Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Rebuttal of Edmund Hartnetts' Anti-Legalization Propaganda & Debating Manual

(Search keywords: anti drug propaganda, legalization debate, drugs, drug policy reform, prohibition, US drug laws, repeal)

I came across a piece written by a drug-law apologist by the name of Edmund Hartnett. The piece is essentially a prohibitionists propaganda & debating manual and was originally published at policechiefmagazine.org. The manual is intended to serve as a reference for community leaders and law enforcement officials, who continue facing an ever greater challenge in rationalizing the irrational drug-laws which infest our country and undermine our most intimate liberties.

I've presented my critiques to the prohibitionist arguments not so much from a statistical or scientific standpoint, but more of a moral and intellectual standpoint, one of reason and historically demonstrated knowledge. The original article can be referenced HERE. Enjoy. 

"Drug Legalization: Why It Wouldn't Work in the United States" 

Note the desperation in the title - with the demonstated successes of drug liberalization abroad, prohibitionists are now compelled to qualify their irrational position - right off the bat - suggesting that the United States is somehow unique from Portugal or other nations. They would like us to believe that intellectual liberty and self determination - where it applies to drug consumption - is somehow incompatible with american society (a society which was founded upon the very principles of individual liberty and personal responsibility)

By Edmund Hartnett, Deputy Chief and Executive Officer, Narcotics Division, New York City Police Department, New York

The issue of drug legalization is a complex one. Most Americans do not favor it, yet there is a strong and very vocal lobby in the United States that feels that legalization would be the proper course to take. When this vocal minority raises the issue in any community, citizens look to the police chief to speak to the issue. Police chief are encouraged to borrow from this article as they prepare their speeches. 

Proponents’ Arguments 

Proponents of drug legalization believe that the current policies regarding drugs have been harmful to individuals, families, and society as a whole. They strongly oppose current drug laws and policies for a variety of reasons. Some see the laws as an impingement of individual freedoms. Some see them as a colossal waste of government resources citing the opinion that the legalization of drugs could produce millions in tax revenues while at the same time putting drug dealers out of business and ensuring quality controls in the production of drugs. Some feel that legalization would reduce overall crime. Some argue that the laws are a form of institutionalized racism designed to keep minorities as a permanent disenfranchised underclass by keeping them in prison, addicted, or completely dependent on government aid. Others take what they view as a humanitarian approach, arguing that certain substances should be made legal for medicinal purposes. Some have chosen to refer to the issue as harm reduction instead of drug legalization in an apparent effort to soften the issue and give it a more humanitarian tone. Still others view the prohibition against drugs as an inherently flawed and impossible strategy that has exacerbated crime and violence and has contributed to a sense of despair and hopelessness for millions of Americans.

It is also interesting to note that the proponents of legalization include supporters from across the political spectrum, from progressives on the far left to libertarians on the far right. Liberal Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel is adamantly opposed to drug legalization, while conservative icon and columnist William F. Buckley has long been a proponent of making drugs legal. Congressman Rangel has referred to legalization as “a very dangerous idea” that should “be put to rest once and for all.”1

Opponents to Legalization

Although it is clear the majority of U.S. citizens are in favor of keeping the use, sale, and possession of drugs illegal, much of the writing from the antilegalization viewpoint comes from law enforcement and government officials. 

....All of whom are highly incentivized to perpetuate current drug policy, with the multi-billion dollar funding and job security it creates.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch once described drug legalization as “the equivalent of extinguishing a fire with napalm.”2 Although many acknowledge that the so-called war on drugs has had mixed success, they believe that the alternative would have catastrophic effects on the nation. 

No one "acknowledges" that prohibition has been a mixed success, they merely believe it has been a mixed success; when in fact it has been a complete failure of vast proportions.

They believe that the legalization of drugs would increase use, lead to more experimentation by youth, and exacerbate the existing deleterious effects that drugs have on society. 

..Though there is absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest anything of the sort; with the only real model to guide us being our own history, specifically the repeal of alcohol prohibition - which failed to yield any significant increase in alcohol use and was in fact followed by a steady reduction in violent crime & poisonings.

They are of the opinion that government subsidization of addicts would have crippling effects on the economy. They also feel that legalization would help to create a large black market for drugs. 

