Let’s Win the War on Drug Lords

In order to win the war on drug lords we must first take a good hard look around us. We have been fighting a war on drugs for many years now. It is doing nothing. We still have all the old favorites all over the place. And, we still have well-armed drug lords.

I do not have a way to get rid of the drugs. I do not think it is truly possible to get rid of the drugs. However, I do believe that we could get rid of the drug lords with the stroke of a pen. I do not personally know of a single drug that is more dangerous than a gun toting drug lord.

Some may recognize the major content of this from a reply of mine on Dvorak Uncensored long ago. I think the topic worthy of a repost to a new audience.

Here is my suggestion:

1. Legalize all drugs.
2. Do not allow advertising of any drug, including the ones that are advertised today; let’s not remain a society of overmedicated fools.
3. Put a vice tax on all recreational drugs.
4. Ensure that the vice tax must be used only for public service anti-drug advertisements and for rehab programs for the drugs that are addictive. (Yes, this part will be difficult, but not impossible.)
5. Set a minimum age for recreational drug purchase, something that is a tad difficult to do with today’s drug dealers.
6. Enforce no drugs and driving laws, which is currently a real problem, at least in the case of alcohol. (Of course, cell phone while driving is just as bad. That should be enforced too. But, this is a tangent.)
7. Sell all recreational drugs from behind the pharmacy counter to prevent advertising in the display.

This will have the effects of:

1. Freeing up space in prisons for real criminals.
2. Freeing up court staff and police for law enforcement of real crimes with real victims.
3. Instantly putting gun-toting drug lords out of business.
4. Reducing drug use, an assumption based on the experience with prohibition.
5. Reducing the ill effects of drug addiction on society.
6. Increasing respect for increasingly rational laws.
7. Saving money, as all costs to society from drug use will now be paid by the drug users.
8. Reducing transmission of AIDS and hepatitis from injected drugs. Presumably, these would now be sold in single use syringes.
9. Putting the profits in the hands of profiteering drug companies and politicians, the latter through lobbying. This is bad, but a lesser evil than gun-toting drug lords, at least hopefully so.
10. Reducing deaths from overdose due to inconsistent drug strength.

As an aside, I read that in one of the years soon after 9/11, we spent $800 million on making sure that our borders are secure against a nuclear threat, when $2 billion would have been required to do it right. In that same year, we spent $4 billion on the war on drugs. So, there’s also a priorities issue to me. This may have been from a Mother Jones article. I’m no longer sure. Even if these numbers are incorrect though, I think we have better ways to spend this money than on protecting us from a victimless crime.

It is true that people driving under the influence of a drug may cause victims. It is true that people stealing for drug money creates victims. However, in these cases, it is the driving under the influence and the stealing that are crimes, not the drug use.

This is a general audience article that paraphrases imperfectly a study on the relative dangers of specific drugs as reported in The Guardian. Here is the full text from The Lancet, which will require a free subscription to read, but is well worth it.

I believe this study could be the basis for determining the order in which drugs should be legalized so that we can see the effects of legalizing some drugs before legalizing all of them.

We can’t get rid of the drugs. Let’s at least get rid of the drug lords.

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9 Responses to Let’s Win the War on Drug Lords

  1. jonolan says:

    Or we could finally decide that these heavily armed drug lords, many with ties to foreign entities that are actively involved in other international crimes including terrorism, are an actual threat to our national security. Military force brought to bear on the problem would quickly break the back of most of the problematic drug lords in the US. Your lawyer can’t find a technicality to get you out of SEAL team raid LOL!

  2. bobbo says:

    Drug Lords aren’t the worst. Narco States are the worst–Mexico, Columbia, Pakistan etc.

    When I was a kiddie, druggies made up 20% of jail population, today it is 80%–in some years, more money spent building prisons than in building schools.

    Morally, state must have “overwhelming” interest before controlling what other people should be free to do. I see “reasons” but nothing overwhelming.

    Morally, when drugs are illegal, drug pushers have a MOTIVE to push drugs on people. When drugs are legal, no one has a motive to push drugs on people, it becomes an individual choice.

    Morally, when drugs are illegal, too many innocent people having nothing to do with drugs are hurt ((crime victims–narco state victims)) whereas when drugs are legal, the harm is more restricted to those choosing to engage in such activities.

    Drug Policy – – – -another reason to question the sanity of group dynamics.

  3. rickace says:

    Are there any other nations that have tried this approach to drugs?

    Regarding spending federal funds better, pruning NASA’s ~$16,000,000 budget would free up a lot of money to fund pursuing benevolent things for Americans on earth rather than propagating our excesses into space ( http://vhemt.org/scififantasy.htm )

  4. Misanthropic Scott says:

    AFAIK rickace,

    Several countries are experimenting with legalizing marijuana. I know of none legalizing heroin or other really harsh drugs. I should probably do some research on some of the other drugs that are listed as less harmful than alcohol, the de facto standard for a legal drug.

    As for NASA, I’d argue that we learn a tremendous amount from NASA and get worse than nothing from the war on drugs. The war on drugs gives us armed drug lords and lesser drug pushers on school yards giving drugs to kids. So, IMHO, I’d be quicker to cut the DEA than NASA.

  5. rickace says:

    Scott,

    I’m neutral on drug policy and the DEA, mostly because I’m not well-informed on the subject , I don’t use controlled substances recreationally, and my prissy neighborhood does not suffer much from abuse of illegal drugs.

    Regarding NASA: unfortunately what we learn from their work comes at far too great a cost and far too little benefit. The government has a finite amount of funds to spend on its programs, and to divert so much to the luxuries of NASA means to deny funds to what we really must do: clean up our act as a malignant species and tend to our needy fellow Americans, children especially. See

    http://rickace.newsvine.com/_news/2007/09/26/986047-doing-your-share-for-america-part-i

    (You may address me as Rick BTW 🙂

  6. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Here’s an interesting article on the decline in marijuana use in Britain with its decriminalization.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/oct/26/drugsandalcohol.homeaffairs

  7. Accremonious says:

    This is not a new recommendation! I first read of this approach in the Saturday Evening Post in the mid fifties! I was ill with a heavy cold in the middle of the Summer [school was out]! The whole point of their article was to take ALL of the profit out of the drug trade, and I agree with that!
    BUT even though tobacco is legal, there is much illegal trafficking in cigarettes due to the taxes that are not paid on smuggled tobacco, often through Indigenous Reserves!
    The issue with that article will likely be in July or August of say 1954 or 1955!

    • The issue with cigarettes in the U.S. at least has to do with unequal taxes by the various states and no taxes at all on native American reservations.

      Since the U.S. is not a nation, we have that problem in all sorts of things. Some states instituted a bottle deposit on beer and soda while others did not, causing a grey market of transshipped beer and soda.

  8. ECA says:

    LOGIC NEVER WINS, when someone is making money on the side

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