AEIdeas

The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute

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Discussion: (66 comments)

  1. Just what is so moral about turning vices into crimes and sending people who engage in victimless activities in prison?

  2. PeakTrader

    So, now, illegal drug pushers and users are moral.

    1. PeakTrader

      “The moral authority in American drug policy is being reclaimed bravely by the American people themselves…”

      What a dopey statement.

      1. It seems like you think you have the moral authority to tell me I can’t smoke weeds growing in my back yard, no?

        1. PeakTrader

          We’ve seen how propaganda can shift public opinion.

          It seems, more Americans have become “lost-in-the-forest,” e.g. through ignorance or specialization.

          More Americans believe in drug legalization like they believe government is better than the free market (e.g. goods materialize for free rather than low prices).

          1. We’ve seen how propaganda can shift public opinion.

            Yes, we saw that when the War on Drugs was first started and when most of the drugs that were readily available were made illegal. We saw it during the Prohibition debacle.

            It seems, more Americans have become “lost-in-the-forest,” e.g. through ignorance or specialization.

            I agree. The drug warriors are a perfect example of people who are too ignorant and only focused on propaganda.

            More Americans believe in drug legalization like they believe government is better than the free market (e.g. goods materialize for free rather than low prices).

            Since when is the Drug War about small government and free markets. It has grown the size of government and has made bureaucrats rich while it has made society much poorer and worse off.

          2. And those Americans poor lost children, unable to think for themselves, need the guidance of enlightened folks such as yourself who know what is best for them, to keep them from harm?

    2. Of course the same comments could have been made in 1932 during the debate on the 21st amendment. Booze prohibition was a smash floop, and I think folks are finding the same issue with drugs. Note that in the 2 states the cops will likley in big cities at least instructed not to bother with weed. Interestingly this happened after 1928 as prohibition became a federally only enforced law, as states ceased to enforce it (See Last Call on Prohibition for details). Note that this said in that time that folks like Capone and the Purple Gang, were effectively not breaking the law by supplying booze.

  3. FU#K OBAMA

    The war on harmless drugs is supported only by the federal bureaucrats whose pencil sharpening jobs depend on it and the alcohol lobby, both of which have done more to destroy America’s trust in their government than any other thing. (ok the federal reserve and income tax are right up there as well)

    1. No, much worse than pencil-sharpening jobs. They war is much more profitable because they confiscate property and divvy the loot between them. It’s an outrage on every level.

  4. First we need a logical approach to this issue. Does using marijuana indeed cause more anti-social behavior and societal cost than what we incur by making it unlawful? The advocates of removing barriers to marijuana, no matter how numerous, aren’t in a position of knowing what that would do to society. Dr. Perry always cites facts in his postings and I’d like to see those rather than how voters are voting as if they ‘know’. Consumers ‘know’ when they choose one product over another but marijuana? As for me, if we can get rid of these laws even if its just a push we’ll all be better off.

    1. First we need a logical approach to this issue. Does using marijuana indeed cause more anti-social behavior and societal cost than what we incur by making it unlawful?

      Why? Something is either voluntary or it isn’t. Since people own their own bodies they should engage in voluntary activities. If someone commits an act that aggresses against other individuals or their property we already have laws to punish them.

      1. Right, but how many more of them (if any) would legalizing marijuana bring to the jails. We need some idea of what to expect when we change a law, any law.

        1. Who is “we”, Norman?

        2. Right, but how many more of them (if any) would legalizing marijuana bring to the jails. We need some idea of what to expect when we change a law, any law.

          First of all, people are either the owners of their own bodies or they are not. If they are we have no moral reason to regulate their consumption of marijuana or any other substance.

          Second, the jails would empty out, just as they did after Prohibition was over. When you prohibit some substance that is in great demand prices will go up and the suppliers will become violent as they try to control its distribution. Jails fill up with violent criminals while bodies pile up in morgues. But jails also fill up as people who use the substances are prosecuted even in what is a victimless crime. Since human nature does not obey laws that individuals consider stupid usage will still continue and any harm to others due to that use will remain relatively unchanged. The perceived benefits of prohibition do not materialize. (Note that during Prohibition binge drinking rates went up.)

