Proposal #2 – End the War on Drugs

The federal government has led a national charge against the importation, manufacture, distribution, and consumption of drugs. Over the past four decades, hundreds of billions have been spent to interdict drugs coming from foreign countries, and countless lives have been lost in drug raids and skirmishes with drug cartels and domestic gangs. And the number of Americans who are addicted to drugs as a percentage of the overall population has stubbornly refused to budge despite a huge commitment of resources.

Reason.com recently printed a chart showing that federal and state governments have spent about $1.5 TRILLION dollars over the past 40 years on the “war on drugs.” This figure comes from estimates of law enforcement spending at federal and state levels as well the cost of rehabilitation programs and the bill for keeping drug dealers and consumers alike in prisons.

The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the population of addicted Americans fluctuates between a band of approximately 1% to 1.5% of the population over the same 40 year period. There is no discernible impact despite the large commitment of resources.

We believe the role of running rehabilitation programs is best left to private individuals and charities who choose to exercise their freedom to run such programs. Many people incorrectly assume that if the government stops performing a “needed” function, that it will just go away and nobody will step in to fill the gap. But if government is determined to play a role in rehabilitation, we think this is a better use for tax dollars than building prisons and training law enforcement to engage in military style tactical operations against drug distribution networks.

We also believe that the private sector, if given the opportunity, would provide a better, safer, cheaper product to the market. Buying beer and liquor is, for the most part, a legal activity in most US counties. Nobody is routinely gunned down over a case of red wine or beer in a “deal gone wrong.” But rewind nearly 100 years in time to the era of federal Prohibition when alcohol was illegal to manufacture and distribute, and this is precisely what happened. We suggest the same dynamic is true of the “war on drugs.”

We believe citizens are responsible adults and need to be accountable for their decisions. If they choose to engage in drug use, this is their choice. We find that distributing drugs would be far safer for all involved if the activity took place in a respectable store front rather than in the shadows and back alleys of communities.

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6 Responses to Proposal #2 – End the War on Drugs

  1. An added advantage would be the possibility for psychedelic drugs to be more widely used in psychological research and psychotherapy. This field was showing great promise in the sixties, but has been largely stifled since then by government interference.

  2. dama-de-pica says:

    “Drugs to be more widely used…” until? Until you’ll have to adapt the Law (criminal exempt from punishment because he was not in the full possession of his sense) or justify wars (same reason). To talk about the responsibility when implying the consume of drugs is… “stupefacient”. Wake up! The alcohol was “tested” – no good. The tobacco was “tested” – no good. Now, why do you want to give a try on drugs? What do you expect? More happy people? Really? Could this be the only solution for living a good life? Addiction instead freedom?

  3. Is a plea of reduced responsibility due to alcohol or other drug consumption successful very often in legal cases? Personally, I don’t think it should be, unless someone had no choice about it, i.e. their drink was spiked. But when I talk about increased use of psychedelic drugs in therapy and research I’m talking about the use of these drugs under the supervision of trained professionals for the purposes of exploring the psyche. These drugs are not addictive, and the use of such substances was a traditional part of the culture of many tribal societies which were socially and psychologically more healthy than our own.

  4. dama-de-pica says:

    Sincerely, I don’t see why we should want a revival of tribalism (cannot help thinking of “Avatar”), instead of progress in those fields of the science more susceptible to give good results. Is the science busted? Do we need old gods to cure psychosis? Your “trained professionals” surely knows very well what (physical and biochemical causes) permanent brain damage means. As for experiments (research) – I don’t think they need a special permissive law for carrying them on. But as long as we don’t know for certain what are the long term effects of using whatever substance (psychedelic drugs, antibiotics, vitamins, vaccines, energy drinks etc.), especially in our modern world (I mean with all the subtle and aggressive changes in the surroundings and, therefore, in the inner quality of our life), is speculative and dangerous to give free access of drugs. Just because most people “might be” responsible, doesn’t rend void the law and regulations. (IMHO – I must add)

    • From “Psychadelic therapy” on Wikipedia :

      “By 1970, LSD and many other psychedelics were placed into the most-restrictive “Schedule I” category by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, along with widely-used drugs like heroin. Schedule I compounds are claimed to possess “significant potential for abuse and dependence” and have “no recognized medicinal value”, effectively rendering them illegal for any purpose without special difficult-to-obtain approvals. The arguments in favor of this regulation are seemingly contradicted by hundreds of scientific and medical articles on the use of psychedelics as aids in psychotherapy. In 1968, Dahlberg and colleagues published an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry that detailed the way in which various forces had successfully discredited legitimate LSD research.[9] The essay argues that individuals in government and the pharmaceutical industry influenced research in the medical community by canceling any ongoing studies and analysis in addition to labeling genuine scientists as charlatans. Despite objections from the scientific community, authorized research into therapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs had been discontinued worldwide by the 1980s.”

      I’ve had no experience with the use of these drugs. I’ve experienced altered states of consciousness enough through bipolar psychosis. But, since my experience of psychosis has taught me just how alienated we are from reality in the state we take for sanity, I have an interest in what the experiences of those who use such drugs can teach us about the nature of consciousness.

      Some have suggested that the real reason the psychedelics were placed in “Schedule I” is because of the cultural changes that widespread use of these drugs was producing in the United States in the sixties. The government didn’t want so many young people “tuning in, turning on and dropping out” of a society which needed them as cannon-fodder in an imperialistic war and as consumers in a economy addicted to ecosystem-destroying growth.

      There are possibilities that some psychedelics may cause damage, but one of them, DMT, is naturally produced by the body. It can be released during fasting, for instance, and this is the reason that some religious people have mystical visions when they fast. In fact, the study of DMT (to the degree that the government allows it) is revealing the biochemical nature of religious experience. (Another thing which makes such research relevant to the question of freedom, as organised religion is often a major impediment to the freedom of the individual in many parts of the world, and organised religion is likely to die when people realise that it is all a matter of biology and that “the kingdom of heaven is within” as the leader of one of the world’s great religions once said.)

      • dama-de-pica says:

        Well. Connecting “I have an interest in what the experiences of those who use such drugs can teach us about the nature of consciousness”, with “the biochemical nature of religious experience” – who am I to tell you that this is a twisted path to solve the problem?

What do you think?