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Old Mar 28, 2004, 03:09 AM
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The war on drugs, lost ?

The government over here recently changed the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a small fine or education, the idea is to divert people from the court system.

The opposition conservative party spat all sorts of chips about how bad this is, you know decay of society stuff. I feel it is a giant step forward.

I noticed some figures from the US that suggest nearly 1 in 4 of the inmates in federal and state prisons are there
because of drug-related offenses, most of them nonviolent.
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0818/p02s01-usju.htm

That the cost is, "Using federal, state and local average per prisoner annual costs, the price tag for incarcerating 458,131 nonviolent drug offenders comes to $9.420 billion annually"
ref1

I notice that, "Buoyed by the success of the Arizona initiative, the California Campaign for New Drug Policies has placed the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act on the ballot for November 2000. Like the Arizona initiative, the California Act would send those convicted of nonviolent drug possession charges to treatment centers instead of prison. "(ref1).

Has it got to the point where, (considering the cost in break-ins, break downs, the overall social cost etc), we should accept that the 'war on drugs' is lost?

Should we remove criminal sanctions and regulate the sale of all forms of drugs simply for age, purity and tax purposes only?


Refs

1
"The cost of this massive growth in incarceration is staggering. Americans will spend nearly $40 billion on prisons and jails in the year 2000. Almost $24 billion of that will go to incarcerate 1.2 million nonviolent offenders.4 Meanwhile, in two of our nation's largest states, California and New York, the prison budgets outstripped the budgets for higher education during the mid-1990s.5

The number of people behind bars not only dwarfs America's historical incarceration rates; it defies international comparisons as well. While America has about 5% of the world's population, almost one in four persons incarcerated worldwide are incarcerated in the US.6

While substantial increases in all categories of inmates have contributed to America's mushrooming incarceration rates, the use of imprisonment for drug offenders has increased particularly sharply, drawing increased attention by researchers and policy makers alike.

In 1999, the Sentencing Project reported that between 1980 and 1997, drug arrests tripled in the United States. In 1997, four out of five drug arrests (79.5%) were for possession, with 44% of those arrests for marijuana offenses. Between 1980 and 1997, while the number of drug offenders entering prisons skyrocketed, the proportion of state prison space housing violent offenders declined from 55% to 47%.7

Fully 76% of the increase in admissions to America's prisons from 1978 to 1996 was attributable to non-violent offenders, much of that to persons incarcerated for drug offenses.8 Data like these prompted retired General Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to refer to America's prison system as an "American gulag."9 And indeed, with an incarceration rate second to only Russia's, the drug czar's choice of language is fitting.10

...

Using federal, state and local average per prisoner annual costs, the price tag for incarcerating 458,131 nonviolent drug offenders comes to $9.420 billion annually
...

Finally, we utilized data from 23 very diverse states around the country for which we had both drug use data and rates of drug offender admissions to prison. We found a significant, positive correlation between the two, suggesting that, if anything, states with higher rates of drug incarceration experience higher, not lower, rates of drug use.

This is not the first study to question the effectiveness of incarceration as a means to reduce substance abuse. According to 1997 research by the RAND corporation, spending additional funds to provide treatment for heavy cocaine users would reduce drug consumption by nearly four times as much as spending the same amount on law enforcement, and more than seven times as much as spending the same amount on longer sentences. Additionally, RAND estimated that treatment reduced drug-related crime as much as 15 times more than mandatory sentences. According to RAND:

Mandatory minimum sentences are not justifiable on the basis of cost-effectiveness at reducing cocaine consumption, cocaine expenditures, or drug related-crime. Mandatory minimums reduce cocaine consumption less per million taxpayer dollars spent than does spending the same amount on enforcement under the previous sentencing regime. And either type of incarceration approach reduces drug consumption less than does putting heavy users through treatment programs, per million dollars spent.25
http://www.cjcj.org/pubs/poor/pp.html

http://www.drugwar.com/store/proddet...000&SubCatID=0
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 03:54 AM
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What was really crazy was when Texas was letting violent prisoners go to make room for non-violent drug offenders.

Give it up, it is a lost cause.
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 12:02 PM
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I know here in NYC, the prisons are certainly NOT filled with marijuana users. You might get arrested, but your chances of seeing prison time are just about nil.
Decriminalize it? Nah. This country is messed up enough right now, we don't need to make it easier to score pot and easier for everybody to be stoned all the time. There is no breathalyzer yet, and no easy way to tell if somebody is stoned on pot(if they have visine!), and I feel uncomfortable knowing that every schoolbus driver might be stoned, knowing that he can get away with it.
Leave it as it is...people who really want pot can get it, but they have to keep it cool, but access is not THAT easy. Status quo.
I can't speak for the rest of the country, maybe other prisons ARE full of weedheads, just not around here.
I can't speak with any real authority, I have not, er, inhaled, in many many years.
Coke and heroin and all the rest...lock them up. Absolutely. I see the war on drugs here in NYC being fought to good effect. It will never really be WON(eradicated), but tougher laws really helped get a lot of this crime, and the addicts, off of our streets, and really helped our quality of life.

