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The lazy dishonesty of the ONDCP

Rafael Lemaitre, Communications Director for the Drug Czar’s office, made this post recently: Drug Laws: Why Do We Have them, and Do They Work?

For an office that claims to want to follow science, they go out of their way to bend not only science to fit their ideology, but language as well.

Here’s how it starts:

It’s a question often raised in today’s heated discussion about the efficacy of drug policy in America: Do regulations outlawing certain drugs actually work?

Right off the bat, he tries to bend language to his purpose. Let’s be clear here. If they’re outlawing drugs, then these are laws, not regulations. I know the ONDCP doesn’t like talking about “prohibition,” but that’s what these laws are. One of the major points about drug policy reform is that outlawed drugs are not regulated at all, but turned over to the black market to distribute. We want appropriate regulations. The Drug Czar does not.

Let’s go to the data. Here’s what the Nation’s largest, longest-running, and most comprehensive source on the state of drug use in America shows:

Number of Current Users

As you can see, the use of legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco far outpaces the use of illegal drugs. It is clear, then, that laws discouraging drug use do have an effect in keeping rates relatively low compared to rates for other drugs that are legal and therefore more available. Even beyond this one-year snapshot, we know that significant progress has been made in the long term. Since 1979, there has been a roughly 30 percent decline in the overall use of illicit drugs in America.

“… laws discouraging drug use…”? Really? So SWAT teams that shoot your dog and your kid are just your way of wagging your finger and saying “tisk, tisk”? Why are you so afraid of the language?

We have done a great job of discouraging tobacco use, through regulation, education, and societal disfavor. That would be an appropriate use of the word “discouraging.”

But of course this chart says absolutely nothing about the effect of laws on the use of different drugs. Science would tell you that there are a host of different factors that can affect usage. And science will also tell you that worldwide, there is very little evidence that increased enforcement of prohibition laws has significant effect on use, and even less evidence that it has a positive effect on abuse (Note, of course, that as part of Lemaitre’s sloppy abuse of language, he seems to see no distinction between use and abuse.)

There is, on the other hand, plenty of scientific evidence to show that increases in drug law enforcement result in an increase in criminal violence, something the Drug Czar’s office isn’t keen to discuss.

So our challenge is not that we’re powerless against the problem of substance use in America.

What problem of substance use? Substance use is not a problem. Or are you claiming that all the people in your chart who drink wine with dinner are a problem to be dealt with? Substance abuse is the problem.

The challenge is that rates of drug use – a behavior that harms too many of our fellow citizens — are still too high.

Again, the rates of drug use are not a problem.

That’s why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy supports innovative and proven programs that aim to reduce drug use and its consequences through a combination of public health and public safety interventions.

And just what are the consequences of responsible drug use?

It boils down to simple arithmetic: The more Americans use drugs, the higher the health, safety, productivity, and criminal justice costs we all have to bear.

That’s not simple arithmetic, it’s not science, and it’s just not true.

And if sensible drug laws (in combination with a wide array of prevention, treatment, and other health interventions, of course) help keep those numbers down, then the answer is yes, they are working.

If we had sensible drug laws, we probably wouldn’t care so much about your dishonesty.

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19 comments to The lazy dishonesty of the ONDCP

  • Servetus

    Compared to “Any Illicit Drug*”, as if nerve gas were available, I’d find some sarin and huff it.

    If the control freaks have no one left to control, they risk controlling themselves, and they don’t want that because they know how bad it sucks.

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  • strayan

    Imagine for a moment that non-American car makers were forbiddden from advertising their cars on TV etc and you had to pay several enormous taxes if you wanted to buy one.

    Would anyone be shocked that people were more likely to drive American made cars?

    I doubt it.

    Would anyone have trouble figuring out why people were more likely to buy American cars?

    The idiots at the ONDCP would.

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  • If one views the idea that “the problem of substance use in America” is not being promoted as a mistaken idea at all, but a purposeful one, a different picture can be painted. One of an imposing government being guided by self serving control freaks who want to have controlling influence over anyone who uses ANY substance at all. Medications, all substances. Control over whatever goes into your body.

    Control also over what is not being controlled.

    Purposefully not controlling any area of drugs then is a politically motivated act. The purposeful creation of a black market is then more of a war crime than a stupid act.

    The ONDCP is overstepping its boundaries by saying it has none.

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    • By admitting control over “substance use in America”, ONDCP has also indirectly taken responsibility for the creation of a black market in America and the creation of prohibition itself.

      I say we hold it accountable for such unrestrained boundaries by placing the blame for the drug war and all its ramifications directly on them.

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  • “We arrest about 2.4 million people in this country a year for alcohol. We arrest less than 700,000 people for marijuana—and for all drugs, only 1.3 million. Alcohol is perfectly legal. So making drugs available without any sanction would only lead to more abuse.” – Gil Kerlikowske

    http://tinyurl.com/cv9xset

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  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    It’s been too darn long since I’ve thought about that classic quote made by Humpty Dumpty. ONDCPspeak really isn’t anything new. Lewis Carroll never knew Rafael Lemaitre existed. Or vice versa for that matter.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master that’s all.”

