Part 1 Of Point-Counterpoint Between Judge James Gray and Drug Free America Foundation's David Evans
We cannot legalize marijuana because its use has destructive health and social consequences. Marijuana is far more powerful today than it was years ago and it serves as an entry point for the use of other illegal drugs. This is known as the "gateway effect." Despite arguments from the drug culture to the contrary, marijuana is addictive. This addiction has been well described in the scientific literature and it consists of both a physical dependence (tolerance and subsequent withdrawal) and a psychological habituation.
According to a US report released in June of 2008, the levels of THC - the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - have reached the highest ever amounts since scientific analysis of the drug began in the late 1970s. The average amount of THC has now reached average levels of 9.6 percent (the highest level in one of the samples was 37.2 percent). This compares to the average of just under 4 percent reported in 1983.
Higher potency marijuana may be contributing to a substantial increase in the number of American teenagers in treatment for marijuana dependence. The latest information from the U.S. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS, 2006), reports that 16.1% of drug treatment admissions were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse. This compares to 6% in 1992.
The use of marijuana in early adolescence is particularly dangerous. Adults who used marijuana early were five times more likely to become dependent on any drug and eight times more likely to use cocaine and fifteen times more likely to use heroin later in life.
Drug legalization advocates claim that marijuana is less dangerous than drugs like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. However, studies over the last few years give us a lot of new information about marijuana. They show that marijuana is not harmless but that it is toxic and addictive.
I think that Dave, and everyone involved in this session, will agree that we are all on the same side of this issue, namely we all want to reduce drug abuse, and all of the crime and misery that accompanies it. Where we may have differences of opinion is how best to achieve that goal.
Dave raised some points that are in the minds of many people, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss them. But throughout this discussion I want to be clear on several things. First, I don't use marijuana, and you could give it away on every street corner and bless it by every religious leader in town, and I am still not going to use it -- unless I have some form of medical problem that a medical doctor feels can be helped by this as a medicine.
Second, I strongly agree with Milton Friedman that most of the harms that come from drugs, especially including marijuana, is because they are illegal. Yes, marijuana can have its harms, but far and away the most harmful thing connected with marijuana is jail.
Third, I agree with Dave that the strength of marijuana has seriously increased in the past years. But what Dave doesn't appear to recognize is that the reason is Drug Prohibition. Why? Because it is a cardinal reason of prohibition always to promote the stronger stuff. For example, if I were a bootlegger during Alcohol Prohibition (as opposed to Drug Prohibition, which is a time we now live in), I would be facing the same criminal justice risks for selling a barrel of beer as I would a barrel of bourbon. So which would I sell? That's easy, the bourbon. Why? Because I make more money off the stronger stuff, which is bourbon. The exact same principle holds true with regard to marijuana. For the same criminal justice penalties, I could make much more money selling stronger marijuana. So that is the fundamental reason why the strength has increased.
Are you concerned with these problems? They are all caused by Drug Prohibition. Why? Because as soon as you prohibit a substance, you give up all of your ability to have any say whatsoever about how it is sold, the quantities, qualities, age restrictions, or anything else.
The best resolution is to repeal the prohibition of marijuana. Then we could regulate and control it, tax it, and all of this would, as I said earlier, make this substance less available for children.
I have been on the bench in Orange County, California for 25 years, and a federal prosecutor and Navy JAG attorney before that, but there is no question whatsoever in my mind that the most patriotic thing I can do for the country that I love is to help us repeal these prohibitions.
I ask all of you to give all of these things some thought, use all of your experiences and observations, and help me to engage everyone in our country in a full, open, and honest discussion of this critical issue.
Judge Gray has raised issues about legalization and marijuana related crime and that legalization of marijuana would reduce this problem. He also discusses taxes and hemp.
The legalizers claim that as legalized drugs become less expensive, people will no longer need to commit crimes in order to pay for their drug use. The problem with this claim is that some drugs are already inexpensive. Marijuana, the most abused and addictive drug for young people, is very inexpensive. Some drugs can be manufactured in home laboratories. In addition, if drugs were sold legally and have to comply with government regulations and pay the costs of taxes placed upon the legalized drug there is a question whether it is possible to reduce the current price of some drugs.
However, if legal drug suppliers could undersell the black market by offering drugs at a lower price the rates of addiction would rise. Even supporters of drug legalization admit that "low prices would encourage use." A good example of this is cocaine. Once cocaine began being marketed in the high potency and low cost form of "crack," addiction rates increased. If addiction rates increase - so will purchase-related crime. Higher levels of drug use cause increased crime, especially property crime to pay for the drugs.
