Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

For the 497th Time: End the War on Drugs!

And this time it’s not just a few liberals, libertarians and weirdos saying this. This time it’s, well, everybody else in the world.

There will be an international conference next month in Vienna. This conference will include the International Center for Science in Drug Policy and the International AIDS Society, among other groups. Some of the group leaders issued a statement yesterday:

“The criminalization of illicit drug users is fueling the HIV epidemic and has resulted in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. A full policy reorientation is needed.”

They also said there’s no evidence that Draconian prison sentences are having any impact whatsoever on illicit drug use. But on the bright side, there’s a booming job market for prison guards.

Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, said:

“Many of us in AIDS research and care confront the devastating impacts of misguided drug policies every day. As scientists, we are committed to raising our collective voice to promote evidence-based approaches to illicit drug policy that start by recognizing that addiction is a medical condition, not a crime.”

Evan Wood, founder of the International Center for Science in Drug Policy, said:

“The current approach to drug policy is ineffective because it neglects proven and evidence-based interventions, while pouring a massive amount of public funds and human resources into expensive and futile enforcement measures. It's time to accept the war on drugs has failed and create drug policies that can meaningfully protect community health and safety using evidence, not ideology.”

The rest of the world seems to be moving forward. Which way will America go?

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16 Comments:

Blogger Snave said...

If our nation is comfortable being "at war" with as many things and concepts as it currently appears to be, I think it will be hard to change things.

War (or even the notion of it) seems to be part of our nation's genetic makeup. America was born out of war, and America has had to fight a number of physical wars in order for our nation to survive.

Re. the "war on drugs":

"Quitters never win, winners never quit, but those who never win AND never quit are idiots." - Despair, Inc.

Absolutely, the "war on drugs" has failed. America has not "won" this "war" and is not likely to "win" it with the current battle plan.

Which way will America go? Seems to me a good way for America to be more comfortable on the world stage and to be a better world leader would be to get in better touch with what is going on in the rest of the world.

But my guess is that America will do whatever the rest of the world doesn't do, leaving the rest of the world to continue to scratch its collective head.

The rest of the world? What's THAT? 8-) It seems to me there are too many Americans who do not want to BE part of the rest of the world, let alone do or try things other nations may have found successful.

And because the drug thing has been framed in the nation's collective mind as a "war" through the unceasing use of that term, it seems to me that embedded in that is the notion that if we end a "war" (even if logic should suggest ending it as the right way to go) it is like we are surrendering... instead of being smart, we become quitters. And who wants to be a quitter? Hey, only those who would abandon the plan are the quitters! 8-)

In this way, the "war on" this or that can be used as a political tool. We have "wars" like the "war on drugs", the "war on crime" and the "war on poverty". And it can be fun and useful to create "wars" for "stirring up the base" (like how Bill O'Reilly has fun with what he calls the "war on Christmas", for example. or like how FOX "News" "Talking Points" and The Washington Times will bend our collective ear about a "war on Christianity".)

This is where I think the "...using evidence, not ideology" line in the last paragraph of your post is spot on. It explains much about so many of our country's "wars"... how many are based on ideology? A good many... if not all, I'd wager.

If we were to stop criminalizing illicit drug users and no longer use the current futile enforcement measures, would it necessarily lead to further and more widespread drug use in America? I don't believe the "slippery slope" argument used by some who support the "war on drugs" (i.e. "If they make marijuana legal, then all our kids will start using" or "decriminalization will lead to rampant use").

In the minds of many, changing one's plan of action (even if based on strong evidence) is seen as "quitting", even when the old plan is flawed. When the process involves diverting from a plan that has been adhered to for a long time, it can involve getting outside one's comfort zone.

Change ideology? Thanks, I like the one I have! 8-)

So, do things they way the rest of the world does things? Nah. I think our country will probably just continue to do what we do. And we probably won't quit!

June 29, 2010 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

The US incarcerates a higher percentage of out population that any other nation in the world. Between 30% and 40% are drug related offenses. Think of all the money we could save by treating drug use as a public health problem rather than a criminal one.

June 29, 2010 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

I keep hearing drugs are everywhere.
Well why the hell can't I score some.;)
Your right though, the money and time spent on this holy war is ridicules.

Maybe if we didn't waste so much money on this and all other wars we'd have money for Unemployment benefits.

June 29, 2010 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Hmm...What would a govenment do about drugs if it were a right wing engine of empire and corporate profiteering? What would a group of spineless Democrats and heartless "compassionate" conservatives do?

I got it! Expand the Police State! Use the Patriot Act to go after drug users, and test the urine of those laid off bums who want their unemployment checks!

Let's put Big Government where it belongs, out of the corporate boardrooms and on the backs of the "little people".

June 29, 2010 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Wow! Has it really been 497 times?
Seriously, if the US is as committed to the long term failure of the war on drugs as they appear to be for the long term failure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we're going to be there a long time.

June 29, 2010 at 3:14 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

What will all the drug "warriors" do now? Find something else to wage war on, I guess.

June 29, 2010 at 6:36 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

The war on drugs has employed tens of thousands of government and non-government people over the years. They're not going to know what to do with them now. Maybe they can secure the borders?

