Senator Leahy: After Spending Billions on the War on Drugs…Well, We’ve Lost

The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the most senior member of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) again spoke out against the War on Drugs today during a briefing on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s upcoming agenda.

“The fact that so many people, especially young people, go to prison for a relatively minor thing, a drug offense. And then you ask, why can’t they get jobs afterward? Why do they have problems from then on?

I think we have spent tens of billions, hundreds of billions of dollars on the so-called War on Drugs. Well, we’ve lost.” – Sen. Leahy

Senator Leahy also addressed the disproportionate toll marijuana prohibition takes on people of color:

“There are too many people, too many young people, too many minorities, too many from the inner city who are serving time in jail for people who might have done the same thing but have the money to stay out and are not there.” – Sen. Leahy

It seems time does bring wisdom and other members of Congress should take notice and follow the lead of one of their most experience legislators. The time for sensible marijuana policy has come and this reaffirmation of support from an elected official, in such a position of influence as Senator Leahy, is clear proof the winds of reform are blowing strongly in our favor.

The full remarks are available from C-SPAN here. You can also read further media coverage here.

59 thoughts


    Sign the White House “We The People” petition to legalize marijuana at the federal level. cut the black market in half. take $$ away from the drug cartels. stop making non-violent Americans criminals. legalize and regulate like alcohol and tobacco. create a brand new industry for our crippled economy. the majority of Americans, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the American Medical Association agree – PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK!

    It takes only two minutes!

  2. I am very pleased anytime one of our elected leaders shows that they are capable of seeing this idiotic war for what it is -FUTILE!!! It is unwinnable and it is clear that the American people do not support this failed attempt to prohibit our liberty.

    Fueled with facts instead of propaganda, almost everyone agrees that marijuana should be legal.

  3. The war on drugs was lost from the start. People just do not like some sanctimonious ass telling them what they can and cannot put into their own body, period and done with.

    It’s a violation of human rights to do that unless someone is putting someone else in direct imminent physical danger at that very moment by doing that.

  4. Finally a Senator who realizes that we lost the war!!!! We lost the war long ago but the greedy prosecutors who just want another “win” on their record will continue to put these non violent men and women in jail for unbeleiveable amounts of time because of these mandatory minimums.
    My Son received a mandatory min. of 10 years for growing marijuana plants. He always was high strung and the pot seemed to help him with his anxiety and then he was diagnosed with cancer and needed it even more since all the “pain Meds” that are legal made him feel worse. Pot got him through his chemo and helped him eat. He lost his business and his income was limited. He grew the pot to smoke himself and also gave it to some of his cancer friends he made in his chemo sessions.
    Because it was his second offense the mandatory min was 10 years and also 8, yes 8
    years probation…..which is like getting an 18 year sentence for growing something in the ground. This sentence has separated him from his son and his family. He is a intellegent, caring person who lives for his kid. These mandatory minimums and rating as a schedule 1 drug for Marijuana is just putting more and more people like my son in institutions where they have no business being. These prosecutors think they are God and the judges hands are tied. Why even have ajudge in the court room? they have no say and some of them
    look like they don’t even want to be there.
    So Horray for Senator Leahy who is finally speaking out for my son and everyone else who has someone in prison that doesn;t belong there.

  5. Kudos to Senator Leahy! When the President, member of Congress, State Representatives speak about “We…” as in “We Lost the War…” they are speaking from the perspective of “We The People”.

    Yes, on the one level it could be said that the war on drugs fought on a federal level is lost. However, it was never a war that could have been won. I’m not sure if it was Pres. Reagan that declared “A War on Drugs” or the media? Whomever declared such a thing was extraordinarily stupid!!! A War on American Citizens? And since cannabis use can be detected far longer than any other drug, the War was on and about cannabis users – cannabis being the “Gateway Drug”.

    Oh, we as a nation have a problem with drugs – NO QUESTION about that! Alcohol being #1 and tobacco #2. Prescription drugs #3. And where is cannabis? On a practical level as a danger to society it is near last on a list, with sugar and fatty foods being more a danger to society. On a tactical level cannabis is #1. It has been and still is the perceived “fox in the hen-house”, literal Root of All Evil. The federal gov’t has proven it’s psychosis towards cannabis by the creation of a dept. with a “Drug Czar”. The job of the Drug Czar of the United States is to promote and maintain drug control policy based on federal scheduling acts. This means that because cannabis is a Schedule One drug, the Drug Czar should lie when it comes to any facts. I have a link to this fact in my Media List on my blog –

    The fact is… the federal government promoted a false god all these years in the form of a public safety issue. Just look at the old advertisements for tobacco out of the 1920-30’s to see where tobacco advertised relief from stress, anxiety and as a means to happiness to see that the federal government never took public safety seriously. Since 1937 the War on cannabis has been political. American citizens – their rights or safety were never the issue. Cannabis/Hemp was a threat to numerous corporations, corporations that bought our elected officials and still do.

    I’m 58… I was busted for possessing a pot pipe in @1985. I have a BA degree, am a computer specialist and an artist. As a result of my pot pipe (no cannabis) conviction I essentially earned a felony conviction… as most employers ask about any misdemeanor convictions, and if the reason is “drugs”, you’re out the job. Those men convicted of assault, domestic violence, etc. are deemed less a threat as men are considered violent by nature and deserve a chance. But if you’re honest, as most aren’t, and divulge past cannabis use, or a conviction… to hell with you! Since 2001 and 9/11 I cannot work at a school, hospital, gov’t job based upon my cannabis record. There is hardly a more serious violation next to being a serial killer.

    TIME TO GET REAL!!! Prejudice and Racial profiling aside, I’m a WASP (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant). The majority of Americans affected are Black and Hispanic. Due to drug arrests alone, prison populations have increased 10 fold since the 1980’s – the majority the aforementioned races, for drug convictions.

    The War on Drugs was never meant to be a War the federal gov’t could hope to Win… it has always been a means to suppress and control a large unconventional segment of our population. The War on drugs, cannabis especially never had a basis in reality; it all started with illegal immigration from Mexico, Blacks and post Civil War legislation that pissed off White Elitists, and Reefer Madness: a hugely successful experiment in propaganda conducted by yellow journalists in collaboration with the federal gov’t. for the benefit of corporations, ie, Big Pharma, Big Petroleum, DuPont – chemicals and fiber, Alcohol and Tobacco.

    I’m weary of the mantra “We Lost the War on drugs”, although true. I’m weary because it’s so much bullshit! American citizen’s were never the beneficiaries of such a so-called war… corporations and special interests were. And that is no way to promote a free and democratic society.

    I am 58 and as a result of this public safety initiative I have not enjoyed Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. My life has been anything but that, as have the lives of millions of other Americans. Hey, I put on a smile… I smile and pretend. Lest a dragon-fly drone targets me and shoots me with a dart filled with cyanide because I know the truth.

  6. You have lost the War On Drugs the incarceration of young minorities who are non-violent let them go restore their lives they need job creation not prision bars they are trying to eat,live in a house and support their family. Where are the tools for that building more prision Corporations? Who or what kind of person wants to own a prison with millions of lives wasted behind bars

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