More money for treatment, heck yes. The addicts need help, more than just incarceration, it's a sound investment.

$40 billion? Is that all for prisons? That's cheap. A bargain.

And stop privatizing prisons. What a terrible, terrible idea. You think the cost is going to go DOWN because they are privatized? Ha, ha, ha...
Why not privatize the police, too? Like in Robocop.
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 12:06 PM
Go get them Meg!
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Less than an ounce is a misdemeaner $100.00 ticket.

It was never really a "War" anyway. Just another hot button push to enable extraordinary search & siezure powers for Local, State, and Fedral Governments.


War on due process would be more accurate.
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 12:37 PM
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Definitely a real WAR here in my state. You don't remember, or know, how bad the crack and cocaine problems really were here?
It was not just politicians scaring us...it was addicts passed out in my doorway every morning, vials littering the streets, bullets flying, urban decay, families destroyed...all too real.
I used to live in the Florida Keys during the 80s, height of the drug war. And a war it was, too.
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 12:57 PM
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That "war" was lost before it even started.

As discovered during prohibition, making drugs illegal just increases the profits to be gained from providing them. Supply and demand take over and the supply will keep up with demand with those kind of profit margins.
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 01:04 PM
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I disagree. I think cocaine and heroin are just totally different from alchohol. Alcohol always was much more socially accepted.
In the end, we would probably have been better off legalizing reefer rather than booze, it probably does less harm. Booze has a pretty devastating social cost here in America, unfortunately.
But legalize cocaine and heroin and crank and speed?
Hey...how about we try it in YOUR neighborhood first?
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 02:34 PM
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Re: The war on drugs, lost ?

Quote:
Originally posted by gtstubbs
Should we remove criminal sanctions and regulate the sale of all forms of drugs simply for age, purity and tax purposes only?
I don't think this would fix the problem. How would you feel if the bus driver that drives your children to school was able to legally purchase pot and descided to reach an "alternate state" before starting the shift. Then with reaction time dulled, runs through a red light and your child is killed?

The fact that our prisions are full is an indication that the root of our problems are not being addressed. When a child learns that its ok to break the law as long as no one is looking, its no wonder we are where we are today... JMHO
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by cactus
I don't think this would fix the problem. How would you feel if the bus driver that drives your children to school was able to legally purchase pot and descided to reach an "alternate state" before starting the shift. Then with reaction time dulled, runs through a red light and your child is killed?
You are right you need the intoxication laws so that drugs are not taken in circumstances such a driving etc


Quote:
Originally posted by cactus

The fact that our prisions are full is an indication that the root of our problems are not being addressed. When a child learns that its ok to break the law as long as no one is looking, its no wonder we are where we are today... JMHO

What about if the child observes many people breaking the law without apparent harm to them or anyone else but then sees the law applied to those people and the law wreaks havoc on their lives disproportionate to the 'harm' they have inflicted.

Or if that child sees the law applied to the poor and not equally to the well off

Will that child respect the law

Also look at the costs of this war, governments corrupted, huge resources devoted to an unwinable 'war', unwinable simply because there is a demand and restricted supply hence huge profits. If there is any problem that highlights the difficulty of restraining economic laws by mans laws this is it.

"The use of Haiti as a transhipment point for cocaine and other drugs produced in Latin America and destined for US markets is thought to have begun as long ago as the 1980s under "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

When he was ousted, the military groups fighting for control of Haiti were often said to be financed by drugs money.

The military regime which overthrew Mr Aristide in September 1991 was reported to be in the pay of Colombian drugs cartel bosses, with the head of police Michel Francois allegedly controlling the trade.

In those days, Mr Aristide was seen as "Mr Clean". But when he came back to power in 1994, and during his second term from 2000, accusations surfaced regularly of his government's corruption, particularly with regards to taking drugs money."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3524444.stm
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 05:59 PM
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Good points. I have been a part of the drug war first hand in the early 90's. I was in the Coast Guard in Miami at the time. Lots of money is spent to stop a "token" portion of what really gets in.

It's a matter of supply meeting demand. The demand is the root problem. Why do people feel the need to use drugs? No easy answers huh...
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 06:34 PM
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As an aside, Baby Doc Duvalier was a serious modeller, he used to take his jet up to NYC just to spend $30,000 or so(oh Haiti's money) at America's Hobby Center on planes and helis, and fly right home. True story.
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by cactus
Good points. I have been a part of the drug war first hand in the early 90's. I was in the Coast Guard in Miami at the time. Lots of money is spent to stop a "token" portion of what really gets in.

