Harvard Lecturer: Legalize Drugs to End Border Violence

Another voice in the small but growing crowd urging legalization of drugs to end the Mexico drug war violence: Harvard Senior Lecturer in Economics Jeffrey Miron.

Argument 1: Prohibition creates violence. It happened with alcohol and gambling. End the prohibition, end the violence. [More...]

Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.

Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after. Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it's permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question. The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs (emphasis supplied.)

But, there are other reasons, according to Miron: Such as, legalize drugs, reduce bribery.

Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade.

Criminalization of drugs erodes our constitutional rights:

Prohibition erodes protections against unreasonable search and seizure because neither party to a drug transaction has an incentive to report the activity to the police. Thus, enforcement requires intrusive tactics such as warrantless searches or undercover buys. The victimless nature of this so-called crime also encourages police to engage in racial profiling.

Prohibition is bad for national security:

Prohibition has disastrous implications for national security. By eradicating coca plants in Colombia or poppy fields in Afghanistan, prohibition breeds resentment of the United States. By enriching those who produce and supply drugs, prohibition supports terrorists who sell protection services to drug traffickers.

Prohibition harms the public health:

Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other conditions cannot use marijuana under the laws of most states or the federal government despite abundant evidence of its efficacy. Terminally ill patients cannot always get adequate pain medication because doctors may fear prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Prohibition breeds disrespect for the rule of law:

Prohibitions breed disrespect for the law because despite draconian penalties and extensive enforcement, huge numbers of people still violate prohibition. This means those who break the law, and those who do not, learn that obeying laws is for suckers.

And the number one reason that may resonate with the public in these perilous economic times: Prohibition is a financial drain.

Federal, state and local governments spend roughly $44 billion per year to enforce drug prohibition. These same governments forego roughly $33 billion per year in tax revenue they could collect from legalized drugs, assuming these were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco. Under prohibition, these revenues accrue to traffickers as increased profits.

President Obama's new plan to spend $700 million for border security is the wrong approach. And that's in addition to Merida:

The funds, meant to assist what administration officials described as an "anti-smuggling effort," will complement ongoing U.S. aid to Mexico under the Merida initiative, a three-year $1.4 billion package aimed at helping Mexico fight the drug cartels with law enforcement training, military equipment and improved intelligence cooperation.

The war on drugs is a failure. Plan Mexico will crash and burn.

< Border Agents to Poison Foliage Along Border | Discussing The Geithner Plan >
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    Any open mind... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 11:56:03 AM EST
    that hasn't been polluted with 80 plus years of prohibitionist propaganda should be able to see this as clear as day.  Prohibition as a cure is worse than the disease.

    But if people don't get it by now, they never will...so lets shoot up the border, spread poison on the border, and fill the prisons instead... Brilliant!  The only winners are Police and Thieves.

    you nailed it (none / 0) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:52:45 PM EST
    it is willfull closed mindedness.  the police departments across the country are making a killing taking property and reselling drugs.
    I have three cops in my family I know how this works.
    all these arguments are good ones but the one that will result in decriminalization is the economic one.
    eventually they will look at the tax revenue California is raking in and take it national.

    How much tax revenue is CA is raking in? (none / 0) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:56:43 PM EST
    a lot (none / 0) (#20)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:57:58 PM EST
    I just saw a piece about it a couple of days ago.
    I have a meeting so I cant look for it but you can probably find it if you google.

    google "revenue from california pot tax" (none / 0) (#23)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:08:01 PM EST
    and you will find all the arguments.  but I think this is the bottom line.

    But the biggest boon might be to the bottom line. By some estimates, California's pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.

    "Having just closed a $42-billion budget deficit, generating new revenue is crucial to the state's long-term fiscal health,"


    NPR-All Things Considered, April 3, 2008
    Medical marijuana advocates estimate that the aggregate annual sales tax revenue that's paid by the approximately 400 dispensaries in California is $100 million.
    $100M, while it sounds like a lot, is really only about 1/10 of 1% of 2009-10 CA projected tax revenues.

