Third Party & Independents Archives

All locked up

In February, the Pew Center on the States released a study showing that the US had the world’s highest rate of incarceration. A series of articles in the July/August edition of Boston Review examines how we got to this point, as well as the effects of the “incarceration nation” on society at large. It is well past time for politicians to examine the consequences of locking up nonviolent offenders at an astronomical pace.

While the Boston Review pieces are interesting—and certainly worth reading if this topic catches your fancy—they disappointingly tend not to offer much in the way of solutions, outside of rather standard leftist boilerplate. To give a brief example, the column by Bruce Western segues into a discussion of how universal health care would create some common thread between the middle and lower classes. This would then create a groundswell of middle-class empathy for the urban poor, leading to more compassion in get the idea. It is a rather fanciful, roundabout way of approaching the problem, and seems a stealth method of implementing Great Society, Part II, while not directly addressing the issue at hand.

In fact, the same essay decries the demise of some of the original Great Society programs as a leading cause of the higher incarceration rates decades later. The true root of the problem is glossed over in the essays, but a glance at the statistics should make it utterly obvious: the War on Drugs. Any serious attempt to tackle the inequities of the criminal justice system must start with an honest accounting of the astounding numbers of people, particularly the urban poor, we have imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses.

Last week, the point was driven home once again as Charlie Lynch, who owned a legal medical marijuana dispensary in California, was convicted and will be sentenced to at least five years in prison for violating federal drug laws. This stands as a direct affront to the federalist principles intended in the Constitution, as well as an insult to any principles of justice one may have. Lynch acted in accordance with California state law in dispensing marijuana to those with valid prescriptions, and was unable to avoid imprisonment because of the conflicting—and unconstitutional—federal statutes involved.

In fact, the federal government’s attitude toward drugs as a whole is painful to listen to. On a DEA website purportedly listing “facts,” one of the prominent statements is that alcohol prohibition was a success:
Prohibition did work. Alcohol consumption was reduced by almost 60% and incidents of liver cirrhosis and deaths from this disease dropped dramatically…

Yet no mention of the wave of violence attributed to Prohibition? It’s akin to saying that the voyage of the Titanic was lovely, except for all that iceberg nonsense.

So the script repeats today, and a new generation of Al Capones lives large through black market drug sales, while many of the simple users rot in prison. There are 1.3 million (of the 2.3 million inmates nationwide) nonviolent offenders in federal, state, and local facilities, a sizable portion of which are there because of nonviolent drug crimes. Many of these people can lead productive lives, were they not branded for life with the stigma of being convicts.

In short, we have created a situation in which people who have not harmed anyone are labeled criminals, where prohibition has birthed a lucrative and violent industry in the inner cities. It is not the lack of yet another social program which has crippled many in these poor neighborhoods. Instead, our policies have presented many with an alternate path to wealth through the drug trade, leaving countless victims in their wake. In the meantime, politicians and writers continue to rail against the inequities of society, without recognizing that many in the “underclass” have been imprisoned unjustly or are under the thrall of career criminals, thanks to our ineffective drug policies.

Posted by Matthew Tyler at August 14, 2008 1:18 PM
Comment #258521

I couldn’t agree more. The war on drugs is now 40 years old, and there are still as many people getting high as there was in 60’s. The only real difference is that over million of them in the legal system being punished. All my life I’ve heard people talking about getting tough on drugs. (If they knew they’d be locked up for along time, if they got caught; they wouldn’t do it.) This make perfect sense to me, but it doesn’t seem to be true. I guess these people are too compulsive. There are people serving 20 year prison sentences for possession of marijuana. You know what there’re doing in prison? There’re smoking pot! You know what the first thing there’re going to do when they get out of prison? There’re going to look for pot to smoke! We’re spending $30,000 to $80,000 per person, per year so they can only get high once a month instead of five times a day. We could do more productive things with that money. Not only that, but if they were out on their own, they might actually hold down a job, and pay taxes.

The cost of the prisons is just the tip of the iceberg. Between law enforcement, the courts, and probation/parole offices we’re spending tons of money. But the economic costs are minor compared to the social cost to this country. We have millions of citizens growing up with the idea the police are the enemy. We have countless one parent families, because their spouses are locked up. We have very bad people making lots and lots of money. In the 70’s an ounce of marijuana cost about $15. Now a quarter of an ounce costs $40. That’s a lot of money for somebody.

But anytime you sweep something under the carpet it tends to get worse. If they can’t afford the high cost of drugs, there’s a drug they can make themselves. It just happens to be one of the worst drugs ever devised. Of course that’s meth. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any answers. Obviously drugs can be bad for people. But it’s even more obvious drug prohibition just makes matters worse. If we can’t find a way to dramatically reduce the number of people taking drugs, then we need to bring the whole thing out into the open. That way people who needed help and wanted help wouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. And part time recreational users wouldn’t think of the police as the enemy.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at August 14, 2008 1:55 PM
Comment #258531

Matthew You dont think that maybe Liberalism in America is the reason so many are in jail?I was raised in the Ghetto’s and know for a fact that poor Dems.have not a clue what is going on in the world.The closest they get to a newspaper is if someone leaves it at a whitecastle booth while they are drinking coffee.The only news they wach is one half hour of a.b.c,c.b.s. or n.b.c. which are stuck in liberal mode and have been for decades.Liberals have indoctrinated the poor of all races to beleive they will never do better than a job a McDonalds.They teach the young that Republicans are Devels and are for the rich and against the poor.There are very few first time offenders in Jail and most are uneducated as I am and know fully well that a crime is a crime and you must pay for your crime.You are trying to come to the aid of criminals who would Rob you and rape you if given the Chance.If you want to come to the aid of someone who counts come to the aid of the young who have not yet been brainwashed by Liberal Democrats.Thats the Only way to reduce the Criminal Population in the Pocky.

