“War on Drugs” hit by world leaders

Albert Einstein, offering perhaps the most succinct definition ever of “insanity,” said it was performing the very same task repeatedly, yet expecting a different result each time. The modern world’s most famous physicist could easily have been describing the government’s five-decade old “war on drugs.”

In the past half century, one administration after another has spent billions trying to rid the country of those who choose to ingest non-government sanctioned substances. Far from achieving any measure of ultimate success, the result of this so-called “war” has been a net increase in illicit drug users, a massive increase in police powers, a huge increase in America’s prison population, and a depressing decrease in civil liberties.

Now, a breath of fresh air has wafted into the debate over whether it makes sense for governments to continue to engage in this costly conflict. A report issued by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a panel composed of prominent world leaders, including former Secretary of State George Schultz and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, has concluded that the “global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

Unfortunately, and sadly, Washington’s response to this impressive report is likely to be to ignore it, and keep right on marching to the same tune. In so doing, the federal government ignores another key and irrefutable conclusion of the Commission’s report: that the ongoing war on drugs has caused the “growth of a ‘huge criminal black market,’ financed by the risk-escalated profits of supplying international demand for illicit drugs.”

In addition to recommending treatment rather than incarceration for non-violent drug addicts, the commission’s solution is decriminalization of drugs. Despite reservations that most politicians in the United States harbor about decriminalization, the policy has a track record of demonstrable success.

For example, when Portugal decriminalized drugs a decade ago, there were dire warnings that drug usage would increase dramatically and the country would become a destination for tourists seeking to get high. A 2009 white paper, authored by Glenn Greenwald for the Cato Institute, found such predictions have not materialized.

Through his extensive research, Greenwald also found that “drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically”; and in so doing, decriminalization actually opened the door to better treatment options. Portugal still fines people for possession, and applies no criminal penalties; although drug trafficking remains a crime.

The conclusions reached by the Global Commission are hardly new. In 1996, the National Review, founded by conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr., declared the “War on Drugs is lost.” The magazine’s advocacy of drug legalization was based on pragmatic considerations. The Review also understood that the war was “diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that it is wasting our resources, and that it is encouraging civil, judicial, and penal procedures associated with police states.” Political leaders predictably ignored what the National Review knew.

Outside the United States, political leaders understand it is our country, with its seeming insatiable appetite for illicit drugs, which must lead the way toward reform. According to the Los Angeles Times, for example, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who says he is open to dialogue despite having stepped up his country’s own bloody war against brutal drug cartels, understands it would be “absurd” to consider legalization in Mexico as long as narcotics remain illegal north of the border, “where the massive demand determines the prices and profitability of the drug trade.”

The rest of the world may be waiting for the United States to at least acknowledge this latest credible conclusion that the billions we spend trying to change human nature, will achieve no more success than in the past decades. Unfortunately, it probably waits in vain.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code

150 comments Add your comment

really?

June 13th, 2011
3:03 pm

At least we have solutions. The elected officials in office are much like you. They would much rather bury their heads in the sand and continue with policies that indirectly and directly hurt society. Im not going to try and convince you to change your beliefs, because people like you live life better with their head buried in the sand.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:06 pm

“At least we have solutions. ”

No you don’t, just rhetoric.

“The elected officials in office are much like you.”

Which ones, Gump?

“because people like you live life better with their head buried in the sand.”

Little girl, you have no idea who I vote for or who I support.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:08 pm

really?

The most famous Libertarian, Ron Paul, offers nothing but doom and gloom. Not exactly a winning strategy. I’d rather support someone like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal. You know, people who have actually accomplished things.

TYC

June 13th, 2011
3:09 pm

@ Ezra

…”If you get 20yrs for smoking pot, then the jail population would definitely get smaller. If you make using drugs a capitol offense, prison beds would be available for new offenders.”

Seriously, you want 20 years or death for using drugs? Great Idea!!! Do you want me to pull the trigger when it’s your kid that’s caught with a joint or will you take care of that trash?