    From The Growers (none / 0) (#29)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:19:59 PM EST
    The producers and sellers of marijuana offer the state of California at least one billion dollars in additional tax revenue every year -- and nobody is arguing.



    this is from January (none / 0) (#32)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:24:44 PM EST
    According to government surveys, 14.5 million Americans use marijuana at least monthly but both the producers and consumers of this crop escape paying any taxes whatsoever on it. While precise figures are impossible given the illicit nature of the market, it is reasonable to suggest that California could easily collect at least $1.5 billion and maybe as much as $4 billion annually in additional tax revenue, if we took marijuana out of the criminal underground and taxed and regulated it, similar to how handle beer, wine and tobacco.



    No argument about (none / 0) (#39)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:51:09 PM EST
    what tax revenues people think might be got in CA by med MJ, I was pointing out what tax revenues actually are got, in response to your comment:
    they will look at the tax revenue California is raking in
    Don't get me wrong, I'm following this topic with much interest. I live in CA, have a green thumb and pot is profitable.

    sounds like a lot (none / 0) (#33)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:27:36 PM EST
    actually I think it is quite a lot considering that is just from the 400 existing dispensaries.  

    one-sided (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by diogenes on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:08:11 PM EST
    Sure, support legalization, but remember that the reason why millions of college students drink to excess rather than doing oxys or cocaine is that alcohol is legal and they won't risk their futures with a possible legal charge.  
    Almost all of us have tried cigarettes and alcohol at some point.  Not so many of us have experimented with pot, heroin, cocaine, oxycontins, or meth.  If you could buy these in a store legally that would change.  At least give both sides of the story.
    The "legalize marijuana for glaucoma patients" argument is a crock.  Maybe if medical marijuana laws required a documented failure with marinol tablets then that would be different.  

    have you had success (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:17:07 PM EST
    with Marinol? My clients have not. They especially complain about the tolerance build-up which makes it ineffective after a short time.

    Millions of college students tried drugs including pot, cocaine, meth, qualuudes, barbiturates,  narcotic painkillers and more in the 60's and became neither addicts nor failures at life.


    one-sided (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Janda on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:24:06 PM EST
    Your argument has one fatal flaw.  For the majority of college students alcohol is not legal, and many college administrators strongly believe that if it were legal for all undergraduates there would be far fewer problems with binge drinking.  

    You also assume that college students who binge drink don't try other drugs.  While you may not have experimented with other drugs, a large percentage of college students have.  It is unclear that making them legal would change the number who do experiment with them, but it would definitely make their use safer for those who do.  


    What's your point.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:22:20 PM EST
    that drug use and/or drug addiction will rise?  

    Not sure I buy it, I tend to think people are gonna eat/drink/smoke/pop/drop/shoot what they want regardless of whether it is illegal or not...as we can plainly see the illegality has little to no effect on availability.  Illegality in fact increases availabilty to minors.

    But even if you're right, and use and/or abuse increases...we will have all this saved money (and new tax revenue) to spend on treatment for anyone who wants it.  It will be a net positive for society and large, not to mention more individual liberty...which is always a plus in my book.


    college students (none / 0) (#7)
    by CST on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:27:04 PM EST
    certainly use other drugs.  One of the reasons they drink alchohol in excess is that it is illegal so they cannot drink openly and in public places where the amount of alcohol is controlled (as in - bartenders cut you off - frat boys don't).

    Finally - as a friend said to me the other day - I could go out right now and buy enough booze to kill us both, but I could never buy enough pot (even if it was legal) to accomplish that.  Maybe we'd rather have college kids over-indulging in pot than booze.

    As for the other drugs, I don't think legalization will be in the format you think.  I don't think people should be able to go to the neighborhood drug store and pick up some heroin.  I think it will be controlled the same way prescription drugs are currently controlled - you need a note from the doctor, because you are already addicted to the stuff.  That can come along with treatment.


    One more thing we can thank Prohibition for (5.00 / 0) (#58)
    by daryl herbert on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 01:05:59 AM EST
    in addition to providing a revenue stream to the criminal class, it also provides an avenue for youngsters to become socialized into the criminal class.  Young pot buyers and dealers learn the social norms of criminal behavior.

