The War on Drugs

I’m not going to list for you the statistics on the incredible amounts of money that are being expended on the war on drugs. I’m sure we are all well aware of them. I also will not describe the kind of truly horrible damage that has been inflicted on Latin American countries by the US government that uses the war on drugs as an excuse to keep these countries in eternal subjection. Talk to your friends from Mexico, Colombia, and Bolivia if you want to hear first-hand accounts of the scourge that the war on drugs is to them.Β What I want to address here is the philosophy that is used to justify the war on drugs within the US and Canada.

Before I say what I mean to say about this issue, I want to clarify that I’m as anti-drug in my personal life as anybody can be. I don’t even take Tylenol, I’m so anti-drug. A bottle of Advil scares me. When my friends in college passed around joints, I was always the only one to refuse them. So I’m not criticizing the war on drugs because I’m planning to take them if they get legalized. For me, this isn’t personal but ideological.

Drug addiction is a horrible tragedy. I have seen people being eaten up alive by drugs and their families deeply miserable. However, I believe in one’s complete and utter ownership of one’s own body. Whatever one might think of drug addicts, smokers, alcoholics, and junk food eaters, nobody should have the right to control what these folks do with their bodies. If I support abortion rights, suicide rights, and euthanasia, I cannot possibly be in favor of jailing drug users. I believe that if one chooses to drug, booze, eat, etc. oneself to death, one should be able to do that.

If we abandon the paternalistic attitude of needing to save drug users from themselves, the only argument that is left for persecuting them is that a person on drugs often becomes dangerous to others. This, of course, is true. The danger is as real as the kind that comes from a person who is strung out on such perfectly legal substance as alcohol. If the same restrictions are placed on drug use as the ones that exist on alcohol use (no drinking on the streets, at the workplace, or campuses, for example) and drug use is contained to people’s homes, the danger to others would diminish.

Of course, drugs will never be legalized. Even marijuana use is not likely to become legal in the US. (Quebec is getting there, for sure.) The reason for this is that the two mafias – the drug cartels and the governmental “war on drugs” machine – bring too much profits (both monetary and political) to their participants. Neither the cartels nor the governments want to relinquish the income and the power that the illegal status of drugs offers them. It only seems like these two groups are at war with each other. In reality, they are both profoundly invested into the continued illegality of drugs.

24 thoughts on “The War on Drugs”

  1. Marvelous post! BRAVO! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Maybe I should translate-adapt this post for my blog…I’ll think about it.

    “(Quebec is getting there, for sure.)”

    Some decriminalizing is done here, but way not enough! I think it’s impossible to do more here until the QuΓ©bec secession. Canada is too conservative for that.

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  2. I’m almost 98% in agreement with you. My only hang-up is that I do believe we have an obligation to save people from their own destructive habits. I cannot wash my hands of my neighbour who is drinking himself to death. I don’t see how that helps him or society at large. Perhaps it’s the christian in me – I am my brothers keeper.

    Otherwise – yes, the combatants certainly have much to gain from the continued war – and there is no benefit to jailing users.

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    1. The problem with any addiction is that you can’t do anything about it without the addict’s own passionate desire to be cured.

      I know a guy who beat a heroin addiction of several years. But he really wanted to beat it. Never went to any rehab either.

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      1. I should be more exact – I believe we have an obligation to try and help those with self-destructive habits. You’re right – ultimately the individual has to be engaged for any help to be effective. But knowing that someone is looking out for you, rather than no-one, can in and of itself have a profound impact on a person’s trip to a healthy life.

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          1. True. But what about the resources of people who become millionaires thanks to the war on drugs? Have you thought of them? Poor guys, they won’t be able to buy their jets and mansions any more. How can you be so cruel to them?

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        1. Looking out in the sense of extending help, for sure. But not in the sense of jailing you for it.

          I hear in the US jails are overcrowded with pot smokers. What’s the point of that, seriously?

          And I say it as someone who personally hates pot.

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    2. “My only hang-up is that I do believe we have an obligation to save people from their own destructive habits. I cannot wash my hands of my neighbour who is drinking himself to death. I don’t see how that helps him or society at large”

      Get them in jail is not helping people to save themselves from their own destructive habits. I have no problem to help people.

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  3. The prison industrial complex and the rehab industrial complex also benefit from this situation. Rehab is incredibly expensive and the methodology most of them use – the pseudo-Christian “12 steps” – is designed to fail / make rehab a revolving door.

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    1. Back at Yale, we campaigned for years at my union to make the university stop investing into privatized jails. We had former inmates who told us horror stories. Is there a greater atrocity than a private jail???

      We won! And the university stopped investing.

      I agree completely with you on rehabs.

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  4. It’s not legal in TO but it’s not enforced. I always find it funny to see people smoking joints outside of Tim Horton’s where there’s a sign on the wall saying that there is a $5000 fine for smoking cigarettes within ten feet of the building.

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  5. In TO, it’s illegal to smoke joints but it’s not enforced. I always find it funny to see people smoking joints outside of Tim Hortons where there’s a sign on the wall of the place saying that there’s a $5000 fine for smoking cigarettes within ten feet on the building!

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  6. My impression is that in the US the war on drugs (and also the war on illegal immigration) is really a proxy for the war on colored people. This is evident from (a) the disproportionate number of colored people arrested in these wars and (b) the political views of most people who fervently support such wars.

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