Posted by: John at August 14, 2008 3:02 PM
Comment #258537

Well gee golly Matthew, let’s just let all them dope heads off the hook. So what if there’s laws against what there doing. It just aint right to punish them for breaking the law.
The only way to stop drug users from breaking the law is to legalize drugs. And do you really want to see some of the crap they got out there available over the counter?
I agree that law enforcement spends too much time going after and prosecuting drug users rather than going after those that supply the drugs. And penalties should be much harsher for them than the drug user. But saying that drug users shouldn’t be punished for there illegal activities doesn’t help the situation any.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 14, 2008 3:43 PM
Comment #258538

John -

Hm. ‘Liberalism’ may be the cause?

If so, then why doesn’t Canada have a higher incarceration rate than the U.S.? And how about England? Germany? France? Spain? Sweden? Norway? Italy?

ALL these countries are more ‘liberal’ than is the U.S. If you need proof, it’s easy - every country in NATO allows declared homosexuals into the military…except for the U.S. and Turkey.

AND LET’S NOT FORGET Holland - isn’t that where some drugs are legal? How about their crime rate?

Oh, but I forget! None of these examples are relevant because they’re DIFFERENT. They’re NOT the U.S., and that means that the humans there are different than humans here, huh?

One last thing - there’s a book called ‘Freakonomics’ - it’s a best-seller, and it’s on the recommended-reading list for U.S. naval officers. The author points out that the first five states wherein the crime rate dropped dramatically in the ’90s…are ALSO the first five states that opened up abortion clinics after Roe v. Wade.

RHETORIC, John, is on the conservative side. FACTS AND HISTORY, on the other hand, are on the liberal side.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 14, 2008 3:49 PM
Comment #258541

John, while you’re probably just a little short of awakening the wrath of the WB troll patrol, you’ve posted some of the most odious comments I’ve seen here for a long time.
Mike, I agree pretty much with all you said. Having worked for a long time with law enforcement, there is a different perspective to consider, if only slightly. Statistics show that “just” smoking pot isn’t a big deal, it’s the other stuff that comes from it that creates the bigger problems. Many cops would just as soon turn their heads to the guy with a joint in his wallet, or the gal with a cute little pipe in her cosmetic bag…..maybe even ask for a hit him/herself. And now that all of us who grew up half stoned from either personal use, or contact highs, medical marijuana is getting pretty easy to come by. Hell, half of the land up here that just burned up in California, was pot fields, and some being grown for medical sales and all legal. I don’t believe it will be long until marijuana is totally legal here, unless some guy sells off a flatbed truck in front of a school.
These posts are surely going to invoke a lot of puritanical responses….going to be interesting.

Posted by: janedoe at August 14, 2008 3:56 PM
Comment #258545


while you and i seem to agree on most things, this doesn’t seem to be one of them. we’ve been going after drug smugglers for years. the problem is that as long as people want something, there will always be someone to supply it. they tried prohibition in the 20s and it was a complete failure.

while i would not have been ok with my kids drinking or smoking pot growing up, once someone is an adult they should be left to thier own devices, once they’re old enough to make that decision. in other words if your not hurting someone else, it should be your own business.

IMHO prohibition of pot is a collossal waist of time. we let people consume alcohol which is far more dangerous, and ruins far more lives. the same goes for tobacco. when was the last time you heard of someone dying from pot, unless they ODed on chips ahoy cookies.

obviously there are other drugs that are extremely dangerous, and need to be adressed, but the current policy is not getting the job done. we need to rehabilitate those that want help, unfortunately darwin will take care of the rest.

Posted by: dbs at August 14, 2008 4:50 PM
Comment #258546


“it’s the other stuff that comes from it that creates the bigger problems.”

the bigest problem i can see is the organized crime spawned by it’s prohibition. if you were talking about the gateway drug label then you would also have to prohibit alcohol, and tobacco. we can both guess how well that would go. it would be a gold mine for organized crime though.

Posted by: dbs at August 14, 2008 5:05 PM
Comment #258549

Most people I know went through their college or high school party days. Age limits and legalities never dissuaded anyone, I know of, from using intoxicants.
Most grew out of it. They’ll enjoy a drink or a joint once in a great while and that’s it.

Addicts, while a minority, do have problems with intoxicants. Throwing them in jail is one of those problems. It often destroys their ability to achieve stability in their lives. Treating people for addiction without serious economic and social consequence might increase the success rate of these programs.

I suppose it is easier to be holier than thou and see no problem with putting an addict in jail. Some addicts do commit other crimes like intoxicated driving and assault. No one is advocating lessening the enforcement of these laws. In fact, the money wasted on drug enforcemnt could be spent on increasing enforcement of these serious problems.

Either we can get serious about solving problems or continue with the puritan sado masochistic approach to sin. I realize it satisfies a deep urge in some people for punishment, but really guys, keep the cat-o-nine tails in your private life and let the experts deal with crime. They think drug laws are anti productive, of course, they only study crime, what do they know?

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 14, 2008 6:03 PM
Comment #258551

I think the real problem may be the mandatory minimum sentences given to non violent offenders. Most nonviolent drug offenders can clean up and return to society faster long before their sentence is up. Making felons out of them doesnt give them much chance at decent work though when they are released.

Do you also realize that in many communties the corrections industry supplies some of the better paying jobs for those without advanced degrees. Are we suggesting putting quite a few people out of work when jobs are needed in this country.

Seems to me if the DEA has staff to focus on legal providers in CA in lieu of smugglers from other countries then its time to cut some budgets or refocus those agents to more productive work.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 14, 2008 6:09 PM
Comment #258554


i think when we’re waisting our time enforcing a law that does nothing but put otherwise productive people in jail for being nothing more than a danger to thier own health. we need to take a good hard look at whether that law actually causes more problems that it solves.

Posted by: dbs at August 14, 2008 6:20 PM
Comment #258555

Prohibition of alcohol occurred after WW1, when lots of surplus weapons were available to wreak havoc on the population. In Chicago, Al Capone was considered to be a good guy by many people. He ran a soup kitchen giving free meals to anyone in need. Before Prohibition, there were innumerable breweries here. During and after Prohibition, people drank more hard liquor than before.

