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POLL BEFORE THE WAR ON DRUGS DEBATE: WHERE DO YOU STAND?

The debate is tomorrow! But where do we all stand today, before hearing the panelists’ arguments?

Take part in this pre-debate poll by clicking plus on the statements below that you agree with.

Make sure you come back for our post-debate poll, so we can work out how mind-altering our debate really was.
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James Calbraith's profile photoChris Lamprecht's profile photoBenjamin Holiber's profile photoErnesto Pineda B.'s profile photo
75 comments
 
+ Individuals should be able to do whatever they want with their minds and bodies, including taking drugs, if they want to
 
- We don’t exist in total isolation – all of our behaviour has an effect on others, and drugs destroy lives and communities

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+ Drugs can expand the mind, give new perspectives and deepen and enrich experiences
 
- Drugs are mostly a mental cosh that cut people off from reality in return for trivial thrills

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+ Cannabis is a soft drug with few negative side effects for the vast majority of users, and many benefits as a cure for pain or stress – it should be legalised
 
- Maybe cannabis was once a soft drug, back in the 60s and 70s, but modern strains are increasingly potent and have led to a rise in psychosis, ruining the lives not just of users but their families too

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+ Negative health consequences are an irrelevant argument – if we really cared about the health of drug users, we would focus on treatment instead of prohibition
 
+ The so-called war on drugs has left many countries, like Colombia and Afghanistan, dominated by unscrupulous cartels. Legalising some or all drugs will stop the drug trade, with its attendant horrors, in its tracks
 
- Powerful cartels won’t melt away without a fight just because there’s less demand for illegal drugs; besides, they already make money from smuggling non-drug products like cigarettes and designer rip-offs

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+ We only keep fighting the war on drugs because of the entrenched political interests involved
 
- The majority of people just don’t want a society that is soft on drugs, so the War on Drugs is an example of democracy working just as it’s meant to.





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but without the war on drugs how can we pay all our prison guards and DEA agents... hold on a sec they might actually have to find real jobs instead of messing with average law abiding citizens, or they might actually have to go after real criminals ohhh no the government going after real criminals... i know right hard to imagine right?!?!
 
The economy loses money as the war on drugs persists....so the war on drugs is basically a fight for morality.......therefore we should invest in moral education in our societies, especially the young generation.
 
+Versus, I took the time to read through the above poll questions. Because the problem/challenge is very complex and nuanced, I was only able to agree with one statement.
Since this debate topic is posted, I have been doing some research and have already shifted my views somewhat. In the following CBC News interview this morning, former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, president of the International Crisis Group and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (including former heads of states and people like Paul Volcker) has some pointed words re how drug offences are handled.

http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/1221258968/ID=2209124986
 
The debate is framed in terms of either complete legalization or continuation of the current system. Other options, such as depenalization or repenalization, should be part of the debate. In particular, the idea of "sentencing to treatment" such as through drug courts is an empirically supported option.
 
+Patrick Carroll such an argument defeats the whole purpose because "depenalization" is just another avenue of illegalization and prohibition on its own... why if i have it and smoke it, its fine to do but if i start to grow it even for its industrial purposes im a criminal then... don't you see the hypocrisy in that?
 
+Tim Schweiss I generally prefer the term inconsistency to hypocrisy. I have no hardened philosophical position on this matter and so to me, consequences matter. This puts me in the position of managing competing motives, which are going to require some (uncomfortable) inconsistencies. I think for folks who have hardened philosophical positions - strict libertarians and moral prohibitionists - the consequences of a policy are irrelevant and they have the luxury (term not meant to be dismissive, but I do think it's accurate) to be entirely consistent. I am also not sure that you and I have the same idea of the purpose of depenalization. I see very clear evidence of harm to people I know and people I take care of from freely available, socially sanctioned drugs. I don't think it's a responsible position to shrug one's shoulders at the very real possibility that legalization will increase addiction. I am in no hurry to expose my children and others to this. I also don't see much benefit in the current system of warehousing people for some years to send them out to the same environments to then relapse. I am looking for a better balance of risks and costs, not ideological purity.
 
+Patrick Carroll, I think I understand what you are saying, but then let me ask you this. Why do you think drugs would be more available if they were to be regulated by the government, from production to distribution with strong restrictions, such as of even tighter than the ones in place for Alcohol and Tobacco?
 
