War on drugs failing, research suggests

  • #1
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Hong Kong (CNN) -- The global war on drugs is failing, new research suggests, as the price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis has fallen while their purity has increased.
Using seven sets of government drug surveillance data, a team of Canadian and U.S. researchers reviewed drug supply in the United States, Europe and Australia and drug production in regions such as Latin America, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia.
They found that illegal drugs have become cheaper while their potency has increased, indicating that efforts to control "the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing."

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/01/world/war-on-drugs-failing/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

Can anyone find the original study article? [edit: linked on post 3]
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ryan_m_b
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Hardly a surprise. The surprise will be if anything is done about it.
 
  • #3
Pythagorean
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Here's the article:
Abstract
Objectives - Illegal drug use continues to be a major threat to community health and safety. We used international drug surveillance databases to assess the relationship between multiple long-term estimates of illegal drug price and purity.

Design - We systematically searched for longitudinal measures of illegal drug supply indicators to assess the long-term impact of enforcement-based supply reduction interventions.

Setting - Data from identified illegal drug surveillance systems were analysed using an a priori defined protocol in which we sought to present annual estimates beginning in 1990. Data were then subjected to trend analyses.

Main outcome measures - Data were obtained from government surveillance systems assessing price, purity and/or seizure quantities of illegal drugs; systems with at least 10 years of longitudinal data assessing price, purity/potency or seizures were included.

Results - We identified seven regional/international metasurveillance systems with longitudinal measures of price or purity/potency that met eligibility criteria. In the USA, the average inflation-adjusted and purity-adjusted prices of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased by 81%, 80% and 86%, respectively, between 1990 and 2007, whereas average purity increased by 60%, 11% and 161%, respectively. Similar trends were observed in Europe, where during the same period the average inflation-adjusted price of opiates and cocaine decreased by 74% and 51%, respectively. In Australia, the average inflation-adjusted price of cocaine decreased 14%, while the inflation-adjusted price of heroin and cannabis both decreased 49% between 2000 and 2010. During this time, seizures of these drugs in major production regions and major domestic markets generally increased.

Conclusions - With few exceptions and despite increasing investments in enforcement-based supply reduction efforts aimed at disrupting global drug supply, illegal drug prices have generally decreased while drug purity has generally increased since 1990. These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing.
http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/9/e003077.abstract?sid=0454e683-f092-4ab4-bd5c-c531558e96fa
 
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  • #4
Office_Shredder
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From a health and safety perspective, is purer drugs actually a bad thing? My limited impression has been that a reasonable amount of the danger of taking drugs is that they mix the actual drug with random other crap to save money, and that random other crap can be dangerous as well.
 
  • #5
Ryan_m_b
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That's pretty much the biggest danger of many drugs. Things like ecstasy, cannabis and other soft drugs aren't very harmful by themselves, or at least are way less harmful than the legal drugs we already have.
 
  • #6
chemisttree
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That's pretty much the biggest danger of many drugs. Things like ecstasy, cannabis and other soft drugs aren't very harmful by themselves, or at least are way less harmful than the legal drugs we already have.

I cannot believe this comment has been allowed to stand! You guys need to moderate your comments.
 
  • #7
xAxis
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I don't think there is a single country where ecstasy is in "soft drugs" category, and don't believe that something that causes such violent rush of serotonin in your brain can be harmless. But I absolutely agree that increase in purity should be counted as +.
 
  • #8
Tobias Funke
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Failing for whom? Most of us, to be sure, but those private prisons filled with extremely low-wage workers surely benefit someone!
 
  • #9
phinds
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I cannot believe this comment has been allowed to stand! You guys need to moderate your comments.

What is it about the truth that needs moderation? Do you think cigarettes and alcohol are harmless? Do you think they are not drugs?
 
  • #10
Borek
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From a health and safety perspective, is purer drugs actually a bad thing?

Makes me think about side effects of impurities in krokodil. To quote wikipedia:

Since the homemade mix is routinely injected immediately with little or no further purification, "krokodil" has become notorious for producing severe tissue damage, phlebitis and gangrene, sometimes requiring limb amputation in long-term users.

On another forum we have an interesting discussion about possible impurities behind these effects.

As much as I dislike the idea of drugs being available on the streets, if they are there, I prefer them to be pure.
 
