Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Real Debate About Drug Policy

By George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker
Wall Street Journal

That is the opening sentence of a report issued last week by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Both of us have signed on to this report. Why?

We believe that drug addiction is harmful to individuals, impairs health and has adverse societal effects. So we want an effective program to deal with this problem.

The question is: What is the best way to go about it? For 40 years now, our nation's approach has been to criminalize the entire process of producing, transporting, selling and using drugs, with the exception of tobacco and alcohol. Our judgment, shared by other members of the commission, is that this approach has not worked, just as our national experiment with the prohibition of alcohol failed. Drugs are still readily available, and crime rates remain high. But drug use in the U.S. is no lower than, and sometimes surpasses, drug use in countries with very different approaches to the problem.

At the same time, the costs of the drug war have become astronomical. Inmates arrested for consuming drugs and for possessing small quantities of them now crowd our prisons, where too often they learn how to become real criminals. The dollar costs are huge, but they pale in comparison to the lives being lost in our neighborhoods and throughout the world. The number of drug-related casualties in Mexico is on the same order as the number of U.S. lives lost in the Vietnam and Korean wars.

Throughout our hemisphere, governance and economic development have suffered because of drugs. It is no accident that the initiative for this global commission came from former presidents of Latin American nations. These countries, sometimes with American support, have made strong efforts to reduce drug supplies. But they have increasingly concluded that drug policies in the U.S. are making it more difficult for their people to enjoy security and prosperity.

The problem starts with the demand for drugs. As Milton Friedman put it forcibly over 20 years ago in the pages of this paper: "It is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials."

We do not support the simple legalization of all drugs. What we do advocate is an open and honest debate on the subject. We want to find our way to a less costly and more effective method of discouraging drug use, cutting down the power of organized crime, providing better treatment and minimizing negative societal effects.

Other countries that have tried different approaches include Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal and Australia. What can we learn from these varied experiences, some more successful than others? What can we learn from our own experience in reducing sharply the smoking of cigarettes or in the handling of alcohol after the end of Prohibition?

Simple legalization is by no means the only or safest approach. One possibility is to decriminalize the individual use of drugs while maintaining laws against supplying them, thus allowing law-enforcement efforts to focus on the drug peddlers. Some of the money that is saved can be spent on treatment centers, which drug users are more likely to seek out if doing so does not expose them to the risk of arrest.

The situation that confronts us today is dangerous. After 40 years of concentrating on one approach that has been unsuccessful, we should be willing to take a look at other ways of working to solve this pressing problem. As the global commission concludes: "Break the taboo on debate and reform. The time for action is now."

41 comments:

  1. Si pero con una grandísima diferencia pq los q murieron en esas guerras eran soldados la mayoría gente de bien, y en mexico la mayoría de los muertos son puros criminales.

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  2. Blah blah blah.
    The Wall Street Journal often writes pointless or underinformed articles like the one here. It is a tabloid that panders to a small pseudo educated cadre of social elitist snobs who like to feel better about themselves by pointing out the foibles of so called "lower" social strata.
    The author should come on our website to study the drug war and its impact on society. This site is a good starting point for him to begin learning about the nuances of the drug war.

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  3. Perhaps the Global Commission on Drug Policy could learn a few things by reading up on DTO's day to day murderous activities. But this is not to say that you, my friend, might not learn something about a failed drug policy, why it has contributed to the drug wars, and what are the first steps in REVERSING THIS TREND.

    I certainly hope there are not people out there who thrive on this macabre drug war news and would not wish it to end, except for the cartel members themselves, whom we've already labeled shameless scumbags.

    And, if you think the WSJ always writes 'pointless or underinformed articles' show me a publication that never succumbs to this practice. A solid, legitimate publication--which one?

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  4. "Inmates arrested for consuming drugs and for possessing small quantities of them now crowd our prisons."

    You sure got that wrong! Inmates serving time for possession were busted for dealing drugs and plea bargained the charges down to a lesser offense in order to receive a shorter prison sentence.

    And one really cannot say that the war on drugs has been a failure. While the use of drugs remains as high as ever, no one knows how many people refrain from using drugs because they fear the consequences of getting caught.

