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Rethinking The War On Drugs

A major international panel says the war on drugs has failed. That we need to step back and rethink, again. We’ll do that.

Panama City police cut open packages of cocaine before burning narcotics during a drug disposal operation in May 20, 2011. Officials said they burned 6.5 tons of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, heroin and ecstasy. (AP)

Panama City police cut open 6.5 tons worth of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and ecstasy before setting them ablaze during a drug disposal operation. (AP)

The war on drugs is old and broken.

The war on drugs is still with us, in its fundamentals: crackdown and incarceration. Last week, a high-level international panel said we’ve got to break the logjam.

Former Latin American heads of state, a UN chief, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former U.S. Fed chief Paul Volker –- all saying the global war on drugs has failed.

U.S. prisons are jammed. Mexico’s in big trouble. We shut it down in one country, it goes to another.

The drugs roll on.

This hour On Point: looking for a new way on drugs.

- Tom Ashbrook


Bruce Bagley, professor of international relations and chair of the department of international studies at the University of Miami.

Dr. Thomas McLellan, professor at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He served as the nation’s deputy Drug Czar and is currently the director of the Penn Center for Substance Abuse Solutions.

Cesar Gaviria, former president of Colombia from 1990-1994 and a commissioner of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.


  • A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy makes its position clear in the first sentence: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”
  • Here’s a provocative gallery of photos from Life magazine, chronicling the Mexican government’s battle with drug cartels. The photos are graphic in nature.
  • The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy heads up the U.S. anti-drug effort.
  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime publishes an annual report on illegal drugs world-wide.
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  • Brian

    It would be great if you brought up how technology has recently become an enabling factor for making supply reduction strategies even more ineffective. There now exists websites where you can get any drug imaginable delivered to your home using an annonymous p2p currency called bitcoins.

    Gawker recently ran an article about it that went viral.

    It really is fascinating.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Brian, I’m not surprized, but was unaware of this trade!  Thanks for the info.

  • Brian

    Also it’s been known for years how disastrous the War on Drugs has been. What makes this report stating the obvious any different?

    • Joshua Hendrickson

      Obvious to you and me, but not to those who profit from the war on drugs, like the mob, the feds, the police, paper/textile industries, and big pharma.  For them it’s a roaring success.

  • Salzburg

    Illegal activities that occur in the upper ranks of society are tolerated by the representatives of government. As their practices trickle down it‘s leads to greater trouble for the majority.  The middle classes buy into the propaganda that‘s put out that it‘s part of success: Don‘t change things or the American dream may not be reachable for the ordinary man. The misguided majority allow the rich to hid, behind clauses and rules, their lobbyists change for their own selfish good.

  • Cory

    It goes without saying that the “war on drugs” is a disastrous failure.

    At the same time, I am not in favor of legalization.  I don’t think legal recreational drugs falling into the hands of big business is a solution at all.  Yet another thing the top 5% can use to ring money out of the rest of us.

    I favor a sort of libertarian tolerance.  Leave it alone.  Those who want it will get it without the help and profiteering of Phizer and Archer Daniels Midland or the meddling and taxation of all levels of government.

    Those who use and commit crimes will be punished and those who use and eat chips and watch cartoons will be left to their well earned escapism.  The Buddhists have it right.  Most of life is suffering, and I’m not going to judge someone who wants to “spark one up” on a Saturday night.

    • http://richardsnotes.org Richard

       I would ad is that a DWI or DUI’s definition be expanded to include non-alcoholic intoxicants.

      I too have a relatively libertarian approach (learned from listening to William F. Buckley) but I’m afraid that between lottery tickets and less expensive drugs the class divide that many of us see happening will widen.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Richard, in many states and places, DUI, or DWI, means intoxicated,  not spefic of which intoxicant.

  • Yar

    What is the goal of the war on drugs? For the individual it should be to live in a society where even if drugs are available the individual can resist using them.  Here is my rehab idea, it will be considered cruel by many and some will die, but I believe overall it will save lives.
    Offer clinics run by the government where a person can get any drug they desire but with the catch that on a random basis it is lethal.  A person must live 30 days drug free to leave the clinic.  The workers in the clinic don’t know which dose will kill the patient and measures are put in place so prevent testing doses on others before use by the addict.
    We have a drug society, too much of our GDP is related to addiction.  Think about it, caffeine may be the initial gateway drug.  Then nicotine, alcohol, over the counter medicine, prescription medicine… when does a user turn into an addict?  It is a slippery slope and many profit from addiction, as Joshua Hendrickson stated. I would add judges, lawyers, doctors, jailers, insurance companies, the security industry among others to his list.  The war on drugs is run by a iron triangle of the industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about. 

    • Cory

      Yikes Yar!  Talk about bogarting someone’s buzz!

    • Spambasket

      The term or concept of “Gateway Drug” is nothing more than brainwashing by pharmapharmaceutical company’s who create this whole mess because they want the largest part of your paycheck that they can get. There is no gateway; there are only choices.

  • William

    Actually, the U.S. Armed Forces have been very successful in winning their “war on drugs” in their ranks. The average number of drug users in the military went from 60 percent in the 1970′s to less than 1 percent today. That is a pretty good track record and shows that going after the casual drug user is a very good way to reduce or eliminate drug abuse in our society.

    • Cory

      The military makes up less than 1% of the US population, and are governed by the military code of justice.  They have much less freedom and privacy than the average citizen.  In fact they are more an employer than a random sample of society.  Even if we grant your statistics, it would be impossible to extrapolate this “success” to our society as a whole.

      • William

        But the military is a good cross section of America so they proved that their method of eliminating drug abuse worked.

        Is the “war on drugs” a failure or another example of the failure of big government do solve problems?

      • William

        But the military gets a broad section of America and has enjoyed good results eliminating drug abuse within it’s ranks.

        So is it a more about the failure of big government again? The war on poverty has failed despite trillions of dollars in spending.

    • Spambasket

      Are you kidding William ?  There is absolutely no logic, proof or evidence that going after the casual user is helping anyone.

      • William

        Like I said, the U.S. Military got very aggressive with it’s casual drug users in the early 1980′s after a plane crash on the USS Nimitz. Admiral Watkins said “enough”, 8 sailors killed, drugs found in the body of the pilot that crashed his plane. Over the next 5 years they offered treatment or the boot. Today they have a very low number of casual drug users, not zero, but very few compared to the high number of drug users in the 1970′s. We can’t keep going after “Mr. Big” will work. Kill one Mr. Big and there will be another one come along. Take away the demand and we will be much better off.

      • IdleHands

        With William, “absolutely no logic, proof or evidence” is a feature, not a bug.

        • William

          And your “proof” is?….just idle chatter….

    • Ch Rud

      Fallacious reasoning which does not take in to consideration other factors. i.e. The Vietnam war(cheap, available drugs+drafted soldiers).  Furthermore, any visit to drug/alcohol treatment housing would turn up young veterans.  The military can remove problem soldiers by discharging them.  Our attempts to remove citizens has produced the results that we have been seeing for decades. Would you like to live in a country that conducts its public sphere like a military?

      • William

        When I was in the Navy in the late 1970′s we did not have the Vietnam War. The problem was the permissive attitude towards drug users. The motto was “just don’t do it on the ship”. This approach was “bury our heads in the sand” rather than dealing with it.

        Now how does the civilian world deal with the problem? The trend seems to be to ignore the casual drug user as not being the problem but go after Mr. Big. That approach does not seem to be working.

  • Daniel

    Prohibitions never work. If there is a demand, the market will provide, albeit at a higher cost. Overlooking the illegal drug trade is not the answer as this funds and grows criminal organizations which rarely distinguish between consensual activity and real crimes, (against the person or property of others).

    When are we going to accept that people have the inalienable right to live and die as they choose, this includes staying in an escapist fog, or even committing suicide if that is their adult decision.

    It is a shame what the US has done to Mexico and Central America in the name of a “war on drugs”. The Cartels famous for rigging elections, paying off law enforcement, kidnapping, people, extorting, & having gun fights in the streets are primarily funded by drug money. Such profits are held high by the danger associated with US Govt. prohibition and the projection of US power into Mexico and Central America. Recall Pres. Fox was going to decriminalize drugs before he was pressured to do otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    Legalize marijuana and tax it. Not sure about all the others.
    Treating addiction as a health problem and not a crime might be a place to start, but most addicts commit crimes to get their fixes. 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Geffe, HOW DO WE ESTABLISH SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY??  If someone commits a crime for drugs, do they get the excuse that they were high, or are they prosecuted for the crime as if they had made a sober decision to commit it?  I’m glad that when I hire in on a construction job, I know there will be drug-testing.  I HATE working on a job with someone DRUNK, or HIGH.  Most work is inherently too dangerous, and construction is much worse! 

  • Anonymous

    The thing is I doubt legalizing drugs would do much to stop the Mexican cartels. They are already into all the other types of crimes that comes with the territory of organized crime syndicates.

    The other thing is what about the meth problem? It’s out of control in this country and that’s mostly a local problem. you want to see a drug problem go to Southern Missouri. Even the local sheriff is caught in the web.


    • Daniel

      If other drugs where legal and easily attainable I doubt many people would chose a drug with such negative health consequences, and if they did, it is their choice.

      • Anonymous

        Daniel how is it you live in a world where you think that the choices people make do not effect you or others? If I have drinking problem and I drive I’m going to hurt or kill someone eventually. All substance abuse affects all of use and society as a whole. I’m all for legalizing drugs but do you really think it would stop peoples addictive tendencies?

    • Spambasket

      It seems to me that Meth and Crack exist because quality drugs are not available. When Reagan came down on Pot , crack was brought into the picture. People will learn to get high on whatever they can find.

  • Anonymous

    Is it still true that police department budgets depend on and calculate with very substantial “income” from the seizure of property associated with drug busts? 
    (Homes, cars, boats, assets can be seized and sold by law if so ruled.)
    If so, police have an interest to keep this revenue stream open, and are caught in a cycle of dependency.

    Are there contingency plans to deal with a post prohibition reality?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      m2cts,  Yes, and you just touched on a few of the LEGAL, designated ways for them to profit.  The ILLEGAL gains of the CORRUPT, are far more, and far more abundant!! 
           Are there any known circumstances, other than a reasonable sense of self-worth, with a meaningful, respectable occupation, that preclude drug-use, or drug-addiction?  Religion, riches (without the previous-stated qualities), fame, strict enforcement, ALL have their percentage of drug-addicts.   I have heard both major sides of this arguement, for over fifty years.  No one has provided ONE TRUE, FOOL-PROOF, answer.  The world needs serious, open debate, with the actual sucesses, and failures, honestly discussed.

