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KC native
03-24-2009, 04:00 PM
Expect to see more calls like this from prominent people.

Editor's note: Jeffrey A. Miron is senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University.
Economist Jeffrey Miron says legalizing drugs would greatly reduce violence.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Over the past two years, drug violence in Mexico has become a fixture of the daily news. Some of this violence pits drug cartels against one another; some involves confrontations between law enforcement and traffickers.

Recent estimates suggest thousands have lost their lives in this "war on drugs."

The U.S. and Mexican responses to this violence have been predictable: more troops and police, greater border controls and expanded enforcement of every kind. Escalation is the wrong response, however; drug prohibition is the cause of the violence.

Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.

Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after.

Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it's permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question.

The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs. Fortuitously, legalization is the right policy for a slew of other reasons.

Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade. This is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for prohibited industries but rare otherwise. Mexico's recent history illustrates this dramatically.

Prohibition erodes protections against unreasonable search and seizure because neither party to a drug transaction has an incentive to report the activity to the police. Thus, enforcement requires intrusive tactics such as warrantless searches or undercover buys. The victimless nature of this so-called crime also encourages police to engage in racial profiling.
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Prohibition has disastrous implications for national security. By eradicating coca plants in Colombia or poppy fields in Afghanistan, prohibition breeds resentment of the United States. By enriching those who produce and supply drugs, prohibition supports terrorists who sell protection services to drug traffickers.

Prohibition harms the public health. Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other conditions cannot use marijuana under the laws of most states or the federal government despite abundant evidence of its efficacy. Terminally ill patients cannot always get adequate pain medication because doctors may fear prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Drug users face restrictions on clean syringes that cause them to share contaminated needles, thereby spreading HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.

Prohibitions breed disrespect for the law because despite draconian penalties and extensive enforcement, huge numbers of people still violate prohibition. This means those who break the law, and those who do not, learn that obeying laws is for suckers.

Prohibition is a drain on the public purse. Federal, state and local governments spend roughly $44 billion per year to enforce drug prohibition. These same governments forego roughly $33 billion per year in tax revenue they could collect from legalized drugs, assuming these were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco. Under prohibition, these revenues accrue to traffickers as increased profits.

The right policy, therefore, is to legalize drugs while using regulation and taxation to dampen irresponsible behavior related to drug use, such as driving under the influence. This makes more sense than prohibition because it avoids creation of a black market. This approach also allows those who believe they benefit from drug use to do so, as long as they do not harm others.

Legalization is desirable for all drugs, not just marijuana. The health risks of marijuana are lower than those of many other drugs, but that is not the crucial issue. Much of the traffic from Mexico or Colombia is for cocaine, heroin and other drugs, while marijuana production is increasingly domestic. Legalizing only marijuana would therefore fail to achieve many benefits of broader legalization.

It is impossible to reconcile respect for individual liberty with drug prohibition. The U.S. has been at the forefront of this puritanical policy for almost a century, with disastrous consequences at home and abroad.

The U.S. repealed Prohibition of alcohol at the height of the Great Depression, in part because of increasing violence and in part because of diminishing tax revenues. Similar concerns apply today, and Attorney General Eric Holder's recent announcement that the Drug Enforcement Administration will not raid medical marijuana distributors in California suggests an openness in the Obama administration to rethinking current practice.

Perhaps history will repeat itself, and the U.S. will abandon one of its most disastrous policy experiments.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jeffrey Miron.

Brock
03-24-2009, 04:02 PM
I'm definitely in favor of legalizing pot. Meth and things like that, no fucking way.

Garcia Bronco
03-24-2009, 04:14 PM
Producing Meth can be consider domestic bomb making.

talastan
03-24-2009, 04:21 PM
I say let the states decide what they want to do. If one state wants to legalize pot, and one doesn't let their state governments decide how they should handle it.

banyon
03-24-2009, 05:06 PM
Meth would start the violence.

Nightfyre
03-24-2009, 06:41 PM
I doubt meth would survive beyond its present addicts in a market with legalized drugs. The appeal of meth is that it is cheap. By legalizing drugs you would inherently open the market to mass-production and economies of scale would drive the prices into the floor.

