War on Drugs

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The War on Drugs is a prohibition campaign undertaken by the United States government with the assistance of participating countries, intended to reduce the illegal drug trade—to curb supply and diminish demand for specific psychoactive substances deemed immoral, harmful, dangerous, or undesirable. This initiative includes a set of laws and policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of targeted substances. The term was first used by President Richard Nixon in 1969,[1] and his choice of words was probably based on the War on Poverty, announced by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.


[edit] United States domestic policy

For U.S. public policy purposes, drug abuse is any personal use of a drug contrary to law. The definition includes marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and otherwise-legal pharmaceuticals if they are obtained by illegal means or used for non-medicinal purposes. This differs from what mental health professionals classify as drug abuse per the DSM-IV, which is defined as more problematic drug misuse, both of which are different from drug use.

In 1994, it was reported that the War on Drugs results in the incarceration of one million Americans each year.[2] Of the related drug arrests, about 225,000 are for possession of marijuana, the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States.[3] In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes was rising 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.[4] The United States has a higher proportion of its population incarcerated than any other country in the world for which reliable statistics are available, reaching a total of 2.2 million inmates in the U.S. in 2005. The U.S. Dept. of Justice, reporting on the effects of state initiatives, has stated that, from 1990 through 2000, "the increasing number of drug offenses accounted for 27% of the total growth among black inmates, 7% of the total growth among Hispanic inmates, and 15% of the growth among white inmates." In addition, the United States provides for the deportation of many non-citizens convicted of drug offenses.[5] Federal and state policies also impose collateral consequences on those convicted of drug offenses, such as denial of public benefits or licenses, that are not applicable to those convicted of other types of crime.[6]

[edit] Television Advertising Efforts

The War On Drugs is supported by a substantial, tax-payer funded television awareness effort, including anti-drug advertising spots from such organizations as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, among others. Writers and producers of popular, prime-time television shows are also paid with American tax dollars directly to write-in government-approved anti-drug messages, themes, and occasionally entire episodes.[7][8]

[edit] United States foreign policy

Operation Just Cause involved 25,000 American troops. The U.S. Government alleged that Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of government of Panama, was involved in drug trafficking in Panama. As part of Plan Colombia, the U.S. Government funded coca eradication through private contractors such as DynCorp and helped train the Colombian armed forces to eradicate coca and fight left-wing guerrillas such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and right-wing paramilitaries such as the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), both of which have been accused of participating in the illegal drug trade in their areas of influence. Private U.S. enterprises have signed contracts to carry out anti-drug activities as part of Plan Colombia. DynCorp, the largest private company involved, was among those contracted by the State Department, while others signed contracts with the Defense Department.[9]

In 2000, the Clinton administration initially waived all but one of the human rights conditions attached to Plan Colombia, considering such aid as crucial to national security at the time.[10] Subsequently, the U.S. government certified that the Colombian government had taken steps to improve respect for human rights and to prosecute abusers among its security forces.[11] The U.S. has later denied aid to individual Colombian military units accused of such abuses, such as the Palanquero Air Force base and the Army's XVII Brigade.[12][13] Opponents of aid given to the Colombian military as part of the War on Drugs argue that the U.S. and Colombian governments primarily focus on fighting the guerrillas, devoting less attention to the paramilitaries although these have a greater degree of participation in the illicit drug industry. Critics argue that Human Rights Watch, congressional committees and other entities have documented the existence of connections between members of the Colombian military and the AUC, and that Colombian military personnel have committed human rights abuses which would make them ineligible for U.S. aid under current laws.