    Some of them will learn those lessons very well, and become criminals when they are older.

    Story on NPR this AM (none / 0) (#3)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:16:44 PM EST
    about the drug trade Juarez, Mexico.
    The growing number of lawless youth in Juarez is intimately connected to the proliferation of narcotics. Juarez has now replaced Tijuana as Mexico's most drug-addicted city.

    A crackdown by U.S. and Mexican authorities has choked traditional smuggling routes. Consequently, the cartels have flooded the local market with marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

    More young people are selling, and using, than ever before.

    Carlos is a freckle-faced heroin addict -- 18 years old, though he looks much older. He hangs out with other junkies near the market in central Juarez.

    With a slurred voice and glassy eyes, Carlos says he came to Juarez last year from Guadalajara with the intention of sneaking into the United States and looking for work, but he couldn't get past the Border Patrol. So he stayed in Juarez where he lives in a grim, abandoned building reeking of human waste.

    He squeegees car windows and steals to get the money to buy the fixes he needs to shoot up every six hours.

    Sad... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:32:17 PM EST
    I wonder how much the feeling of hopelessness leads people to addiction.  Heroin use is on the rise in my community too, with a couple high profile od's of teenagers in the papers.

    It's certainly complex...but I tend to think the lack of opportunity, or appearance there of, directly correlates in some way to rises in alcoholism and drug addiction.

    One thing I know for sure is that heroin has been illegal my whole life, and there has never been a shortage of junkies.  Addiction is a fact of life we need to come to grips with and address humanely, the chain and cage model only piles misery on top of misery, with a side order of violence.


    I tend to think the lack of opportunity (none / 0) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:49:22 PM EST
    I tend to think the lack of opportunity, or appearance there of, directly correlates in some way to rises in alcoholism and drug addiction.
    Not sure about that. Seems to be a lot of wealthy, successful, livin' the good life alcohol and drug addicts. We just don't see them cuz they've got homes.

    Hey, didn't you say one time that you're addicted to nicotine?


    exactly correct (none / 0) (#18)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:54:12 PM EST
    I would say most are fairly affluent.  we only know about the others because the have to steal to support their habit.
    everyone who wants to do drugs does drugs.
    and it is not cheap.

    I assume I am... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:07:25 PM EST
    I wake up in the morning and reach for the butts if that is any indicator, and then reach for the coffee (probably addicted to that too)...but its hard to say for sure because I haven't really tried to kick either of 'em....I enjoy it too much.

    Definitely mentally infatuated if not addicted, physically I won't really know unless I try and quit...and that ain't happening until I stop enjoying it.


    addiction is not so bad (none / 0) (#24)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:10:49 PM EST
    people are addicted to everything from moisturizer to all you can eat buffets with varying degrees of danger to their personal health.
    we are all grownups.  we are all responsible for our own risks and rewards.  or should be.

    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:15:03 PM EST
    I'm certainly not bothered by it if I am in fact addicted.

    It's probably safest to say I'm addicted to soaking all the joy I can out of this f*cked up world, in all its glorious forms.


    "mentally infatuated" (none / 0) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:19:52 PM EST
    I know how you feel, I used to chew tobaccy. Alot. I still yearn for that sweet smell and taste and that rough texture between my cheek and gum.

    The rich addict... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:28:14 PM EST
    may just be among the steady stream of addicts regardless of societal conditions...I was thinking of the spikes in addiction that seem to occur during times of turmoil....though I could be way off.

    Great Idea (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:27:56 PM EST

    Wrong Arguments (none / 0) (#9)
    by bocajeff on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:30:49 PM EST
    There are always pros and cons to these types of arguments. But this one works the best:

    In a free society people are allowed to indulge in any behavior they wish as long as it does not cause any harm to anyone else. (For the libertarians)

    We are not children and do not need Big Government to protect us from ourselves. (For the conservatives)

    We can do more with government resources if we just tax the usage and invest it wisely (for the liberals).


    It all boils down to... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:34:23 PM EST
    the libertarian argument you mentioned...as far as I'm concerned my neighbors don't have the right to legislate what I can or can't put in my body...it is an inalienable right, like breathing or eating.

