“Progress” on the Drug War

Some interesting commentary here on the latest efforts in the drug wars. Although we seem to have made some progress on the demand side in the US, demand is up in Europe, so the corrupting influence in Latin America is as strong as ever, and the web of criminal activity has spread to Africa.

We have been at this for 40 years now. I think its time to try something different.

13 thoughts on ““Progress” on the Drug War

  1. Chuck, the economic argument for the legalization of drugs is as old as the hills.

    The problem for those who think they should be legalized is that most of the rest us don’t believe drugs should be legal, regardless of the consequences, which is why they are illegal in the first place. Some issues transcend the economics involved.

    • I’m not arguing for legalization. I’m arguing for redirecting the enforcement effort to where I think it could be most effective.

  2. “which is why they are illegal in the first place. Some issues transcend the economics involved”

    The illegality of “drugs” is a fairly recent, historically, experience in this nation. Less than 100 years old. Like many historical subjects, few look it as the multi-leveled experience it is. Rather most look at it as uni-level of national experience.

    In the 1850s, the Revenue Cutter Service chased down Chinese opium smugglers (who were also beginning in Chinese women) not because the drug was bad or outlawed but because the duties were not being paid.

    The so-called war on drugs is a fruitless effort despite the highly publicized catches from time to time. However, if the nation still wants this war go to go then it needs to build a huge blockading fleet and be willing to keep it out there for a century or so, or until the national culture changes, which ever comes first. Of course, the U. S. could take a cue from the People’s Republic of Vietnam and create “re-education” camps for its drug offenders.

  3. Bill,
    I have to say your off base with your own opinion stated as I’ve found normal here with great authority and as if you have the corner on the facts.

    • Of course you did not have to Matt but you did anyway. It would be helpful to know is and is not “off base.” Are you commenting that I have posted with “great authority” in the past? I’m a little confused on the statement.

      I do have a few more historical corners than most. The Coast Guard really isn’t good at its history. We could go at some length why that it is but that would be a topic for another thread.

      • I’m saying just because you post your opinion woth great authority it doesn’t make it a fact.

      • However, fact is authority. Ask any lawyer.

        I use the history and facts available. If there is something else, I will be glad to read it.

  4. “National cultural change”

    That’s it, but unfortunately, those on the wrong side of the issue are dominant in education and media, so those not solid on their beliefs on the issue are usually swayed “the wrong way” and the numbers which firmly stand as pro-drug are pretty large anyway. I don’t see cultural change against drugs happening for at least a couple generations, and I’m worried what form it might take then.

    • I have always been struck by the comment in relation to Prohibition. Those who could not force moral persuasion turned to legal cessation. All along it was a cultural problem that became a medical problem.

      The nation has tried legal cessation for decades with little effect except to replicate Prohibition in creating a much larger and more powerful criminal element. All the “supplier” nations have advised the U. S. to work to reduce the demand. At the same time, the U. S. is paying poppy growers in Afghanistan.

      • This is a little off topic and from the “big oil” conspiriacy side, but I thought that the purpose of the Probition was to take out all the stills opereated by all the farmers, as weren’t (correct me if I’m wrong) the vast majority of automobiles at the time using alcohal as fuel? Which means that it was posible to travel across the US, they obviously did it during that time, just stop by a farm or ranch and do some haggle for fuel and you’re off again.

        Sorry for spelling. -_-

      • Even prior to prohibition, I think untaxed beverage alcohol production was illegal (remember the Whiskey Rebellion, 1791-1794). While there might have been some mixing of alcohol with gas to stretch it even back then, it would probably have been considered a waste of good booze.

        When WWII came along and gas was rationed, the cars were not able to run on pure alcohol.

      • Prohibition was about forcing the moral concepts of one group on those of another. The fight for it went on for about 100 years before it became law.

        Even the Navy and RCS did away with the “Rum Ration” in 1850 because it was not uncommon for three-fourths of the crew, including officers, to be drunk at anyone time. The RCS did experiment earlier and some captains had their crews sign a “temperance oath” but they were practical enough to know that the men needed an incentive. Instead of a liquor ration, they received money in kind. It amounted to about three cents a day but when a Seaman made $18 a month it wasn’t too bad.

        The whole issue was about public morals. That said, there was a national epidemic in alcoholism. Even the medicines of the era were loaded up with it. Our old cough syrup, known as “GI Gin” was about 40% alcohol and spiked with codeine. Need a buzz, develop a cough and go to sick call.

        The positive uptick from Prohibition was the much lowered number of cases of liver disease in the general public. The downside was the creation of organized crime. The latter is a case of unintended consequences when one group imposes its morality on another. March on Carrie Nation! See image: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT0CG3ISTDIYvrlLa-L0CquzXVpBFfWq8MIJxlx14N0CfZP8dUa1A

      • Agree with Chuck – There has always been a taxing issue with alcohol going back to the Revolutionary War. That nor the issue with the evil “big oil” (so many reasons why that isn’t even a fair description of the industry back then) wanting to put a corner on the market. (Be very, very wary of who or where you hear these kinds of conspiracy theories from — They have their own agenda.)

        The interesting thing about the drug issue, vs. the temperence/prohibition movement, is the connection to crime. There was some crime associated with alcoholism, mainly domestic violence and later, as motor vehicles came along DUIs, but this was nothing compared to the theft, burglary, and robbery that is occuring now due to drug addiction. Criminal activity in my county would be cut in half (at least) if there were no such things as drugs anymore.

        I’m not sure why this issue is different with drugs compared to alcohol. There are psychologicial effect differences between the two, depending on the drug, but if I had to guess, I’d say some of it also has to do with the age of users of the different substances.

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