In January 2007, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales met in Mexico with his counterpart Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza to discuss ways to stem growing drug-related violence in Mexican border towns associated with the illegal drug trade to America. More than 2,000 Mexicans died in gangland-style killings in 2006, prompting a petition by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open new offices in Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Nogales. The requested expansion would bring the total number of Mexican offices to 11 and increase the number of DEA agents from 81 to nearly 100.[14]

[edit] Merida Initiative

The Mérida Initiative is a security cooperation approved on June 30, 2008 between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America, with the aim of combating the threats of drug trafficking and transnational crime. The Merida Initiative will appropriate $1.4 billion in a three year commitment to the Mexican government for military and law enforcement training and equipment, as well as technical advice and training to strengthen the national justice systems. No weapons are included in the plan.[15][16]

[edit] Heroin production and smuggling

In the 1980s, top U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials believed that they would never be able to justify a multibillion-dollar budget from the U.S. government to fund the Afghan radicals, 'The Mujahideen', in their fight against the Soviet army, which has occupied Afghanistan. As a result, the Mujahideen decided to generate funds through the poppy-rich Afghan soil and heroin production and smuggling to finance the Afghan war creating the notorious Pashtun Mafia. Ayub Afridi, a radical Pashtun leader and drug baron, was the kingpin of this plan.[17]

[edit] Criticism

[edit] Legality

In his essay The Drug War and the Constitution,[18] Libertarian philosopher Paul Hager makes the case that the War on Drugs in the United States is an illegal form of prohibition, which violates the principles of a limited government embodied in the Constitution. Alcohol prohibition required amending the Constitution, because this was not a power granted to the federal government. Hager asserts if this is true, then marijuana prohibition should likewise require a Constitutional amendment.

[edit] Morality

In arguing against the concept of prohibition through legislation, Abraham Lincoln expressed his opposition to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1840:

"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

-Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) U.S. President.

Speech, 18 Dec. 1840, to Illinois House of Representatives.


[edit] Federalist argument

In her dissent in Gonzales v. Raich, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor argued that drug prohibition is an improper usurpation of the power to regulate interstate commerce, and the power to prohibit should be reserved by the states. In the same case, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a stronger dissent expressing the similar idea.

[edit] Substantive due process

Another argument against drug prohibition is based on the notion that its practice violates implicit rights within the substantive due process doctrine. It has been suggested that anti-drug laws do not achieve enough reasonable benefit to State interests to justify arbitrarily restricting basic individual liberties that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. One proponent of this notion is attorney Warren Redlich.[20]

The substantive due process argument is sometimes used in medical marijuana cases. NORML once wrote in an amicus brief on United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative that the right to use medical marijuana to save one's life is within the rights established by the substantive due process.[21] However, the Supreme Court found against the medical marijuana dispensary and for the United States in the aforementioned case. Some apparently believe that this invalidates the substantive due process argument against the Controlled Substances Act.

However, the Supreme Court expressly declined to rule on the issue of substantive due process in the aforementioned case, ruling against the medical marijuana dispensary in question on grounds of statutory construction, as the Court found that there was no standalone medical necessity defense in the Controlled Substances Act. Justice Clarence Thomas' majority opinion clearly explains that the Court did not consider any Constitutional arguments in coming to the conclusion that it reached. As Justice Thomas expressly states in his majority opinion: "Finally, the Cooperative contends that we should construe the Controlled Substances Act to include a medical necessity defense in order to avoid what it considers to be difficult constitutional questions. In particular, the Cooperative asserts that, shorn of a medical necessity defense, the statute exceeds Congress’ Commerce Clause powers, violates the substantive due process rights of patients, and offends the fundamental liberties of the people under the Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments. As the Cooperative acknowledges, however, the canon of constitutional avoidance has no application in the absence of statutory ambiguity. Because we have no doubt that the Controlled Substances Act cannot bear a medical necessity defense to distributions of marijuana, we do not find guidance in this avoidance principle. Nor do we consider the underlying constitutional issues today. Because the Court of Appeals did not address these claims, we decline to do so in the first instance."[22] As such, the question of the constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act under the doctrine of substantive due process remains an open one, undecided by the Supreme Court, and debated by the citizens of the United States. Even some opponents of the substantive due process argument who support the War on Drugs have noted that the doctrine could potentially lead to the invalidation of anti-drug laws.[23]

[edit] Legal Vs. Illegal Drugs

Many have also stressed the inequality of certain drugs remaining illegal while others that are equally harmful are completely legal. Examples of this include both tobacco and alcohol being legal and with few inter-personal restrictions despite them both being potentially harmful to a person's health.