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  5. I invite 9:43 a.m. to look up the names of the "authors". Underinformed? Really? Sorry 9:43 am, your ignorance is showing.

    George Schultz - US. Secretary of State 1982-1989
    Paul Volcker - former Chairmain of Federal Reserve. Former chief investigator for corruption in Iraq Oil-For-Food program, among many others.

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  6. Sorry BarkGrowlBite, but your "facts" are not statistically supportable.

    There are, in fact, a very large number of inmates arrested for possessing and consuming small quantities of drugs. While there are a few cases that plead down from dealing to possession, that is not such a common occurrence anymore.

    How do I know? My dad is a judge in Orange County CA who deals with these cases daily.

    At least get your facts straight before spouting off. It makes you look foolish for taking a position that 5 seconds of fact checking can undermine.

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  7. Loose dog, BarkGrowlBite, puts the fear in people!

    'And one really cannot say that the war on drugs has been a failure. While the use of drugs remains as high as ever, no one knows how many people refrain from using drugs because they fear the consequences of getting caught.'

    If you smoke a toke, then BarkGrowlBite is coming to get you! I love it in just how the Right Wing measures their supposed 'success'! They literally are like a pack of howling snarling wild wolves...

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  8. The real problem is that legalization opens the doors to addiction and to drug dealers supplying the drugs. For those comparing this to the prohibition era, I'd hate to break it to you but alcohol is not as addictive as cocaine, heroin and meth. A lot of you don't understand what it's like to have a someone you know hooked on dope. Drugs will continue to flow north, just in larger quantities if legalization ever happens.

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  9. There is a winner, Drugs Won!

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  10. Legalize,regulate and tax all all drugs with the exception of black label drugs.
    Retrain all governmental staff in agencies fighting the drug war for increasing energy (oil, wind, solar, and grid development).
    Put policy in place to increase manufacturing ing the USA. Put one of the many drug war agencies in charge of stopping offshoring of manufacturing and developing the old staple, "Made in the USA." It use to mean it was the best. Really pump up building in America. Give incentives for companies that do it here, not there.
    Put another agency in charge of accessing, regulating, and distribution of the drugs, probably the DEA.
    Train all inmates prior to release from prison on drug convictions with wielding, electrical, pipe fitting, or oil production skills.
    This sounds radical but radical is what it is going to take and I do believe the USA could become the most powerful producer again.
    The financing could easily come from money saved from not housing drug addicts in prisons.
    This would take a lot of policy change and a whole new mindset for America. Guys, if the US doesn't do something about these costs soon, were are going to be in real trouble.

    Radical

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  11. BarkGrowlBite said "no one knows how many people refrain from using drugs because they fear the consequences of getting caught.
    You seriously think people refrain from smoking dope or snorting coke for the fear of getting caught? Unless you a referring to yourself I don't think you have a clue.
    Walk across Grant Park in Chicago this weekend, the Chicago Blues Festival is going on.
    If you didn't know better you would think it was 1969 and you were at Woodstock. People all over the park openly smoking everything with Chicago's finest standing in plain sight. Noone has any fear of getting caught, trust me.

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  12. Legalize drugs then tax the Hell out of it and all the profits should go to try to paid of the national debt!!

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  13. "Simple legalization is by no means the only or safest approach. One possibility is to decriminalize the individual use of drugs while maintaining laws against supplying them, thus allowing law-enforcement efforts to focus on the drug peddlers."

    And how will this fix any of the problems of violence we are facing? That is the topic here right? There isnt a single country on this planet where "drugs are legal" so quit screaming legalize drugs. If you make cocaine or heroin legal, who do you think is going to be selling it? Pfizer? Zetas? The guy on the corner?

    You can call the war on drugs a failure, but last I checked less than 10% of this country is addicted to drugs so everything seems to be working fine, why mess with it.

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  14. No, everything is not just working fine....

    'You can call the war on drugs a failure, but last I checked less than 10% of this country is addicted to drugs so everything seems to be working fine, why mess with it.'

    Can you spell OBTUSE?

