We spend billions of dollars every year on police, prisons, military aid to Columbia, trials, etc. trying to win the War On Drugs. It isn't going to happen. We're not going to win it.

If it continues the only thing we will accomplish is throwing more otherwise law-abiding citizens in jail, turning people who just want to smoke a joint into real criminals, by making them pay exorbitant prices for drugs on a black market, and shredding the Constitution more than we have already.

We've forgotten why we started this war in the first place. It was supposed to be about public health. In a battle to improve public health, does it make sense to deprive sick people of medicine that could improve their quality and quantity of life(e.g. Peter McWilliams)? Does it make sense to throw hundreds of thousands of Americans into overcrowded and unsanitary prisons? Does it make sense to force people to get drugs from unreliable sources who may be giving them lethal doses(far fewer people would OD on heroin if it was sold by Phillip Morris, which could guarantee the drug was not too highly concentrated).

Is it worth giving up our privacy, our search and seizure rights, and our freedom of speech(see Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act), to fight a war against people who are hurting no one but themselves? At some point in the near future the American people are going to have to decide which is more important: this war, or the Constitution, and with it all ideals that Americans are supposed to believe in.

DMan, you seem to be fully comfortable with allowing capitalism to rule supreme, regardless of it's ill effects, but you don't think people should be allowed to use drugs that harm only their own bodies. Might I remind you that part of the US war on consensual crimes is the prohibition of prostitution. Do you agree with that?

Anyway, I am not familiar with the Chinese opium problem, but I can say this: even if you are going to prohibit drugs, giving people huge mandatory minimum sentences for mere possesion is not the way to do it. I think all drugs should be legal(sold to adults only, with warnings on the package and a high tax), but even if you don't go that far, for God's sake stop filling our prisons with nonviolent "criminals". Talk about the punishment not fitting the crime.

What I think is that if we legalized all drugs, released all nonviolent drug offenders currently in prison, and put high taxes on the drugs(but not so high as to create a new black market), the amount of money we'd have would be at least $50, probably more like $100+ billion per year. Funnel most or all of that money into programs for education and rehabilitation, and not only will we have a much freer society, but we will have one with less people whose lives are ruined by drugs. That would be a good War on Drugs, one that I would support. I mean, I'm not sitting here saying "Yeah, crack is good.", I'm just saying the way we're going about this is horribly wrong.

This War On Some Drugs is a hideous joke. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so deadly serious. And one of the worst aspects of it is that they are using our money to pay for it.

It's well past time for all of us upstanding citizens who enjoy an occasional puff of pot or dose of psychedelics to stand up and say "I work hard, I vote, I pay my taxes, and I use drugs. The War On Drugs is wrong and I won't fund it."

Alright, this is arguing the proliferation angle. I am ignoring the stupidity of the government regarding jail terms for drug use here. I'll talk about that later.

You know, I love it when some people talk as if all of America's problems would go away and disappear, if and only if the government stops this evil War on Some Drugs. War on Some Drugs it is, but pot is not the only drug in existence. Yes, banning marijuana is pretty ludicrous, given the legality of alcohol and cigarettes, but there are plenty of drugs out there that are actually harmful, and when mixed with addiction is a very unhealthy to the nation. Want proof?

1840, Southern China. British merchants flood the region with opium in order to obtain Chinese goods without paying them silver, which was hard to obtain. Opium is undeniably addictive, and by the time Beijing got around to correcting the problem the addiction has spread to almost every adult in Canton, not to mention that five year-old kids were hanging around the Opium Parlors trying to sniff up a bit of the stuff. Not too pretty. War on Drugs was declared by the Qing Dynasty, but the obviously more powerful British merchants (read: drug runners) put a stop to it and forced open more Northern Chinese ports in order to import their Indian opium there too. I am not surprised by China's stance of narcotics. In fact, I wholeheartedly agree with it. Oh yeah, pot is legal here in China now, for religious purposes. So I say I am observing a religious ritual while smoking pot, they can't touch me.

I don't see too much difference between the opium situation back then in China and the scenario here in America with say crack. It's dangerous, it's harmful, and people who support its use are just trying to make money for themselves while they slowly kill you. Please, methamphetamines are not to be messed with. You're right, people should be able to talk about it. But when you start making the stuff and selling it, that is not good. The Constitution is the supreme rule of the land.

Frankly, if the government completely stops its campaign against drugs, all hell would break loose. And no crackhead is going to tell me otherwise. Yes, with some drugs, the war is pointless and stupid, but again, pot isn't the only drug floating around in the streets.