[edit] Racial inequities in prosecution

The social consequences of the drug war have been widely criticized by such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union as being racially biased against minorities and disproportionately responsible for the exploding United States prison population. According to a report commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, and released in March 2006 by the Justice Policy Institute, America's "Drug-Free Zones" are ineffective at keeping youths away from drugs, and instead create strong racial disparities in the judicial system.[24]

[edit] U.S. government involvement in cocaine trafficking

A lawsuit filed in 1986 by two journalists represented by the Christic Institute alleges that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other parties are engaged in criminal acts, including financing the purchase of arms with the proceeds of cocaine sales.[25]

Senator John Kerry's 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links, which was released on April 20, 1989, concludes that members of the U.S. State Department "who provided support for the Contras are involved in drug trafficking...and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly receive financial and material assistance from drug traffickers."[26] The report further states that "the Contra drug links include...payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies."

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb published reports in the San Jose Mercury News,[27] and later in his book Dark Alliance,[28] detailing how Contras have distributed crack cocaine into Los Angeles to fund weapons purchases. These reports were initially attacked by various other newspapers in attempts to debunk the link by citing official reports that apparently had been cleared by the CIA.

In 1998, CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz published a two-volume report[29] that substantiates many of Webb's claims, and describes how 50 Contras and Contra-related entities involved in the drug trade have been protected from law enforcement activity by the Reagan-Bush administration, and documents a cover-up of evidence relating to these incidents. The report also shows that the National Security Council was aware of these activities. A report later that same year by the Justice Department Inspector General also arrives at similar conclusions.

[edit] Efficacy

USS Rentz (FFG-46) combats a fire set by drug smugglers trying to escape and destroy evidence.

[edit] National Research Council Study

In 2001, the National Research Council Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs published its findings on the efficacy of the drug war. The NRC Committee found that existing studies on efforts to address drug usage and smuggling, from U.S. military operations to eradicate coca fields in Colombia, to domestic drug treatment centers, have all been inconclusive, if the programs have been evaluated at all: "The existing drug-use monitoring systems are strikingly inadequate to support the full range of policy decisions that the nation must make.... It is unconscionable for this country to continue to carry out a public policy of this magnitude and cost without any way of knowing whether and to what extent it is having the desired effect."[30] The study, though not ignored by the press, was ignored by top-level policymakers, leading Committee Chair Charles Manski to conclude, as one observer notes, that "the drug war has no interest in its own results." [31]

[edit] Barriers to scientific research

Some members of the scientific community are concerned that U.S. drug policy hinders and scares away legitimate medical and scientific research efforts.[32][33][34][35] Dr. Rick Strassman, a researcher into the particular effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine, writes in his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule:

Many of today's most respected North American and European psychiatric researchers, in both academics and industry, now chairmen of major university departments and presidents of national psychiatric organizations, began their professional lives investigating psychedelic drugs. The most powerful members of their profession discovered that science, data, and reason were incapable of defending their research against the enactment of repressive laws fueled by opinion, emotion, and the media. Once these laws passed, government regulators and funding agencies quickly withdrew permits, drugs, and money. The same psychedelic drugs that researchers thought were unique keys to mental illness, and that had launched dozens of careers, became feared and hated.

Rick Strassman (2001). DMT: The Spirit Molecule, pages 28-29.[36]

The U.S. government classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug (having no accepted medical use) is contradicted by several scientific studies which suggest that it may in fact have medicinal value as a treatment for ailments such as cancer,[37] glaucoma, Fibromyalgia,[38] and neuropathic pain,[39] among others. In fact, in the abstract for patent number 6630507[40] filed Feb. 2, 2001 "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants", held by the United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, DC), they state "Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia."

