Wednesday, November 14, 2012
It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared a "war on drugs." $2.5 trillion dollars later, drug use is half of what it was 30 years ago, and thousands of offenders are successfully diverted to treatment instead of jail. And yet, 22 million Americans-9% of the population-still uses illegal drugs, and with the highest incarceration rate in the world, we continue to fill our prisons with drug offenders. Decimated families and communities are left in the wake. Is it time to legalize drugs or is this a war that we're winning?
Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Editor in Chief of Reason.tv and Reason.com
Former Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration
Dietrich Weismann Fellow, Manhattan Institute
Author & Correspondent for ABC News
Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Paul Butler is a leading criminal law scholar and current Law Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He served as a Federal Prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where his specialty was public corruption. While at the Department of Justice, Professor Butler also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney, prosecuting drug and gun cases. Butler provides legal commentary for CNN, NPR, and the Fox News Network. He has been featured on 60 Minutes and profiled in the Washington Post. He has written for the Post, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times and is the author of Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice (2009).Learn more
Editor in Chief of Reason.tv and Reason.com
Nick Gillespie is editor in chief of Reason.com and ReasonTV, the online platforms of Reason, the libertarian magazine of "Free Minds and Free Markets." Gillespie's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Slate, Salon, Time.com, Marketplace, and numerous other publications. As one of America’s “foremost libertarians,” Gillespie is also a frequent commentator on radio and television networks such as National Public Radio, CNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox Business, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and PBS.Learn more
Former Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration
Asa Hutchinson is CEO of Hutchinson Group, a homeland security consulting firm, and practices law in Northwest Arkansas. Hutchinson was the first Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he was responsible for border and transportation security. He is a three time Member of Congress from Arkansas serving from 1997-2001. Following his third term reelection, Hutchinson was appointed by President George W. Bush as Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowmen School of Law teaching National Security Law.Learn More
Dietrich Weismann Fellow, Manhattan Institute
Theodore Dalrymple is a retired prison doctor and psychiatrist, who most recently practiced in a British inner city hospital and prison. He is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a contributor to the London Spectator, The New Criterion, and other leading magazines and newspapers. In 2011, Dalrymple received the Freedom Prize from the Flemish think tank Libera!.Learn more
56% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (35% voted FOR twice, 14% voted AGAINST twice, 7% voted UNDECIDED twice). 44% changed their mind (6% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 4% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 6% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 2% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 16% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 10% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST) | Breakdown Graphic
Mr. Moorehouse makes an excellent point. The medical, social and financial impact of the currently legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco) on our society is staggering. Do we really want to introduce another? And do we really want to do it in such a manner that there is no way to regulate the level of intoxication on our highways and workplaces (think of hospitals, daycare centers, etc)? The argument that alcohol is worse than marijuana (arguably it may well be, depending on what you're measuring) isn't the relevant point. The point should be the cost to society versus the benefit. There was a time, within most of our memories, when the treatments for cancer and other terrible diseases were crude and had horrible side effects, and were administered by a medical profession that did not give much thought to quality of life and palliative care issues. That has changed considerably and care can be administered compassionately, and side effects managed well without having to smoke (that delivery method is just medically wrong in so many ways) a dosage indeterminate medicine.
Medical marijuana is not used for a cure, but for relief and it has been proven to provide major relief for several conditions. I personally don't see the difference between marijuana and alcohol in terms of how people act when they are on it and what the consequences can be. It should be legal, medical or otherwise, but *at least* medical. Was this answer helpful?
so many seem to believe marijuana is the DEVIL! the REAL devil, folks; is ALCOHOL!! -i don't remember EVER having my head in a toilet bowl from smoking the 'satanic' weed. -and to all those saying smoking causes cancer, let us not forget that the 'evil' weed can be EATEN as well! -great debate!! too bad so many in this country are so 'smart' they are STUPID!!
i'm 61 years old can claim 40+ years of cannabis intoxication 'research' and have exhibited as well as experienced some of the STUPIDEST behavior 'on' alcohol!! -not so, being (stoned or) around "stoners", who have never annoyed me anywhere near as much as a 'blind', stupid, aggressive drunk! -lets' take some responsibility for ourselves folks, and understand our limitations!! (not to mention personal freedoms!!) -me don't deal wit no politics, me deal wit de truth!! -bob marley
I have to laugh at your voting.32% dont know?Why would anyone vote dont know?Its ridiculous.
