40 Years of Drug War Failure Represented in a Single Chart

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35 Responses to Graphic

  1. DonDig says:

    Well, I guess that picture is worth a trillion words or so.

  2. Francis says:

    Any idea what they used as their source for the “drug addiction rate” data?

    • Maria says:

      I have a post with links back to the project info (graph is from a trailer for a kickstarter documentary project) but it got snagged in the spam box until Pete approves it.

      The guy is Matt Groff @mgroff on twitter. He’s linked to his blog post that answers questions about the graph.

  3. claygooding says:

    I don’t know where they got the addiction statistics but they should have added a price line,a user line and a death count in all their holy endeavors.

    We need an oped on “The Shaming of America,The War on Drugs”

    Listing the drug war victims,the tactics used by the drug warriors such as the addition of Tylenol to codeine as a means to harm abusers,while accepting collateral damage to patients in need of the medicine,,and the list goes on—-

    • TieHash says:

      The “denaturing” of opiates is a really nasty part of the harm-enhancement movement. It goes to show what a sham the CSA is…codeine with apap schedule III, codeine by itself sched. II…it is the same damn chemical.

  4. thelbert says:

    that is a picture of the end of an empire. cheers me right up.

  5. Klay says:

    3-4 more trillion and then our children will be safe…

    What was the definition of insanity again?

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  7. darkcycle says:

    I shared that on Facebook a coupla days ago…Pete, did you get that from me?

    • divadab says:

      I shared it on fb today! Great minds think alike! (or, as my Mom says: “Fools seldom differ”!)

    • allan says:

      “Pete, did you get that from me?”

      why??? is it contagious?!?! we all share this couch… omg…

      • darkcycle says:

        I ask because Facebook has a new policy of CHARGING you for links! Apparently if you link to a website it will only show up on a few of your friend’s walls, unless you click “promote” on the bar next to share, like, comment. When you do, it tries to charge you SEVEN BUCKS to allow all your friends to see it. I am way too cheap to pay facebook when I can always use the “send all” feature on my e-mail! Just wondering if anybody actually sees those I refuse to promote. Also wondering if I have reached some “critical mass” for friends that caused this to suddenly happen…

        • Maria says:

          I’m all on the Facebook sucks bandwagon as much as the next girl but… 😉 I think what you’re talking about is the promoted links posts that show up to a much wider (and random) audience of all Facebook users (you can see them rotated in the sponsors sections.)

          You could pay to make a regular post a promoted post if you wanted to but you don’t need to do it for people on your friends list to see it (even with links).

          Like on Twitter where a promoted tweet will show up in random users timelines, and a promoted tag will be at the top of all the trending tags.

          Unless of course a contact has your feed on ignore or manually weight your content lower then other peoples. Then they might not see it. But that’s on their end.

          You can still make posts public/global so if someone lands on your page and your post is set to have a global/public audience they will see it no matter who they are.

          Of course we could get into the issue where Facebook’s craptastic automated content system “randomly” decides to flag linked websites as dangerous or fake… But that’s another issue entirely.

          /end way too much rambling re: ‘social media’ platforms.

        • allan says:

          aaah… social media, fb… if anyone remembers the Portland billboard pic I posted a few days ago, well it’s down, gone, kaput. The billboard is owned by Clear Channel, a fb protest was launched against ClrCh and when they approached the buyers of the billboard space they refused to deal directly with the complaints so ClrCh pulled the ad down.

          When Ellen Rosenblum was behind in Oregon polls for AG, it was social networking that was instrumental in smacking the bad candidate, Dwight Holden, back to old Virginee.

          I tell ya, with the way the world is changing we get closer to William Gibson territory with every new twist of the interwwweb

  8. Maria says:

    Just wanted to add context to this chart. It’s part of a trailer for a Kickstarter film project called The 1315 Project which is an ongoing effort to fund a documentary on the war on drugs with archive/found footage and interviews from many of those involved, victims, former law enforcement/judicial forces etc.

    The Kickstarter page:

    Matt Groff is the guy behind the project and the chart @mgroff

    He’s tried to clear up some questions about the chart on his site here:

    BTW, the dude who did that awesome Drug War comic is also doing another comic on the topic of Drugs and trying to crowd fund the project on Details here: Rat Park

  9. allan says:

    oh good, it’s graphs day… here’s a graphic graph:

    and i’ll wager brian bennett has one or two worth sharing…

    • you bet allan — i have tons of them as you know. i’ve been setting the example on this crap for over 10 years. it’s about times others started catching on and doing it too.

      • allan says:

        hey b… like a djin, you say his name… poof!