[edit] Assorted arguments against the efficacy of the War on Drugs

Critics often note that during alcohol prohibition, alcohol use initially fell but began to increase as early as 1922. It has been extrapolated that even if prohibition hadn't been repealed in 1933, alcohol consumption would have quickly surpassed pre-prohibition levels [41]. They argue that the War on Drugs uses similar measures and is no more effective. In the six years from 2000–2006, the USA spent $4.7 billion on Plan Colombia, an effort to eradicate coca production in Colombia. The main result of this effort was to shift coca production into more remote areas and force other forms of adaptation. The overall acreage cultivated for coca in Colombia at the end of the six years was found to be the same, after the U.S. Drug Czar's office announced a change in measuring methodology in 2005 and included new areas in its surveys.[42] Cultivation in the neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia actually increased.[43]

Similar lack of efficacy is observed in some other countries pursuing similar[citation needed] policies. In 1994, 28.5% of Canadians reported having consumed illicit drugs in their life; by 2004, that figure had risen to 45%. 73% of the $368 million spent by the Canadian government on targeting illicit drugs in 2004–2005 went toward law enforcement rather than treatment, prevention or harm reduction.[44]

Richard Davenport-Hines, in his book The Pursuit of Oblivion (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), criticized the efficacy of the War on Drugs by pointing out that

10–15% of illicit heroin and 30% of illicit cocaine is intercepted. Drug traffickers have gross profit margins of up to 300%. At least 75% of illicit drug shipments would have to be intercepted before the traffickers' profits were hurt.

Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990–2000, described U.S. foreign drug policy as "failed" on grounds that "for 10 years, there has been a considerable sum invested by the Peruvian government and another sum on the part of the American government, and this has not led to a reduction in the supply of coca leaf offered for sale. Rather, in the 10 years from 1980 to 1990, it grew 10-fold."[45]

Attempts to limit production of coca by spraying crops with herbicide have proven problematic. As described in Wired Magazine, a distributed system of selective breeding propagates strains of the coca plant that have herbicide-resistant mutations:

"The farmers' decentralized system of disseminating coca cuttings has been amazingly effective - more so than genetic engineering could hope to be. When one plant somewhere in the country demonstrated tolerance to glyphosate, cuttings were made and passed on to dealers and farmers, who could sell them quickly to farmers hoping to withstand the spraying. The best of the next generation was once again used for cuttings and distributed."[46]

At least 500 economists, including Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman, George Akerlof and Vernon L. Smith, have noted that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits of marijuana sellers, to go up, according to the laws of supply and demand.[47] The increased profits encourage the producers to produce more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect. The aforementioned economists published an open letter to President George W. Bush stating "We urge…the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition... At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition." A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron has estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy — $44.1 billion from law enforcement savings, and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenue ($6.7 billion from marijuana, $22.5 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs).[48][49] Recent surveys help to confirm the consensus among economists to reform drug policy in the direction of decriminalization and legalization.[50]

The declaration from the World Forum Against Drugs, 2008 state that a balanced policy of drug abuse prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement, research, and supply reduction provides the most effective platform to reduce drug abuse and its associated harms and call on governments to consider demand reduction as one of their first priorities in the fight against drug abuse.[51]

[edit] Terminology

[edit] War as a propaganda term

The phrase "War on Drugs" has been condemned as being propaganda to justify military or paramilitary operations under the guise of a noble cause. [52] Noam Chomsky points out[citation needed] that the term is an example of synecdoche referring to operations against suspected producers, traders and/or users of certain substances.

This form of language was previously used in Lyndon B. Johnson's "war on poverty", and later by George W. Bush's "War on Terrorism". The word "war" is used to invoke a state of emergency, although the target and methods of the campaign is largely unlike that of a regular war.