Look,I like a smoke myself and I dont think its good for peoples health and I dont think it should be legal.If anyone actually thinks that weed is not harmfull then they are dangerously deluded.
The police in the uk are fair in that if you are descrete,they will leave you alone but most users want to shout about their habit from the rooftops about how great it is.Losers.I think it should be class A as its not the hash we used to have years ago.Its mindwarping genetically modified rubbish.
The people who want to legalize it in the public eye really are martyrs aren't they?Im sure they will be management material if it does go legal as they will make a pot of cash.Which is what its all about really isnt it?Money.One arguement thats given is the Amsterdam example?Do me a favour.Ive been there and its a sleazy pit of despair and I hope the same thing doesn't happen in the UK.
Legalizing drugs will only make criminals legal drug dealing entrepeneurs.If you dont want to be labelled a criminal,then dont smoke it.
What really puts me off the whole scene is that if you follow the supply right to the source,then some shady government agency is behind it for their black projects.
Now go home and have a smoke for me but dont try to legalize it in my name please!
Disappointing debate - neither side got to the practical core of the debate. I went in and still generally for the motion but I want the following question vetted: How would a legalization work in reality? Are all drugs to be legal with no limits? Including exotic synthetic in the future that are maliciously targeted to additive by design or by enemies.
On another note, when will a subject be debated without a racial component being interjected which benefits from the contemporary shield of political correctness. While certainly it played a role in the past, the high rates of arrest for minorities (defined here as blacks and hispanics not other minorities groups such as jews or asians) are due to the related high crime areas and associations in which these arrests are taking place. Also, the highest percent of victims of the drug associated crimes are dis-proportionally black and hispanic. Therefore, if you are Against based on your assumption that drugs are directly related to crime, and you think the illegality reduces this association (an assumption I don t share), you are benefit the targeted minority by increasing arrests in the those areas for the sake of the relatively larger number of minority victims. But instead, white guilt and Political correctness stifles real conversation again.
1. The pro side stated people quit smoking cigarettes because of health reasons. However, we know that 30% of all cancer in the US is related to smoking cigarettes. As a health care professional in the oncology setting, I can't tell you how many times I have cared for people who have lung cancer related to smoking; yet while receiving treatment, they continue to smoke.
2. Regarding the arguments for cannabis legalization. From a medical stand point, it does help decrease pain for some people and it can help decrease nausea symptoms. It has not been found to improve appetite. What is often not talked about is the very real risk of aspergillus fungal lung infection when smoked. When people have a low white blood cell count, it is almost always fatal. Cannabis can also cause people to be over agreeable and have difficulty maintaining conversations with loved ones that they will remember.
My stance is to legalize it as a tightly controlled substance, like oxycodone, for use when prescribed by a provider. If we open a pandora's box of legalization, we might have a terrible time closing it. Like with cigarettes; I wish they had never been legal. One in five deaths are related to tobacco and our country spends billions on health issues directly related to smoking cigarettes: cancer, coronary artery disease, heart disease, COPD, etc. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/
The two guys representing legalizing drugs were far more knowledgable and dealt with the situation in total reality. Those against were at their best stating personal theories. Being a retired educator of over 40 years, I see no positive outcomes by criminalizing all these young people. Why is it that many people seem to find what others do so much worse than their own personal addictions to what ever it might be? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone! Does that sound familiar to anyone?
Wishing the panel would address the fact that the concept behind this debate is marred in the same way it would have been had it occurred during Prohibition as a debate on being for or against all alcohol.
We eventually said SOME alcohol was unwise and it was outlawed. We need to do the same here....debate marijuana separately from other drugs.
Let Theodore Dalrymple talk! You can tell he's being shoved away.
Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.
if we're going to have one legal drug we should have at least two to give people a choice. not everyone can or wants to drink alcohol. marijuana is much more benign. ask anyone with an alcoholic parent. in a nation of choices, give us a choice.
it was the patent medicines and the pursuit of profits off addictive drugs in the 1800s with the inclusion of cocaine (remember the real coca cola?), opium, alcohol, and even radium, that gave us the FDA
My concern in public safety, bad enough the roads are full of drunk drivers. Should the public be concerned with drugged drivers too.
Ignored in the debate is the irrefutable phenomenon of how the prohibition of substances which some in society deem undesirable has created a black market that has shown nothing but the most phenomenal growth rate in the circumvention of these bans and has created more incentive to smuggle or produce banned substances.
I agree that marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes and therefore regulated and taxed. However, legalizing all drugs will not change social belief along racial bigotry lines nor the bigotry between social classes. Prohibition failed more due to corruption among the ranks of enforcers than because of social beliefs or standards. Legalizing drugs will save money to some degree but at the cost of to many lives of citizens. Any place where drugs have been allowed through the course of time has experienced more violent crimes. Not that addiction creates violent offenders but that the use of narcotics does create people who don't think before they act. Our society is filled with people who don't consider the effects of their choices and actions on others in society and the legalization of illicit drugs will not change that or any other social standard. Unfortunately, morality can not be mandated and legalizing drugs won't effect noticeable change other than more deaths and destruction to our society's morality.
I was rather disappointed with this debate. I felt that both sides were debating different concepts. The side "for" the legalization of drugs focused solely on marijuana. The side "against" focused on meth. It seemed that they were debating past each other, not against. The side against the motion, as many commenters pointed out, didn't discuss the "harmlessness" of marijuana, while the side "for" the motion didn't talk about the more "harmful" drugs like Heroin only to say that "use is statistically insignificant." I think that most people are now willing to concede that the war on weed is pretty much a loss. But to legalize all drugs in the hopes that it will put drug dealers, etc. "out of business" is non-sense. Like they are just going to throw up their hands and say "well, I guess I better get a real job now." They'll find new ways to make money.
My overall point is this I guess: both sides came prepared for a different debate, and our romanticized view of weed won, without the overall question being debated.
There are plenty of responsible ways to use many different drugs. Take your own example. Yes, there are many people that just drink a glass of wine with dinner. Buuuut, most of them have more than one. People drink to alter the chemical makeup in their brain and.....change how they feel. There are also plenty of cancer patients smoking blunts because its as close to a natural remedy for EVERYTHING as you can get nowadays. And for all you bible thumpers out there....marijuana IS referenced multiple times in there and everytime it says nothing negative. It is the balm of the human race. It just makes noooo sense having a government say what you can and can't put in your own body. And as far as who sells it? Why would you care because you obviously don't have any intention of doing anything other than "sipping champagne" with dinner.....but not for the buzz right?
We need the young people in this debate. THE ONES WHO ARE ACTUALLY BEING ARRESTED AND SEEING THE WAR EVERYDAY IN COLLEGE TOWNS! I have seen SWAT teams attack friends apartments to arrest some kids for selling pot…. the SWAT has shields, guns, and helmets….oh no watch out for that dangerous weed.
young people just see government as a joke and incompetent.
i dont want the government selling me pot or taxing it, and i don't want them to arrest me for it. it is one of the last absolute capitalist markets in this country. weed is extremely elastic. there are so many sellers, so by arresting one dealer has very little impact on drug use. anyone can sell it, not just "bad" people. and i have never met someone who has become violent from smoking pot….it just is not possible.
Mr. Hutchinson dwelled almost exclusively on Methamphetamine when he responded. This was a deliberate attempt to strike fear into the audience, (he also threw children under the bus in a similar fashion), a time-worn basic tactic of the DEA mindset. He barely addressed any other substances.