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  15. Our policy has always been a half assed effort,DRUG TEST THE WHOLE GD Country,Cut Peoples govt titty down if they do drugs,The whole liberal welfare state project has been a utter FAILURE BANKRUPTING THE USA.LEGALIZE DRUGS YES but know who is using and do not support them with Homes,medical,child care,food Etc,Etc. IS CHINAs war on drugs a Failure?? THEY are serious not half assed and when they catch you with drugs END of PROBLEM. NO doubt the West lacks the stomach for such harshness,and drug use and acceptance is on the rise in the west,The weak will not inherit the earth China will.

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  16. yeap the war on drugs is a resounding success...prices have skyrocketed...it has been instrumental in developing a thriving prison system...destabilized half of latin america..alienated and criminalized generations of young people..ruined countless lives..enriched , glorified and romanticized millions of hoodlums and otherwise small time punks....destroyed countless neighbor hoods and familys...eroded civil rights...contributed greatly to increased police presence ..denied humanity the use of one of the most beneficial plants on earth(hemp)...led to the development of really bad drugs such as meth and crack...divided people against each other along class lines..provided an excuse and cover for class warfare....and on and on

    yeap what a success...if we could only come up with some thing else..maybe we can make tomatos illegal

    it will be hard to top drug promotion/prohibition as an all around moneymaker and engine of social destruction for the screws

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  17. if you had a choice between buying cocaine from a store or from some dude on a street corner what would you choose? when you buy alcohol do you buy it from some guy in a parking lot at 3:00AM? of course not. legalization is the only logical answer but try to get that into illogical people's heads.

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  18. @2:58pm
    The problem is that the store would sell the taxed to hell coke and the street corner guy would sell the un-taxed version. Most (not all) drug users don't have larger sums of money.

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  19. 'Brito, you said it!!! These are the results. What is the cause of drug use? That's the hard part. We as a society have to figure this out, address it, come to terms with it. And decriminalization for specific things and quantities may be a step in the right direction.

    Clearly we need to clear out our overcrowded prisons of all these people in for small time offences. And I like the guys idea of training them for specific job qualifications before getting out. I think some of this is already being done...but we need more.

    Damn those hippies in the '60s. Ha! They had no idea the havoc their trend would have on many lives 50 years later.

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  20. Yall some stupid changos for real. Where do you come off with the ridiculous idea that my herb needs to be "taxed" as you so effortlessly put it? Under what Constitutional right? Get the fuck outta here with that bull shit! These are things that come from God's green earth for me, not you, so bug off you! Shoo! You're killing my high for realz! Why don't we tax YOU everytime you flap YOUR gums, shit, we'd pay the national debt the way yall yapping about my food like it's yours or something. Don't mess with my Constitution. This slave-mentality IS a disease I'll tell ya.

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  21. The one factor that is ignored or only gets lip service is "sociological addiction". Many drug addicts are attracted to drugs because of the "lifestyle" rewards and stimulants.

    Early drug addict careers often start with lifestyle attractions such as partying, sexual adventures, fun crimes with associates. In early drug addicts careers, the consumption of illicit drugs may only be secondary or a symbolic or mood altering means to "fit in" or demonstrate allegiance or "insiderness" to the reference group.

    After a time, membership in the drug using social group becomes rewarding and functional for the addict.

    My point is that all this talk about legalization ignore the fact that drug addicts would be denied being "cool" .... They would resort to rejecting the "legality" and make adjustments that retain "getting high" from a addict society perspective.

    Many addict relapse to drugs because of their need for the anti-social druggie lifestyle...

    Kool

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  22. you people that are against decriminalization of drugs are just stupid and ignorant. look at countries like Britain, Netherlands, Austrailia, they have decriminalized drugs and its not the end of the world for those countries, they have not fallen in chaos.

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  23. As a matter of fact, a study was made in Portugal in 2006 to see the progress made after decriminalizing drugs in that country and found it a success. Drug use and crime rates went down and the amount of people seeking help or treatment has doubled because they are not labeled as criminals anymore but rather, patients or people that need help.

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  24. whoever said "alcohol is not as addicting as meth or heroin". A study has been made proving that alcohol is the number one worst drug, worse than meth, heroin and cocaine. this study was made on a count of how it made people lives bad, damage to their body and psycologically.

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  25. I personally think marijuana should be legalised. Addition of other drugs (illegal) should not be combined with marijuana. I also think marijuana is not as bad as alcohol / cigarette, but of course no questions about this, they are no good for people's physicial and mind.

