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Four Good Reasons To End The War On Drugs

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Uncle Sam Drug WarBy Debra J. Saunders

“If we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us,” President Richard Nixon told Congress in a special message on June 17, 1971, that generally is credited as the day the “war on drugs” began. Actually, Nixon didn’t use the term “war on drugs” in the address. He used it later. And while Nixon talked tough about going after drug traffickers, he emphasized that rehabilitation would be a priority as he dedicated the lion’s share – $105 million of $155 million in new anti-drug funding – “solely for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug-addicted individuals.”

Some 40 years later, there are only losers in the drug war. Drug use is up; 118 million Americans have used illegal drugs, and the cost of prosecuting the drug war and offenders continues to mount.

On Friday, various antidrug war groups will be holding vigils in Washington, San Francisco and other cities to remember the drug war’s many victims.

“The war you plan is not necessarily the war you end up fighting,” noted Eric Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Sterling should know. As a congressional aide, he helped write the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which featured draconian federal mandatory minimum sentences.

 

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  1. For those of you who are still living in some strange parallel universe, one where prohibition actually works, here is part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings of 1926:

    “For the first time in our history, full faith and confidence in and respect for the hitherto sacred Constitution of the United States has been weakened and impaired because this terrifying invasion of natural rights has been engrafted upon the fundamental law of our land, and experience has shown that it is being wantonly and derisively violated in every State, city, and hamlet in the country.”

    “It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature. It has brought into our midst the intemperate woman, the most fearsome and menacing thing for the future of our national life.”

    “It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/judgetalley.htm

    And the following paragraphs are from WALTER E. EDGE’s testimony, a Senator from New Jersey:

    “Any law that brings in its wake such wide corruption in the public service, increased alcoholic insanity, and deaths, increased arrests for drunkenness, home barrooms, and development among young boys and young women of the use of the flask never heard of before prohibition can not be successfully defended.”

    “I unhesitatingly contend that those who recognize existing evils and sincerely endeavor to correct them are contributing more toward temperance than those who stubbornly refuse to admit the facts.”

    “The opposition always proceeds on the theory that give them time and they will stop the habit of indulging in intoxicating beverages. This can not be accomplished. We should recognize our problem is not to persist in the impossible, but to recognize a situation and bring about common-sense temperance through reason.”

    “This is not a campaign to bring back intoxicating liquor, as is so often claimed by the fanatical dry. Intoxicating liquor is with us to-day and practically as accessible as it ever was. The difference mainly because of its illegality, is its greater destructive power, as evidenced on every hand. The sincere advocates of prohibition welcome efforts for real temperance rather than a continuation of the present bluff.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/walteredge.htm

    And here is Julien Codman’s testimony, who was a member of the Massachusetts bar.

    “we will produce additional evidence on this point, that it is not appropriate legislation to enforce the eighteenth amendment; that it has done incredible harm instead of good; that as a temperance measure it has been a pitiable failure; that it as failed to prevent drinking; that it has failed to decrease crime; that, as a matter of fact, it has increased both; that it has promoted bootlegging and smuggling to an extent never known before”

    “We believe that the time has come for definite action, but it is impossible to lay before Congress any one bill which, while clearly within the provisions of the Constitution, will be a panacea for the evils that the Volstead Act has caused. We must not be vain enough to believe, as the prohibitionists do, that the age-old question of the regulation of alcohol can be settled forever by the passage of a single law. With the experience of the Volstead law as a warning, it behooves us to proceed with caution, one step at a time, to climb out of the legislative well into which we have been pushed.”

    “If you gentlemen are satisfied, after hearing the evidence supplemented by the broad general knowledge which each of you already possesses, that the remedy that will tend most quickly to correct the wretched social conditions that now exist, to promote temperance, find to allay the discontent and unrest that the Volstead Act has caused, is to be found in the passage of one of the proposed bills legalizing the production of beer of an alcoholic content of 4 per cent or less. We do not claim that it will do away with all the evils produced by attempted prohibition, but it would be a step in the right direction.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/codman.htm

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