  • wauch

    Legalize them all and let the healthy people enjoy the tax surpluses with 50% of the money and those that truly want to get clean the other 50%…AND let Big Tobacco and Big Beer corporations get none of it because they are part of the problem. Nicotine and alcohol relative to marijuana is not really even a discussion. Cocaine, crack, and heroine now you have a problem but this Nanny State from a drugs perspective does no one any good and gets tens to hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Afghans killed.

    • Anonymous

      Nanny State? Oh please.

  • Cory

    1.  Tolerance of soft drugs.

    2.  Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan.

    3.  Medicare and Social Security.

    4.  National Healthcare.

    5.  Reduced defense spending.

    I think that at least three out of the above five are supported by a strong majority of Americans.  Why is it that our representative government is able to consistently ignore or oppose these wishes?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      VESTED INTERESTS, CORY.  Too many of the people, or Citizen Corporations (SUCH A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE, TRUTH, SENSE, AND MORALS), OWN the people that make the decisions!  Just like the oil and coal compaines OWNED the people that made energy policy in the eight years of the last White House administration, follow the money, and you’ll see who owns the policy-makers, therefore the policy.  Not ignoring any other OWNED administrations, just using the one that tacitly ADMITTED, by the SECRET Energy Policy group that made Policy, and was exposed!!
           What countries can they use as examples of NO anti-drug laws, with NO drug-related problems??  Prove that it works!!!!

    • Salzburg

      So called soft drugs should not be tolerated for recreation use. 

      Today‘s marijuana is not a soft drug. It has been manipulated to have high amounts of THC and low amounts of CBD – the two principal components of cannabis. European studies are leaning towards showing these high THC varieties can cause schizophrenia outbreaks in people who are prone to this illness. The high THC, also, causes forgetfulness for days after the consumption. It influences the development of growing brain connections of the human below the age of 27.

      • JimmyJJimmanny

        This is an example of someone who has bought and swallowed the disinformation that is spewed by spin doctors.  I use the strongest strains of cannabis on earth, every day for the last thirty years.  Cannabis is obviously a fearfully powerful drugs, because it can cause schizophrenic episodes in people who have never even used it, like in your above episode.

      • WhatAMaroone

        Who the heck do you think you are? Zeus perhaps?  Making pronouncements from on high, about what people should be allowed to do for recreation.  All of you stated facts are wrong, every one of them.  But there is loads of evidence that playing high-school and college football leads to the same type of late life brain loss that is suffered by prize fighters.  Let’s forbid an activity that actually does cause brain damage: football.  And for you information, every activity influences the development of growing brain connections, so your red herring is exposed for what it is.  The brain is such an dynamic organ that any consistent behavior, like being a condemning bigot — for instance — causes changes in it’s physical connections.  Next. . . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1524806079 Bill Andy Farley

    The hard nosed enforcement and incarceration model has failed miserably. Some sort of legalization seems to be the only sane course, It’s pretty obvious that nothing could make drugs more available or plentiful than they are today.

  • J. Enos

    The failure of the War on Drugs should let us know that this problem will not be solved on the supply side anytime soon. Moreover, a supply-side strategy is lazy thinking.
    Why, in a society in which an individual’s physical,mental, psychosocial, and aesthetic needs are being met, would the same individual resort to ‘opting out’ of society through drug use (or, as the case may be, ‘opting-in’ to some type of drug-based subculture)?
     It may be oversimplifying things to refer to Maslow’s pyramid, but the prevalence of drug use in any society indicates, at least to me, the failure of that society to meet some inherent need of the individual. How many among us self-medicate illegally because of undiagnosed ( or untreated) psychological disorders? What happens to the drug picture if more Americans have access to quality mental health resources and interventions? What other unmet needs in our society contribute to this issue?

  • Rex Henry

    Calling it a war on drugs only increases the value of drugs.  How can we decrease the value?  How about decriminalization and better rehabilitation?

  • Bruce Guindon

    You know that someone in Government is making a huge amount of money by keeping drugs illegal, just remember what Al Capone said about never ending prohibition still holds true today. Drug addiction is a sickness not a crime, what we need is a change into enlighten thinking and end chronic stupidity  

  • Raphael

    Legalizing some drugs might not stop the drug cartels or illegal institutions in place but would definitely have a substantial effect on the violence going on in the world. Look at the financial benefits we acheive from the other highly addictive drugs such as antidepressants, alcohol, and nicotine.
    We need to expand the drug industry to stop the violence!

  • Pop

    If we legalize drugs today, how many of you are going to go out and start shooting up heroin tomorrow? 

  • Jdsmith02115

    Human beings have a desire to alter the state of their consciousness; they do this with drugs of various kinds and by other means. It will not stop with all of our greatest efforts. It is time to move on and get over it. Tax it to discourage it like anything else societies want to suppress.
    The profits drive criminal involvement. Eliminating this factor will go a long way to eradicating the problems associated with drugs.

  • Michiganjf

    Even most violent crime is drug related, whether due to drug dealing violence or desperate need to support a habit…

    … the number of people in prison due to stupid, backward drug policy, therefore, could be reduced by far more than the 600,000 or so non-violent offenders!!!!!!


    • Michiganjf

      Don’t forget, also, that the violent culture that develops around ILLEGAL drug dealing also creates criminals who likely would never have taken a violent turn leading to other criminal behaviour if the culture were eradicated in the first place, and drug minoey keeps this violent culture alive and thriving.

      • IdleHands

        Yep. Prison is very often a fininshing school for criminals. Soft-core low-level lowlifes become hardened criminals.

        (A good number of my wife’s clients use her agency’s services under court order.)

  • Kevin

    I’d like to see us identify and support those individuals and institutions who are studying and proposing a “whole system” approach to solving this kind of problem.

    A “whole system” approach takes into account all the interconnectedness of the different aspects and then suggests a multi-faceted solution which operates on moving each of the myriad aspects towards the “solved” status in a coordinated, simultaneous way.

    These problems are Large Scale Complex Human Problems and require “whole system” approaches.

    The failure of the “War on Drugs” is a result of the fragmented approach.


  • Joshua. Enos

    The failure of the War on Drugs leads me to believe that this problem may never be solved on the supply side. Rather, we should look for reasons why an individual whose needs are being met by a society should choose to ‘opt out’ of that society through drug use. It may be oversimplification to refer back to Maslow’s pyramid, but I suspect that where we find rampant drug use, we will also find unmet physical, environmental, emotional/psychosocial, and aesthetic needs.
    Also, how many among us choose to self-medicate using illegal means due to undiagnosed or untreated mental-health disorders? What happens to drug use if widespread access to quality mental-health care increases?

    • Tina

      Thank you!  I haven’t read all of the comments yet, but yours is one that covers important ground, in a “global” and insightful way.  Quality health care, including quality mental-health care for all would help to stop major components of the institutional racism that some people want to almost exploit as an excuse to legalize their own drug use, while those less fortunate are offered a False Hope thru legalization.  Such a solution to poverty and racism is a snare and a delusion;  your piece contains wisdom!  The freedom and equality that my African-American ancestors strove for would not have included a desire for the freedom to become addicted.  (You didn’t mention it, but in my comments, I am saying that I am talking about drugs ‘harder’ than marijuana.  I am NOT excluding marijuana; I just don’t know enough about it to know for sure if it is qualitatively different than the harder drugs; or if it does have different impacts on users depending on their age.  So my comments should be read as if I am only speaking of other, harder  drugs.) Thank you! 

  • Cabmanjohnny

    The “War” ( recalling George Carlin’s “war on everything” comment) has been a overwhelming success. Success for government jobs and institution building. Starting with DEA, state and local police, the building new justice centers in every country and staff increases, lawyer use,  corporate run rehab programs, foreign aid to drug producing nations, and ending with the for-profit prison industry in this country. Not to mention a good revenue from fines. We cannot even legalize industrial hemp growing in my state due to police and court systems realizing a potential conflict for them to make any distinction in the crop.The big pharmaceuticals don’t like competition either. Nothing will change.

  • http://twitter.com/planetirving Irving Steinberg

    This policy is a complete failure. It is time to legalize it, regulate it, and  tax it. Just look at it strictly as a fiscal and security issue: The pros of legalizing it out weigh the cons of this pointless waste of blood and treasure. If someone wants to get high, let them, just like we let people get drunk. The end result will relieve our state and federal jails, undercut narco terrorists, stabilize Mexico and Central America, and save countless lives. If we can deal with alcohol and tobacco, we can deal with drugs. 

  • Michael Cutler

    No government can repeal capitalism (ensuring that any significant demand-market will be served), nor the central nervous system’s capacity for intoxication by plants that grow anywhere (rendering interdiction impossible). Our Drug War policy of prohibition is the opposite of drug control, as it relies on the impossible foundation of interdiction and capitalism repeal. Prohibition’s discriminatory enforcement in every state further harms the country by its perpetuation of institutional racism. Prohibition worsens health and safety, and its renunciation and replacement with a public health strategy of education and treatment (as with alcohol and tobacco use) is an inevitable force of history. We need to end this self-imposed carnage and heal the scars of this fear-driven policy that contradicts science and history.

  • SteveV

    One comment stated we cannot continue this dysfunctional policy. Want to bet?
    I’ve been listening to the “war on drugs” for 40 years and see no change in the
    future. When we develop the leadership to deal with the deficit and high
    unemployment then, perhaps, we can discuss drug abuse.

  • Realworld

    There are no “Gateway” drugs. There are only choices. Gateway drugs is a term coined by “doctors” that were hired by Pharmaceutical company’s to brainwash the public so that people would not buck up against the war on drugs which exists because those powerful company’s want your money.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I see this issue as interlinked with what is called the “Secure Communities” initiative, pushed by Obama, and lately rejected by a few states, including Governor Patrick in Massachusetts.  It goes after illegal immigrant status whenever a crime is committed.  The idea is that imposing such a witchhunt (my word) would (according to the immigrant communities) wreck the networks that keep things functioning legally.
        That is a long way of saying that the “free enterprise” that is most available on getting here is under-the-table enterprise, illegal drugs, for instance.  And the last thing members of this community want is to have someone sent forever back to the home country, just because someone called the police due to some dust-up.
        Therefore, there is self-policing.  Gangs.  That sort of thing.  It is an achievement to have the legitimate police able to protect such a community.   (My take on it.)

  • Mac

    A real method that is always considered too far out is to give the drugs away to the user.

    Take heroin. I show my tracks get a daily dose on a regular basis. Now, who does the pusher go to for sales? Does a pusher have incentive to start a 7 year old when he can then get it free?

    Same thing applies to cocaine, get a blood test and get registered as a junkie getting a small daily dose and no one has incentive to give away their limited access.

    The other upside is that you get these people in for possible treatment to get off, disease free needles, etc.

    West Union, IA

  • Michiganjf

    As more and more of the powerful and wealthy are pulled into the corruption of drug culture, as a matter of survival AND profit legalizing non-violent activities will become an ever more difficult proposition, with ever more entrenched interests thwarting legalization for their own greedy, self-serving benefit.