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  26. ROFL, with the U.S. Government in debt up to its
    Head, the war on Drugs will not last a round 3,
    Drugs won By TKO....

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  27. @ todos
    Todos Uds. En gringolandía no tienen la puta idea de lo qué están vociferando. Sí vivieran aquí sé darán cuenta. Pero no. Están allá en sus casas con clima a todo poder opinando sobre cosas qué ni siquiera saben. México esto México eso. ! Ya por favor cállanse la boca bola de inútiles! (desde Mitras Norte).

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  28. @ brito
    What does yeap mean? Just asking...

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  29. 'Mitras Norte', I don't have clima en mi casa gringolandiaesa. Que tipo de gringo soy yo? ...lol...

    'México esto México eso.'

    Ay Chihuahua! Es la puta verdad! Paisanos mios, por favor! El tiene razon. Most of you can hardly find Mexico on a map yet you talk about it as if you can! We're quite offensive in our own way... are we not?

    From the article...
    'The problem starts with the demand for drugs. As Milton Friedman put it forcibly over 20 years ago in the pages of this paper (The Wall Street Journal): "It is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials."

    Egads! What language was that?

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  30. The authors, Shultz and Volcker, are either talking trash or are hopelessly ignorant about this drug war.
    If those guys were better at their jobs, we would have more concrete solutions to these problems instead of the increasing instability of Mexico. Just because those guys are high up in American government does not automatically qualify them as knowing what is happening on the ground every day.
    I can easily see how these two are possibly trying to fan the homegrown fires of paranoia so that more money is directed at the military industrial complex that they both work for.

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  31. @ anonymous 9:04

    Yeap: a purported former marine and frequent traveler to Monterrey failed attempt to write the word yep. An affirmation. Yes.

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  32. Is what who and what the hell Brito is?

    Yeap: a purported former marine and frequent traveler to Monterrey'

    A heroic...lol... 'frequent traveler to the Monterrey', even though when he calls there he hears gunfire on his telephone line given to him by Slim? Let's give him a medal of honor for not crapping in his pants! Seriously.

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  33. @ Ardent
    I don't get it. Brito says he travels to Monterrey and rattles off street names and colonias but the truth is, he doesn't even speak Spanish but he has all of this "first hand" knowledge of drug violence in Mty. Sounds like a poser wannabe to me.

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  34. I've got news for the Anon whose daddy is an Orange County judge. I worked closely with narcotic officers in Santa Ana, Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach and I've also worked closely with the prison systems of California and Texas. So don't tell me that I've got all my facts wrong.

    And the Anon who mentioned the open use of drugs in Chicago's Grant Park during the Chicago Blues Festival, you prove my point. In many instances cops no longer bother to bust dopers like yourself for simple use. It's not worth the paperwork when those busted are turned loose before the arresting officer has finished his report.

    Based on my professional knowledge, those of you who continue to claim that our prisons are full of inmates serving time for possession of small amounts are the ones who are clueless.

    And thanks for calling me a right-winger. I'd rather be a right-wing law enforcement type any day than a left-wing doper!

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  35. HowlBiteandYap at 11:11am says that he is a person who 'I worked closely with narcotic officers in Santa Ana, Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach and I've also worked closely with the prison systems of California and Texas. So don't tell me that I've got all my facts wrong." and spreads the US Right Winger current pc 'truth' that supposedly only big time traffickers go to jail for drug offenses in the US, with supposedly others getting good 'treatment'!...lol...

    The Right Wing law enforcement sites really are pushing this take on things forcefully these days. It takes the heat off the cops by framing the debate as if it matters not in the least that 'enforcement' of US drug laws is done selectively by RACE against the 10,000,000 users of marijuana. That's right, smoke a joint and walk if you are White Anglo. If you are Latino or Black and of the lower classes, well they do tend to throw more of the full statutes at you, do they not, Mr. Law Enforcement pro? Tell the truth now, Boss Man.

    'And thanks for calling me a right-winger. I'd rather be a right-wing law enforcement type any day than a left-wing doper!'