Kill ‘em all. Seems so easy, right? Kill everybody that thinks differently than you. A perfectly legimeate policital strategy. Kill. Kill. Kill. You know, government is by consent. I don’t consent to you killing people over drug use. Quit it. You make the cartels look like little cry babies, right wing tough guy.

Once you kill everybody….well, look at your right hand. That’s your new girl friend…shoot, it may be your only friend now with your all or nothing attitude!

really?

June 13th, 2011
3:14 pm

Like I said, buried in the sand. So you really think our drug policies have been successful?

sleepy

June 13th, 2011
3:21 pm

how is this argument any diff then the right to abort, own a gun, or get kinky in the privacy of your own home. keep your govt. hands off my crack pipe.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:26 pm

“Like I said, buried in the sand. So you really think our drug policies have been successful?”

Still waiting on your “we have solutions” answer. Our drug policies are retarded but then again, so are most people.

Legalize all drugs and you end up with a larger version of Amsterdam. Good luck with that.

GT

June 13th, 2011
3:33 pm

The Douglas thing was an example, in real life I have a couple of dozen friends who have kids or members of the family addicted while their parents, my friends, never touched to stuff. I have a couple of cousins in Columbus, got with that Army crowd there and now are in rehab. They tell me a good number of the soldiers serving our country use it and many are addicted. If you go outside your front door you will run into it. It is like one of those Colonel Muammar Gaddafi propaganda films, a war tearing his country up and on television it looks like Disneyland, very peaceful. Drugs everywhere and the government in their propaganda are winning.

@WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:38 pm

What kind of problems do they have in Amsterdam?

Also if we ended the war on drugs, as well as the other wars we’re currently engaged in, Legalize and tax cannabis and cut defense spending back down to sane levels, we as a country might not have to furlough Cobb County cops, or city of Atlanta firemen or the music department in EVERY high school in America.

Solutions, not rhetoric, Gump. By the way you’re a tool of the highest order.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:42 pm

“What kind of problems do they have in Amsterdam?”

Islam.

“Also if we ended the war on drugs, as well as the other wars we’re currently engaged in”

Take it up with Obama.

“Solutions, not rhetoric, Gump. By the way you’re a tool of the highest order.”

You didn’t offer solutions, Troglodyte. BTW, come up with your own insults instead of borrowing mine. K

“Legalize and tax cannabis and cut defense spending back down to sane levels”

HAHAAH!!!!!!!! There is no way to tax cannabis, ma’am. No way no how. As far as cutting defense spending, that is retarded.

Let’s cut entitlements, tard. It’s lazy a$$ people like you who are a drain on the system.

“we as a country might not have to furlough Cobb County cops, or city of Atlanta firemen or the music department in EVERY high school in America.”

LOLOL!!!!!!! Music department?????

WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:42 pm

GT

It’s called life choices. They made the choice to become addicted. Sounds like you’re a very confused person.

@WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:49 pm

Why cut civil jobs like cops and teachers to finance some BS war somewhere. Can’t you see this is what is killing America. No infrastructure, no Manufacturing, No commitment to education. By the way rocket boy, kids who take music, excel in mathematics.

By the way, I have never been unemployed in my entire life.

Islam in Amsterdam? I invite you to check out google earth and see where Amsterdam is in the world and tell how many muslims you think are there. Dude you need to spend a couple of years catching up. I suggest burying your head in wikipedia rather than the sand.

@WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:51 pm

No Way to tax cannabis? Check out the billion dollars California will bank this year from taxed sales.

I wonder how far Mrs. WOW had to run away to feel safe from you, tool.

Producer

June 13th, 2011
3:53 pm

Prohibition against alcohol didn’t work back in the day and today’s war on drugs is the same way. Legalize it all, tax the s**t out of it, reduce our nation’s debt in the process and set up treatment centers for the idiots and fools who can’t handle it.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
3:58 pm

“No Way to tax cannabis? Check out the billion dollars California will bank this year from taxed sales.”

California is going bankrupt real soon.

“I wonder how far Mrs. WOW had to run away to feel safe from you, tool.”

Love how you suck at comebacks, troglodyte.