BTW, Holland isn't the drug paradise everyone seems to think it is. I advise people not to sell crack or heroin there. Police state, on a drug policy?!? Life is a lot more than smoking a joint, you know.

Pseudomancer: This is not The Onion. Given the difficulty even to clearly define this "war", how can you say who won?

It's well past time for all of us upstanding citizens who enjoy an occasional puff of pot or dose of psychedelics to stand up and say "I work hard, I vote, I pay my taxes, and I use drugs. The War On Drugs is wrong and I won't fund it."

The problem with this idea is that instantly you get labeled as a child killer by the opposition. It is hard to win public opinion when all you have to call the opposing side is "Drug haters" when the other can call you "Drug dealers" and "Kid killers". You have to have extremely good arguments to overcome names like that. What do people pay attention to when they watch the news? The person spouting their stance on the issue or the people with the signs chanting? Once the average American sees slogans like those above, immediately most decent citizens will take that side. We have all been taught throughout our lives that drugs are bad. Drug dealers are the worst thing to have on your block. While some of us have been enlightened, most still faithfully believe what they have been brainwashed into thinking. Who wants their kids to get addicted to drugs and die? Who wants a drug dealer in the area who will increase crime, chances of your kids getting into drugs, etc?

The place to start is not to go for an all out war against the war on drugs. Rather, we have to go for those programs that are brainwashing our children first. Even that will be extremely hard, not to mention the time it would take. What kind of parent would want to remove a "highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, or violence"? (from the D.A.R.E. educator's webpage) Go to a school meeting, say that, and see how many side with you...

The fact that people talk about "Drugs" as if they were saying "cucumbers" just goes to show that the government propaganda is working. Everything you get from the doctor, plus every recreational or medicinal substance you embibe, is a drug.

It's about time a distinction was made between different kinds of drugs, the public was informed about their respective dangers and benefits, and a re-evaluation was conducted of our inherited attitudes towards different substances.

For example: more people die every year as a consequence of alcohol than of heroin. Did you know that? Drunk driving and drunk fighting are a big factor in that, as well as various domestic accidents like people passing out with the gas stove on and causing a fire or drowning in the bath or whatever. And of course there are the various alcohol-induced illnesses.

Yet who would have the guts to say that alcohol should be made illegal? The Prohibition was a fucking joke, right? There you go, inherited attitudes. Many Americans come fom European countries where drinking is the culture, never mind a part of it, and taking alcohol off the menu is unthinkable to them. Some kinds of alcohol - fine wines, malt scotch - are even considered symbols of refinement, of style and of good taste.

In the same way many people have inherited, rather than developed, their attitudes towards marijuana, E's and tobacco but were not informed of the fact that each of these three substances is in a class of its own, their influences are different and they have no relation whatsoever to most of the substances that are really harmful to the individual and to society. With such an uninformed public, there can be no itelligent public debate.

By that I mean a debate which can relate to every drug as of its own, without mass hysteria and spin doctoring, and without making the confused assumption made above that if it's ok to legalize some drugs, what the hell, let's legalize 'em all.

Simply making crack cocaine or heroin legal will not solve any of the problems which they cause in themselves - addiction, loss of mental faculties, malnutrition through loss of appetite etc. A support network will need to be established to deal with those problems on an individual basis and supply the sufferers with a clean, safe source of the drug until such a time as they are ready to come off it themselves.

Another problem with a blanket legalization of all drugs is that people who take drugs socially (in clubs, at raves and parties etc) are often thrill seekers. For them, legalizing all this stuff will completely take the fun out of it. This is a good thing, I hear you say, for less people will take drugs all in all. Not so. The people who've made their fortunes producing and selling synthetic drugs are not stupid, they will keep coming up with newer and nastier stuff until you have exaclty the same situation as today, with the introduction and the "trendification" of more and more synthetic drugs, exotic mushroms, hallucinogenic plant extracts (belladona, peyote etc.) and so on.

Yes, it's high time we emancipated hemp. The poor plant is God's gift, for chrissakes - it is medicinal, an excellent source of industrial fibre, prime cattle feed and what not. It's been demonized for long enough with no reason other than to give fundamentalist politicians a platform to run on.

I'd even say, legalize Ecstasy - it's fairly benign when not cut with rat poison, so a well-controlled production line will probably cut down on its ill effects significantly. Legalising heroin and providing addicts with a clean drug will stop them getting pustulous infections, dying of blood poisoning and overdosing by mistake. A source of free clean needles will go a huge way to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Nevertheless, from here to the legalization of mind-altering substances in principle there is still a long distance.