  • Anonymous

    Illegality of Drugs drives huge profits of drug cartels.
    This fuels crime, corruption and violence.
    Take those monies away from the cartels and collect taxes on legal drug trade.
    Decrease military costs.
    Decrease police costs.
    Decrease costs of court systems.
    Decrease costs of incarceration.Decrease drug related crime here and abroad. 
    What about the children?  Contrary to the desire of parents to believe otherwise, kids get whatever drugs they want! Substance abuse the root problem: let’s direct our resources to where they will make a positive difference!
    Legalizing drug trade would be a Win, Win, Win.

    • William

      What if your 12 year old son or daughter starts buying dope?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UDPAECSLZDCM5UVA4WI5GOHL3M bobzeechemist

        What’s keeping his son or daughter from buying dope? Every American kid over the age of 10 knows exactly where to buy drugs, and from whom. The harder you enforce, the more money you hand to the drug dealers. Think about it: Why is it easier for kids to buy dope than to buy booze? Because the booze dealers cooperate with the police, and enforce the no sales to minors laws themselves.

        • William

          I think I, like most parents, live in fear that my children will become involved with drugs. I cannot see making drugs legal or more socially acceptable to be the solution.

  • Dh001g

    If you created legal channels to distribute drugs, from production through transport, to final consumer, Walgreen’s and CVS and Walmart could put the organized crime element out of business in a year. As soon as we got rid of the prohibition of alcohol no one bought their booze from Al Capone. Why not have a safer regulated product. Then we put money towards treatment to reduce demand. Right now we are wasting money and getting people killed.

  • Raphael

    That reminds me of the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S.

  • Freeman

           Process of elimination; forget warehousing those that are the “high level” pusher. In War people die ( re: Osama bin ) . There has to be an absolute consequence for anti-social behavior. Where did I hear that to really succeed one has to “fight fire with fire”.

  • Salzburg

    So called soft drugs should not be tolerated for recreation use. 

    Today‘s marijuana is not a soft drug. It has been manipulated to have high amounts of THC and low amounts of CBD – the two principal components of cannabis. European studies are leaning towards showing these high THC varieties can cause schizophrenia outbreaks in people who are prone to this illness. The high THC, also, causes forgetfulness for days after the consumption. It influences the development of growing brain connections of the human below the age of 27.

    • Realworld

      Soft drug is just another label . Like “gateway drug” Don’t believe everything you read with propaganda “studies”  schizophrenia ?  Come on !  You believe that ? Maybe if you give it to a Schizophrenic.  If people are completely left to their own , then they will figure out what works for them and what does not. It’s part of life and we all deal with it Legal or not Legal .

  • Ellen Dibble

    Besides immigrants seeking tax-free income, ex-convicts need to find income, and jobs are not so easy for them to find.  They are taught, in the better prisons, to be entrepreneurs, to start their own businesses.  Bravo.  But hearing about 99% recidivism rate, and knowing what is used and needed in their milieu, most of that post-prison enterprise must feel a huge pull towards illegal trade.

  • Jmc

    interested to know how the legalization of alcohol, clearly a toxin to the body, is ok but a natrually grown substance is more dangerous.

  • Russell

    There are organizations that benefit GREATLY from the so called war on drugs. The new “prison industrial complex” the paramilitary contractors and financial institutions that launder funds are very influential politically and growing fast in influence. That’s were the money lands. These organizations have been the powerful resistors to solving these problems.

  • Chev

    I don’t agree with McLellan.  If heron is legal I don’t see more people running out to get some so they can shoot up.  

    • Chris

      because everyone wants to be a heron (sic) addict when they grow up?

      • Tina

        That sort of IS one of the things I meant to imply by my statement about “Imagination”, above.  The love of nature, including a love of herons, swallows, kingfishers, etc. — that IS an alternative that, without Imagination, many people may not realize is ONE of the better answers to this issue, rather than either Legalization OR a War on drugs.  

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Herons are legal, although some are probably on the Endangered Species List.  What part of the bird is a drug?  I’m sure you meant heroin, which is a drug.  Please don’t take it personal, it’s just a friendly attempt at humor, that I couldn’t resist.  Maybe your spelling mistake will get readers to thimk a little more.

    • Anonymous

      All they would have to do is make Trainspotting required viewing in high school and heroin use would certainly not skyrocket. 

  • Mac

    An idea that is always considered too far out. Give the most destructive drugs away.

    Take heroin. I show up with tracks, get registered, get free heroin. Now, who does the local pusher sell to? Does a pusher have an economic incentive to start an 8 year old when the user then goes to the free clinic for their drugs?

    Same with cocaine. Get a test to prove you’re a junkie and you’re registered for a small daily dose. Anyone that wants that life can have it and it highlights all the downsides without a pusher looking to get a new user.

    Also, you get these people in on a regular basis for possible treatment to get off, disease free needles, etc.
    West Union, IA

    • William

      So nothing having medical insurance will get you a fine or the IRS would take money out of your salary, but being addicted to drugs would be rewarded with more drugs paid by non-drug users (i.e. taxpayers)? It seems a way to quickly destroy our society.

      • Mac

        We are already paying for it. I think the total social and monetary cost would be far less. Remember, the current system has many, many indirect/hidden costs as well.

        • William

          When I was in college I had to live in a very poor area of town for cheaper rent. I remember how there were some very good and honest people living in the same complex but we were living in fear of the drug users and dealers. Why keep allowing the few in society make life difficult for the majority? Giving people drugs to “keep them happy and numb” won’t encourage those people to become productive, get a job, stay out of trouble. They will continue to prey on the poor where they live and we will have an even larger problem.

    • Tina

      I’m sorry, Mac.  I find your idea just SO terribly depressing!  Do we have so little Imagination as a nation that this is what it might come down to?  I don’t mean “imagination” as in “imagination about how to solve the drug “problem”.  I mean:  the issue of access (or lack thereof) to one’s Own Imagination IS part of THIS picture, and needs to be brought into the discussion at the national level.  (Or, as I said, above, at least for drugs that are “harder” than marijuana, which I personally just don’t know how to discuss — it may be qualitatively different.  But, as a nation, we’ve got a huge problem WITH those “harder” drugs, so we could start with them, anyway.) 

      Meanwhile, innocent children, and their families, throughout the Americas, are victims of drive-by shootings and outright, targeted violence.   

  • Michiganjf

    This guy is baloney!

       If it weren’t for massive amounts of drug money, these criminal cartels would NEVER be well funded enough to build the kinds of organizations they have today… power and wealth enough to threaten and manipulate the governments of large, resource-rich countries!!!

    Does anyone really believe that gun running and extortion would provide these cartels with enough wealth and power to have the same impact as they have because of drug profits?!!!!

    Come on Tom, CHALLENGE this kind of tripe!

  • Michiganjf

    … and why were so many legitimate posts deleted?!!!!

    • On Point Radio

      No posts were deleted to our knowledge. Will check.
      -On Point Team

      • Realworld

        Mine were deleted , was it because I did not subscribe by email first?

    • BHA in Vermont

      I don’t think they are being deleted. I think they are having server problems.

  • Solarsailor

    Do the people who are opposed to legalization think that the legalization of alcohol was a mistake? If so, why? If not, why not?

  • Tinfoil

    Why is no one talking about the reason why alcohol is legal. Remember Al 

    Capone anyone? Is there still organized crime in Chicago? Sure. But are people still getting mowed down on street corners? No. 

  • Anonymous

    Comparing the drug trade to the human trade is a red herring. Human trade, by definition, impinges on the rights of others, substance use does not. We probably have more alcoholics than if alcohol were illegal- is that a case for making it illegal again?

    My concern with decriminalization is that it will increase demand. This demand will require additional supply, which gives more incentive to the still-criminal producers. Make it all legal. Ban all ads for substances from nicotine to alcohol to pot. Use public awareness campaigns to promote responsible use and/or give people reasons to *choose for themselves* to avoid use altogether.

  • Samuelkirkland

    Legalize it, and tax the hell out of it like cigarettes, and then pay off the debt with the tax revenue.

  • John – cedar falls

    Increase pot smokers, decrease the amoutn of drunk drivers on the road.  BTW, when was the last time you saw an angry, road raging stoner?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think in high school, there is the lure of the idea “work hard/play hard.”  And the question, “Don’t you know how to let go?”  “Don’t you want to see ‘what’s out there’?”  Meaning the wonderful feelings and visions or whatever.  Don’t you want to be part of the adult world?  Don’t you think you can deal with the underworld which belongs to teens?  Don’t you think you can control the kind of “losing control” that illegal drugs represent?  It’s like the pull of sexual climax.  Aren’t you ready to take the leap?
        So.  Nancy Reagan could say “Just say no.”  But it appears she achieved adulthood anyway.

  • Dh001g

    The fiction is that the drug war keeps drugs from being “cheap and available”. Right now drugs are very cheap and very available. If we legalize and regulate we may be able to focus on making drugs less cheap and available to teenagers who are more susceptible to having long term problems. When I was in High-school, drugs were at least as available if not more available than alcohol.

    Legalization and regulation can undercut other areas of organized crime revenue. Without the money from drugs there would be less of a market for guns.

    Driving under the influence of anything including cough syrup should be heavily punished. I would rather have 10 year mandatory minimum sentences for drunk drivers than pot smokers.

    It is crazy that pot is illegal but alcohol is legal. It makes no sense at all.   

  • Herb

    We need a combination of decriminalization/legalization along with educational programs about these drugs. Its your choice what you want to put into your body but people need to understand what they are consuming and what it can do to them. This is very similar to cigarettes. People know and understand the risks yet they are still allowed to consume them if they choose.

  • Dowdzilla

    We can’t control anything if we don’t own it!  Making drgs legal won’t increase use, but it will allow the government to control distribution.  You can drink all you want at home, but you can’t buy more alchohol (at a bar or a store) if you appear drunk.  Pushers don’t care if your stoned…they’ll sell you whatever you want.

  • Prempelakis

    My opinion shifted toward pro-legalization when a teenager said to me, “We couldn’t get any alcohol but we could get weed.”  Access will be decreased for teens, criminal activity will be decreased and revenues will increase for State and Federal governments if we legalize and regulate.  Some of the funds can be used for health resources for those that choose to use or abuse.

  • John CF IA

    BS … decriminalize and you will still have the illegal activity.  If the government were to control pot growing, they like the budget, would mess it up.  You would still need to go to your dealer to get the good stuff.

    • Realworld

      No you would not have to go to a dealer . you could grow it like every other god given medicinal plant that drug company’s don’t want you to know about and use. It’s all brainwashing so that they can get your paycheck.

  • BHA in Vermont

    Legalizing or decriminalizing drugs will make the drug mafias go away? I guess that means we don’t have mafias in the US any more because prohibition was ended.