      2. No, Norman. You have it exactly backwards. We do not need justification for people to live in freedom. We need justification to take people’s liberty. There were no even marginally reasonable excuses for criminalizing a weed which, incidentally, grows like….a weed…all over the United States.

        And if you’re interested in previous experiments with prohibition in this country, simply look to what happened as a result of the Volstead Act.

        1. morganovich

          methinks-

          amen sister. that hits the nail right on the head.

  5. Che is dead

    “Mexican President Felipe Calderon says the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in two U.S. states limits America’s ‘moral authority’ to ask other nations to combat or restrict illegal drug trafficking.”

    Yes, our “moral authority” has been compromised. It’s time we allowed U.S. companies to produce highly addictive and destructive drugs, and to encourage those companies to export these drugs to third world shit holes like Mexico. After all, turnabout is fair play. The West reduced China to a beggar with the opium trade. Now, let’s give it to Mexico, good and hard.

    1. Yes, our “moral authority” has been compromised. It’s time we allowed U.S. companies to produce highly addictive and destructive drugs, and to encourage those companies to export these drugs to third world shit holes like Mexico. After all, turnabout is fair play. The West reduced China to a beggar with the opium trade. Now, let’s give it to Mexico, good and hard.

      Your companies already make very destructive substances. If people want to use them that is their choice, not yours. It seems to me that you have one of those Lord of the Flies views of human nature; that without masters to control the stupid children they will do stupid things. The problem with this view is that it is not supported by history. There used to be a time when most of the drugs that are now illegal were readily available but there was no epidemic of addiction. In fact the addiction rates were around the same level as they are today.

      1. It turns out that we allow companies to make Oxycontin which is a close cousin to heroin. Like heroin, if you take Oxycontin with booze it may well depress your breathing to zero and you are dead. Since in essence the market is working around the ban on heroin, because there is a significant need for pain relief, now the powers that be have to create national registries of who gets such medication to prevent physician shopping. Of course if you drink enough booze it can kill you by the same method, it just appears that the combination is more effective at it. This is the new wave the drug powers that be are going to going after, but since it does move up the socio-economic ladder it will be more difficult.

        1. Look, if someone was irresponsible there are plenty of ways for that person to figure out how to do harm to himself. As you pointed out, booze, prescription drugs, or over the counter medication does a nice job. People do not have to use drugs because sniffing glue, paint thinners, etc., can do the same type of damage. The entire debate is about liberty and responsibility. If people own their own bodies we need to hold them responsible for regulating what they put into them. If they choose to do drugs that is their business and they should be free to do so.

          The prohibitionists have no regard for individual liberty and want some greater power to take responsibility for the actions of others. For them the answer is big government and collectivism but that way never seems to work out whether they choose socialism or national socialism as the means of achieving their goals. Just as the issue of economic freedom brings out the socialists the issue of social freedom brings out the national socialists. Both need to be rejected because the path of liberty is best morally and practically.

      2. Che is dead

        “There used to be a time when most of the drugs that are now illegal were readily available but there was no epidemic of addiction. In fact the addiction rates were around the same level as they are today.” — Vangel

        “The origins of federal drug laws were a response to disastrous drug and violence epidemics when virtually every family had access to opiate- and cocaine-based remedies around the end of the 19th century. Drugs were available without penalty. Addiction was rampant, with an estimated 250,000 opiate addicts in the U.S. population of 76 million.” — WSJ

        1. Che,

          1. The WSJ article was by drug czar John Walters. No surprise big government bureaucrat thinks that big government programs that paid his wages should go on.

          2. The meth epidemic he complains about occurred because the drug war made safer stimulants illegal

          3. Likewise the crack epidemic

          4. Likewise bath salts

          See a pattern? As is typical of big government programs the war on drugs has worsened the problems it was supposed to fix

          A person would think someone with a handle like Che is dead supports individual responsibility and small government.

          So why the support of the utterly failed, destructive, bloated, government nanny state program known as the war on drugs?

          1. A person would think someone with a handle like Che is dead supports individual responsibility and small government.

            So why the support of the utterly failed, destructive, bloated, government nanny state program known as the war on drugs?

