Is Now The Time To Legalize Drugs?

By Potter · Jan 16, 2009 · Updated Jan 16, 2009 · ·
  1. Potter

    Is Now The Time To Legalize Drugs?

    Posted By: Cliff Mason

    This may be apocryphal, but when FDR was running for President for the first time in 1932, he said something along the lines of "What America needs now is a good, stiff drink."

    Then he won and went on to help end prohibition.

    Well, now we've got a new Democratic President coming into office, we're in similarly dire economic straits, and maybe what America needs is a nice toke?

    It's time to legalize, or at least decriminalize, drugs. Admittedly this would be a blow to the flourishing prison industry at a time when we don't want to cause additional job losses.

    But perhaps we could make up some of those lost prison-guard jobs by opening up new rehab clinics and filling them up with addicts who need treatment.

    The voters are miles ahead of the politicians on this issue. Most national politicians would rather admit to using drugs than come out in favor of decriminalizing them. But in Massachusetts, a resolution decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana passed with the support of 65% of voters, despite opposition from the governor on down. The politicians seem to believe it's political suicide to favor a more rational drug policy, and even the massive popularity of measures like Question 2 in Massachusetts can't convince them otherwise.

    Barack Obama won't admit that the war on drugs is a failure, but in his autobiography he admitted to doing cocaine in his youth. During the primaries the Clinton campaign tried to gin-up a scandal out of this fact. I think the real scandal is that the President Elect believes that other people should go to prison for something that he, and many others, get away with Scott free. The same goes for Bill Clinton, who smoked marijuana but "never inhaled."

    The war on drugs does two things: it makes the business of drugs more profitable and more violent, and it sends lots and lots of people to prison.

    Wouldn't it be better if we could bring this business out into the open, slap some taxes on it, and keep people from shooting each other? Of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in this country, more than half are in prison for drug-related offenses. That's unconscionable, and I believe future generations will see this fact, more than the pseudo-legalization of torture under the Bush Administration, as the great moral failing of our time. As the late, great Milton Friedman, an opponent of the War on Drugs from the very beginning when Nixon initiated hostilities, put it, "there is no light at the end of that tunnel. How many of our citizens do we want to turn into criminals before we yell "enough"?"

    No one believes that illegal drugs are anything but harmful, but Americans, or at least our leaders, use that fact to stop any discussion of a rational policy to deal with the problem.

    I hope the new guy will be different. For now my generation is much more progressive on this issue than older Americans. But I wonder what will happen to younger proponents of decriminalization as they grow up and have children. It's a fact that we can't prevent people from getting their hands on drugs in this country by locking up dealers and using F-16s to spray herbicides all over Colombia. We've tried for over 30 years, and the only thing the policy succeeds at is ruining lives.

    What kills me is that nobody seems to care, not about the human cost, or even about the financial cost.

    o The High Cost Of Medical Marijuana

    Questions? Comments? Send them to [email protected]
    © 2009


    Share This Article


  1. Cathay
    Interesting article. CNBC is also airing a special about the business of Marijuana this Thursday.

    I wonder if drug policy will be changed under the new administration with Obama. What does everyone else think?
  2. enquirewithin
    It's Time to End the War on Drugs: Obama's Marijuana Prohibition Acid Test

    The parallels between the 1933 coming of Franklin Roosevelt and the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama must include the issue of Prohibition: alcohol in 1933, and marijuana today. As FDR did back then, Obama must now help end an utterly failed, socially destructive, reactionary crusade.

    Marijuana prohibition is a core cause of many of the nation's economic problems. It now costs the U.S. tens of billions per year to track, arrest, try, defend and imprison marijuana consumers who pose little, if any, harm to society. The social toll soars even higher when we account for social violence, lost work, ruined careers and damaged families. In 2007, 775,137 people were arrested in the U.S. for mere possession of this ancient crop, according to the FBI’s uniform crime report.

    Like the Prohibition on alcohol that plagued the nation from 1920 to 1933, marijuana prohibition (which essentially began in 1937) feeds organized crime and a socially useless prison-industrial complex that includes judges, lawyers, police, guards, prison contractors, and more.

