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Mark Stapleton

Time to rethink the war on drugs

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The decriminalisation of drugs is certainly a controversial topic. I have believed for a long time that the 'war on drugs' is a sham designed to line the pockets of parasites within society. Decriminalising drugs puts the drug lords out of business--immediately. It also benefits society in many ways. It doesn't make it a perfect society, just a better society, imo. The following is an article by Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief and now a board member of LEAP (law enforcement against prohibition):

http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/39565/

Any thoughts are appreciated.

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The decriminalisation of drugs is certainly a controversial topic. I have believed for a long time that the 'war on drugs' is a sham designed to line the pockets of parasites within society. Decriminalising drugs puts the drug lords out of business--immediately. It also benefits society in many ways. It doesn't make it a perfect society, just a better society, imo. The following is an article by Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief and now a board member of LEAP (law enforcement against prohibition):

http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/39565/

Any thoughts are appreciated.

The author of the article you cited recommends "legalization" Mark, and I agree with him.

These so-called "drugs" are commodities and we should treat them as such. There are no distinct 'moral' issues involved - just health issues and matters common to the sale and use of other commodities such as quality control.

The War on Drugs is as bogus as the War on Terror.

In neither case is there serious intent to 'win'. In neither case is the objective to secure the maximum common good. On the contrary, In both cases, the 'war' reaps a horrific toll in human misery, serves as a shield for other nefarious objectives - and some of the nastiest and most avaricious folk on the planet are the principal beneficiaries.

The finest irony - and the case where the two bogus wars most clearly overlap - is Afghanistan. Remarkably, under the Taliban (a regime condemned as authoritarian and worse by freedom lovers from Fleet Street to Wall Street), the level of opium production really did take a dive. The alleged war strategy of cutting off supply was actually working - in 2000/1. But no sooner did Afghani opium production drop significantly than 'the West' invaded and kicked out the offending Government. Now its back to business as usual in trumps.

The hypocrisy embedded within the cruel and unnecessary 'War on Drugs' is one of the (sickening) wonders of the modern world.

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Sid,

Agree 100% (sooner or later we'll find something to disagree on).

I am often stunned and aghast at the self serving lies and hypocrisy contained within the war on drugs stance adopted by so many legislators and commentators, who are owned lock, stock and barrel by the same interests which benefit from prohibition.

Prohibition now serves as a gravy train for a vast conga line of hangers on:

More police to investigate and apprehend the (drug) criminals, lawyers to act for them in court, more prisons and prison staff to house the increasing prison populations (70 to 80 percent of whom are there for drug related crimes), more insurance and home security devices to protect against theft from drug addicts who steal in order to pay for drugs at black market prices, and a greater than necessary burden on hospitals and ambulance services in order to treat overdose victims and drug related assault victims.

The DEA in America has now become a huge and costly bureaucracy hostile to any attempts to contain it. Prison building in the US is big business, too. The DEA also influences drug policy in other countries.

What does the public get for this massive investment? Illicit drug use at record levels, billionaire drug barons amassing arsenals of stolen weapons, massive police corruption, a much higher tax burden on the public and inexperienced kids dying in the streets or having their future propects diminished through drug convictions. Sounds like a rotten deal to me.

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Sid,

Agree 100% (sooner or later we'll find something to disagree on).

I am often stunned and aghast at the self serving lies and hypocrisy contained within the war on drugs stance adopted by so many legislators and commentators, who are owned lock, stock and barrel by the same interests which benefit from prohibition.

Prohibition now serves as a gravy train for a vast conga line of hangers on:

More police to investigate and apprehend the (drug) criminals, lawyers to act for them in court, more prisons and prison staff to house the increasing prison populations (70 to 80 percent of whom are there for drug related crimes), more insurance and home security devices to protect against theft from drug addicts who steal in order to pay for drugs at black market prices, and a greater than necessary burden on hospitals and ambulance services in order to treat overdose victims and drug related assault victims.

The DEA in America has now become a huge and costly bureaucracy hostile to any attempts to contain it. Prison building in the US is big business, too. The DEA also influences drug policy in other countries.

What does the public get for this massive investment? Illicit drug use at record levels, billionaire drug barons amassing arsenals of stolen weapons, massive police corruption, a much higher tax burden on the public and inexperienced kids dying in the streets or having their future propects diminished through drug convictions. Sounds like a rotten deal to me.

Mark,

Try as I may, I can't fault you on a single word :)

Up here in north Queensland, front line 'warriors' of the Drugs Industrial Complex get to play with helicopters. No doubt the operators enjoy the thrill as they make lots of noise and burn copious quantities of fossil fuels. The WoD is also great for the local prison industry, keeps lawyers employed and helps the cops justify demands for ever larger budgets.

Is there anyone out there game to put in a good word for this absurd 'war' that has created a worldwide trillion dollar plus illegal industry and damaged countless lives?

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that has created a worldwide trillion dollar plus illegal industry and damaged countless lives?