            Che was a big government socialist. Che is Dead is a big government national socialist. Can’t you see the difference?

            Me neither.

          2. Che is dead

            “Che was a big government socialist. Che is Dead is a big government national socialist. Can’t you see the difference?” — Vag

            I always love it when a guy that has spent the better part of a decade with his head crammed up the asses of Chomsky and Zinn refers to me as a “big government national socialist”.

            By the way, who is George Bustamante? Your idiot uncle? And what specific experience qualifies him as an “expert”? Years of mind altering drug use? I see the effect that drugs have had on you, and I wonder just how many blithering idiots society can afford to support.

            I’ll tell you what, get back to me when you’ve repealed all of the laws entitling drug abusers to care and feeding on the public dime and we’ll talk. Until then, their habits are a threat to my safety and my liberty.

          3. I always love it when a guy that has spent the better part of a decade with his head crammed up the asses of Chomsky and Zinn refers to me as a “big government national socialist”.

            When have I ever used Chomsky or Zinn as the basis of any argument? Mine is a position based on natural right. While Chomsky may agree with me on some points, just as I agree with you on some points, he is just as opposed to me as you are a number of issues. In fact, it is quite clear that you and Chomsky are opposite sides of the same authoritarian coin. He favours a big intrusive state in the economic sphere while you favor a big intrusive state in the social sphere.

            By the way, who is George Bustamante? Your idiot uncle? And what specific experience qualifies him as an “expert”? Years of mind altering drug use? I see the effect that drugs have had on you, and I wonder just how many blithering idiots society can afford to support.

            He is just a commentator who points out that the Bush Drug Warrior missed the fact that his own data showed that there was no problem with addiction rates and points out that the history of drug use in your country shows that your drug warrior is ignorant of the field that he worked in.

            I’ll tell you what, get back to me when you’ve repealed all of the laws entitling drug abusers to care and feeding on the public dime and we’ll talk. Until then, their habits are a threat to my safety and my liberty – so, fuck them.

            You and Chomsky may support using tax revenues to feed those that are too irresponsible to look after themselves but some of us oppose such actions. The trouble is that when statists like you and Chomsky tend to support politicians that keep expanding the powers of the federal government things get out of hand. The bright side is that the solution is quite simple. The government will be unable to fund those programs once the welfare and warfare bills come in and you will be looking at a chance at creating another system. If you are lucky you will get far more responsibility and far more freedom. If you are not your side (or Chomsky’s) will carry the day.

          4. Che is dead

            By the way, the national socialists were apparently on your side of the argument – Hitler’s Drugged Soldiers There’s also evidence that suggests that your dear leader was a regular user of amphetamines. Go figure.

          5. By the way, the national socialists were apparently on your side of the argument – Hitler’s Drugged Soldiers There’s also evidence that suggests that your dear leader was a regular user of amphetamines. Go figure.

            The Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations also drugged up soldiers. All totalitarians try to get as much control as they can to gain whenever they can. We know that the American military has used psychostimulants for decades. And we know that there are rules for the government and rules for the rest of the population.

          6. Che is dead

            “He is just a commentator …” — Vag

            Like I said, who the fuck is George Bustamante? Your idiot uncle?

            “… statists like you and Chomsky tend to support politicians that keep expanding the powers of the federal government things get out of hand.” — Vag

            Even a moron like you would not have to wade too far into the founders writings to stumble across their arguments about virtue supporting liberty. Let me spell it out for you, societal dissolution invites the growth and imposition of the state resulting in the loss of individual liberty. I know, it’s a tough concept to get your drug addled head around, but give it a try.

        2. “The origins of federal drug laws were a response to disastrous drug and violence epidemics when virtually every family had access to opiate- and cocaine-based remedies around the end of the 19th century. Drugs were available without penalty. Addiction was rampant, with an estimated 250,000 opiate addicts in the U.S. population of 76 million.” — WSJ

          An essay from a Bush Administration drug warrior is your response? We actually know our history of prohibition. Opiates were banned because the ban was seen as an act against the Chinese. The argument for a federal prohibition of opiates was the protection of women and ‘respectable’ young men from good families who were making visits to Chinese opium houses.

