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A New Look At Drugs In America

Neuroscientist Carl Hart says don’t  blame drugs for society’s problems.  And end the war on drugs. We’ll hear his case.

Seized cocaine

U.S. Coast Guard crew members offload bales of cocaine seized in the Caribbean, Friday, April 26, 2013 (AP)

Dr. Carl Hart – neuropsychopharmcologist, African-American, professor at Columbia – grew up in a tough neighborhood in Miami.  Saw plenty.  And plenty of drugs.  Then went on to study those drugs and their effects as a scientist.  And now, he’s here to tell you:  end the war on drugs.  We’ve framed it all wrong, he says.  We’ve misrepresented the effects of the drugs.  Confused effects of poverty and stifled ambition for drug effects.  Filled the prisons.  Done damage.

This hour On Point:  a neuropsychopharmacolgist’s call to rethink drugs.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Dr. Carl Hart, professor of Psychology at Columbia University, director of Methamphetamine Research Laboratories at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and author of “High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society.” (@drcarlhart)

Dr. Alvin Poussaint, psychiatrist at Harvard University Medical School and author of “Lay My Burden Down” (2001) and “Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Der Spiegel: ’This Is Working’: Portugal, 12 Years after Decriminalizing Drugs – “One gram of heroin, two grams of cocaine, 25 grams of marijuana leaves or five grams of hashish: These are the drug quantities one can legally purchase and possess in Portugal, carrying them through the streets of Lisbon in a pants pocket, say, without fear of repercussion.”

The Washington Post: The economic case for decriminalizing heroin – “The legal market would drive illegal producers out of business, there wouldn’t be any of the enforcement costs — including huge social costs like mass incarceration — that come with drug prohibition, the government would gain considerable new tax revenue, and because the price is the same, consumption of drugs wouldn’t be any different than under prohibition.

The Columbus Dispatch: George F. Will commentary: Mandatory minimum sentences do harm – “The federal prison population — currently approximately 219,000, about half serving drug sentences — has expanded 51 percent since 2000, and federal prisons are at 138 percent of their supposed capacity.”

 

Book Excerpt

High Price, By Dr Carl Hart
Prologue

The paradox of education is precisely this—
that as one begins to become conscious,
one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.

—James Baldwin

The straight glass pipe filled with ethereal white smoke. It was thick enough to see that it could be a good hit, but it still had the wispy quality that distinguishes crack cocaine smoke from cigarette or marijuana smoke. The smoker was thirty-nine, a black man, who worked as a street bookseller. He closed his eyes and lay back in the battered leather office chair, holding his breath to keep the drug in his lungs as long as possible. Eventually, he exhaled, a serene smile on his face, his eyes closed to savor the bliss.

About fifteen minutes later, the computer signaled that another hit was available.

“No, thanks, doc,” he said, raising his left hand slightly. He hit the space bar on the Mac in the way that he’d been trained to press to signal his choice.

Although I couldn’t know for sure whether he was getting cocaine or placebo, I knew the experiment was going well. Here was a middle-aged brother, someone most people would label a “crackhead,” a guy who smoked rock at least four to five times a week, just saying no to a legal hit of what had a good chance of being 100 percent pure pharmaceutical-grade cocaine. In the movie version, he would have been demanding more within seconds of his first hit, bug-eyed and threatening—or pleading and desperate.

Nonetheless, he’d just calmly turned it down because he preferred to receive five dollars in cash instead. He’d sampled the dose of cocaine earlier in the session: he knew what he would get for his money. At five dollars for what I later learned was a low dose of real crack cocaine, he preferred the cash.

Meanwhile, there I was, another black man, raised in one of the roughest neighborhoods of Miami, who might just as easily have wound up selling cocaine on the street. Instead, I was wearing a white lab coat and being funded by grants from the federal government to provide cocaine as part of my research into understanding the real effects of drugs on behavior and physiology. The year was 1999. In this particular experiment, I was trying to understand how crack cocaine users would respond when presented with a choice between the drug and an “alternative reinforcer”—or another type of reward, in this case, cash money. Would anything else seem valuable to them? In a calm, laboratory setting, where the participants lived in a locked ward and had a chance to earn more than they usually could on the street, would they take every dose of crack, even small ones, or would they be selective about getting high? Would merchandise vouchers be as effective as cash in altering their behavior? What would affect their choices?

Before I’d become a researcher, these weren’t even questions that I would think to ask. These were drug addicts, I would have said. No matter what, they’d do anything to get to take as much drugs as often as possible. I thought of them in the disparaging ways I’d seen them depicted in films like New Jack City and Jungle Fever and in songs like Public Enemy’s “Night of the Living Baseheads.” I’d seen some of my cousins become shells of their former selves and had blamed crack cocaine. Back then I believed that drug users could never make rational choices, especially about their drug use, because their brains had been altered or damaged by drugs.

And the research participants I studied should have been especially driven to use drugs. They were experienced and committed crack cocaine users, who typically spent between $100 and $500 a week on it. We deliberately recruited individuals who were not seeking treatment, because we felt that it would be unethical to give cocaine to someone who had expressed an interest in quitting.

The bookseller was seated in a small, bare chamber at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital (now New York–Presbyterian) in upper Manhattan; his cocaine pipe had been lit by a nurse at his side with a lighter, who also helped monitor his vital signs during the research. I was watching him and several others in similar rooms through a one-way mirror; they knew we were observing them. And over and over, these drug users continued to defy conventional expectations. Not one of them crawled on the floor, picking up random white particles and trying to smoke them. Not one was ranting or raving. No one was begging for more, either—and absolutely none of the cocaine users I studied ever became violent. I was getting similar results with methamphetamine users. They, too, defied stereotypes. The staff on the ward where my drug study participants lived for several weeks of tests couldn’t even distinguish them from others who were there for studies on far less stigmatized conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

To me, by that point in my career, their myth-busting behavior was no longer a surprise—no matter how odd and unlikely it may seem to many Americans raised on Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) antidrug programs and “This is your brain on drugs” TV commercials. My participants’ responses—and those in the dozens of other studies we’d already run, as well as studies by other researchers around the country—had begun to expose important truths. Not just about crack cocaine and about addiction, but about the way the brain works and the way that pleasure affects human behavior. Not just about drugs, but about the way science works and about what we can learn when we apply rigorous scientific methods. This research was beginning to reveal what lies behind choice and decision-making in general and how, even when affected by drugs, it is influenced powerfully by other factors as well.

These experiments were potentially controversial, of course: the tabloids could have described me as a “taxpayer-funded pusher, giving ‘crackheads’ and ‘meth-monsters’ what they want.” Nevertheless, I tried to keep the sensational stuff hidden in the mantle and cold language of science in my scholarly publications. I’d published dozens of papers in important journals, had been awarded prestigious fellowships and competitive grants to conduct research, and had been invited to join influential scientific committees. I cowrote a respected textbook that became the number-one text used to teach college students about drugs; I won awards for my teaching at Columbia University. But throughout my career I mainly tried to avoid controversy, fearing it might derail me from conducting the work I so loved.

Eventually, I realized that I could no longer stay silent. Much of what we are doing in terms of drug education, treatment, and public policy is inconsistent with scientific data. In order to come to terms with what I have seen in the lab and read in the scientific literature, there is nothing else to do but speak out. Using empirical data, not just personal anecdotes or speculation, I have to discuss the implications of my work outside the insulated and cautious scientific journals, which were my normal métier. Because basically, most of what we think we know about drugs, addiction, and choice is wrong. And my work—and my life—shows why.

As I monitored the people I was studying, I began to think about what had brought each of us to such different places. Why was I the one in the white coat—and not the crack cocaine smoker in the cubicle? What made us different? How did I escape the distressed neighborhoods I grew up in—and the adult lives marked by drugs, prison, violent death, and chaos that so many of my family and childhood friends have had? Why did I instead become a psychology professor at Columbia, specializing in neuropsychopharmacology? What allowed me to make such different choices?

These questions weighed on me even more heavily later in the year as I continued to conduct these experiments. Sometimes, while I watched the drug users contemplate whether to take another dose, I couldn’t help thinking about some of the choices I’d made during my youth. Marvin Gaye’s lyric from “Trouble Man” would run through my head, especially the lines about growing up under difficult circumstances, but eventually turning the tables to succeed. Usually, I tried to keep my past far behind me. But that part of my life had been called to my attention in an unavoidable and shocking way that spring.

Early one morning in March 2000, I was awakened by a loud banging on the door of my Bronx apartment. It was about 6 a.m.; I was in bed with my wife. We had a young son, Damon, who was about to turn five. Several months earlier, I had been promoted to assistant professor at Columbia. Life was good. As we say back home, I was feeling myself. But I also knew that word of my success had hit the streets of South Florida. Indeed, I’d recently received what I thought was an absurd letter from a Florida court claiming that I was the father of a sixteen-year- old boy. The pounding became more insistent.

When I opened the door, I was met by a thick-necked white guy wearing an undersized suit and displaying a badge. He handed me some official paperwork and instructed me to appear before a judge. As it turned out, the boy’s mother had actually gone ahead and filed a paternity suit. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know her last name. But, in the fall of 1982, when I was fifteen and she was sixteen, we’d had a one-night stand. It started to come to me as I thought back; soon I had a vague memory of her signaling me to sneak in through her window to avoid alerting her mother that she had a visitor.