June 29, 2010 at 6:40 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

From the news item: "They also want compulsory drug treatment centers to be scrapped, saying they are ineffective and violate human rights."

The so-called drug war has, as Kate points out, created a huge infrastructure of public organizations, private businesses and lots of people with a vested interest in having it go on forever. For political, social and economic reasons, just declaring it a failure and shutting it down isn't a realistic option.

What we can and should do is undertake serious medical and psychological research to learn much more about addiction-prone people. We need to learn how to do a better job of helping them handle their need in ways less damaging and dangerous for them and everyone else. If we're lucky, the R&D might even come up with some ways to end drug users' need and/or desire for drugs.

R&D, experimenting with different ways of managing and treating the drug addicted and applying things that work will all take people. So, to answer Kate's question, between doing these things and helping secure borders or do other law enforcement work, a more constructive, effective policy needn't leave huge numbers of people without jobs.

June 29, 2010 at 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

We're flat-out killing Mexico, and then getting mad at Mexicans for fleeing the violence we perpetrate with our stupid laws and out kindly-exported guns.

The "war on drugs" is an abomination, but for the Klanservatives, it has a dual purpose: they get to put a whole bunch of "those people" in prison, AND they can continue to demonize the people who respond to the markets up this way. For the right wing, it's all good. As always.

June 30, 2010 at 2:02 AM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

Here’s a radical idea:

Legalize the shit.

Re-employ counternarcotics assets by sending them after fly-by-night pharmacies that are raping Medicaid/Medicare to the tune of billions of dollars; and retraining some of them to work for the Border Patrol (to purtect Amurca)

Regulate and tax a legal drug industry.

Release all the non-violent, personal-use drug offenders in prison.

There. That’ll save us an ass-load of money. Sign me the fuck up to be President.

June 30, 2010 at 2:29 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

What Tim said. Where are my drugs?

June 30, 2010 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: I think you're right, Americans are too comfortable with a whole lot of wars going on. Whether it's another country, immigrants, drugs, poverty -- just tell the people it's a war, and all the "We're Number One!" types will get behind it with a vengeance. And of course once we've declared war, we can't "cut and run." We have to keep fighting the War on Drugs until the drugs surrender.

TomCat: From what I understand, 23% of the world's prisoners are in American prisons. And we can't possibly have that many murderers, rapists and thieves, so undoubtedly a lot of these prisoners are victimless "criminals."

Tim: We could create a utopia with just some of the money we're spending on the War on Drugs.

Dave: Remember, government has to be simultaneously A) small enough to drown in Grover Norquist's bathtub; and B) big enough to monitor every move of 300 million Americans.

Lew: Yup, we might as well be quagmired in the drug war, along with our Iraqistan quagmire.

Kate: I guess all those drug warriors would have to find a more useful occupation.

SW: I think drug treatment should be available to anyone who wants it, but shouldn't be compulsory. Some people would rather take drugs, for whatever reason. And I don't think that should be a crime. Drugs should be handled like alcohol -- you can get as wasted as you want, but if you get behind the wheel in that condition (or commit any crime in that condition), you're toast.

That's a good point, that R&D for understanding and dealing with our collective drug habit will create jobs and employ some of today's drug warriors.

JR: As far as I'm concerned, every drug cartel-related murder is the result of the war on drugs. Between our drug laws and our weapons exports, that's exactly why so many from Mexico are coming here to escape the violence.

Carlos: Excellent idea. I'll vote for you.

Randal: Yer busted!

June 30, 2010 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Hmmm... let's see here... America has around 310 million people. According to the U.N. the population of Earth is about 6.8 billion people, so America makes up about 4.5% of the world's population. America has 23% of the world's prisoners, and uses 23% of the world's energy.

Probably too small a data sample to predict any other patterns... but what else might we have 23% of when it comes to world statistics? 23% of the world's "stupid", maybe? 8-)

Could this be part of the "number 23 conspiracy"? 8-)

June 30, 2010 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Beekeepers Apprentice said...

The war on drugs was anything but. Walk into any jail, you see mostly blacks and other minorities. Walk into poor part of town, more of the same. The war on drugs was no war on drugs...it was a war on minorities. So, if this country wants to end the drug trade, then it's a simple solution, much like ending the liquor running during prohibition. Stop prohibiting it. There will always bee addicts, just like there are alcoholics now...but the violence will tone down, and the localities/states/federal government just might benefit from selling it out of brown-bag stores like we have here in VA for liquor, and taxing the daylights out of it.

July 1, 2010 at 4:37 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: America's percentage of the world's dumbfucks who sit in front of the TV set, always tuned to the same channel, and believe everything that spews out of it -- I'll guess it's a much higher percentage than 23.

Bee: You're exactly right. They can't call it a war on poor people or a war on other races, but that's what it is.

July 1, 2010 at 2:55 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Tom, I don't think treatment should be mandatory for pot, but drugs like meth and cocaine are another matter. Both do incredible physical damage to the user. People involved with both also present a real danger to others.

I have compassion for alcoholics, but for the reasons stated above I wouldn't stand by while one chug-a-lugged a bottle of wood alcohol.

July 1, 2010 at 11:33 PM  

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