War on Drugs: Cheaper and Purer Than Ever

As many have been saying for years, the Global war on drugs has been an epic failure:

The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy said its report suggested the war on drugs had failed. The report, published in the British Medical Journal Open, looked at data from seven international government-funded drug surveillance systems.

More here and here.

< Wednesday Open Thread | "Silk Road" Busted and Closed >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    It's not a failure. (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by redwolf on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:53:40 AM EST
    It's helped employ and enrich criminals, cops, prosecutors, and politicians.  None of these people want the war to be won or lost.  Play fighting the war is just so profitable. The people fighting the war on drugs are always winning and the public is always loosing.

    Stinky Cash Conviction (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:44:28 PM EST
    William David Bush of Sebastopol was convicted by a jury last week in Sonoma County Superior Court of possessing proceeds from drug sales after police found $47,000 that reeked of marijuana in the trunk of his Mercedes-Benz. It was heat-sealed in a 4-foot plastic bag.
    But there were no discernible quantities of marijuana larger than the nearly microscopic.


    Saw that one... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 10:31:52 AM EST
    dollars to donuts the guy just made a nice sale, but it ain't right to bust him on a probably.

    But 47 large is too nice a score for the thieves to pass up...they're snatching that sh*t everytime.


    ... that has filled our prisons to no apparent purpose, and has further destabilized our southern neighbors Mexico and Colombia politically over the last three decades.

    Further, as the Los Zetas, Sinaloa, Gulf and Arellano (Tijuana) drug cartels first enriched themselves and then garnered enough firepower to actually challenge the civil authority of the Mexican federal government in places like Ciudad Juarez, Reynosa and Matamoros, it's also become a serious (and underreported) national security issue for the United States.

    Because as the reach and power of the federales and local authorities wane along the border region, we now risk seeing the rise of quasi-autonomous, hyper-violent narco-states along our southern frontier. And if some of us think we have an immigration problem now, imagine what would happen if civil authority completely collapses in Mexico's northern states and millions of people flee the resultant chaos and violence, which has thus far cost over 90,000 people their lives and further displaced another 1.5 million residents since the Mexican Drug War broke out in 2006.

    All that's on us, due to a conscious failure on our part to forthrightly address our country's appetite for illegal drugs as a public health issue, instead of merely as a law enforcement problem. Let's not kid ourselves about the nature of the threat posed by Mexican drug cartels, because it is not one that a beefed-up military presence and some increased firepower on the border is going to be able to resolve effectively, any more than it could handle Pancho Villa a century ago.


    Of course a large number (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by jondee on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 07:24:52 AM EST
    of people are going to self-medicate when the overwhelmingly predominant medical model of human beings is of a machine that either runs smoothly and "stays on task", or else goes out of whack; requiring just a tweak here or a tweak there..

    So Listening to Prozac becomes Listening to MDMA and Listening to Opiates..


    Felony disenfranchisement.. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jondee on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 05:24:13 PM EST
    is beloved by influential, very-well-funded organizations like the Heritage Foundation. And the continuing drug war with more convicted felons, if no social benefit accrues, at least gives conservatives a fighting chance to continue to do God's work..

    Convict 'em all, and let the Lord Jesus sort 'em out..

    I'd prefer a war on bugs (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:24:25 AM EST
    As in infectious diseases.

    Even a War on Plugs -- just lose your hair gracefully, boys.

    But please, no War on Hugs. Except by priests.


    Seriously, the absurdity of this World War Stupid is a self perpetuating cash cow. Only way it keeps on keeping on.

    Somebody pass me the hookah. Oy.

    And thanks for the constant posts... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:25:17 AM EST
    ...on topic. It's one of the biggest reasons I come to TL and support it financially. Peace out, J.

    Truly nutty (none / 0) (#4)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 12:00:20 PM EST

    The goofnutz running the war on drugs take rising prices as a measure of success!  Think about that for a minute.  What seller of any other product would consider rising prices to be a problem?