  • Realworld

    The term ” Gateway Drug ” is nothing more than brainwashing by pharmaceutical company’s that want your money. They pay “doctors” to go on TV and spew this lie to gain support for their war on drugs . There is no Gateway; there is only personal choices.

  • Gayle

    There is too much money in the grey economy to ever let the government role back the war on drugs.  Too many people making too much money. Legalize everything…stop this stupid violation of individual rights.

  • Chev

    These callers are nuts… “kill the dealers” … “eliminate all the supply”.  What world do these people live in…?

  • Viensp1

    All these arguments were used during prohibition.  No sane person would want to bring that era back, so why don’t otherwise sane people see that we need to end this era?  

  • Arana Fireheart

    Why isn’t anyone making the distinction between drug use and drug abuse? There are many drug users that DON’T abuse. Drug abuse is a problem that needs to be addresses, without penalizing the remainder of society that does not have an abuse problem!

    • William

      But the problem is the people that get the money being spent by casual drug users are very violent and are destroying the 3rd world countries like Mexico etc…

      • Marv

        So by that logic if we legalize these substances, regulate them, and tax them we eliminate the black market and end funding to drug cartels in 3rd world countries. And without money in the equation I don’t see a reason for territorial violence.

  • jean kendrick

    This entire debate is missing the major point – New designer drugs and synthetic drugs will make whatever you want available 24/7/365 anywhere in the world

  • Mike

    The last call suggesting that we go to actual war in South America over drugs is absolute lunacy.

  • Chris

      The continuation of the drug war is insanity. Viz., doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.

  • Ray

     Legalize what mother nature started with!  Attempt to control what is man made. It’s as easy as that.

  • Gsupham

    All of these hard line comments are so ridiculous.  Kill drug dealer?  Use the military to fight drugs in other countries?  To what end is all of this “prevention”?  It seems awfully paternalistic to say you can or you can’t use these substances?  We sanction and support alcohol and from a fundamental perspective, drinking is just as addictive as any other drug. I just don’t understand what we are trying to accomplish.  Stability in Mexico and South America, I get that.  But the focus is primarily on what happens to the end user.

  • Daniel

    Way to call him on the holes in his philosophy Tom. Great Show!

  • Anonymous

    I never cease to be amazed at people who purport to believe in personal responsibility while taking away personal choices.

  • Tina

    Just ONE idea:  idiot parents cannot say, Oh, I don’t want to be a hypocrit, to their kids, …. yeah I was hip, I was cool, yeah, I did drugs, but you shouldn’t.

    Parents should keep their mouths SHUT — its not about them — what they SHOULD say is:  do you KNOW what is happening to the poor people of Central and South America — the violence that they live under?  In fact, many of our OWN inner cities suffer from drug related drive-by shootings!  If YOU do drugs, you contribute to that.  THAT’s what they should SAY.  Who cares how hip and cool they were.

    Also, TV should stop making drug use Coooooool!  TV is a Training Program!


    • Mike

      The violence exists because of the war on drugs. You’re saying that we should press the war on drugs because of the violence. It’s circular.

      Marijuana itself is not making people violent, any more than alcohol caused the Valentine’s Day Massacre

      • Wingrace

        until you realize that yes your using marijuana is providing the impetus for violence, the violence will go on.  Users are responsible whether they realize it or not!  By using you are adding to the violence even when you yourself are not violent!

        • Beesneeze

          No. The violence stems from the illegality of the drugs. When was the last time there was a turf war erupting in gunfire over alcohol distribution? Oh yah, during prohibition. And as to the ‘gateway effect’ of marijuana use: the only time I was ever exposed to cocaine was from the folks who sold marijuana. The idea being when you break one drug law, one might as well break them all as the penalties are similar.

          Legalize it, and both issues go away.

          • Tina

            I just can’t discuss marijuana.  I’d rather start with discussing cocaine, and “recreational” heroin, other “party” drugs (yikes!  what terms!).  As a nation, we need to figure out those harder drugs first, then go back to address marijuana.  I still stand by what I said above, but I will ADD this:  IF we legalize those harder drugs (I do NOT “know” if that is the correct phrase), it will NOT stop the violence and corruption, BECAUSE … the gangs and mobs and illegal movers of drugs will offer the CHEAPEST drugs, the drugs laced with the “most fun” illegal stuff (yikes, again!), etc.  More people will try the drugs once they are legal, so greater numbers of people with the kind of chemistry that will take them over the edge will start using more drugs more often, and the lure of finding the CHEAPEST sources will keep the gangs and mobsters going, AND gangs and mobs will STILL want to set up and control territory, eventually moving into controlling more and more of all the territories, fighting and corrupting constantly to do so!  Making dangerous stuff “legal” is such a Fairy Tale, because this IS what would happen!  You know, when hallucinogens were used in traditional tribal cultures, they were used under culturally determined, rigorously enforced tribal practices, with a hierarchy of individuals who showed how, when, and by whom  these powerful substances from the Gods were to be used.  There was nothing “free” about drug use; even an individual’s initiation thru drug pathways was thru the guidance of gods who “dispensed” these special forces thru specially designated individuals within the tribe’s social structure.  Even if some contemporary smarty wants to point out that there really were no “gods”, strong belief systems underlay the social/cultural structures of traditional tribal groups, and those belief systems worked against self-indulgent, profligate use of drugs, and against other behaviors by individuals that would have upset the delicate balance of the tribe as a Whole.   Even when “excess” was part of the experience, it was part of a pre-determined, deep and culturally-embedded system of practices.  Our people are NOT “protected” in these same ways; AND, sadly, neither were so many tribal peoples once their cultures came under cultural and/or warfare attack by the forces of Colonialism!  As an aside:  Would that sub-set of people who use drugs today because they defiantly resist being controlled by Government to NOT use drugs, ironically, have resisted tribal practices controlled by Tradition to USE drugs in the past? (I’m just sayin’….)        

  • Ray

    Drug driving- Really. I can buy a bottle of booze and put everyone at risk by driving, becoming violent, roudy and rude. When was the last time you saw a Marijuana user acting like this? I can’t recall one.

  • Pcriswell

    How can we “Change people’s attitudes” about drugs when we have a whole multi-billion dollar LEGAL drug industry that is constantly advertising to everyone “If you feel bad, take a pill”?  They are creating the attitude that using drugs to change your mood, help you relax, get into a sexual mood etc is a perfectly natural and beneficial thing to do.  And the whole point of their advertising is to go directly to the consumer, so that they go to their doctor and demand a prescription for butterflys and rainbows.  As long as we allow Merck, Pfizer and MAdison Avenue to shape attitudes toward the use of legal drugs, that attitude will carry over to illegal drugs

  • AK

    Based upon data in countries that have legalized drugs (i.e. Netherlands, Portugal) the data has clearly shown that drug use does indeed go up upon legalization, BUT this is only for first time use.  The numbers show that there is a precipitous drop of drug use after a first time use.  In the Netherlands 3-years after legalization, overall drug use dropped below the baseline as compared to drug use prior to legalization.

  • Todd – Dedham

    …does Tom have interns screening callers this morning ? 

    …for a moment I thought I was some bizarre dream involving the the old Bob Grant show.

  • Alloverrovers

    Think how well that prohibition of alcohol worked.  Also, “the 3 strikes” sentencing from marijuana in CA has loaded the prisons, and has cost more than a fortune.  For such inmates, prison is a graduate school program to go on to bigger and better crimes.  We need to treat it at the source, more clinics, support groups, TREATMENT!

  • jmci

    My thought is that you have to get to the user and make them think about and understand the impact on others caused by their drug use.  One idea I think about is sending convicted users down to the border with Mexico to see first hand the violence that they are helping to create.  Put convicted users in work programs along the border.

    • Charles45

      Simplistic thinking.  You should try to understand the many intelligent comments posted here. It is not the users causing the impacts you refer to, it is the prohibition of certain useful natural recreational molecules that cause this impact. People naturally want to expand and alter their consciousness, witness all of human culture and all of entertainment, it is all the alteration of consciousness by other means.  Recreational molecules are just one method of achieving this.  We are all addicted to air and water and food.  If someone wants to increase the number of things they are addicted to, it should be up to them. 

  • Trcf

    It’s control freaks like McLellan who create addicts — like his sons.

  • Ray

    It’s criminal that the “war on drugs” has been allowed to go on for as long as it has. Those who have cost this country Billions of dollars and countless lives should be held accountable for their failure.

  • Johngouvin

    Tom, Please do a show on why Marijuana is illegal in the first place.
    There are many theraputic uses for this natural plant.  I was dismayed by the recent show today by the opinions of some of the callers one guy wanted to kill people who deal pot- really?  They know nothing about the effects or use of marijuana and they lump it in with cocaine and crack etc… Education is important for all sides – Marijuana is not this evil substance the some would have us believe.

    • Arajn

       I agree with you 100 %!! Education is very important!!

  • Dan

    I Think there is also a Confusing message to all of us, just watch the TV commercials and the Legal Drug Pushers,who promote all their wonderful Drugs,and That You can”t Live without them,and also listen to their side-effects, some of these Drugs could Kill you……..Is anyone else a little confused?????

  • Libervir

    Russell you said, “The new “prison industrial complex” the paramilitary contractors and
    financial institutions that launder funds are very influential
    politically and growing fast in influence.”

    I wonder if drug lords are investing in private prisons? They would profit either way: it’s the only way they could profit from the customers they’ve lost to incarceration.

  • Wingrace

    Thank you for your program on rethinking the War on Drugs.  We in the USA need to take responsibility for our own part in this problem.  There would be no need for a war on drugs if people in this country would stop using!  Your graphic gallery of photos should be mandatory viewing for our high school and college students with the teaching that when they have a good time on drugs this is the result!  Somehow we need to get into the heads of those using that it isn’t pretty and that ultimately the one they are hurting is themselves because it does come back to bite us all users and nonusers alike!

  • Bonniesd

    We should not assume every drug user needs treatment. Deliberate consciousness altering seems to be characteristic of humans, and many good things can come out of it (remember the Nobel prize winner a few years back who acknowledged the value of mind-altering substances in his fresh thinking in, I think it was, physics, and this should be our right. Benefits of marijuana are well-known. Addressing the issue of addictions of all kinds might well be addressed, including the addiction to food, TV, and attempts at power over others. (As a proponent of Aware Parenting and self-help “primaling,” I think this would fruitfully involve looking at the suppression and distraction of children from their feelings which makes it hard for them/us, as adults, to be with (and so, process naturally) uncomfortable feelings, something that occurs physically and spontaneously — with maturation resulting — if allowed to occur.

    I would like to see all plants legalized, for a start, so that small farmers — or whatever corporations might choose to get involved in the marketing — could make a living, and contribute taxes, as they do for tomatoes or coffee, also claiming a fundamental human right to use “as food,” as the Bible puts it, “every herb that yields seed on the face of the earth, and every tree.” (Marijuana is good in spice cake, and coca leaves could be chewed, if people need to be literal.)