          The data provided by Mr. Walters shows that there was no epidemic and that usage went UP after prohibition but let someone who commented on the article show just how devoid of substance it really is.

          George Bustamante writes in response to the essay:

          “John P Walters, like most bush advisors, is full of half truths and deception. He asserts that addiction was rampant at the end of the 19th century, yet the figures he provides are for 0.3% of the population that was affected. Hardly rampant. He also foolishly points to the crack epidemic. cocaine wasn’t used by the poor, it’s a rich man’s drug largely because it’s illicit nature makes it expensive…crack was devised as a poor man’s coke. the outbreak of violence to control the flow of crack occurred because it’s illegal. He also conveniently ignores the reason why coke became an “epidemic” among the poor, black population. In the altter days of the 19th c, racist southern states made alcohol consumption illegal for african americans. Consequently, they turned to then legal cocaine. the southern states responded by making cocaine illegal. Sales quickly shifted from drug stores to the corners, largely by paper and shoe shine boys. the supply came from the north. Southern response was a massive, hate filled smear campaign to convince northerners that cocaine was giving rise to “cocaine crazed negroes.” Mr. Walters also leaves out the fact that drug use has increased since it was made illegal. While drug production has decreased in columbia, it has shifted to mexico and back to afghanistan. He also doesn’t addressed the drug trade violence that has wracked out cities since the 1908′s. Probably because he doesn’t live in one of those cities and can turn a blind eye from his mansion. The costs of the drug war are enormous both in monetary and physical terms. The US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, many as part of the drug trade. Countless families are ruined by the violence associated with the illegal drug trade..and that’s just the US. Lastly, he pretends as if there’s no possible world where some drugs are legal and others not. It’s worth noting that meth became popular because it was easy to manufacture using household items and was a cheap alternative to traditional drugs. Meth itself is a result of the drug war, not a reason to continue it. It’s no surprise that a career hack like Walters would want to defend his life’s work, even when mounting evidence points to its failure. Goodbye walters and good riddance. The American public has voted out your administrations penchant for lies. Everyone, remember the drug war next time you tell someone not to move to the inner city because it’s too violent. The only thing it’s done successfully is provide prison jobs as well as jobs to the DEA and military and provide cover to erode individual rights.”

        3. Che is dead

          “The Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations also drugged up soldiers.” — Vag

          Thanks, for proving what a moron you truly are, now everything else that you say can be put in the proper context.

          1. Thanks, for proving what a moron you truly are, now everything else that you say can be put in the proper context“…

            Damn che, now that was funny and more importantly totally on target…

          2. You mean that you do not know about the use of stimulants by your army? The fact that most armies use them is no secret. Even to National Socialists like you.

  6. I will once again remind everyone that juries can nullify laws. As a juror, you are under no obligation to find anyone guilty of breaking a law you don’t agree with – ANY law.

    During prohibition, juries nullified in up to 60% of attempted prosecutions (more like persecutions) under the Volstead Act. Nullification contributed to the end of prohibition.

    Spread the word.

  7. Let me get this straight. Tobacco, which is one of the foundations of profit in the colonies prior to the Revolution, is forbidden to advertise, pays huge excess taxes, and its use is widely prohibited. Also, it cannot be purchased by citizens below a certain age.

    We’re now going to take a drug known to cause permanent harm to the human brain (tobacco only rots your lungs) and somehow figure out how to produce and sell this stuff as if it were beer?

    I can’t wait to see the law suits. Do you seriously believe that drugs can be sold at practical prices if 90% of the price goes to cover liability insurance? And state and federal excess taxes? Explain to me how this is going to work on the open market.

    1. Let me get this straight. Tobacco, which is one of the foundations of profit in the colonies prior to the Revolution, is forbidden to advertise, pays huge excess taxes, and its use is widely prohibited. Also, it cannot be purchased by citizens below a certain age.

      That has more to do with the fact that your legal system is broken and is used to extort profit than on anything else. The idea that people did not know that coffin nails were harmful to their health is ridiculous but your legal system allowed the raping of all of the tobacco companies anyway.

