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War on Drugs

2003-01-28

Category: politics

No one can deny that drugs are, in general, very bad things. There are people out there who have destroyed themselves and others from drug use and abuse. This is a great sadness that must be combated. Unfortunately, our nation's recent strategies have been an absolute failure.

The current war has been fought as though it is an actual war. We have heavily armed and armored special police units hunting for those who possess and sell illicit drugs. There are shoot-outs and killings all in the name of defeating the drug menace. But none of this has done any good. All it has done has gotten people killed and wasted billions of tax dollars.

The worse part is that little of this effort is addressing the real problem. There are drug suppliers because there is a drug demand. There are people who want to do drugs. As long as these people exist there will be criminals who will supply them.

Should we arrest the users? I don't think that does much good either. It is a much better plan to prevent drug use in the first place. If we can raise one or two generations of non-drug using kids, much of this problem goes away.

How do we do such a thing? We already tell the kids to "just say no." That has probably helped a little. Unfortunately it doesn't address why people do drugs in the first place. Drug users are trying to escape from their lives. It's as simple as that. Drugs transport them away from the problems of life, or so it seems while they are using. For a little while they don't have to think about the burdens of the day. These people have no hope; they see no light at the end of the tunnel. Until we can combat this, all of the guns in the world are useless in this war. It seems we have to win their hearts and minds, to borrow from another war.

What should we do different? Right now we have billions of dollars to waste on a failing drug-war yet we can't find enough money for education. Why aren't we funneling most of that cash into the schools? If we give kids a better environment with better education, do you think they may develop hope for the future? Do you think they may have enough to live for that they don't need an escape? The federal government has already ripped this money from the taxpayers, and now it's time we demand it back for our kids and our future.

But that looks to the future, what about now? Right now we have a duty to help get drug users off of drugs and to get control of the situation. You'll note above that I didn't say to send all the money into education. As long as drugs are illegal and we are enforcing the laws of the land, there will need to be some money there. This should probably not be handled by a rabid, militant "Drug Czar" who needs the importance just to keep a job. Drug gangs are a real danger that must be dealt with for the good of society and the individual.

Some have suggested legalizing drugs. They say that legal drugs are more controllable and it will get rid of the violent gangs. There is some merit in this approach, but I don't know if universal legalization of drugs is a good idea.

Legal crack cocaine is a bad idea. The substance just has no redeeming value. The same holds true of most of the other drugs. I cannot see where a legal version of heroin is going to solve matters unless used by medical professionals in the treatment of persons already addicted.

Marijuana is a more difficult subject. Though I really don't recommend the use of this weed as a recreational drug, I can see where some of the arguments in favor of legalization have worth. It's my understanding that this drug is less harmful to the body than cigarettes and is notably less addictive. The level of impairment is similar to that of alcohol. Those I've known whom I strongly suspected of being under the influence of marijuana were not in the slightest bit inclined to violence, rarely being inclined to leave the couch.

Other concerns to support the legalization of marijuana are the control of quality and the taxation of the product. If criminals are selling this drug so very widely throughout our society, then we must assume that it is being used widely. All legal products are regulated for safety and well being of the consumers. This illegal product is not regulated and therefore more unsafe. If it were to be legalized then quality controls could be established that could do more to insure the safety of the users who now skirt the law anyway.

The matter of taxation is very important. Currently cigarettes are very heavily taxed. Everyone knows that they have no redeeming value and that they damage users. There are laws regulating the age of purchasers and limiting where cigarettes may be smoked. Why is it that these "coffin nails" have not simply been made illegal? I guess it's the taxes.

Most of the price of a package of cigarettes is the assortment of taxes. What government official would ban an item that generated that much revenue? Most of them wouldn't. They spend millions of dollars telling people not to smoke. They spend quite a bit more subsidizing tobacco farmers who can't make a living off their product. That's a great deal of money spent on a product they "don't" want you to use. It's the tax money.

It surprises me greatly that these same money-grubbers wouldn't jump at the chance to legalize a popular product that they could then tax so heavily. Given the number of people that I've talked to who support legalized marijuana, it is even more of a surprise. Why is it that the politicians haven't legalized it yet? That's a mystery.

Beyond just the illicit drug side of things, hemp is a rather useful commodity. Those fibers can be made into many things. Being an agricultural interest, Iowans should probably be in support. Anyone who grew up near a farm knows that the stuff grows wild in Iowa and would probably be an easy crop to raise.

I wouldn't encourage the use of marijuana, even if it were legal. This is just one of those issues that people have talked about with me so I need to address it. The current federal law says that marijuana is illegal and the states that have challenged the law have failed. Though I'm willing to discuss the concept and keep an open mind, you'll have to elect a lot more Libertarians to a lot more offices if you want things changed. I recommend a grass roots movement.


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