In their book Multitude, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri oppose the view that the use of the term "war" is only metaphorical: they analyse the War on Drugs as part of a global war of a biopolitical nature. Like the War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs is a true war, waged by the US government against its own people.[53]

Richard Lawrence Miller's Drug Warriors and Their Prey draws detailed comparisons of the War on Drugs in the United States today with events in 1930s Germany that led to Hitler's Third Reich and the attempted destruction of the Jewish people. Miller writes that "authoritarians are manufacturing and manipulating public fears about drug use in order to create a police state where a much broader agenda of social control can be implemented, using government power to determine what movies we may watch, determine who we may love and how we may love them, determine whether we may or must pray to a deity. I believe the war on drug users masks a war on democracy."[54]

[edit] War victims

[edit] Innocent victims

Peter Guither in his Drug War Victims blog posted at Salon lists dozens of people who have been killed by law enforcement and the DEA without having been convicted of a crime. Many of them were not suspects, nor had they been using drugs. Cases include a 35-year-old Christian missionary and her seven-month-old daughter, both killed (and her husband and son seriously injured) in April 2001 when the Cessna airplane carrying them and other missionaries was shot down over Peru as a result of incorrect information being provided by the DEA. Other examples include an eleven-year-old boy who was shot by a SWAT team after following their instructions to lie on the ground, and an elderly woman suffering a fatal heart attack after law enforcement officers entered her home during the night and set off flash grenades (they were not at the correct address). Several cases involved residents who were killed while allegedly attacking officers in self-defense, not realizing who was forcefully entering their homes and believing they were in danger.

[edit] Children involved in the illegal drug trade

The U.S. government's most recent 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that nationwide over 800,000 adolescents ages 12–18 sold illegal drugs during the 12 months preceding the survey.[55] The 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nationwide 25.4% of students had been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug by someone on school property. The prevalence of having been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property ranged from 15.5% to 38.7% across state CDC surveys (median: 26.1%) and from 20.3% to 40.0% across local surveys (median: 29.4%).[56]

Despite over $7 billion spent annually towards arresting[57] and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses in 2005[citation needed](FBI Uniform Crime Reports), the federally-funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana "easy to obtain." That figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1975, never dropping below 82.7% in three decades of national surveys.[58]

[edit] Environmental consequences

Environmental consequences of the drug war, resulting from US-backed aerial fumigation of drug-growing operations in third world countries, have been criticized as detrimental to some of the world's most fragile ecosystems;[59] the same aerial fumigation practices are further credited with causing health problems in local populations.[60]

[edit] Effect on growers

The US's coca eradication policy has been criticised for its negative impact on the livelihood of coca growers in South America. In many areas of South America the coca leaf has traditionally been chewed and used in tea and for religious, medicinal and nutritional purposes by locals. For this reason many insist that the illegality of traditional coca cultivation is unjust. In many areas the US government and military has forced the eradication of coca without providing for any meaningful alternate crop for farmers. The status of coca and coca growers has become an intense political issue in several countries, including Colombia and particularly Bolivia, where the president, Evo Morales, a former coca growers' union leader, has promised to legalise the traditional cultivation and use of coca.

In Afghanistan, the implementation of costly poppy eradication policies by the international community, and in particular the United States since their military intervention in 2001, have led[citation needed] to poverty and discontent on the part of the rural community, especially in the south of the country where alternative development policies have not been put in place to replace livelihoods lost through eradication. Furthermore, poppy cultivation has dramatically increased since 2003 as has support for anti-government elements. Although alternative policies such as controlled opium licensing have been suggested and are supported by many in Afghanistan and abroad, government leaders have still to move away from harmful eradication schemes.

[edit] War on drugs as cyclic creation of a permanent underclass

Since illegal drug use has been blamed for feeding the growth of the underclass, this has caused prohibitionists[citation needed] to call for further increases in certain drug-crime penalties, even though some of these disrupt opportunities for drug users to advance in society in socially acceptable ways. It has been argued by Blumenson and Nilsen that this causes a vicious cycle: since penalties for drug crimes among youth almost always involve permanent or semi-permanent removal from opportunities for education, and later involve creation of criminal records which make employment far more difficult, that the "war on drugs" has in fact resulted in the creation of a permanent underclass of people who have few education or job opportunities, often as a result of being punished for drug offenses which in turn have resulted from attempts to earn a living in spite of having no education or job opportunities.[61]

[edit] Illegal drugs versus pharmaceuticals

In another regard, the war on drugs affects the US in the manner of its impact upon how health care providers employ psychoactive medications already extant in the United States Pharmacopeia (many of which have the potential for abuse, or for use as chemical precursors to substances proscribed by the Controlled Substances Act).