        So brian, as a statistics kinda guy, when offering data is it kosher to fudge by taking only a section of statistical graphing and call it evidence or is that chunk only valid in comparison to the whole graph? I mean the gummint ABCs of drugs prohibition are great portrayers of bites but dare not portray the whole story… (as the above graph clearly demonstrates)

        How powerful today is such graphic imagery? basic human stuff hasn’t changed in since forever, it’s just the cultural trappings that change, but we’re so near to being jacked-in to virtuality… is our technotopia severing our most basic connections to earth and life. Is reality becoming too boring for the masses?

        • i’m always around allan — all anyone ever need do is ask.

          it’s only kosher to narrow a range of data if you are doing a purely mathematical comparison, like trying to determine if the validity of one instrument is better than that of another — i.e. to make a claim about which instrument is more accurate.

          those are purely *statistical* considerations, but what we see instead from the government quotes is a misapplication of a purely statistical principle in an attempt to bolster a claim that they are making concerning something other than statistical validity.

          one way they do that is by saying that data from after year X is not directly comparable to data accumulated in year X-1 with the prior version of the instrument. you most frequently see that happen with use rates claims: they show a small subset of all of the data and claim you can’t compare the numbers from earlier versions of the same instrument.

          another thing they do is focus on some miniscule point and not provide the proper context in which it may be understood. for example, they’ll claim that the rates of use for drug X have “doubled” and then not tell you that they are actually discussing very small numbers (even if they are “doubled”)

          what they are trying to do is divert attention from the *practical* use of the data. even still, the data they collect actually are mathematically comparable, as the data from a new instrument are compared directly against data gathered by a prior version as part of the normal validity and reliability testing they do when developing the instrument.

          here’s the bottom line: if the data they collected two decades ago was thought to be valid enough to kill people or destroy their lives over, then it’s good enough to illustrate our points that the drug war is a failure. on our end of things we aren’t trying to figure out which data is “more accurate” — we’re just saying that none of it justifies the drug war in the first place.

          as to your second issue: no, i don’t think that reality is becoming too boring for people. but with respect to the drug war in particular, the problem is that it is all mythology and thus mostly ignored by nearly everyone. all the average person “knows” is that “drugs are bad” — so until and unless more people start talking about this stuff a lot differently (and one such technique is to create graphics like the one here), we’re just not going to make much progress. drug use and abuse is really not much of a “problem” — that’s why hardly any of the general population are paying attention.

          but drug war, on the other hand, is a HUGE problem — and that’s why we are here. we’re just doing a shitty job of challenging the mythology, hence we aren’t really making much progress.

  10. Cold Blooded says:

    But it succeeds at keeping politicians and police employed.

  11. Opiophiliac says:

    Pete you have an awesome blog here. I’ve been reading for awhile and I hope you don’t mind me using your blog to pose a question to your community of readers.

    So it seems that marijuana is finally on a path toward legalization. When marijuana is finally legalized across the country will you declare the drug war over? Or will you continue to fight for the rights of all drug users. I would like to think we are all birds of a feather but when I hear cannabis reformers say things like, “if marijuana was legal police could pursue more dangerous drugs like heroin,” I wonder.

    Marijuana is indisputably the most popular illicit drug, but its not the only one. When your drug of choice is available outside of the black market will you throw the heroin/cocaine/whatever users under the bus? Will you free the opium poppy and coca bush too, or is cannabis all that matters? While the prohibition against cannabis (given its low toxicity and addictive potential) is the most outrageous, opium and coca are not any more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. The stigmatization of “hard” drug users is on a whole level deeper than that of marijuana users. Are the cannabis legalizers committed to the rights of all drug users or only out for their own interests?

    • Peter says:

      Opiophiliac, you’re not alias CJ are you? This blog is full of examples of advocacy for the right of adults to put anything they like into their bodies without government interference. You might also notice that some of us speak from personal experience when it comes to opiates.

      • Opiophiliac says:

        No this is not CJ and you are correct when you say that this blog has many examples of advocacy for the right to use other drugs. It was not my intent to denigrate the good work Pete and others have done with regard to other drugs. Perhaps the language I used came off as more inflammatory than I intended.
        However I do worry that too many drug law reformers are only concerned about cannabis. When cannabis is legalized organizations like NORML will no longer have reason to exist. What worries me is that while cannabis legalization will be a good thing for this country, it will be a disaster for other drug users as police will have more resources to focus on other drugs. The DEA will not just go away after cannabis legalization.
        I may be incorrect but it seems to me that when cannabis is legalized many people in the drug reform movement will disengage from the debate. I hope I am wrong about this but am curious what other people think.

        • pfroehlich2004 says:

          I’ll disengage when there’s not a single drug “offender” left in prison.

          Marijuana is the thin end of the wedge. Once it’s legal in all 50 states and society hasn’t collapsed, our side’s credibility will be considerably enhanced while our opponents’ will be further eroded.