  • BenR

    There’s even a Republican candidate for President who opposes the war on drugs –Gary Johnson supports legalizing marijuana and treating other drug use as a health problem.   

  • Sonjagrinstead

    A word of encouragement according to the Word of God regarding the statement of “rethinking” the stratedgy on the war of drugs.  While billions of $$$ has been spent over time for the treatment of drugs, now it is a failure???  …I have good news for all they who labour in this quest!  “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TREATING SPIRITUAL BONDAGE “”BY”” NATURAL MEANS!!!  Bondage IS a demonic condition and has to be treated with spiritual power as in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, KJ  New Test., Marik 16:15-18  …quote of Jesus …” …and they shall cast out devils in MY NAME and they shall lay hands on the sick and they SHALL RECOVER.”  I promise you the greatness,  the power,  the glory,  the victory,  and the majesty of the living God to those who take this seriously.  I was delivered from demonic oppression myself by the power of God,  …see my fb profile and “Righteous Revolution”  t o d a y  and the international panel will have great success!  …sonjagrinstead@gmail.com   …I truly want to help!!!

    • Nelson2885

      Please don’t ruin this conversation with religous zealotry.  It does not help resolve these real-world problems. 

  • Anonymous

    Are not the Taliban funded by… drug trafficking?
    Pull the rug out from under the real criminals and treat substance abuse locally through social programs: education and treatment. Address the issue with actions that solve problems, not ones that create more. After over 30 years of the war on drugs, we are wasting more resources, incarcerating more people than ever… to what end. Drugs are readily obtianed by kids, possibly more easily now then ever before. In the face of the statistics, investing further in this War is madness.

  • Roy

    I was disappointed that there were no legalization advocates on the show. I’m sure the DPF could have provided someone.
    The two guests made me want to scream as they repeatedly pointed to both alcohol and tobacco policies as more effective models, yet both dismissed legalization out of hand without once ever being pressed on why it should be ruled out.
    Decriminalization does nothing to take away the huge profit incentive of the producers and dealers, and as a consequence will do nothing to end the violent turf wars. It hobbles what could easily be a multi-billion dollar new industry in the U.S., (look at the new businesses and products that have sprung up in Ca. following it’s much more relaxed approach to Mj.) and still maintains an unreasonable intrusion of the govt. in peoples private lives. It will at least help empty the prisons of tens (hundreds?) of thousands of decent folks who were guilty of nothing worse than putting something in their bodies that wasn’t officially approved. It will still leave you with a criminal record you don’t deserve.
    Legalization, does NOT imply, as Dr. McLellan claimed, that there is no restriction on use. What a load of crap! Both alcohol and tobacco sales are tightly regulated and use by minors remains illegal.
    A caller from Vermont and quite a few on this forum, ask just why the Govt. should have the right to fine us, arrest us, or punish us in any way for responsible use of any substance? If someone sits down after work and smokes a bowl of pot and watches a movie, just what have they done that is so much worse than smoking a cigarette or having a beer? Both of those substances have undeniable societal harms connected to them, but we have come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with these is to legalize, not decriminalize, and regulate.
    The impulse to keep all drugs illegal despite countless counter examples, despite countless studies and commissions borders on insanity.
    At least one of your guests needed to answer this question: If we need to keep drugs illegal because there may be some harm connected with their use, then why shouldn’t we make cigarettes and tobacco illegal as well? Of course they both know that would be folly even if it could be done.
    I think following their rhetoric all the way to it’s logical conclusion would be a good policy. Make them legal, all of them, cocaine, heroin, all of them, but with tight regulations on their sale, severe punishments if you hurt anyone else through your use (causing an auto accident, etc.),and tax their sale. Then use that tax revenue, along with some of the countless billions you’d save by emptying prisons and tying up the courts, for education programs, rehab for those who need it, etc.
    How many times do we need to learn the lesson? Prohibition doesn’t work.

    • Realworld

      Excellent reading . Thanks Roy, very well said. I have not listened to the show yet and after reading your summation of it, I realize that it would only frustrate me to hear it. So sad that NPR can’t be more thorough and vigilant . Perhaps they just get too much funding from the drug company’s that create this problem.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yvon-J-Cormier/662048220 Yvon J. Cormier

    Mr. Mclellan said that our country would face a large or significant increase in drug use if we were to decriminalize or legalize drugs. Not true. If we did decriminalize marijuana, those who already partake as recreation and for other reasons, will then reveal their once hidden use.
    With decriminalization, there would be a slight increase in experimentation but usage would not markedly increase. Mr. Mclellan’s idea echoes much of the fear that folks have regarding drugs but does not speak from a statistically accurate base. Show the numbers and of  course who is funding the research.

    Profit loss:

    Decriminalizing marijuana would decrease the profit margin, and in fact due to this fact most cartel leaders, big dealers and small ones would not have the financial motivation to pursue selling.

    Criminality as an economy:

    The “war on drugs” really turned out to be a job creations and money making war. U.S. prisons make roughly $50,000.00 yearly to support an individual inmate. That’s a minimum bid of three years and the institution keeps the extra $100,000.00 for the remaining two years which were not served due to merit based early parole is kept by the prison.
    Then the ex-prisoner is given a paid parole officer, a paid case worker, a rehabilitation program with paid workers. Also, police focus on newly released prisoners to see if parole violations occur and of course are readily penalized and the ex-con is cycled back into the system for another three years for another $150,000.00.

    Then of course, there is the court and processing fees and so on.
    There are more branches institutions and services created to accommodate imprisonment and rehabilitation which aren’t mentioned here. Too many to count.


    Decriminalization with a given personal use possession clause, how many plants an individual could have for personal use,
    Make purchase available for 21 year olds as with alcohol.

    The generalization of all drugs in or all out for legalization is a nice broad sweeping way to avoid the distinct difference between life threatening and crime related substances and marijuana. Substances such as cocaine, Meth amphetamines, pharmaceuticals and other severe drugs do cause abuse to the self and others; they do not lend themselves to a sustainable or healthy existence. Far different from marijuana.

    A caller sort of identified this odd absurdity related to sentencing a rapist for maybe 8 years and prosecuting a pot user/dealer for 25 years. Pot conviction gets a felony and no access to college loans. A former rapist or pedophile would have no trouble getting college funding though.

    The day marijuana is used to rob banks, kill people, or directly related to violent crimes is the day marijuana should be taken out. Until then, we can decriminalize it and gain a medical and regulated personal contribution to our blighted economy. 

    There’s more, but not enough time to say it.


  • dianne swain

    the real drug dealers do not stand on street corners!  

  • Jsquarto

    Excellent topic. The war on is being lost and is costing America & the world billions of ill spent dollars and untold wasted lives. I am not for legalization as it is normally thought of. 

    But what about legalization of the wholesale market. 

    Why can’t the US coordinate with the rest of the using countries and go to say Columbia and outbid druglords for the product.
    This seems like a nice capitalist solution whereby farmers get cash that they must declare as income in their countries. I would think that a billion or two dollars spent in this way could buy up an entire years crop at wholoesale prices. If we can take say 85% of the product out of circulation it would do 2 things. 1) drive the price up to high levels where users could not afford it and 2) it would drive druglords into a bidding war with the government. A war that within 5-8 years they will lose
    Druglords will lose supply, prodict price would be very high and eventually their supply chain will breakdown for lack of cash flow. 

    It’s the capilalist way and it would work with the right determination.

  • RWMagner

    Tom Ashbrook, Bruce Bagley, Thomas McLellan failed to mention commercialization in connection with legalization. The will be no progress without a two-pronged effort: 1-legalization (commercialization & decriminalization), plus 2- the social programs alluded to by Bagley & McLellan.  Only by working both sides of the issue as we do with alcohol, cigarettes & prescription medicines can any headway be made.   #1 will reduce the cartel issues & #2 will have an impact over time on the demand as it has on cigarettes & the irresponsible abuse of accohol.
    I likewise was disappointed that there were no legalization advocates on the show. Tom Ashbrook needs to make a greater effort towards balanced programming.Richard Magner

  • Doug J.

    Does anybody remember prohibition of alcohol?  
    Making drugs or alcohol illegal is the source of many of the problems associated with these substances.
    I support a system similar to that for alcohol in some states.
    Drugs are sold only though government owned and operated dispensaries to sober adults.  
    No advertising, band names, or profits for corporations allowed.
    This system dries up illegal markets and crime associate with drugs, just as the mafia is no longer running alcohol or operating speakeasies.  
    The government would then have money and resources to treat those individuals with drug problems as a public health problem.

  • Karl Smith

    I have not heard this proposed, but to me this seems like the most practical solution and one that handles with many of the problems with other solutions including the politics.
    I think we need to come up with a third class of law that is neither legal or illegal to deal with behaviors that we do not want to encourage, but at the same time we do not want to criminalize.  For behaviors that we want to discourage as a society, but still allow individuals to make their own personal choice, we could have a class of law for “tolerated” behaviors and their associated products and industries.  Tolerated behaviors or products would be technically legal, regulated, and either not encouraged or even discouraged.  The problem with something that is legal is that it has the connotation of being encouraged or even moral.  So legalizing drugs would have the implication of being encouraged.
    I would think that we could put alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and other products or behaviors in this class.  There should be regulations in all these so that a person is not endangering others, and we could focus on treatment and changing attitudes.  There would be a range of impacts including taking a major source of revenue out of criminal elements, and keeping our citizens productive and engaged in society instead of incarcerated. 
    -Karl Smith, 54, Columbia SC

  • Tino

    The way that most drug addicts can afford their drugs is by being involved he the supply system: If drugs are made legal most addicts in the supply system can no longer afford them. By the same token an unscrupulous person can create a supply system by creating addicts.

  • Grav

    This is way out of the box, but I have long believed that the answer – in part – was to move to a cashless society.  The elimination of cash in favor of plastic would eliminate much of the underground economy that supports a whole host of criminal activity, allowing expenditures to be tracked and verified.

    While I know this also has a downside, namely government and corporate (banking) monitoring of the money supply and flow, I think it can be minimized through careful legislation. 

  • Marvindustin

    Thank you to the caller Bill… He might have actually swayed someone into seeing his viewpoint (no matter how out of touch it is) until he suggested murdering drug dealers… thank you for totally illegitimizing your entire argument Bill.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I wish someone had pointed out to Self-Righteous Bill that alcohol causes 85,000 deaths a year and tobacco causes 400,000 deaths and illicit drugs combined (except for marijuana, which causes zero deaths per year) cause 17,000 deaths a year. Then, after informing Self-Righteous Bill, they should have asked him if drunk drivers and clerks who sell alcohol and cigarettes to underage kids should also be executed? I’m sure he would say yes since those substances cause 30 times as many deaths as illegal drugs. 

