US News & World Report: ‘Is It Time To Scale Back The War On Drugs?’

The editors at US News & World Report are asking the question, ‘Is it time to scale back the war on drugs?’ They’ve assembled a round-table of participants to respond.

Arguing in favor politics as usual are Kevin Sabet, former Senior Policy Adviser to President Obama’s Drug Czar and David Evans, Special Adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation. Predictably, neither author’s platitudes are resonating with US News readers. (Both Evans and Sabet have only 15 ‘up’ votes combined, versus some 650 ‘down’ votes.)

Myself, Aaron Houston (Executive Director: Students for Sensible Drug Policy), and Neill Franklin (Executive Director: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) take the opposite approach — and are much better received.

You can read an excerpt from my commentary below:

“It’s time for politicians to call for a truce in the so-called war on drugs. According to a 2010 investigation by the Associated Press, lawmakers have spent over $1 trillion dollars enforcing the drug war. Their actions have resulted in a quadrupling of the U.S. prison population since 1980, but little else. In fact, according to America’s present drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, “in the grand scheme, [the drug war] has not been successful.”

Least successful among the government’s drug war policies is its long-standing criminalization of marijuana. Since 1970, over 21 million U.S. citizens have been cited or arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet despite this vigorous criminal enforcement, over 100 million Americans—including the president—acknowledge having consumed cannabis, and 1 in 10 admits using it regularly. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t dissuaded the general public from consuming cannabis or reduced its availability, especially among young people. But it has damaged the lives and careers of millions of people who were arrested and sanctioned for choosing to ingest a substance that is safer than alcohol or tobacco.

… Despite more than 70 years of federal prohibition, marijuana is here to stay. Let’s acknowledge this reality, cease ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises, and put it in the hands of licensed businesses.”

Click here to read all of the round-table submissions and to cast your vote.

35 thoughts

  1. Wonderful. However, someone has got to get through to the Latin American leaders, read as Mr. Peña Nieto as the most important, that when U.S. citizens talk about supporting legalization that is only cannabis. Polls to not indicate support for outright legalization. I’m trying to get through to folks here in Mexico that that is what the American people will support, along the lines of Dutch style harm reduction with treatment and possibly in some cities and states there being support for safe injection rooms. Of course, methodone programs, etc. and other strategies along the lines of what Trimbos Instituut would advocate. The money Mexico is wasting on keeping marijuana from getting to the States could be used for badly needed economic development. If the money is ultimately coming from the U.S. then the U.S. could put it to better use to modernize more parts of Mexico.

    My two cents

  2. There were indications from Obama that he would Re-Evaluate the “War on Drugs” in his supposed second term, All I have to say is BULLSHIT! He said that to help him get elected in the first place then threw us ALL under the Bus! If he wants people to assure him another 4 years – He better do it BEFORE the Election, Otherwise I see him NOT getting another term, What really sucks is Romney is not any better, As a matter of fact, He would crack down MORE and most likely try to close down ALL Medical Cannabis outlets, Regardless of individual State Laws passed by the VOTERS, End the INSANITY and Re-Legalize Cannabis NOW!!! WOW, 2012 – A real choice here, Between Dumb and Dumber.

  3. The Nixon’s legacy of hate and revenge to those who disagree with him must end.

    Save the United States!

  4. this country is broken record with regards to are leaders they are not gowing to listen to the people of this country.who do we vote for the are both sticking there hands in the deep pockets of big pharma america has always been for sale.

  5. Obama has a “get out of jail free card”” in the ASA hearing,,if it occurs before election and the 9th District Federal Court rules in favor of their petition,,since the decision by this Court cannot be ignored as they did when Judge Young ruled against the DEA’s refusal to change the scheduling of cannabis.

    Re-scheduling cannabis and taking the DEA/NIDA out of control of the studies being allowed and they’re furnishing dirt weed for any studies will result in legalization.

    There are no “bad laws” they can write against marijuana that won’t eventually be “fixed”,,just keep spreading the knowledge and the herb,,it’s gotten us this far and it will take us the rest of the way.

  6. @TheOracle

    I agree about better spending the money to encourage economic development in Mexico. This could relieve some of the pressure driving illegal immigration. The Drug War has destabilized northern Mexico, a region right along our very border. Lawless areas like this are inviting to terrorists. The only good news I see is that the drug cartels are not likely to be particularly welcoming to any group whose goal is to destroy their lucrative market, ie the good old USofA.

  7. So this has long been a question of mine: Does NORML also support the decrim of other harder drugs. I ask because though its clearly foolish to be anti pot as it is harmless, in the 90s i had alot to with meth and i still feel it should be illegal fully. Maybe even jailable. Its bad hoo-doo. So does norml feel cocaine and others should have the same treatment as pot?

  8. Is there any connection between “Fast and Furious” and the crack down on Medical Marijuana? I wish the media actually did some investigating instead of spreading propaganda for advertising dollars. I wonder who Obama’s big super pac donors really are?

  9. I will believe it when I see it. More lip service, I suppose.
    I am 56 years old and I have heard this too many times. In 1976 I thought cannabis was going to be legalized then. The media loves to cover for politicians & law enforcement. The law enforcement unions are against any change. WATCH FOR THE LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIONS . Oh yea that’s right they only enforce the law, not make them. (Ya Right!!)

  10. Oracle I feel your desperation as we also in the states have our own issues w. we have a runaway govt. that oppress others with their ideals.. We need peoples voices to be heard.

  11. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t dissuaded the general public from consuming cannabis or reduced its availability, especially among young people. But it has damaged the lives and careers of millions of people who were arrested and sanctioned for choosing to ingest a substance that is safer than alcohol or tobacco. Our Government is a bunch of LYING, GREEDY, CROOKED ASSHOLES. We need to start over! Replace them all!