As the DNA test ultimately confirmed, I’d gotten her pregnant that night. For the next two years, prior to joining the U.S. Air Force, I’d lived in and around the Carol City neighborhood of Miami (known to hip-hop fans as the gun-and drug-filled home of rapper Rick Ross and his Carol City Cartel), but she had never even mentioned the possibility to me that I was the father of her baby boy. And I never even thought to ask, because I had engaged in this type of behavior in the past without noticeable consequences.

But that’s the abrupt way I discovered that I had a son I didn’t know—one who was being raised in the place I’d tried so hard to escape; yet another fatherless black child of a teenage mother. At first, I was enraged, horrified, and embarrassed. I thought I had at least avoided making that mistake. Here I was doing the best I could to raise the child I knew I had in a middle-class, two-parent family. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to do. Once I got over my initial shock, I was appalled to think about what it must have been like for my son to grow up without ever knowing his father. It really got me thinking about how I’d managed to thrive despite lacking those advantages.

I’d wanted to teach my children everything I hadn’t known as I grew up with a struggling single mother, surrounded by people whose lives were limited by their own lack of knowledge. I wanted them to go to good schools, to know how to negotiate the potential pitfalls of being black in the United States, to not have to live and die by whether they were considered “man” enough on the street. I also wanted to illustrate by my own example that bad experiences like those I had as a child aren’t the defining factor in being authentically black.

Now I had learned that one of my own children—a boy, whose name I learned was Tobias, had grown up for sixteen years in the same way I had, but without any of the hard-earned knowledge I could now offer.

Later, I’d discover as well that he’d taken the very path I feared most. He had dropped out of high school and fathered several children with different women. He had sold drugs and allegedly shot someone. What could I tell my sons about how I’d escaped from the streets? Could my experience and knowledge help change Tobias’s downward trajectory? How did I really manage to go from being one of the black kids in the auxiliary trailer for those with “learning difficulties” in elementary school to being an Ivy League professor?

Though I now regret much of this behavior, like my newfound son I’d sold drugs, I’d carried guns. I’d had my share of fun with the ladies. I’d deejayed in the skating rinks and gyms of Miami performing with rappers like Run-DMC and Luther Campbell in their early gigs, ducking when people started shooting. I’d seen the aftermath of what the police call a “drug-related” homicide up close for the first time when I was just twelve years old; I lost my first friend to gun violence as part of the same chain of events. Indeed, my cousins Michael and Anthony had stolen from their own mother, and I had attributed this abhorrent behavior to their “crack cocaine addictions.” I saw what happened as the crack first took hold in Miami’s poorest black communities. Falling for media interpretations and street myths about all of these experiences had originally misled and misdirected me. Some of that, as we shall see, may ironically have helped me at certain times. But more often, it was a distraction, one that prevented me and so many others in my community from learning how to think critically.

So how could I now in good conscience study this scourge of a drug, even offer it to my own people in the laboratory? In the grand scheme of things, what was really so different between what I was doing in my research and what was likely to get Tobias arrested on the street?

The answers lie in my story and the science, which reveal the untold truth about the real effects of drugs and the choices we make about them as a society. By exploring how these myths and social forces shaped my childhood and career, we can strip away the misinformation that actually drives so-called drug epidemics and leads us to take actions that harm the people and communities we presumably intend to help.

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I think it is interesting that now that the NSA has ALL the information needed to eliminate all illegal drug sources, some are pushing for legalizing drugs!

    Oh, I see ! Make freedom, illegal, but drugs legal! Really?

    Oh, I see! Union made Twinkies were bad for you but dope filled Twinkies are good for you! ?

    Oh, I see! Can’t find good workers in the US, so we’ll import foreigners and dope up the locals ! ?

    Oh, I see! Keep the populace high, so that they can’t see what those that rule us are doing ? !

    Oh, I see! health care cost aren’t high enough, so we need to create designer drugs to create more problems to fix? !

    Oh, I see! China didn’t quite steal enough military secrets to guarantee an invasion win. Let’s dope up the populace, and weaken them some more? !

    Is this the future you support for the US! ?

    Take the Universal Perspective, Please !
    Support healthful Nootropics and healthy foods and supplements.

    • John from Clemson, SC

      Yes James, none of the “populace” is “doped up” now and everyone will be doped up when we legalize drug use.  That’s all that stops you and I from being heroin addicts, a law.  Without that, we’d all be doped up.  People like you need to quiet down, we’ve tried your way for 40 years and all its gotten us is the largest prison population in history and made drugs more powerful and more available.  You have no solutions, so why not try a new, compassionate approach?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        more like 80+ years no one has pointed out that all drug prohibition has been motavated by racism and greed

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Yes John, a lot of the populace is doped up now. Many of them are in Washington and run large corporations. They teach your children, they perform surgery on you, they carry guns, they wear nice suits, they live in the gutter, they live in the best neighborhoods, they live in the hood. So what? What is your point?
        Is it that MORE drugs are better for you? Is it that desensitizing you will make you more likely not to do drugs? Are you thinking that drug lords will lay down and get a job at Mr. Burger’s ?
        And no, I don’t want to see someone’s life ruined with some silly law about smoking pot and 3 strikes your out and all of that jazz….
        However, more wrong doesn’t make more right ? Why aren’t you arguing for POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, !
        Don’t you want to think like an Einstein, dance like Fred Astaire or fight like Bruce Lee ? Don’t you want pregnant women to put good things in their bodies? Don’t you want a child to be able to have a conversation with a loving parent that isn’t all strung out ? What do you think I’m some kind of prude, that hasn’t been around the block? Would you believe that I have known and loved people that have been murdered or thrown in jail because of drugs, and criminals and gangs and …. Yea, that’s right, I’m a graduate of Wazamatteryou,niversity ! My kids are grown, now but if they weren’t and I caught some jerk trying to do them in with something you were selling, I’d break their arms ! Dig it ?

        • arydberg

          Listen to John,    Yes there is a downside to legal drugs but after 50 years of paying billions to drug smugglers and filling our jails with people that have never hurt anyone it is time for a change.    Look hard at the the damage our laws have been doing to our population for years.   

           I have a right to live as i see fit.  If i destroy myself that is my concern and it is preferable to do gooders  with their misguided laws.     

          • Fairuse

            Nice to see he’d “break your arms” for sharing a relatively benign substance like cannabis.  Shows the Neanderthal mentality of our adversaries.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      prohibition is one of the original conspiricies. americans should have the right to do whatever to their own bodies that they like. designer drugs exist as a result of prohibition. prohibition creates market failures and drugs like meth and crack are the result. the drug war is making us into a police/prison state and bad for society

      • Shag_Wevera

        Bravo!

      • ChevSm

        http://nymag.com/news/features/synthetic-drugs-2013-4/

        I agree, prohibition does not work.  This article is to your point. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          sometimes i think if they banned basil in a short period of time basil would be all the rage with the kids and basil gangs would be breeding super potent basil and traffiking it all over

      • Mark Ostrom

         Prohibition didn’t work because too many people were addicted to alcohol and societies have been drinking for generations. It is woven to deep into human culture. Alcohol is a drug too but it is not as harmful as drugs like Cocaine and Heroin. Making harmful drugs acceptable will only hurt society. There are prescription versions of many street drugs. Just because there is a doesn’t mean it should be legal for recreational use. There are many products that are hazardous that are illegal, Not just Drugs.

        • 1Brett1

          Well, from a medical perspective, alcohol is about as dangerous as heroin and infinitely more dangerous than cocaine. 

          If one were highly addicted to cocaine, one would have a strong psychological addiction but not much of a physical addiction at all. One could quit cold turkey and not suffer any physical effects beyond feeling physically crappy for a brief period of time; there would be no danger of putting oneself at risk for a medical emergency if one stopped using cocaine abruptly.

          Conversely, with alcohol or heroin (or any CNS depressant or opiate), if one is highly addicted, stopping abruptly can mean death; at least damage that could mean an acute medical emergency. The physical addiction to alcohol or heroin would be head and shoulders more serious than with cocaine. 

          • Duncan20903

             You’ve obviously never quit doing cocaine. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • 1Brett1

            People don’t die from cocaine withdrawal. They do from alcohol or heroin withdrawal; that’s just a fact. That doesn’t mean people don’t die from overdosing, or don’t have cocaine induced psychosis, or don’t suffer from CNS distortion for a long time as they withdraw, or haven’t messed up the pleasure centers of their brain/have suppressed their dopamine or serotonin or norepinephrine neurotransmitters, etc….I don’t really care what you believe, though. Anybody who starts out a comment with the word “obviously” in an accusation about which they know nothing and is as rude and offensive as you don’t deserve any of my respect.  

          • Fairuse

            Duncan, I have been a follower of you for a few years now and this is the only time I would question your statement.  I have quit Alcohol, Cocaine, and Tobacco.  A heavy user of all.  My experience is Alcohol made me the most physically sick from withdrawals and incapacitated, Tobacco generated the most cravings to restart and cocaine was more of an annoyance, akin to caffeine withdrawals. My personal anecdotal experience.  Totally unscientific, I know.