+Patrick Carroll your talking about not exposing your children to a greater risk of coming in contact with this destructive drug that so many people are hurt by everyday and destroys lives right? well... why is it that its easier for your kids buy weed at school than it is to buy alcohol? now think about that question real hard. and think about if there were marijuana cigarettes sold at all liquor stores what benefit would someone get from selling pot on the streets? but there is always going to be a market for kids in general. go to almost any high school your going to see a bunch of kids after school smoking a bunch of cigarettes. so lets make cigarettes illegal to stop the harm it doing to our children then, not to mention the health determent it does to the whole world. i wouldnt mind prohibition on that i quite years ago...
 
+Luiz Oliveira Don't mean to be flip, but when you can buy tobacco and alcohol at just about any 7-11, "even tighter" doesn't strike me as meaning much. The specifics of the regime probably matter a lot, but some of the variations on the legalization theme I have heard attempt to reduce harms, particularly to communities hit hard by the drug trade, by making selling less risky and using less expensive. I expect these would involve more free access. Actual increases in use might be more related to marketing, which might be less of a problem for things like cocaine and heroin than marijuana. However, as we're seeing now with the epidemic of prescription opioid addiction, nothing will be there to stop someone coming up with the "new, safe, non-addictive opioid v. 4.0" and marketing that. I also wonder if government regulation became too strict if the existing black market systems would simply swamp the system. Overall, though, there are a good number of historical examples of times when some drug was destigmatized and socially sanctioned and its addictions spread and climbed the social ladder - most recent bad one was cocaine in the 80s, but then there was the gin epidemic in the UK and the opioid patent remedy epidemics way back as well.
 
+Tim Schweiss I tend to agree with you. Tobacco being legal is a bit nuts in context, though I don't pretend our current system makes sense so I'm not defending it. I'm not sure what your point is suggesting I do - what option are you saying will protect my kids? Put marijuana in 7-11s like cigarettes, which you say are being smoked by kids at school anyway? I don't quite get what policy you're advocating.
 
The only people fighting to keep the status quo in this failed so called "War on Drugs", is the very people who stand to lose the most, i.e. the drug smuglers, police agencies, corrupt politicians, prison service providers etc. - just like in the days of alcohol prohibition in America.
 
+Patrick Carroll, again, I got what you are saying, but let's suppose Cannabis and Heroin were available at 7-11 (witch is a bad example cause employees are not that well trained). A kid (18 YO) goes there asking for some cannabis, should they get it if the rule is 21 YO? No, and if he gets it from there, that store and the clerk would be liable to prosecution. And that is as far as the law should go in that regard.
Now another person, 30 YO, goes there to get some Heroin, now the clerk should ask for ID but the limit could be, lets say 25. But for heroin, you could also include a license, proving that the person passed a psychologic test. if those are covered, give that person the heroin.

The way things are today, that kid would get the cannabis from a dealer, in a shady negotiation, and that would be the only way. I'm not saying that the same kid would not go to a dealer in a regulated market, but in one, he would not even have the option of doing things right, he would have to get involved in a criminal situation, while in a regulated, he would have the option of saying, "ok, wi'll wait until I'm 21". In the regulated world, government can raise taxes so it makes the price reasonable, but not prohibitive so contraband (wich will always exists) is not the way to go.

With an approach like that, I don't think the drugs will be more available... today there is 0 age check, 0 psyche test, in a regulated market, those numbers can go up to a representative slice of the sales.

What do you think?
 
+Simon Thethi, let's not generalize... I truly believe there are lot's of people who find it hard to see legalization and regulation as a way to go mainly for the fear of the "unknown". The thing is that this idea of a world free of drugs is a new idea, but old enough for people to believe that's how it's aways been.
 
+Luiz Oliveira There isn't any psychological test that works like that. The main risk factor for addiction is having a human brain, the other is having a young human brain (below the early 20's is the big risk period). Beyond that, it's things like family history and your own addiction and psychiatric history. Your options would be to have a psychiatric interview for everyone (and all somebody's got to do is lie) or some checkbox test that says "I promise I don't have any of these risk factors." Even if you had such a test, where do you set the cutoff for who gets the magic card? I think all you have to do is look at the OxyContin corridor from the pain clinics in Florida to Appalachia to see how this "medical pass" system would work out in practice. And it would be a nightmare to implement. Fighting economics is like fighting gravity. If you make a desired thing cheaper, less risky, and easier to find, there will be more exposure. It's a matter of the degree.
 
Legalization of drugs, would mean that there would be no cartel killings in Mexico and Columbia, basically the end of Drug Lords, why the need for Drug Lords when demand is met legally? No unnecessary space used in prisons for people with petty drug crimes. People would actually know what they are getting instead of drugs mixed with cement and other lethal chemicals. Serious Drug Addicts would be able to start living normal lives if their drugs would be on prescription (look up Heroin prescriptions in Norway and Switzerland) instead of being homeless because of their addiction. Drugs would be taxed, so our bankrupt Governments could actually start making some money instead of wasting it on fighting this phoney drug war. Overall I don't think it's that bad of an idea.
 