  • #12
D H
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"The global war on drugs is failing" -- I disagree with that. The problem is the word "is".

The global war on drugs failed a long time ago. The war on drugs has succeeded, but what it has successfully accomplished is not anywhere close to the intended result. It has succeeded in that it has fostered the creation of extremely powerful, extremely wealthy, and utterly ruthless multinational criminal organizations. The mob organizations helped along by the US experiment with prohibiting alcohol pale in comparison to these new drug rings. It has succeeded in creating a vast number of criminals. The US is a prison state thanks to the war on drugs.

I am not saying that mind-altering drugs are harmless. They are not harmless. There is a cost to society in the very use of these drugs. There is, however, an even greater cost in criminalizing the use, sale, and production of these drugs. The cost to society of the war on drugs is extremely high, and because it has not worked, the benefits are rather low.
 
  • #13
phinds
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I am not saying that mind-altering drugs are harmless. They are not harmless. There is a cost to society in the very use of these drugs. There is, however, an even greater cost in criminalizing the use, sale, and production of these drugs. The cost to society of the war on drugs is extremely high, and because it has not worked, the benefits are rather low.

Yep. That seems to be the way we do things in the USA. Sheer ignorance and/or willful stupidity.
 
  • #14
Pythagorean
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"Danbury wasn't a prison, it was a crime school. I went in with a Bachelor of marijuana, came out with a Doctorate of cocaine."
 
  • #15
Tosh5457
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http://www.independent.co.uk/life-st...al-410086.html

The UK back in 2006 did a study about the relative dangers of various drugs, and ecstasy both fall under tobacco and alcohol. If you look at the death rate for alcohol vs ecstasy, 22,000 deaths for an adult population of 50,000,000 is about ten times the rate as 33 deaths for 800,000.

I don't think that the death rate is a good measure of the danger of a drug. Long-term effects on the brain should also be accounted for. Regular use of cannabis and MDMA have consequences on the brain: Long-term effects of cannabis, long-term effects of MDMA. I support decriminalizing drug use though, but not decriminalizing drug selling. In Portugal every drug consumption is decriminalized (selling is criminalized though, and the sentences are heavy for selling hard drugs) since 1999 and there hasn't been any problems with it.
Regular use of alcohol and tobacco also have negative long-term effects as we all know, so those drugs should at least be equally classified as cannabis is.
 
  • #16
Astronuc
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That's pretty much the biggest danger of many drugs. Things like ecstasy, cannabis and other soft drugs aren't very harmful by themselves, or at least are way less harmful than the legal drugs we already have.
No endorsement expressed or implied.

It's best not to ingest illegal drugs or controlled substances without prescription and appropriate medical supervision.
 
  • #17
lisab
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That's pretty much the biggest danger of many drugs. Things like ecstasy, cannabis and other soft drugs aren't very harmful by themselves, or at least are way less harmful than the legal drugs we already have.

I would not say they aren't harmful. Ecstasy has been linked to suicide -

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3152632/

The rate of past year suicide attempt among adolescents with lifetime ecstasy use was almost double that of adolescents who had used other drugs only, and nine times that of adolescents with no history of illicit drug use.

Personal note: I'm unfortunately familiar with this issue because a family member -- who absolutely loved ecstasy and did it often -- committed suicide.
 
  • #18
EternusVia
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Excellent! Perhaps something will finally be done about it.

Just as the prohibition was entirely unsuccessful in its endeavor, so will our generation's crusade be unsuccessful. People should be free to ingest whatever herbs or chemicals they want, so long as they do so without putting others at risk.

Yes -- drugs have harmful effects at times and CAN put other people at risk. This is why there are laws that make driving drunk illegal. The same could be instituted to make the world a safer place, if drugs were legal.

But as the current system stands the government is literally ensuring the existence of drug cartels, as making something illegal which is in high demand only makes it extremely profitable to be the supplier.

We ought to focus on education and voluntary direction rather than brute force through the hand of the state.
 
  • #19
Pythagorean
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From a health and safety perspective, is purer drugs actually a bad thing? My limited impression has been that a reasonable amount of the danger of taking drugs is that they mix the actual drug with random other crap to save money, and that random other crap can be dangerous as well.

