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The war on drugs needs a timeout

In the Christian Science Monitor former Colombian Senator and Defense Minister Rafael Pardo and Professor Juan Gabriel Tokatlian (from Argentina) call for a timeout.

Before Washington ramps up yet another losing war on drugs, it should take a clear-eyed look at how its current strategies are affecting the supply and demand of drugs. Congressman Eliot Engel (D) of New York has introduced a bill to do just that.

Washington would be wise to back Congressman Engel’s initiative because there has not been a thorough, frank evaluation of the fight against drugs in decades. The drug czar office’s annual report is not enough. Recommendations by an independent commission, however, could generate the consensus and strategy we sorely need.

A commission. What a great idea. If only Nixon had asked for a commission to study the issue before ramping up the war on drugs way back then… Oh, right.

It’s a good recommendation, even though Engel doesn’t have the guts to let the commission form honestly.

Let me be absolutely clear that this bill has not been introduced to support the legalization of illegal drugs. That is not something that I would like to see, nor is it my intent to have the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission come to that conclusion.

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9 comments to The war on drugs needs a timeout

  • Does it really matter? Only perjured testimony will be allowed at such a “commission” anyway. The whole war on drugs is built on the perjured testimony of Harry J. Anslinger practically a century ago. He knew it was perjury and Congress knew it was perjury. It’s what they demanded.

    The bottom line is that the only reasonable, fact-based conclusion any panel reviewing our drug policy could conclude is that prohibition must end. However, we all know that such a conclusion would NEVER be permitted. All testimony before any commission will be pre-screened and vetted. Some witnesses will say we need to spend more money on incarceration, and others will say we need to spend more money on education, and some might even say we need to spend more money on medical treatment (by “more money” that doesn’t mean at the exclusion of funds from any other existing anti-drug program… it literally means more money), but NOBODY will testify that prohibition needs to end. As such, all the testimony will be perjury. And perjury supported by perjury. Yet just like we have the “drug exceptions” to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, we also have a “drug exception” to our perjury laws. It’s okay to knowingly testify falsely in support of the drug war and maintaining/enforcing drug prohibition. Plus even if there were no such perjury exception, no prosecutor would ever bring perjury charges against someone for providing such false testimony.

    So, for these reasons I oppose any “commissions” … and as you point out, Engel specifically stated what type of testimony will not be allowed before the commission (can you name any other commission that’s been formed with a policy agenda at the outset?).

  • Kozmo

    Exactly Bruce. If the “commission” has already excluded possible conclusions, then whats the point. If the evidence is studied by any reasonable commission then there is only one reality based conclusion. End the freaking war.

  • ezrydn

    He’s calling for a committee to do “what he wants” and not look for the truth. So, Mr. Engel, what do you do if and when your comission bumps into the truth? If the commission does NOT come back with the truth, can we deduct their commission costs from your paycheck, Mr. Engel?

  • History is full of commissions that were supposed to come up with one conclusion and did the opposite. It would all depend on the makeup of the commission. If it’s balanced, and not completely stacked full of prohibitionists, I think we’d see another Shafer Commission-style conclusion.

  • truthtechnician

    The war on drugs doesn’t need a timeout, it needs to end. This commission will be ignored just like the Shafer commission. If it even happens…

  • Pete: not really. Maybe the people watching the commission on TV at home came away with the opposite conclusion they were “supposed” to get, which is always contained in the commission’s final report. The one thing everyone agrees with in DC is that drugs cannot be legalized, and it doesn’t matter what the evidence shows. But they won’t allow such evidence to be shown in the first place, it will be screened and vetted and nobody will be allowed to testify in favor of legalization. Plus, in today’s America it’s impossible to argue against “the children” … so fundamental rights, infinite wasting of money, failed policy, increases in crime, increases in incarceration… all those things don’t matter because it’s taken as an absolute truth that if drugs are legalized, more children will be harmed. And it could be YOUR child! Boogedyboogedy!

    We need to somehow ban the use of the “children” red herring in public discourse. I’ve often said, flying in the face of political correctness, that all this “for the children” crap started once women got the vote and the maternal instinct was forever injected into public policy as 50% of voters suddenly began to vote by using their vaginas instead of their heads… so whoever talks about protecting “the children” the most wins. No, I’m not saying we should take away women’s right to vote. Too late for that. I just think we should recognize this serious negative externality of expanding the right to vote. Even good things can have some negative consequences.

  • Buc

    Eliot Engel is just coming up with legislation to counter Jim Webb’s.

    The findings, by a group of avid prohibitionists, will conclude that more education, more treatment and more enforcement are needed and that current efforts are just not getting anything done.

    Well, they would at least be half right.

  • The one thing everyone agrees with in DC is that drugs cannot be legalized, and it doesn’t matter what the evidence shows. -BruceM

    Exactly. The end of the drug war is nowhere in sight. It’s been getting worse steadily since it began. It’s bigger today than ever before.

    As long as Democrats and Republicans have any vestige of power it won’t happen. Discussion isn’t even allowed to happen. Libertarians are considered fringe elements of society.

  • Yep, and it’s because everyone has figured out how to profit off of drug prohibition. Even the ‘criminal’ drug producers wouldn’t want their product to be legalized. They’d be put out of business by big pharma. And big pharma is already selling the drugs legally for billions. The cops get their shiny badges, guns, and forfeiture money, the racists are happy that all the poor dark skinned people/minorities are locked up in prison. The prisons are thrilled that they’re making so much money (privately owned prisons are such a classic product of the drug war it’s sickening). And everyone gets to feel good about themselves because they’re “protecting the children.”

    Meanwhile, it’s completely bankrupted America – financially and morally. It will be interesting to see if drug prohibition can last past the fall of America (only a few years away). Once the federal government is officially bankrupt and once China stops buying our debt, it’s over. Will other countries do the rational thing and legalize drugs, since there is no more America to suck up to in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid? I’m sure Mexico will come to its senses the day after Washington collapses. It’ll be interesting to watch.