    Rising Prices ? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 12:52:41 PM EST
    Weed is the same price and the potency in infinitely stronger than when I went to high school in the late 80's.  

    Compared to other goods I purchase regularly, like groceries and gas, drugs have certainly not increased at anywhere near the same rate.

    Maybe the prices they use for busts have increased, but actual street value hasn't increased any more than the rate of inflation.

    The introduction of easily produced drugs like meth and xtc, combined with the surplus of Afghani opium have ensured a market flooded with goods which of course keeps the prices down.  I would imagine the recent legalization and decriminalization of weed will contribute to the surplus as well.

    By any measure, the War on Drugs has been an epic failure.  When the head of the DEA can't even bring herself to admit that weed is less dangerous than meth or heroin you know something is seriously wrong.


    I did not say prices were increasing (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:37:13 PM EST

    I did not say prices were increasing, only that increasing prices are the government's metric for war on drugs success.



    They view it as "success"... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:44:57 PM EST
    because it means more product is being seized (aka stolen), reducing supply.  And/or more souls in prison, increasing risk to sellers who in turn jack up the price.  

    Sellers don't view it as success for the same reasons, it means their costs have gone up.  

    Exception being a drug becomes more popular and that is the reason for less supply to meet demand...sellers like that one! ;)


    Rising prices mean (none / 0) (#15)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 06:54:14 PM EST

    a decrease in supply or an increase in demand. Since the cause of increasing prices is ambiguous it is a poor choice to use as the metric for success.

    OTOH, like any government program just because it is rediculous does not mean its not right.



    The report said street prices of drugs had fallen in real terms between 1990 and 2010, while their purity and potency had increased.

    In Europe, for example, the average price of opiates and cocaine, adjusted for inflation and purity, decreased by 74% and 51% respectively between 1990 and 2010, the Vancouver-based centre said.

    The report also found there had been a substantial increase in most parts of the world in the amount of cocaine, heroin and cannabis seized by law enforcement agencies since 1990.

    Wouldn't there be more drugs on the streets at an even lower price if there was no WOD?

    Hard to Say... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:24:39 PM EST
    ...but the Afghanis are growing opium because of the price is superior to say pomegranates or apricots.  Eradication of crops and and severe of punishment only increase the price which makes it that much more appealing to to folks who only grow and transport them because of the dollars.

    The real question is not more drugs on the streets, but will use increase.  Surely, but only nominally IMO.  People who want them already get them.  Much like the prohibition, you can't stop people from doing what they want to do, but you can remove the criminal element and the violence the current war has created.

    What is clear is that people will do them regardless of the law.  People in countries with insanely severe penalties still do them, the trafficking continues, even under threat of death.

    When the realization that it can't be stopped is fully understood, there is only one answer, regulate the best you can and hope for the best.  Like alcohol, there are tons of of downsides, but creating an entire class of violent criminals that have the resources to outsmart and outgun governments is far worse.


    The answer (none / 0) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:09:29 PM EST
    to your last (question) sentence is, "yes," maybe.

    But, most experts I've read feel that any increase in new users would be nominal & temporary as the number of curious people who have refrained due to the illegality is estimated to be quite small.

    However, if only a small fraction of the huge savings that a change in drug policy would bring is used for education, and rehab, the results would be so much better than the one we have now that not doing it would fly in the face of the informed, enlightened, and beneficial result that we could have.


    In the meantime, a friend sent me something (none / 0) (#14)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 06:29:49 PM EST
    guaranteed to drive the bluenoses absolutely stark raving nuts:  municipal bus ads for MJ legalization.

    It won't drive them stark raving nuts. (none / 0) (#16)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 07:52:01 PM EST
    That's because most of them are on Xanax, the 21st century's equivalent of the Rolling Stones' "Mother's Little Helper."

