Sunday, October 23, 2005

Liberally Conservative on the Drug War

"Policies are judged by their consequences, but crusades are judged by how good they make the crusaders feel."
- Thomas Sowell


I was talking to a liberal friend of mine today, regarding a news article last sunday in the LA Times by a former Seattle police chief making the case for legalizing drugs (if you can no longer gain access to the article, leave a comment requesting it, and I'll post it in the comments section). This article was also mentioned by Dennis Prager at the KRLA Townhall Meeting which I attended last Sunday. (Dennis felt that it is ridiculous to say that we are losing the war on drugs, trying to draw a comparative analogy to those who say we are losing the war in Iraq).

My friend was surprised by my position, which leans toward siding with those who wish to legalize drugs- all drugs. This is because she felt the legalization of drugs is a liberal position (and perhaps, libertarian). I think it all depends upon one's perspective on why it should be legalized. For me, as a conservative, the issue is one of practicality and realistic solutions. Like liberal policies such as the war on poverty and the desire to socialize medicine, I see the War on Drugs as doing the same thing: achieving exactly the opposite end to the desired results. We mean well, but the common sense approach makes matters worse (Mona Charen's book is a good read on how liberal policies hurt those they claim to help).

For the record, I absolutely am disgusted and appalled by the drug culture. Everything about recreational drug use turns my stomach. The need to "get high" by "artificial" means, and all the baggage it comes with. This includes alcohol. I accept that many of my friends like their alcohol and drink "responsibly". But secretly, I hate it. I see ABSOLUTELY NOTHING remotely redeeming about alcohol. In so many ways, it poisons our society. Many of our woes seem to involve alcohol. But as the Prohibition Act should have taught us, to ban it does not solve the problem of alcohol use and abuse. If anything, it creates new problems for society, and makes life worse all around. As Norm Stamper points out in the LA Times article, the issue should be a health issue, not a criminal issue.

I have John Stossel's book, Give Me a Break, which is now out in paperback (I got it right away in hardback, because I've always liked his ABC Specials). In it, he has a chapter devoted to the drug war and why it's been such a disaster. We pour so much money into waging it, with little to show for it. If anyone is of a different opinion on this, I'm open to listening to it. Like I said, I hate recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, but think our laws against drug use creates more problems than it solves.

By the way, for anyone who missed John Stossel's Special, "A War on Drugs, A War on Ourselves", you can listen to the audio here; or read the transcript.

I think both liberals and conservatives/libertarians can both be in agreement on this (ie, the legalization of all drugs), even if it might be for different reasons.

Correction: I just realized the mp3 link to the audio doesn't work. Try this one.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous CJ said...

You know, as a devout Christian and mostly Conservative myself, I still have to agree. Cigarettes are much more dangerous than marijuana and yet legal. By legalizing most drugs (which I also despise), we could better regulate them and make them "safer", if that's possible. That money could be better spent in other areas.

Great post.

Monday, October 24, 2005 7:26:00 AM  
Blogger Pamela Reece said...

I don't think if one uses tobacco or alcohol that it makes them liberal. I also don't think legalization of all current illegal drugs is a good thing for our Country. I can't say how many times I hear of people starting off using pot then progressing into meth or crack. These drugs cause more damage to a society based upon what it does to their behavior. Unlike tobacco and minimal use of alcohol, thse drugs cause hallucinations, sexual agression, violence further perpetuating an immoral society and addiction. As a parent, I would rather have my child addicted to ciggarettes than meth. I don't want my children to use tobacco, but I would hope their concious would kick-in when it comes to illicit drugs knowing it is illegal. Having some experience in the alcohol/drug recovery field, I can not imagine how overloaded rehab clinics and hospitals would be if these drugs were legal. Not to mention the strain on lawsuits, poverty, robberies in order to attain these drugs, rapes, drop-outs in high school and lack of those seeking higher education, prostitution. How would these drugs be sold? On the streets by thugs, by pharmacists, on drugstore shelves? Where would they be made? At in-home meth labs or industrial drug plants? Who would decide the safety and "control" of these drugs?

Nope, nothing good could come of it. Our Country would suffer the very foundations it was built upon and the standards it holds it's citizens up to today. I find this to be more than a political or even health issue. It's an economic, societal and moral issue.

It is "Red Ribbon Week" in schools across the country this week. My daughter just came home wearing a red ribbon pinned to her chest that says "I am drug free. http://www.drugfree24/7.com." Being drug free is an achievement and one that should remain a positive, proud thing in ones life. As parents, we were sent home a letter we had to sign saying we would do our best to encourage our children not to smoke, drink alcohol and explain the dangers of drugs. I like it this way and wouldn't want to see it change, so do my children. It is a week of pride and education all across this country. Knowing they would also be committing a crime is just one more deterent to a life of hell and destruction. It's one I'm very comfortable with. Legalizing illicit drugs would definitely "make life worse all around" not just for the individual but for America.