Also don't forget the destruction of the Amazon rainforest from illegal cultivation of cocaine, legalisation would be able to put much less strain on this rainforest and would be able to cultivate the drug in a way which is less harmful to the environment.
 
+Paulius Gedrimas The heroin prescription programs are pretty intensive - patients have to show up multiple times per day and the guys who run it were pretty clear that it's not going to work for everybody. There's also the problem of what happens if the policy creates new addicts - it's nice to treat the ones you have better, but at what cost to the ones you make? I also wonder just what legitimate company is going to get into the recreational heroin or meth business, especially given the lawsuits Big Tobacco has faced lately.
 
+Dave Butt The harm reduction movement did create a seismic shift. The big effect in the US has been needle exchanges. I doubt the US public is going to go for heroin prescription, though the more widespread use of buprenorphine may help out. It's also become widely available on the street and I'm afraid it's going to eventually be perceived as another "drug of abuse."
 
Of course it's not going to work for everybody. Have you seen an alcohol and tobacco rehabilitation programmes with 100% guarantee? don't think so. Firstly it works, look at sources by Swiss and Norway officials. 90% of illegal street prostitution is drug related. What's more important? not doing the programme because it seems too intensive or help people to live normal lives by not making them take part in criminal activities to feed their drug habits? Plus if a companies like McDonald's, Marlboro and Pharmaceutical companies (that cause 100,000 deaths each year in the USA alone) are legally able to sell their product, I think that there would be people sick enough to make businesses selling meth or other "hard" narcotics.
 
There are a number of arguments against the regulation of illegal drugs but I just don't believe that any of them stand up. There are health risks to using them yes but these risks are far outweighed by the risks and dangers caused by prohibition. A criminal record just for growing a plant? Really?

There is huge amounts of money being made by organised criminals and they are supported directly by this ridiculous government policy. Whenever I watch a DVD, there is a 5 minute (usually unskippable) "Don't buy pirated DVD copies of movies! That money goes to fund terrorism / people traffiking / drugs / <insert latest fear here>" advertisement ...
Well the money being made by DVD pirates must be infinitesimal when compared to the illegal drug market. It is well documented that drug manufacturers use people illegally trafficked into the UK to look after their "factories".

Our ridiculous drug policy is responsible for this.

It is this simple. Our Government cannot stop the organised, money making criminals by keeping everything illegal and making criminals of it's citizens. It just can't, and I think it's okay for them to say that they can't. In fact they should applauded for saying so.

Legalisation and regulation is the only sensible option. We can't make them more illegal can we?
 
+Paulius Gedrimas You're missing my point. It hasn't been universally implemented yet so from a public health perspective, you don't know what size effect it will have. Right now you're seeing a self- (and other) selected sample. I'm also not sure we can say these folks get back to "normal," certainly not right off the bat. I was very squeamish about these programs when I first heard of them - I was afraid it amounted to feeding the disease so the sufferers would be less troublesome (commit less crime, but live on a path between home and the clinic withering quietly away). I'm a bit reassured that many of them wind up engaging in treatment; still I think there's a tension between providing drugs more easily and cheaply and knowing people will be better off if they stop using altogether. If what we do is simply keep them addicted while keeping them "quiet," I find that ethically troubling. If what we do is try to keep them from destroying themselves while trying to engage them in treatment, that seems more reasonable to me.
 
+Patrick Carroll, but then you'd rather have it available through the black market? I don't think there is a safe way to do drugs, there is always some risk, but it has to be an informed decision and I've never seen a dealer give you very unbiased info, wich the government can do. I know you are not pro-prohibition, but you have a view that is way more conservative than mine, so it is good to understand what worries you.

Psy tests can be cheated, yes, but the idea is not to prohibit drugs from the regular person, but make sure people who have a clear mental illness from taking it. If they fail the test they can either seek for help or seek the black market, wich would be their only option now days.
 
If we were to remove speed limits form our roads, would we drive more safely?
If we had a zero tolerance to drink driving, would we never take the risk?

Taking risks gives life a ‘spark’, however in a society that values the welfare of our fellow humans, we need to have restrictions on what risks are acceptable. Many people drink, smoke and use drugs 'safely' and with limited ill effects.

I have worked with many people who have been addicted to and dependent on alcohol and drugs, it is easy to see the effects of such an addiction on them and their families. It is clear, to me at least, that the current Harm reduction agenda within the NHS and treatment services – dictated by the government – is having little effect on people’s behaviour; this strategy only reaches those that come in to contact with treatment services of one type or another.