    So would you favor (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:40:12 PM EST
    regulating it then, like alcohol and cigarettes?  For example, not allowing sales to minors, or passing laws against shooting up and driving?

    I would be interested to see how many crimes are committed by people while they are high (including how many commit crimes while they are drunk).  Does anybody have any info on that?


    Absolutely (none / 0) (#15)
    by bocajeff on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:49:18 PM EST
    Regulate like we regulate everything else (that's another argument for another time).

    Driving is a privilege and not a right on public roads. Therefore driving under the influence of anything is illegal since it endangers others. Again, as long as what you do doesn't effect me then what do I care.

    As for sale to minors - since we've already agreed that minors don't get the same rights as adults then you can limit the sale also.

    Look, laws don't stop behavior if people want to engage in the behavior. If that were true we wouldn't have murders, rapes, fraud, etc...The only things that stop people from doing things are morality and fear of punishment.


    I'm not necessarily disagreeing (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:02:34 PM EST
    I'm just asking what the stats are on crime and being  under the influence, and I also believe that children do not have the same rights as adults.

    I just don't think something like this should have the floodgates open all willy-nilly without some regulations.


    why? (none / 0) (#36)
    by bocajeff on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:31:48 PM EST
    We regulate alcohol and it kills thousands and is responsible for a multitude of crimes.

    Yes, there should be some regulation so people don't by pot and end up arsenic.

    But why do you care if it doesn't have anything to do with you?


    It does have something to do with me (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:58:24 PM EST
    If there is no regulation about people driving while high, or people cooking my food at a restaurant while high, or people watching kids at a day care center, or people operating cranes while under the influence, or piloting a plane, etc.

    I don't understand the infatuation with... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:41:26 PM EST
    the contents of a criminals blood, I really don't.  What difference does it make if a murderer kills because he's high, he's drunk, or the dog told him to do it...murder is murder and is unacceptable under any circumstances.

    Because (none / 0) (#40)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:55:49 PM EST
    It can be used at a criminal trial as a mitigating circumstance to possibly reduce the charges or to get a reduced sentence, so it matters very much.

    I see... (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:59:51 PM EST
    I am strongly opposed to reduced sentences for addicts who commit violent crimes....with the greater freedom I desire to self-medicate as I see fit must come greater personal responsibility.  Drug or alcohol use should be not be cause for a reduced sentence for violent criminals...period.

    Would such a caveat to prohibition repeal ease your concerns?


    Actually (none / 0) (#43)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 02:09:10 PM EST
    It was just general curiosity - how many people commit crimes when they are high / drunk? Is there a database that shows that?

    My guess is, most of the "drunk" crimes are MIP, disorderly conduct, DWI/DUI, or negligent homicides, but I could be wrong.  I'm wondering how many people high on pot, meth, prescription pills, etc. commit crimes like assault, murder, rape, armed robbery, etc., or do they commit the same crimes in the same numbers as drunks (assuming my theory above is true).

    I know people can get high now, but I know there are people who don't get high because it's illegal, but might want to do it if it becomes legal.


    I don't know a single soul... (none / 0) (#44)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 02:18:36 PM EST
    who makes the decision whether to use or not because of illegality...though I do know a couple who would like to use but don't because they fear random drug-screening from their employer, which is a slighltly different animal.  I have a friend who would like to try marijuana as a treatment for the symptoms of MS, but fears it might cost him his job.  I feel so bad for him, everytime we're at a bbq or party something he's like "you're smoking me out the day I retire right kdog?" and I'm like "hell yeah brother, whenever you're ready."

    It's so crazy...


    My experience (none / 0) (#49)
    by Bemused on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 03:33:33 PM EST
      is that the vast majority of violent crime associated with drugs is either of the same class you identify as being associated with alcohol (domestic violence and  impulsive "minor" assaultive behavior not involving domestic relationships) or violence directed by one drug seller or or group at another seller in order to protect or invade lucrative turf.

      I've had a number of clients commit crimes to get money to buy drugs but most of them are simple larceny or fraud/embezzlement type cases. I think I could count on one hand the number of people who committed  robbery to get money to buy drugs.