          • Duncan20903

            I’ll apologize too, it appears that I personalized that. I quit cocaine in May of 1989. I don’t even recall the exact date because I had no expectation of ever being able to say that I haven’t used cocaine in more than 24 years.

            It sure as heck wasn’t easy for me.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          there are many products that are hazardous that are legal like draino. which other things are illegal? why is heroin worse than oxycontin? why is cocaine worse than adderol?
          alcohol is a poison, it is the most dangerous and deadly of all drugs. it is the only drug that you can die from withdrawel from.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          do you know that they found cocaine in the egyptian burials? think about the geography and time frame of that. cannabis has coevolved with humans since the dawn of time. opium has been cultivated for hundreds if not thousands of years. whats new is prohibition

        • Fairuse

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HarmCausedByDrugsTable.svg

          This is a scientifically proven chart of the ACTUAL harms of drugs.  David Nutt is the foremost authority in Britain on this subject.

  • John from Clemson, SC

    I have to say as someone who voted for Obama twice, I’m disappointed he didn’t end this war too.  What happened to the Choom Gang Mr. President?  We are locking up too many people because they don’t do the right drugs (alcohol, prescriptions, etc) and accumulating the largest prison population in human history.  Again, just another reason to be disappointed with boomer generation and to see that our generation (Im 27) will have to fix it ourselves like we did at the ballot box in colorado and washington.  Our generation has changed national opinion on gay rights, immigration, gender equality, and drug use. We created the online world that boomers are now getting comfortable with, we changed the way journalism and music are packaged and delivered, and we elected the first black president.  All the boomers have done is laid back and enjoyed the success their parents left them, having solved none of the problems they inherited or encountered along the way.  The least they could have done was to end this ridiculous drug war. Just another legacy of the least greatest generation

    • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

       But you don’t answer the phone. Yeah, its all the boomer’s fault. Kill the old. You created the online world- no, Al Gore (really) did back in ’88? Jobs and Gates were part of your generation?

      Seriously, you have some really nasty crackers in SC (see US Senate), can’t you you find other enemies besides ageist class warfare. On the other hand considering the coming AGW die-offs, you’re right, kill the old.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        i heard ed markey actually invented the internet

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    an irony that is not pointed out in this article is that cocaine is schedule 2 so it can be studied in a lab. according to federal law cannabis is schedule one so it is far to dangerous and addictive to be studied. prohibition is what is destroying america not drugs

    • Acnestes

      Cocaine is also used as a local anesthetic in some surgical procedures.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        yes schedule 2 can be used and studied unlike cannabis. cannabis cures cancer, the government owns the patent to do so, yet they insist it has possible no medical use. i dont know why people let it go on

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Take the big money out of crime, tax the revenues, fund substance abuse treatment, reduce incarceration rates, police can focus on real crimes like physical abuse, theft, etc… Again lower burden on taxpayers… taking huge profits out of poppie production will even hurt the Taliban. What’s not to love?

  • Shag_Wevera

    I was a regular user of marijuana in my twenties.  During this time I graduated from college, was successful in several jobs, and had a hell of a lot of fun.  I had no legal problems, as I was very careful about my use.  I quit because I thought it was time to “grow up” and was afraid of eventually running afoul of the law.  

    Twenty years later…  I miss the occasional recreational use of marijuana.  What a great pressure relief valve it was!  I am very excited about legal changes taking place in some of the western states.  My guess is that nationwide legalization is probably inevitable.  For a long time I thought it would never occur in my lifetime. 

    • William

       Do you think our society will succeed with out some sort of “guard rails” to protect us from ourselves?

      • Shag_Wevera

        Do you mean restrictions on certain drugs, or on all drugs, or both?

        • William

          Most drugs that are illegal now and add to the list as required.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            and what criteria should we use to decide what to ban?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        are you not competent to make decisions?

    • Mark Ostrom

      My experience was a little different. I went to parties and would drink and occasionally smoke a joint. I would try to be responsible, most of the time. Marijuana has varying affects depending on the person and the thc levels. It may be safe for the body, but it can mess with the mind especially if one has an active imagination. I haven’t had a drink or smoked in more than ten years, and I don’t miss it that much. I don’t need drugs to get my dopamine fix.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        good thing you never got arrested for that. imagine how different your life would be

        • Mark Ostrom

           Good thing I lived in a state where Marijuana was decriminalized, and wasn’t stupid enough to try any harder drugs.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            there you go, the same thing would have happened if they were legal

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      there is quite a bit of money involved in keeping it illegal

  • Shag_Wevera

    The prison industrial complex is not going to go down without a fight.  Way too much money there.

  • 1Brett1

    It seems that the tables have turned regarding marijuana (or, as they say: cannabis). This is a good sign to chip away at the criminal industrial complex upon which our criminal justice system is built. 

    The underlying hold-up in completely removing use from criminality is the fact that cannabis is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This gives Federal authorities too much power to undermine state and local laws, it prevents research and general study, and it serves to present all jurisdictions with dilemmas that don’t need to be in place, complicating the entire system.

  • J__o__h__n

    Unless someone is driving, operating machinery, practicing surgery, or something like that, people should be free to use whatever substance they want as long as they can support themselves.  Idiots even inhale chemical solvents.  Prohibition doesn’t work. 

    • GM

      I am largely in agreement, but I would prefer that even critical skills or public safety workers be subjected to performance tests, rather than pee-in-a-cup. Why should I care if my pilot smoked a joint last week, as long as he’s sharp at take-off?

      My dog has a procedure scheduled tomorrow. I will hope that the surgeon only had one glass of wine with dinner, that his sleeping pill has completely worn off, that he didn’t fight with his wife at the breakfast table, that he actually ate some breakfast, that he didn’t drink too much coffee, that his drive to the hospital didn’t take twice as long as usual. Although none of these scenarios is illegal, all could dramatically affect his performance. Many people are significantly impaired on a regular basis who have never touched an illicit substance.

    • Mark Ostrom

       How can one support themselves if they have destroyed there capability to produce dopamine after injecting too much Meth? or spending all their hard earned money on feeding their addiction?

      • J__o__h__n

        Welfare and treatment are less expensive than jail.  Either they put their life back together or they don’t.  Legal or not, people who want meth (or any other drug) are going to find it. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        meth addicts seem like the most industrious of all junkies. whats funny is that meth is the one drug we could actually ban and but we never will because big pharma makes big bucks off it

  • WaveyMarkyMark

    Jeez Tom can you have a full hour female guest who talks about “serious topics” like national security, history, big idea politics? Or do you only think men can do that. This is one of the most male centric shows, especially for NPR

    • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

      Thank you for this helpful comment. And lesbians too. Don’t forget the lesbians. This would have much been better if two lesbian neuroscientists had been found to discuss the issue. I would love to know what lesbian neuroscientists think about this issue.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        perhaps asian or hispanic lesbian nueroscientists?

  • TyroneJ

     The so-called “War on Drugs” will never end for the same reason the co-called “War on Terror” won’t. There are too many in government, including Law Enforcement, who make too much money prosecuting these co-called wars.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      not to mention private contractors

  • DrewInGeorgia

    The real drug problem in this country stems from pharmaceuticals. The death toll from abuse of pharmaceuticals is second only to the number of deaths resulting from auto accidents. In 2011 the count actually exceeded auto accident related fatalities. Are we going to do something about that?

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Drugs/drug-deaths-exceed-traffic-deaths/story?id=14554903#.Ubc5pdj4Lcq

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      nah big pharma has lobbiests.

  • twenty_niner

    The problem is that drug users, even casual ones, are largely unemployable, except for the most menial of tasks. As the economy become increasingly technical, people on the margins of society become an ever larger burden. Ultimately, taxpayers will be footing the bill (or more likely, the Fed will be printing more money) to pay for the drug addled.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Are you including the prescription med abusers?
      Didn’t think so. Margins of society…lol

      • DrewInGeorgia

        And what of nicotine and alcohol?

        • twenty_niner

          Alcohol is a drug.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            As is nicotine, that was my point.
            You feel that your take on ‘drugs’ should be shared by all. I don’t.

            So you are saying that anyone who uses any form of recreational drug, pharmaceutical, nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine is “largely unemployable”. You’re talking about conservatively seventy percent of the population. Are the drugs the problem or is it the people who consume them?

      • twenty_niner

        “Are you including the prescription med abusers?”

        I am.

        I don’t and can’t hire any form of drug abuser, prescription or not.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          then what difference does it make if its legal or not?

        • Fairuse

          “Abuser”  or recreational “users”.   There is a difference.  Just as most alcohol enthusiasts are responsible users the same is proven for recreational users of illicit drugs.  The vast majority are functioning recreational users with no negative impacts on their everyday life.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Poor taxpayers.  :’(

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      you don’t want to know how much this one has set us back
      http://chune.me/MASSiVECHuNE/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/barry-obama-smoking-a-joint1.jpg

  • Yar

    Back to two years of public service; if young people treat drug addicts as part of their two years of public service in the place where the addict lives, it will be the best education they can get.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i like it scared straight for the stoner set

  • Coastghost

    Crack cocaine does NOT lead to cognitive impairment? Clinical studies show this? Were the doses measured in micrograms?

