Why the "War on Drugs" Is As Senseless As All Of Our Others

Should you ever find yourself in possession of an opportunity to question someone in the anti-drug industry, perhaps you might like to ask these questions.

In regards to the claim of marijuana’s addictiveness and the accusations that it causes lower motivation in users, what percentage of those users report feeling addicted to the substance and feel a lack of motivation in their everyday lives?

The reality is that less than one percent of users consume it on a daily or near daily basis and even fewer that one percent report feeling a dependence. As to motivational problems, twenty five years of research has yet to find a clinical basis for this argument other than the reality that any intoxicating substance, such as drugs or alcohol, lowers motivation if constantly abused. ( 2, 3, 4, 5 )In fact, the possibility of a person having motivational difficulties in America are many, many times greater for those who abuse alcohol than for those who abuse marijuana.

How about the claim that marijuana causes some form of brain damage, a claim that the government never tires of spouting?

The short answer is that it has never, and that word is NEVER, been scientifically proven even for long term users. ( 6, 7 )

You might ask if they are aware that revolutions in Columbia and Afghanistan and the political upheavals currently being endured in Peru and Mexico are not caused by drugs but by our prohibition on drugs. The huge piles of money that the production and sales of the drugs result in isn’t caused by the demand for the drugs. Instead, the vast profits are a direct result of the fact that certain drugs are legally out of fashion in America and so we subsidize those profits through our long ago lost War on Americans Who Use the Wrong Drugs. As long as any substance is illegal, but remains desired by a large enough segment of the world’s population, the price of that substance will be very high, indeed.

If we were to legalize these drugs, the profit motive would immediately disappear, leaving the cocaine and marijuana cartels in Columbia and the heroin producers in Afghanistan and elsewhere holding just a bunch of plants and chemicals.

For those with a rational view of the world, legalizing drugs will have little actual effect on the availability of drugs in as much as they can, even now, be found in the most secure of prisons and on just about any school’s playground in America (and possibly in the Governor’s office in Texas).

What it will affect, though, is the crime and violence that centers on the possession and distribution of drugs. The gangs that now gleefully kill anyone they see as a threat to their profitable sales domains will find themselves out of the loop, both in that their product would then be far easier to find at the local mall or health centers and their job prospects are fairly limited in as much as “violent, uneducated and hopeless thug” won’t be much in demand.

Next, you might want to inquire about the neutral studies that have shown conclusively that needle exchange programs, returning used needles at a central location for sterile replacements, do not result in any increase in illegal drug use but does result in vastly lower rates of AIDS, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and other serious diseases associated with sharing needles. You might ask why the federal government continues to ban these exchange programs even though offering the service eliminates an important vector for the transmission of these diseases through female drug users to their newborn children (Family Values, guys?). You might also ask why the federal government is so adamantly against needle exchange programs when they are endorsed by the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Commission on AIDS, the General Accounting Office and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, who put it thus, “A meticulous scientific review has now proven that needle exchange programs can reduce the transmission of HIV and save lives without losing ground in the battle against illegal drugs.”

Staying with the subject of needle exchange programs and its benefits, consider that, “To date, nearly 40% of the 625,000cases of AIDS reported in America have been linked to injection drug use. And more than 75% of babies diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were infected as a direct result of injection drug use by a parent.” ( 10 )

Finally, one last reason to allow intelligent people to discuss needle exchange programs, there is the sad fact that, “In 1996, 63% of the 375 new AIDS cases reported among children 13 were injection-related.” ( 11 )

You might also ask if this person is aware that other nations are confronting the issue of drug use with a bit more understanding and compassion for their citizen’s lives and futures. Switzerland, for instance, has implemented a pilot program in 15 of its cities in which low cost, pharmaceutical quality heroine, morphine and methadone can be injected under medical supervision in licensed medical clinics. The program has so drastically reduced crime in neighborhoods where the clinics reside that over 70% of the nation’s voters opposed an initiative that would have abolished them. If the federal government claims that the "War on Americans Who Use the Wrong Drugs" is being waged in order to make this a safer nation, why haven’t we at least created a few of these pilot programs here?

