Subject drug war to the Iraq War test

By Lunar Loops · Nov 20, 2006 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    Interesting editorial from the Detroit News:

    Subject drug war to the Iraq War test

    Now that Washington is awash in rare bipartisan logic about evaluating the goals and strategies of the Iraq War, the same reasoning should apply to the other conflict America is hopelessly mired in: the war on drugs.
    The parallel between the two is undeniable.
    Like Iraq, the drug war has been pressing ahead at enormous cost and destruction without a pause for an honest assessment of whether the tactics are working, or will ever work.
    Yet while it only took three years for the American people to lose patience with the Iraq War, the drug war has been dragging on virtually unchallenged for three decades.
    Given the cost, it's baffling that taxpayers haven't demanded more accountability. State and federal drug fighting efforts cost roughly $1 billion a week.
    Here's the return on that money: Zero. Despite keeping more than 300,000 people locked up for drug offenses, narcotics use has held steady for 20 years.
    And despite a global interdiction effort bankrolled by the United States, only 10 percent of heroin imports worldwide are intercepted and only 30 percent of cocaine imports.
    That means anyone who wants drugs, can get drugs.
    The drug war has ruined America's cities. Gangs terrorize neighborhoods and catch innocent residents in their crossfire. Up to half of the homicides in urban communities can be traced to drug trafficking. Police forces have turned into paramilitary units that are often as menacing as the hoodlums.
    The war has also destroyed families, particularly among our most vulnerable populations. One in 20 black males is behind bars, with drugs the primary reason. It's not just an urban problem or a black problem -- rural communities are being decimated by the crystal meth epidemic.
    New strategy needed
    It's changed who we are as Americans.
    In the name of the drug war, we've forfeited civil liberties, vastly increasing police powers and tipping the balance toward the government and away from the individual. Half of the wiretaps approved each year are for drug cases, and the law has been rewritten to allow their OK on the scantest of evidence. There's no question that illegal drugs are a scourge on the country. Drug abuse is the direct cause of 17,000 deaths annually.
    For the health of the nation, we have an obligation to discourage drug abuse, just as we do alcohol and tobacco abuse.
    But this drug war is senseless. Its main focus remains marijuana, a drug less harmful than alcohol, which can be bought over the counter on nearly every block.
    Of the more than $50 billion spent to fight the drug war, two-thirds goes to law enforcement efforts and one-third to treatment.
    That's been the formula since the beginning. But attacking the supply hasn't worked and never will.
    The focus should be on decreasing demand. Devote the bulk of the money to more and better treatment programs.
    The drug war should face the same scrutiny the Iraq War is undergoing.
    If we know the strategy isn't working, change the course.
    If that approach makes sense for the Iraq War, then it surely makes sense for the drug war.

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  1. Nature Boy
    It's a decent idea to investigate the war on drugs in the exact same way as the Iraq War but it doesn't seem like a realistic means to a massive overhaul in drug policy in my opinion. The problem stems from the years of propaganda and subsequent butchering of all rationale on the issue of drug use. The zero policy approach has been driven deeply into the minds of most of the US population, whether more progressive types want to believe it or not. America is divided, opinions are scattered, informed debate is non-existent for the most part not to mention that a good percentage of the people directly involved in this war actually believe it can still be won.

    I think the drug war will rage on for another entire generation at the very least. It's a shame but there isn't a change on the horizon just quite yet. If anything, one would have to wonder whether it's gonna get worse and move further away from what the above article is suggesting.
  2. Nagognog2
    While a politician, especially after the Democratic wins in November that restored the House and Senate to Democratic control and freezing Bush in his tracks, may now stand up and decry the war on Iraq - the drug-war remains off-limits. Drugs are considered a "Third-Rail" issue for politicians to address. At least on a national-scale. Local efforts have proven successful. California is one example. But on a national front it is a Third-Rail. Touch it and it will kill you.