They must be joking right? Legalization would "create" a black market? Again, there is no evidence for this laughable assertion. Is the author actually suggesting that the transfer of drug business from the current black market to a legal commercial market would in fact create a black market?? As if a black market doesn't already exist, as if destroying the current criminal market would create one?? Does anyone see the humor in this? Again, I'll explain it in terms a child can understand - our experience with alcohol prohibition suggests the exact opposite. Increased legal availability and lower profit margins don't create black markets, and it is intellectually dishonest, utterly delusional, to suggest so. Criminalization, increased market risk, decreased availability and increased profits create black markets. It is irrational to believe that legal availability of drugs and transfer of drug markets to commercial channels would create criminal channels, while ignoring the fact that black markets already do exist as a result of prohibition in the first place. The creation of a low price, high supply, legal commercial market for drugs won't create any more of a black market than has been created for coffee beans, alcohol and tobacco.

Antilegalization proponents also point out that drug dealers and hardcore addicts would not suddenly become productive, law-abiding members of society. The antilegalization point of view is that dealers will still be involved in crime and violence and that users will still need to support themselves by engaging in criminal activity. 

Sure. This in fact more likely suggests such criminal drug users and dealers are criminals not because of drugs, but that they use and deal in drugs because they are criminals.

Basically, they believe that the legalization of drugs would lead to increases, not reductions, in crime because there would be more addicts and because of the aforementioned black market. 

They assume there would be more crime based upon their faulty assertion that drugs somehow compel addicts to unthinkingly commit crimes with no real motive (other than to commit crimes simply because they are drug users and are apparently supposed to commit crimes).

Also, opponents of legalization often cite statistics that show that drug prevention initiatives, drug awareness curricula in schools, and drug treatment programs are working. They point to the fact that there are fewer addicts today than there were 20 years ago.

Drugs and Crime

There are two schools of thought on the issue of drug legalization and crime. Do drugs cause crime? Does drug use inevitably lead to crime? If drugs were made legal, would there be less crime? If the government subsidized addicts, would they still engage in criminal conduct? What would happen to drug dealers and drug gangs if drugs were legalized? Although the issue is complex, both groups agree that drugs and crime are inexorably linked.

To claim that drugs and crime are "inexorably linked" is a vague assertion and a clever abuse of language - first off, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that drugs inevitably lead to crime. Important to note is that the simplistic assertion that drugs are responsible for crime rests on a confusion of cause and correllation - i.e. it is just as likely (if not more so) that criminals tend to use 'criminalized drugs' as it is that drugs cause criminality. Many users of illicit substances have criminal histories which preceed their use of or involvement in illicit substances. Though the following has been explained many times; also important to note is that much of the criminal violence which is currently mindlessly and unthinkingly tied with drugs is instead, an unintended consequence of drug criminalization. To conclude, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that illicit drugs and crime are inexorably linked; it is no more likely for illicit drugs (a term which itself is a sweeping generalization by the way) to be responsible for crime than it is for caffeine and nicotine to be responsible for crime. Alcohol, by its very pharmacological nature, may in fact likely be much more conducive to violent or antisocial behavior than many, if not most, currently illicit "hard drugs", including heroin, cocaine and LSD. If one wants to compete seriously in a drugs debate, one should think a bit more critically and speak rationally, rather than regurgitate mindless generalizations and baseless assertions.

Many legalization supporters believe that property crime, particularly burglary, larceny from persons (purse snatchers, chain snatchers, and pickpockets), auto theft, theft from autos, and shoplifting would decrease by 40-50 percent if drugs were made legal. Similarly, many believe that the terms “drug-related murder” and “drive-by shooting” would become outdated once drugs were legalized. In their view, turf wars would be eliminated because there would no longer be a need to fight for one’s turf.

Additionally, there are those who point out that drug enforcement is a waste of valuable law enforcement resources since statistically most drug users do not get caught. Thus, the deterrent effect of criminalization is lost. 

Further suggesting that a vast majority of users manage to consume illicit drugs while living an otherwise law abiding, productive and succesfull life. And also making the "illicit drugs cause users to commit crime" assertion seem all the more nonsensical - if illicit drugs caused crime, wouldn't far more of these users be getting arrested?