In the Netherlands, marijuana can be purchased and used at licensed establishments run like the local bar. The fact that marijuana is so readily available has also proven the fallacy of marijuana being just a gateway drug to harder substances. This openness has, instead, shown this well reported fallacy to be just another invented “fact” courtesy of your very own government. In fact, research has shown that for every 104 people who use marijuana, there is only one regular user of cocaine and less than one regular user of heroin. ( 1 )

Comparing usage of all kinds also shows that the Netherlands public health approach towards drug use is far more effective than the Right’s nasty and punitive “criminal” approaches which are so obviously failing. The level of usage between a nation which allows recreational use of marijuana and does not arrest those distributing small amounts of other drugs and a nation which has allowed itself to decline into a fascist state that would rather refuse to face reality and proclaims “Zero Tolerance” over any truly intelligent options can be clearly seen when facts are considered and such silly little programs as “DARE” is ignored.

Consider these figures;
1. Percentage of people who have ever used marijuana, 32.9% of Americans have used it as opposed to 15.6% in the Netherlands.

2. When looking at cocaine usage, 10.5% of Americans have tried it while only 2.1% of the citizens of the Netherlands have.

3. When just looking at the past year, America had 9% of its population using marijuana while only 4.5% of the citizens of the Netherlands have done so.

How, one would like to ask the SS Troopers in charge of our mean spirited drug policies, can you continue to tolerate such nonsense as “Zero Tolerance” and long term incarceration for the mere possession and personal use of the wrong drugs? In fact, the rate of incarceration in the Netherlands is only 11% of ours and their crime statistics a tiny portion of ours. Doesn’t that lead a thinking person to conclude that, in reality, their methods are far superior to ours? ( 9 )

Does anyone in power understand that detailing the many reasons that legalizing drugs will actually benefit America isn’t the same as supporting the use of those drugs anymore than espousing the benefits of gun ownership doesn’t mean one supports the misuse of those weapons. It only means that it’s time to face some very transparent facts. We have lost the poorly named War on Drugs and have hundreds of thousands of POWs housed in our nation’s plentiful and over-crowded prisons and tens of thousands of KIAs on both sides of the issue to prove it. Nothing else should matter, folks, except that have lost this war.

Considering the far more urgent issues that America ignores for lack of funding, couldn’t the hundreds of billions of dollars we waste on this insane “war” be better spent on education or rehabilitation for drug users or true criminals or job training for those whose jobs have moved overseas or to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure or to clean up the environment or anything and everything that is really needed right now?. The money that we spend fighting this silly “war” and imprisoning the casualties is enormous and I have to ask one very pertinent question; if the Right is aghast at spending about $12,000 a year to aid the poor through social welfare programs, why is it so damned happy to pay $40,000 a year for their room and board while they do their time in our penal system?

Lastly, but possibly most importantly, should we leave the financing and policy drafting of this “war” in the hands of those who benefit most from its continuation? Compared to the job loses supposedly felt by the defense industry when the USSR fell, the number of jobs which will disappear in law enforcement and the “justice” system and the penal system and Border Patrol and Coast Guard and on and on will be immense when drugs are finally legalized. Should those same people be in charge of making the decisions considering the “war’s” continuation? Would you vote to make yourself unemployed and possibly unemployable I think not!

So, what do we end up with? We have a President who didn’t inhale, a Vice-president who did but now regrets it and a Presidential candidate who didn’t just inhale, he outright snorted and these bozos get to make up drug policy that affects the rest of us?!?

Gentle readers, it is far past the time we declare ourselves the losers in the War on Americans Who Use the Wrong Drugs, pack up our guns and handcuffs and nightsticks and wire taps and herbicides and empty the POWs from the prisons and just pack up our tents and go home. America will be a far calmer and less abusive nation for it. ( 8 )

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Copyright 4/20/2000