It depends on the drug. Some drugs are, themselves, lethal, so purity is a health issue (like moonshine making you blind). Some drugs, like alcohol, cause people to engage in more risky behavior, so they are a safety problem. Other drugs have dirty manufacturing processes so that more pure means less byproduct, such as happened often with drugs like MPPP (the impurity, MPTP, is known to cause a variant of parkinson's disease.)
 
  • #20
phinds
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Excellent! Perhaps something will finally be done about it.

Just as the prohibition was entirely unsuccessful in its endeavor, so will our generation's crusade be unsuccessful. People should be free to ingest whatever herbs or chemicals they want, so long as they do so without putting others at risk.

Yes -- drugs have harmful effects at times and CAN put other people at risk. This is why there are laws that make driving drunk illegal. The same could be instituted to make the world a safer place, if drugs were legal.

But as the current system stands the government is literally ensuring the existence of drug cartels, as making something illegal which is in high demand only makes it extremely profitable to be the supplier.

We ought to focus on education and voluntary direction rather than brute force through the hand of the state.

Well said.
 
  • #21
russ_watters
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Just as the prohibition was entirely unsuccessful in its endeavor, so will our generation's crusade be unsuccessful.
"Unsuccessful" (failed) is poorly defined in this thread/the article. Do you think drug use would go up or down if it were made legal? Did alcohol use go up or down with prohibition and its repeal?
People should be free to ingest whatever herbs or chemicals they want, so long as they do so without putting others at risk.
So does that mean you would eliminate the FDA, getting rid of all food and pharmaceutical drug regulation?
This is why there are laws that make driving drunk illegal. The same could be instituted to make the world a safer place, if drugs were legal.
Could be? You don't think such laws already exist?
 
  • #22
Pythagorean
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"Unsuccessful" (failed) is poorly defined in this thread/the article. Do you think drug use would go up or down if it were made legal? Did alcohol use go up or down with prohibition and its repeal?

The effect on the substance use alone is not really where the issue lies though. Rather, it's the way in which we force markets into the black, enable tax evasion, the mixing of hard crime with "soft" crime, treat addicts as criminals instead of patients, etc.

By stigmatizing drug use (which is exactly what language like "war" does), we push all drug participants into the arms of the "enemy", increasing their rank and increasing our prison populations.

Personally, I think drugs are a health issue, not a military issue.
 
  • #23
russ_watters
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Well, that's another issue with this thread/article: the term "war on drugs" is mostly just used by legalization proponents and doesn't have any real meaning. It isn't a particular policy initiative. Basically, it doesn't exist. It is used because it is easy (but lazy) to argue against a negatively connotated catchphrase.

This discussion and even much of the article are mostly just meaningless activist slogans that don't reflect a specific reality or logic.
 
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  • #24
Travis_King
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"Unsuccessful" (failed) is poorly defined in this thread/the article. Do you think drug use would go up or down if it were made legal? Did alcohol use go up or down with prohibition and its repeal?

Does it matter whether or not drug use goes up or down? I'm interested in why you would say drug use should be illegal in the first place. I can't think of anything, really...You mentioned the FDA, and that's fine and good. They do the important job of making sure that distributers don't give out bad food and medicines. But it's not illegal for me as a private citizen to consume rancid beef. It may be bad for me, but it's not illegal.

If the point is to minimize the negative impact on society, then surely breaking up a large portion of the cartels supported by this prohibition, as well as the abolition of the idea that drug users are all criminals, will serve to better society. How many people out there do you think are really itching to get addicted to heroin or cocaine, but don't because "it's illegal"? Alcohol use also became safer with the end of it's prohibition.

The very concept, to me, is insane. "Drugs ruin your lives and the lives of those around you. So, if we catch you doing them, we'll throw you in jail and fine the heck out of you, pushing you into a subculture of even more drugs and violence...for your own good". Think about that, people are being arrested and jailed for using! Not only producing or distributing. And the number of drug users (of any kind, really) has shown absolutely no indication of trending downward.

Maybe the article isn't totally persuasive, but the fact remains that we've been spending millions and millions (more like billions?) of dollars per year since the early seventies busting small time guys and ruining the lives of countless users (as if they weren't in a bad way with their drug use, now you throw arrests and prison on top?). I'm not sure how we would safely legalize (or decriminalize) drugs, but I know that what we've been doing isn't working.