KC native
03-25-2009, 11:01 AM
More of the same practices that don't work.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/25/fbi-drugs-cartels-mexico-us

FBI deployed by US to fight Mexican drug lords

• Washington fears carnage will spread across border
• Proposals echo battles to control mafia
Comments (0)

* Ewen MacAskill in Washington
* The Guardian, Wednesday 25 March 2009
* Article history

The White House yesterday revealed plans for a crime-fighting operation targeting Mexican drug cartels on a scale not seen since the battles against the US mafia.

Washington is dispatching more federal agents and equipment to its south-western border with Mexico to target the cartels. Among them are a newly formed FBI unit, to deal with the ringleaders, and treasury officials who will track drug money. An extra 100 customs officers are to be sent to the border within the next 45 days.
Jo Tuckman reports on the increasingly bloody war between drug gangs Link to this audio

The moves reflect growing concern in Washington that the carnage in Mexico involving the cartels is in danger of spilling over the border. A White House statement said: "The president is concerned by the increased level of violence, particularly in Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana, and the impact that it is having on the communities on both sides of the border."

The homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, at a White House press conference yesterday, singled out Houston, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona, as recording increases in violence and kidnapping. Other officials have also mentioned El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, California.

The plan to beef up operations came the day before the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is due to visit Mexico City for discussions about the drug war with the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón. Barack Obama is to visit Mexico next month. As well as sending more agents to the border, the White House is providing $700m (£476m) to the Mexican government for five new helicopters, a surveillance aircraft and other crime-fighting equipment.

Calderón has dispatched more than 45,000 Mexican troops to combat the cartels, which responded with thousands of kidnappings and murders, including beheadings. Despite a string of arrests and drug busts - last week, soldiers captured two drug bosses - a record 6,300 drug-related killings occurred last year.

Other measures announced by the White House yesterday included dispatching more mobile x-ray units to the US side of the border to screen vehicles involved in gun trafficking. Napolitano said that over the last week, the US had stopped 997 firearms en route to Mexico. Absent from the announced plans were high-visibility moves such as deployment of the National Guard or expansion of the border fence started under George Bush. But the Obama administration argues that these are not necessarily effective.

David Ogden, the deputy attorney general, said that the best way to fight the cartels was through intelligence-based operations, "the same approach as we took towards the Cosa Nostra".

The Obama administration view is that the strategy pursued against the Cosa Nostra, tracking the money with a view to locking up the leaders, is better than piecemeal arrests.

Napolitano said she was still considering a request from the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to send 1,000 National Guard members to the border and would discuss the issue with him tomorrow.

The Mexican government on Monday offered $2m each for information leading to the arrest of the top 24 drug lords representing the six biggest cartels, including the Pacific and Gulf. A further $1m each is offered for 13 of their lieutenants.

KC native
03-31-2009, 11:27 AM
And another.


Commentary: War on drugs is insane

* Story Highlights
* Jack Cafferty: We spend enormous sums to enforce the laws against drugs
* Mexican cartels have set up operations in 230 American cities, he says
* Cafferty: Enforcement doesn't stop Americans from finding ways to get drugs
* He says there are many other uses for the billions we spend in war on drugs

By Jack Cafferty
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Jack Cafferty is the author of a new book, "Now or Never: Getting Down to the Business of Saving Our American Dream." He provides commentary on CNN's "The Situation Room" daily from 4 to 7 p.m. ET. You can also visit Jack's Cafferty File blog.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Here's something to think about:

How many police officers and sheriff's deputies are involved in investigating and solving crimes involving illegal drugs? And arresting and transporting and interrogating and jailing the suspects?

How many prosecutors and their staffs spend time prosecuting drug cases? How many defense lawyers spend their time defending drug suspects?

How many hours of courtroom time are devoted to drug trials? How many judges, bailiffs, courtroom security officers, stenographers, etc., spend their time on drug trials?

How many prison cells are filled with drug offenders? And how many corrections officers does it take to guard them? How much food do these convicts consume?