I agree with everything written so far.

Unfortunately Sid and Mark, the fact that it is worth a trillion dollars is the reason it will never be legalized. The British fought wars over it, The Taliban had erradicated the trade in Afghanistan prior to the US invasion - now it's triple it's previous record yield. Drug trafficking in Panama increased 10 fold following the US invasion. The CIA have well documented links to importing and were very active during the Vietnam war.

If I was really cynical, I might think that governments have traded in and fought wars for this 'commodity' for years and these 'drug lords' will not give up their monopoly without a fight.

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War on drugs = 'war' on those who use them recreationally or are addicted - not those who grow or wholesale them.

War on poverty = 'war' on the poor - not those who nor those policies which cause poverty.

War on terror = 'war' on public to keep them terrorized and under control - not to stop the real terror, both state sponsored and other (often a reaction to the former)

Etc. The War on Drugs keeps the prices high, the jails full, the poor and inner-city and non-white criminalized and keeps the ultra-right and morally challenged happy. During Iran-Contra (to name but one small episode) planes filled with illegal guns flew south, returning with cocaine. Some flew into and were off-loaded by uniformed persons at military bases in the US.....some War....like everything else just for public 'consumption'. Don't inhale.

I think that's just about spot on, Peter, with one query.

Was 1960s 'War on Poverty' really as inherently bad and misguided as you suggest?

Or was the greater problem that it was abandoned and has since disappeared without trace, superceded by other, blatantly evil 'wars' of greater longevity?

Edited by Sid Walker

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The following is from Leap's Jack Cole:

IT'S NOT ABOUT SAYING YES TO DRUGS, IT'S ABOUT MAKING THEM LEGAL

To the editor:

On reading the David L. Harris Aug. 3 article, "Just say yes to drugs," I was once again struck by the inaccuracies of information reaching the public.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( leap.cc ) is a nonprofit international education organization consisting of more than 5,000 police, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, DEA and FBI agents, and others who fought the War on Drugs for their entire careers. The last thing we want to do is, "Just say yes to drugs."

LEAP's mission is to reduce the multitude of harms resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime and addiction by ending drug prohibition.

This 36 years of war has accomplished none of its stated objectives. Instead, we have already wasted more than a trillion dollars, and each year we continue the war we spend another $69 billion tax. And today, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far easier for our children to access than they were in 1970 when I started buying them as an undercover narcotics officer.

All we have to show for this war is we now arrest 1.7 million people each year in the U.S. for nonviolent drug offenses - destroy all hope they may have for a productive future - and then wonder why they haven't stopped using drugs. You can get over an addiction, but you will never get over a conviction. It will track you every day of your life.

There is a better way. If we end drug prohibition, we can stop the violence and crime just as we did when we ended alcohol prohibition in 1933. The next day Al Capone and all his smuggling buddies were out of business and off the streets, no longer shooting each other, police or innocent children caught in crossfire.

Other countries do a much better job. Switzerland has had a program since 1994 where they treat heroin users by giving them free government heroin. Their results: not one overdose, AIDS and hepatitis dropped to the lowest per capita rate in all of Europe; crime was cut by 60 percent; and an there has been an 82 percent decrease in the expected cases of new heroin users.

If we treat drug abuse as a health problem rather than a crime problem, we can actually save most of those folks whose lives we destroy every year.

There are more than 110 million individuals in the U.S. who have tried an illegal drug. This is not a war on drugs, it is a war on people, and it must end.

Jack A. Cole

Mystic Avenue

Executive Director of LEAP

( Retired a detective lieutenant after 26-year career in the New Jersey State Police, 14 of them as an undercover narcotics officer. )

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake

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LEAP is a great organisation. It has grown from five to over five thousand members in just four years. It consists of police officers, prosecutors, FBI agents, DEA officers and others who have spent their careers fighting the War on Drugs. So far it has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. However, the growth of this organisation, the unquestionable credibility of its members and the appalling failure of the War on Drugs in achieving any of its goals, means this organisation can't continue to be ignored.

http://www.leap.cc/

A good look through this site is highly recommended for those unfamiliar with the facts and figures behind the present charade being played out by the Government and the media.

In the US, the War on Drugs currently has a price tag of $69 billion per year and is rising. That's taxpayers money. How much of a flogging can taxpayers be expected to take? When considered in the light of America's multi billion dollar overseas military excursions, rapidly rising oil prices and economic uncertainty, surely the question must now be debated--is it worth spending this much money when all it achieves is an artificially bloated crime rate and actually INCREASES illicit drug use? There are 1.7 million arrests per year in the US for nonviolent drug crimes.

Prohibition is a stupid, stupid policy. Those involved in this massive gravy train will never admit this because it is their meal ticket. When will the American public tell legislators to end the charade? The only way to put drug traffickers out of business is to legalise the drugs. Criminal sanctions can never work when such a colossal profit margin exists--something like 3000 times the farm gate price in the case of heroin. Any elimination of a dealer from the distribution network is always quickly replaced, like the multi-headed Hydra. As Jack Cole stated, "It's not a war on drugs, it's a war on people and it must end". It's also a war on common sense.