The problem with the two questions posed above is that they are also harm reduction strategies, which however effective they maybe only really have a limited effect on some people who believe it is worth the risk. These restrictions only work for the rest of us because they are backed up by law and failure to abide can have serious consequences for the perpetrator and beyond. So therefore, guidelines such as those for the level of daily alcohol consumption become arbitrary and meaningless, try calculating your units after a couple of glasses of ‘Blue Nun’.

Life is difficult for many people and in many different ways, drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs has been a coping mechanism for many years, a phrase from Pink Floyd “comfortably numb” springs to mind here, as humans we would seek comforts rather than hardships. However, for some there is a price to pay for this weakness.

If we woke up tomorrow morning and found that all the illegal drugs were missing and we had forgotten how to make them, I would bet that the supermarket drink isles would be empty, the public houses busy and the GP surgeries overrun. Furthermore, if all mind altering substances were missing the price of condoms would rocket!

The ‘War on Drugs’ is about as useful as trying to drink soup with a fork! The answer is much more difficult to mobilise, as a race we need to accept that ‘modern society’ project has failed to deliver a manageable and sustainable society. We need to rethink our social care policies that seem to enable people to fail at life and when they are there keep them or trap them there. Our culture has provided us with a society addicted to the failings of others. TV programs and the newspapers are dedicated to our failings. We are kept under the constant threat of “evil” and 24hr 365 day surveillance by our caring and loving government. We have slowly had our liberties eroded and abolished by the ‘Liberal’ Elite, was Orwell writing fiction or predicting the future? What’s next private Police forces? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17242956

Over the last 5 years I have been to several local and national conferences on these topics and the one thing that I have learnt is that there is lots of talk but little action, except short term solutions and headline grabbing initiatives that soon fall by the wayside.
 
What is it people? Put all drug users in prison? Would have to include alcohol users too then, otherwise we are making no sense. Or allow families and healthcare professionals to deal with the cases where support and help are needed. Some countries think one thing, others another. The only thing generally clear about this war on drugs, is that it is not clear! One way or the other people... saying that, just think, 40 odd years of this path... do you still think, that in this day and age, we really need to be protected from our own choices? By governments that seem to rather use our taxes, to fund war than peace. Upside down is what it all is. To think, that in a few generations time, this will all be resolved. Why continue wasting the money to restrict.people? Do people seriously and outright believe that all drugs are harmful and dangerous? Does it not have to do with the choices and decisions of the person whether there is danger or not? That said, another good question for all to consider, are all drug users affected negatively? Consider why it is like it is, it truly is not blak or white - so how to justify the stance some governments take on it? Its beyond me. Looking forward to the arguements raised, for and against tomorrow, will bring some interesting views to many who may never have heard or considered different angles. I want to here some decent arguement for keeping prohibition in place. Thanks for for this great opportunity.
 
England and Wales are looking to introduce a minimum price for a unit of alcohol of about 50p. so therefore a low quality bottle of 13% red wine will cost £6.50 min this is about £1.50 more than it is currently. From my experience most people who abuse alcohol do not do so with red wine. Here it tends to be strong and cheap white cider http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/apr/17/cider-industry-protected-expense-alcoholics In percentage terms the cost implications of this change will hit the poor more than the better off.
The problem with legalising drugs is that the price can be regulated and taxed, which again will hit the poor hardest.
 