Legalizing drugs would not reduce purchase-related crime, but may actually increase it for two reasons: (1) if we decrease the price of an addictive drug, addicts will merely buy more of it and need more money to buy drugs. (2) there will be more addicts stealing to meet living expenses such as food, rent, etc. Drug abusing offenders are the most active criminals. Dependency on drugs drives people to commit crimes to generate income. Drug users, many of whom are unable to hold jobs, commit robberies and other crimes not only to obtain drugs, but also to purchase food, shelter, clothing and other goods and services. Even if drugs were legalized, addicts will still need to pay the rent and may resort to crime to do so.
The advocates of legalization claim that drug users only damage themselves and therefore they have the right to use drugs. Others claim that if drugs were legal, crime and violence would decrease because it is the illegal nature of drug trafficking that fuels crime and violence, instead of the violent and irrational behavior that drugs themselves induce. The flaw in this argument is that most violent drug related crime is committed because people are under the influence of drugs. The use of drugs changes behavior and causes criminal activity because people will do things they wouldn’t do if they were rational and free of the drug’s influence.
Psychoactive drugs have a powerful impact on behavior. This influences people to commit crimes that have nothing to do with supporting the cost of their drug use. Some offenders suffer emotional and/or brain damage due to drug use, which contributes to mental illness or anti-social behavior. Cocaine-related paranoia is an example. If drug use increases with legalization, so will many forms of violent crime such as assaults, drugged driving, child abuse, and domestic violence.
If legalization will cause an increase in drug use, an increase in drug use certainly will create more criminal behavior. There is a strong connection between drug use and criminal behavior. Drug use studies show that two-thirds of all male and female arrestees tested positive for at least one drug. Cocaine was found in about one-half of males and females, and marijuana was found in 25% of the men and 20% of the women. Opiates were found in 10% of the men and women. Twenty-five percent of the total sample tested positive for more than one illegal drug.
A survey of prison inmates showed that inmates report high levels of drug use prior to the commission of the crime for which they were incarcerated. In the month prior to the crime, 43% were using illegal drugs on a daily or near daily basis, and 19% were using heroin, methadone, cocaine, PCP, or LSD on a daily or nearly daily basis. The study also showed that 35% of the inmates reported they were under the influence of drugs at the time they committed the crime. Marijuana or hashish were most frequently used at the time of the crime.
Approximately 80% of the inmates in a 1986 survey had used drugs at some time in their lives. Only 13% of inmates seemed to fit the pattern of drug addicts who committed the crimes for gain. Of those sentenced for robbery, burglary, larceny, or a drug offence, one-half were daily drug users, and about 40% were under the influence of an illegal drug at the time they committed the crime. The greater an inmate's use of major drugs, the more prior convictions the inmate reported. Twenty-eight percent of the state inmates reported past drug problems with such drugs as heroin (14%), cocaine (10%), and marijuana or hashish (9%).
A US study of crime victims showed that 30 per cent perceived their attackers to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A study published in the International Journal of Addictions links homicides to the use of marijuana. Interviews with 268 inmates in prison for homicides in New York demonstrated that 71% used marijuana within 24 hours of committing the crime and that they were experiencing some effect from the drug at the time of the crime. Twenty-five percent felt that the homicide was related to their use of marijuana before the crime.
If legalizing drugs will increase drug use, then drugged driving will also likely increase. Many studies show a clear correlation between drug use and motor vehicle accidents, trauma, and dangerous driving. More drugged driving will mean more dead and injured drivers and their innocent victims. Recent studies of intoxicated driving suspects indicate that approximately one-third of those failing standard field sobriety tests will test positive for illegal drugs. Drug tests on the bodies of 168 fatally injured truck drivers found that marijuana was found in 13%; cocaine was found in 8% and amphetamines in 7%.
This conversation is helpful, because Dave Evans is bringing up many issues that are on the minds of lots of people. I will go through them, line by line, and discuss them. But the difference between my discussion and that of Dave Evans is that I will respond to his points, and even acknowledge the strength of some of them, because no program is perfect. But he probably will not do the same thing. Because one thing is clear. We are facing two substantial issues here: one is drug problems, and I do not intend anything
I say in this area to minimize them. But the second is drug money problems, and without a doubt, these are far, far worse than the drug problems. So far, you have not heard Mr. Evans even address, much less acknowledge, the drug money problems expressly caused by our policy of Drug Prohibition, both here and around the world. I ask him to respond to them as well.