It isn't a particular policy initiative. Basically, it doesn't exist.
It exists whether the government added a "war on drugs" specific bill or not. It exists because drug prohibition enforcement become a major focus in law enforcement, drug prohibition and our efforts in other countries to halt the trade cost tax payers billions of dollars, as do the prison costs of putting and keeping tens/hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders behind bars.

It may be a catchphrase, but that doesn't mean it doesn't address something important.
 
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  • #25
russ_watters
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This thread has been annoying me since I first saw it, but I was on vacation and didn't get a chance to respond before it faded. Now that it is back...

The basic problems are:
1. There is no "war on drugs". There is just a wide collection of anti-drug law enforcement.

2. Failure is poorly/improperly defined. It seems to be drug use up = failure. But if we're talking about repealing drug laws, then a proper comparison would be to compare the two: if legalizing drugs makes use go up more, then anti-drug laws were making a positive impact.

3. "Focus on prevention" is another meaningless catchphrase. They are not mutually exclusive and indeed prevention has no teeth unless coupled with enforcement. Opening up treatment centers does no good if no one chooses to go.

4. As I indicated before, the "let people put whatever they want into their bodies" is a very deep rabbit hole. Ironically, it is some of the same people using that argument who then violate it with food and drug restrictions. And while we're at it, we should then apply the same freedom of choice to product safety regulation. If you want pot to be in a unique regulatory black hole, so be it, but legalization proponents should at least be aware of/open about just how deep a black hole and stark a contradiction such positions are.
 
  • #26
Travis_King
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Some decent points Russ, but I have some issues.

The basic problems are:
1. There is no "war on drugs". There is just a wide collection of anti-drug law enforcement.

This is semantics. The war on drugs is defined as the collection of anti-drug law enforcement, as well as our border and international efforts to shut down the drug trade. The term "war on drugs" exists to talk about the entire social/policy issue of drug enforcement. There are some good policies, I'm sure, which would remain, and there are others which people feel are failing and should be re-thought.

2. Failure is poorly/improperly defined. It seems to be drug use up = failure. But if we're talking about repealing drug laws, then a proper comparison would be to compare the two: if legalizing drugs makes use go up more, then anti-drug laws were making a positive impact.

Failure doesn't equal drug use going up. It's more complex than that. The way I see it is that laws should benefit society. The current policies which are in place to mitigate and eliminate drug trade and use cost the public billions per year and yet there has been no measurable downward trend in drug use or trade (indeed, trade is increasing and the US is, I belive, the world leader in imported drugs) and the number of incarcerated citizens for non-violent drug crimes has increased staggeringly in the last few decades. Perhaps drug use would increase somewhat, but that money currently being spent on prohibition could be better spent elsewhere. We're not getting any bang for our buck.
The current policies are detrimental to the public as a whole and need to be rethought.

3. "Focus on prevention" is another meaningless catchphrase. They are not mutually exclusive and indeed prevention has no teeth unless coupled with enforcement. Opening up treatment centers does no good if no one chooses to go.
Agreed. But then why is incarceration the go-to after treatment? There's plenty of drug use in prisons. If we can't keep drugs out of prisons, where we put people in order to deter them from using drugs, then how do we expect these actions to deter drug use? All it takes is a couple uses for many of these drugs and these people don't care about the potential ramifications. But I agree that focusing on prevention is pretty meaningless as far as eliminating drug trade is concerned. But drug trade needs to be brought into the light and understood. People need to feel that they can safely get treatment without the risk of relapsing, getting caught, and going to jail.

4. As I indicated before, the "let people put whatever they want into their bodies" is a very deep rabbit hole. Ironically, it is some of the same people using that argument who then violate it with food and drug restrictions. And while we're at it, we should then apply the same freedom of choice to product safety regulation. If you want pot to be in a unique regulatory black hole, so be it, but legalization proponents should at least be aware of/open about just how deep a black hole and stark a contradiction such positions are.

I stated it above, but I'll reiterate: I think that regulation is important, and that the open markets must have quality control. However, if a person chooses to disregard these policies and put something harmful into their own body, should the response be jail? Most of these policies aren't for the end-user, they're for the manufacturer and distributer, and right now we can't do anything about how these drugs are made, how they're distributed, or how they're used.
 