This has been a very interesting conversation and some very good points made,now here's the bottom line. Prohibition of something people want (really want), that is readily available, of such a size where it's easily concealed and quite profitable has never worked and will never work. If it didn't work with alcohol in the 1920s (not all that easy to make, not easy to conceal and less profitable than drugs), how could you ever believe it would work with marijuana (anyone can grow), cocaine and heroin (both easy to conceal and extremely profitable)?
Reasons to end prohibition:
1. Organized Crime and Gang Violence - The countries of Central America have been decimated. Mexico alone is approaching 50,000 cartel murders in less than 5 years. Other countries are in the very same position with murders and violence and children are caught in the middle. In the US 8,000 plus drug prohibition related murders every year. This violence is attached only to prohibition policy, not drug use. No such murders with alcohol and tobacco markets.
2. Mass Incarceration - By far, most of those in prison for drug crimes are there for non-violent crimes, many marijuana. And by far, most of that population are people of color, mainly blacks. Currently, the US is 6% of the world's population, yet we have 25% of it's prisoners. When people do time, their kids do time also. When you send people to prison, expect to support them for the rest of their lives, whether in prison or out. Once scarred with a drug conviction, most never get jobs. This is extremely costly - more than financial. There's more here, but I must move on.
3. Our young people say it is easier to buy marijuana and other drugs than beer and cigarettes. Why? Because there is a drug dealer in virtually every neighborhood and every school. They get kids to sell to kids. Enough said.
4. Corruption of police and public officials. There is not one major police department free from this. With $322 billion in profits worldwide, plenty of people are getting paid, from bankers to politicians to cops - but not for booze and cigarettes.
5. Police and Community Relations - In addition to corrupt cops, police violate the rights of people everyday all day as they illegally search for drugs. There main targets tend to be kids, which is extremely problematic for the future of policing.
6. Overdose Deaths - We have so many because it is extremely difficult to gauge the potency of a packet of drugs. How much of that white power is drug and how much is cut. And because there are no standards, the cut tends to be worse for the body than the drug. Additionally, there is little protection from criminal prosecution for someone calling the authorities when a friend experiences an overdose; therefore, medical assistance is delayed.
7. Lack of funds for on-demand treatment due to an expensive criminal justice approach. $50 to $70 billion lost annually in the US to enforcing prohibition policies. We only need one third for top notch treatment and treatment and education is the key.
8. Disease - Bring it out of the shadows to prevent needle sharing and the spread of deadly disease. Portugal has had a 71% reduction in new cases of HIV among intravenous drug users.
Well, there's much more, but these are my top seven. Final thought: There are more drugs available today, after 40 years of the drug war, then ever before. If you still believe we can keep them out of society you are seriously delusional. Learn, teach and treat for a safer tomorrow.
 
+Luiz Oliveira There really, no kidding, are no such tests. It's not just that they can be faked out, they just don't exist. They would also be useless at a population level. To be concrete: probably the highest addiction risk comes with bipolar disorder. It has a prevalence of about 1%. Addiction has a lifetime prevalence at least 10 times that, so clearly it accounts for very little. People with bipolar disorder look, act, and feel stone cold normal in between episodes - they are no different than anybody else. And, in point of fact, most people who get addicted will be "regular people," specifically white men between adolescence and mid-20s, at a rate close to 1 in 5. History is loaded with examples of times when drugs became cheaper, more potent, and less stigmatized and there was an epidemic that spread outside "those people" and started hitting "us people." Case in point - Cocaine in the '80s, from harmless go-fast bankers' drug to scourge of the nation. You can't test for "those people," it's a self-serving myth of invulnerability. I am not saying I like black markets. I am going to generalize wildly here: I see pro-legalization people talking as if "those people" are going to use drugs no matter what, so let's let them do it in a way that's less harmful. I see anti-legalization people talking as if our current policies are harmless. The problem as I see it is that various relaxations of policy might well increase the incidence and prevalence of addiction, and yet the current system doesn't seem to help the addicts we have and has tremendous costs.
 
+Patrick Carroll, as I said, there is no safe way, but what I believe is that the legalization + regulation is a much better way, for many of the reasons +Neill Franklin posed in his post. For a while I was agains the legalization of all substances, but after looking at the dynamics of the current "War on Drugs", it became apparent to me that the full spectrum of drugs should be legalized but with different levels of regulation based on the potential harms they can produce.

I guess you are very knowledgeable when you talk about the nonexistence of psychological tests for serious mental illnesses, but I have a feeling that you can test for at least some of them. For the ones you cannot test, those people will get the Heroin license and later on find their selves in trouble, but they will be accounted for, their situation will have a history and the system would be more equipped to provide help for that person, even proactively.

About the epidemic we would see with the legalization, I don't think it would be a lot different from what we have now with Crack, the only difference would be that those people would be more likely to have help at their disposal. Here in Brazil, we got to a point where over 90% of our cities have availability of Crack.

From my own experience, the fact that drugs were ilegal, played no part when I decided I wanted to use them, the only factors I can point that were different from when I took alcohol, was that with one I had to go to a dark place at night, wait on the car while a very shady transaction was made, worried about the police showing up and not knowing if the product I was getting was any good, while with alcohol, I went to a bar, with my friends, had 4 glasses of a well known brand of beer and it was fun. So, prohibition only had negative side effects, as far as I know and experienced.
 
Thanks Luiz. That'll teach me to proof read before posting. "Easier to buy drugs than beer and cigs" is what I meant.
 