    • 1Brett1

      I found that an odd statement.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Yeah, we need a lot more people addicted to crack and all the other drugs that are currently illegal. It will certainly make them more employable and valuable to society as a whole.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      they wont have those felonies on their records. that will make them more employable. do you think people are sitting around waiting for drugs to become legal so they can become junkies?

      • Mark Ostrom

        Drunks and druggies are not employable because of their lack of motivation and work ethic, not because of criminal record. There are plenty of drugs that are more addictive than alcohol. and if they “Push them Selves” the number of druggies will skyrocket. Their will be more druggies than there are drunks.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          since people can use drugs and alcohol responsible why should we try to make criminals of every user when only a few have problems?
          i doubt druggies will ever exceed drunks. having a criminal record makes it almost impossible to get most jobs. plenty of pot smokers who would probably be fine employees because of drug tests cannot get jobs.  alcohol is the only drug that can kill with withdrawel.  someone once convicted is always unemployable even if they quit the drugs.  so you really think there are people sitting around thinking “if only herion were legal i would go stick a needle in my arm”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

    My family was destroyed by drugs.  I cannot take this article seriously.  I barely escaped the trap, myself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      were you saved because they are illegal?

  • Aspy

    It strikes me as totally appalling that anyone might want to legalize drugs when we’ve seen the astonishing success of Prohibition, which, exactly like anti-drugs, succeeded in creating enormously valuable industries: cartels, private prisons, vitally strong smuggling networks and their government opposition.

    Sarcasm done. We are demonstrating the absolute relevance of Einstein’s definition of insanity:  repeating the same thing and expecting different results.

    • Duncan20903

       The prohibitionists are way beyond Uncle Albert. They don’t expect different results, they just presume that they’re getting the results they expect and reality be damned.

  • maryrita

    The great book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander brings all the data together about the horrible effects of the War on Drugs. Another great resource is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc), a national organization of thousands of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are actively campaigning to end the prohibitions against drugs and control the flow, as we now do with alcohol.

    • Rockon

      Eugene Jarecki produced the film “The House I Live In” about the effects of the war on drugs on individual lives and communitiies. An interesting part of the film reviews opinions by those in the criminal justice system who are most aware of its effects and are calling for remediation and broad approaches to changing the systemic issues that wreak the havoc created in so many communities. It supports, particularly by looking at attitudes embodied in the war on drugs, much of the broad case made by Drs. Hart and Poussaint for making changes in the drug laws and our broader societal programs in education, employment and treatment. http://www.thehouseilivein.org/see-the-film/about-the-film/

  • Coastghost

    I hear Dr Hart’s pharmaco-sociology message clearly, I don’t hear brain chemistry or physiology or neuroscience being explained, however.

    • 1Brett1

      I turned it off. I had expected to hear some compellingly cool scientific explanation for what happens to brains in the short and long term. Instead, I heard some poorly strung together argument using examples about how historical figures have used drugs and excelled, how he transcended his environment even while using drugs, and so on. 

      Maybe it got better? I hope so. 

      • Coastghost

        No: we’re hearing deeply personal stories and NO explications of pharmacological science. Grand opportunity missed. 

      • Mark Ostrom

        The guest is trying to rationalize the use of Harmful drugs and say they are not harmful. I have seen the negative affects of drugs to many times to give him any credit.

        • 1Brett1

          From what I heard–about the first twenty-five minutes–it was a very different show than what I was expecting, and it was disappointing. 

          If I had never heard any arguments before for or against the legalization/decriminalization of drugs and this was the first conversation I had heard between the guest and the callers, I’d say say keep all drugs highly illegal! I didn’t hear any compelling argument about addiction being more of a medical issue than a criminal one; I didn’t hear any distinction between the occasional use of cannabis and using crack cocaine; there weren’t any particular emphases on how the criminalization of drug addiction has damaged society….the guest wasn’t a good spokesperson for either legalizing drugs or selling his book.

          • Mark Ostrom

             There are many distinctions that have not been spelled out. There is a difference between decriminalization and legalization. and there is a difference between Marijuana and Meth. I for one would not be in favor of legalizing any drug but would be for decriminalizing Marijuana, which means it would still be illegal just not a criminal offense If one poses it, one would be fined rather than put in jail. But hard core drugs like Heroine, and meth should not be decriminalized. One should be required to be treated for their addiction instead of going to jail, they would be sentenced to a treatment center.

          • 1Brett1

            Well, it is a complex issue, and there are no simple answers. Addiction, I believe is a medical condition and should treated as such. Criminalizing an addict simply adds another layer to problems for the addict and another layer of problems for society.

            That said, forcing people to receive treatment by court order isn’t very successful either. Unless or until someone wants to help himself/herself to deal with addiction, he/she will NOT invest in treatment, no matter whether its voluntary or mandatory. I have worked in the mental health field with hundreds of people who were forced to get treatment. However, it is better than incarceration, and is cheaper. And, if only some people get helped by being forced to clean up, that is something worthwhile in my view.

            Ultimately, a society that sets the stage for addiction is not one that is permissive, so to speak; it usually is a restrictive and repressive (and often oppressive) one where opportunities are limited and where the structure of the society promotes conformity and intolerance. 

            In cultures where the use of alcohol and mild drugs are done in moderation, recreationally, and where the restrictions are through mature, sensible modeling and promotion of their use in ways other than to feed an addiction or to mask some dysfunction, those tend to have less problems with addiction. 

        • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

           Yeah, actually his scientific results were pretty lame- “drug users are not fiends”, and his grammar pretty lousy. But I applaud his results and courage in taking on the entire religio-police-prison complex. What happened in America, is that this sick prohibition became a kind of neo-religious belief based on mindless faith.

  • Steve__T

    Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings; that it was to protect the citizens from what was determined to be a dangerous drug. The actual story shows a much different picture. Those who voted on the legal fate of this plant never had the facts, but were dependent on information supplied by those who had a specific agenda to deceive lawmakers. You’ll see below that the very first federal vote to prohibit marijuana was based entirely on a documented lie on the floor of the Senate.

    The committee passed the legislation on. And on the floor of the house, the entire discussion was:

    Member from upstate New York: “Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?”
    Speaker Rayburn: “I don’t know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it’s a narcotic of some kind.”
    “Mr. Speaker, does the American Medical Association support this bill?”
    Member on the committee jumps up and says: “Their Doctor Wentworth[sic] came down here. They support this bill 100 percent.”

    And on the basis of that lie, on August 2, 1937, marijuana became illegal at the federal level

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      yup its a huge scam. its amazing how long this scam has persisted

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Decriminalization? Sure, but we need to take it a step further.
    All consensual activity between adults should be decriminalized. We have legislation based on protecting some from being offended by the activities of others. You have the right to not have the actions of others physically harm you or directly impede on your fundamental rights. You do not have the right to be protected from becoming offended.
    Consensual Crime is absurd.

    • Mark Ostrom

       Do you have the right to not have addictive or harmful drugs like Meth pushed on your children by gangs or, if legalized by the media?

      • StopUsingHelium

        Why would anyone push drugs if they were free?  Legalize them all, like alcohol, and regulate them.  Teach kids to accept themselves as they are and spend the money on rehab facilities, not jails filled with future gang members.  I think you must be afraid of losing your job if society changes for the better.

        • Mark Ostrom

           Are cigarets free? Is Alcohol Free? How many know drinking is harmful yet still drink? Cigarettes are legal and it is the first drug pushed on kids.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            thats funny i thought most kids started with caffine and sugar. do you think alcohol prohibition was a success? why do you think we ended it?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        is that somehow being prevented now? the the meth epidemic is a direct result of prohibition. the gangs exist as a direct result of prohibition. if you want to be rid of both those things  end prohibition. they will persist and fester as long as we have this absurd failed prohibition

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Do you have the right to turn of your computer, radio, or, television? Hint: They each have a power button.
        Do you have the right to educate your child and instill respect for you as a parent?

        When someone breaks the law (i.e. selling drugs to your children) they should be arrested, tried, and incarcerated accordingly. Many of the laws that we think keep us safe do far more to keep us ignorant.

      • Fairuse

        You have every right to educate and rear your children in such a manor that they do not feel the need to take any drug.  Legal or otherwise.  Same as training good driving habits or healthy eating.  The activities we see as commonplace like driving have more potential for carnage, pain and death than treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue.

    • Joemash

       Search = Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do..The absurdity of consensual crimes in a free country” Peter McWilliams

  • Coastghost

    Rough analogy, but: the difference between crack and powdered cocaine is similar to the difference between powdered cocaine and raw coca leaf.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      [citation needed]

      • Coastghost

        “Rough analogy”, as I said, I’m no pharmacologist, but I do know that powdered cocaine is refined coca leaf and my understanding is that crack is refined cocaine. (A pity this has not been addressed directly by Tom and his guests.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      not really.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Hunt/1223296199 Michael Hunt

    Tom, whether one agrees with all, some, or none of the ideas brought forth by your guest today, there can be absolutely no denying the man has great courage.  Americans have been so ingrained since the ’80′s with the notion about the “evil of drugs”, that to even suggest there are other possibilities, other approaches, other ways to think about drugs is a clarion call to those still willing to think for themselves.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    The crack vs powdered cocaine “race related incarceration disparity” was “resolved” a couple of years ago. Let’s not keep using the stats as a “current problem” with the system.

