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Drug Enforcement, Gateway to Violence

When the preliminary results of this study came out a while back, it was mentioned here, but now it’s out, it’s official, and it’s an AP story and in the Washington Post:

Study links drug enforcement to more violence

A systematic review published Tuesday of more than 300 international studies dating back 20 years found that when police crack down on drug users and dealers, the result is almost always an increase in violence, say researchers at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, a nonprofit group based in Britain and Canada.

When communities get tough on drug crime, that drives up the black market profits, prompting fierce battles to control the lucrative trade, their study says. And when powerful and successful drug bosses are taken out, it’s all too common for more brutal and less sophisticated criminals to step in.

“Law enforcement is the biggest single expenditure on drugs, yet has rarely been evaluated. This work indicates an urgent need to shift resources from counterproductive law enforcement to a health-based public health approach,” said Gerry Stimson

Now there is a clear, plain, easy to read and understand, factual imperative for us to re-think using law enforcement in drug policy.

I hope this gets spread in a major way by the AP, because it’s likely to start up some interesting conversations.

Our current drug czar followed his usual pathetic script:

U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, asked about the findings, said the U.S. government is shifting its emphasis toward prevention and treatment of drug abuse, but he said the prohibition on drugs must remain and enforcement must continue.

By that, of course, he means that the budget shows a 6.5% increase in treatment, but also an increase in enforcement, and by the time Congress is done with it, the ratio will be no different than before, and we’ll still have 2/3 of the budget on supply side.

He continued:

“I don’t know of any reason that legalizing something that essentially is bad for you would make it better, from a fiscal standpoint or a public health standpoint or a public safety standpoint,” he said.

Really? Are you deaf? Are you blind? Have you read nothing that drug policy reformers have written? Boy, you really just go around and tell people all the time that you’re stupid. (“not in my vocabulary,” “don’t know of any reasons,” …)

Here are a few for you (and, of course, everything from Twinkies to jogging is essentially bad for you if abused):

  • Fiscal: Reduction of billions of dollars in enforcement costs that could be spent elsewhere
  • Fiscal: Tax revenues from a legal market
  • Public Health: Fewer overdoses with regulated product.
  • Public Health: Regulated product also means fewer tainted products and standardized dosage for appropriate drugs, which will save lives and reduce health costs.
  • Public Safety: Fewer shoot-outs in the streets
  • Public Safety: Fewer people being processed into the criminal system

Former Drug Czar Walters also stepped in.

The former drug czar, John Walters, said the researchers gravely misinterpret drug violence. He said spikes of attacks and killings after law enforcement crackdowns are almost entirely between criminals, and therefore may, in a horrible, paradoxical way, reflect success.

“They’re shooting each other, and the reason they’re doing that is because they’re getting weaker,” he said.

“Yes, I know your daughter was shot to death by a stray bullet in a drug war shootout, but that’s a good thing. It means the bad guys are getting weaker. With any luck, your entire family will be next, and then we’ll know we really have them on the ropes.”

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20 comments to Drug Enforcement, Gateway to Violence

  • Dante

    I KNEW IT!!!!

    “A systematic review published Tuesday of more than 300 international studies dating back 20 years found that when police crack down on drug users and dealers, the result is almost always an increase in violence”

    So the folks who swear an oath on the bible to protect and serve are actually Public Enemy #1, and they cost an arm and a leg (not to mention a Labrador). They are the real terrorists.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  • chris

    I don’t know how much clearer this could be. We now have a report that backs up the claim that supply side enforcement directly leads to violence. I hope this gets brought up at the next committee meeting about gil’s budget.

  • birkenfeldt

    Why do the media even bother to ask the Czar? They already know his opinion what he is required by law to say.

  • Melfranks

    I’m simply left speechless reading Walters comments.
    Is it possible that the disconnect and delusion he suffers from is really that pronounced?

  • warren

    This john walters is the most ignorant excuse for a person I`ve ever heard.His mind is so closed how can he learn.

  • Railing against Kerlikowske and Walters is wasted energy. This fish stinks from the head down – and this fish swims inside the Oval Office.

    Drug policy reform leaders are far too deferential to Obama, enamored as they are with some vague hope Obama will bring change in his second term. Such thinking suggests they believe drug policy reform isn’t all that important – he’s got too much on his plate right now! – and assumes Obama will win a second term, which, at this point in time, is far from a good bet.