From What Prohibition Has Done to America, 1922: “Whether Prohibition is right or wrong, wise or unwise, all sides are agreed that it is a denial of personal liberty. Prohibitionists maintain that the denial is justified, like other restraints upon personal liberty to which we all assent; anti-prohibitionists maintain that this denial of personal liberty is of a vitally different nature from those to which we all assent…

…If laws regulating the ordinary personal conduct of individuals are to be entrenched in this way, one of the first conditions of respect for law necessarily falls to the ground…The intimidation exercised by the AntiSaloon League was potent in a degree far beyond the numerical strength of the League and its adherents, not only because of the effective and systematic use of its black-listing methods, but also for another reason. Weak-kneed Congressmen and Legislaturemen succumbed not only to fear of the ballots which the League controlled but also to fear of another kind. A weapon not less powerful than political intimidation was the moral intimidation which the Prohibition propaganda had constantly at command. That such intimidation should be resorted to by a body pushing what it regards as a magnificent reform is not surprising; the pity is that so few people have the moral courage to beat back an attack of this kind…

…The fight was presented in the light of a struggle between those who wished to coin money out of the degradation of their fellow-creatures and those who sought to save mankind from perdition… if a man stood out against Prohibition he was not the champion of the millions who enjoyed drink, but the servant of the interests who sold drink….

…However desirable it may be that the sudden transformation of an innocent act into a crime by mere governmental edict should carry with it the same degree of respect as is paid to laws against crimes which all normal men hold in abhorrence, it is idle to expect any such thing; and in a case where the edict violates principles which almost all of us only a short time ago held to be almost sacred, the expectation is worse than merely idle. A nation which could instantly get itself into the frame of mind necessary for such supine submission would be a nation fit for servitude…

…DAY after day, month after month, a distressing, a disgusting spectacle is presented to the American people in connection with the enforcement of the national Prohibition law. No day passes without newspaper headlines which “feature” some phase of the contest going on between the Government on the one hand and millions of citizens on the other; citizens who belong not to the criminal or semi-criminal classes, nor yet to the ranks of those who are indifferent or disloyal to the principles of our institutions, but who are typical Americans, decent, industrious, patriotic, law-abiding. It is true that the individuals whom the Government hunts down by its spies, its arrests, its prosecutions, are men who make a business of breaking the Prohibition law, and most of whom would probably just as readily break other laws if money was to be made by it. But none the less the real struggle is not with the thousands who furnish liquor but with the hundreds of thousands, or millions, to whom they purvey it…

…we are really reading of a war that is being waged by a vast multitude of good normal American citizens against the enforcement of a law which they regard as a gross invasion of their rights and a violation of the first principles of American government.”

I have a client that I believe would greatly benefit from medical marijuana after a recent mastectomy, but Walgreens isn’t selling any.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 14, 2008 6:29 PM
Comment #258556

On his last televised address to the country, President Eisenhower warned against the growing power of the military industrial complex. Today it seems we also have to deal with the prison industrial complex. There are many privately run prisons popping up all over our nation. In order to make a profit these prisons don’t care about rehabilitation, they only care about keeping their incarceration levels near maximum. They lobby Federal and State governments for harsher sentences on victimless crimes in order to increase their prison populations.

We have seen that prohibition doesn’t work, and all it does is lock up users and gives a cheap source of funding for criminal enterprises. From my own experiences in my teenage years I can tell you that it was much easier to get marijuana than it was to get beer, because drug dealers don’t care what your age is.

The solution is to legalize any and all drugs, whether it’s marijuana, cocaine, or prescription drugs, etc. Set the minimum age to 21 like we already do with alcohol, and have strong punishments for any establishment that sells to minors, possibly through stiff fines and revoking their license to sell those substances after 3 strikes. As for advertising, I think we should go with our current laws on tobacco, by preventing TV ads and the targeting of children. The next step is to tax the substance. Don’t make the tax too high or people will resort to knocking off stores that sell the stuff and then selling it on the black market, and customers will take the chance of buying it illegally rather than pay exorbitant prices. As for prescription drugs, allow people to buy it without a prescription but then charge the drug tax, if they buy it with a doctors prescription then they won’t have to pay the drug tax. Use the tax money for anti-drug programs and commericials, and for treatment of people who want to quit their addiction. That’s just my two cents on this subject.

Posted by: pops mcgee at August 14, 2008 8:23 PM
Comment #258560

The funny thing is, using drugs is not illegal in the US. POSSESSING drugs is. Why? A little publicized Supreme Court decision saying that you cannot criminalize someone for being addicted to something… The government just found another way to do it and get around the decision.

Putting people in jail for doing something that affects them and should, if we believe in liberty, be their decision alone to make.

But the US isn’t well versed in this ‘liberty’ thinking…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 14, 2008 8:53 PM
Comment #258562

No one seems to bring up methamphetamines and crack when drugs are mentioned, nor the different inhalents some people use. Is there any drug that should be considered illegal or are all drugs on the decriminalization table?

IMHO those that take meth and come around me or mine are violating my liberties with their habit.

Drugs affect the children of those with drug problems whose liberties are more important?

How do we deal with these conflicting liberties should drugs be decriminalized?

Posted by: j2t2 at August 14, 2008 9:23 PM
Comment #258563


The same way we deal with someone who drinks and drives, or an alcoholic who neglects or beats their children. We used that as a reason to ban alcohol and it didn’t work then, so why are we using the same failed method with drugs today?

Posted by: pops mcgee at August 14, 2008 9:30 PM
Comment #258565


Are you listening? We advocate medical treatment of addiction and criminal prosecution of abuse, theft, robbery or whatever other crime occurs.

Perhaps we should preemptively prosecute crimes. Since we KNOW all pot smokers will eventually end up thieving, child abusing, murdering thugs, we should just execute them when they get caught inhaling the first time.

IMHO those that take meth and come around me or mine are violating my liberties with their habit.
Perhaps you have come up with esp drug testing methods, since you know whenever someone near you uses meth. I guess their “vibes” infringe on your ultra sensitive rights? Posted by: googlumpugus at August 14, 2008 10:34 PM
Comment #258570

“Are you listening? We advocate medical treatment of addiction and criminal prosecution of abuse, theft, robbery or whatever other crime occurs.”

googlumpogus Im not sure who is going to pay for the addicts treatment but from what I understand it is rather expensive. If it was part of a universal health care plan I wouldnt be against this approach for the softer drugs. We seem to be spending it on incarceration costs now. The harder drugs such as meth will require a certain amount of jail time IMHO along with the medical care to be effective.

