—compared to the early 70s. 


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 families.


13).  The legal system is over burdened by the 750,000 drug marijuana 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).  Tax funds which could be spent on real community needs such as schools, freeways, and hospitals is squandered on the costs of the drug war. 


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


17). Lack of quality control leads to poisonings and overdoses.


18).       Restrictive legislation has prevented some drugs from being used for legitimate medical purposes. 


19).       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 practice was once popular.


20).      Divides society and families because users form groups which hide their activities from nonusers.


22). For some it creates moral confusion, for they come to believe that one form of intoxicant, which was used in the Bible, is permissible while the others not used in the Bible, aren’t.


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


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


25).  Freedom in the pursuit happiness (mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution) when it doesn’t harm other people has been eroded. 


26).  Privacy has been lost through drug testing, phone taps, and searches; moreover, association with drug users and dealers has become risky because of guilt by association (much like the McCarthy era).


27).  Punitive penalties have disrupted the lives of millions of citizens each year:  those arrested, plus countless more friends, families, and lovers.


28). 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 nonsmokers via second-hand smoke. Illegal drugs, according to the national Council on Alcoholism, caused 3,562 deaths for 1965.[1]



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%.[2]  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.[3]  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.  Billions would be saved as people are freed from prisons.  These funds could not be used on socially needed programs.


4.  The suffering caused by incarceration and breaking up of families would end.  


5.  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.


6.       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 is destroying the moral fiber of our country.  Politicians have turned drugs into a scapegoat: a safe political cause, a diversion while more pressing issues (issues which the Business Roundtable opposes spending on) are not dealt with and while often existing programs are dismantled.   Urban renewal, under funded inner city schools, lack of medical coverage for a third of Americans, social services for the needy, public transportation, gas guzzling vehicles, usurious interest rates, corporate welfare, and the need for campaign reform so as to bar special interests from funding elections.  Social service programs properly ran would do more to create the respect for society and self that is needed to give our citizens the moral prospective by which they would understand that to waste time, mind, and health is though a personal right, it is immoral.  It is the social pressures that have resulted in a much lower substance abuse level in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark, countries that decriminalized recreational drugs. 


With repression so great, users fail to stand up and be counted——there are over 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.

[1]        Nadelmann, below..

[2]   Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs and Consequences, and Alternatives, Ethan A. Nadelmann, Science, Vol. 245, Sept 1989, pp 939—47. Truly exceptional article.  Many more use recreational drugs in excess do to social factors.  Change these factors and their behavior changes. 

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


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