I am convinced that if Nixon had not created the DEA, the 'drug phenomenon' that was present during the '60s would have petered out. Unfortunately, the DEA turned the "Drug War" into a media circus, aided and abetted by a most willing media, and so publicized it, that I am sure that millions tried drugs strictly out of curiosity, and still do so to this day. I contend that the DEA, NIDA, ODNCP, and DOJ have created a self-perpetuating bureaucratic monster that has cost us, the taxpayers upwards of 1.8 Trillion Dollars in the 40 years this abominable instrument of moral control has existed. I do not believe that putting someone in prison, (or criminalizing an individual for drug use, with it's attendant stigmatization, loss of job opportunities, etc), for taking a substance that the DEA says is illegal. The National Institutes of Health should be the correct agency for determining the toxicity of a drug, not the DEA, which up until now, arbitrarily sets the "Schedule" a drug is assigned to. It is this absolute control and ability for the DEA to operate with nearly total impunity that has created such worldwide chaos. I was hoping that the gentlemen for the issue would have brought up the DEAs, (and CIA), meddling in the internal affairs in Bolivia, (pre-Morales), which eventually left the DEA and CIA in virtual control of the entire country. These egregious acts are never reported in the mass media, but they occur on a regular basis. When Evo Morales came to power in Bolivia, he threw out all DEA and CIA operatives because they violated the very sovereignty of his nation. How can a drug that is used by a very small percentage of the population, (5-10 million regular users of Cocaine), merit this kind of illegal activity? I say there is no justification for this kind of heavy-haded thuggish, paramilitary policy. The government of this country has NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to dictate to us, ITS CITIZENS, what we can and cannot put into our bodies. Metaphysical experiences, via various drugs as used for recreation, should not fall under the perview of the US Government. There will always be a very small segment of the population that will abuse whatever chemical they can and become either physically or mentally dependant. That is basic human nature. Putting them in chains and prison will not solve a thing. The "Drug War" was lost 40 years ago. Time to End The Madness. Time to end the "Drug War".
I believe that the legalization alternative that makes sense is to eliminate the Scheduling of Drugs - Eliminate the Good Drug / Bad Drug Distinction (although there are clearly those with negative effects).. It is clear that the war on drugs had failed completely to do anything to reduce drug use, reduce drug availability or to eliminate or even reduce drug crime - in fact it has vastly increased violent drug crimes. At the same time we have incarcerated the largest percentage of population of any country in the world. All at a monstrous toll on society and at the cost of a decimation of our fundamental freedoms and erosion of civil rights.
The alternative of descheduling all drugs would allow all drugs to be obtained ONLY by seeing a doctor for a prescription and then having that prescription filled at a pharmacy.
State medical boards would need to have vigorous power to investigate and terminate or prosecute the priviledges of doctors who would abuse their priviledges to their benefit and to the detriment of their patients. Penalties would have to remain for illegally distributing prescription drugs (dealing).
Although you could go to your doctor to get a prescription for drugs which are currently illegal, who is more likely to assist you in getting help for your addiction? Your doctor or your local dealer? Doctors could maintain addicts, and help them get off of their drugs. They would be unlikely to write new prescriptions for dangerous drugs like meth.
This would not eliminate all drug problems - but it would undercut the illegal drug economy. It would eliminate possession as a crime, while of course we could then pass sensible legislation - legislation which focuses on behavior. So that being under the influence of drugs, or alcohol in public, or driving under the influence, assaulting somebody, etc - would have obvious enhanced penalties.
It is time we had a different approach. An approach that makes sense, something that stands a chance of working and which will address the worst failings of the War on Drugs (The unconscienciable incarceration rate, the unimaginable violence, the entrenched beurocracy in the DEA that now campaigns to control drug laws, not enforce drug laws).
Of course, that is just my opinion.
I am not for legalizing drugs. Perhaps marijuana, but nothing more harmful like meth, LSD, MDMA, crack concaine, etc. Because the debaters that is for legalized drugs. Forget that drugs & violence go together. You cannot encounter one without the other. Why? Simple; Money. Money will make one kill another because of their addiction. Or who is to say that the worst of society won't use addiction to manipulate the addicted. Legalized is to be controlled you can argue, but drug addiction is already hard enough to control, not the drug itself. You cannot give harmful drugs the path to spread. Because it will. Don't ask why people legalized alcohol & not drugs. Because people don't get as addicted to alcohol as they do drugs. Granted they do, but not to the point where they would sell their TV sets for a fix.
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