    Yeah. But Why? Do hippies go around and trash Homeless and Jobless peoples' camps and ride them into jail for being basically messed over by society? No, but cops do. Proud of that, are you?

    There is more of a good reason why so many hate cops than there is for the reasons given by Right Wingers for hating 'hippies'. The cops in most countries of the world, including the US, are basically a thug force in protection of the more monied classes. Just what type of person makes their 'career' doing that? Answer- Not really the nicest subgroup of people out there in the world.

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  36. ardie wouldn't know the truth if it bit him on the ass. He has a massive erection for American/USA Right Wingers that completely overshadows anything he has to say - assuming he could make a point if he had a point to make.

    Drug legalization is and will always be the biggest scam since the shooter on the grassy knoll. It's not going to happen. Not now, not ever. So a couple of ancient fuckers like Schultz and Volcker think they know something about it. They don't know anything. Look at the economy (Volcker), look at US foreign policy (Schultz) and tell me their influence has been good.

    Everybody wants a quick fix. Hey all we need to do is legalize drugs and then tax their consumption - problem solved!! What a crock of shit. Frankly I don't care. Go ahead, make 'em all legal. It will not solve the problems you are trying to solve and the govt will not make any money.

    The US is the richest country in the world and the govt has to borrow ONE-FIFTH OF A BILLION DOLLARS PER HOUR just pay the debt service on it's bonds. If you think it's about legalizing drugs - go for it.

    1:17

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  37. T"ard

    you sound just like a two year old.."the police are just thugs"..wah wah wah..

    i bet you would be the first to call 911 if you heard someone on your porch...

    pooh poohing the violence in Mexico...make fun of people in Monterrey saying they deserve a taste of what the rest of Mexico suffers..you are a real fuckn sergeant rock aren't you tough guy...

    but ran away from "nam" didn't you?...

    you are the worst sort of chickenshit ..posing tuff while making fun of other people who know the danger ...all the while you are safe and sound the USA

    you are the type of loudmouth puto that would get eaten alive if there were no police to protect you

    i know you asshole ..at protests..you were the one who threw the rock and ran away ..leaving other people to get their ass beat for it

    you arenot even a real "hippy"..you are what is called a house hippy ..calling the cops on homeless people and real hippys passing through..

    riddle me this bigmouth..what does SCROLL mean...what about NERF..or BARF..KATUAH..OM VALLEY...CUMBERLAND...ever been to Shawnee..Ocala...explain shanti sena...that right you fuckn shill you don't know.... how about rap 701..or 107...

    fake ass big chief
    wannabe..of the wantanabee tribe
    you need to just shut the fuck up "BUCKO"

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  38. soo... all you got out of my comment was ..yeap...

    !!!!ANUNCIAR!!!! el nuevo grupo...

    T'ardent and his army of nut riding anymouses

    yeap...

    feelin strong pendejos?...jajjajaj

    ven ... andarle... putos

    JAJAJAAAAJJ!!!!!

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  39. @ brito
    wannabe..of the wantanabee tribe
    you need to just shut the fuck up

    Who is the wannabe? Wannabe Regiomontano. Oh yeah you heard gunshots through the phone. Got it! You should take your own advice poser!!!!!!!

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  40. I am a supporter of legalizing marijuana. But, my educated guess is this. Lets say marijuana is legalized. Will that automatically stop people from selling it on the street? Not at all. They will continue to sell because who wants to pay taxes on a product that they were already satisfied with? I know a couple of distributors and im satisfied with the product. If it is controlled and taxed name the price. 9.99 for a dime bag? 19.99 for a dub? Maybe even more expensive? Ill call up a buddy who will be willing to cut the price to 9 even for a dime or 18 for a dub. No one likes to pay taxes!

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  41. Understand legalizing drugs WILL NOT solve the violence in Mexico! It's to late for that! The large criminal organizations, we refer to as "Drug Cartels" are not just involved in drugs! These violent criminals are not just going to disappear rather they will evolve/adapt into something else...they are criminals, after all! Think about it, after you have tortured, dismembered, brutally murdered people, etc..you think these people are going to become a productive member of society! They have become and are psychotic...you can't do the things these guys do to their fellow man and have a normal thought process. If you insult them, interfere in their business, or offend them in any way, there solution is to eliminate you with pain.

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