Todd Brenner uses the example of marijuana arrests. In 1987 approximately 25 million people in the United States used marijuana, the most easily detectable drug, yet only 378,000 arrests were made; roughly one arrest for every 63 users.3 

(see my point?) 

His point is that the public would be better served if the police targeted crimes in which they had a better success rate. Also, legalization supporters believe that once drugs were legalized, the government could pay less attention to drug-related crime and spend more time and money on treatment, rehabilitation, education, and job training programs. Other benefits cited would be reduced prison populations, more manageable caseloads for judges and attorneys, and better relations between the public and the police. 

Indeed, criminalizing the personal habits of a large portion of the population turns that large portion of the population into criminals and breeds contempt for the rule of law.

Many believe that traditional organized crime would be seriously affected by legalization. Benjamin and Miller write: “The Mafia would not disappear, because organized crime would be able to survive on other criminal activities, such as loan sharking, gambling, prostitution, and child pornography. But drug legalization would remove the backbone of organized crime’s profits, causing it to diminish in importance.”4

Our best evidence and data regarding illicit drugs and organized crime lies in our history with alcohol prohibition; and more recently, the success of mass decriminalization in Portugal.

Opponents to legalization obviously do not see legalization as a panacea that will make crime go away. 

Which is not even an argument for keeping these drugs illegal; unless we live under a twisted social contract by which all things remains criminal by default and only become our rights once they can be proven to reduce crime or save money...

They see a clear connection between drug use and crime and, perhaps more importantly, between drug use and violence. 

Joseph Califano, the author and a member of President Johnson’s cabinet, stated: “Drugs like marijuana and cocaine are not dangerous because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are dangerous.”5 

The DEA reports that six times as many homicides are committed by persons under the influence of drugs than those looking for money to buy drugs and that most arrestees for violent crimes test positive for drugs at time of arrest.6 

Speaking to a Congressional subcommittee on drug policy in 1999, Donnie Marshall, then deputy administrator of DEA, spoke of drug use, crime, and violence. He said that there is “a misconception that most drug-related crimes involve people who are looking for money to buy drugs. The fact is that most drug-related crimes are committed by people whose brains have been messed up with mood-altering drugs.”7

Legalization opponents are convinced that the violence caused by drug use “will not magically stop because the drugs are legal. Legal PCP isn’t going to make a person less violent than illegally purchased PCP.”8 

A) I've already addressed the trash logic of the assumption that illicit drugs cause crime and violence. Note that at one time (and perhaps still today) crack cocaine was said to be different from cocaine in that it was highly "criminogenic" (i.e. likely to cause crime) - This is funny, considering that crack cocaine is simply a smokeable form of cocaine which acts in an identical manner on the brain. Nothing about the pharmacological action of snorted powder cocaine or smoked "crack" cocaine triggers a tendency toward violence or crime. However it is important to note that crack cocaine has been particularly popular almost exclusively within the inner city, poor, minority community since its introduction to the market in the 1980's - due to its cheap price. Therefore, with its popularity in high crime subcultures, it makes sense that law enforcement would encounter far more crack users than powder cocaine users, the latter of whom predominantly fall into the wealthy, suburban, low crime demographic - this is a solid commentary on the fundamental confusion of cause and correllation which is common in the prohibitionist talking points.

B) The idea that PCP "makes users violent" was largely a sensationalized creation of the media; dating back decades, to a time that PCP use was actually somewhat common. In terms of its pharmacological action on the brain, there is nothing about PCP that increases a user's propensity for violence; any more so than ketamine or alcohol.

Susan Neiberg Terkel echoes these sentiments by saying that legalizing drugs “cannot change human nature. It cannot improve the social conditions that compel people to engage in crime, nor can it stop people from using drugs as an excuse to be violent.”9 

The belief is that drugs, legal or not, often lead to violence. 

(...This again, is the assumption made only by the observation that many who use drugs commit crimes - a logic by which one could also conclude that being black, being latino, living in the city, or receiving welfare leads to crime. Or perhaps that drinking chocolate milk and eating fried chicken leads to crime.)