    A dozen states have now passed public referenda confirming medical uses for marijuana based on voluminous research dating back 5,000 years. Confirmed medicinal uses for marijuana include treatment for glaucoma, hypertension, arthritis, pain relief, nausea relief, reducing muscle spasticity from spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, and diminishing tremors in multiple sclerosis patients. Medical reports also prove smoked marijuana provides relief from migraine headaches, depression, seizures, and insomnia, according to NORML. In recent years its use has become critical to thousands of cancer and AIDS sufferers who need to it to maintain their appetite while undergoing chemotherapy.

    The U.S. ban on marijuana extends to include hemp, one of the most widely used agricultural products in human history. Unlike many other industrial crops, hemp is powerful and prolific in a natural state, requiring no pesticides, herbicides, extraordinary fertilizing or inappropriate irrigation. Its core products include paper, cloth, sails, rope, cosmetics, fuel, supplements and food. Its seeds are a potentially significant source of bio-diesel fuel, and its leaves and stems an obvious choice for cellulosic ethanol, both critically important for a conversion to a Solartopian renewable energy supply.

    Hemp was grown in large quantities by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and many more of the nation's founders, most of whom would likely be dumbfounded to hear it is illegal (based on entries in Washington's agricultural diaries, referring to the separation of male and female plants, it's likely he and his cohorts also raised an earlier form of "medicinal" marijuana).

    Hemp growing was mandatory in some circumstances in early America, and again during World War II, when virtually the entire state of Kansas was planted in it. The current ban on industrial hemp costs the U.S. billiions of dollars in lost production and revenue from a plant that can produce superior paper, clothing, fuel and other critical materials at a fraction the financial cost and environmental damage imposed by less worthy sources.

    On January 16, 1919, fundamentalist crusaders help pass the 18th Amendment, making the sale of alcohol illegal. The ensuing Prohibition was by all accounts a ludicrous failure epitomized by gang violence and lethal "amateur" product that added to the death toll. Its only real winner was organized crime and the prison-industrial complex.

    In 1933, FDR helped pass the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition, which ended a costly era of gratuitous social repression and gave the American economy---and psyche---a tangible boost.

    Marijuana prohibition was escalated with Richard Nixon's 1970 declaration of the War on Drugs. There was a brief reprieve when Steve Ford, the son of President Gerald Ford appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone barefoot and claiming that the best place to smoke pot was in the White House. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s last year in office, 338,664 were arrested for marijuana possession.

    Ronald Reagan renewed the War on Drugs and declared his “Zero Tolerance” policy, despite his daughter Patti Davis’ claim the Gipper smoked weed with a major donor. Following Reagan, President George Herbert Walker Bush recorded a low of 260,390 marijuana possession arrests, but the numbers climbed again under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both of whom are reported to have smoked it themselves (though Clinton claims not to have inhaled).

    On a percentage basis, at least as many American high school students smoke pot than students in Holland, where it is legal. In the midst of the drug war, U.S. students report virtually unlimited access to a wide range of allegedly controlled substances, including pot. Because so many Americans use it, and it is so readily available, the war on marijuana can only be seen as a virtually universal assault on the basic liberties of our citizenry.

    In a 2005 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey, more than 97 million Americans admitted to having tried marijuana at least once. President-elect Obama makes it clear in his book Dreams From My Father that he has smoked---and inhaled---marijuana (he is also apparently addicted to a far more dangerous drug, tobacco). His administration should tax marijuana rather than trying to repress it. Like alcohol and tobacco, a minimum age for legal access should be set at 21.

    As a whole, the violent, repressive War on Drugs has been forty years of legal, cultural and economic catastrophe. Like FDR, Obama must end our modern-day Prohibition, and with it the health-killing crusade against this ancient, powerful medicinal herb.

  3. leadcoffin
    I would love to see the six-week, intense re-education camp required to make this possible. :laugh:
  4. nate81
    I believe Obama has already said he does not intend to use his "political capitol" on cannabis. Maybe a rally on the national Mall would do the trick?
  5. enquirewithin
    Obama is slippery politician. I'm not is the US, but I'm sure you are right in thinking that he needs to be pressured into doing anything constructive.
  6. Cathay
    Right now, domestic issues are taking a backseat to international affairs, and more specifically, the recession. I think drug policy, abortion, gay marriage, etc. won't be fully-addressed by him for at least 18 months or until the markets return.
  7. enquirewithin
    I hope I'm wrong but I would bet he no intention whatsoever of addressing these issues. (From outside of America, it seems like he has no idea at all about foreign policy. His advisor's are all hawks and the view from Gaza or Afghanistan must be grim.)
  8. Sippin40oz
    Iam from the UK but i hope Obama does set our American brothers free from senseless prosecution. Especially as if it worked then maybe this example will be followed by the rest of the west.