  12. Everyone click the link that says “asking the question” in the first line of the article and give the good guys a positive vote and don’t forget to give the 2 crooks at the bottom a negative.

  13. Marijuana is not a gateway drug you political morons. Alcohol is the gateway drug of choice, because that is the most used DEADLY, ADDICTIVE drug of choice by POLITICIANS, PARENTS AND INFLUENTIAL CHILDREN. They even put it in cough medicine. PROHIBITION DID NOT WORK, BECAUSE THE POLITICIANS ALL DRANK ANYWAY AND IT CAUSED A MAJOR CRIME SPREE WITH GANG WARS, ETC. I believe the only reason it was repealed is because the government found a way to make money from the sale of it. Marijuana is neither physically or psychologically addictive. This propaganda was started in the 1930’s and 1940’s when they were using these as excuses for arresting African-Americans, stating it made them “go on crime rampages”, which I personally believe was started by the KKK to stir up a shitstorm. Legalization of marijuana will save billions of taxpayer dollars, and as a taxpayer, the government should be dancing to our tunes not their own.

  14. How many lives must be destroyed because a social health issue is garnered by law enforcement. Reschedule cannibis so the truth can be published and not erased or rewritten by the powerfully ignorant.

  15. I also think there is a link between Fast and Furious and the crack down in California. Someone should investigate this. I have thought this was happening for several mouths now.

  16. I think the sup. court ruling on the commerce clause not applicable to req. health ins. then it sure as hek cant be used to ban any substance. NORMAL get off your ass and challange the Gov. use of the clause to ban drugs. They have opened the door now blow through it or admit you have failed in all the years you have ex. very little has changed. You know how this system works . Its broken so hit them in the damed commerce clause or get off the pot.

  17. The only thing that will be scaled back is our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. We live under a MONARCHY with BANANA REPUBLIC rules. When the KING OF THE WHITE HOUSE speaks, we are the surfs under control of the POLICE STATE. When you kill the KINGS deer to survive you get the death penalty. When you smoke what MOTHER NATURE provides they want to turn you into another UNICORN. MARIJUANA PROHIBITION the killer of CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. As long as their is the WALL OF MARIJUANA PROHIBITION, the 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS will hide and cower behind it with FEDERALISM to back them up. THE BARBARIANS ARE AT THE GATE! HAIL TO THE MONARCHY!

  18. All you need to do is join the Big Grow, once the seeds of love are planted globally the powers that be will have to legalize as the plants will be everywhere.

    Throw you seeds on the ground and them multiply. Plant in areas of protest, this is an act of Civil Disobedience. Do not plant near schools or parks as that gets bad press. Police Stations are a good target as are any civil buildings flower beds.

    WTF you throw out the seeds anyway, why not give them a chance at life.

  19. Please tell me what sense it makes to arrest someone for smoking cannabis especially whenever that person is a responsible, tax-paying citizen. Due to my recent cannabis arrest, I lost my job of five years, now on unemployment, had to pay attorney fees of $3000, had to enter drug court at a cost of $2500! Can’t work at this time due to 12 hours a week in drug classes, and I go to school full-time! If they belive that this punishment fits my crime then people are crazy. It is time for all of us to pull together and decriminilize the use and possession of cannabis. Smoking cannabis never stopped me from getting up and going to work or making straight A’s in college. The people who don’t want to see this change are already making money off of cannabis being illegal, I guarantee that the day they legalize and begin collecting taxes on cannabis, the cartels will be straight out of business. I also guarantee that these lazy police officers will have to do real police work and stop depending on informants to do it for them! You really want to see the national deficiet decrease, legalize cannabis and there you go!

  20. I also find it very saddening that people who need cannabis in order to stay pain free risk arrest. If they recieve any comfort from cancer through this method, why not allow them to indulge. Some of these people are in the last stage(s) of their lives, it is truly heartwrenching and sick. The simple fact that the president smoked cannabis, but yet refuses to acknowledge that it doesn’t cause you to be crazy or lazy is truly appauling. Our government is so freaking hypocritical,no wonder they are called liars. We as Americans have the power to change these laws, and whether the politicians want it or not, we can make a change. Write to Congress or the House of Representatives in your state and voice your opinion. Let them know where you stand on this issue, this new change is within reach….. To all you presciption drug companies out there, you are killin hundreds of thousands Americans every year with your poison. You are the biggest pusher that I know of!!!!!

  21. I am a 50 year old mother of 6 asnd grandmother of 9. I am also a cancer survivor that lives in Georgia, God help me, of all places. I have been smoking pot since I was 16 years old DAILY decided I wanted to further my education. I enrolled in the local community college, burning one before go to school and carried a 4.0 without losing any sleep. My advisor convinced me to attend a 4 year university, for which I wrote an essay and applied, and I was accepted. I carried 6 classes on my full-time school schedule and burned a big fatty everyday before attending class. I still maintained a 4.0 in school. I’m still waiting for the brain damage the alcoholic legislators claim it causes like alcohol and the short/long term memory loss you are supposed to experience. The government officials are idiots and ARE AFRAID to allow us to legalize pot, and GEORGIA IS ONE OF THE WORST STATES FOR PENALTIES. I remember when the District Attorney’s wife of the Drug Task Force in the Georgia Mountains was busted with a bag of pot. The DA and police weighed and reweighed her bag until it was under 28 grams, then just gave her a fine. EQUAL IN THE EYES OF THE LAW; NOT IN GEORGIA. Look it up, because these are all true stories. DTF busted her 5 years ago.

  22. Also, Georgia’s idea of pain management is to give me Lortab 10 for my pain. Let’s just get me addicted to legal narcotics, that I cannot function on and make me sleep non-stop. Give me a solution. I would love one.

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