MB

June 13th, 2011
4:01 pm

[i]No conservative in the history of the world has ever used nukes, dumb a$$.

The only person to use them was a socialist by the name of FDR.[/i]

FAIL

WOW

June 13th, 2011
4:01 pm

“Why cut civil jobs like cops and teachers to finance some BS war somewhere.”

Your words not mine, dork. Again, ask that to Obozo since he’s the one in charge.

“No infrastructure, no Manufacturing, No commitment to education. By the way rocket boy, kids who take music, excel in mathematics.”

Blame Clinton since he’s the one who came up with NAFTA.

“By the way rocket boy, kids who take music, excel in mathematics.”

Got anything to back that up, Gump?

“By the way, I have never been unemployed in my entire life.”

Liar liar, dress on fire.

“Islam in Amsterdam? ”

Guess you’ve never heard of Theo Van Gogh.

Here you go, Gump.

http://www.euro-islam.info/country-profiles/city-profiles/amsterdam/

WOW

June 13th, 2011
4:05 pm

MB

Oh my bad, it was the “other” Democrat Harry Truman (Democrat)

Let me correct that. It was a socialist who gave the go ahead to build the bomb and another Democrat who gave the orders to drop it.

In other words, no REPUBLICAN has ever dropped the bomb on another country.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
4:06 pm

@WOW

Are you that dumb to believe that wars are the cause of teachers being laid off? Hello Gump, it’s called union pensions being too high. It’s called entitlements.

Wars have gotten us out of recessions. See: WW2.

observer

June 13th, 2011
4:19 pm

WOW…WW2 did not directly pull us out of the great depression. It was the utter destruction of the rest of the developed world that allowed us to grow in the absence of any real competition. This absence of competition allowed us to grow and become a global superpower. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not like WW2….they have no defined ending point and only hold the nation back while the other nations of the world catch up….ie China and the European Union. We can keep throwing away money on useless wars, or we could follow Dwight D. Eisenhower’s advice and look at the other things we could spend that money on…schools, bridges, and community centers. Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex, and we did not listen.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
4:27 pm

“WW2 did not directly pull us out of the great depression. ”

It sure did help.

“The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not like WW2″

“schools, bridges, and community centers.”

LOL!!!!! Yeah, cause those three things will create jobs!!!!! LOL

“Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex, and we did not listen.”

Ike was a general, observer. Also, Ike is dead.

Never said the were.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
4:29 pm

observer

Democrats have gotten us into more wars than Republicans.

LukasAtl

June 13th, 2011
4:41 pm

All, please ignore the troll “WOW”

WOW

June 13th, 2011
4:43 pm

LukasAtl

What a profound comment, low IQ.

MrLiberty

June 13th, 2011
4:44 pm

WOW, there are plenty of wonderful web sites that can provide you with the education you sorely lack in Austrian economics, free market economics, drug war history, crime statistics, the economic history of the depression, what our supposed “defense dollars” are really spent on and the like. Clearly there are way too many well-educated folks on this site who know far more than you about this subject (and obviously all the others too) and the abject failure throughout history to try and control personal behavior (especially behavior that harms nobody but the actor).

As for Amsterdam, it is a wonderful city. You can walk by coffee shops where dozens of people are all getting high and not even notice that anything out of the ordinary is going on (because it isn’t). People go to work, money is made, etc. The prostitutes are generally in one area and they live upstairs and downstairs from normal families with children and the like and there are no issues generally. If anything, the biggest problems result from the fact that so many un-free folks (like from the US) travel their and behave like kids in a candy store that have just been turned loose.

Freedom works. America should try it some time.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
4:55 pm

“Clearly there are way too many well-educated folks on this site ”

And you’re not one of them.

“As for Amsterdam, it is a wonderful city.”

Yep, you can get your throat slit, herpes etc.. Wonderful city.

“Freedom works. America should try it some time.”

Gotta love stupid people.

Chong

June 13th, 2011
5:34 pm

Legalization of narcotic drugs won’t happen in the U.S. because the livelihoods of so many people depend on them remaining illegal. Think of all the cops, prison guards, prosecutors, judges, probation officers who’d be out of work.