“Perhaps we should preemptively prosecute crimes. Since we KNOW all pot smokers will eventually end up thieving, child abusing, murdering thugs, we should just execute them when they get caught inhaling the first time.”

Googlumpugus you seem to want to put a lot of words into my mouth. You’ve entered the realm of the Tom Cruise science fiction movie, Minority Report with this statement. Im not sure this type of response wouldnt fall under “puritan sado masochistic approach to sin.” Anyway Its not something that I advocate and I dont understand what I ve written that would make you think that.

“Perhaps you have come up with esp drug testing methods, since you know whenever someone near you uses meth. I guess their “vibes” infringe on your ultra sensitive rights?”

googlumpugus Im suprised,such a naive statement from you. To think I would need esp to identify a meth user near me shows that you dont have a clue as to how dangerous someone using that drug on a regular basis can be and how easy it is to recognize the effects the drug has on a person. It aint about their “vibes” infringing on my rights its their actions whilst under the influence of the drug that I worry about.

Ive had several years of dealing with a meth addict and have supported his family while he was on a binge several times and on two occaisions a treatment center . I’ve had numerous items stolen to pay for his and his drug buddies habit. Over the years this man has been hit by a car, shot, severely burned and just recently is out of the hospital after being stabbed with a knife because of the drugs. So yeah I dont think I need esp to spot a tweaker.

As far as this ultra sensitive rights jab, it seems to me that some of the posters in this thread are more worried about the rights of the druggies who cause the problems than those that have to deal with the problems. I understand in Texas you can just shoot’em but Im not in Texas and dont really want to shoot this guy in front of his wife and kids, just doesnt seem like a good answer to me. I just think that certain drugs pose problems beyond the abilities of the medical community, at least in the first stages of any treatment and that incarceration may help during that initial stage. I dont think legilization of the harder drugs is a good idea as it would cause to many problems for those dealing with the daily lives of the drug users. Im not against much more medical care, shorter sentencing and removal of the felony record once they have been successfully rehabilitated.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 15, 2008 3:16 AM
Comment #258574

Googlumpugus, One need not use magic or pyschic abilities to identify a meth user, it is rather obvious to someone who has been around the junk more than oncce. As a former member of law enforcment, I have to agree with j2t2.

Here are the common obvious symptoms of a meth user
Ongoing use: Weight loss, Strong body odor, Shadows under the eyes, Dry or itchy skin,Pale complexion,Acne/Acne-type sores,Irritable and moody (mood swings),Picking at skin or hair,Aggressive or violent behavior,Depression (withdrawal/tolerance effect), Severe nail biting,Nose bleeds, nasal perforations,Dermatitis around the mouth,Lack of personal hygiene,

Some advanced use symptoms are:
Extreme weight loss,Hair loss, Discolored, rotten or missing teeth, Corneal ulcerations,Severe mental illness symptoms, similar to schizophrenia (including anger, panic, paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations, repetitive behavior patterns)

Posted by: napajohn at August 15, 2008 9:48 AM
Comment #258576

Matthew, ironically, the very Republicans in Texas who made Texas the second highest prison population state in the U.S. are now the very politicians screaming about the high cost to Tx. taxpayers for prisons and incarceration rates.

Feeling the heat from their constituents, Texas Republicans are finally relenting those liberals in the Legislature who have been calling for more than a decade to address the victimless crime reform issue and dramatically curtail the number of citizens entering the prison system each year.

So, the bottom line is, Republicans can be taught, and will adapt if the political voter pressure gets turned up high enough. Texas now has a drug court which, instead of sending drug first time drug offenders to prison, send them to treatment facilities on a kind of probation status, instead. They are now even contemplating relaxing the standards further to permit the drug courts to handle 2nd time offenders instead of just first, and expand the substance quantity limits that mark whether a person goes to prison as a dealer or user. This, in response to the extremely favorable outcomes of the drug courts, which Republicans fought every inch of the way until taxpayers demanded reform.

Liberal policy wins again, as Republicans and their supporters see the light and opportunity to reduce the unintended costs of policies formed on the basis of hate and despising of those whose lifestyles are different.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2008 11:04 AM
Comment #258578

It’s the old story of supply and demand. Folks demand drugs because someone hooked then on them, and the dealers are more than happy to supply them.
We need to be attacking the problem on three fronts. We need to be locking up dealers and smugglers for a very long time. Like maybe the rest of their worthless lives.
We need to be treating those hooked on the poisons that the dealers got them hooked on.
While D.A.R.E. is doing a fair job I don’t think it’s as effective as it could be. The youngins need to see first hand what drug use can and does to people.
When my son was 13 my wife found some marijuana residue in his pants pocket. While I was ready to kill the boy my wife told me to let her handle it. She arranged for the two of them to go over to the local state mental hospital, where she worked at the time, and take a tour of the ward she worked in. They kept the folks there that had lost their minds because of drugs and were hopelessly hooked on them. We couldn’t hardly get the boy to take an aspirin after that.
From what I’ve heard no one just up and decides ‘Hey I think I’ll become a drug head today’. Someone, usually a friend(?) or dealer gives them the drugs and they get hooked.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2008 12:56 PM
Comment #258580

1.3 million incarcerated for non violent or victimless drug offenses? I don’t believe it. Very few people go to prison for simple posession of marijuana anymore. So, we are primarily talking about dealers. The vast majority of pot dealers in this country are not dealing medical marijuana.

Recently, a local drug dealer was busted in this county. In addition to marijuana, the raid garnered a substantial amount of prescription narcotics and a house full of stollen property, including more than fifty stolen firearms. That is a lot of B & E’s.

IMO, legalizing marijuana and other drugs is not going to substancially reduce the amount of thievery involved in the drug situation. The government is not going to legalize marijuana without significant control over who grows and benefits profitably from it. Also, the government will want to artifically control the price at a high level for tax purposes. The DEA will live on, perhaps with a diminished role, as the government trys to protect it’s tax interests. Many of the poorest amoung us will continue to steal for their drug money even if they have to fence the stollen goods to a neighbor before going to the drug store.