  • 1Brett1

    “…Clint Eastwood was later found muttering and arguing incoherently with an unoccupied chair.” -anonymous

  • Eve0726

    People that fall into the traps of addiction are because of underlying issues such as mental illness.  Our prisons are increasingly a holding pen for a class of people that we have decided are expendable: undereducated, socioeconomically depressed, mentally ill.  The vehicle for incarcerating them are the drug laws and the African American community is paying the biggest price.

    • Mark Ostrom

       No, People fall into the trap of Addiction because of drug pushers, and because the drugs they push are addicting, that is how they get their clientele. The same thing happens with cigarettes. Ask anybody who is trying to quit how hard it is. White drug pushers should get the same punishment under the law as black or Hispanic drug pushers. It’s not about race. It’s about keeping harmful drugs away from society. and decriminalizing harmful drugs won’t stop gangs from trying to hook people.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        “pushers”? president reagan is that you? is it 1985? no one has to “push” drugs. they push themselves

        • Mark Ostrom

           Drugs push themselves, that is part of the problem with legalizing “All drugs” Someone still has to introduce the drug. If legalized the media will be introducing the drugs to the whole population through commercials. and the drugs will “push themselves” on the Whole population, not just the unfortunate ones that come in contact with drug dealers, including the harmful ones like Meth, But decriminalizing safer drugs like Marijuana will help keep kids from going to jail. And changing the laws so addicts are sent to “Drug education” instead of jail, would keep the heavier users out of jail.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            there are no “pushers”  trying to get people hooked on drugs. drug dealers have plenty of business without giving out free samples thats some 80s era hogwash. Kids nowadays get introduced to drugs by looking under their sink or parents medicine cabinet. the media already glamorises drug use. if anything they will be less attractive to juvaniles once the illegality is removed. 
            so you think we will see a “heroin: its whats for dinner” ad campaigns? i am sure we could have advertising restrictions like ciggeretts have now and alcohol used to have.  as i have tried to explain meth is popular because cocaine is illegal. when it is legal no one will do meth because cocaine will be so cheap. people do meth because it is cheap and easy to get. you can buy everything you need at walmart or any pharmacy. users are only a small part of the problem with prohibition the bigger part that i see is that our prohibition poilicy created and expands the cartels that have killed tens of thousands of mexicans and americans in the past decade alone and make any efforts to have a secure border a joke not to mention providing funding for terrorists and street gangs alike

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      those holding pens make a bout 40,000 per ”client” per year. its a growth industry

  • Steve__T

    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US,
    and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their
    Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This
    marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes,
    entertainers, and any others.”“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

    “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

    “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

    “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

    “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

    “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

    ~Harry J. Anslinger
    Federal Bureau of Narcotics

    • DrewInGeorgia

      That’s where the War on Drugs really got it’s legs.
      And guess where the outrage REALLY stemmed from?

      Harry J. Anslinger = Narrow minded bigot.

      • Steve__T

        Again, racism was part of the charge against marijuana, as newspapers in 1934 editorialized: “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          well then we should point out that it was Hearst who published all of that because he owned the patent on making paper from wood pulp instead of cannabis as it always had been. he got his competition banned. his inferior paper turned yellow because of the acid content hence the term “yellow journalism”

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      the dea still says most of those things

  • Unterthurn

    Suggest an education program that is already online and available for our youth to make them aware of addication and abuse. 
    Should we have our children write a report on the life of Amy Winehouse?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      probably better than DARE

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Are the increased impacts on minority populations a feature or a bug? I hate to be the cynic but I bet you know my answer.

  • Ask2013

    I agree that the War on Drugs has adversely affected the African american and hispanic communities by generating and perpetuating negative stereotyes. The real solution to the problem however lies in the study of and answer to the question of why African American and hispanic communities are the biggest population of people affected by drug usage. Why are drugs so enticing to these communities and what is being done to address this issue?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      these drugs were banned because of racial stereotypes in the first place. cannabis was banned as a way to oppress mexican people(and jazz musicians). cocaine was banned as a way to oppress african americans. opium to target chinese. white and non white people have the same usage rates it affects people of color more because of our criminal justice system. poor kids no matter their race or creed go to jail when people who can afford a lawyer dont. whats being done is to lock them up and feed them to the prison industrial complex.

  • markcoman

    This is ridiculous! The FDA has made the sail of Raw milk illegal and your talking about Decriminalizing Drugs? Cokain is harmful. So is Marijuana. I know from personal experiences with friends.  This is ubsurd.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      “sail”,”your”,”Cokain”

      • OnPointComments

        Are you saying that his comment was ubsurd?

        • DrewInGeorgia

          I stopped short, thanks for going the extra mile.

          • markcoman

            What ever, Go “sale” “you’re” “cocaine”

        • Steve__T

           I think he said it himself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      more harmful than cocaine is cocaine and being imprisoned for cocain

  • Coastghost

    Pharmaco-sociology: a NEW pseudo-science?

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    What drugs were “available” and in common use in the projects where Bill Cosby grew up WHEN he was growing up??

    I suspect the number and potency of drugs today is a lot higher than what he had to rise above.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      cannabis, herion , cocaine at least not to mention alcohol, the worst drug of all

      • markcoman

        You can die from one pill of ecstasy, which is heroin in pill form. I remember this happened to a local kid when I was in high school.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          nope ecstasy is not heroin in pill form. its MDMA, a totally different drug. often pills sold as such contain other drugs or god knows what because they are black market garbage. it if were legal it would be pharmacuetical grade so the quality and dose would be consistant and therefore much safer. heck if it were legal they would probably blend it with the other substances that can guard the brain from being damaged by the drug

          • Fairuse

            ARRRGHH!!!
            How can we ever beat back the scourge of stupidity when these cave dwellers have such a bizzaro world view of recreational drugs?  “Ecstasy is heroin in pill form”?????

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            its hard to do when the govt perpetuates lies like it is its job. meanwhile they drink beer and pop ambian, suck coffee and think they are different or better. there is a lot of big money involved in keeping people ignorant

  • Mary Jane Hall

    It is as simple as this: the War on Drugs has failed.  Utterly.  When something doesn’t work, sane people try something else.  We are spending massive resources and throwing entire generations of young men to the waste pile while ridiculously small amounts of resources are available to help people with substance abuse.  How can you not see that treatment is more effective than incarceration?  They’re not even talking about the incredible waste of money that the D.E.A. has turned out to be — billions and billions that agency spends to bring under control, maybe 1% of the supply coming into the US?  How is that a good allocation of resources?  If there were no black market in the US, much of the savagery of the Mexican drug cartels and Colombian drug lords would be reduced.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      at least 60,000 mexicans killed in the last decade by our policies

  • markcoman

    It’s not about black it’s about crime. Decriminalising the use of drugs won’t stop Illegal selling of drugs by Gangs. Whether Latin Kings or the Bloods. It’s Not ABOUT RACE.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      do you really think they will be able to outcompete walmart?

      • markcoman

         There is a difference between decriminalization and legalization. It would still be illegal to sell if it is decriminalized. You just wouldn’t go to jail if you bought it. You would be fined, or be placed in rehab. But if you sold it and got caught, you would go to jail.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          thats why i advocate legalisation. you should add to the end of your statement ” if you are poor”

  • Eve0726

    Those that fall to addiction typically have underlying problems such as mental illness that comes in many forms.  The huge amount of resources that have been focused on the criminalizing of drugs and people who use them, diverts attention from the real problem which I believe is mental illness for which services are egregiously underfunded. 

    Our prisons have overwhelmingly become holding pens for the disadvantaged, socioeconomically challenged, undereducated, and people of color.  Drug laws have become the vehicle for incarcerating a whole class of people because society has decided we don’t want to support them anymore, or create a viable economy that they can engage in.  What’s more is our for profit prison system is now finding a way to profit from their incarceration.

    Decriminalize drugs!

    • Joemash

       Drugs and mental illness – like what came first? I’m talking about legal ‘head pills’ as I call them that really change who you are!  The recent mass killings, mostly all, were or had been on these.  What these pills do is make you go Mad and these pills make some so.  I’ve been fighting for stopping the drug war, mandatory minimums, etc for decades.  I read, Never argue with a man whose job depends on him not changing his mind.  So on and on it continues.  Hopefully some Leaders ideas will take hold for change.

  • Coastghost

    The hour’s almost done and not ONE mention of “toxic psychosis”. Not one mention.

    Tom Ashbrook, I hope you sleep poorly tonight.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      he can just take an ambian

  • markcoman

    Decriminalizing Marijuana makes sense because it isn’t as harmful as other drugs. and since it is one of the gateway drugs many young people, those that experiment won’t have their lives ruined if caught with it. but decriminalizing cocaine and Meth heroin is insane.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      would you smoke meth if you could legally?

      • markcoman

         Heck no!

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          there you go, neither would i or anyone else who does not now. why would they? do you think being illegal really stops anyone now?