      I've had many times more people who committed murder while drunk than while on illegal drugs, and the  majority of my murder clients were sober even counting legal prescription use of psychoactive drugs, which probably runs about equal with illegal drugs.

       All very anectdotal to be sure, but I have no reason to believe its not closely representative.

       Another thing to remember is that all of the studies I have ever seen classify a crime as drug related when a person merely tests positive at some detectable level without any regard for whether the drug use contributed in any way to the crime. If a guy gets heavily stoned Saturday night and then commits a crime on Thursday that is no good reason to identify it as a drug related crime.

       I do agree that many people here don't want to talk honestly about the dangers of drugs and I think it's pretty far-fetched to argue more people would not do more drugs if they were legal, but a good case for legalization can be made without dismissing real concerns of the downside of legalization.

      I used to be a legalization absolutist, but a long career has led me to the conclusion that it would be a mistake to make dangerous drugs which serve no necessary purpose when used recreationally legal. I have no doubt there are people with "addictive personalities" who would in fact destroy their lives if they tried certain drugs and that the laws against doing so restrain many. It's the same idea that many people whose religious scruples cause them to abstain from alcohol would likely become alcoholics if they did drink. I think there are many times more people who are restrained by law as opposed to religion.

      I do tnink marijuana should be legalized. It's less dangerous than alcohol and driving it underground not infrequently puts purchasers  in contact with sellers of more harmful substances.


    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 03:41:05 PM EST
    I agree.  We should be able to talk about legalization, but we should also be able to talk about the downsides without being told "they tried it with alcohol", "it's my right", and "booze is worse."

    As we've seen recently with the stimulus package and the AIG bonus tax, we shouldn't rush to change legislation just because the wind is blowing a potentially different way for the time being, without understanding the ramifications of our actions.


    m.j may be legalized, (none / 0) (#51)
    by jondee on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 03:54:01 PM EST
    but I dont see many of the rest of them having a snowballs chance in hell given how important the righteous wrath of the (unfortunatly well organized) religious reich is to so many pols.

    That said, there's no goddamn good reason why heroin shouldnt be available to the terminally ill
    experiencing intolerable pain, and Ecstasy and drugs like it should certainly be available as a therapuetic adjunct for well trained therapists and psychiatrists.


    Don't forget mushrooms and peyote... (none / 0) (#52)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 04:01:24 PM EST
    for religous experience:)

    Look to Holland (none / 0) (#60)
    by mexboy on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 06:20:58 AM EST
    Drugs are legal there and the crime rate is practically zilch.

    Correlation does not imply causation (none / 0) (#11)
    by StevenT on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:32:38 PM EST
    Unlike alcohol and gambling, there are many types of drugs ranging from marijuana to other more serius types like meth and heroin. Unless you intend to legalize all drugs, which will be very destructive to the nation, this plan just won't work. People would just want stronger drugs and this cycle will continue. So our only plan is to fight the war on drugs efficiently. There are just too much corruption along the border for us to win. We need well paid agents to be border patrol. Enough incentives got to be given to combat corruption.

    Medical marijuana will not work because the sale of it will definitely go to non-medical usage. The best way is to reform our healthcare system so our medicines are cheap and totally affordable to the public. But our 'hippies' have decided that universal healthcare is a non-concern.

    As for the situation in Mexico, the best solution would be Mexico agreeing for our troops to enter and destroy the drug lords and their private army. However, people have to realize that drug lords are real terrorists and they will do whatever it take to protect their interest.

    As for legalizing an illicit activity, i would suggest prostitution to be the same criterion with gambling and alcohol. This way we could actually regulate and will be advantages to those willing to do the escorting work as they did their job willingly. This will combat smuggling of women and children for prostitution reasons.

    can't get past (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Howard Zinn on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 04:12:39 PM EST
    your first sentence: "Unlike alcohol and gambling, there are many types of drugs ranging from marijuana to other more serius types like meth and heroin."

    This is precisely the type of biased comment that shows our inherent and illogical bias against some drugs and for others.  Alcohol IS a drug, and a very harmful one at that.  

