Sunday, July 10, 2011

The War on Drugs is a Bust!

It is official after 40 Years:
War on Drugs is a Bust!

Let me begin by reminding everyone that while I am a resident of Australia I continue to hold US citizenship and have great interest in what happens up in “my “old country.” That being said, maybe it can be understood why the the anniversary to this foolishness caught my attention.

Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse the No. 1 enemy of the United States and launched the war on drugs. As the 40th anniversary is here one thing is clear and even blue-ribbon groups are conceding what the street already knows: the War on Drugs is a Bust!

Last week, the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a 19-member commission that included Kofi Annan, a former U.N. secretary general; George Shultz, President Ronald Reagan's secretary of state; and Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, declared that: "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the U.S. government's war on drugs; fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed."
The White House immediately shot back: no dice.

Let’s take a moment to think rationally about this.

Prohibition didn't work before and it's not working now. We obviously have not learned anything from history. Alcohol took less than 20. As long as there is a demand there will be a supply. Business 101.

The US is in a unique position in the world. Stop engaging in overseas wars, and end the war on drugs, and your economy will once again skyrocket to the top of the pack. No more deficits, federal or state. More people productive in the work force instead of languishing in prison. Less social cost. Less money going to make things that blow up overseas, and more available for improving education and health. A lot of countries have systemic problems that can't be overcome with a simple change of a law, and a simple 'okay, bring the troops home'. Your country has everything an economy needs, resources, oil, an educated workforce, a good mix of ages, a good mix of ethnicities, a relatively uncorrupt system, and so on. Eventually enough people will get the message, and the war on drugs will end. So many lives lost though in the meantime.

In the US the "War on Drugs" has become a massive business and as such ending it is no longer a social issue. It, like most things in the US, comes down to money and the people raking in the money do not want it to end. Stop and consider how many DEA, ICE, local cops, parole/probation officers as well as the entire prison complex depend upon this so called war to keep them employed. Consider the explosion of private prisons in the US. These folks do NOT want to see the gravy train come to an end.

Forty years! Two generations as we used to count it. The chances this program will meet the death it deserves are just as great as a paper shirt in a bear fight.

How much wiser to abandon the "war" on marijuana, legalize it, and tax it. How much tax money would that bring in? As to the other drugs, under Obamacare those using them could be forced to add a rider to their insurance to cover the cost of treatment, should they seek it. That way they wouldn't be a burden on the taxpayers beyond the supplement they'd no doubt get for premiums they otherwise couldn't afford.
Since under Obamacare an insurance company cannot deny a policy for a pre-existing condition, this appears to be a possible answer to the "war" issue.

What are the chances that someone in a leadership role will step up to the plate and say enough is enough? Slim. It doesn’t take a genius to count the number of members of Congress that have the back bone to stand up and say the war on drugs is a complete failure. Most remain out of fear of being labeled "soft on crime" even though they know with a total certainty the entire thing is a massive failure.

But possibly the people themselves will make the war reach a logical conclusion. Recently the governor of the state of Connecticut presented a bill to that state’s legislature that would legalize the medical use of marijuana. If adopted Connecticut would join the other 16 legal medical marijuana states. At the present time nine more states have legalization pending for this. With a total of 26 states making it legal, can the federal government be far behind?

Now let me bring this home to Australia; specifically to Tasmania. Field trials are being conducted here as well as in South Australia, and a two-year study is under way at the University of Tasmania to see whether low-THC hemp cultivation would be viable under local conditions. Two major paper companies are conducting their own laboratory pulping trials using materials from the experimental fields with a view to utilizing hemp as a strengthening supplement to wood and straw based paper.

Of course the both state and country officials are adamantly opposed to this, a fact that I personally find humorous. Think about Tasmania where one of the largest agricultural crops produces opium alkaloids for the pharmaceutical market. Yes, tens of thousands of hectares are planted each year in poppies. Did you know that Tasmania produces about 50% of the world’s concentrated poppy straw (CPS) for morphine? It provides 40% of the US market's legal opiate supply in the form of codeine, thebaine and other variants. Other pharmaceutical chemicals are derived and sent to other countries like United Kingdom. And this has been going on since the 1960s.

But to make it legal to grow non-THC hemp, the source of more than 5,000 products is, thanks to the American’s war on drugs, forbidden.

Possibly this is a topic for another day. But I have to ask, isn’t it about time that the war on drugs is declared over?

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