  • #27
russ_watters
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This is semantics. The war on drugs is defined as the collection of anti-drug law enforcement, as well as our border and international efforts to shut down the drug trade. The term "war on drugs" exists to talk about the entire social/policy issue of drug enforcement. There are some good policies, I'm sure, which would remain, and there are others which people feel are failing and should be re-thought.
Well yes, it is semantics, but in common use that tends to mean "hairsplitting", which it is not. If Obama announces "I'm ending the war on terror", most people will know exactly what he means. But with the "war on drugs", because it is not a single policy initiative, the idea of "ending the war on drugs" can mean very different things to different people. That lack of consistent meaning is why it is a useless slogan. People need to instead describe exactly what changes they would make to the existing legal framework. And a simple "legalize drugs" isn't enough either. They need to be prepared to deal with the complex meaning and ramifications of complete legalization.

And that is, of course, ignoring the fact that there are people who mistakenly believe it is a single coherent policy - and even an actual "war", such as Pythagorean appears to believe.
Failure doesn't equal drug use going up... The current policies which are in place to mitigate and eliminate drug trade and use cost the public billions per year and yet there has been no measurable downward trend in drug use or trade (indeed, trade is increasing and the US is, I belive, the world leader in imported drugs)....
Can you explain why you think these two statements don't contradict each other?
Perhaps drug use would increase somewhat.... We're not getting any bang for our buck.
Can you explain why you think these two statements don't contradict each other? If we replace "any" with "enough", that would fix it, but I don't like having to strip-off exaggeration, particularly when it is more than just a matter of degree but actually changes the meaning.

An overall comment that relates to much of what is in your post, you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking this is a black-and-white, coherent issue for anyone, including me. I'm not in favor of the status quo and I would prefer more fines and forced treatment instead of jail for users. But with the possible exception of pot legalization, that's as far as I'd change things. Still, that alone could have a marked effect of reducing prison populations and maybe even adding some revenue. But that is somewhat tangential to the scope of the thread; I didn't write the article in the OP, so the thesis here isn't mine.

I'll combine similar points in your two posts to get some I missed in the first but are similar to ones in the second:
Does it matter whether or not drug use goes up or down? I'm interested in why you would say drug use should be illegal in the first place. I can't think of anything, really...
C'mon. You say you can't think of a reason for it to matter, but you acknowledge that many/most drugs are bad. That's why it matters!
If the point is to minimize the negative impact on society, then surely breaking up a large portion of the cartels supported by this prohibition....
For the most part, the cartels don't exist/operate in the US, so that isn't very relevant to the issue.
...as well as the abolition of the idea that drug users are all criminals, will serve to better society.
Well that's a bit circular, since you can do that for any illegal activity. Make murder legal and *poof*, murderers are no longer criminals. That's neither here nor there.
How many people out there do you think are really itching to get addicted to heroin or cocaine, but don't because "it's illegal"?
I don't know. Do you agree, though, that the number is greater than zero? If nothing else, being illegal makes the street price higher due to lower availability. That makes it more difficult to become a drug user than if it were completely legal.
You mentioned the FDA, and that's fine and good. They do the important job of making sure that distributers don't give out bad food and medicines. But it's not illegal for me as a private citizen to consume rancid beef. It may be bad for me, but it's not illegal.
That's not a relevant comparison: The beef isn't intended by either the manufacturer or the user to be rancid. Drugs are intended to be what they are by the manufacturer, sell and user. A better comparison would be a machine gun, which is illegal to manufacture, sell and own (for civilians). But if a civilian gets ahold of one, it is exactly what he, the manufacturer and seller intended it to be.
 
  • #28
Travis_King
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Well yes, it is semantics, but in common use that tends to mean "hairsplitting", which it is not. If Obama announces "I'm ending the war on terror", most people will know exactly what he means. But with the "war on drugs", because it is not a single policy initiative, the idea of "ending the war on drugs" can mean very different things to different people. That lack of consistent meaning is why it is a useless slogan. People need to instead describe exactly what changes they would make to the existing legal framework. And a simple "legalize drugs" isn't enough either. They need to be prepared to deal with the complex meaning and ramifications of complete legalization.