And when they get out, how many parole and probation officers does it take to supervise their release? And how many ex-offenders turn right around and do it again?

So how's this war on drugs going?

Someone described insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. That's a perfect description of the war on drugs.

The United States is the largest illegal drug market in the world. Americans want their weed, crack, cocaine, heroin, whatever. And they're willing to pay big money to get it.

The drug suppliers are only too happy to oblige. The Mexican drug cartels now have operations in 230 American cities. That's 230 American cities!

And we're not just talking about border towns, but places such as Anchorage, Alaska; Boston, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia; and Billings, Montana. They're everywhere. And they don't just bring drugs, but violence and crime as well -- lots of it at no extra charge.

They have been able to infiltrate those 230 cities because we have not bothered to secure our borders. In addition to illegal aliens who come here to work and avail themselves of our social programs, we have criminals from Mexico bringing drugs in, taking money and guns back, and recruiting American kids into their criminal enterprises while they're here. iReport.com: Is it time to legalize pot?

What do you suppose the total price tag is for this failed war on drugs? One senior Harvard economist estimates we spend $44 billion a year fighting the war on drugs. He says if they were legal, governments would realize about $33 billion a year in tax revenue. Net swing of $77 billion. Could we use that money today for something else? You bet your ass we could.Plus the cartels would be out of business. Instantly. Goodbye crime and violence.

If drugs were legalized, we could empty out a lot of our prison cells. People will use this stuff whether it's legal or not. Just like they do booze. And you could make the argument that in some cases alcohol is just as dangerous as some drugs. I know.

Like I said ... something to think about. It's time.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jack Cafferty.

Brock
03-31-2009, 11:29 AM
It's a revenue stream (actually more of an ocean) for the government. It isn't going to change in any meaningful way.

Cannibal
03-31-2009, 04:51 PM
All drugs including Meth, Heroine, Crack etc. should be made legal with large taxes levied on the sale and usage. Large portions of the tax proceeds should go to fund rehabilitation centers. Driving under the influence of any drug should remain illegal (except pot :) j/k) Companies should still be free to drug test and fire or not hire based on drug usage. In my opinion this is best way to handle this immense problem.

Garcia Bronco
03-31-2009, 04:55 PM
All drugs including Meth, Heroine, Crack etc. should be made legal with large taxes levied on the sale and usage. Large portions of the tax proceeds should go to fund rehabilitation centers. Driving under the influence of any drug should remain illegal (except pot :) j/k) Companies should still be free to drug test and fire or not hire based on drug usage. In my opinion this is best way to handle this immense problem.

They can't test you to prove you were driving under the influence of pot anyway. They could even take a urine screen under current employment methods and they still wouldn't be able to argue you were under the influence. All they could say is you did smoke pot in teh last 2-3 weeks.

banyon
03-31-2009, 04:58 PM
They can't test you to prove you were driving under the influence of pot anyway. They could even take a urine screen under current employment methods and they still wouldn't be able to argue you were under the influence. All they could say is you did smoke pot in teh last 2-3 weeks.

Uh, yes they can.

Garcia Bronco
03-31-2009, 05:07 PM
Uh, yes they can.

What is the test? Employment screens for example test for a protein THC binds to in your waste.

Mr. Flopnuts
03-31-2009, 05:09 PM
Haven't we learned with cigarettes that if you truly want to eliminate something you should legalize it, and proceed to tax the ever loving shit out of it?

Of course, 5 years from now we may have cigarette cartels. Time will tell.

Mr. Flopnuts
03-31-2009, 05:10 PM
Uh, yes they can.

What is the test? Employment screens for example test for a protein THC binds to in your waste.

Yeah. I mean, they can say your eyes are glossy, or you failed a field test, but I was unaware they were able to conclusively determine when you were under the influence of pot.

Cannibal
03-31-2009, 05:15 PM
They can't test you to prove you were driving under the influence of pot anyway. They could even take a urine screen under current employment methods and they still wouldn't be able to argue you were under the influence. All they could say is you did smoke pot in teh last 2-3 weeks.