          Not sure what the next step will be, maybe medicalization of Schedule I drugs. At any rate, we have a few years to go before we cross that bridge.

        • darkcycle says:

          A drug war is a drug war is a drug war, Opie. Why is it any different if the person at the other end of the gun barrel uses a different drug? the drug war isn’t a war on drugs, it’s a war on drug USERS. This war has eroded everybody’s rights and security. The violence of the drug driven black market makes no distinctions. the harms of prohibition of any drug falls on us all. Why would we stop with marijuana? It is simply the most glaring and egregious manifestation, and it’s the one that will pave the way for sensible policies all the way down the line. Once we’ve got that we can move on to a harm reduction push, and on from there.

        • allan says:

          and no doubt, there are indeed too many for whom cannabis is the sole consideration – right now. Once the bright light shines on all the dark corners of the drug war we can eradicate the rats and roaches and be done with the (w)hole mess.

        • Ken says:

          No, I will not disengage. Most go after the lowest hanging fruit first with goals to take more.

        • you can tell who the selfish assholes are by the words they use. they will fade into the woodwork when pot is finally legal.

          that’s one more simple reason why ending it all on toto at the same time is the goal to pursue, instead of the piecemeal bullshit advocated by the self-proclaimed “leaders” in reform.

          it seems that at least 2/3 of the “medical” pot crowd don’t even give enough of a shit to advocate for the recreational users — as very amply illustrated by that useless gasbag montel williams.

    • allan says:

      indeed… what Peter said. Few (that comment) here are solely cannabists. And yes, I have experience with quite a few substances including opium and heroin (though never used a needle), like only a few and use even fewer. Ganja and naturally occurring enthneogens my preference. And nary a one should be illegal.

      • claygooding says:

        same here allan,,never used a needle for ingesting drugs but I have ingested nearly every drug on the CSA,in one form or another,,I will have to tell the story bout opium suppositories some time,,,enough to know that cannabis is just part of the problem in the prohibition game,,,

        However,as ranted before,,I believe that the war on drugs will fall with the removal of hemp from their menu,,because when hemp is legalized,,the majority of corporations funding keeping America drug free for a small contribution to an election fund will strangely dry up.

  12. Rick Steeb says:

    I like the Henningfield-Benowitz chart for an easy-to-grasp visual aid.

    Especially when someone asks “Where do you draw the line?”!

    Jack Herer was right, hemp could save the world. Its prohibition is a crime against humanity. “Marihuana” prohibition has to go FIRST because the feds can’t [won’t] tell rope-grade hemp from hashish in Schedule I.

  13. CJ says:

    this is CJ

    i read alot of the comments after finding myself wondering if id gotten so gloriously magnificently super -d- duper off of some kinda bombastic china white that, perhaps, it mayve been laced with some kinda hallucinagenic substance and therefore had me tripping out about the FBI or something watching my internet activity and so thinking i mayve then turned myself into opio phil and wrote that.. ! lol it sounded exactly like what i say all the time!!

    BUT i do have to say this, while, it honestly does warm my heart when i read the comment of the fellow saying he wont disengange til every offender is free (and i do mean it seriously and genuinely) i did notice something opio said that, i think is unfair of me and id like to thank opio for bringing it up because it is definitely also how i feel and thats that

    i know i have definitely felt angry at times (like many of us often get involved in reform) and sometimes, yes, probably has to do with being/been homeless junkie who has been arrested and gone through all the stereotypical events with the best friends, girlfriends cheating, stealing, etc. experiencing betrayal as us glorious purveyors of that sweet opiate all know, THANKS TO PROHIBITION of course – betrayal of the highest kind and paranoia levels otherwise only experienced by marijuana allergies and excessive basing of rock… that being said, yea, ive been mad at times, down right unapproachable, sometimes ignorant of my cause too.

    but opio brings up this and i want to definitely echo it.
    when he (or she) said about people misunderstanding his words as being inflammatory denigrating mean etc. i didnt get that vibe myself off his question/comment but i thought about it and i definitely feel like that ive been that way to folks so i just want to say if that is so i am sorry especially to pete if hes ever felt that way heres my heartfelt opinion

    i look up to Pete, i think the world of Pete and i consider, truthfully, some folks, alot of folks actually, who are apart of this community, to be comrades, regardless of substance preferences. I seriously mean it and i serously want to apologize if ive offended someone unjustly and i DEFINITELY DEFINITELY DEFINITELY NEVER EVER intended to denigrate the WORK which is SO NEEDED, so APPLAUDATORY (it may not be a word, but you get the jest) SO IMPORTANT, etc.