A young man with a wife and two kids has a minimum wage job and receives government assistance. He spends one to two hundred dollars on alcohol, marijuana or other drugs each month. Is that a victimless situation?

While I am not opposed to less restrictive laws or legalization, I don’t think we should pretend that there won’t be victims. I am sure that the drug companies would like to get in on the action as well. I am sure they would love to sell narcotic pain killers over the counter to anyone.

Posted by: jlw at August 15, 2008 1:10 PM
Comment #258583

Maybe incarceration aint the solution to the problem of drug use. But as long as drugs are illegal those using them are criminals. If we start letting them off the hook then the violent criminals are going to think they can get off the hook. Just when do we put our foot down and say no?
If we legalize one drug won’t we have to legalize all drugs? And do y’all really want to see some of the poison out there available across the counter?
The line has to be drawn somewhere. Maybe marijuana doesn’t make folks violent. But crack sure as hell does. And I’ve seen first hand what angel dust does. I don’t that crap available anywhere, legally or illegally.
While I look at marijuana as being no more dangerous as alcohol, and that pretty dangerous, the fact is it’s illegal. I might not object to it being legal anymore than I do alcohol, and I don’t really like alcohol being legal.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2008 1:18 PM
Comment #258592


“It’s the old story of supply and demand. Folks demand drugs because someone hooked then on them, and the dealers are more than happy to supply them.”

i don’t disagree. i think the problem is whether thier legal, or illegal they’re are going to be people that develope problems, and those that don’t. the best way to stop the supply side is through education like you did with your son. thats not to say some times there’s not a need for an occasional ass whupping, while it shouldn’t always be the answer, sometimes it’s the only answer.

the problem with prohibition in general is that IMO it creates a whole new set of problems, one being a profitable black market for violent organized criminals and such, and you still have the underlying problem the denmand. personally i think pot should be legal period, like i said before, i don’t know of anyone who has gone off the deep end because of its use. many normal productive people choose to smoke a little after a hard day at work as opposed to have a drink. hell there’s people out there that will abuse anything they get thier hands on. i’m sure you’ve seen plenty of people lately that always have one of those trendy energy drinks in thier hand, and can’t live with out one.

i don’t know how i’de do about dealing with other stuff like meth, coke, and the truely dangerous other drugs, but the current policy is not working, and is only adding to the problem by increasing the violence that accompanies the smuggling of any banned substance.

Posted by: dbs at August 15, 2008 3:13 PM
Comment #258599

Oh Boy.

Yes I know a serious crack/meth head can be obvious as can a schizophrenic. Are you advocating locking up Schizos without treatment as well?

J2t2, I hate to tell you this, but you are the meth head’s enabler. You should participate in his rehabilitation since you are part of the problem.

Addiction has serious consequences. Meth IS a physical addiction. This person SHOULD be locked up for his own good, but not in a penal system.

The reason I assumed you must have esp, is that there are meth users who do not fit the stereotype. They likely eventually will, but your assumption was that all meth users should be locked up. to wit:

IMHO those that take meth and come around me or mine are violating my liberties with their habit.

This is an absurd statement. You redefined it and now want to argue about how you’ve been stolen from. The crime was theft, not shooting meth. Big difference.


Blaming someone else for “hooking” you on drugs is avoiding personal responsibility. It doesn’t pan out. Addicts will seek out their mood altering experiences.

Equating sensible policies toward drugs in no way lets violent offenders off the hook. That kind of non-thinking is how we got here.

BS— angel dust, paint thinner or crack doesn’t make everyone violent. They can do serious damage to mental health. Yes, some get violent. I don’t advocate selling them as recreational or therapeutic drugs. Making possession a crime is stupid, tough. I would perhaps require drug education courses for possession. Since other drugs would be legal and cheaper, why would anyone choose to destroy there brains? No doubt some would. They might need to be locked in a pad room while they destroy the few brain cells they have left.
While I do not advocate the return to commitment and institutionalization policies of the past, we need to address mental health in a more serious manner than we do. Some sort of commitment for out of control individuals needs to be looked at.

As to funding this, look at how much we waste on enforcement to watch drugs get cheaper, meaning supply is increasing. There is your funding.

All I’m asking is to stop the self flagellation and knee jerk responses. Let’s do something that makes sense. You can’t whip it out of them. Pulling the “It’s a crime” line for every problem doesn’t work. It may satisfy some need for punishment, that I half jokingly referred to as puritanical s/m. If only it were a joke.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 15, 2008 4:49 PM
Comment #258621

How about the Federal Government just allow the states to decide for themselves, like Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin have done. It would be nice if the Federal Government respected state sovreignty and state rights.

Posted by: napajohn at August 15, 2008 7:55 PM
Comment #258624
Liberal policy wins again

Liberal policy? Which of these three Presidential candidates is suggesting ending the war on drugs.


I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t the Liberal…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 8:16 PM
Comment #258625

I recently watched the HBO dvd on Addiction, which had a lot of commentary form medical professionals. Alcohol is the most serious drug problem that we have. It used to be illegal. Now it’s legal in almost all places. Otherwise you would have to put a lot more people in jail than are in jail for drugs, but they would be in jail for the same reason, because it’s illegal.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 15, 2008 8:22 PM
Comment #258628

I think non-addictive drugs should be legalized. But, I also think that the people who use them who potentially endanger the lives of other people around them — such as driving or working while under the influence — should be given a stiff fine for the first offense, and perhaps even jail sentences (for repeat offenders).

As for addictive drugs, those who are busted for them should be given the same sort of treatment that Cindy McCain was given for her drug addiction. Mrs. McCain was so addicted that she ended up taking over twenty synthetic-heroin pills per day, for years. Eventually she was orchestrating illegal prescriptions to be written for her, which basically amounted to stealing drugs from her own charity.
Rather than go to jail, she went into a drug treatment facility, followed by outpatient sessions. As regards the law, she only paid fines and was enrolled in what is known as a “diversion program.” These are programs which are run by DA’s offices and are designed to enable non violent first time offenders to avoid criminal charges.