I was under the same assumption you are.

banyon
03-31-2009, 05:45 PM
Yeah. I mean, they can say your eyes are glossy, or you failed a field test, but I was unaware they were able to conclusively determine when you were under the influence of pot.

Yeah, I was referring to the field tests, or as it's called in the biz, a "drug Recognition Examination (DRE)".

But they can take a blood sample or urine sample and check the levels of THC to determine how much of it was in the system and draw some conclusions from that.

In conjunction with the DRE, that's how most DUI's under drugs are proven.

Brock
03-31-2009, 05:48 PM
That may be how they do it, but it damn sure isn't conclusive.

sd4chiefs
03-31-2009, 09:30 PM
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Here's something to think about:

How many police officers and sheriff's deputies are involved in investigating and solving crimes involving illegal drugs? And arresting and transporting and interrogating and jailing the suspects?

How many prosecutors and their staffs spend time prosecuting drug cases? How many defense lawyers spend their time defending drug suspects?

How many hours of courtroom time are devoted to drug trials? How many judges, bailiffs, courtroom security officers, stenographers, etc., spend their time on drug trials?

How many prison cells are filled with drug offenders? And how many corrections officers does it take to guard them? How much food do these convicts consume?

http://www.parade.com/news/2009/03/why-we-must-fix-our-prisons.html

Why We Must Fix Our Prisons

By Senator Jim Webb
Publication Date: 03/29/2009

Sen. Webb introduces new legislation:
'It's time to change the law' »



Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons. According to data supplied to Congress' Joint Economic Committee, those imprisoned for drug offenses rose from 10% of the inmate population to approximately 33% between 1984 and 2002. Experts estimate that this increase accounts for about half of the dramatic escalation in the total number imprisoned over that period. Yet locking up more of these offenders has done nothing to break up the power of the multibillion-dollar illegal drug trade. Nor has it brought about a reduction in the amounts of the more dangerous drugs--such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines--that are reaching our citizens.

Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. Indeed, four out of five drug arrests were for possession of illegal substances, while only one out of five was for sales. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in our state prisons were there for nonviolent or purely drug offenses. And although experts have found little statistical difference among racial groups regarding actual drug use, African-Americans--who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population--accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.

KC native
04-06-2009, 02:23 PM
maybe we should give it a shot too.

White Paper

April 2, 2009
Drug Decriminalization in Portugal:
Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies

by Glenn Greenwald

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Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

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On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were "decriminalized," not "legalized." Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense.

While other states in the European Union have developed various forms of de facto decriminalization — whereby substances perceived to be less serious (such as cannabis) rarely lead to criminal prosecution — Portugal remains the only EU member state with a law explicitly declaring drugs to be "decriminalized." Because more than seven years have now elapsed since enactment of Portugal's decriminalization system, there are ample data enabling its effects to be assessed.

Notably, decriminalization has become increasingly popular in Portugal since 2001. Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law. And while there is a widespread perception that bureaucratic changes need to be made to Portugal's decriminalization framework to make it more efficient and effective, there is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalized. More significantly, none of the nightmare scenarios touted by preenactment decriminalization opponents — from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for "drug tourists" — has occurred.

The political consensus in favor of decriminalization is unsurprising in light of the relevant empirical data. Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.

This report will begin with an examination of the Portuguese decriminalization framework as set forth in law and in terms of how it functions in practice. Also examined is the political climate in Portugal both pre- and postdecriminalization with regard to drug policy, and the impetus that led that nation to adopt decriminalization.

Glenn Greenwald is a constitutional lawyer and a contributing writer at Salon. He has authored several books, including A Tragic Legacy (2007) and How Would a Patriot Act? (2006).

The report then assesses Portuguese drug policy in the context of the EU's approach to drugs. The varying legal frameworks, as well as the overall trend toward liberalization, are examined to enable a meaningful comparative assessment between Portuguese data and data from other EU states.

The report also sets forth the data concerning drug-related trends in Portugal both pre- and postdecriminalization. The effects of decriminalization in Portugal are examined both in absolute terms and in comparisons with other states that continue to criminalize drugs, particularly within the EU.

The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world.