He says: "The legalizers claim that as legalized drugs become less expensive, people will no longer need to commit crimes in order to pay for their drug use."
First of all, calling us "legalizers" is a tactic that most people who support our present policy use. And it is expressly intended to freeze people's minds, and shut off discussion. Why? Because the use of that term brings the connotation of such things like that people like me don't care if your 14 year-old daughter buys cocaine in a vending machine across the street from her junior high school, or other such idiocy. Now I know Dave Evans, and he is not included in this statement, but that is exactly the connotation that most people who use that term wish to convey. And it is not true, at all! In fact I hate what some of these drugs do so much that I want to change our system to reduce those harms!
And besides, this sounds technical, but it is an important distinction, I do not want "legalize" anything. When you think of the legalization of drugs, think of aspirin. There are no restrictions on advertising, quantity, age of purchaser, or location of sale, and the price is set by the free market. What I wish to install is a system of the strictly regulated distribution of some of these drugs -- starting with marijuana. This would be similar to what we do now with tobacco and alcohol. And in order to keep the marijuana from being advertised, the government would have to own the product. Would there be problems? Of course, because as I said, no program is perfect.
But this system would be far, far, far better than what we are doing now. In fact, anything would be better than what we are doing now!
With regard to his comment that people will no longer need to commit crimes in order to pay for their drug use, that is silly. Of course many will because nothing is perfect. But that crime would be greatly reduced. For this, please focus upon the results in Portugal, where they decriminalized the use of all drugs back in 2001. Mr. Glenn Greenwald of the CATO Institute published a report about the results just a few months ago, and he reported that when this occurred, overall drug usage became slightly lower, but problem drug usage was reduced by about half!
The reason behind this was twofold. First, under the prior criminal system, drug addicted people legitimately feared their own government, so they were highly unlikely to bring their problems to the government. But now that people would only receive an administrative citation for the use or possession of drugs, which would require them to appear before a medical staff to discuss their drug usage (and this staff was not at all connected to the criminal justice system), the drug addicted people were now willing to enter treatment programs is much, much greater numbers.
Second, now that the government was no longer spending such large amounts of money on the investigation, prosecution, and incarceration of drug-addicted people, they had much more money to use for drug treatment. So those treatment programs were funded. This is seen as a truly effective program, and is one we should not only study, we should emulate.
The first sentence of Mr. Evans' second paragraph says: "However, if legal drug suppliers could undersell the black market by offering drugs at a lower price the rates of addiction would rise. Even supporters of drug legalization admit that 'low prices would encourage use.'" He is basically right. Anyone with half a sense of economics will understand that if the demand is the same, and the price is cut in half, or even reduced, (and the substance is no longer illegal for adults), usage will certainly increase. But not necessarily addiction. Actually, as we have already addressed by the experience of Portugal, addiction and other problem drug usage would probably decrease, because treatment would be more available, and the drug addicted people no longer would be automatic criminals, so they would be much more likely to seek help.
And if we followed the experience of Holland, where all drugs were decriminalized several decades ago, after 6 to 12 to maybe 18 months, probably usage would decrease as well. The Minister of Health of Holland held a news conference numbers of years ago and said that their country, where anyone 16 years of age or older can go to a coffee house and get marijuana, they only have half the marijuana usage per capita as we do in the United States -- even for teenagers!! And then he went on to explain why by saying that "We have succeeded in making pot boring." Of course, we glamorize it in our country by having it illegal, and by having an incredible profit margin to sell it to us, our neighbors and our children. We must learn from Holland's experience. This is more fully discussed in my book "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed." Holland does have one problem, however, that they do not know what to do about, and that problem is that a full third of the people who use and abuse drugs in their country are foreigners. I have no suggestions, but obviously since we are so much larger, we wouldn't be as likely to have the problem.
Judge Gray mentioned the Netherlands. The Netherlands chose to liberalize drug policy to its regret. For example in the 1970s, "coffee shops" emerged in the Netherlands offering marijuana products for sale. Even though possession and sale of marijuana are not technically legal, the coffee shops were permitted to sell marijuana under certain restrictions to include a limit of no more than 5 grams sold to a person at any one time.
The Dutch saw the use of marijuana among young people more than double. The use of ecstasy and cocaine by 15-16 year olds rose significantly. After marijuana use became normalized, consumption among 18 to 20 year-olds nearly tripled - from 15 per cent to 44 per cent. It has since declined due to a anti-marijuana program by the government.