    I honestly do see Francis Moraes as a mentor and someone i look up to so much but Pete i feel similarly about as well. I cannot thank him enough for the contributions he makes. Hey, he could be like so many other POT SMOKERS *AND* HEROIN lovers and simply know better about drug user and prohibition (important to note that first because, sadly, i think thats the first and main obstacle) BUT regardless, just enjoy themselves and not say or do anything. Not only has Pete taken a stand and had a voice BUT he has not hidden EITHER. he is a professional, as i understand it, a college professor (right?) and he is not using a fake name (like i am, well, CJ is not my legal name but its a combination of my legal name) he is risking alot taking this stand and he has many times made incredible contributions TO MY DAY. I mean, those of you not living under the microscope of life as a purveyor of the poppy in the modern era of prohibition may not truly grasp the daily struggle we have and for me, my morning begins with a surveying of my favorite websites of which this is absolutely one (and yes, a wake up is included either before or during said surveying) there have been some days where there is or there wasnt a wake up and it was thunderstorming out etc but ive seen Pete lay waste to that piece of garbage human rights violator and war criminal Kevin Sabeet, or, write an otherwise rivetting piece which has empowered me and had me leaving ready to fight OUR fight and conquer the (obese, food loving, sex crazed, alcohol slurping) enemy.

    i remember not that long after i first discovered this site i wrote a long thing sorta a long version of what opio wrote it was one of the first things i ever said to the community here and im sure totally unrelated not that long after Pete wrote this wonderful piece about the stand and his mission and the mission of this site, the piece was fantastic and short of finding it specifically and linking it, it made me really happy.

    i wanna say that, above all else, to be fully honest, i want/ed acceptance from this community more than anything else. I guess, metaphorically speaking, i felt like the younger brother who, seperated by a generation whereby me and my elder are culturally totally different and, tugging at my elders shirt, want to be acknowledged as just as important and just as worthy of fighting for and espousing, not to be cast off and, as happens all too often for opiate consumers in prohibition, actually betrayed and turned on and fought against!

    so thanks opio for making that point because i too wanna be extremely clear that the work done here is much more than just important its downright history in the making and i never wanted to hurt or take away from it, i guess in my opiate loving way i wanted to add to it, strengthen it and above all, by accepted by it. total disclosure. now, having opened myself up to potential emotional wounds, i guess ill shuffle off to the bathroom of this coffee shop and make myself impervious to pain – if you know what i mean, jellybean ;o) heheheheh

    oh and when i say history in the making i mean it. cant you see, in your minds eye, hopefully no more than a hundred years from now, in some (at that time) modern prolific scholar/historian/writer putting out his ground breaking piece “PROHIBITION: HOW IT WAS AND HOW IT WAS DEFEATED” and having a chapter titled “the movement growing” wherein it is discussed something like this “and then, in the internet age, where information and conversation converged at such a rapid rate, from all over the world, there were various grounds for the warriors endeavoring to end prohibition to meet, discuss their philosophies and strategize. One such important place being, run by the 21st century scholar Pete Guthrier and consisting of a wide variety of reformists, espousing their cause, some important (to history) ideas discussed at this time at this website were….” eh? cant you see it? eh??! oh…well, then, get something with hallucinagenic qualities, open your middle and minds eye and then find it.. .or write the book yourself and then bury it and attach a note claiming it is contemporary to 2112 as opposed to being writen nowadays…. id do it myself but…uh…i dont have time

    yours in needles, aluminum foil, rolled up dollar bills, UK pound sterling and YEN
    C. “the man who waits for the man” J.

    • Opiophiliac says:

      CJ thanks for the support. I was generally pleased with the responses to my question. As I said in my followup I didn’t mean to put down the good work Pete and his readers here do. It’s just that for some reason people think that the government is lying to us about marijuana, LSD, ect but all the propaganda about opiates (heroin in particular) is true. Us opiate lovers and sufferers of “old soldier’s disease” or its modern reincarnation dubbed “Endorphin Deficiency Syndrome” need all the allies we can get.

      By the way I loved that rant you posted about Kevin Sabet, dishonest whore. From one junkie (as I mean that in the best possible way as a term of endearment) to another that was awesome man. I mean really epic. Pure poetry.

      Pharmacological elitism is a dividing force among drug law reformers. I brought up the plants because I hope that would be something we could all get behind. People make big deal about how cannabis is natural and a gift from God and it is ludicrous to prohibit a natural product. The same argument can be extended to the other plant-drugs as well. Let everyone who wants to grow opium poppies, coca bushes, khat trees, psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis or any one of the other cornucopia of naturally occuring substances that affect the mind. The audacity of the prohibitionists knows no bounds. They would love nothing more than to drive these plants into extinction, murdering and/or displacing the farmers along with the indigenous cultures…but I’m starting to rant and in need of my medication (if you know what I mean heh heh 😉

      Long live Pete Guither!
      Long live Francis Moraes!
      Down with the Tyrannical Prohibitionists!

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