If not drug legalization, what?

While I was busy with other things last week, I missed the chance to talk about the excellent Leonard Pitts, Jr. column If not drug legalization, what, Mr. President?

The president argued that drug dealers might come to “dominate certain countries if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint.” This dominance, he said, “could be just as corrupting if not more corrupting than the status quo.”

One wonders if the president forgot to engage brain before operating mouth.

Dealers might “dominate certain countries?” Has Obama never heard of Mexico, that country on our southern border where drug dealers operate as a virtual shadow government in some areas? Is he unfamiliar with Colombia — his host nation — where, for years, the government battled a drug cartel brutal and brazen enough to attack the Supreme Court and assassinate the attorney general? That scenario Obama warns against actually came to pass a long time ago.

Similarly, it is a mystery how the manufacture and sale of a legal product could be “just as corrupting if not more corrupting than the status quo.” How could that be, given that there would no longer be a need for drug merchants to bribe judges, politicians and police for protection? What reason is there to believe a legal market in drugs would be any more prone to corruption than the legal markets in cigarettes and alcohol? Or, popcorn and chocolate? […]

The president’s reasoning is about as sturdy as a cardboard box in a monsoon. Even he must know — who can still deny? — that the drug war has failed. […]

Drug legalization is not the answer? OK, Mr. President, fair enough.

What is?

Good stuff, and a good question.

I was reminded about this column today when seeing that the infamous Calvina Faye has a letter responding to the article.

It was pretty eerie, because in the letter Calvina Faye sounds just like the drug czar:

As a drug policy expert, I offer a solution: a comprehensive policy that includes prevention, treatment and viable alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts.

I would think that should give Gil Kerlikowske the willies.

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20 Responses to If not drug legalization, what?

  1. Dante says:

    Calvina Faye says:
    “As a drug policy expert, I offer a solution: a comprehensive policy that includes prevention, treatment and viable alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts.”

    Sigh. Drug courts? And what happens to people who are sent to drug courts? They are given two choices – either stop using drugs or be incarcerated.

    How is that an alternative to what we have now? How is that any different? How does that end the cycle of abject failure of the War on Drugs?

    It doesn’t. But the drug warriors have spoken, and they expect blind obedience when they talk, or else you go to jail. Because that makes the drug warriors feel good about themselves by making others feel pain, and that is really what the War on Drugs is all about.

    Alternatives, indeed.

  2. claygooding says:

    It is all smoke and mirrors to keep things the same. The poor will continue to fill our prisons.

    CONCORD, N.H. — Just one day after Gov. John Lynch pledged to veto a medical marijuana bill citing concerns over proliferation, New Hampshire house lawmakers kept the bill alive by passing an amended version by a veto-proof majority on Wednesday.

    Read more: http://www.wmur.com/news/30958846/detail.html#ixzz1t9iYwOSq

    commented: My question is;With over 70% of American citizens supporting legalization of medical marijuana and over 1/2 of American citizens having access too medical marijuana,, WHY is it still “schedule 1”,,, not every medicine has to be approved by the FDA,,, aspirin has never been approved yet.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      The Michigan Court of Appeals greatly annoyed me within the last two weeks by ruling that the Michigan medicinal cannabis patient protection law doesn’t protect patients from Michigan’s zero intelligence DUI-m law. Not because I think they’re ruling incorrect, but because I think it the right decision. But even more so because they pointed out that the law could have included moving cannabis to schedule II. Things that make you go “D’oh!”

      Yes the Michigan law did attempt to protect patients by saying that only those driving “under the influence” could be convicted. But the Court pointed out that they didn’t bother to define “under the influence” while the State’s DUI-m law does legally define the term. Exactly why their ruling was correct, and so fucking annoying at the same time.

      So why is the first time that I’ve heard that one these ballot initiatives could have forced cannabis into schedule II?

      • Swooper420 says:

        Here in Oregon, cannabis was rescheduled to Schedule II by the state pharmacy board. I think that this was ordered by the initiative process.

  3. N.T. Greene says:

    Oh man, next thing you know they’ll solve the drunk driving problem by performing brand new things called “sobriety tests” using bleeding edge technologies like the breathalyzer and straight lines. I mean, just because they look like what we’ve been doing up until now doesn’t mean they are… even when they’re EXACTLY THE SAME METHODS WE’VE BEEN USING FOR YEARS.

    The fact that this crap flies any distance is evidence of bad history education and the open warping of facts.

  4. scottp says:

    If Calvina Faye’s a drug policy expert, then so am I.

  5. darkcycle says:

    “As a drug policy expert, I offer a solution: a comprehensive policy that includes prevention, treatment and viable alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts.”
    They are all reading from the same script, and they’re pushing that “Kinder, Gentler prohibition” Meme. They can smell the discontent on the wind and they’re re-branding as fast as they can.
    I take no small measure of satisfaction from the difficulty they are having selling this repackaged version. The fact that nobody is buying is, I believe, partially due to the internet and our efforts at getting our two cents worth in. Makes me smile every time I see this effort failing in the media.
    Spraying this used car with new car smell is NOT going to help it sell.

  6. Yay! My state’s gonna be the 17th medical marijuana state! (Governor has already stated he won’t veto and a majority of State Senators already voted for the bill in the various committees).


    • Duncan20903 says:

      Even better the bill moves cannabis to Schedule II. That would make Connecticut the 5th State to actually recognize cannabis as a legitimate medicine.

    • darkcycle says:

      Hurray. And I hope you’re feeling better soon.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Now that’s spooky. Are you psychic or do you have my home bugged? Do you also know that I’m wondering if it isn’t from running the goll danged squirrel shuttle bus? 37 relocated to the wilds of the I-95 median and they still keep coming. I looked at a property in West Virginia yesterday. It was pretty far back up on the side of the mountain and the thing that impressed me most is that I didn’t see even a single squirrel. Then again it wouldn’t surprise me if the locals there see them as dinner.

  7. Jose says:

    Great article from Mr.Pitts. The closing remark calling our President out for lack of leadership was powerful. However, I feel that Mr.Pitts is advocating something that America is not ready for. I believe the U.S. is more than ready for Marijuana re-legalization but “drug legalization”?

    We need to keep chipping away at this wall, but making the jump to drug legalization is a bit much for the average American to swallow at this point in the game. Hell, gubmint cannot begin to acknowledge a benign, therapeutic, natural, safe herb!

    In closure, the article may have had wider appeal by replacing legalization with regulation when referencing drugs in general.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is he saying that Big Pharma owns the US government?

  9. Duncan20903 says:


    Gosh, it seems like it was just in the last year that we complained that there weren’t any politicians that had the guts to say that re-legalization was the right thing to do when they were still in office.

  10. Duncan20903 says:


    I’ve had a very interesting idea.

    Dateline: Rhode Island US Attorney issues warning on medical pot centers

    My idea: The State of Rhode Island should purchase and lease the facilities to the authorized vendors. Let’s see the United States of America steal State property.

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