The government also looked again to law enforcement by announcing a "Five Year Offensive against the Production, Trade, and Consumption of Synthetic Drugs." They also established the Penal Care Facility for Addicts similar to the Drug Courts in the US. This facility is designed to detain and treat addicts (of any drug) who repeatedly commit crimes and have failed voluntary treatment facilities. The offenders may be detained for up to two years, during which time they will go through a program of detoxification and training for social reintegration.
By 2004, the government of the Netherlands formally announced its mistake. The government of the Netherlands stated that "cannabis is not harmless - either for the abusers or for the community." The Netherlands began to implement an action plan to discourage cannabis use. The action plan to discourage cannabis use includes elements such as drug prevention campaigns, mass-media anti-drugs campaign, increased treatment efforts to cannabis users, and encouragement of administrative and criminal law enforcement efforts. This brings the Netherlands "closer towards full compliance with the international drug control treaties with regard to cannabis."
The Netherlands has recently announced they will be appointing a "Drug Czar."
Drug use went down in Portugal not due to legalization but because the country put on a big effort to get people into treatment.
As for the Netherlands, my wife is from there and we have visited there often over the last 30 years. Pot use among Dutch kids was very low before they "decriminalized" pot. It was about 5%. It is now approaching US levels but is still lower than the US. It has risen substantially due to the more relaxed attitude. As my previous comment indicated, they have now publicly regretted their decision and they are cracking down and making a big effort to educate kids about pot. The quality of life in Amsterdam has deteriorated over the years due to pot use.
A few years ago the U.K. downgraded the illegal status of marijuana from a more serious offence to a lesser offence. In 2005, during a general election speech to concerned parents, British Prime Minister Tony Blair noted that medical evidence increasingly suggests that cannabis is not as harmless as people think and warned parents that young people who smoke cannabis could move on to harder drugs.
In 2008, just four years after the status of cannabis was downgraded, the U.K. government upgraded the classification of marijuana from a class C to class B offence and they announced a new system of escalating penalties for adults caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana. Officers will now be able to arrest first-time offenders. The U.K. government took this action because of the "more lethal quality" of the cannabis now available. The government believes that marijuana is a gateway drug and that reclassification was needed to "send a message to young people that it was unacceptable." There will also be more robust enforcement of laws banning the supply and possession of marijuana and a new approach to tackling marijuana farms and organized crime. The government will also work with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to use existing laws to curtail the trade in marijuana paraphernalia.
In February 2007 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime released a study entitled: Sweden’s Successful Drug Policy: A Review of the Evidence. [FN1] The Swedish drug control policy has been guided by the goal of achieving a drug-free society and the unequivocal rejection of drugs and their trafficking. The report noted that: "The clear association between a restrictive drug policy and low levels of drug use is striking."
In 1969, the Government of Sweden approved a ten-point program for increasing public efforts against the drug problem. The ten-point program was heavy on law enforcement measures but also covers demand reduction issues, in particular, the provision of treatment services to addicts and the prevention of drug abuse.
Sweden has the lowest drug use rate in Europe.
Your comment that increased pot use will not lead to more addiction is preposterous. The advocates of drug legalization claim that legalizing drugs would decrease addiction rates in two ways (1) People (particularly young people) use drugs because they are illegal and the users get a thrill from breaking a social taboo. Legalization will remove this incentive. (2) If drugs were legalized, civil society could spend the money that we presently spend on the criminal justice system on treatment of addicts and that would reduce addiction.
This argument does not work when we consider that drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are dangerous and highly addictive. The scholarly opinion and historical evidence are clear that if these drugs are legalized, then the rates of drug use and addiction will climb. This will lead to misery, death, social disorder and massive spending.
It is true that marijuana is not only used more by young people than any other drug, it is the most used illicit drug by everyone -- by far. And it is also true that the cost has been decreasing, for decades. But it is also true that it is easier for our young people to get marijuana than alcohol. And if you ask them, they will tell you the same thing they tell me. Why? Because illegal dealers don't ask for I.D.!
When I talk with groups of high school or college students, I ask them that if I were to give each one of them $50 in cash right now, how many could come back by noon tomorrow with $50 of marijuana, if they wanted to? (The key is if they wanted to.), and routinely two-thirds of the young people raise their hands. That is not to say they are doing that, but if they wanted to, they would know where to go.
