Re: the war we loet
- From: "Jerry Okamura" <okamuraj005@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 09:39:17 -1000
Who is going to stop this "war" that Nixon started. Is there any indication that Obama is going to do that? Is there any indication that the democrats in Congress are going to do that? I think we already know the answer to that, when it comes to one area they said they were against a "war". That is Iraq. Have they terminated our effort in Iraq?
"arthur wouk" <awouk@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message news:1245037992.914764@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Drugs Won the War
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's start of
the war on drugs, and it now appears that drugs have won.
"We've spent a trillion dollars prosecuting the war on drugs," Norm
Stamper, a former police chief of Seattle, told me. "What do we have to
show for it? Drugs are more readily available, at lower prices and higher
levels of potency. It's a dismal failure."
For that reason, he favors legalization of drugs, perhaps by the equivalent
of state liquor stores or registered pharmacists. Other experts favor
keeping drug production and sales illegal but decriminalizing possession,
as some foreign countries have done.
Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three
First, we have vastly increased the proportion of our population in
prisons. The United States now incarcerates people at a rate nearly five
times the world average. In part, that's because the number of people in
prison for drug offenses rose roughly from 41,000 in 1980 to 500,000
today. Until the war on drugs, our incarceration rate was roughly the same
as that of other countries.
Second, we have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad. One
reason many prominent economists have favored easing drug laws is that
interdiction raises prices, which increases profit margins for everyone,
from the Latin drug cartels to the Taliban. Former presidents of Mexico,
Brazil and Colombia this year jointly implored the United States to adopt
a new approach to narcotics, based on the public health campaign against
Third, we have squandered resources. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist,
found that federal, state and local governments spend $44.1 billion
annually enforcing drug prohibitions. We spend seven times as much on drug
interdiction, policing and imprisonment as on treatment. (Of people with
drug problems in state prisons, only 14 percent get treatment.)
I've seen lives destroyed by drugs, and many neighbors in my hometown of
Yamhill, Oregon, have had their lives ripped apart by crystal meth. Yet I
find people like Mr. Stamper persuasive when they argue that if our aim is
to reduce the influence of harmful drugs, we can do better.
Mr. Stamper is active in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP,
an organization of police officers, prosecutors, judges and citizens who
favor a dramatic liberalization of American drug laws. He said he gradually
became disillusioned with the drug war, beginning in 1967 when he was a
young beat officer in San Diego.
"I had arrested a 19-year-old, in his own home, for possession of
marijuana," he recalled. "I literally broke down the door, on the basis of
probable cause. I took him to jail on a felony charge." The arrest and
related paperwork took several hours, and Mr. Stamper suddenly had an
"aha!" moment: "I could be doing real police work."
It's now broadly acknowledged that the drug war approach has failed.
President Obama's new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, told the Wall Street
Journal that he wants to banish the war on drugs phraseology, while
shifting more toward treatment over imprisonment.
The stakes are huge, the uncertainties great, and there's a genuine risk
that liberalizing drug laws might lead to an increase in use and in
addiction. But the evidence suggests that such a risk is small. After all,
cocaine was used at only one-fifth of current levels when it was legal in
the United States before 1914. And those states that have decriminalized
marijuana possession have not seen surging consumption.
"I don't see any big downside to marijuana decriminalization," said Peter
Reuter, a professor of criminology at the University of Maryland who has
been skeptical of some of the arguments of the legalization camp. At most,
he said, there would be only a modest increase in usage.
Moving forward, we need to be less ideological and more empirical in
figuring out what works in combating America's drug problem. One approach
would be for a state or two to experiment with legalization of marijuana,
allowing it to be sold by licensed pharmacists, while measuring the impact
on usage and crime.
I'm not the only one who is rethinking these issues. Senator Jim Webb of
Virginia has sponsored legislation to create a presidential commission
to examine various elements of the criminal justice system, including drug
policy. So far 28 senators have co-sponsored the legislation, and Mr. Webb
says that Mr. Obama has been supportive of the idea as well.
"Our nation's broken drug policies are just one reason why we must
re-examine the entire criminal justice system," Mr. Webb says. That's a
brave position for a politician, and it's the kind of leadership that we
need as we grope toward a more effective strategy against narcotics in
I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground.
Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow
me on Twitter.
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
"be wary of mathematicians..especially when they speak the truth."
to email me, delete blackhole. from my return address
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