    Changing this here would/will require a massive educational effort to give the American people the truth. This will require a great deal of money and media exposure (which costs money).Anyone feel up to the challange?
  3. bewilderment
    Yeah, almost everyone that I've met in real life is pretty much completely misinformed. Swim still remembers the disappointment she felt when a friend of hers --who she thought was just a bit more educated many other users she knows in regard to drug use-- turned to her one day and asked "So, does LSD really cause you to hallucinate because your brain swells up and bleeds?" What?? Why on Earth would someone willingly ingest a substance on many occasions that they thought made their brain swell up and bleed?? Swim doesn't know all of the details about how hallucinogens cause hallucinations (although she has researched such quite a bit and done her homework) but explained what little bit she did know...her mind still boggled by such an inquiry.

    Another problem is that for many scheduled drugs, there just isn't a significant amount of research so much remains unknown...but, then again, there really isn't a whole lot known about pharmaceuticals either it often seems. And, the information about prescription drugs often gets distorted depending upon who is sponsoring the research. But, there's still more info on these legal drugs versus the illegal ones, taking into account the length of time any particular drug has been available to the public.

    The problem seems to be that drugs are often banned because we don't know enough about them (and other various reasons, of course). Then, once they are banned it becomes incredibly difficult for anyone to do much research on the substances so learning about the effects and safety of the compounds pretty much goes out the window. Then all of these myths and old wives tales, which seem mostly to stem from government propaganda or are just complete nonsensical speculation, pop up to fill the void of the unknown. But, people keep believing these myths because that's all they ever hear about these drugs unless they actually take the time to sit down and do somewhat extended research. And most people, especially non-users who couldn't really care less, just cannot be bothered with such.

    Thus, people will just keep on believing that the reason they hallucinate on LSD is because their brains swell up and push on the back of their retinas --which if this were the case, I don't think I'd want such to be legal either-- until there is some major overhaul...and I'm not sure where that would be coming from except from educated drug advocates who are few and far between. But, at least it is becoming a little easier to see past the propaganda since internet usage is rather widespread. It's still mostly disinformation out there, but one can still find the opinions from the other side if they choose to look. Still, it will be quite some time before there is any sort of reform...I think it will eventually happen, that is, if we don't blow ourselves up first or something. But, I won't hold my breath.
  4. Nature Boy
    This is absolutely correct. SWIM watches a lot of American news (I don't know why, maybe he needs help) and finds that issues involving drug policy are only ever brushed aside quickly without much debate. Most hard news shows won't even bother dealing with the issue anymore. The attitude seems to be that the drug war is needed and that supporting it is the public's only concern. Drug horror stories seem to be aimed at daytime TV-watching soccer moms from time to time, they won't bother with them on prime time news. Depressing as this government's (Ireland's) drug policy has been recently, at least the media will report about it from time to time, which can at least stimulate conversation on the issues, whether the reporting be biased or not.
  5. Lunar Loops
    Yes, the only trouble is that the reporting is on the whole VERY biased and for the most part ignorant of the facts. Any discussion generated tends to be very negative when it comes to the people that can really make a difference. Just as in most other countries, any TD here will avoid anything contentious with regard to the issue of drugs lest it lead to political isolation. Finding policy makers who feel strongly enough about this issue to risk their career I fear will be like the search for the yeti.
  6. sgurrman
    Yes, but occasionally the voice of sense may emanate from unexpected sources. Earlier this week, there was an article in the 'Scottish Sun' no less, written by one of their regular columnists, Bob (Or Bill?) Leckey, about why drugs and prostitution should be legalised. The writer made it clear that he was no drug fiend himself, but realised that drugs and prostitution have been around for a long time and are here to stay. This being the case, the drugs war isn't working, the illegal status of drugs leads to crime, does more harm than good etc etc. I was surprised to see this in the 'Sun' (for those of you unlucky enough to live in a place where the Sun is not readily available, it's the UK's main tabloid, mainly concerned with what kind of sunglasses Victoria Beckham was wearing yesterday etc). But it made me think that maybe there is a glimmer of hope. Because what the Sun says is important; if the Sun is behind something, it's got a good chance of success. Sad but true.
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