          • markcoman

            I wouldn’t because I don’t do drugs. But your presumption that others wouldn’t do meth if it was legal has No merit. If it was legal for recreation the way you describe, there would STILL be Groups, Or Business pushing the drug, just like the cigaret and beer companies. People will do what they can. If there were no legal consequences for doing meth, and it gets someone high, There will be plenty of people who would use it. That is the whole problem with any Harmful drugs whether they are LEGAL or NOT. And yes cocaine is harmful(as a recreation drug) despite what the guests and you claim. I agree that gangs are terrible but getting rid of drug laws will not make them go away. People need to start taking responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming the government for their problems.(Maybe we should just get rid of laws all together and live in Anarchy and arm every man woman and child like Syria. Is that what you want?)

          • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

             Duh, yeah- when government makes mild self-treatment illegal and destroys your life with prosecution, imprisonment, torture.. they are the problem. You seem to think drug prohibition is normal, status quo, but it only started in 1920′s, partly to provide work for J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI – before that EVERYTHING was legal. Prohibition is a radical brutal experiment that FAILED.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            the gangs are funded by drugs. since being banned does nothing to affect the availibility of drugs its pretty absurd to think that would affect their usage rate. people just do not factor whether something is legal into their decision to consume a substance. it seems like you just have a problem with people getting high. if they are not bothering anyone else who cares? if its harmful they are adults and can decide. we let people skydive and bungee jump if they want to smoke crack i dont see much of a difference.
            “People need to start taking responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming the government for their problems.” you are 100% right and the only way we can do that is to end prohibition

  • Davesix6

    Fascinating conversation! Dr Hart raises some very important questions that bare further  rational discussion.Alcohol, in my experience is by far is the most harmful drug in our society and prohibition did not work.

    • Mark Ostrom

       Have you seen the affects of Methamphetamine on the brain and body? over several uses, It destroys the body’s capacity to produce Dopamine. Without dopamine, one can not feel happiness or motivation. It destroys the liver and blood vessels at a rapid rate, and it is highly addictive. Way worse than Alcohol. But yes Alcohol is harmful too. I haven’t had a drink in more than ten years.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        the meth epidemic exists because of a market failure cause by prohibition.

        • markcoman

           Meth is deadly, end of story.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            yes its a terrible drug. the reason we have a meth epidemic is the prohibition of cocaine. if cocaine were legal no one would do meth. people only do meth because it is cheap. it is cheap because it it legal. it is legal because big pharma makes big bucks off it

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            why is it so popular?

  • Joemash

    “Drug Warriors and Their Prey…” by a Yale professor.  I bought the book when I heard about it on NPR back in early 90′s! Compares the Drug War with the Nazi vilification of Jews.  You should do a search on the Shaffer Report and Judge Young, DEA judge where they showed pot works with cancer recovery. All presidents ignored the findings. Even though by law they should have followed the recommendations.  So, “Never try to change a man’s mind who’s job depends on him NOT changing his mind.”

  • Atigan

    I agree with your guests we need to deal with the addiction problem in none criminal terms this has wide implications throughout society. It would impact prison over crowding, drug related crime in this country and south of the border, border security. The cost impact is huge when all aspects are taken into consideration.

    • Mark Ostrom

      There are programs to help recovering addicts. but decriminalizing drugs won’t stop people from using. Alcohol was made legal, every body knows it is bad yet practically everyone drinks. The drugs the guest suggests legalizing a much worse. Legalizing them will only increase it’s use.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        why do you think “alcohol was made legal”?

        • markcoman

           Like I said in another post because it is too ingrained in human culture. That doesn’t make it any better though. I haven’t had a drink in ten years because I have seen the negative affects it has on families and society.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            you dont think its better to have alcohol legal than to live under prohibition? prohibition ended because people saw it was worse than alcohol. after prohibition ended the murder rate in america dropped 99% in one year. thats why we need to end prohibition.  i am sick if dry drunks thinking because they could not control themselves that others cant be responsible

          • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

             So you are a recovering abuser who inevitably translates your weakness into needed mandatory control of entire societies? Maybe people who have a problem with substances should only worry about themselves, not restricting others. I don’t have a substance problem and once in a while I love to drink, very rarely do some pot.

            Of course alcohol deaths, violence, devastation outweigh ALL illegal drug effects many-fold- the greatest argument against the madness of criminalization..

          • markcoman

            Experimenting is not abusing drugs, It is when it becomes a habit that one becomes a drug abuser. and no that was not me. Anybody can see the negative affects of drugs. Just like you said “alcohol deaths, violence, devastation outweigh illegal drugs.” That is because -Alcohol is LEGAL- if illegal drugs become LEGAL there will become just as devestating as alcohol related deaths, because there will be more “abusers” Don’t dry and claim that you can’t overdose on Crack.

      • Fairuse

        “practically everyone drinks”

        Citation Please.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      our costs are another man’s profits

  • Radical___Moderate

    Yes. That is just what Americans need. More enablement to get stoned and run from reality! Of course, education will cause people to all use responsibly and still be productive citizens, right? Drug legalization will also help fix the crisis in poor and middle class families as well. Fathers will be much more present too!
    And, the NSA and our government would love it even more if we became further disengaged and apathetic too.

    Seriously, this approach outlines by Tom’s guest, with all due respect, is more libertine social garbage and probably pseudo-scientific.

    • Coastghost

      Plus, it would do nothing to enhance the skills of backhoe operators in Philadelphia or railroad engineers in California.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      yes the fathers will be more present because they will not be in jail for drug charges. they wont be stuck with no or minimum wage jobs because they wont have drug charges on their record so they can pay to support their kids.do you really think that the war on drugs is actually preventing anyone from doing or getting drugs? are you going to run out and stick a needle in your arm if they legalize heroin?
      the nsa would hate it because the north koreons and iranians and terrorists are all financed by drugs and keep them employed and the fbi would hate it because the cartels would go out of business and the dea would hate it because they could all go home.

  • OnPointComments

    Would you hire a babysitter for your children if you knew the babysitter was a recreational crack cocaine user?

    • J__o__h__n

      No, but that doesn’t make that person a criminal either. 

      • OnPointComments

        Unless they got caught smoking crack.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      like this guy?http://hairlarious.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/george-bush.jpg?w=450&h=386

      would you hire a drunk?
      i dont think i would hire someone who smoked ciggerettes or did a number of other legal things that are not for kids

      • OnPointComments

        If I knew someone had a glass of wine with dinner the previous night, I would hire them to babysit.  If I knew they smoked crack after dinner the previous night, I would not hire them to babysit.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          what if they had smoked crack once last week and the other had a glass of wine with breakfast?( i probably would want neither but lets pick)

        • John Cedar

          Would you vote for a prez who has done blow?

  • Mark Ostrom

    There are programs to help recovering addicts. but decriminalizing drugs
    won’t stop people from using. Alcohol was made legal, every body knows
    it is bad yet practically everyone drinks. The drugs the guest suggests
    legalizing a much worse. Legalizing them will only increase it’s use.

    • StopUsingHelium

      Legalization of all drugs (and other non-violent personal choices, i.e. prostitution, gambling) is the only answer to the unnecessary incarceration which leads to gang membership.  The cost of treatment to rehabilitate, even if as expensive as the jail system, will be lower overall if poeple can be returned to their families and jobs instead of being trapped in various violent gangs.  I bet a lot of lawyers and guards will be unhappy about that.

      • Mark Ostrom

           There will always be a black market because there will always be those
        who try to sell illegal products, weather it is drugs, guns, or Elephant
        tusks. Something should be done about gangs and gang membership but
        Legalizing and regulating drugs will only make pushing the drugs legal. How can you regulate something that can kill you with one dose?

        • J__o__h__n

          The elephant didn’t have a choice. 

          • markcoman

             Uhm … Yeeah! What ever that means.

          • Steve__T

             Or a chance to get off tusk.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          key word “illegal products” if the products are not illegal they will not be illegal products and there will be no black market.
          Gangs are almost 100% financed by proceeds created from selling prohibited drugs. gang members will only be the ones selling it if they get a job at walmart because thats who will sell it. do people sell aspirin on the corner? you can die from aspirin if you overdose unlike cannabis. however thats less likely to happen with aspirin than illegal drugs besides cannabis because its made to goverment standards and consistant and clearly labled. junkies often overdose when they get a higher grade of product than they are used to.  red bull and caffine can kill you also if you consume enough. a few people die that way every year. should we ban or regulate it more? 

          • markcoman

             We should regulate drinks like red bull and Monster. The FDA has all kinds of regulations on cigarets, but it took a lot of campaigning to get it. No more advertising to children etc. Are you suggesting that because of gangs, we should legalize the sail of Rhino horns? or make it legal to kill endangered species just because bad people break the law?

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            should we regulate coffee? it kills plenty of kids.at what point should people be responsible?
            rhino horns seem like a tangent i think thats why i ignored when you said it before. ( i did not know they were making sails or sailboats out of it)  my solution to the rhino horn problem is legal hunting and farming. prohibition of rhino horn is leading to the extinction of that species. what prohibition is is really the opposite of regulation it always leads to market failures.

        • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

          Ah, yes, the Lenny Bias balony. For the damage that idiot did to America in the psychotic overreaction, he deserved 100 deaths.

        • Fairuse

          Which drug kills with one dose?  A “dose” defined as a measured unit with properties enough to gain the desired effect.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        not to mention orange jumpsuit makers

    • OnPointComments

      For over 10 years I volunteered at a homeless shelter.  The vast majority of the people who availed themselves of the shelter’s services were abusers of illegal drugs.  It wasn’t the characteristic of being illegal that caused these drugs to put the abusers’ lives into a tailspin.