Everyone seems to be commenting on the drugs themselves, or their effects, or on the stigmatization of anyone who attacks the War on Drugs.

But the whole notion of a war seems to me to be very American. (And what I am writing about very UnAmerican.) Americans are very good at marshaling vast resources to attack something that can be easily seen, pointed at, and demonized. But not at causes.

Causes are not so easily visible. Causes are not easily sloganable. And the reality of such go against the mythology held so dear by so many.

In all of the above discussion, no one has spoken about poverty. Maybe that's too liberal of me. Maybe all anyone has to do is just say no.

But in a society that is unequal, and unfair, where classes do exist, many do not have an opportunity of realizing the American Dream.

Views on issues as seemingly unconnected as urban sprawl, public transportation, health care, redistribution of wealth, private sector--all contribute to the exclusion of those who become the underclass.

And the underclass must be controlled. So the issues of police, prisons, and the rest of public policy arise.

Harm reduction is a good place to start, but it is only a start.

A society that is based on impoverishing and disenfranchising so many--I hesitate to put a number on this--shouldn't be surprised many will seek to escape.

Or that others, taking to heart the lessons of capitalism, and rugged individualism, will seek to profit off the misery of others.

when i was younger, i have to admit, i believed that all drugs were inherently evil. but just as most people nowadays can tell you, i learned that they really weren't. and when i found out this little nugget of information, i felt lied to, cheated, misinformed. i felt dirty and angry.

as i spent more and more time reading up on my drugs of choice, learning the ins and outs of their chemistry and effects, i found my little ball of hatred increasing in size exponentially. to this day, i can't understand why people believe the lies about acid, pot, etc. when the research is right there under their noses. i'll never understand how our government can have the balls to say, "o.k., o.k. you know all that scientific mumbo-jumbo that says cannibis is fine? well, ignore it because we've got brain-dead monkeys over here to prove that 'reefer madness' will possess your soul and ruin your life."

above, freud mentions D.A.R.E.'s "call the cops if dad smokes pot" campaign. it's funny that i had all but forgotten about this up until now. i can now vividly remember the policeman with his suitcase full of drugs telling us to summon him if we see our parents using illegal substances. at the time, it seemed right. "hm. mommy's breaking the law. 9..1..1." now, it makes me sick, yes sick, to know that one day my child will one day be taught to turn me in on the basis of something he or she couldn't possibly understand. it reminds me of the twilight zone movie where everyone must think "happy thoughts" or that little bowl-haired bastard will banish you to the corn field.

sometimes, i like to think that marijuana is just a few years away from legalization. but i'm fairly resigned to the fact that it probably never will be. at least not while i'm around. there's something that everyone here seems to have forgotten.

by nature, we americans are ridiculously stubborn. and when it comes to admitting we're wrong, i think we'd rather go to war over it than say, "oops, we fucked up". let's see... right off the top of my head, i can think of three instances where i'm positive we knew we were doing the wrong thing: prohibition, slavery, and the vietnam war. the problem lies in the fact that changing your mind makes you look indecisive. indecisiveness is synonymous in politics with weakness. so what i'm basically saying is even though the government may realize at this point that the war on drugs has failed, it's gonna be a long, long time before we ever see any changes, let alone an apology for decades of oppression.

The drug war is fought on the supply side. This means that a lot of money is spent to send soldiers, equipment, and training to South and Central America to shoot down planes, burn coca crops, and to educate farmers to grow more "friendly" crops-like Starbucks quality coffee. The drug war is supported largely by fiscal conservatives, people who ought to understand what happens when supply is restricted without cutting demand: prices rise, the potential for profit increases, thus providing greater incentives for suppliers to enter the market.

One wonders what these fiscal conservatives think they are accomplishing. There are several possible explanations: one is that they wish to cash in on the opportunity by supplying drugs themselves. A slightly less paranoid possibility is that these fiscal conservatives understand the importance of subsidizing the military-industrial complex (justified by trickle-down economics) with more contracts for helicopters, and that they wish to support stability and open markets in South America by supplying military hardware to dictatorships. (see Plan Colombia) One other interesting possibility is that they do not want anyone to try to lower drug demand, because people might then realize that the "drug problem" is a symptom, not the cause, of society-wide alienation, depression, and hopelessness which in turn might be caused by pandemic poverty, exploitation, and racism.

People might entertain the possibility that the system, not drugs, is the problem, and those fiscal conservatives just can't have that, now can they?

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