Edited by Mark Stapleton

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Hmmm..I guess most Americans don't care about wasting $69 billion a year. It's also a huge waste of resources (ie. people) with 1.7 million being arrested in America on drugs charges each year.

If change is to come, it must come from America because America pressures many other nations to conform with these absurd policies. The most recent example of this is the case of Mexican President Vicente Fox, who proposed relaxing prohibition while placing Government restrictions on many banned substances in order to save the lives of young Mexicans and preventing them being tarnished with criminal convictions. However, the threat of economic sanctions from America forced Fox to back down. So once again the drug barons, and their de facto partners, the DEA, breathe a sigh of relief.

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As you know the whole 'War' is a fraud and PR. To site just one of a million things....Opium production in Afghanistan is now UP after our little war there - which I think was the plan..... but the declaration of 'wars' of all kinds benefits the US to suppress, oppress and control...as well as rake in huge illegal profits for their cut.

A very fair statement, Peter. All these 'wars' have very little benefit for the ordinary American--but they can't see that. The apparent necessity for pursuing these dubious policies is reinforced in the media every day.

Some have stated that the 'war on drugs' is the most damaging social experiment in modern civilisation, in that the drug laws are much more harmful to society than the drugs themselves and actually achieve the opposite goals to those they purport to achieve. If ever there was a giant, xxxxting elephant in the living room, this is it.

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The California Assembly recently passed a bill legalising the cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes. Hemp is currently used in the production of paper, clothing, auto parts and building materials and its seeds and oils are used in food products. It is a $270 million industry in the US. However, as Federal laws prohibit its cultivation it must be imported from China, Canada and Europe. Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp contains only trace elements of the primary psychoactive ingredient, THC.

The bill, if passed into law, would represent a major economic boost for California farmers. It was passed by a vote of 43-28 in the California Assembly. Some GOP dissenters resorted to Reefer Madness style posturing to explain their opposition to the bill, "as a conservative Republican, I can't have my name attached to hemp", said Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy (R-Monrovia), adding that industrial hemp and marijuana both give off the same heat signal. Assemblyman John Benoit (R-Palm Desert) weighed in with a stunning display of ignorance, claiming that marijuana and hemp are "indistinguishable", despite the fact that law enforcement officials in 30 countries where hemp is legally cultivated have no trouble telling the difference.

It now depends on whether Governor Schwarzenegger will sign the bill. The pressure on him from the DEA must be immense. I predict he will buckle under pressure and refuse to sign, using the often quoted excuse that it would send the wrong message about drugs, or similar garbage along those lines. Arnie knows that signing such a bill into law could have an adverse impact on his political career, with a bloodthirsty media eagerly awaiting his decision. I hope I'm wrong:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/450/ca...emp_bill_passes

Edited by Mark Stapleton

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Well, Arnie put the kibosh on the hemp bill:

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2...ies/03local.htm

Those hapless farmers in California don't know what they're up against. The DEA has become an uncontrollable bureaucracy, impervious to logic or reason. Another problem for plantation hemp is the fact that it requires no pesticides. Good for the environment but very bad for the manufacturers of these products.

At least it's proven one thing--Arnie's got his eye on the White House.

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Few people know that Milton Friedman was a vocal critic of drug prohibition and the carnage it wreaks on society from the day Nixon officially launched the 'war on drugs' in 1972.

This recent tribute to the late Mr. Friedman is worth reading. Wall Street has called him the greatest economist of our time:

http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n1632/a11.html?289127

Eventually, people will realise what prohibition is all about--diverting public resources towards all the people who benefit from an artificially elevated crime rate. More police, more prisons, more prisonguards and more lawyers to process offenders. In Australia, Government statistician Don Weatherburn is on record estimating the annual cost of prohibition to be $5-$6 billion. Less money for schools and hospitals, of course. As usual, the mainstream media is at its mendacious best, holding itself out as a fearless guardian against 'the evil of drugs', while being a major financial beneficiary of prohibition. The media thrives on the public hysteria which this issue generates. They make millions.

Why the public can't understand what an onerous and needless burden this places on the taxpayer is a frustrating mystery to me. Part of the answer is, once again, the media and the role it plays in disseminating this issue. Bald faced bullxxxx masquerades as media coverage.

Last but not least, the illicit drug cartels are the biggest beneficiary of all. Repeal prohibition and they're out on their ass. No more mansions, helicopters, weapons caches, Swiss bank accounts and bloodbath turf wars.

Here's the way I see it: we have the police, the media, the law and the underworld on one side---and an ignorant, unwitting public on the other side. The public don't even know they're being conned.

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Few people know that Milton Friedman was a vocal critic of drug prohibition.

As is the father of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley Jr.

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