So under the present policy of Drug Prohibition, we couldn't make marijuana more available if we tried! Today, no one is offering a free sample of Jim Beam Bourbon or Marlboro Cigarettes on a high school campus, and if they got even close to doing that they would be in a world of trouble. But free samples of marijuana, methamphetamines and other illicit drugs are offered all the time. Why? For the money. So I ask Mr. Evans to respond to this statement: As soon as you prohibit a substance, you give up all of your ability to regulate or control it. And, like Mr. Evans says, these drugs can be dangerous. So why abandon all decisions about strength, purity, price, age restrictions, and place of sale to gangsters?
Think of it this way, these drugs, dangerous as some of them can be, are here to stay. We have tried to make them unavailable to anyone -- and particularly our young people -- and we undisputedly have not been successful. In fact, all of you know who Charles Manson is. Are you aware that he was transferred from Corcoran State Prison several years ago because he was found to have been selling illicit drugs from his prison cell. And he was in solitary confinement! So if we can't keep these drugs out of our prisons -- and we can't -- how do we think we can keep them off the streets of any of our towns or cities?
And today, adult drug dealers are recruiting young people to help them in the drug distribution business. They use them as lookouts, `go-fers,' couriers, etc. And then (and I saw this continually when I was presiding in Juvenile Court), as soon as their reliability is established, they trust the young people to sell small amounts of drugs in their communities. So I ask you, and I ask Mr. Evans, when you have 15 year-old boys (or girls) selling drugs in their communities, whom do they sell those drugs to, people like Mr. Evans and me? Nonsense! They obviously sell to their 14, 15 and 16 year-old peers. Thus recruiting more young people to a lifestyle of drug usage and drug selling. It is not a pretty sight, and it is all caused by our policy of Drug Prohibition. (None of them today are selling alcohol or cigarettes.) So once again, virtually any other policy would be better than the one we have now.
Mr. Evans' next sentence was: "Some drugs can be manufactured in home laboratories." And of course he is right. But I make the same response. That is also caused by Drug Prohibition. And look at all of the problems this brings. For example, methamphetamine laboratories are dangerous, because they literally can explode. And also the fumes are quite dangerous to breathe. So when these are in homes, often there are children residing there, and they are exposed to and harmed by the fumes. Or if the labs are placed out in the wilderness, they invariably pollute the ground water and the landscape. We don't have those problems with the manufacture of licit drugs.
And that is not to begin to address the quality control problems with home-manufactured drugs. And that is a major problem, because no one knows when they have cooked up a bad batch of methamphetamines until their customers start keeling over, etc. We had the same what I call "Bathtub Gin" problems during Alcohol Prohibition, but they disappeared immediately upon the repeal of that failed policy. When responsible businesses, overseen by the FDA, begin to manufacture the products, at least those quality problems virtually disappear. And, of course, so do the "Al Capone" problems of the distribution of the drugs. These are not at all minor points. Do you disagree, Mr. Evans?
Mr. Evans writes: "In addition, if drugs were sold legally and have to comply with government regulations and pay the costs of taxes placed upon the legalized drug there is a question whether it is possible to reduce the current price of some drugs."
He is right. Probably the question I have been asked in all of these 17 years I have been discussing this critically important issue that I have trouble answering is: "I don't trust the government. If they see they can gain revenue by selling these drugs, they will be inclined to increase that revenue by advertising the drugs, and raising (or sometimes lowering) the price." That is a big problem, and one that can be overcome only by continued vigilance of the voters. But otherwise, the government will always have a trump card: it can always lower the price to about two cents higher than an illegal dealer can sell at and still stay in business. (Because remember, it will still be illegal to buy, possess or use any drugs not sold within the new government system.) Actually, if we had to give the products away to drive the illegal dealers out of business, we still could do that, and in the overall scheme of things, would not really be that expensive. But obviously it would never come to that.
But imagine the difference in life if we didn't have illegal drug dealers in our communities, and all around the world. Think of it this way: when we finally came to our senses and repealed Alcohol Prohibition, homicides went down nationwide by 40 percent in the first year! And they continued to be reduced every year thereafter until the Second World War. I am absolutely convinced that we will experience the same phenomenon when we come to our senses and repeal Drug Prohibition!