Erich Goode, a SUNY professor and a proponent of harm reduction, writes: “It is extremely unlikely that legalization will transform the violent nature of the world of heavy, chronic drug abuse very much. That violence is a part of the way that frequent, heavy drug users live their lives; it is systemic to their subculture.”10

Perhaps it's unintentional, but this seems to further support the fact that illicit drug use is merely one of many cultural attributes of certain criminal and/or inner city subcultures, rather than the cause of such criminality. Illicit drug use may serve as a symptom of a complex pattern of socioeconomic hardship - consisting of factors such as poverty, unemployment, inner city living, gang activity, lack of education and social alienation. Criminals don't commit crimes because of illicit drugs; criminals use illicit drugs because they have little regard for the rule of law. Individuals who have no regard for fundamental laws are not any more likely to honor the laws which dictate their intoxicants of choice - the result; many criminals naturally tend to be users of criminalized drugs, just as the black community tends to like rap music and chicken, and smart people like video games. Would it make sense to assume that rap music and chicken causes one's skin to turn black? Or that video games cause high intelligence?

It is interesting to note that the federal approach to drugs and crime is not solely linked to arrest and incarceration. In Congressional testimony in 1999, Barry McCaffrey, then-director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated: “We cannot arrest our way out of our nation’s drug problem. We need to break the cycle of addiction, crime, and prison through treatment and other diversion programs. Breaking the cycle is not soft on drugs; it is smart on defeating drugs and crime.”11

Apparently, the ONDCP believes that "defeating drugs" consists of coercing illicit drug users into treatment to convince them they have a intractable 'illness' (based solely on the fact that their drug of choice fails to meet the standard of social approval) and are helpless to manage their drug use on their own.

Public Health Concerns

Opponents of legalization seem to be just as committed as the prolegalization lobby. 

(With billions of dollars in police funding, thousands of government jobs, and a gigantic treatment industry - all of which are reliant on drug arrests and human desperation, no one should be the least bit surprised of their commitment to keeping these drugs illegal.) 

They believe that the legalization of drugs would have devastating effects on public health, the economy, quality of life, American culture, and society as a whole.

This is a baseless assertion based on no meaningful evidence whatsoever. Considering that a major portion of the current adverse effect on public health is either created by, or excacerbated by, drug criminalization - This criminalization has led to the following: a massive increase in HIV, hepatitis and other such infectious disease; widespread drug contamination and impurity; a major lack of drug education and pharmacological literacy among users; and dangerous fluctuations in potency which compounds the risk of overdose or death.

The advocacy group Drug Watch International points out that drugs are illegal “because of their intoxicating effect on the brain, damaging impact on the body, adverse impact on behavior, and potential for abuse. Their use threatens the health, welfare, and safety of all people, of users and nonusers alike.”12 Legalization advocates contend that the same statement could be made about alcohol.

When one examines these drugs scientifically, from a pharmacological and medical standpoint, the actual physiological hazards posed by such drugs are completely inconsistent with popular 'knowledge'. Few illicit drugs share alcohol's level of physiological danger. And few illicit drugs share alcohol's level of toxicity. From a standpoint of user health and physiological impact; the actual danger of even most so-called "hard drugs" is no where near what popular knowledge insists. Heroin for instance, when used wisely is far less toxic than alcohol and closer in this respect to caffeine, and like other opium derivatives, does not cause damage to the organ systems or nerves, whether used daily for a week or a lifetime. It has no measurable impact on psychomotor & cognitive performance. Marijuana is less toxic than potatoes; there is not a single documented case of marijuana overdose death. LSD and psilocybin are minimally toxic and are directly responsible for few if any actual overdose deaths.

Toxicity and safety however is beside the point. Physiological harm is no grounds for criminal laws against the use of a particular drug. Consenting adults have every right under natural law (as well as traditional constitutional law) to destroy their health with any drug they see fit. Our society and our constitution was based upon the libertarian philosophy that individual liberty takes precedence over all else where it pertains to our laws. Our government may create laws only which restrict an individuals from harming other individuals (by depriving them of life, liberty, or property) - A responsible adult's private use of drugs does not harm others, and the vague 'potential' for harm to others arising from poor decisions (i.e. driving intoxicated) still fails to justify prohibition - "punish the crime, not the personal habits". The sacred protection of individual liberty additionally ensures to protect the individual from "tyranny of the majority" - put simply; unless preventing mutual harm, a majority of the population cannot pass a law restricting the liberty of a minority (or the individual); in other words, the fact that a majority of americans do not approve of legalization means absolutely nothing.