If Mrs. McCain had been treated the way that most drug addicts who commit crimes are, she would have gone directly to jail — probably for quite a few years. In fact, she may not have even been able to vote for her husband in this election.
The way I see it, sauce for a Filthy-Rich Goose like Mrs. McCain should be the same sauce for the rest of us Garden Variety Ganders.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 15, 2008 8:53 PM
Comment #258633
As for addictive drugs

So you are advocating drug treatment programs for Alchohol and Cigarettes then?

Actually, it is more personality than the drug, there are specific personalities that are more susceptable to addiction than others.

If someone is breaking a law while under the influence, find out and get them help. If someone files bankruptcy and is addicted, get them help. However, if someone is using drugs, whatever they are, and not impacting anyone else’s rights, then why are we, as a society, interjecting our morals onto them?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 9:22 PM
Comment #258638
So you are advocating drug treatment programs for Alchohol and Cigarettes then?

Alcohol addiction poses just as much of a danger to people in the street, on the road, and in the work place as any other addictive drug, so yes, I would advocate treatment programs for that.
Breaking the addiction to cigarettes should be covered under any comprehensive health care plan for all Americans.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 15, 2008 9:53 PM
Comment #258641
Alcohol addiction poses just as much of a danger to people in the street, on the road, and in the work place as any other addictive drug

But should they be leaglized? The way you wrote your comment before, it appeared you were saying that they should be illegal and the result of being caught using them would be treatement.

If you are just saying that someone who is addicted, or even using, an addictive substance while committing a crime should be forced into a treatment program, then that is one thing, but I read it as suggesting another.

If you could clarify that would be appreciated.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 10:06 PM
Comment #258644


But should they be leaglized?

They are legal, and I think they should remain legal. Not everyone who drinks or enjoys smoking a cigarette is addicted. Among those who are addicted and want to quit however, treatment programs should be made available, and even encouraged by their doctors.

The way you wrote your comment before, it appeared you were saying that they should be illegal and the result of being caught using them would be treatement.
If you are just saying that someone who is addicted, or even using, an addictive substance while committing a crime should be forced into a treatment program, then that is one thing, but I read it as suggesting another.

Yes, people who commit crimes while high, or because of their addictions, should be forced into mandatory treatment programs. Of course, if they killed or seriously hurt someone while perpetrating that crime, they should receive jail time, in addition to mandatory treatment for their addiction.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 15, 2008 10:41 PM
Comment #258656

Ok, just checking.

So you have no problem with marijuana or cocaine to be legalized, since not everyone who uses them abuses them or commits crimes, right? But those who do while under the influence should face jail time for their crimes AND receive treatment for their illnesses?

Because if you do, then I think we agree on that topic…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 11:49 PM
Comment #258657

If you didn’t kill someone, or nearly kill someone, you shouldn’t be in prison at all. They can attach an electronic monitor, and leave you on house arrest, to feed and house yourself at your own expense or your family’s, like they do if you are prosperous, or don’t belong to an ethnic group that we like to keep as many as possible in prison.

In some rural counties, prisoners are used as a workforce, to repair roads, clear vegetation from the right of way, and other tasks, giving the locals an incentive to keep enough people in prison, and giving the Rev Wrights of this world an issue to crow about.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 15, 2008 11:54 PM
Comment #258660

I’ve never heard of anyone going gaga using marijuana. But I have a daughter that just might be alive today if the truck driver that hit her hadn’t been high on it.
It might not be as dangerous as some of the crap out there but it sure as hell is dangerous. I rank it right there with alcohol.
I’m waiting for some 16 or 17 year old to have a heart attack drinking them energy drinks. Then watch the law suites begin. Teenagers seem to be the ones that drink them the most. And I’ve seen some drink 2 or 3 at a time.
While I don’t think someone drinking them is a danger to anyone else, I personally think the drinks are dangerous to the health of the person drinking them, specially the folks that drink 2 or 3 at a time, because of all the crap that’s put in them.
I’m not say we need to outlaw them. But maybe some sort of regulation is needed.

Would ya be willing to agree that if someone didn’t provide the drugs that folks wouldn’t get hooked on them? That’s what I meant by someone hooking them on drugs. The person supplying the drugs is aiding in the person getting hooked. Just like the person that supplies the alcohol is helping the drunkard get hooked.
I know that it’s the drug addicts own fault they’re hooked on drugs. Just like it’s the drunkard’s fault they’re hooked on alcohol. And both need to take the blame for it. Until they do they won’t even be able to begin unhooking themselves.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 16, 2008 12:11 AM
Comment #258665

My nephew recently went to the hospital from drinking energy drinks. He was working outside, got sick and almost passed out. The doc said they dehydrate you also.
Something ironic; I once studied the origin of the woman’s right to vote. It is interesting to note that due to high alcohol use and abusive relationships from men at that time, woman were the driving force behind prohibition. Numerous priests and protestant leaders were the main support for womans suffrage since they knew their votes would tip the scales toward prohibition. The breweries were obviously frantic about financing woman out of politics. The conclusion can be made that Christians were directly responsible for the womans right to vote and both were responsible for prohibition.
A ridiculous reason for incarceration I have observed is child support. More than a few men I know have wives that left with another man with their kids and we have to bail the poor guys out of jail. One fella was paying a hundred bucks a week for day care for his eight year old. The courts wouldn’t adjust it since she moved out of state. We had a full time team in our county that just went around seeking men to incarcerate for support. A relative who was living with me had one of those wives that remarried and I ran the cops off numerous times. Having them stopping all the time made me look like a drug dealer. Nothing worse than seeing her and the new beau enjoying your money. Makes you want to become intoxicated and give yet another reason for arrest..

Posted by: Kruser at August 16, 2008 1:14 AM
Comment #258668


You are almost there. It’s the addicts fault for not seeking treatment.