Monday, October 24, 2005 9:31:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Pamela, thanks for your perspective.

On this issue, I very much welcome anyone who can convince me that the legalizing of drugs would be a bad thing. Unfortunately, from reading your post, I get the impression that you hadn't checked out some of the links I provided. Otherwise, I'm not sure you'd be posing some of the questions you did.

I don't think if one uses tobacco or alcohol that it makes them liberal.

No, of course not. The stereotypical redneck, NASCAR fan guzzling down beer comes to mind.

My point was, liberals are always campaigning for the legalizing of pot...they tend to want the freedom of "anything goes" and nothing "morally out of bounds". Conservatives tend to want to impose prudish moral behavior, and liberals want free love and free drugs, and the freedom to express all of it, unmolested by societal constraints.

Of course, I am generalizing, here.

I also don't think legalization of all current illegal drugs is a good thing for our Country. I can't say how many times I hear of people starting off using pot then progressing into meth or crack. These drugs cause more damage to a society based upon what it does to their behavior. Unlike tobacco and minimal use of alcohol, thse drugs cause hallucinations, sexual agression, violence further perpetuating an immoral society and addiction.

I don't dispute any of that. Drugs are bad and any addiction to it weakens your character and enslaves you. But not all drugs are equal and will illicit the same behavior in people. Citing "hallucinations, sexual agression, violence" and immoral behavior as reasons to ban drugs is enough for me to want to say "add alcohol to that list". How many rapes, how many violent assaults, occur all the time due to alcohol consumption?

As a parent, I would rather have my child addicted to ciggarettes than meth.

I think it's an unfair comparison. More accurate would be to question why cigggarettes and cigars are legal, whereas marijuana is not?

I don't want my children to use tobacco, but I would hope their concious would kick-in when it comes to illicit drugs knowing it is illegal.

That sentence doesn't make sense. So, since you don't want your children to use tobacco, and you think that by illegalizing drugs, your children's conscience about being law-abiding citizens would kick in....well, then wouldn't you want tobacco to be made illegal as well? So that your kids wouldn't want to break the law?

Having some experience in the alcohol/drug recovery field, I can not imagine how overloaded rehab clinics and hospitals would be if these drugs were legal.

That does draw concerns from me.

Apparently, though, Holland is not having this problem. It is the illegality of drugs that sometimes contributes to the desire to have them.

Perhaps there will be a spike in the amount of drug use. But being a health issue, I think it's possible that people may refrain from drug use BY CHOICE, if we run ad campaigns the same way we do for alcohol and tobacco. Allow adults to make adult decisions.

If someone wants to destroy himself, I'm prepared to stand aside.



Not to mention the strain on lawsuits, poverty, robberies in order to attain these drugs, rapes, drop-outs in high school and lack of those seeking higher education, prostitution.

This is why I don't think you bothered to listen to the arguments for legalizing drugs, Pamela. Those "strains" you talk of, will dissolve. This is the practicality of what I was trying to bring up. The war on drugs has contributed to those problems you speak of: lawsuits, robberies, etc.

I hate drugs as much as you. But the war we've been waging on drugs since the Nixon Administration, I don't think has worked in relation to how much resource we have expended. I don't want to repeat what the articles I cited state so much better than I could. You should go over them.

How would these drugs be sold? On the streets by thugs, by pharmacists, on drugstore shelves? Where would they be made? At in-home meth labs or industrial drug plants?

Legalizing drugs would put the criminals out of business. An $80 billion paycut. You'd legislate it like you do with other drugs, as well as tax it the way we do tobacco and alcohol, and use that tax money to run ad campaigns about the health damage caused by drugs.


It is "Red Ribbon Week" in schools across the country this week. My daughter just came home wearing a red ribbon pinned to her chest that says "I am drug free. http://www.drugfree24/7.com." Being drug free is an achievement and one that should remain a positive, proud thing in ones life. As parents, we were sent home a letter we had to sign saying we would do our best to encourage our children not to smoke, drink alcohol and explain the dangers of drugs. I like it this way and wouldn't want to see it change, so do my children. It is a week of pride and education all across this country. Knowing they would also be committing a crime is just one more deterent to a life of hell and destruction. It's one I'm very comfortable with.


Legalizing drugs is not the same thing as decriminalizing it. It is not saying that drugs are "okay". Again, I don't want to write an essay here, when I've already referred to sources that have done the leg work. Please read. My post by itself is incomplete. I don't offer up stats and solid data. That's what the articles provide. I just gave my opinion and my support of why legalizing drugs may make practical sense.