  • Fabiola

    It’s a supply and demand issue. The US has to help Latin America by lowering the demand. So I agree with the panel. The reason the drug war fails is because as long as there is a profit there will be dealers, just like cockroaches,, you kill one and you know there hundreds hiding in the woodwork.

    • Marv

      The same argument can be made for lowering the supply. If you control and regulate it there won’t be dealers either. By making it illegal you jack up the price. This creates an opportunity for massive profits so drug dealers fill the void. By making drugs unprofitable you eliminate drug dealers and take a huge chunk out of organized crime sources of income.

  • Kathryn Smith

    This is a tough call.  Some drugs are more dangerous than other drugs.  I think drugs should be “legal” in most cases with laws based more on how they’re used (i.e. no operating heavy machinery under the influence, not showing up to work high, etc.).  I’d put alcohol and tobacco in this same category.  The bottom line is, let’s try to mitigate dangerous situations that can arise with the use of drugs, since stopping the use altogether both doesn’t work and leads to huge strains on the legal system, prisons and law enforcement.

  • EMarie

    We decriminalized, not legalized, marijuana in Massachusetts and only good things happened. Nothing promotes a life of crime like a criminal record.

  • Sean

    There’s just way too much money involved for the war on drugs to go away.  Open your eyes the other half of the way and ask yourself how and why Wall Street leaders are meeting with Drug Cartel leaders  Money.  Ask yourself the question “Is the there another reason we’re in Afghanistan, and how is it this raw opium gets to the states?”  Just like the CIA/Military brought it in during Vietnam, they are are doing it now. Beware the hypocrite terrorist in a three piece suit with a high ranking Czar job title, and the C-130 landing from Afghanistan.  I do not know of anyone that wants drugs that can not find them.  Make them legal to grow and manufacture on a personal level….like the guy with his home brew kit, and you remove the money and criminal aspect of it all.  Holland, if you’ve ever been there, and has decriminalized most drugs, is a beautiful country.

    If there’s ever been a need for a war, it would be, IMO, needed against the big drug companies, who’ve turned our society into a bunch of pill billies.

  • Wm Graham

    Thank you for covering this topic. We should first legalize Marijuana. Of all the illicit drugs grown or made it is Marijuana that Americans want to comsume and enjoy. Next, the other substances, whether cocaine or heroin or other should be legalized and regulated so that the consumption and distribution would not create these mafia organizations that are threatening the security of our democratic neighbors. Though I dont believe you have to have created a mafia to challenge democracy. I would charge that by limiting the ability of drug users and dealers in our own country to participate in our democracy our war on drugs is even now threatening our democracy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Goulet/100001200651375 Brian Goulet

    Should we throw someone in jail at $45,000/year for $60 worth of crack?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q6MFZGWBHU2M45TGYGGO6KKEWY TheisZone Player

      It seems that “Crack” heads are the whipping post for everyone.

  • at

    First they told us that cannabis is an evil drug, but users were generally nonviolent.  Then they told us that it killed brain cells, but now the latest research shows that cannabinoids stimulate new brain cell growth.  Then they told us it was a health issue, but now we find that substances in pot cause an extended life span.  When are you going to give up the Calvinist bull about any intoxicant being evil, and find the reality. Pot makes some people lazy and that is the only ill effect, if it is vaporized or eaten and not smoked.
    Cannabis has never caused as much harm to a person as a prison sentence for use or possession of same.  This war on drugs is just a way that criminals with badges built careers on the bones of the lives of a harmless bunch of slackers.

  • Ken Rubenstein

    No one seems to be asking the question, why are there so many people who turn to drugs for relief from something. What is that something, and should we think about addressing those things?

    • KidDeath

      It’s not a “something” it is many things, and all of them are not seeking relief, some of them are neural and experiential explorations.

    • http://twitter.com/Mr_McQwerty Matt (mturner)

      And some of them do it because their friends or family do. Others do it because it’s “cool” and “rebellious”. Some do it for some form of escape, just as many do with alcohol. “Neural expansion” or “enhanced consciousness” is an excuse. Well, really more a joke.

      • TmanT

        Someone who says that neural expansion and enhanced consciousness is a joke does not realize that the joke is on them.  Also that they have no experience of same.

  • YourMaMa

    We need free drug zones instead of drug free zones.  We need Los Vegas like sanctuaries were drug users can go and us all the drugs they want for free.  This would be a place were users of evil drugs like meth and cocaine could go to either get over it, or kill themselves.  It would be a clean safe place for them to act out their compulsive behaviors and seek treatment.  It would also be a place were the under-medicated could go to seek pain relief without the need to resort to impure street substances.  All in all, it would rid our society of much of the problems associated with hard-core drug use, and the criminals who prey on them.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, I really wanted to call the show but I’m not getting through… Anyhow, I’m convicted of growing marijuana with intent to sell based partially upon the cops that raided my house having faked evidence (scales) that was not in my house. I guess they figured they needed to fake evidence like scales because they didn’t find any tell-tale piles of money (since I wasn’t dealing). I was growing so I didn’t have to buy my marijuana elsewhere. But, to that point, I am also a former alcohol abuser who used to go through a fifth of whiskey every 1 to 2 days. That is to say, alcohol nearly killed me and, once I stopped drinking, I was fine working, living life and smoking my homegrown marijuana. (Of course, I could go buy $1000 worth of alcohol right now if I wanted despite that it nearly killed me.) But then my house was raided by four DEA officers replete with a helicopter that the lead officer said was there because it amused them “just to see how you would react”. That is, a helicopter was brought into the equation strictly for their entertainment purposes. I ended up with 5 years probation, some laughable drug addiction classes and, believe it or not!!!, I had to go to AA. That’s correct, a person who had quit drinking alcohol completely on their own and out of self preservation and who had been alcohol sober for 4 years was made to attend AA meetings. Now, here’s where the story gets good… About 2 1/2 years ago, I worked up the courage to report to the Crimes Against Children Unit of our local (Louisville KY) police department, a man who sexually molested me when I was 11 years old. I  called and found myself being directed to leave a message!!! So, that being my only option, I left a message. Two god damned weeks later, I still had not heard back from the CACU of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department. So I called back and this time I reached a real live person. So I told the woman that I had called two weeks earlier and left a message and I had never heard back from them. She literally yelled at me, “WE GET TWO THOUSAND CALLS A MONTH!” Then she asked if I wanted to speak to the Lieutenant in charge of the department. The number she put me through to presented me again with the leaving a message on an answering machine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, I did just that and I never heard back from the CACU. 
    So, while our Crimes Against Children Unit makes practice of yelling at victims of child sexual abuse and doesn’t even return calls about a desire to report a pedophile (apparently their paltry resources are overwhelmed), we have plenty of officers available to raid the otherwise law-abiding homes of people growing marijuana and they even have so many extra resources that they can get helicopters to fly overhead while the officers stare from the bushes just to be amused at how the perp reacts. 
    Finally, it is historic fact that lies and propaganda were used and facts were suppressed to criminalize marijuana to begin with!!! That is a fact. And if a lie must be employed, it is necessarily because the truth won’t work. There is absolutely no factual reason why there should not be freedom for me to grow marijuana on my own private property and smoke it of my own accord. And if someone wants to know what damage my marijuana smoking has caused compared to the damage of being sexually molested when I was 11 years old… But hey, what’s a bunch of sexually molested children? Who cares about that when there are grown adults choosing to catch a buzz smoking marijuana instead of drinking beer, wine and whiskey? Pedophiles, if you’re looking for a some victims, you should come to Louisville Kentucky. The CACU doesn’t care. But, whatever you do, don’t bring your weed. (Don’t worry though, there’s a liquor store on every corner if you need to drown your sorrows.)   

    • Jwhy

      Were I live you are allowed to have two pounds of buds if you have a medical use card.  Things have not gone to hell in a hand basket.  The sheriff will be happy to inform you of your right to grow legally.  It’s almost like the people actually have what they want, which it seems, was not legalization.  Though legalization would be the only thing that will harm the drug cartels.

  • david

    This topic shows the foolishness of our people.
     Make marijuana and other drugs legal, that is a absurd solution to this problem. The mind-set of this generation is reflected in the lady caller who stated we should make it legal. She stated she worked,etc, but her body belonged to her and what business is it of anyone what she puts into her body. That is reasoning of a foolish person.
     Why! you ask?
    Her body belongs to her until she wrecks her health, then her health problems become MY PROBLEM. She finds out that addictions are expensive and she needs help to pay for her medical cost.
    As one of the guest states as a solution, we need to put more money into prevention programs, spelled out, taxpayer funded.
    A crack baby, one born from a crack head, will cost the system $100,000′s of dollars to treat and  because she has no money, guess who foots the bill?????
    In my area, homes are being broken into by dope-heads looking for easy steals to buy drugs. Once again, their problem becomes MY PROBLEM!
    Someone around here is going to get killed soon, people are tired of being victims and afraid to leave their homes.
    If you want a real solution to the problem heed this ancient advice:
    Give them a years notice.

    • Anonymous

      You create hypothetical points to make your case. I can do that to… We legalize drugs and our prison population goes down by some 30% and my tax money isn’t alloted to housing these 600,000 non-violent victimless crime offenders. As well, we save some 20 billion dollars of tax payer money that is spent every year on the completely failed War On Drugs. As well, we tax these businesses that have been created by the legitimized industries, our tax base goes up and violent drug cartels lose their income and funding and, thus, they become impotent. See, that’s as legitimate of a scenario as what you proposed since it’s all hypothetical.
      And, to your point, 400,000 people die every year from cigarette related health problems. Who do you think pays for their care as they develop lung cancer and slowly die? And yet cigarettes are legal. And 34,000 people die in drunk driving accidents every year and yet alcohol is legal. And another 40,000 people die from health complications due to alcohol addiction and who do you think pays for their care as they develop liver failure? Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Despite all of those horrible and actual (as opposed to hypothetical) facts, alcohol is legal. Are the liquor store owner and the distilleries and breweries also part of “THE CAMP OF EVIL”? 

    • Footing the bill, eh?

      wow, you should do some research and back up claims that are that wild. 

      at what point are you paying for her health care? funny, you don’t strike me as a socialist. guess there’s one in every bunch

      foolishness. indeed.

    • Gman

      From your opinion it is easy to see that no amount of facts, or intelligence can overcome the ignorance expressed in your remarks.  This is why we are in the shape we are in, because people think that substances are evil in themselves.  You should begin by realizing that all recreational molecules are not created equal.  Some are very harmful, like meth and crack, some are harmless if supplied in a pure form and will allow people to be productive if they are freely allowed to titrate themselves, like heroin and morphine. Others are actually not only benign but beneficial, like cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms.  If you don’t have enough interest in the subject to learn about and make these distinctions, your opinion on “dope-heads” is less than informed and just another example of a mechanical reaction bases on emotions you associate with erroneous information.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q6MFZGWBHU2M45TGYGGO6KKEWY TheisZone Player

      David I can’t agree with you. I don’t think that you understand anything about humanity. You should have been part of the Inquisition

  • Zing

    When Obama says “don’t do it’” and you do it, yer on yer own….