      We’re now going to take a drug known to cause permanent harm to the human brain (tobacco only rots your lungs) and somehow figure out how to produce and sell this stuff as if it were beer?

      Actually, pot is not as harmful on your brain as alcohol. And alcohol is still quite profitable. And once it is legal and the sellers point out all of supposed harm it is hard to argue in front of a judge that they ‘encouraged’ use. Which is why you have not seen massive liability issues with alcohol production.

      I can’t wait to see the law suits. Do you seriously believe that drugs can be sold at practical prices if 90% of the price goes to cover liability insurance? And state and federal excess taxes? Explain to me how this is going to work on the open market.

      Yes, once drugs are legal companies operating in the market will provide safer and cheaper product and still manage to turn a nice profit.

    2. Vinnie,

      Who are you going to sue if you grow a weed on your porch? Also, if somebody is willing to take the risk of being sued, let them.

    3. Vinnie

      We’re now going to take a drug known to cause permanent harm to the human brain (tobacco only rots your lungs) and somehow figure out how to produce and sell this stuff as if it were beer?

      No, Vinnie, “WE” don’t need to do anything of the sort.

      I can’t wait to see the law suits. Do you seriously believe that drugs can be sold at practical prices if 90% of the price goes to cover liability insurance? And state and federal excess taxes? Explain to me how this is going to work on the open market.

      And what percentage of the price do you suppose NOW goes toward covering the risks involved in supplying illegal drugs to customers? Do you think it’s more or less than 90% of the actual production cost of the drugs?

      In addition, if the cost of legal drugs is the same as or higher than the cost of illegal drugs, then a black market will continue to exist.

      You have defeated your own argument twice in one paragraph.

      1. Correction:

        “Do you think it’s more or less than 90% of the actual production cost market price of the drugs?”

  8. PeakTrader

    Duracomm says: “So why the support of the utterly failed, destructive, bloated, government nanny state program known as the war on drugs?”

    Why should I be inconvenienced, because someone who needs a nanny doesn’t have one?

    Or, how would you like a much bigger nanny state to take care of millions of drug users and addicts, who never grew up?

    Also, despite enormous propaganda by the pro-legalization crowd, the U.S. has been winning the War on Drugs by preventing millions of drug users, reducing drug use rates, and saving trillions of dollars in social costs:

    U.S. Illegal Drug Use Down Substantially from 1970s
    17 April 2012

    “Drug use in the United States “has dropped substantially over the past thirty years,” thanks to local, state and federal government efforts, as well as international cooperation.

    “The rate of Americans using illicit drugs today is roughly one-third the rate it was in the late ’70s.

    More recently, there has been a 40 percent drop in current cocaine use and meth use has dropped by half.””

    1. “how would you like a much bigger nanny state…”

      We’re already taking care of them. With the Nanny State in its current configuration, the choice is whether we take care of them inside, or outside of prison.

  9. PeakTrader
    1. Peak Trader,

      The weekly standard article was by drug czar John Walters. No surprise big government bureaucrat thinks that big government program that paid his wages should go on.

      If you are a conservative why do you support federalism wrecking, failed, bloated, big government programs?

      1. PeakTrader

        Duracomm, given the enormous propaganda by the active pro-drug crowd, unbiased data is hard to find.

        Obviously, you haven’t found any yet.

        1. I’m not looking for data at all. I’m approaching this from the premise that I own me.

          There are risks to living in a free society. Different risks than from living in a totalitarian society and not as many, but life is a risk. Understanding that foolish people do foolish things, and being prepared to punish them only when their foolishness damages another’s person or property will protect people from the most dangerous predator out there. The State.

      2. Why is it that you depend on the opinion of the same drug warriors who have failed miserably and destroyed thousands of lives for your positions? Why is it that you cannot look at the facts or learn from the history of prohibition? Or think through logically what you are saying?

        1. PeakTrader

          Vangel, those are the questions you need to ask yourself.

