Tag Archives: drugs - Page 2

Bill Introduced To Legalize Marijuana

Two Congressmen who have first names for last names, Massachusetts liberal Barney Frank and Texas libertarian Ron Paul, introduced a bill today that would end the prohibition on pot. The bill is modeled after the 21st amendment, which ended the prohibition of alcohol, and is not expected to pass the House — much less survive a veto from Obama. Still, it’s a good first step both for personal freedom and for the end of the pointless and expensive drug war that has gotten us nowhere after fifty years.

From NPR

The War On Drugs Is Officially A Failure, Again

Last week, an international group of dignitaries and business people known as the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report saying the War on Drugs is a failure by any measure, and that it’s time to take another look at how we deal with drugs. Today a related new report (PDF) was released, the result of a year-long investigation by the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. It’s not at all the same kind of report as the Global Commission’s, in that it’s mostly a look at how counter-narcotics contracts are being handled, so it’s simply a financial analysis of where the tax dollars go.

But the gist of it is that we’re spending a lot of money on the counter-narcotics contracts, that they’ve gone up a lot in the past decade, and that we have no idea if we’re getting any results from all that money, but most likely not. The Global Commission’s report would agree on that last point, as they have a graph showing drug use has gone up.

The report (PDF), via The LA Times and NPR

The War On Drugs Is Officially A Failure

It looks like a bunch of important people from around the world finally saw the excellent movie Traffic, and decided to do something about the travesty that is the War on Drugs. So they formed a Global Commission on Drug Policy and today released a report spelling out just how ineffective the “War” is: after 50 years, drug use keeps going up.

The commission includes people like Robert Branson (who runs Virgin Airlines/Mobile/Galactic/etc), Kofi Annan (the former UN Secretary General), a former US Secretary of State, a former Prime Minister of Greece, and former Mexican, Colômbian, Swiss and Brazilian presidents; so the thing has some clout. Their recommendations:

  • end criminalization
  • start regulation
  • focus on prevention and treatment
  • replace policies that are based mostly on misguided ideology (e.g., “drugs are bad so if they’re illegal no one will take them”) with ones based on facts.

These findings prompted some logical reactions. The White House drug czar thought about it, caught a glimpse of a world in which he’d be out of a job and rejected the commission’s findings. The Mexican government thought about it, caught a glimpse of a world in which they wouldn’t be getting mountains of money from the US to “fight” the drug war and — wait for it — rejected the commission’s findings. Facts are so 1952. In the meantime, here’s a handy graph cited in the report showing just how much nonsense there goes into criminalizing drugs:

The darker the color of the drug, the more dangerous the UN thinks it is; the higher up on the chart, the more dangerous it actually is. It looks like heroin and cocaine are the only drugs the UN classified correctly. Alcohol is perfectly legal, but a lot more dangerous than marijuana, LSD and ecstasy. Even ritalin is more dangerous than ecstasy, and about the same as LSD. And tobacco is just slightly less dangerous than speed.

In fact, the only things more dangerous than alcohol are barbiturates, cocaine, and heroin. So logically, if alcohol is legal, everything below it should be legal also. Or conversely, alcohol should be illegal too; which would be a lot more consistent, except for the fact that we already tried making it illegal for 13 years with disastrous results and rampant increase in organized crime. Sound familiar?

But let’s not let facts get in the way of drug policy.

From The Global Commission On Drug Policy, via NPR and BBC

The Economics of Illegal Drugs

NPR has a story in which they talk to a former drug dealer that just got out of prison to confirm some economic theories regarding illegal drugs. Namely:

  • Making drugs illegal makes their price go up
  • Demand for drugs is inelastic,  so people will still pay the higher price
  • All the illegal drug money ends up in the hands of criminals who finance all kinds of crime with it, in order to get more drug money

The general consensus is that legalizing drugs would lower crime, and make the drugs cheaper. But it would probably also make drug use go up. So which is the bigger problem? Side-stepping the issue of whether the government has the right to tell us what we can and can’t ingest, about a hundred years ago drugs like heroin and cocaine were perfectly legal. So which is the bigger problem: the drug use and crime in 1911, or the drug use and crime in 2011?

From NPR

The War On Drugs Doesn’t Cost That Much

The Cato Institute published a white paper by a Harvard economist which analyzes the impact that ending drug prohibition would have on state and federal government budgets. It estimates that between the savings from not spending money on enforcement and the income from from drug taxes, the end of prohibition would add about $88 billion to government coffers, most of which ($72 billion) would go to state governments.

The combined total spending for state and federal governments for 2010 was $5,800 billion, so that would be about 1.5% of the combined budget, and 2.5% of the $2,885 billion total of state budgets. The paper doesn’t address any increased healthcare costs from a larger drug user base though.

All in all, a 2% raise seems like a drop in the bucket. Compared to the $750 billion (13%) pensions cost, it seems like the more timely action would be to raise the retirement age.

From The Cato Institute

Drugs Affect You In All Kinds of Hilarious Ways

Via imgur