Mood altering takes on many forms, thus the term “dry drunk”. A Houston therapist who talks about shame based behavior, used a term “rage-aholics” in the seventies. I personally see it as some form of regression or infantilism. My father probably fell into this category. He never took a mood altering drug in his life, but he still had lots of issues. He didn’t need a dealer.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 16, 2008 7:11 AM
Comment #258681


thats horrible. i’m sorry. there’s not much that i could think of that could be worse than loosing a child. the thing you have to keep in mind though is that if that driver had been drinking, or under the influence of an over the counter drug that causes drowsiness the result would be no different. the key factor here is absolute criminal negligence on the part of that driver. that IMO is the crime commited against your daughter. driving under the influence of anything that can impair your ability to drive safely should be prosecuted vigorously. that includes those energy drinks if they impair your ability. the choice should not be taken away because of the possibility of abuse, but abuse of that freedom of choice that harms others should carry the full force of the law.

Posted by: dbs at August 16, 2008 11:38 AM
Comment #258683

Concerning this subject, there are many motives for drinking. Some are emotional dependence, peer acceptance, enjoyment, and escape.
To penalize all forms by a ban is akin to punishing achievement with taxes. It isn’t right.
To govern means setting limits on behavior. The excesses should be dealt with and all others left alone. Jail to sleep it off, licenses revoked and counseling.
The matter is much more complicated with pot since from my own observance, it leads to harder drugs. Not all users go there, but a very high percentage. The opposite is true with alcohol. Many participate but there are a much lower percentage of abusers who will go to the next level.

Posted by: Kruser at August 16, 2008 12:10 PM
Comment #258687

There is little doubt that alcohol has been the most destructive drug. This is true because of it’s wide spread acceptance and the numbers of people who us alcohol in an illegal manner.

Many, many people have been killed because of alcohol used illegally. Even more have been physically maimed for life. The combination of private transportation and alcohol has devastated many families. I once read that the odds of being pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence are 1 out of every 400 times you do it.

Another aspect is the abuse and destruction caused to families by an alcoholic parent.

Alcohol is the most destructive drug because of it’s acceptance by society and the numbers of people who use it. Is it possible that another drug could be as destructive to a society as alcohol? Possibly if it were tollerated by society to the degree that alcohol is and if as many people used it in an illegal and abusive manner.

Alcohol and all other drugs combined, even with their negative aspects, are nothing compared to the one addiction that envelops most of us. Our addiction to the consumptive American Way of Life and our demand that our government feed our addiction has the potential to destroy us as a nation and possibly the world if we decide to take everyone else down with us.

Posted by: jlw at August 16, 2008 1:43 PM
Comment #258688

It’s also the addicts fault they’re hooked on what ever drug they’re on. I haven’t heard of anyone putting a gun to some one’s head and making them take the drug in the first place. That only happens in the movies.

I know that it doesn’t matter why a driver is impaired. It’s against the law to drive under the influence of anything (except your wife:)).
I’m well aware that my daughter could have been killed by a driver that was under the influence of something else. It could have been alcohol, meth, crack, over the counter drugs, prescription drugs, or any number of things. Or the driver could have been drowsy and fell asleep.
I have a friend who’s brother fell asleep at the wheel, drifted across the center line, hit a mini van, and killed the driver and 2 children. Poor guy could live with it.
It’s just in my daughter’s case the drive was under the influence of marijuana. And I used it to show that marijuana is as dangerous as alcohol. Seems like a lot of folks arguing for legalization of marijuana want make out like it’s totally harmless. Well it aint.

It might be rough see your wife with another guy, your children, and your money. But they are the guy’s youngins and that makes him financially responsible for them. If he doesn’t pay child support he’s almost as low a scumbag as a child molester. And I’m sure everyone here knows what I think about them by now.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 16, 2008 1:52 PM
Comment #258690

Ron Brown said: “It might not be as dangerous as some of the crap out there but it sure as hell is dangerous.”

So are knives, weed wackers, the billions of pounds of OTC and Rx meds prescribed each year to 10’s of millions of people on the roads, sidewalks, at work and in schools.

Just because some idiots will use alcohol or MJ while driving doesn’t mean the whole of the rest of the society should be deprived of it.

It comes down to the false premise that if one persons misuses something, no one should be allowed access to it. It is a ridiculous and undemocratic postulation.

Instead of banning materials and substances, the government should go after those who abuse them by intentionally or unintentionally harming others with that abuse. There is not a single driver on the road who DOES NOT know that they SHOULD NOT get high and drive. That makes the driver dangerous, not Marijuana.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 16, 2008 5:23 PM
Comment #258691

Googlumpugus “Yes I know a serious crack/meth head can be obvious as can a schizophrenic. Are you advocating locking up Schizos without treatment as well?”

Im not advocating locking up meth users without treatment Im advocating both medical treatment and jail time/ mental health intervention initially. I have no opinion on treating those suffering from schizophrenia but locking them up without treatment doesnt seem to make much sense. I would ask what do they take to induce the schizophrenia onto themselves? The drug user at least has a choice to not take the illegal drug.

“J2t2, I hate to tell you this, but you are the meth head’s enabler. You should participate in his rehabilitation since you are part of the problem.”

When this issue first came to my attention I did enable him. That hasnt happened in the past few years. Without going deeper into the history of this man and myself, as its actually irrevelent to the topic, sufice it to say I havent been an enabler in quite some time.

“Addiction has serious consequences. Meth IS a physical addiction. This person SHOULD be locked up for his own good, but not in a penal system.”

I dont think there is much difference between a mental institution and a jail as fas as the person being locked up is concerned, and private treatment facilities are very expensive. Unless someone is ready to give up their addiction there really isnt a lot someone else can do if they are determined to continue using IMHO. While we are on the subject how could you legally lock someone up that didnt want to be locked up if the drug was legal? Talk about violating rights.

“The reason I assumed you must have esp, is that there are meth users who do not fit the stereotype. They likely eventually will, but your assumption was that all meth users should be locked up. to wit:

IMHO those that take meth and come around me or mine are violating my liberties with their habit.

This is an absurd statement. You redefined it and now want to argue about how you’ve been stolen from. The crime was theft, not shooting meth. Big difference.”