+Neill Franklin 1. Agreed.
2. Agreed.
3. This phrase seems to roll easily off the tongue, but I don’t see all that much support for it. Alcohol use in general is higher among adolescents than marijuana. However, marijuana use has been steadily rising. As usual, this goes in lockstep with a decrease in perceived harms and reduced prohibition. Historically, this tends to come with a wave of heavier use, followed by a “crest” when the prevalence rises and harms are perceived in the general population and higher social classes, then a pendulum-swing in perception and regulatory culture with use of the drug receding back to more vulnerable populations. Much of the time (though this is leveling out) cigarette smoking has started dropping off, along with associated increases in perceived harms and greater prohibitions. It may well be that the greater supply has to do with greater demand which has to do with the sense the drug is harmless (or beneficial) that goes along with a drop in prohibitionist sentiment.
4. Meh - there’s plenty of corruption around booze and cigarettes, it just doesn’t get covered in the news.
5. Mostly agreed.
6. Mostly wrong. Overdoses from prescription opioids are now outpacing heroin, partly because of the massive increase in prevalence. Their potency is quite tightly regulated and obvious. They are also an example of the “semi-legal” phenomenon - perceived to be less harmful and not entirely illicit. Overdose risk mostly has to do with the pharmacology of the drugs - some can kill you, some can be ingested by the pound without that much risk of death, and some have differential tolerance to the toxic effects that make the risk of overdose greater with higher tolerance.
7. Agreed, but: Leaves aside the problem of getting people to enter and sustain treatment, which may well reduce if the consequences of drug use become less severe. Also leaves aside the possibility that the regulatory regime can influence the incidence of addiction in a bad way.
8. Agreed.

And my last shot before signing off: “Legalization” is a vague term. It lets people on one side cast opponents as nutjobs who want to hand out crack to five year olds, and the other side to demonize the opposite as half-a-dozen kinds of stupid (and perhaps racist). The question that needs is asking is how legal do we want these things to be? Marijuana has been getting more legal, with steadily escalating use, for a while now. Cigarettes have been getting less legal, and more stigmatized, for a while now, with a corresponding drop in prevalence and harm. When we start asking these questions the ideologues drop like flies, and we can start making some real decisions.

G’night all, and thanks for the adult conversation.
 
3. I am not referring to access here. I am referring to purchasing. We know that access to alcohol by teens is a serious problem. Just about every home contains enough booze for a moderate teen bash. I give quite a few college lectures throughout any given year and a regular question of mine is, if I give money to some of you here to purchase alcohol and others to purchase illegal drugs, who will return first. The answer is always those going for the illegal drugs. I have even had one young person say to me, "I don't have to leave. One text message and I can have it delivered within minutes."
4. I've policed for over thirty years and I have no recollection of corruption surrounding alcohol or cigarettes, maybe some un-taxed products, but that's about it. It was and is a constant concern within policing. Whether cops working for dealers, stealing money during raids or ripping off corner dealers, it's an ongoing battle to keep cops honest. In Central America it's a completely different challenge - silver or lead?
6. Yes, you are correct regarding overdose deaths from prescription drugs, more of a problem than illicit drugs. It still does not negate that fact that we are losing thousands to overdose deaths in the manner I mentioned surrounding illegal drugs. The problem with prescription overdose deaths is a lack of truth and education. People believe that just because it is produced by a pharmaceutical company and in pill form, it is safer than street drugs. Opiates are opiates and powerful in any form. They also tend to mix prescription drugs with alcohol because they are viewed different. The delay in emergency care still stands, prescription or illegal drugs, it makes no difference. It remains a criminal offense to use prescription drugs in a manner other than how prescribed by your doctor; therefore, people remain afraid to summon authorities in a timely fashion. Finally, maybe the DEA should be shifting its limited resources from marijuana enforcement to prescription drug diversion enforcement. People aren't dying from smoking pot, yet limited resources are being squandered when thousands are dying from prescription overdoses.
7. Portugal doesn't seem to be struggling to get people into treatment. They are having great success and I believe it is because of the elimination of fear; fear of being incarcerated and the fear of being stigmatized.

As for legalization, anything other than prohibition move it into a legal market. Anything after that is all about regulation.
 
Legalization of drugs will increase the purity of the drugs and reduce a large number of drug-related deaths and many of these are caused by impurities rather than the drugs themselves, so, I support the legalization argument. Good examples of where this has worked well are countries like Sweden and Norway. In The Netherlands, this has worked very well with Cannabis or ''weed''.
 