    But i fear that Obama will not address an issue which is still very controversial with the senate and the general public. Ive watched his inauguration speech today and it just seems like he has 'more important' things to deal with then drugs. Theres also the possibility that as the first black president he may not want to rock the boat too much as too restrict the opportunities of coloured individuals in the future. You can just imagine the racist fascists having a field day if he did legalise drugs. 'Dont elect that black man he will allow your children to inject heroin!' I really wish that race wouldnt play a part in his decision making but i dont feel that we have arrived at that point yet which is a shame.
  9. Cathay
    You definitely have that right. Yes, foreign issues and the economy are center stage right now, but you have a point that it is unlikely that he will handle them well in practice. As for domestic issues, they don't require as much experience in handling them as foreign policy does, but I know that he holds relatively liberal views when it comes to domestic issues, so perhaps we will see some changes in drug policy.
  10. doggy_hat
    I personally Think Obama is full of shit. People think that just because he's black and not as blatant of a warmongerer as McCain that he's going to actually do something. One of the Important parts of his campaign was ending the war in Iraq, yet he plans on increasing funding for the US military, even though our military is about as big as every other military in the world combined. Because we need to protect ourselves from the horrible "threat" of terrorism that is responsible for the death of a few hundred Americans each year.

    I think this presidency will be a big dissapointment. Just say people "Change", "Hope" and a bunch of other bullshit enough times and people will believe it. I bet he'll just lead a quieter presidency than Bush but won't do anything significantly good. And then when it's time for him to leave, people will think "Wow, what a great president, he's done so much to free us." When in reality he just seemed that way because he wasn't Bush and we were told to think he was good so we believed it.
  11. Horser
    He who places their hpes and Dreams in Politicians is either extemely Naive or maybe delusional. Obbama will NOT decrim'ize. Why? the Big Brewers would have his balls for Garters!
    Not being fom the US I don't undeerstand why that Country spends such huge sums of $$$$ on the War on Terrifically good substances anyway!
    Gawd, they put so much pressure on My humble Abode not to grow Pharmacutical Poppies in Tasmania but thank-fully "we" told them (Raygun Ifink it was) to stuff-off!
    This decision means for Swim that Ph'cal Quality seeds are availble by the Kilo in the local Organic food shop. Swim has grown them on the balcony of their balcony and saved a packet on Pain-meds! It isn't a crime here (in Horsetrailer) to grow them, it's only when you scratch-score the Pods that it becomes a crime (that's 1 reason I love "Herbal Tea"!
    You can even go to Tassie and pick up the seed-pods by the side of the Rd and do what-ever you like with them (provided you don't do the above^).
    But yes it is Time! Swim sphinks that "Harry the Horse" is the perfect Lover! (the same can be said for flax!) She is always there for You, she doesn't cheat and her loving embrace is like no-other. The Ancients knew of her great powers and respected them. What Modern Gum-Nuts have done is turn Swims lover into a Whore! Mob bosses now pimp her, greedy Dealers cut her up, Society frowns on even the mention that You don't hate her!
    Obama likes to liken himself to ol Ab Linc, so please BHO, Free My lover (and her lovers) from Social and criminal Slavery.
  12. enquirewithin
    Remember Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys and Lard? He has always had outspoken political views. This comes from an open letter to Obama:

    Joe Biden, Obama's deputy, is going to be an enormous obstacle to any constructive change.
  13. Pondlife
    I don't think this bit is quite right:

    Alcohol and tobacco are legal, so saying that drugs should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco is saying that drugs should be legalised. My understanding of decrimilisation means there would be no criminal penalties, but the act would still remain unlawful (as distinct from illegal).

    I'm also not totally impressed by the argument that the Government should buy up the world's stock of drugs. That sounds like it hasn't been fully thought through to me.

    Although the underlying concepts in this letter are sound, I think we need better thought through and better presented arguments if we want politicians to listen.
  14. Cathay
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!