    "'Doctor, please, some more of these.'"
    Outside the door, she took four more.
    What a drag it is getting old."



    You didn't watch the video (none / 0) (#28)
    by scribe on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 01:40:40 PM EST
    If you had, you'd have seen what I was talking about.

    The war on drugs (none / 0) (#17)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 05:31:29 AM EST
    has been an outstanding success.

    More people are smoking than ever before.

    Illegal empires have been sustained.
    Police have been compromised.
    Government officials have fattened their coffers and their bellys.
    Politicians have a wonderful platform on which to run.
    And nothing gets done in Washington.


    And felons get stricken (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jondee on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 06:55:45 AM EST
    from the voter rolls in key states.

    My experience with discussing (none / 0) (#20)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:47:47 AM EST
    legalization with conservative constituents is that they agree with my ideas.  I think it is time for a look at legalization that includes government control and taxation to pay for the controls and for rehab for those with drug problems seeking help.  

    The real war should be to keep drugs out of children's hands.  Some legislation in the war on drugs has sought to do that by making penalties greater, like when selling in close to proximity to a school.

    I think a majority of conservatives are ready for legalization.  Let's hope the experiment with pot goes well.


    Keeping mj (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 12:02:10 PM EST
    out of "children's" hands is the raison-d'etre for all of these repressive laws.

    It's really a crock.

    Children - meaning teens and pre-teens have more access to this sh-t than adults with the repressive laws in place.

    Parents are the ones to deal with their children.
    Not a corrupt bunch of politicians who don't know their arses from a hole in the ground.

    And where do you get the bit about a "majority of conservatives are ready for legalization"?

    It certainly isn't reflected in either the democrap or repuklican parties.


    Of Course... (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 12:26:57 PM EST
    ...when you spend decades brainwashing the population into believing drugs are the GD devil, it's pretty hard to say, "Our bad, they are more or less on the same stuff as booze..."  IOW, we lied through our teeth for the special interests and to created an enemy to protect you from so you vote for us.

    Admitting the war on drugs was/is a colossal disaster is admitting Reagan got it seriously wrong.  Something I don't see trending in conservative circles anytime soon.  The most conservative states still have draconian drug laws, including marijuana.

    I would add that drugs currently are probably easier to get than alcohol for kids and young adults because they aren't regulated.  Might even be easier to get than cigs...


    For sure... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 08:24:21 PM EST
    lol; no self respecting dealer asks for ID.

    And the Serve... (none / 0) (#50)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:31:11 AM EST
    ...after 9pm and even on Sundays.

    In my experience (none / 0) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 11:15:49 AM EST
    the majority of conservatives are open to some manner of relaxing the laws regarding MJ.

    Your experience may not ... (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Yman on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:10:55 PM EST
    In my experience the majority of conservatives are open to some manner of relaxing the laws regarding MJ.

    ... be representative of conservatives across the country.

    While support for MJ legalization is growing across the board, most Republicans still oppose legalizing it (60-37%).  Conservative Republicans oppose it even more strongly, with only 29% supporting legalization.


    ThX Yman (none / 0) (#39)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 10:46:12 AM EST
    I do not doubt the poll.  I have an outline for legalization that include MJ and ALL drugs.  MJ is treated like alcohol, while hard drugs require purchaser registration and quantity limits, among other details.  I think my detailed outline has an influence on them.  

    Ftr, (none / 0) (#40)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:38:58 AM EST
    "some manner of relaxing the laws regarding MJ" should not be assumed to equate to "MJ legalization."

    My main point was that, unlike Visteo, I do not think "a majority of conservatives are ready for [drug] legalization."

    I think you would agree with me on this.


    They don't really poll ... (none / 0) (#41)
    by Yman on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 01:07:32 PM EST
     .... "some manner of relaxing the (MJ) laws" but it's clear that conservatives do not support drug legalization in general (notwithstanding Visteo's "plan" and powers of persuasion), since the majority don't even support MJ legalization.