+Neill Franklin The distinction between access and purchasing really sounds like splitting a fine hair to me. And one of my points was that this has increased recently along with the increasing belief that marijuana has few harms and as it has become less "illegal" in several ways. Cigarettes have gone the opposite way on both fronts. I am pointing out that the high levels of access may have as much to do with the fact that there is a higher level of demand related to these shifting attitudes and reduced prohibitions. About the prescription opioids, I agree with most of what you said (though you let the medical profession off the hook a little too easily). I think my point still stands - as you alluded, the overdose risk has a lot to do with the pharmacology of the drugs themselves. Increasing drug purity is not going to eliminate the risk when the desired dose steadily creeps closer and closer to the toxic range with continued use as a consequence of the pharmacology of the drug. As to the corruption - alcohol and tobacco companies don't have to buy police. They "lobby." One of Portugal's best policies (in my opinion) is a kind of repenalization-before-penalization. People found in possession of drugs are summoned to a panel that includes a psychiatrist, a lawyer, and a social worker and the person is engaged in treatment. They do not really have a "legalized" system in the way I think many people advocate "legalization." Legal pressure is definitely put on people who use drugs to engage in treatment and stop. I think Portugal's system is a great model. As a matter of fact, it's pretty close to the repenalization/treatment engagement model I favor. Politically, if you want to win people to your position, I really think you don't want to say "Legalize first, then we'll figure out the regulations (we did a great job with alcohol and tobacco!)" I think you want to tell people you've considered what harms could be done and have policy solutions to mitigate them.
 
+Peter Benson He was mostly right. LSD is not terribly addictive (not to say it can't happen) but in animal studies, a lot of animals will actually work to avoid taking hallucinogens - most severely addicting drugs have exactly the opposite effect and rodents will actually work themselves to death for cocaine. Alcohol is modestly addictive, but because of the high exposure, etc. overall it does tremendous harm. One seeming paradox is that a "less dangerous" drug can do more harm overall than a "more dangerous" drug if the prevalence is higher. Over here (U.S.) alcohol is massively implicated in murder, suicide, and death by accident. Since consumption is normative, the lifetime addiction rate is so high, and alcohol is so toxic it accounts for way more harm overall than even very hard illicit drugs.Science can't settle a lot of this since it tends to hinge on value judgments.
 
I think the person addicted to drugs and know they are doing something wrong. No need to remember it each time. The point is that measures should be taken and which services should be implemented for people who want to leave that path. On the other hand we must ensure that the economic cost, social cost and the cost of repression of consumption to a minimum. For these and other reasons I think the legalization of consumption should be the first step, followed by the adjustment of production and distribution by public administration and education programs and rehabilitzación of addicts, youth and society in general. No one should go to prison for taking drugs. No one.
 
For the motion of "IT’S TIME TO END THE WAR ON DRUGS". I am for the motion.
 
legalizing all drugs and taxing them would totally restore our totally in debt country and restore our economy. by not using billions a year to go towards law enforcement to stop and imprison is money extra to help pay our debts, plus the billions on top of that from taxing all the drugs would pull up the rest of the slack. plus by ending a bullshit war based off lies and propaganda people might actually respect law enforcement and our government more or for me the first time.
 
Definitely end this war. But only this one. Politicians seem to be fascinated in waging "wars" against ideas, things, individuals and indeed countries that they consider bad/evil. This doesn't make for sound policy and is usually highly counterproductive.
 
Cannabis is far less problematic than Alcohol in all aspects. it is hypocritical to allow alcohol and prohibit cannabis. We are wasting valuable resources and funds to a loosing war that more than half the people want ended. Hemp is the only solution to removing our need for foreign oil and changing to a GREEN economy.
 
Its one of simple economics
Banning plants* creates more JOBS. Simple Fact.
Just TRY to count the number of jobs within the following;
DEA (US), Drug squad (UK), POLICE (worldwide)
Millitries (worldwide), Pharm's (worldwide), BOOZE cartles,
Heathcare, ....... even piss testing labs! FFS
All in an attempt to stop what people want most, TO GET HIGH.
IT HAS ABSOLUTLY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR HEALTH WHATSOEVER.
Its a smokescreen. (big cloud of exhaled bud)
Instead of building up a cheap imprisioned workforce of Drug Enjoyers (TM) :-) the Police
should be doing other things like, eating dounuts (sorry couldn't help myself), anyway, catching
murders and thiefs and thiving poloticions and dodgy bankers and, i think you all get the drift.
Look I don't need to bang on here, but the only reform that will happen, when it does, will be for
the benefit of THE ABOVE and NOT THE PEOPLE. You can bet your last joint/fix/etc on that.
Can you ever imagine the US Gov telling their DEA gangster/civil servants "look lads we've had
it all wrong, drugs aren't really bad for anyone, (except for THE ABOVE'S profit margins)" HA!
not f'in likely. (all those poor souls who've been on the end of their BS, I feel for you)
*Banning plants and their many, many, many USES.
What a FkD up world we've made.
EDUCATION mixed with BS = Easier to believe (swollow, much like meds)
Don't believe their LIES no matter how convicing they seem, work it out for yourselves.
War on Drugs my arse! War on Nature, Poor folk and Anyone who gets high.
 