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

    But I must vehemently disagree that the people who produce bullshit for the ONDCP are lazy. It’s obvious to me that they work very diligently to produce such an elite level of dishonesty. People with talent just make it look easy. Though sometimes I wonder if they use PEDs. Legal ones of course.

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    • claygooding

      They sit around,just like we do,and try different phrasings,twisting statistics to get the most threatening and cherry picking research for their “scientific” research quotes. But it has a problem,,most of their propaganda is spoken by a person that was not privy to how they arrived at their claims of harm or dangers so the speaker has no depth on any of their hyperbole claims,,they only learn the rote and have no idea how to defend their position,,you see it time and again when arguing with prohibs at article postings,make them try to give evidence and they go back into the rote information they read or start calling you names.

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  • claygooding

    A preacher once asked me if I wanted to go to heaven or hell,,i thought for a second and told him hell.
    Why,he gasped.
    Because I would rather be in hell with my friends than in heaven with a bunch of people I don’t know,,,,welcome to hell.

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  • Servetus

    Sometimes things don’t go better with Coke.

    A woman in New Zealand has died from what her doctor is calling an excessive consumption of Coca-Cola .

    Her family said she had developed an addiction to Coca-Cola and would get withdrawal symptoms, including “the shakes”, if she went without her favourite drink.

    “(She would) go crazy if she ran out… she would get the shakes, withdrawal symptoms, be angry, on edge and snappy,” her mother-in-law Vivien Hodgkinson told the coroner’s inquest last year.

    Ms Harris drank Coke throughout her waking hours and her teeth had been removed because of decay.

    The fact that one or more of her children were born without enamel on their teeth should have been treated by her, and by her family, as a warning”

    Coroner David Crerar said her Coca-Cola consumption had given rise to cardiac arrhythmia, a condition when the heart beats too fast or too slow.

    “I find that when all the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died,” Mr Crerar’s finding said.

    The coroner calculated that drinking 10 litres (17.5 pints) of Coke amounted to more than 1kg (2.2lb) of sugar and 970mg of caffeine, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) reports.

    So the official fatality score is now Coca-Cola: 1; Marijuana: 0.

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  • primus

    Back in the day, when the king was the boss, if one of his minions had lied to him, said minion would have immediately found himself hurtling headfirst into a deep well. The lies were seen as treason, because they misled the king, reduced his effectiveness and increasing the chances of overthrow. We live in democracies, where the bosses are ‘demos’ the people. We are the bosses. The politicians and bureaucrats are the minions. When they lie or misinform us (the bosses), they are likewise committing treason and should likewise be thrown down a well. The first few will be noticed by the others, and the lies will diminish dramatically.

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  • Cliff

    When they lie or misinform us (the bosses), they are likewise committing treason and should likewise be thrown down a well. The first few will be noticed by the others, and the lies will diminish dramatically.

    A few of them being drawn and quartered or tarred and feathered and rolled out of town on a rail while being pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables would also get some immediate attention.

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  • “It is clear, then, that laws discouraging drug use do have an effect in keeping rates relatively low compared to rates for other drugs that are legal and therefore more available.”

    Or…

    Demand for illicit drugs is naturally lower regardless of legality.

    Prohibitionists treat drugs like viruses. The easier the drug availability, the more people become victimized by that “virus” regardless of desire.

    Science firmly concludes drugs are not viruses. Drugs conform to the laws of supply and demand (Economics 101) like any other product.

    The fact is some activities (e.g. scuba diving) are enjoyed by the minority of people, despite their legality, because most people do not benefit from them.

    The same holds true for recreational drug use. Alcohol levels are relatively very high, because alcohol often is casually consumed at dinner time. LSD-25 and even the highly popular cannabis are not. Tobacco has a 32% dependency rate, much higher than cannabis’ 9% and even heroin’s 23%, according to “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base” (commissioned and unethically ignored by the prohibitionist ONDCP). Therefore, tobacco use is going to be naturally higher than illicit drugs.

    So no, prohibitionists, your annual survey of roughly 70,000 people does not clearly confirm your rights-infringing, risk-based laws achieve your questionable goals.

    Market saturation is the right conclusion, proven by comparing usage rates with other nations without prohibition (e.g. The Netherlands where cannabis is not prohibited at the consumer level, yet has comparable usage rates with the U.S.)

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    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      Haven’t you heard that Holland is getting ready to go back to full criminalization? They’ve been on the verge of doing so since at least 1990! I recall how sad I was when I heard the news back then. Any day now…

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  • CJ

    lol he said “innovative and proven” aren’t innovations new things, unique or previously unseen things? Aren’t some innovations unsuccessful as well?

    also our friend Opiophile/More Pheen/etc. recently wrote about the idea of ‘drug abuse’ and how, technically it is impossible/how there’s no such thing as drug abuse. If he’s reading this – Hey man, you should share that here!

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