If you raised your children right, then you have nothing to fear from the legalizing of drugs. Alcohol and tobacco are legal, and I partake of neither. Never have. My grandfather was an alcoholic. My dad saw the damage that did to his father and he chose not to smoke or drink. My mom was a notorious smoker who finally was forced to give it up several years ago when she suffered a mild heart attack. I've made the same choice and conclusions about drugs as my father had. Ever since I was a kid. Legalizing drugs while I grew up would not have swayed my opinion.

Monday, October 24, 2005 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Pamela Reece said...

Wordsmith, you and I seem to agree on more than one of these issues. Perhaps it is as you said, "even if it is for different reasons." As well as disagreeing for different reasons. Ah... don't you just love sharing perspectives! I find it exhillaratng when somebody makes me think about my position and look at the other side. Thanks, you've definitely given me some food for thought! Cheers!

Monday, October 24, 2005 1:29:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela Reece said...

I forgot to tell you, Wordsmith, I still hate you...in a nice way!

Pamela

Monday, October 24, 2005 4:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I gave a speech when I was in college(In speech Class) on legalizing marijuana. In favor of it. The main argument for it was making it more affordable and taxable thus lowering the crime rate and increasing revenue at the same time. Of course, my arguments were flawed. I have since learned a great deal more about that subject but the main points of my argument are still pretty valid.

I got an "A" on the speech, but then, my teacher was a huge Liberal, and an advocate of legalizing marijuana herself. She eventually ended up as Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman's top aide. (In the Clinton administration)

Monday, October 24, 2005 8:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I can think of valid arguments on both sides of this issue.

I guess one has to weigh the bad and the good of legalization.

I don't think that legalization would eliminate drug-related social problems. Crime related to drug use wouldn't just go away.

If someone steals to satisfy a drug habit under our current drug laws, that person would still probably steal to obtain drugs if they were sold over-the-counter at Walgreens.

I do agree that drug addiction is a health issue before it is a criminal issue. The crime follows the addiction, not the other way around.

T

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Crime related to drug use wouldn't just go away.

If someone steals to satisfy a drug habit under our current drug laws, that person would still probably steal to obtain drugs if they were sold over-the-counter at Walgreens.


The theory is, much of those robberies would no longer happen, because since drugs would no longer have to be obtained through the black market, drugs would be affordable the way pharmaceutical drugs are available and the way tobacco is available. Expensive, but affordable. One of the articles I linked to says the pharmaceutical cost of cocaine and heroin would be about 2% the amount it costs on the street, illegally. The drug mafias would be out of business, incurring an $80 billion dollar pay cut. With drug lords put out of business as well street peddlars, making ridiculous amounts of profit, they'd have to turn to something else to make a living. When you stand to make a significant amount of EASY money through illegal activity over an honest living, many of these people turn to illegal activity.

Criminalizing drugs only benefits criminals. Putting a drug seller behind bars isn't reducing crime: it's seen as a job opener for others to take over.

If we go by the Prohibition model, crime went up and so did consumption.

I'd love to be convinced that pouring money into the drug war is gaining positive results, but I'm not seeing it.

What I do believe we must keep doing, of course, is educating on the destructiveness of drug use. And those who are proposing legalizing all drugs, like that former Seattle police chief, is you legislate it and tax it the way you do tobacco and alcohol...use that tax money to run anti-drug ads.

I don't know about actual stats, but I think smoking has gone way down, due to our society hammering it into our heads the idea that smoking causes lung cancer...that nicotine is unhealthy. It's not just that fewer places allow for public places to smoke, so you see less of it around; I hear it from people. There are young people who you will find, who might smoke to "be cool". But it seems to be far fewer in number than I remember.

I'm not sure though, since I think everyone already knows that drugs are supposed to be bad for you, how legalizing it will change our attitudes anymore than they already are toward drugs. Drugs already have a negative stigma attached, aside from the illegality. Who doesn't hear about health consequences for cocaine and heroin use?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 7:21:00 AM  
Blogger Toad734 said...

As you said, Prohibition didn't stop drinking and only created new and worse problems. That is exactly what is happening with drugs. Not to mention drug crimes have mandatory sentences and they have to let violent offenders out of jail to make room for the guys who got caught with a bag of weed. If you want to eliminate the deficit legalize drugs and let the government control it.

Alcohol does a lot of good; it gets me to sleep at night and has gotten me laid on several occasions. It has done a lot more good for me than something like fast food that is for sure. And just think if it wasn't for fast food making everyone fat we wouldn't need to drink so much to make the fat chick look more appealing.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:56:00 AM  

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