    I have no idea what "some manner of relaxing the laws" means as it relates to a discussion of decriminalizing MJ and other drugs, but you appeared to be agreeing with Visteo's premise that most conservatives favor drug legalization, although (perhaps) limiting it to MJ.  If you're stating that most conservatives are not ready for drug legalization in general, we're in agreement - although you didn't actually say that.  If you think that most conservatives are ready for "some manner of relaxing the laws re: MJ" short of legalization, I doubt it.  Moreover, I would your experience with conservatives in SoCal is not representative of conservatives in general, given that the former tends to focus less on social issues and more on $$$ issues.


    Which just goes to prove my point.... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by NYShooter on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 01:33:39 PM EST
    Sorry, Yman, but I was writing a response to S.U.O. and, when I went to post it, you had already posted this response. But, my comment deals with this whole issue as being too fragmented, with too many moving parts, and, rapidly changing attitudes, to pin down in standardized poll questions.

    So, with that preface in mind, this is my response to S.U.O, and following yours:

    You know, I don't think

    You can get a useful answer to this question using a simple, antiseptic, yes/no poll question. Many people's attitudes towards dugs, in general, and MJ, in particular, are in flux. I think you would have to have a "focus group" type of discussion, moderated by an intelligent, non-partisan host, to get a better sense of people's real feelings.

    For instance, suppose the conversation began with the question, "Do you believe The War on Drugs has been a success, or failure?" And, then branch out, with separate questions for each specific drug category, and, so on. Do you get my drift?

    I think, using this kind of conversational approach, you would find that people are not as far apart in their thinking as these, yes/no, Liberal/Conservative types of questions/responses indicate.

    Finally, and anecdotally, I have a life-long friend (~50 yrs.) who is so far right wing that he believes The Tea Party is populated by a bunch of Bernie Sanders clones. But, even he believes drugs should be decriminalized. Of course, his reasoning is not so benign, "If they wanna kill themselves, I say, let's help them along."

    There may be more of these kinds of people splintering off easily defined positions than we have previously believed.


    Ya, I agree with a lot of this. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 02:01:46 PM EST
    My suggestion would be not to start talking with conservatives about whether the WOD has been a success or failure because I think you'll get a lot of blank stares. I think it's simply not on a lot of conservatives' radar.

    It was certainly on Jeb Bush (none / 0) (#44)
    by jondee on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 02:14:56 PM EST
    and Cruella de Ville Harris's radar in 2000..

    i get what you're saying (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Yman on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 02:49:25 PM EST
    ... and I definitely think you'd get a streak of conservatives with a libertarian bent who agree with drug legalization, but I don't think they're representative of conservatives in general.

    I have no idea whether a "focus group" poll would yield different results or would be more accurate than the existing polling.  On a positive note, the polling shows a general move toward legalization across-the-board, albeit it still a minority among Republicans and particularly conservatives.


    My discussion always (none / 0) (#46)
    by Visteo1 on Sat Oct 05, 2013 at 11:55:16 AM EST
    includes the billions in savings from reduced drug enforcement, reduction in drug-related crimes (including murder), and revenue and jobs provided from legalization (including taxes on drugs).  It becomes very hard for conservatives not to consider legalization when presented with a decent outline of benefits from legalization.

    And I'm sure your friends ... (none / 0) (#47)
    by Yman on Sat Oct 05, 2013 at 03:33:32 PM EST
    ... act appropriately convinced while they're listening to your spiel.

    When I have some time (none / 0) (#48)
    by Visteo1 on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 11:36:23 AM EST
    I'll post a bullet-point outline in an open thread.  

    There was no "acting".  At the time I first started touting the legalization plan, I was surrounded by conservative co-workers.  This was the only discussion that got no opposition.


    Well, unless you can read minds, ... (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Yman on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 06:12:41 PM EST
    There was no "acting".