Agreed to an extent. There's more to it than "legalize drugs!", but the main point is that current policy is ineffective, expensive, not serving the betterment of our society. It needs to be addressed and overhauled. Many people do express the changes they would make, as not everyone believes we should go cold turkey on the drug enforcement policies. But eliminating mandatory minimums for drug users (for example) would be a good start.

On the other hand, what are some of the major ramifications that you see from legalization and regulation of drugs that public policy would have to tackle that it doesn't already do with alcohol, tobacco, and perscription drugs?

And that is, of course, ignoring the fact that there are people who mistakenly believe it is a single coherent policy - and even an actual "war", such as Pythagorean appears to believe.
Sure, but their mistake doesn't mean their opinion is invalid. Most people just don't understand why so many people are jailed and fined for posession and use of drugs, or why the government spends so much on trying, and not typically succeeding, to stop it's sale and use. I look at it more of anti-persecution sentiment than an actual attempt at reforming public policy.

Can you explain why you think these two statements don't contradict each other?

My point is that your metric for measuring failure is incomplete. Comparing the number of drug users only of the two isn't exactly apples to apples. We have a set of policies that attempt to lower drug use, and those policies don't cause a downward trend of drug use for the billions of dollars spent enforcing them.
As a set of policies, the drug prohibition laws in this country have a set directive either to eliminate or minimize drug use, or eliminate/minimize drug related crime. If the current policies are failing to do that (or potentially exacerbate the problem, as it can be argued the drug prohibition does with drug related crime), then they do not work and the money would be better spent elsewhere.

The other is the repeal of drug enforcement policies which would be done with the understanding that the drug use would increase to some degree. Only if the amount of drug use skyrocketed after repeal of drug prohibition policies could I see it being called a failed social move.

Can you explain why you think these two statements don't contradict each other? If we replace "any" with "enough", that would fix it, but I don't like having to strip-off exaggeration, particularly when it is more than just a matter of degree but actually changes the meaning.

It's been used before, but how many people do you think aren't doing drugs and commiting drug related crime simply because it's illegal? Then, an addendum to the first part, how much money do we want to spend to ensure that people don't use drugs, and to what extent do we punish people who choose to do drugs? Is there a point where the government is actually doing more damage to people and society by enforcing drug policies as opposed to letting people do the drugs?

An overall comment that relates to much of what is in your post, you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking this is a black-and-white, coherent issue for anyone, including me.
No I'm with you, I understand that it is a complex social issue. But to me the prohibition of drugs is a failed and dangerous social policy. The gray area comes into play for me when we talk about how legalization or decriminalization would be implemented.

I'm not in favor of the status quo and I would prefer more fines and forced treatment instead of jail for users.

Quick question on this one, why fine or jail users at all? I never got the idea of punishing users...

But with the possible exception of pot legalization, that's as far as I'd change things. Still, that alone could have a marked effect of reducing prison populations and maybe even adding some revenue. But that is somewhat tangential to the scope of the thread; I didn't write the article in the OP, so the thesis here isn't mine.

Sure. I wouldn't go cold turkey with the policies either. But if we make an exception for one of the drugs considered illicit currently, then we necessarily imply that there is a condition under which it is ok for illicit drugs to be legal; and then we have to come up with a reasonable line and define why some drugs are ok and others are bad. (again, we do this with alcohol and tobacco already...)

C'mon. You say you can't think of a reason for it to matter, but you acknowledge that many/most drugs are bad. That's why it matters!

Yea but public policy shouldn't be to give jail sentences and crippling fines/court costs (or pass those onto the public) simply because people choose to do things that are bad for them. That seems crazy, doesn't it? What part of jail is better for anyone? I'm sure it stops a few people from starting, but once those kids go to jail, how effective do you think it is? How many kids get out of jail after 2 years and never smoke crack again because they're afraid of jail?

I pose the question again, why is it punishible to do drugs, even things like heroin or crack cocaine?
If you're a mother or father doing drugs in the house, then you get child endangerment.
If your driving under the influence, then you've got a slew of charges for that.
If you are dealing to underage kids, then you've got trafficking.
But why is personal use actually punishable?