    Let's make things illegal that can harm others.  Driving while intoxicated should be illegal.  Being intoxicated shouldn't be.


    Ummm get real (none / 0) (#13)
    by SOS on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:37:51 PM EST
    these drug cartels down there don't care about whats right or wrong. They've gotten too big and to nasty.

    Agreed. This would not end (none / 0) (#25)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:13:56 PM EST
    the Mexican gangs.  I'm for changing our drug laws in many ways, but let's not think it would change the mess in Mexico much.  So says a Mexican interviewed on NPR today (I was not able to catch the name), and so says our own history.  We wisely ended Prohibition, but that just sent those who had been bootleggers into corrupting other businesses.

    The downside of this argument to change drug laws to fix Mexico is, of course, that Mexico would not be fixed -- so the drug laws could be changed back again.  Separate the two aims, both worthy ones.


    Maybe not end... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:21:02 PM EST
    but certainly weaken them and lighten their pocketbook...I mean what are they gonna do for money if we ended prohibiton, run numbers?

    I guess there is kidnapping and armed robbery...but they will find the publics patience for such things much shorter than their patience for dope-running.  Quite a few of us like dope in the land of the quasi-free and current law puts us on the wrong side of the law, when in a better world peace-loving free people would all be on the same side of the law.  


    Sure. But again (none / 0) (#31)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:24:13 PM EST
    weakening the criminals in Mexico is one cause.

    Changing the drug laws in this country is a different cause -- and linking them could cause problems down the line.  

    Anticipating consequences is what wise lawmakers and others do, to be sure that they are not winning in the short term only to lose in the long term.


    What problems.... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:30:49 PM EST
    I see win/win...greater freedom and savings for America, less drug-trade fueled violence and corruption in Mexico.

    What the Mexican interviewee (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 03:20:34 PM EST
    was saying, to try to make this more clear:

    End drug-trade-fueled violence and corruption in Mexico, and there still will be violence and corruption in Mexico -- because the problem is, at base, not the drug market in the U.S.  The problem is in Mexico -- its politics, its economy, etc.

    From what I've seen there, read about there, and more, this rings true.

    So, again:  Yes, let's change our drug laws.  And doing so may end some of the problems our laws cause for Mexico.  But the bigger problems in Mexico still will be there.

    And so:  Prepare for problems in defending such changes in our drug laws if predicated upon improving matters in Mexico.  Base changes in our society on the effects in our society.  Stop causing problems for other countries, but don't think that we can fix other countries.

    (I thought Vietnam, Iraq, etc., taught us that -- and what happens when we go into something with unclear and/or muddled goals that are not met.  We end up with more than one country's citizens distrusting their governments, for one thing.)


    This country is the largest consumer of drugs (none / 0) (#61)
    by mexboy on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 06:24:56 AM EST
    Supply and Demand would indicate that legalizing drugs here would have an impact in the cartel's that operate in Mexico, and therefore the crime factor.

    Also, the Mexican government was working in legislation to legalize drugs in Mexico and they were pressured by the Bush administration not to.


    This is your brain on drugs (none / 0) (#38)
    by Dadler on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 01:44:01 PM EST
    This is your society on prohibition.

    Which is really worse?  Dealing with individuals who have drug problems or dealing with the far-reaching criminal octopus we create through puritan illegality?

    Even to a fried noodle, a no-brainer is called such for a reason.

    Decriminalizing Pot, at minimum, (none / 0) (#45)
    by tokin librul on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 02:22:04 PM EST
    (if not out-right legalization, and subsequent/consequent regulation/taxation) is the ONLY to get control of the Border.

    Everything else will fail. Especially the military solution.

    However there is a coterie of USer officialdom for whom the use of force makes a LOT of cents: the Military/Industrial/Surveillance cabal, which stands to profit handsomely from a border war fought with drones, detection gear, and boots on the ground.

    This group will probably prevail, at least long enough to plunge the border into complete, cross-border chaos.

    The thugs love chaos...as the Busheviks lately demonstrated here and in Iraq...

    hm (none / 0) (#54)
    by connecticut yankee on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 07:25:50 PM EST
    If cigarette taxes are high for the purpose of disuading users I cant even imagine what kind of taxes heroin would require.   High enough to dissuade legal sales I would think.  Why pay a tax when a dealer network is already in place?