William J. Bennett, former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, responds to that claim, arguing “that legalized alcohol, which is responsible for some 100,000 deaths a year, is hardly the model for drug policy. As Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, the question is not which is worse, alcohol or drugs. The question is, can we accept both legalized alcohol and legalized drugs? The answer is No.”13 
Morton M. Kondracke of the New Republic magazine discusses another comparison between drugs and alcohol: “Of the 115 million Americans who consume alcohol, 85 percent rarely become intoxicated; with drugs, intoxication is the whole idea.”14

Let me interject by pointing out that there is no definitive or meaningful line between the states of "intoxication" and sobriety - the effects of all drugs (including the toxic drug alcohol) occur on a spectrum, in which there is no black and white contrast between sobriety and non sobriety. The aforementioned statement therefore makes no sense and holds no ground.

Legalization opponents believe that our already burdened health care industry would be overwhelmed if drugs were legal. This would come in the form of direct results of drug use (more overdoses, more AIDS patients, and more illness stemming from addiction) and indirect results of drugs (more injuries due to drug-related violence, accidents, and workplace incidents. 

Suggesting that repealing criminalization would lead to increases in AIDS and infectious disease is beyond ignorant; considering diseases spread through sharing equipment - such as HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis - have increased to epidemic proportions in large part due to a lack of education, drug impurities, scarcity of needles, and other prohibitionist policies.

They also believe that legalization would increase the number of emergency room visits, ambulance calls, and fire and police responses. The ONDCP reports that in 2002 direct health care costs attributable to illegal drug abuse were $52 billion.15

With no evidence to suggest an increase in disease, crime, or violence, such concern over ER visits and emergency calls makes little sense. Were this not a ridiculous assertion based on no evidence whatsoever; the argument still holds no ground - there is no justification for keeping these drugs illegal based on concerns over workload for public services.

In addition, legalization opponents disagree with legalization advocates regarding whether legalization would increase drug use. Legalization opponents believe that drug use would increase dramatically if drugs were made legal and easy to obtain. 

William J. Bennett uses the example of crack cocaine. He writes: “When powder cocaine was expensive and hard to get, it was found almost exclusively in the circles of the rich, the famous, or the privileged. Only when cocaine was dumped into the country, and a $3 vial of crack could be bought on street corners, did we see cocaine use skyrocket —this time largely among the poor and disadvantaged.”16 

The DEA also takes issue with the legalization lobby on the link between easier access to drugs and an increase in addiction from a humanitarian standpoint: “The question isn’t whether legalization will increase addiction levels —it will—it’s whether we care or not. The compassionate response is to do everything possible to prevent the destruction of addiction, not make it easier.”17

Drugs Tied to Terrorism

In the aftermath of September 11, it was evident that enormous amounts of money were part of a global terrorist network. Much of this money was hidden in ostensibly legal outlets, primarily banks, investments, and charitable organizations. They were correctly targeted by law enforcement agencies and, in many cases, frozen; thereby denying terrorists access to the money. Many experts believe that terrorists are now using narcotics trafficking to fund their activities. Although much of this activity seems to be centered in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region (sometimes referred to as the Golden Crescent in law enforcement circles), all international narcotics investigations now have to add terrorism to their list of concerns. Legalization would only exacerbate this problem and put more money into the terrorists’ bank accounts.

The DEA has identified links between drug suppliers and terrorism. Their investigations, again primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have shown connections among traffickers in heroin and hashish, money launderers, and al Qaeda members. They also suspect a drug-related connection involving al Qaeda and the train bombings in Madrid. According to DEA, “The bombers swapped hashish and ecstasy for the 440 pounds of dynamite used in the blasts, which killed 191 people and injured more than 1,400 others. Money from the drugs also paid for an apartment hideout, a car, and the cell phones used to detonate the bombs.”18\

The last statement is a flat out lie. There is no evidence to support such an assertion and again, our history shows that drug prohibition causes a massive increase in drug price & profit and incentivizes criminal organizations to take over the criminal drug market. Were it not for international drug laws, drug markets would no different than any other market; drugs would have no more of a link to terrorist organizations than alcohol, coffee, or tobacco products do today. There is nothing inherent in the nature of illicit narcotics that appeals to terrorists or criminals. Drugs are commodities for sale; only the insatiable, unfed demand and the massive profits. The product itself is immaterial.