They are not constructive, positive jobs. So when we, as a majority wake up to that, and some smart people think up and implement a whole new spectrum of jobs this will be a thing our future generations will look on and laugh about. What a pathetic addition to our legacy that we leave behind...
 
All this talk about how dangerous drugs are, is completely irrelevant because prohibition does not curb consumption. On top of that, it causes more damage by subsidizing organized crime and warlords and by exposing drug consumers to cutting agents. The stigmatization of drug user deters problematic users from seeking help. Drug prohibition is also using up resources that could be put into prevention and treatment which actually help people. On top of that, drug prohibition is driving people towards the hard drug alcohol: no stigma, no fear of prosecution, price, available when nothing else is...
 
war on drugs= war on you , they dont want you be happy, oh no they got a pill for everything the pharmasutical alcohol cigarette companies all pay to keep cannabis illegal
 
IN SLOVAKIA WE ARE JAILED FOR LESS THAN A JOINT!
 
Try getting a job here - with a criminal record because you were 18 and tried a joint!!!
 
war on drugs, it should be a war on poverty, all us chasing money leading lives away from unity a world where every1 is financially inequal this the world these crazy people as john lennon says run this world through selfishness every1 being left fend for themselves putting a price on life our governments, if they gave a shit about wellbeing cigarettes and alcohol would be illegal realli think about it, they dont want a man being able grow his own hemp for food, recreational medical uses, man thomas jefferson smoked it, george washington did also, queen elizabeth use to plunder countries for it and it was the main source cloth rope medicine food, its only illegal because its that good for you, and cheap to make if legal but benfits xtra rewarding, our bodys where designed for cannabis with the endocannaboid system inside us not nicotine or alcohol receptors but cannabinoid ones, also this has been scientifically proven to shrink and stop cancer cells growing, even the professor in south englands g.w pharmesuticals says it has anti-psycosis howerver it spelt affests so at same time the gov tells you it fries your brain, this gov workers telling you it also has stuff to counter the psycosis so it balances them out like a management system, im fine after 10years enjoying it recreationally and im alot more switched on than people who dont smoke it, most people who smoke it find it intilectual meditating opens your eyes the big question is not the drug war but what is the problem our governments arnt telling us with it because we all know that the govs are the biggest liars here so what they tryna hide about it outlawing it, PROHIBITION IS THE PROBLEM WE ARE JUST SHEEP TO THE GOVS AND IF IT WAS ABOUT HEALTH AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS THEN ALCOHOL WOULD BE ILLEGAL AND CIGARETTES BUT THEY MAKE ENOUGH MONEY OFF THEM TO OUTLAW IT
Sai Lee
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Spitzer acknowledged that the analogy 'War on Drugs' is wrong so why is he referring to his time in the trenches
 
Where do I vote? Like the poster above, this really isn't clear.
 
No mention regarding the aspect of natural occuring substances! How can we judge mother nature illegal?
 
yes. hopefully this will improve
 
Add to that - the MASSIVE list of benefits of Hemp... please educate yourself - we are being lied to, on a huge scale :(
 
I can't believe I missed the debate. I am so friggin' mad right now. Can someone please post a working link to the video before I shoot myself (kidding .. but pissed) ?
 
Spitzer likes the War on Drugs and the industrial profiteering. What he doesn't like is that the name for this shady exploitation has become discredited. Too martial. He would like it to have a nice name to cover the misery it inflicts on humanity for no other reasons than the power and profit of a few!
Shame on Eliott Spitzer for selling out his fellow men. He knows what he does is wrong! He simply doesn't care! He's probably even taking pride in his twisting words and trying to deceive the public. What a pathetic weak little man.
 
Es muy facil opinar cuando no se encuentra sumergido dentro del problema real. Yo soy mexican, vivo en el bonito estado de zacatecas y vivo a diario con esta problamatica, pero estoy de acuerdo con la politica que esta llevando mi presidente, se quejan y quejan pero por que no preguntan quienes son los verdaderos culpables de toda la violencia, entonces ¿mejor los dejamos trabajar a estos delicuentes, que sigan envenenando a la sociedad y que cometan horribles crimenes para siemrpre salir impunes? ¿que sean dueños de nuestra libertad?, claro, para que no salgan muertos en la tele y que todo pase debajo del agua , creanme que no hay gente que admire mas que los soldados que estan luchando por mi seguridad.
Ojala los consumidores se dieran una vueltita x aca y vean lo q estan propiciando, y los que esten al tanto, que poca verguenza tienen. Es necesario tomar conciencia, y no cirticar nomas por que nos guste dar la contra siempre al gobierno!!!!
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