Furthermore, every terrorist organization in the world uses the profits from the sales of illicit drugs as its major source of funding. In fact, I refer to Drug Prohibition as the Golden Goose of Terrorism. Of course, there will always be some radical and extreme people in the world who want to do harm to the rest of us. But they will be far less dangerous if they lose a principal source of their funding. And the same thing is true with most juvenile gangs. So if we want to heavily reduce the problems of the world of terrorism and juvenile gangs, the best way by far of doing that would be to repeal Drug Prohibition!
Judge Gray makes the claim that legalization of pot will reduce drug profiteering. Legalization will not eliminate drug profits. It will simply shift them out of the pockets of traffickers and into the hands of legitimate businesses. Once this happens then it will be in the economic interest of businesses to promote their products and to package them in attractive ways. The legalizers may claim that the government can regulate this but how well has that worked with alcohol and tobacco? Once drugs are "legal" then drug sellers can hire lawyers and lobbyists and make donations to political campaigns to further their cause. They will pursue their marketing opportunities and will seek to reduce government regulation.
A revealing look at how the profit motive will take over is found in a Reuters story involving Warren Eugene, a pioneer of Internet gambling from Canada. His firm, Amigula/Medical Cannabis Inc., plans to grow and sell the marijuana to people authorized to use it for medical purposes, and to those people not medically authorized. He wants his firm to become an international, publicly listed concern. Initially he will target medical users, but the market could grow if Canada decriminalizes the possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis, just over half an ounce. Canada has up to 400,000 users of medical marijuana. If each user buys C$1,000 (US $765) worth of marijuana a year, annual sales could reach C$40 million. Eugene wants to list his company on stock markets in Denmark, London, Amsterdam, Canada, Australia and Paris. Eugene states: "If marijuana works, I am going to go with opium next."
Judge Gray makes the claim that pot is easily available and that law enforcement does not work. However, law enforcement serves many purposes in the anti-drug effort.
1. It exacts a high price from those who would profit from the misery and addiction of others, e.g., loss of freedom and seizure of their ill-gotten gains.
2. It keeps potential drug users from using drugs by virtue of the fear of arrest and the embarrassment of being caught.
3. It helps drug users/addicts into treatment through the use of laws and drug courts that offer treatment as an alternative to incarceration.
4. Legal sanctions have helped to deter or delay potential abusers, thereby limiting the growth of the illicit market;
Okay. Enough already!
Mr. Evans, the only thing you have really addressed is drug usage. I have already shown why and how I agree with some of your thoughts, and disagree with others. But I have spent a great deal of time discussing all of the issues, because they are at least as important as usage, and probably more so. Therefore, I will number some points, and request a response from you about them, instead of this broadside only about drug usage. Please respond to these points.
1. In Portugal, where they changed their system to one of a medical and administrative approach, instead of criminal, problem drug usage has gone down. Why, because as Glenn Greenwald expressly stated in his report, the money saved by the criminal justice system has been used for drug treatment. Mr. Evans, please address this issue. Why would it not work here?
2. I also spent a great deal of time discussing the fact that marijuana is stronger now because of our policy of Drug Prohibition. And that is true. And the reason is that the illegal sellers always make more money, for the same criminal justice risks, in selling the stronger stuff. That can be changed by getting the illegal dealers out of the market. Why would that not be true, Mr. Evans?
3. Of course, you persist in calling people who are calling for change "drug legalizers." Do you not agree that there are many options, as I previously discussed, between the policy of Drug Prohibition, and the legalization of drugs (which I have already explained, I do not favor)? Do you not agree?
4. And do you not agree that the entire countries of Colombia and Mexico, and many others, have been enormously corrupted, and the safety of their people deeply threatened, not by drugs, but by drug money? In fact, it is mostly our drug money.
5. And that is not to mention that virtually every terrorist organization in the world gets its primary source of funding from the sales of illicit drugs. Does that make any difference to you? If it does, please respond.
6. And finally, do you not agree that each drug is different, and presents different problems? What about the medical approach I discussed that is enormously successful in Switzerland for heroin-addicted people?
7. Marijuana is the largest cash crop in California today. That means that someone is using it. And marijuana is easier for young people to obtain than alcohol. That is what they say. What does that tell you? Do you not agree that regulating and controlling the sale of marijuana, like we do with alcohol, only even more rigorously, would not make marijuana less available for our young people than it is today? And finally for the moment,
8. Do you believe that what we are doing today in this critically important area is the best it could be, or could it be improved upon? If so, what changes would you suggest we make?
There are many questions that I have raised that have not been addressed, in addition to the usage of all of these various drugs, but that will do for now.
November 9, 2009
Should Pot Be Legal?