The drug war: When to stop digging?

Drug users need treatment, not incarceration.

By Jack E. Lohman

Doing drugs is a bad thing. May even kill you if the dealers don’t get you first. But fear not, our government has stepped in to save you from yourself.

We as a nation must stop digging this hole. I’ve never taken drugs, and I think it’s a waste in life. But we non-users are mismanaging this “war.”

People are dying because of our wrongheaded policies.  Most are the bad guys, but many bystanders and policemen are killed as well. How many must die before we stop it?

I’m not sure we should legalize drugs, but we should at least decriminalize usage. We should continue locking up the pushers, but it would be far less expensive to treat addicts than to put them in prison.

Let’s look at the two extremes before deciding this. Think wildly for a moment. Unconventionally. What would happen if the government offered totally free drugs to users? We could take bids from Mexico and Afghanistan and get the cheapest price, then give them away or sell them at cost to people who are stupid enough to trash their life.  We’d take 100% of the profit out of illegal drug sales so there’d be no more profits to fight over.

Okay, maybe they wouldn’t be free, but at least sold at cost with all of the profit taken out. You get the point.

In any case there’d be strings, like first attending an educational and rehab seminar. Then they can head to the nearest pharmacy with a permit, sign a release, and go home and get zonked.  Or get zonked and then go home, as they are doing today.

Importantly, they wouldn’t have to rob or murder someone to get money for drugs. If usage went down, crime would go down. There’d be no more profits in pushing, so pushers would not hang out at schools offering free drugs to get our kids hooked. And with no more drug wars, Mexico could go back to being Mexico. What’s not to like about that?

Drug Prevalence

Drug Prevalence

Source: The Economist

See also: The Netherlands

Other countries have legalized drugs and have lowered crime rates. A recent report shows that state prison rates have quadrupled since 1982 and it costs $3.42 a day on average to supervise an offender on probation, compared to $78.95 a day to house them in prison. Only private prison contractors could love today’s system, and of course, so do the politicians they support.

But there I go again, putting pragmatism ahead of ideology. These factors all add up to the highest incarceration rate in the world, but some things we are better off not being first at.

Let’s appoint a non-partisan panel to study the issue. What have these other countries experienced? Would killings go up or down? What can we do better?

For one, the offenders released to society today are at such a severe disadvantage in the job market that they’ll likely end up back in prison soon. We must start educating them! They’re locked up, for crying out loud. We can get their attention. Let’s start training them so when they get out they can compete in the marketplace.

Give them an incentive, a credit of less time to serve, for example. Jobs in training will be created, though jobs will be taken when they become useful citizens. But then again, they will add to the economy. Which is better?

This is the kind of change this nation could use.

Three-strikes and mandatory sentencing are foolish and have overcrowded our prisons. Leave the decision to the judge.

See this excellent 8 minute video HERE


  • The Employee Free Choice Act is neither free nor fair, but it sure is a feel-good name.
  • If 50% + 1 employees sign a card supporting a union, that presumes an honest vote and automatically installs the union. Or throws the company into immediate arbitration.
  • But if just 1% of those signatures were coerced by fellow workers, or 1% changed their mind and would otherwise vote against a union, such a vote would fail. The unions are not dummies, they know this.
  • Not only is this unfair, it may indeed further erode American jobs. Be careful of what you ask for.
  • Better, if just 40% sign a card in support, a vote of all employees should be held. Coercion can come from the company too.
  • It’s outrageous when CEOs of public companies are getting $10M pay packages and yet criticize the pay of workers. Congress (you know, the jokers taking the campaign contributions) should mandate shareholder approval of executive pay.
  • Fair is fair.

Quote: “It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children. We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists.”

12 Responses to The drug war: When to stop digging?

  1. Dohnal says:

    Pray tell what countries legalized drugs and saw less usage and reduction in crime? Everything has been tried but little has worked as people will do what they want to do.

    Bob Dohnal, RPh

  2. The Netherlands and other European countries have liberalized drug usage. Have they made matters better or worse? Do we know? Let’s study it. Let’s not hide our heads in the sand.

    And yes, people will do what they want to do. We found that out with prohibition. If we take the profits out, we can reduce crime.

  3. ezag says:

    Everybody that wants drugs gets them. So let’s legalize the manufacture and sale of all drugs…that won’t change availability or desire to use drugs. As you say, and I agree, it will take all the profit out of the drug trade, and a few million salespersons off the street.

    Public use should continue to be criminalized. Enforcement against the public user of drugs should increase. And this enforcement should graduate with increasing penalities. It is a safety issue. We should have a huge decease in cost (courts, prisons, law enforcement etc) that can be partially applied to these new requirements. The border war in Mexico would end almost overnight because there is nothing left to fight over.

    The chronic addict can be either rehabbed or incarcerated…but only if he/she chooses to practice the addiction in public.

    I have held this position since 1965…finally there is some public acceptance.

  4. I obviously agree, and assume that what you mean by “public usage” you mean driving while under the influence.

  5. ezag says:

    I assume a fairly broad definition of public use. Sitting stoned on the curb is public use. Using at work or in public places is public use. The user is anti-social and should be treated as such when he/she is in a public place.

  6. And let me add that if we did all of this, taking the profits out of drugs, we’d substantially reduce the profits that are funding Al Caida and the Taliban. What’s not to like about that?

  7. […] not for making cigarettes illegal, but then again, I don’t support making hard drugs illegal either. It’s that forbidden fruit […]

  8. Yet another front has backfired, and for once, this is not Obama’s fault… The government’s war on drugs was them seizing the drugs AND the money, then they’d put pawns out there who were dumb enough to think they’d get a lesser sentence, by ratting on others, the gov’t would just re-circulate that same seized dope out on the streets, only to have the drugs back in their possession along with the money, and a few small time guys behind bars for a bit.
    That system was much more lucrative than actually getting the drugs off the streets and getting a handle on the problem, forget legalizing them. They’d get the middle guys, leaving the big timers out there to get quantities. They were in no rush to get the guys who were more dangerous, and contributors to the confiscated “funding” of their department.
    It’s all about the money…. The greed.. Now it’s gotten away from them, it’s too far out of control, and the cartels have it.
    Greed NEVER pays off. Maybe in the short run, but greed always takes the monster down..whether it’s the political machine, or the drug thugs. The war on drugs was lost by forfeiture, before Bush was even in office. Now there’s a REAL war, and the thug cartels are winning.. Go Gov’t Team U.S.A.!

  9. Campaign contributions from the privatized prison corporations to politicians who don’t give a damn about the effects of “strong drug laws” and “three-strikes laws” are killing us. Our nation has the largest percentage of incarcerated all because our politicians are corrupt as hell. When will we learn?

  10. […] to treat it. And I expect we’ll hear that drugs were involved, but let’s not let a failed drug war influence […]

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