Truthfully I dont think its the least bit absurd. Although I didnt mention locking anyone up in the quoted statement even those that you deem unsterotypical could perhaps save themselves a lot of grief and the taxpayers a lot of money on medical treatment and incarceration with a short jail sentence and fines. While that may offend your sensibilities perhaps in the long run if the unsterotypical tweakers were involved in an intervention prior to the drug taking control they would reap substantial benefits and who knows perhaps save the lives of future victims.
That being said the point of the statement you quoted was in response to others saying the drug users rights were being violated. My comment referred to “habit” for a reason and was asking what about the rights of others to not have to deal with someone under the influence of a dangerous drug. Googlumpugus I wasnt trying to redefine I was simply adding some background for consideration.
What I find absurd is what you call the unsterotypical user and could be considerd a casual user. They are still under the influence of the drug, who is to know if they will react violently until it happens. When they are coming down and havent slept in a while usually it would be a safe bet to think they may be less than friendly. In my mind its like being kinda pregnant when your dealing with this type of drug. I would prefer to have my rights to not have to deal with them take priority over their right to use the drug.
Once again I would favor removal of the felony from their record upon sucsessful rehabilitation. I also think that denying those convicted of drug charges grants and loans for college is detrimental to solving the problem but yet we do it.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 16, 2008 6:07 PM
Comment #258695

Alcohol is found in varying amounts in a large assortment of drinks. A majority of people in the world don’t drink it for a buzz but for the flavor and social aspect. Because of that fact, most houses have it. It isn’t the alcohol, it is the abusers that cause deaths.
Pot and other drugs exist solely for the buzz so legalizing it is hard to justify.

Posted by: Kruser at August 16, 2008 9:35 PM
Comment #258696

J2t2 and Kruser,

Addiction is a health issue. It is a mental health issue. Sadly most people don’t understand that, including addicts, and make it into a moral statement. Most addicts don’t have a choice about abusing their drug of choice, and many will switch to a new drug in the absence of that one. Again, it’s a behavior/mental health issue. While drugs are the common form of mood altering non-drug issues can be substituted. Food, masturbation, rage, OCD’s, etc.

There is a HUGE difference between a jail and mental health treatment. We currently warehouse MANY people with mental health issues in jail. Go to any major city and talk to people involved with the jails and they will tell you that. The problems still exist when they are released and may be worse and in addition to economic/legal issues created by the penal system.

This is the basic ignorance and fallacy that continues our stupid, ineffectual social policies towards drug abuse.

I drink coke because I like the flavor AND I like the stimulating effects of caffeine. I like to smoke a cigar and drink scotch once in awhile. While I haven’t gotten drunk in years, I wouldn’t say I’d never do that with a group of friends on an appropriate occasion. I won’t be beating myself up as a moral degenerate if I do. I also like the smell and flavor of marijuana. I like to smoke a joint and then paint or play guitar. It also relieves some of my arthritic pain and stiffness. I don’t smoke it to get wasted. What’s your next false argument, Kruser?

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 16, 2008 10:15 PM
Comment #258698
Pot and other drugs exist solely for the buzz so legalizing it is hard to justify.

Except for a small thing called ‘liberty’. It’s a new concept that we Americans might want to think about sometime…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 17, 2008 12:17 AM
Comment #258705

Rhinehold -

As much as you and I disagree on other topics, I think you and I agree here.

(and please accept my sincere apology for letting my temper get the best of me in the other posts - your conduct has been better than mine)

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 17, 2008 4:02 AM
Comment #258711

“It isn’t the alcohol, it is the abusers that cause deaths.
Pot and other drugs exist solely for the buzz so legalizing it is hard to justify.”


There is no logic in either of those statements.

It always has been about the buzz. Mankind has been copping a buzz, be it with alcohol or marijuana for thousands of years.
Hell, the Egyptians made beer 5,000 years ago.
South Americans have been chewing coca for nearly as long.
If it wasn’t for the buzz, what was it for?

Temperance is merely a religious concept, and mankind was getting high long before religion even existed.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 17, 2008 10:33 AM
Comment #258752

Well said, Rocky. And allow me to add, that religious teetotalers tend to not only be no fun at all, but they aren’t as healthy and don’t live as long on average as those who feel free to imbibe a little every day.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 18, 2008 2:10 AM
Comment #258768

There was a war fought for states rights about 150 years ago. And the side for them lost. The states aint had any right sense then.
Maybe a new war for them is due.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 18, 2008 12:44 PM
Comment #258772

Nothing is dangerous until folks start using it. Then anything can be dangerous. It’s just that something are more dangerous than others.
Drugs are one of them. And any drug can be abused. My wife has on a couple of occasions had to treat someone in the ER that has abused aspirin.
I’m not arguing against the legalization of marijuana as such, although I’m not crazy about the idea. It’s just that I don’t understand the argument that those that want it legalized use that no one gets hurt from it’s use. It just aint true.
They also seem to think that it should be able to bought over the counter without regulation like candy, and I’m against it. If it’s gonna be legal to buy it, it needs to be regulated like tobacco and alcohol. I’m sure ya don’t want your 17 year old to be able to buy cigarettes and beer, why would ya want her to be able to buy pot?

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 18, 2008 1:07 PM
Comment #258775

Ron -

“The states aint had any right sense then.”

And they ain’t got any right sense now, either, if they vote for McCain.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 18, 2008 1:09 PM
Comment #258818

In Evanston, IL, (oddly enough the home of the WCTU, birthplace of Donald Rumsfeld, and formerly dry as far as hard liquor, when I went to school there,) marijuana is virtually legal, which is a little inconvenient for residents when they venture elsewhere. Also, some kind of drugs are sold on every corner within a few blocks of Evanston Township High School. The police department doesn’t really do much about it. Civilization has not come to an end, in fact it’s pretty much thriving.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 18, 2008 5:20 PM
Comment #259215

Ron, I don’t know who the “they” are that you refer to. The people I know want MJ’s sale and posession for personal use decriminalized. They aren’t asking for immunity for individuals how smoke pot and cause a car wreck or screw up on the job as a result of being high.

Perhaps you know a different clientele of folks wanting MJ decriminalized.

As for its use as a Rx drug, there simply isn’t any debate to be had based on the evidence. It has medical uses, and is far less harmful than a plethora of other Rx drugs being sold in the thousands of tons each year.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 22, 2008 5:18 PM
Post a comment