          1. Vangel, those are the questions you need to ask yourself.

            I have but I still can’f figure out how it is that you still take the word of people who have demonstrated incompetence and have opinions that are not supported by the facts. Like most statists I think that the prohibitionists hold on to their positions on the basis of faith. As such they are immune to reason and blind to the fact that they have exactly the same characteristics as those that they oppose on most economic matters.

  10. PeakTrader

    Opium in 19th century China:

    As more and more addicts were created, Emperor Dao guang (1821-1850) of the Qing Dynasty became alarmed. He ordered that Guangdong (Canton), the only port then open to foreigners, be closed to all opium traffic.

    But British captains evaded the edict by smuggling opium into China with the help of local pirates.

    Opium presently became so widespread that by 1838, officials in Guangdong and Fujian were notifying the Imperial government that nine people out of ten in these provinces were addicts.

    The Emperor responded by naming as High Commissioner to Canton, a most extraordinary man, Lin Zexu. Lin was given strict orders to rid the country of opium.

    In a letter to Queen Victoria which was never sent, Commissioner Lin chided:

    “… so long as you do not take it (opium) yourselves, but continue to make it and tempt the people of China to buy it, you will be showing yourselves careful of your own lives, but careless of the lives of other people, indifferent in your greed for gain to the harm you do to others: such conduct is repugnant to human feelings …”

    After confiscating and destroying the opium stocks and pipes being sold by Chinese merchants, Lin put pressure on all merchant ships in the harbour carrying the drug to deliver their opium stores to him. Although these stores were publicly disposed of, it did not restrain the British as he had hoped.

    One tension led to another, finally erupting in the war of 1839 to 1842, called the Opium War by the Chinese. It was an epithet bitterly resented by the British, who piously maintained that the war’s purpose was to teach the Chinese a lesson in free trade.

    Just what kind of trade was meant was obvious from the swarm of opium boats which followed the Royal Navy upstream to Nanjing, where the Qing Dynasty was forced to sign a treaty opening China to trade.

    Peace had barely been concluded when the opium boats began to hawk their wares: ‘Opium is on sale very cheap at Sui Shan – an opportunity not to be missed.’

    1. Certainly a strong argument against crony-capitalism! Thanks, Peak.

      1. PeakTrader

        You mean limiting individual freedom. Your welcome, Ron

        1. PeakTrader

          I’d like the freedom to drive 100 MPH on the freeway. However, I may disrupt the peace of a family in a van.

          1. You don’t own the freeway. You do own yourself.

          2. PeakTrader

            Yes, individual freedom is limited by laws of the land.

          3. Now you’re being deliberately obtuse. There is no law prohibiting you from doing 100mph on your property. Buy a freeway, and you can drive as fast as you are capable. Build a race track on the South Forty, and drive as fast as you are capable.

            Hell, there aren’t even laws against drunk driving on your own property. Buy a fifth and have yourself a ball.

          4. Peak, if you WERE free to drive 100mph on the freeway, would you do so?

          5. Do you mean individual freedom is limited by limits to individual freedom? Good one, Peak!

        2. Yes. That is also a good argument against limiting individual freedom – something cronyism almost invariably does.

        3. Ron H,

          If the speed limit was raised to 100mph, I would be setting the cruise control at 105 :D

  11. Those that want to change a status quo or a law and do not want to investigate nor know what will probably occur should don’t deserve to be listened to no matter how smart they think they are.

    1. And everyone, including you, are free to listen or not listen as you prefer. Ain’t free choice great?

    2. PeakTrader

      Norman, yes, they seem neither interested in history or reality.

      The Chinese exchanged valuable goods, e.g. silver, tea, silk, spices, etc., for opium, and even sold their children.

      They’d rather consume opium than work, or even eat, while their families, who depended on them, suffered.

    3. There are bad laws. You don’t debate the effects of changing them. You eliminate them. How many more innocent people have to be killed or have their lives ruined before you see the light?

  12. Moral authority in US drug policy is being reclaimed by the American people, and message is echoing around the world>/i>”…

    These kind of people?

    Or did you mean these kind of people?

    Could it be these kind of people?

    Well hell! If that’s the case you’ve sold me!

  13. Tim McClure

    I also find it interesting that they want to drag the UN in as though they are the final authority. Last I knew, we are a sovereign nation.

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