The only conceivable purpose of this outright propaganda is to establish an association between illicit drugs and "terror" - in the mind of the commonfolk. However this association is nothing more than symbolic, superficial, hyperbolic.

Economy Issues

Legalization advocates claim that if drugs are legal it will be a financial windfall for the American economy. They believe that all the public funds now wasted on the enforcement of drug laws and related matters could then be used for the good of society in areas such as education, health care, infrastructure, and social services. As mentioned earlier, some believe that drugs could eventually be taxed and thus create much-needed revenue. The DEA’s response is: “Ask legalization proponents if the alleged profits from drug legalization would be enough to pay for the increased fetal defects, loss of workplace productivity, increased traffic fatalities and industrial accidents, increased domestic violence and the myriad other problems that would not only be high-cost items but extremely expensive in terms of social decay.”19 

The flaw in this argument is the underlying tinge of socialism which dictates that society pay for the medical care of uninsured drug users. The welfare state has complicated the very fabric of america's socioeconomic structure. This is antithetical to the traditional principles of liberty & personal responsibility upon which our system was built. This aside however, the idea that healthcare expenses & insurance claims will increase proceeding legalization is dependent upon the assumption that legalization would lead to increased drug use and increased drug-related dangers; which makes little sense considering the fact that a) a major portion of drug-related health costs are direct or indirect consequences of the current system in place (i.e. prohibition), b) the complete lack of evidence suggesting legalization would meaningfully increase drug use and addiction rates, and c) the likely decrease in "addiction-treatment" demands due in part to fewer court-mandated rehab referalls and also in part to dependent users being relieved of the current burdens of maintaining an illegal drug habit - which in many cases compels users to seek treatments, including maintenance programs.

Medical Marijuana 

The antilegalization point of view rejecting the use of marijuana to ease the pain of those suffering from a variety of illnesses and conditions may appear harsh and insensitive. Their view is that there are safer, more effective drugs currently available and that there is therefore no need to rely on medicinal marijuana. The DEA states that the “clear weight of the evidence is that smoked marijuana is harmful. No matter what medical condition has been studied, other drugs have been shown to be more effective in promoting health than smoked marijuana.”20

Saturated fats are harmful as well. Using tanning beds is harmful. Smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor is harmful, just as aspirin and ibuprofen are harmful. 

They also believe that many proponents of the use of medicinal marijuana are disingenuous, exploiting the sick in order to win a victory in their overall fight to legalize drugs. They point to studies that show that marijuana smoke contains hundreds of toxins, similar to cigarettes, and that prolonged use can lead to serious lung damage. 

Does it matter whether or not marijuana advocates are disingenuous? Unfortunately, because the idea of taking (certain) drugs for pleasure or self-medication has been demonized by puritan fanatics, smokescreens such as the medicinal marijuana phenomenon are necessarry in order for drug policy reform to have even a chance of gaining any respectable attention.

This, they feel, can only exacerbate existing health problems, especially for people with compromised immune systems. The DEA cites the fact that marijuana has been rejected as medicine by the American Medical Association, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, and the American Cancer Society.21

Should this even be taken seriously? Out of all the widely used LEGAL foods and drugs, law enforcement and doctors are concerned about the toxicity of marijuana? Such an argument reflects the utter desperation of prohibitionists in modern time. As science continues to advance our knowledge, I suspect that all of the drug-demonology and voodoo pharmacology of the half-witted fanatical prohibitionist will become less and less popular. 

There is no question as to whether marijuana has medicinal benefits. It does. But whether or not it possesses such benefits and whether or not it is actually used for these benefits is immaterial to the debate once you consider prohibition from a human rights & privacy perspective (not to mention, a constitutional perspective, or a utilitarian perspective). Adults have every right to use marijuana just as they have every right to use heroin and cocaine as long as they do not deprive another individual of life, liberty, or property.

Harm Reduction

The term “harm reduction” is anathema to the antilegalization lobby. They believe that “harm reduction, a cover-all term coined by the legalizers, is a euphemism encompassing legalization and liberalized drug policy, and can best be defined as ‘a variety of strategies for making illicit drug use safer and cheaper for drug users, at the expense of the rest of society, regardless of cost.’”22 

The passion surrounding the issue of harm reduction is illustrated by Drug Watch International: “Harm reduction abandons attempts to free current drug users and encourages future generations to try drugs. 
It asserts that drug use is natural and necessary. 