      • J__o__h__n

        The drugs being illegal was obviously not effective at preventing them from ending up there. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        i bet for some of them it is. i am sure most or all of them also abuse alcohol. i am sure many of them had been arrested for drugs and then they are in the system and they cant get a decent job

        • OnPointComments

          I saw many of these people.  Trust me, they weren’t looking for a job.  They were looking for their next drug score.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            whats the point in looking for a job if you are a felon?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      what we learned  from prohibition of alcohol is that making anything illegal does not stop anyone from doing it and makes black markets, crime, and death. do you think we are winning the war on drugs or are they universally available?

  • 1Brett1

    “Hey, kids, if you black don’t do crack, cuz crack is wack!”                                                                                      -Whitney Houston

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I bet Einstein new that addicts do things over and over and over …!

    • Coastghost

      THAT’S empiricism!

  • Kyerion Printup

    You could still decriminalize drugs and fight to control cross border trafficking of them. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      that will be good for the people who profit from the fighting and the cartels they might support it

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edward-Boughton/1379995701 Edward Boughton

    What I really dislike about “War on Drugs”
    conversations is the sensitizations of the topic and not the rationalization of
    the policies of the “War on Drugs.” 
    In this case, another author of a book spend the bulk of the time
    talking about drugs are not bad, and say drugs should be legalized. Fielding
    calls from self proclaimed Drug Users and Drug Dealers backing him up. 

     

    Drugs are bad (Tobacco, Pot, Alcohol or Crack).  They serve no biological purpose. They serve
    to waste conciseness and destroy the body. And done within Society become a
    safety and financial issue on the members of Society. His Car analogy good, but
    where he went wrong was “We” are the car.  We are an Electro/Chemical machine whose
    purpose is to carry around our brain and to interact in the world.  For “recreation” you would not pour
    sugar into your gas tank… or whip cream into the oil.  You should not be adding Chemicals into your
    system.  People say “pot” is
    natural, so is arsenic.  And there is
    nothing natural about inhaling smoke, sniffing glue or injecting you
    circulation system with foreign substances.

     

    His list of the benefits of drug use.. social lubricant and
    stress relief.  I have a less aversive alternative:
    Exercise, Laughter and Self-esteem.  That
    we can only be friends with others by lowering our IQs. 

     

    All his detractors were recovering addicts. and with the
    last few minutes holds up the only correct drug policy (though he
    misrepresented it too).  It is what I
    have been advocating since High School and Portugal is the only country to
    implement it.  In it… Drugs are
    illegal.  In you Make, Transport, or Sell
    you go to jail.  If you are caught with
    drugs for personal use, determined by quantity. It is taken from you and you go
    to a board hearing.  You pled
    “Recreation User” you go to Drug Education.  You pled “Addict” you go to Rehab.
    You become a regular you automatically go to Rehab.  Your Fine? 
    Paying for the program.  Cost
    Society nothing. 

     

    I don’t believe in incarceration of drug users.  Why do we incarcerate people at the price of
    more than a Collage Education?  If we
    have that money to burn, then we need to paying for College Educations.  It is Boredom, Stupidity, or Hopelessness
    that leads people into drug use as a recreational activity.  That is “our” fault.  The problem of any institution is that it
    becomes a business… be it School, be it Prison or be it Government. 

     

    I dislike arguments against Drug Use, as long as you are not
    targeting my Drug.  2-weeks ago a member
    of Mother Against Drunk Driving arguing against lowering BAC.  Giving the example… there is nothing wrong
    with having a couple glasses of wine and driving.  MADD’s slogan is “Don’t Drink and
    Drive!”

     

    The author holds up President Clinton, Bush and Obama as
    examples of success despite drug use. 
    Apparently sober minded presidents (GlassStegal, Lewinski, Iraq, Tarp,
    Wiretapping, ObamaCare and Bank Bailouts) were all good decisions.  The only reason adolescents vote for RonPaul
    is because they think he would legalize drugs, not for his belief in governance.

     

    Sad that we promote being less than we are, than being the
    best that we are.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      “Hey kids, drugs are bad. You shouldn’t do drugs, m’kay, if you do them, you are bad, ‘cuz drugs are bad, m’kay. It’s a bad thing to do drugs, so don’t be bad by doin’ drugs, m’kay, that would be bad, ‘cuz drugs are bad, m’kay.”

      • markcoman

         Yeah They are Bad. They destroy your body. plus they are addictive. Bad combination. That is why they are illegal m’Kay. What are you ten?

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          go read about why they were first banned. the meth epidemic is a direct result of prohibition

          • Mark Ostrom

             Go read about the affects of Meth.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            why would i need to read about the “affects” or effects of meth?
            i think meth is a terrible drug. it is a problem in america that we created by prohibition of cocaine.it is a market failure that will happen again and again until prohibition ends. the great irony with meth is that if we wanted to we could ban it and actually control the supply unlike any other street drug but we choose not to because it is a big money maker for big pharma

          • Mark Ostrom

             So you agree that meth should be banned. Banning is the same as making illegal. Is cocaine safer than meth? Maybe. Is it safer than Alcohol? Debatable.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            not that it should, just that it could be, unlike most other drugs its not something that you can make very easily without the precursers, which are currently widely available.  banning things does not work and creates dangerous black markets and other market failures. ban meth and something worse will replace it. cke was banned and thats why we have a meth problem in america. banning cocaine created a market failure causing people to seek alternatives  which made meth popular. i dont know how many people die from meth but i would feel very safe betting that more people die from alcohol than from cocaine (unless you count all the mexicans and border residents murdered by the cartels smuggling cocaine)
            when we ended prohibition last time the murder rate dropped  99% in one year

        • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

          And the effects of jail and making users criminals is 20 times worse. Most don’t destroy your body- the adulterants and poisons and viruses from underground use does. If it was legal, it would be cheap. So making millions of people criminals who are affecting no one else, reduces “crime”?

  • Robert Berube

    No economic reason to not to legalize drugs. Let’s regulate them how we regulate other things that have the potential to impose social costs. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      unless you are in the oil, legal, banking(aka money laundering), pharma, drug testing, timber, arms, or prison/industrial business 

    • jefe68

      Think of the tax revenue. 

      • Steve__T

        jefe you hit the nail on the head. Colorado, for instance, took in more than $1.8 billion in sales-tax money during the fiscal year that closed at the end of June, according to the governor’s Office of State Planning
        and Budgeting.

        Read more: Medical-marijuana sales tax nets $2.2 million for Colorado this year – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_16688199#ixzz2VxSMPXGA

    • markcoman

       How do you regulate something that can kill someone with one dose?

      • Robert Berube

        If it kills someone, then that’s the choice they made. It doesn’t impose any social costs. My concern is not costs to an individual participants but societal costs.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          i think the individual is better off if they only have to deal with an addiction and not also the criminal justice system

          • Robert Berube

            You misunderstood my point, then. I’m in favor of legalizing drugs, but they should be regulated like we regulate cigarettes or liquor.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            yes its better all around that way for individuals and society. banning things is basically the absence of regulation, a free for all

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        you mean alcohol?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Antony-Goddard/1276161264 Antony Goddard

        A 0.3 second lapse of attention while driving a vehicle can kill someone.Most governments regulate driving, without forbidding it (except for Saudi Women).

  • Steve__T

     The impact of decriminalization of drugs in Portugal   “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on the impacts of decriminalization. It dis-confirms the hypothesis that decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue that they are less important than the major reductions seen in opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice system, while also reducing problematic drug use.”
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.” – See more at:
    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.” – See more at:
    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf

     http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpufimpacts
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.” – See more at:
    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.” – See more at:
    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.” – See more at:
    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.” – See more at:
    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.”
    Source: Hughes,
    Caitlin Elizabeth and Stevens, Alex, “What can we learn from the
    Portugese decriminalization of drugs?” British Journal of Criminology
    (London, United Kingdom: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, November
    2010), Vol. 50, Issue 6, p. 1018.
    http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/6/999.full.pdf – See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.”
    Source: Hughes,
    Caitlin Elizabeth and Stevens, Alex, “What can we learn from the
    Portugese decriminalization of drugs?” British Journal of Criminology
    (London, United Kingdom: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, November
    2010), Vol. 50, Issue 6, p. 1018.
    http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/6/999.full.pdf – See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf
    (Impact of Decriminalization)
    “The information we have presented adds to the current literature on
    the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that
    decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful
    forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by
    Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they
    were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue
    that they are less important than the major reductions seen in
    opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young
    people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the
    removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic
    responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can
    reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice
    system, while also reducing problematic drug use.”
    Source: Hughes,
    Caitlin Elizabeth and Stevens, Alex, “What can we learn from the
    Portugese decriminalization of drugs?” British Journal of Criminology
    (London, United Kingdom: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, November
    2010), Vol. 50, Issue 6, p. 1018.
    http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/6/999.full.pdf – See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/27#sthash.wSTVCxOQ.dpuf

  • Steve__T

    The NYPD spent 1 million hours making 440,000 arrests for low-level marijuana possession charges between 2002 and 2012 at a cost of approximately  75  Million a year.
    Now that’s just stupid.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      but they got to harass a lot of poor and minority people

  • ccrocker80

    I’ve listened to 90% of the On Points for the last ~6 years. Comparing smoking crack to driving a car is the most absurd angle any guest has ever taken. The guest clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Too bad he wasted so much time and effort writing on such an idiotic premise. 