    Gay rights activists got national attention recently for disrupting an Obama speech with shout outs about ending “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” forcing Obama to go off prompter and emphatically say “We’re gonna do that!” It may prove, once again, to be simply lip-service, but at least he was forced to put his lips around it.

    The only way we can force Obama to put his lips around drug policy reform is to shove it in his face. Ethan et al. need to take off the gloves.

  • Just me

    Hello people! Since when does ANY governement entity of office have the pubblics interests at heart? Government is a cancer that infects any one that touches it. Gil used to have a different stance on the druyg war……what happened? He joined public enemy No.1….

    Some like Walters were corrupt bastards to begin with. You can point at the sky and show them its blue and they will tell you its not, its black and they will make a law statingit is and make it so that can never be changed.

    Maybe my POV it just off but , it seems government is there for its self severing existance.

    Our streets should be beautiful ,citizens happy , our society well funded, our country enjoyable from sea to shining sea with all the labor(taxes, which =your life spent) we as a people put out. Why isnt it? Why are our cities in the red, our politicians corrupt? Greed of government and war.

    Isnt it time to stop these wars and do what is right by the people of this country?

  • Bernanke Warns on Need to Reduce US Deficit, Potential Damage

    Bernanke said he could not pinpoint “the threshold at which government debt begins to endanger prosperity and economic stability,” but said “given the significant costs and risks associated with a rapidly rising federal debt, our nation should soon put in place a credible plan for reducing deficits to sustainable levels over time.”

    He warned that postponing difficult choices and failing to put the nations finances on a sustainable long-run trajectory “would ultimately do great damage to our economy.”

  • Servetus

    John Walters’ drug policy is purely ethnocentric. To the former Czar Walters, drug users and sellers are the outgroup, the enemy. The enemy must be destroyed, even if the effort causes collateral damage to just about everyone and everything the elimination process touches.

    We’ve seen evil little clowns like Walters a thousand times before, and the trails of blood and grief they leave behind. They never feel guilty about the victims they create, even as they retire into ignominy.

    Can there be any doubt by now why the Bolsheviks shot Czar Nicholas II ?

  • Hope

    With this modus operandi, the government will be telling us when the oil spill reaches the beaches… it will be getting better… because it’s getting worse.

    Up is down and right is wrong, and when the drug war causes even more violence and death… it’s getting better because that means we’re “winning” the drug war.

    When the oil reaches the beaches, that will be better because it means the well is emptying and getting soaked into the beaches?

  • kaptinemo

    I really cannot add much to the discussion this time, as most of the relevant points have already been made. This just illustrates how completely out-to-sea the prohibs are when an increase in carnage (and ‘collateral damage’!) is seen as ‘success’.

    You’d almost think that there’s actually some kind of secret-society death-cult that the top prohib leadership belong to, the way they crow about the loss of life they’ve engendered with their drug prohibition. Sickening…

  • Duncan

    Dammit Pete, you’ve got to stop making sense!

  • ezrydn

    Second Term????

    Somebody’s taking a lot for granted.

  • ezrydn

    I think most of you have heard me mention that I feel very “uneasy” when I travel back into the US. Three or four days is about all I can take before I have to get out and head home. I always have the feeling that you’re either “cop or criminal.” If you’re not one, then you’re automatically considered the other and each can get you killed.

    And this report lends a basis to my feelings. There is foundation and cause for my feelings. Plus, it’s now in printed form. And I thought it was just me. LOL

  • Just me

    Humm EZ sounds like a si fi move ” Stop right there! You know the score pal, if your not cop, your little people!”

    So who can name that movie.

  • kaptinemo

    JustMe, that’s from the 1982 Harrison Ford movie Bladerunner

  • ezrydn

    Notice, in the Washington Post article, there’s no link to the study and instead of using the US as their basis, they elect to bash Mexico/Calderon instead. Like there’s not enough evidence in the US to back up their claims???

  • Just me

    I figured one of ya would get that. First movie I blazed to.

  • denmark

    Nicely put Pete.
    If you’re interested Walter McKay has some suggestions for KerliBoy
    http://wmckay.blogspot.com/
    ————