Brandon C

June 13th, 2011
5:49 pm

@DirtyHarry (and others this may apply) – Your concern is “what do we legalize next? Murder?”. I say to that: murder is already decriminalized. Granted you must be in self-defense, but currently *there is NO Federal law* to allow any citizen to defend their medical use of cannabis what-so-ever; even if their life depends on it. So I’d say murder is technically legal already. But we don’t go around encouraging people do murder as it’s totally wrong. On the other hand, we certainly don’t need to be putting drug abusers in jail for “doing no harm to others”. A crime is a crime, and still would be regardless if alcohol or other drugs are legal. It’s simple logic really.

Carlosgvv

June 13th, 2011
8:30 pm

WOW

Eisenhower was President of The United States as well as a General. He did warn us about The Military Industrial Complex and he was right. Why do you think we really got into Iraq and Afghanistan and, more importantly, why do you think it’s proving so hard for us to get out? The huge profits defense contractors are making and the portion of that money they are giving to the politicians will keep us in those Contries for many years.

WOW

June 13th, 2011
9:53 pm

“Why do you think we really got into Iraq and Afghanistan”

9-11 and weapons inspectors getting kicked out of Iraq.

@WOW

June 13th, 2011
10:25 pm

Glad the debate raged on in my absence. WOW, answer me this and i’m gonna break it down real good for ya.

Isn’t AMERICA a better place with fully funded POLICE, FIRE & SCHOOL SYSTEMS than without?

I am middle of the road politically. I believe that sick and indigent people should be taken care of by the state. People without jobs, should have to pass a drug test to collect unemployment. I believe in gay marriage because if any two people can have love and happiness they deserve to be legally recognized. I hate abortion, but I’m not a woman, so I don’t have the right to comment.

I have been employed in the same field for 30 years.

Here is where I’ll challenge you to open your mind. I have three credit cards and can’t remember what i bought. This country has how many trillion dollars worth of debt and what for. Swindling bankers portraying the single greatest fraud / ripoff in history and the tax payer is left holding the bag. The empty bag of debt.

Government wants to take the skin off the middle class every time to make up the difference. Which wouldn’t be so bad if TEACHERS, PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS & FIREMEN were not getting laid off.

I grew up idealistic and liberal. Then a conservative streak kicked and I actually like George W. Bush. But here is where the rubber hits the road for me know. Big Business pays no taxes and shifts as many jobs overseas as possible, while CEO’s are clearing UNGODLY profits. THEY are doing NOTHING to help John Q. Public. Longer hours, more scrutiny, higher costs for benefits, Fuel, Food, everything. When do we stop spending on things we don’t need to make sure we cover the necessities, like Teachers, Cops and Firemen?

chris

June 13th, 2011
10:39 pm

Enter your comments here

WOW

June 13th, 2011
11:02 pm

“Isn’t AMERICA a better place with fully funded POLICE, FIRE & SCHOOL SYSTEMS than without?”

No not really. Public schools suck and teachers are a bunch of whiny little babies.

“I believe that sick and indigent people should be taken care of by the state. ”

So you’re a socialist.

“I believe in gay marriage ”

Gay marriage is an oxymoron. If butt sex is your thing…….

“This country has how many trillion dollars worth of debt and what for. Swindling bankers portraying the single greatest fraud / ripoff in history and the tax payer is left holding the bag. The empty bag of debt. ”

1: Obama has tripled the deficit since he took office in 09.
2: If you don’t like banks, pull your money out and hide it under your bed.

“Which wouldn’t be so bad if TEACHERS, PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS & FIREMEN were not getting laid off. ”

Not my problem.

“Big Business pays no taxes ”

You’re full of crap.

“while CEO’s are clearing UNGODLY profits. ‘

You sound like Karl Marx.

“When do we stop spending on things we don’t need to make sure we cover the necessities, like Teachers, Cops and Firemen?”

I’m all for getting rid of Medicare, welfare and other entitlements. I’m also all for getting rid of unions.