    Absurd Comparison (2.00 / 0) (#56)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 08:03:34 PM EST
    When movies, teevee commercials, billboards and ad campaigns take on advocating shooting heroin for 75 years, and when heroin produces nothing but a ever so slight buzz, like tobacco, then we can compare the two.

    what? (none / 0) (#59)
    by connecticut yankee on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 02:39:50 AM EST
    This thread is about legalization, I just made a reference to a tax scheme that is based on health risks and applied it to drug legalization.

    I'm not comparing smoking to anything, I'm extrapolating on the tax scheme.


    Still Absurd (none / 0) (#64)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 03:08:21 PM EST
    Heroin is very expensive for serious addicts. The price does not stop them, if they are poor, from committing crimes. If you added a punitive tax crimes would occur.

    Comparing cigarettes and heroin in the way you are suggesting is of no value, imo.


    Find a natural high (none / 0) (#55)
    by WorkinJoe on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 07:44:16 PM EST
    How about we ask our fellow citizens to find a true natural high, such as volunteering to help others, and resist the drug high?  Quit using cocaine.  Quit using marijuana.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, teach an immigrant to read.  Do something positive with your life to get a natural high.  That snort of cocaine you're taking is killing judges, policemen, and innocent people throughout Central and South America.  Find some real value in your life.

    wow (none / 0) (#57)
    by txpolitico67 on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 11:45:20 PM EST
    if people would actually do what you suggest one would not have to be high to experience that level of human greatness.

    I have read every post on here about the pros of drugs being legalized.  I think that the USA should at least see how that would go. However, like Cream City pointed out, that the dealers and other law-breakers would just move on to the next unsavory/illegal activity.  I am guessing CC might be right.

    I have seen drugs do damage to a number of people's lives.  At the staffing company I work for, this 18 yr-old employee came up for a random.  He tested positive for mar-juana.  His parents, who relied upon his income to help with the family, were so upset when he told them we terminated him.  Sadly, when me and my coworker were leaving work, we found his mother crying in the back of our building while his father was ASSAULTING him. After he spotted us, he stopped the beating. We called the police and left after they arrived.

    I remember feeling so bad for that kid.  And how his one night of probably hanging out with his friends and smoking turned his life upside down with his parents.

    Addressing the issue of drug addiction, I once read that any type of drug addiction is more of a health issue than a legal one.  I tend to agree with that line of thinking.


    Thus spake Officer DARE (none / 0) (#62)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 06:30:44 AM EST
    The problem with that kind of puerile reasoning is that it fails to take into account historical examples. Examples of what happens when that kind of lofty-minded social engineering is applied to an actual society.

    With each (wholly predictable) failure, the 'engineers' wind up getting more and more frustrated that 'those people' (it's always 'those people' who need controlling) won't accede to their demands of 'right living'...as the social engineers define it, of course.

    So the social engineers seek even greater punitive power to curb their fellow citizen's appetites - all 'for their own good', of course. One end result is the DrugWar, and everything that follows from it.

    The drugs themselves are not causing anywhere near the amount of suffering that the drug laws are. We are now finding those laws to be an expensive burden, one we can no longer fiscally afford as a society. It's long past time to make the social engineers put down the murderous and destructive tools that they used to attempt to create their drug-free Utopia. They've caused enough damage, already...


    a large obstacle (none / 0) (#63)
    by Bemused on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 07:27:21 AM EST
     to intrlligent consideration of this issue is demonstrated here. A workable, politically viable  and a "smart" policy lies somewhere between the extremes of total prohibition with draconian penalties and laissez-faire absolutism.

      Too much  energy is expended by those with extreme positions demonizing those who disagree. Prohibition is not entirely the result of racist/fascist/ puritan zealots running amok and legalization is not endorsed only by criminal/ drug addict/ left-wing whack jobs.