    ... you wouldn't know.

    At the time I first started touting the legalization plan, I was surrounded by conservative co-workers.  This was the only discussion that got no opposition.

    I have no doubt there are a small minority of libertarian conservatives who really don't care about drugs or genuinely support legalization.  OTOH, regardless of your co-worker sample, the polls show that Republicans (particularly conservative Republicans) strongly oppose it.  Whatever "outline" you're planning to post, it's not something that hasn't been discussed many, many times already.


    Those polls present no plan (none / 0) (#51)
    by Visteo1 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 10:16:09 AM EST
    that I have ever seen.  The polls simply ask simple questions.  If simply asked, "Should all drugs be legalized?", I might have to answer no.

    Then show me a poll ... (none / 0) (#52)
    by Yman on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 11:08:15 AM EST
    ... that presents your magical plan (which has been discussed ad nauseum) and which shows the opposite.

    Anecdotal evidence is not persuasive when discussing large groups as a whole.


    Sounds unlikely. (none / 0) (#23)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 11:57:11 AM EST
    What experience do you have with these conservatives?

    How do they express their openness?

    What manner of relaxation of legal barriers to they favor?

    Do they express their openness to their conservative representatives?


    OK... (none / 0) (#26)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 12:41:30 PM EST
    I are one.


    Unclear, not really a top priority. Most express some vague feeling that "You shouldn't go to jail for a joint." (So that bit of lib propaganda seems to have worked.)

    Nope. Not that invested.


    Not propaganda... (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 01:12:46 PM EST
    in some jurisdictions...I've sat chained to a bench for less than a joint.  Living proof, my good man.

    I agree that most conservatives are open to at least decriminalization of mj, as are most liberals...that's why they call it "common sense".  It's a small powerful minority jamming up the progress.


    Please tell that story in more detail. (none / 0) (#29)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 02:03:03 PM EST
    Long story short... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 02:37:02 PM EST
    enjoying my brand of tailgating at a Jones Beach concert, get to the gate and I'm pulled outta line and thrown on the hood of a State Park Police Cruiser.  Phillips Head Hat finds two roaches, maybe 0.1 grams of actual reefer.  Cold steel on wrists, off to the State Park Police sub-station, chained to the bench with some other poor unlucky souls.  A surreal evening to say the least.

    I asked them why they picked me outta line, they said they had unmarked cars cruising the lot who saw us blazing.

    Missed day of work and 700 bucks for a lawyer later, got deferred prosecution and probation.

    Lesson learned...don't save roaches when out and about, roach bones ain't worth the risk.

    Been to a buncha Jones Beach shows since, have never seen a sting op like it since.  


    What year was this? (none / 0) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 02:52:17 PM EST
    1997ish? (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 03:10:23 PM EST
    But the law in NY State hasn't changed..."public view" of any amount is an arrest, unless the officer takes mercy on you.

    Fair enough. I think your situation (none / 0) (#33)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 03:25:42 PM EST
    is not really the same as what I was talking about, but it sucks and is inconsistent nonetheless.

    There does seem to be some good progress on this in NY: A.6716-A, let's hope it continues.

    The other bummer, I'm sure, was missing the concert. Do you remember what band it was?


    Nobody too special... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 03:52:53 PM EST
    Remember Live?  Not really a fan, but the young lady I went with really liked them.  On the brightside, I do remember getting what may have been a sympathy lay that night;)  She felt really bad that the whole group partook, but only I got locked up.

    If you meant prison, yeah, nobody goes to a prison for a joint anymore, unless it's a parole violation or something.  At least I hope.  But jail?  Happens all the time.


    Yeah, I remember them, Lightning Crashes. (none / 0) (#35)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 03:58:24 PM EST
    So simple a song even I could play it.

    Love the Phillips Head Hat part... (none / 0) (#36)
    by fishcamp on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 04:09:38 PM EST