@WOW

June 13th, 2011
11:18 pm

It is my sincerest hope that you have managed to live this long without procreating. I’d prefer that you do not respond, cause i dont ever want to know.

Julia

June 14th, 2011
3:02 am

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MasterOfNone

June 14th, 2011
9:01 am

Wow, Bob…. you have come a long way from just a few short years ago. Prohibition does not work. All it does is make criminals out of a lot of otherwise decent people. There will always be people for which the word “moderation” means nothing. Those people are going to overdo it whether or not its legal. But for a lot of other people, sharing a bottle of wine or a joint is a truly harmless act… except the part that the latter serves to fund violence throughout Central America. It is time the violence stopped, it is time funding for the cartels was shut down, it is time that U.S. citizens stopped being turned into criminals for no other reason than increased government power and control.

WOW

June 14th, 2011
9:10 am

“It is my sincerest hope that you have managed to live this long without procreating. I’d prefer that you do not respond, cause i dont ever want to know.’

In other words, you’re a complete idiot with socialist tendencies who tried to change the subject to something that has nothing to do with this debate.

You ma’am, are a moron.

WOW'S racing thoughts

June 14th, 2011
9:43 am

OH MY GOD, I SKIPPED MY MEDS SO I’M POSTING CRAP COMPULSIVELY OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN……AT LEAST IT’S BETTER THAN PICKING AT THE BUGS UNDER MY SKIN THAT REALLY HURTS AFTER A WHILE!!!

Jimmy62

June 14th, 2011
10:27 am

WOW: You have a lot of facts that are dead wrong. Manufacturing, for instance, is at a higher level in the US than it ever has been in history, yet you say we have no manufacturing. What we have is highly productive manufacturing, more productive than any other country on Earth. We just have less people working in it since it’s so automated now.

Get your facts straight, arguments based on fantasy will never sway anyone.

LukasAtl

June 14th, 2011
10:36 am

Please do not feed the trolls

Troll: In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

be_atl

June 14th, 2011
10:53 am

changing the public policy on drugs will require changing hearts and minds, those hearts and minds that have been taught for decades that the War is the proper way. so people need to buy into a plan that includes health and safety of minors. so, any decriminalization efforts must have good programs for minors- prevention and treatment- and the campaign to change must be in a palatable language. like instead of decriminlization, make it an Intervention on Drugs.

WOW'S racing thoughts

June 14th, 2011
10:59 am

OMG I AM SO BUSTED, IF THESE PEOPLE STOP FEEDING ME I WON’T EXIST ANYMORE, I NEED ATTENTION, WHAT WILL I EVER DO? WAHHHHHHHH…..MOMMY!!!

WOW'S racing thoughts

June 14th, 2011
11:07 am

OH, BTW, I HAVE BEEN BANNED FROM SEVERAL OTHER AJC BLOGS FOR MY COMPULSIVE DIPWAD BEHAVIOR SO YOU CAN DARNED WELL BET I’M A CLASSIC TROLL. IT’S A SAD LIFE.

gscott

June 14th, 2011
11:12 am

Cracked out addicts are a lot less likely to kill you or your family then some gangbanger with a gun. And the people who get high and drive already do so regardless of whether it is legal or not.

Brandt Hardin

June 14th, 2011
3:29 pm

The War on Drugs failed Billions of dollars ago! This money could have been used for outreach programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing, free rehab, and clean needles. Harmless drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy. Cannabis can provide hemp for countless natural recourses and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in our country out of the red! Vote Teapot, PASS IT, and legalize it. Voice you opinion with the movement and check out my pro-cannabis art at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html

Lee

June 14th, 2011
7:36 pm

I’ve always heard that the two groups most opposed to ending Prohibition were the bootleggers and the cops. Apparently, the same holds true for drugs.

Bottom line, if you outlaw an inanimate object that people want, you instantly create a black market for that object. Alcohol, drugs, guns, you name it – the end result will be the same.

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Legalizing Cannabis

June 17th, 2011
12:06 am

Legalization is the best thing that could happen right now, for so many reasons. I think it’s coming soon.

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