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Kill drug dealers?  Unleash the military?  Christ, some of us Americans are just appallingly scary.

    Legalize everything and sell it at cost.  Make rehab services freely available.  Concentrate on real crime–violence, theft, human trafficking.

    Punishing drug use is exactly like Prohibition–it is a Puritan urge to punish sin and sinners, and is therefore a cruel, sadistic, and useless practice.

    • Zing

      Better yet, YOU make rehab services freely available in your home at your expense.  The rest of us will make sure you’re not beaten, robbed, or sold into being a “sex worker” .

      • Anonymous

        Sorry this comment is very off base.

      • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      I agree the ramification of executing drug dealers, as they do in China, seems a tad extreme and unconstitutional. We can’t send our military into countries and in this endless mindless search for some kind of absurd notion that we are somehow better than the rest of the world. This kind of dogma is dangerous.  

  • Loring Palmer, Somerville

    For a voice of sanity, google, “Dr. Gabor Mate”.  He an authority on drug abuse and recovery and head of the drug clinic in Vancouver.  

    Perhaps we’re framing the question in the wrong way.  In India, hashish, in various forms, is Shiva’s substance of choice and is used ceremonially by Sadhus and lay-people.  They use it for transcendence. In the west, we use it for entertainment.  Perhaps we have something to learn from an ancient culture where things have worked themselves out into a sane approach.  

  • Jordixavier

    What was the band or rock group that played the tune at around 8:33 pm eastern time, during intermission?

  • Jordixavier

    Sorry I meant 7:30 pm eastern time.

    • TheDude

      I think it plays at different times all over but what minute in the podcast was it?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q6MFZGWBHU2M45TGYGGO6KKEWY TheisZone Player

    Don’t legalize just decriminalize. Our society among the highest educated in history;we don’t need to be threatened by prison to keep us on or off drugs. Society will take care of itself. Addicts are a small percent of the population and one of the most vulnerable. People using drugs can’t get the good jobs, the good education, good and reliable friends. Moderation in all things is the key.  too many of the wrong people are making too much money by being on one side of the drug issue or the other.

  • http://twitter.com/Mr_McQwerty Matt (mturner)

    It was quite telling that Dr. McLellan couldn’t, not wouldn’t but couldn’t, answer Tom’s remark and question about “managing” the illegal drug supply, as McLellan said was necessary to his solution to the U.S. drug problem. I agree that prevention and rehabilitative treatment is important, but the government will *never* manage the supply unless it regulates it. Regulation means some manner of legalization, which then means that breaking the laws will mean… law enforcement and criminal punishment for those law breakers. I favor legalization-regulation and education-prevention, not a perfect solution but the only really practical one I see available.

    I was disappointed Tom didn’t pin McLellan down on his 6-8 seconds of stuttering and then changing the subject. He let him off without answering the question.

  • Anonymous

    Legalize, tax, regulate. Use some of the tax revenue to pay for treatment and education. Heavily restrict advertising. If people drive while drug impaired, hold them accountable. Accept the fact that some people like mind altering substances on occasion, like our president who was hoisting a Guinness during his Ireland visit. 

    There is a lot of inertia at work keeping the drug war going, but gradually, we are going to end this war and work toward building a more productive future.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. This is the elephant in the room. There is no way to bring down the profit margin without legalization. Look at alcohol prohibition. 

  • Rob Caruso

    We need a global campaign to make drug usage extremely un-cool, especially in countries of greater drug consumption.  One good way of doing this is by vividly making the connections between usage and the violence and murder that was involved in getting drugs to the user.  If the end-user was constantly reminded of how each hit, toke, snort, or injection had a direct violent consequence on someone somewhere else (e.g. in Mexico or S. America), they would be more scorned by society for their culpability in that violent harm to others.  This campaign should start as part of education in grade school, ideally around grade 5 or 6, just before children are most likely to have direct exposure to peers who may be using drugs.

    • Marv

      That sounds more like brainwashing and propaganda. And we do something similar already, it’s called D.A.R.E. and it obviously doesn’t stop children from eventually using drugs later in life. To think you can brain wash all of this into people at a young age is ridiculous and an extremely simple solution to a complex issue. They’ve tried it with cigarettes and have had huge success with stigmatizing cigarettes and cigarette companies as evil. But it hasn’t stopped people from smoking.

    • Marv

      Instead of fighting it and trying to force people to change their minds about using drugs over a huge amount of time. I’m assuming your method would take at least 10 years to see results. During all that time we haven’t wiped out drug use and the violence in those countries continues for years and thousands more die. Or we legalize it this year and completely cut off funding to these cartels. If there is no money at stake the violence ends. Your method has no real basis for actually working and thousands more would die. Legalization would end drug-related violence at a much faster rate, saving thousands of lives and is based on laws of supply and demand. 

    • TmanT

      I grow my pot in the backyard.  Never sell or give it away and never buy any.  I guess that blows your argument.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charley-Wooley/741206578 Charley Wooley

      Maybe we should remind our policy makers of all the violence and blood on their hands due to prohibition and its resulting black market.
      and btw
      I think they started this campaign already, its called rap music.

  • Leodonahue

    how stupid ae we? you do drugs when you are idle. The answer is jobs!

    • JWeaselDominic

      Not me, I do drugs to celebrate the fullness of life.  I usually only feel like getting high when I am really happy for some reason and feel like celebrating. Getting high is fun, and educational too.  It is a time honored tradition for humans to alter their consciousness with their preferred recreational molecules, when life has been good and they have free time and are feeling secure and happy.  Unfortunately the evil frackers have decided that some recreational molecules are bad and some are ok like, caffeine, ethanol, and nicotine are ok, but others are not.  Too bad they were able to trim away enough excess neurons with ethanol so that people would actually believe this crap.

  • Anonymous

    A) They are buying dope, drinking and huffing chemicals at ages that you would not believe. I didn’t until my wife started educating me: she treats kids with substance abuse problems.
    B) Selling to Minors would be a very serious crime and not worth the risk to anyone.
    C) Education, social programs and treatment will reduce this problem below today’s horrific levels.

  • Kevin

    I understand the “it’s my body, and I’ll put whatever I choose
    into it” argument, and I really don’t see how a valid argument can be made
    about prohibition of the softer illegal drugs based on potential future medical
    expenses burdening the public without also extending that argument to tobacco
    and alcohol, or for that matter, any dietary or lifestyle choices that are detrimental
    to one’s health.  Should we make fast
    food illegal?  What about a legal mandate
    to exercise at lest 3 times per week?


    The best argument I see against legalizing marijuana would
    have to do with driving.  With alcohol, breathalyzer
    tests give us an objective way to quantify just how drunk someone is at the
    moment they are stopped by the police.  With
    marijuana the best way to test is a urinalysis which wouldn’t be taken until the
    suspect has already been detained and even then can only tell us if the person
    has used the drug within the last few weeks, not if they are currently high and
    to what extent.  Any attempts to crack
    down on high drivers could potentially open a can of worms shut full of
    stereotype-based arrests and possible racial profiling leading to DUI


    As it is, I know plenty of people who are willing to drive
    high but who wouldn’t drive drunk knowing that as long they can pass a breathalyzer
    and there are no drugs or paraphernalia found on the person or in the car, they
    are not likely to be found guilty of DUI unless they are really too high
    function. Do we really want to make the choice between the safety risks caused
    by larger numbers of high drivers on the road that might result from
    legalization, and the potential consequences of attempting to crack down on

    • TmanT

      This argument fails to take into account that people under the influence of cannabis do not present a risk of accidents.  I have been driving high on pot for over forty-five years and have no accidents and a perfect driving record.  I don’t know of anyone who got in an accident ever that could be attributed to cannabis use.  I guess that blows that fantasy that pot equals alcohol.  Alcohol is a cheap thrill downer, a real low level thing that lowers your intelligence and reaction time, not so with cannabis.

  • chriswirth

    1. decriminalize and to take the black market value out of the equation.
    a.  “take out the greed” equation…. 

    2. Work with the villages that are “at risk” from the cartel abuse to bring up their economies. 
    a.  take out the need to work under slave conditions!
     b. Create public/private partnerships w/corporate sponsors. (something I hope to do through a business model I’m working on).  
    c. enhance job & educational (corporate) sponsorships for “at risk” families, allowing them true upward mobility, and success stories for corporate sponsors…..

  • Kevin

    As compelling as your anecdote is, it isn’t as though I’ve
    never smoked pot.  Although the affects
    aren’t the same as alcohol, you can’t tell me you’ve never smoked with a guy
    who isn’t as experienced as you are in this matter and turns into a giggling
    lump of mush on the sofa for two hours after smoking.  Do you really want to be on the road with
    that guy?  Either way, it would be
    interesting to see results of tests done on high drivers to measure reaction
    times and other pertinent skills and abilities for driving that would really
    need to be done to convince the public that having stoned drivers on the road
    is OK.

    • Aaron W Krause

      Kevin, Your right. The effects are not the same as alcohol. And that’s the difference. No, I don’t want really stoned people on the road. But, for the most part when people get that stoned, they don’t really WANT to drive! When people get drunk, they think they are “superman” with the ability to overcome all effects of it. With cannabis, generally you don’t hear stories of people getting high and doing crazy things, unlike alcohol. It would make for very boring news…”GUY GETS SUPER HIGH, LOSES HIS WALLET!” 

    • Anonymous

      But the the real issue is that even though 34,000 people die due to drunk driving accidents every year in the U.S., responsible drinkers still have the freedom to have a drink in their living room, at bars, at restaurants, at concerts, at sporting events, etc. But if you’re smoking a joint in your living room, the police literally have the legal right to kick your door in and raid your home. Based on what? The powers that be don’t allow for responsible marijuana smokers to have the freedom to use and lead otherwise normal productive lives. This even despite the fact that zero deaths result from marijuana smoking per year. (The total number of yearly deaths from alcohol related illnesses is over 50,000. You combine that with the DUI deaths and it’s the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.)  

      • Aaron W Krause

        And how many people die per year from Cannabis?

        • Anonymous

          Well, since cannabis and marijuana are the same thing, you need only read my massive 200 word post above your own to see the number is 0. No deaths resultant from marijuana usage. The total deaths from all the other illicit drugs (heroine, meth, crack, coke, etc.) is 17,000 per year. Which, even being combined into a group, is still only half the number of deaths from drunk driving alone. You use the number for all alcohol related deaths (85,000 per year) and at that point all illicit drugs combined are 1/5 the number of alcohol related deaths. 