For the most part, the cartels don't exist/operate in the US, so that isn't very relevant to the issue.
We spend billions yearly on fighting cartels in their home countries, actually...But the point is that legalizing drugs and regulating their trade will cripple and destroy the back door markets run by these cartels. They can't operate if there's no demand because users can get it cheaper and free and with no risk of jail time from the government or the guy down the road.

Well that's a bit circular, since you can do that for any illegal activity. Make murder legal and *poof*, murderers are no longer criminals. That's neither here nor there.

haha, ok I worded that poorly. What I meant is that we label drug users criminals, and then that's a hard cycle to break out of. If you've got drug charges (and prison sentences) how much upward mobility do you really have to get yourself into a better situation. If you call people criminals, most of them will act that way...

I don't know. Do you agree, though, that the number is greater than zero? If nothing else, being illegal makes the street price higher due to lower availability. That makes it more difficult to become a drug user than if it were completely legal.

Yes, for sure. But it's not the governments job to protect us from harming ourselves to the extent of jail, right? And drug prices would have to be regulated as well. High enough to limit the number of people who use, but low enough to disincentivize the use of a black market. I think that surely the number of users would go up (at least at first), but I don't see that as a reason to continue enforcing what are currently ineffective policies (apart from their status quo maintenance of drug use).

The beef isn't intended by either the manufacturer or the user to be rancid. Drugs are intended to be what they are by the manufacturer, sell and user. A better comparison would be a machine gun, which is illegal to manufacture, sell and own (for civilians). But if a civilian gets ahold of one, it is exactly what he, the manufacturer and seller intended it to be.

Continuing with that comparison, without regulation there are a number of beef distributers which would pop up that intend the beef to be exactly as rancid as the regulations would allow. Obviously it wouldn't make good business sense to have your customers get sick all the time, but if unregulated there would be a certain percentage that they would consider acceptable.

A machine gun has at it's purpose the ability to harm other things and people. Hence it's illegality. Drugs are intended for personal use and the majority of harm done is on the individual level (with obvious exceptional cases).

We've already got regulatory black holes. Tobacco and Alcohol are both leading causes of death among us citizens and people as a whole. Yet both are legal. Both are obviously bad for you. They are regulated so that the hazards are mitigated (you won't go blind from drinking whiskey, you won't smoke a cigarette filled with toxic levels of pesticides) and then it is up to the individual to use them responsibly. Why is that any different than other drugs?
 
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  • #29
Tobias Funke
131
40
Agreed to an extent. There's more to it than "legalize drugs!", but the main point is that current policy is ineffective, expensive, not serving the betterment of our society. It needs to be addressed and overhauled. Many people do express the changes they would make, as not everyone believes we should go cold turkey on the drug enforcement policies. But eliminating mandatory minimums for drug users (for example) would be a good start.

I thought the main point was pretty clear as well, and nobody else seemed to have trouble following it. I think you're being sucked into an attempt to derail and obfuscate the issue (like saying there is no war on drugs) that's being passed off as an impartial analysis. It's a common and effective tactic. You know the "big picture" and so does just about everyone who replied several months ago. Do beef and machine guns have anything to do with it?
 
  • #31
Pythagorean
Gold Member
4,292
278
Russ's line of argument is valid to some degree. There is an obvious group of people that abuse the term:

"Global Commission on Drug Policy Offers Reckless, Vague Drug Legalization
Proposal; Current Drug Policy Should Be Improved through Innovative Linkage
of Prevention, Treatment and the Criminal Justice System:"

http://www.ibhinc.org/pdfs/IBHCommentaryonGlobalCommissionReport71211.pdf [Broken]

I think it's fair for Russ to ask for clarification. However, I think it's unfair to paint everyone who uses the term "war on drugs" as pushing a blind legalization agenda. (a.k.a. good faith, not bad faith).

Anyway, clarification for Russ: the obvious interpretation of "war on drugs" to me is the militarization of drug enforcement. I don't think users of hard drugs should be treated as harshly as we do in the US, but I think dealers and importers absolutely deserve judgment and given their criminal nature there's probably not a way to avoid militant strategies. But I think we need to demand more compassion from society as well as enact specific policies that protect addicts and users and gear rehabilitation more towards healing than punishment.

Also, I think marijuana should be legalized and controlled like alcohol.
 
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