Rather than preventing harm and drug use, harm reduction feebly attempts to reduce the misery level for addicts. Harm reduction forsakes a portion of the population, often the poor and minorities, to lifetime abuse of drugs.”23

Opponents of harm reduction see it as a very dangerous message. They complain that, instead of addressing and eventually eliminating the problems of addiction, harm reduction creates a situation that prolongs the agony of the addicted, their families and their community.

Study after study has clearly shown the efficacy of these policies in reducing illness, promoting health, and saving lives. Meanwhile, it is ever more clear that repressive, idealistic drug policies have fueled infectious disease, spawned violent crime and have harmed millions of individuals worldwide. The very fact that prohibitionists would rather pursue idealistic policies which demonstrably undermine public health, breed ignorance and create crime rather than allow adults to live out their personal lives in a safe, informed, and hygeinic manner - should further undermine the legitimacy of their arguments and make many reconsider just whose interests & well being these fanatical zealots are concerned with..

No one should be fooled. The prohibitionist lobby and its messengers have no regard for the health and well being of americans; drug users or non drug users. The prohibitionist lobby is concerned only with their own political power and social control, and the financial interests of themselves & their industries.

Public Reaction

A 1998 poll by the Family Research Council showed that eight out of 10 responders rejected the legalization of cocaine and heroin. The same poll asked whether they would support making these drugs legal in a manner similar to alcohol; 82 percent responded “No.” 

A 1999 Gallup poll revealed that 69 percent of Americans are against the legalization of marijuana. In addition, another Gallup poll showed that 72 percent were in favor of drug testing in the workplace.

However, one of the better indicators of the public’s disdain for drugs is the fact that an estimated 50 million Americans who have used drugs in their youth have now rejected them.24

The U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) reveals some additional alarming statistics. In 2002 an estimated 35.1 million people aged 12 or older reported using an illegal drug within the past year; approximately 3.2 million people were drug-dependent or drug abusers.25 Based on this set of figures, there is still a significant demand for drugs in America and multitudes willing to supply the drugs. It is this demand for drugs that is at the heart of the issue. Speaking from a law enforcement perspective, it is clear that we can make millions of drug arrests, but if we don’t address the demand side of the problem, the best we can hope for is maintenance of the status quo.

Progress in this regard has been achieved and considerable inroads have been made through years of proactive prevention and education efforts. By 1999 the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that drug use in America had been cut in half and cocaine use was reduced by 75 percent.26 Nevertheless, in spite of these promising statistics, the across-the-board nature of the drug problem in America indicates that we are far from declaring victory.

How is public opinion relevant where it pertains to how adults live out their private lives and which substances they consume? It is not. To assert that democratic "mob rule" of a statistical majority can void the rights of an individual or minority is antithetical to the american principle of individual liberty (which by constitutional doctrine, takes precedence over popular discource). The very notion that the intellectual birthrights of adult individuals could be challenged by popular vote is frightening.

Speaking Out

The process of completing this project has led to a reexamination of my personal opinions and values on the issue of drug legalization. I assume that it is normal to be introspective when exploring both sides of a broad and complex problem. As a parent, a citizen, and a law enforcement official, I am clearly a stakeholder in this issue. I was concerned that my views in light of my police background would make me sound like an ideologue. As a public administrator, I hope that I reinforced my opinions against the legalization of drugs with sound logic and analysis.

My research allowed me to see the issue from a broader outlook. I now understand the pro-legalization viewpoint much better. Although I am still strongly opposed to the notion of drug legalization, I realize that, for the most part, they are Americans, from a broad field, who are truly committed to a cause in which they believe. Although they are pursuing a course that is dangerous for America, I respect their passion and edication. But they are woefully wrong on this issue.

I encourage police executives to speak out against drug legalization, and I hope the information in this article has provided some of the resources they need as they prepare to make these speeches.

This entire guide heavily consists of speculation and assertion disguised as science - much in the form of quotes from so-called "experts". The arguments herein rely largely on statistical manipulation, fearmongering, hyperbolic language and mindless catch phrases and punchlines.

My case for today is closed.

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