    The caller who said he’s been in treatment for six years was dead on with everything he said, particularly this: Crack will bring you to your knees.

    • David Wang

      The guest clearly knows much more about the subject than you. He’s brought evidence to back up his claims, whereas you have committed a feeble straw man fallacy to pin down his argument. The only idiotic thing here is your closed mind. 

      • ccrocker80

        David, thanks for chiming in. To clarify, he doesn’t know more about this than I do. (I did 5 stints in treatment) And second, the only thing more idiotic than 80% of what came out of the guest’s mouth is your pathetic, uninformed, knee-jerk endorsement of his stupendously flawed “actually crack is pretty cool” hypothesis.

        • David Wang

          Where is that evidence? You haven’t refuted a single thing the guest has said. The only you’ve brought are logical fallacies and outright stupidity, thanks for playing bud.

          • ccrocker80

            man, is the burden of proof really on me to prove that crack is addictive? I get that mandatory sentences are problematic on a lot of levels. I was just voicing my disagreement, and endorsing one of the callers (who Ashbrook also endorsed) My evidence is the 10 or so close friends who have battled addiction.

  • mother_ness

    I agreed with the guest in theory but I did not think he laid out his arguments very well.  They were sort of all over the place and you could tell he got frustrated a little.  Still, I agree with him that drugs – all – should be decriminalized, with funds from sales tax revenue to go towards identifying and treating addictive users of all drugs including alcohol.  

    And that the drug war was/is a disaster – a heartbreaking, shamefully-biased disaster. When will Obama declare *it* as over?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      you need to legalize things if you want to tax them

  • markcoman

    I just had an epiphany. Gang members or drug dealers probably trick themselves into believing that the drugs they sell are not as bad as people say so they don’t feel as guilty selling. Then they blame the government for making it illegal to justify protecting their investment. But I have seen the negative affects caused by drugs. and I know they can be addictive. I have seen them destroy families, relationships, and I know people who deal with the fall out on a daily basis. Get educated and don’t do drugs. It is as simple as that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      sounds like you have tricked yourself into thinking legal drugs are safe

      • Mark Ostrom

         Not at all! That is why You need a prescription and fallow the prescribed dose. I don’t drink or smoke any more. I don’t even drink Coffee. and would never take more than 4 aspirins. it would take a lot more than that of to overdose.

        • jinx1338

          Sociopaths do not need to trick themselves into feeling good!

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          whats the difference if someone goes home after work and drinks a glass of wine or if they go home and smoke a joint or  pops an ambian?

  • John Cedar

    Not sure which side of legalizing drubs I come down on but this idea of calling it a “war” and then characterizing the war as lost is a ridiculous argument. Using that same argument, all criminal law enforcement is a war and is lost. We lost the war on murder, we lost the war on rape…might as well legalize both and tax them.

    People who sell illegal drugs are often doing so for easy money with no cares about the impact on others or the law. I cannot imagine that these type of people will simply decide to get a legitimate career. They will find another crime to make easy money from with no regard for others or the law.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      and what crime will that be?

      • John Cedar

        I would imagine robbery, robbery with violence, Identity theft, computer fraud, banking fraud, credit card fraud, ATM fraud, looting. It goes by trend.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          what funds the gangs and cartels is drug money. none of those crimes can produce as much or as consistant an income. ending prohibition would reduce violent crime like it did last time.  

          • Mark Ostrom

             People will still need money to feed their addiction even if it is bought legally.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            will addicts still do petty crimes? yes. people will do crimes to get alcohol too. will cartels and gangs kill tens of thousands of people? no. most drugs are very cheap to produce. they are expensive because they are illegal. the addicts wont have to do as many  desparate things to get their cheap drugs. without all the money wasted on incarceration we will have much more resources to treat the addicted and make it so that their addcition does not leave them permanetly unemployable because of felonies on their record  

  • MichaelWoon

    Ron Paul’s thinking, “Better late than never.” Of course we should end the “war” on drugs. Are you afraid drugs are going to attack you? Drugs are inanimate objects. Any attempt to take drugs off the legitimate market provides massive earning potential for desperate kids outside the protection of the law. It perpetuates a lucrative market with no legal representation, thus crime, murder, and “street” laws rule.  Of course, the real reason it won’t happen is it will destroy the CIA’s cash machine :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i did not want to be the one to point out the CIAs role in trafficking drugs

  • David Wang

    Look at Portugal’s decriminalization process: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/evaluating-drug-decriminalization-in-portugal-12-years-later-a-891060.html

    And what came of that? Amazing success. It’s time to stop this madness.  

  • Pingback: Listen To This Neuroscientist Explain Why All Drugs Should Be Decriminalized | WBUR

  • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

    The War on Drugs is a war on Americans and the casualties have been monstrous: millions upon millions destroyed in the legal system- forced to become animals, thieves, and predators to get these substances that really cost pennies; trillions of dollars to lock (minorities) up in our now massive Gulag; creation of vast vicious criminal empires and vast brutal police agencies that have destroyed countries. The criminalizing of mostly harmless drugs is America’s original sin, and has totally distorted our country and values.
     
    For-profit private prisons that advocate for strict sentences, 3 strikes laws, administrative confiscation laws where police get to steal from druggies, more people in prison, jail, parole than the rest of world combined; excluding users from dozens of programs that could help them escape!

    I lost my little brother to drugs- he loved the stuff, any stuff, and could do 5 times more than anyone else. He was a sweet, dryly funny, laconic wizard who could fix anything without training. Mostly what killed him was the criminality imposed on the drug world and the insane prices that led to. He had to steal and lie- he lost his family, jobs, whatever- all because it was illegal. Supposedly people can do heroin for 20 years without damaging anything- the AIDs, the hepatitis, the violence, the theft- is all due to the criminalization that drives it underground. Everyone uses drugs- cigarettes, alcohol, sleeping pills, marijuana – they are a mild crutch and the designation of illegal and legal ones has been completely random and nonsensical…  and itself a great monstrous crime.

  • burroak

    War on Drugs? Shouldn’t we be asking why we have such a drug presence in America. Is it socio-economical? Missed, limited or no opportunities. Why not “war on why there is so much drugs? Furthermore, how about war on poverty, slums, homelessness, socio-economic disadvantages, abandoned American manufacturing cities, and a war on why our prisons are grossly overpopulated.
    Record prison populations and rampant drug abuse are societal symptoms, not causes.
    To discover systemic solutions, we need those decaying roots.

  • Bminder

    Professor Bruce Alexander suggested that addiction is as much a result of narrative as physiology.  we hype it so intensely, we more than half-create the reality.  but statistics show that very very few people who use morphine, even extensively, in hospital stays go on to even desire much less seek the drug.  Dr. Alexander compared groups of rats, some who were given ‘rat parks’ and other confined to cages.  the cramped and isolated caged rats indeed came to crave and take more and more of the morphine laced water.  But the rat-park residents resisted drinking the narcotic no matter how sweet the researchers made it, showing a decided preference for water.  solitary confinement, uncertainty concerning one’s future, squalid living conditions, fractious relations conduce to drug, but there is very little inherently tenacious about drugs.  and those rats who became addicted but were then transferred to the rat park by and large began to reduce their usage… with only very minor withdrawal symptoms.  if the particular set of circumstances any mammal finds itself in offers no better alternative, well then addiction seems a life-style strategy worth trying.  but there are so many many historical examples of cohesive, supportive communities {smaller traditional societies} where drugs are used and there simply are no problems, no abuse.  like wine used responsibility, for many folks, it can enhance joy.  circumstances lead to addiction, and our modern culture is infamously uprooted, unstable, at odds. dr. alexander’s many studies, using a variety of scenarios, were published by the few professional journals he could persuade in the 1990′s. his work has been largely ignored.
    bob minder

  • markcoman

    Prohibition is not a bad word. There are a lot of unsafe, practices that are Prohibited by law. The prohibition of selling or owning automatic weapons, mortars, and various explosive material for example. Drug prohibition is not about race. Was Alcohol prohibition about race? no. It’s about keeping communities safe. Sex trafficking is prohibited, Robbery is prohibited, slavery is prohibited.

    Driving without a license is prohibited. Selling Alcohol to a minor is prohibited. The main reason drug use is overcoming prohibition is because the media glorifies drugs.

    Drugs are used by sex traffickers to intoxicate young women. Some drugs can cause normally non-violent people to become violent. Gang violence is awful, and the clashes between police and drug dealers can end very badly. Legalizing drugs won’t end the violence or the sex trafficking. There are other ways to address the violence.

    There are some things that need to be prohibited to protect the rights and freedoms every human being deserves. Freedom of religion, free of speech, freedom from slavery, the right to vote and have a voice in government, the right work and pursue happiness.

ONPOINT
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Apr 24, 2014
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 21, 2014. Hernandez proposed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to again allow public colleges to use race and ethnicity when considering college applicants. The proposal stalled this year after backlash from Asian Americans. (AP)

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