          Of course that doesn’t include people that have not died but have merely had their lives severely disrupted from alcohol addiction (See  A&E’s Intervention for a regular look into these individuals. Each show usually features at least one alcoholic who has ruined his job, his marriage, his relationship with his children and friends and his physical health because he can’t stop drinking.) To get a fairly good idea of how large this number is we can look at the estimated membership number of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the U.S., that membership is estimated to be around 1.2 million people. And, even with 85,000 deaths per year and 1.2 million lives directly negatively affected and who-knows-how-many indirectly negatively affected by alcohol, people are still free to drive to the corner liquor store and buy beer, wine, whiskey, gin, vodka, etc. But I’m not free to grow some marijuana plants in my back yard and smoke it in my living room? 

    • Robert Moxley, Esq.


      Studies have been done.  Low levels of THC in the blood make drivers LESS likely to be in an accident.   Two scientific papers by  Grotenherman, et al., establish that marijuana’s active ingredients, THC and/or THC-OH, must be found in the blood in significant concentrations, in order to demonstrate impairment. 


    • Marv

      I don’t think any responsible person arguing for legalization is saying it should be ok to be intoxicated on while driving.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1851350291 Joseph Cormier

    Have we not learned anything. Prohibition dose not work!! It put the power into   bad peoples hands. This was proved almost 100 years ago. I wish people would stop putting alcohol in a different class than even the hardest of drugs. All in all it is one the most dangerous drugs the world has ever seen!! But for some reason people do not get this!! So all you dailey drinkers out there might as well be heroin addicts!! But they have to go on the streets to get there fix!! You just have to go to A store. . Idiots!! Peace Hippie

    • Anonymous

      Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. (85,000 per year). As well, alcohol is involved in 30% of all homicides, 22% of all suicides and 34,000 people die every year from drunk driving accidents. 

      All illicit drugs combined lead to roughly 17,000 deaths per year. Marijuana is not included in that composite number. It leads to zero deaths per year. 

      • Artworkg

        …and Alcohol is legal…what happens when drugs are put online, added to the mix? It’s going to be crazy out there!

        • Marv

          …drugs are already out there! They’ve been out there and accessible to anyone that wants them! You’re saying with legalization people that don’t want them now will for some reason want to do drugs? So legalization will cause drug use? Legalization causes no change in supply. A drug user can find them as easily today as they could if they were legal. It’s one phone call. It’s already as crazy out there as it can possible be. Criminalization of drugs is not causing drug users to stop or from making things “crazy out there” right now so what’s the difference. The difference is we can fund rehabilitation for drug abuse, greatly reduce the strain on law enforcement and the prison system, and completely defund organized crime who make their profits from drugs sales.

  • Anonymous

    It would help if people would discuss the ground rules.  Like, why do we make drugs illegal?  Though not often discussed, I think it’s more that people seem to thing drugs are somehow “immoral” than it is that they cause specific and quantifiable harm to individuals or society.  It’s kind of like the way we demonize sex acts, too.  Though I concede drugs do cause real societal harm.

    Secondly, what do we really need to address first?  I would contend the violence and all-around mayhem created by the allure of very expensive materials that are readily sought out by American citizens.  Well, if people refuse to stop using drugs – an apparently they do – and if stopping the drug traders is logistically impossible – which it appears to be – then you do what America always does.  You co-opt the process.  Meaning federal dispensaries for controlled substances.  Which puts the cartels out of business.

    Drug takers in a controlled environment can at least be reasoned with, prodded, advised and treated.  And without spending billions fighting drug cartels, which would not longer find drugs profitable, we might actually be able to effectively intervene in the lives of addicts too.

    Lastly, it’s time to stop telling kids to “just say no” like it’s some commandment that was etched in stone by god.  Kids should not take drugs because the neurological wiring of their brains is actively taking place, and we have no idea what damage drugs might do to the process.  In other words, you say not to use drugs for logical and plausibly scientific reasons and throw the morality crap the is untethered to reason out the window.

    Sorry about the long post.  But the generals waging the war on drugs are idiots.

  • Aaron W Krause

    Drug addiction is the effect of peoples emotional problems that have not been dealt with properly. Drug addiction is not “the” problem, nor the cause. We as whole need to embrace the importance of mental health and emotional contentment if drug addiction is going to be cured. The drug war has been focusing on the symptom and ignoring the actual problem. And by the way, it has been proven that cannabis is in no way chemically addictive and the only way it can be fairly called a “gateway drug” is the fact that it is lumped in with all the hard drugs, which pose an actual threat to health, in the black market. LEGALIZE CANNABIS, FOCUS ON/FIX EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS. Those two alone would set us in a direction that would only be helpful to the world :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charley-Wooley/741206578 Charley Wooley

    The argument that there would be widespread drug use if they were legalized is bogus.
    If Heroin and Cocaine were legal to buy and affordable today, I still wouldn’t use them. And I believe that as a whole our society has enough common sense and discipline to deal with these substances on their own. We don’t need to be told what to do, we just need to use some restraint.

  • Ed Lover (Yo! MTV Raps)

    I don’t buy the idea that drug use would increase substantially if drugs were legalized.  It assumes that there are people who want drugs now but can’t or won’t get them because they’re illegal. 

    There are probably a small number of people like this, but not very many.  I don’t know anyone who wants to use illegal substances but can’t get them fairly easily.  And as others have mentioned, I wouldn’t try heroin if it was legal.  I imagine many others are the same.

    • Segue

      Yes, true enough.  Look at the Dutch in Holland. You can find rate of drug use in that country compared to the U.S.  It’s higher in the U.S. even though for them many drugs are decriminalized. There might be a short difficult period after drugs are legalized, but there would also be a reactionary reduction in drug use again after initial experimentation.

    • Karl Smith

      Some people have addictive personalities… that is they find something to be addicted to.  They want to be out of control or to escape from a reality they find difficult (boredom, …).  Then there are the easily influenced types which can be pulled in whichever direction including drug use.  However, most of us like to be in control and accomplish things (at least most of the time).  Drugs are easy enough to get now that spending some resources on helping people instead of making their realities worse may lower the addictive use.  Recreational use may go up but that would be a personal decision and generally under control. 

      I am advocating for a “tolerated” designation which would be technically legal but regulated and to some extent discouraged through public awareness campaigns.  We offer people help if they need it, but use would be a personal decision.  I think that politically we could get this passed if we are not “legalizing” and “blessing” the use of drugs which many citizens will not support.  We should put alcohol and tobacco in this classification also.  We would need to create a new class of law “tolerated” (or whatever name) that would have the correct connotations about the intent.

  • Paul Barthle

    Hi.  I listen occasionally and want to suggest one avenue of education that should be much more effective than “just say no”.  There needs to be graphic images on the nightly news of the human suffering that results from drug production and trafficking in third world countries.  Our consumption has created criminal and political organizations that have torn apart the very fabric of nations’ daily life and culture, yet we rarely see or hear of it.

    Flash back to the early 70′s and the effect that Life magazine, Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite had on the average American and our attitude towards the Vietnam war.  The iconic image of the naked girl fleeing the burning village still makes me cringe.  Show kids what is happening in Mexico now, Guatemala next and Colombia before.  Many will think twice about purchasing that first “hit” if they have this knowledge.  Of course, they might look at clothing labels and pass up brands made in sweatshops from these same countries if that truth were told as well.

    • Wingrace

      I agree!  Look at the change in smoking habits in this country as well.  I feel alot has to do with the graphic images displayed of people at the end of their lives after a life of smoking.  Pictures are worth a thousand words. 

      • Marv

        I really don’t think smoking habits have changed. Recent studies show a very large percentage of 20-somethings (who have had the “smoking kills” mantra drilled into them since they could speak) continuing to smoke. Sure the social stigma is there but it will never trump freedom of choice.

  • Teach Logic K-12

    The solution to the war on drugs is simple.  It is the same solution to all the rest of our society’s problems:  TEACH LOGIC IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

    I don’t know how many times I have to say this before somebody listens.  The fact of the matter is 99.9999% of the population doesn’t even know what it means to teach logic.  It means, have a class SOLELY based on solving problems LOGICALLY by using reasoning and logical inference.  NO WORD GAMES.  NO NONSENSE.  PURE logical inference.  This instills SELF-DISCIPLINE in students, which is something that NO current subject in public school does.  This is WHY other countries are ahead of us.  They teach logic in their schools, or it is a fundamental part of their language  and culture, or both.

    This will SIGNIFICANTLY reduce drug usage.  Why?  Because people will be able to make tough decisions in world that demands they do so.  As it stands right now we have a society full of brainwashed robot retards who can’t think for themselves to save their lives.


    • PJ

      Agreed, TLK-12! You’re talking functional/pragmatic/cognitive behavioral training. Carl Rogers, Albert Bandura, William James, Jean Piaget. Throw some-grade applicable Family Systems Theory/Family Roles Theory into the learning mix, and we arrive at the solution for the addiction plague…We watch addiction, across all human experience -individual, family, community, global- die a moderately slow, but, consistant death. Authentic change only comes to us through a process. A process, by it’s nature, doesnt include “right now”. ‘Little by little’ works…It’s process that will take as long as it takes…

  • Sonjagrinstead

    Would it not be wisdom at this point after the report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy stating “the global war on drugs has failed” …that the Commission take a serious biblical “rethink” of why it is a failure??? …and why it will forever be a failure???  Drug addiction is a serious spiritual bondage that cannot be broken by natural means OR billions of dollars with a new anti-drug effort.  I promise you “it will not work”, …no human effort will cancel out spiritual bondage, the biblical reality is that the nations must consider a national revival where the impossible becomes possible because of God’s power and promise,  for example is a biblical quote of His promise, …”If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and r e p e n t  of their sin,  I will hear from heaven and I WILL COME AND HEAL THEIR LAND.” KJ.  This is the endtime direction for worldwide healing and deliverance from bondage and rebellion to God.  Another effort for drugs at this point simply will “not cut it” even at the expense of billions of $$$.  There is no other choice!!!  There is no  t i m e  for another choice!!!  …questions? … sonjagrinstead@gmail.com

  • RasKassa

    listening to him, I am glad Thomas McCellan is out of the ONDCP. His argument
    that decrim or legalization will only cause mafias to shift to other contraband
    like human smuggling is totally spurious. Drugs are a good market and account
    for the vast majority of mafia profits. That is their core business, and if an
    industry loses its core business it will surely shrink. It’s like saying its ok
    for Ford to stop making cars since it can just make trucks instead. 

Aug 28, 2014
Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  (AP)

The message that will last out of Ferguson with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

Aug 28, 2014
Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

Drought in California, earthquake in Napa. We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

Aug 27, 2014
The cast of the new ABC comedy, "Black-ish." (Courtesy ABC)

This week the Emmys celebrate the best in television. We’ll look at what’s ahead for the Fall TV season.

Aug 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP)

Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s leader meet. We’ll look at Russia and the high voltage chess game over Ukraine. Plus, we look at potential US military strikes in Syria and Iraq.

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