      There are very sound reasons for restricting access to dangerous substances and there are very sound reasons for concluding that our current approach is not the best approach in either terms of restricting access or minimizing "collateral damage." The choice should not be framed as one between allowing the corner convenience store to sell heroin and methamphetamine to anyone with an ID and expending vast resources to catch and sentencing  anyone who sells them to extremely long prison terms.

      So long as the issue is framed in that fashion, there is little doubt that the latter will prevail. Sensible policy must begin with acknowledgment that many drugs are very dangerous to the user and that the costs of drug abuse are not limited to physical and psychological well-being of the abuser.

      Arguments must be premised on the basis that the real and undeniable dangers and social costs of drug abuse can be better managed than through  an obviously failed policy of targeting the vast resources at punishing suppliers with extremely harsh sentences.

      We don't, or at least shouldn't, want policies that increase the numbers of people using dangerous drugs. The primary goal should  be to reduce that number. A secondary goal should be to provide for policies that somehow allow those with existing addictions or compulsions to have access to non-punitive programs designed eventually to wean the person off thse substances but with the realistic understanding that cold-turkey treatment fails far more often than it succeeds; an avenue for people to receive substances from "non-underground" sources in conjunction with therapy and be gradually freed from dependency. We might also need to accpet as have a few countries that some people simply are not going to become "drug free" and that it makes more sense in the big picture to provide them with maintenance doses from legal and regulated sources than to push them back to the black market.


    the goal may not be to lower the number (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 07:02:28 PM EST
    of responsible users, but to lower the number of abusers....which hopefully any decriminalization/rehabilitation program would do...

    I agree with your premise, though...as long as both sides sit on the fringes then nothing will happen...but that's the way our country works...compromise is not something that anyone likes to do, because it means they'll probably feel it in the pocketbook...and we can't have that...

    I'm all for a class system of legalization that includes regulation of growers, suppliers and buyers (other than the fact that regulation doesn't often work as it's only as strong as it's weakest link, and in America almost any link can be made weak if enough money is involved--just look at the Madoff scheme involving the SEC)...

    I think any reasonable person can ascertain a difference between  marijuana and heroine/meth/oxy...it's a little harder to class drugs like mushrooms and acid, considering they have hallucinatory properties even if they don't have the destructive and addictive properties of heroine/meth/oxy...

    a class system could work, though, in a rehabilitation/legalization agenda.  the different classes would of course have different sets of regulations...

    marijuana could easily be treated the same as alcohol...illegal for use under the age of 21, illegal to use and then put yourself into a situation where you may harm others (working at a factory, driving, etc)...also, just because marijuana would be legal doesn't mean that private companies can't still make the decision to test for use...if they are a private company, that's their own decision, whether it's legal or not (although it could be a form of discrimination, but that's a fringe argument)...

    the growers would have regulations, maybe depending on the amount of product grown...they would need to be licensed to grown marijuana, obviously, if they are going to grow over a certain amount...(there should still be a small amount of marijuana growing available to home users and such, as long as they are not growing over a certain amount)...

    also, there could be some tariffs on product grown outside the US (or maybe even more than just tariffs, like not allowing growers outside the US to import more than a certain amount of marijuana), to help keep some of the destructive illegal cartels from just becoming legal cartels....

    there are reasonable compromises and reasonable arguments, but as you said we need both sides to be reasonable (but I'm not sure the conservative right can be reasonable when it comes to something that they are advised on by their ministers and pastors, and I'm not sure that some extreme libertarians/absolutists can be reasonable either)...

    there is a change in the wind, though, with the financial revenue crisis that most states are having, and it is a welcome change...hopefully the change to be more reasonable towards drug use in America is a lasting change...the last 50 years have been absurd in terms of the propaganda war against drugs, and the severe treatment of users (both in terms of criminality and psychology)....

    one thing people might forget though is that there will be quite a few lobbyists groups with no actual interest in whether drugs should be legal that argue for continued prohibition based upon their pocketbooks, and not based upon reason (paper industry/logging industry for one if we suppose that legal marijuana growing would become legal hemp growing;  the alcohol industry might have a say too; not to mention the privatized prisons lobbyists)....and if there is anything we know about America it's that lobbyists have far more money (and thus votes) about what changes are made than any other citizen...