To take as one example, patients with ADHD are commonly prescribed various stimulant medications in maintenance regimens to control the symptoms of the condition. Frequently used drugs are Ritalin (Methylphenidate), Dexedrine (Dextroamphetamine), Adderall (Mixed Amphetamine Salts), and Desoxyn (Methamphetamine). All three of these products (and their congeners) are rated as Schedule II drugs which—per CDS-imposed regulations—can only be dispensed in amounts suitable for a month's medication at most, with the requirement that each month's supply can be renewed only with the authorization of yet another written prescription. Licensed prescribers are not even permitted to telephone, fax, or mail a refill authorization to the patient's pharmacy, with a few exceptions.

This obliges patients on stable regimens of therapy to visit their health care providers physically for reasons of regulatory compliance rather than medical necessity, adding substantially to the aggregate burden in financial cost accruing nationally due to the incidence of ADHD in the population, and providing no substantive benefit to either the patient or the community.

Another example is found in the 2005 Combat Methamphetamine Act, which seeks to control the volume of retail purchase of pseudoephedrine, a safe and effective over-the-counter systemic decongestant, simply because the methods by which these pseudoephedrine products can be used to extract a chemical base for the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine has become widespread knowledge in the flourishing black market for drugs of abuse.

This latter government grope in the War on Drugs serves to impose a major financial burden on the pharmaceuticals industry (forcing the reformulation of well-established products with the substitution of the demonstrably less effective decongestant phenylephrine) as well as substantially increased costs upon pharmacies and inconveniences upon patients on the dubious grounds that it poses a minor inconvenience to the criminals running meth labs.

[edit] The Citizen's Briefing Book and Drug Prohibition

Following President Barack Obama's win of the 2008 presidential election, Change.gov hosted a service on their website named the Citizen's Briefing Book allowing United States citizens to give their opinion on the most important issues in America, and allow others to vote up or down on those ideas. The top ten ideas are to be given to Obama on the day of his inauguration, January 20, 2009. The most popular idea according to the American people was "Ending Marijuana Prohibition", earning 92,970 points and obtaining a total of 3,550 comments.[62] The argument, written by 'Matt', states as follows:

Most popular vote on citizensbriefingbook.change.gov

I suggest that we step back and take a non-biased "Science Based" approach to decide what should be done about the "Utter Failure" that we call the War on (some) Drugs. The fact is that Marijuana is much less harmful to our bodies than other Legal Drugs such as Tobacco and Alcohol. And for the Government to recognize Marijuana as having Medicinal Properties AND as a Schedule I drug (Has NO medicinal Properties) is an obvious flaw in the system.

We must stop imprisoning responsible adult citizens choosing to use a drug that has been mis-labeled for over 70 years.

The second most popular argument, by contrast, was "Commit to becoming the “Greenest” country in the world." with only 70,470 points.[63]

It is unknown at this time how President Barack Obama plans to work with the American people on this issue, however Obama has stated that while he is an advocate for medical marijuana use, he does not believe in the legalization of recreational use of marijuana.

[edit] Arguments for the Drug War

The US Drug Enforcement Administration claims to have made significant progress in fighting drug use and drug trafficking in America. In a document entitled "Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization" published in May 2003 the DEA said:

Now is not the time to abandon our efforts. The Legalization Lobby claims that the fight against drugs cannot be won. However, overall drug use is down by more than a third in the last twenty years, while cocaine use has dropped by an astounding 70 percent. Ninety-five percent of Americans do not use drugs. This is success by any standards.

US Drug Enforcement Administration (2003).Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization[64]

[edit] Reduction of drug availability

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has argued that there is a strong correlation between drug availability and drug abuse.

Legalization may reduce the profits to organized crime, but it will also increase the damage done to the health of individuals and society. Evidence shows a strong correlation between drug availability and drug abuse. Let us therefore reduce the availability of drugs - through tackling supply and demand - and thereby reduce the risks to health and security [...] drug policy does not have to choose between either protecting health, through drug control, or ensuring law-and-order, by liberalizing drugs. Democratic governments can and must protect health and safety.

Besides, just because something is hard to control doesn't mean that its legalization will solve the problem. For example, it is hard to stop human trafficking - a modern form of slavery. This is a multi-billion dollar business. Because the problem is out of control, would you equally propose that we accept it?

UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa (December 2007).Free Drugs or Drug Free?", New Orleans.

[edit] Protection of communities

President Bill Clinton asserted that it's necessary to combat drug abuse and trafficking in order to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods:

As Americans who care about our future, we can't let drugs and drug-related crimes continue to ruin communities, threaten our children even in schools and fill up our prisons with wrecked and wasted lives. We have to do a better job of preventing drug use and treating those who seek treatment, and we must do more to protect law-abiding citizens from those who victimize them in the pursuit of drugs or profit from drugs.

US President Bill Clinton (April 1993).Remarks by the President in Announcement of Lee Brown as Director of Office of Drug Control Policy.[65]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Payan, Tony, The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars Westport, Conn. : Praeger Security International, 2006. p. 23
  2. ^ Lester Grinspoon, M.D.& James B. Bakalar, J.D. (February 3, 1994). The War on Drugs—A Peace Proposal. 330. New England Journal of Medicine. pp. 357–360. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/330/5/357. 
  3. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1991.
  4. ^ Austin J, McVey AD. The 1989 NCCD prison population forecast: the impact of the war on drugs. San Francisco: National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1989.
  5. ^ Jeff Yates, Gabriel J. Chin & Todd Collins, A War on Drugs or a War on Immigrants? Expanding the Definition of 'Drug Trafficking' in Determining Aggravated Felon Status for Non-Citizens, 64 Maryland Law Review 875 (1995)
  6. ^ Gabriel J. Chin, Race, The War on Drugs, and the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction, 6 Journal of Gender, Race & Justice 253 (2002)
  7. ^ Salon Magazine "Prime-time Propaganda"
  8. ^ Television's Risky Relationship
  9. ^ Private Security Transnational Enterprises in Colombia José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective February, 2008.
  10. ^ Stokes, Doug (2005). America's Other War: Terrorizing Colombia. Zed Books. ISBN 1-84277-547-2.  p. 99
  11. ^ Boucher, Richard (2002-05-01). "Colombia: Determination and Certification of Colombian Armed Forces with Respect to Human Rights-Related Conditions". U.S. Embassy in Colombia. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/9891.htm. Retrieved on 2006-06-23. 
  12. ^ El Tiempo (2004-05-24). "The nation is sentenced to pay 2000 million pesos to the victims of the attack on Santo Domingo". International Labor Rights Forum. http://www.laborrights.org/press/oxy_052604.htm. 
  13. ^ Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights (2005-12-11). "El senado norteamericano pone objeciones a la Brigada XVII por violaciones graves al derecho internacional humanitario" (in Spanish). http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/colombia/doc/brigxvii1.html. 
  14. ^ Lloyd, Marion (2007-01-11). "Attorneys general cite shared responsibility". Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/world/4465264.html. 
  15. ^ Mexico's 2008 defence budget goes under review
  16. ^ Bush pushes Mexico money in Iraq bill
  17. ^ Asia Times, Dec. 4, 2001, http://www.atimes.com/ind-pak/CL04Df01.html
  18. ^ Hager, Paul (1991). "The Drug War and the Constitution". The Libertarian Corner. http://www.paulhager.org/libertarian/drug_con.html. 
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