It's a matter of supply meeting demand. The demand is the root problem. Why do people feel the need to use drugs? No easy answers huh...
Well said. No easy answers.

That portion that DOES get stopped is a very serious deterrent. Example...they only stop one in 500 people and search them coming back home from Jamaica. But that one in 500 is enough of a chance that very few people would want to take that risk. Would YOU want to be that ONE who gets busted? Worth it?
I know a guy who got busted bringing Cuban cigars back from Heathrow airport. They marked his passport "smuggler" and now he gets strip searched any time he travels. That's deterrent enough for ME not to want to risk bring back some cigars!

What makes people want to use drugs? Heavy question.
But with certain drugs, people are generally getting hooked right from the get-go. Heroin is one. There ARE no casual weekend heroin users! Only addicts. One shot, and chances are better than even that you will be hooked. So, eliminate access, and you eliminate creating addicts.
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Old Mar 28, 2004, 06:39 PM
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The Weed War may already be lost, as most weed is grown right here in america already.
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Old Mar 29, 2004, 08:05 AM
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Many reasons to use and many reasons to abuse (ref1)

Stats by the bucketful (ref2) and in a digestible form (ref3)

And when it gets to this stage you have to wonder what the point is

“Many young Americans have their lives ruined by drug enforcement. The number of offenders under age 18 admitted to prison for drug offences increased twelve fold between 1985 to 1997. Under federal law, young people convicted of a drug offence lose their right to federal college loans - 43,000 students were affected by this provision in 2001 -increasing the likelihood that they will be undereducated and unable to compete for good jobs. “
[Source: Strom, Kevin J., US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-1997 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, February 2000), p. 4; Associated Press, Drug Convictions Still Bar Federal Student Loans, Dec. 29, 2001.]

Some ‘Facts’ (ref4)


But maybe the real test is to be found in a comparison of the Netherlands and other countries

Social Indicator..........Comparison Year.....USA........Netherlands
Lifetime prevalence
of marijuana use
(ages 12+)..................2001......................36 .9% 1 ..17.0% 2
Past month
prevalence
of marijuana use
(ages 12+).................2001..................... 5.4% 1......3.0% 2
Lifetime prevalence
of heroin use
(ages 12+).................2001..................... 1.4% 1......0.4% 2
Incarceration Rate
per 100,000
population..................2002.................. ... 701 3........100 4
Per capita spending
on criminal justice
system (in Euros).......1998..................... €379 5.......€223 5
http://www.drugwarfacts.org/thenethe.htm

Got to say that if these figures hold up they suggest consideration of the Dutch option with marijuana may be a wise choice.


This is a must read
http://www.csdp.org/research/drugdeal.pdf


Refs
1
So why do some people become addicted? Addictionologists have theorized that some people, particular those addicted to opiates, may have deficiencies in their brain reward systems — fewer natural opiates circulating, for instance, or fewer receptor sites. In addicts, the question eventually becomes moot, for years of abuse desensitizes their receptors, and they end up with altered pleasure thresholds.
Other drug users gravitate toward their “drug of choice” to “self-medicate.” Heroin, for instance, is remarkably effective at “normalizing” people who suffer from delusions and hallucinations (mostly schizophrenics). Cocaine can quickly lift a depression, or enable a person with attention-deficit disorder to become better organized and focused. For these people, addiction is a troubling side effect to their adaptive attempts to relieve their own suffering
While positive reinforcement — pleasure, getting high — entices a person to use a drug again after experimenting with it, continued use is often a function of so-called negative reinforcement. Tobacco smokers and opiate users experience this the most: Their motivation to use the drug is not to experience pleasure, but to relieve uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Drug use is also often thought of as an escape — but becomes so in ways the abuser hadn’t planned on. Just as a compulsive gambler’s hyper-involvement in the betting process blocks out his personal problems, an addict’s pursuit of his drug becomes so monomaniacal that everything else, including the psychological pain that drove him to the drug, is forgotten.
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3076712


2
http://www.nida.nih.gov/

3
http://www.drugwardistortions.org/

4
http://www.drugwarfacts.org/
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Old Mar 29, 2004, 08:15 AM
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I read the above with some skepticism...then I read this part:

"Heroin, for instance, is remarkably effective at “normalizing” people who suffer from delusions and hallucinations (mostly schizophrenics). Cocaine can quickly lift a depression, or enable a person with attention-deficit disorder to become better organized and focused."

Uh, sure. Cocaine does NOT help people become more organized and focused, nor is heroin an acceptable or effective treatment for heroin.
I question all of the above statistics as being just NORML-type legalization propoganda. I don't want to hear that, any more than I want to listen to Nancy Reagan propaganda. Somewhere in between lies the truth.

Anybody know WHY pot is decriminalized in the Netherlands? Because they are so "enlightened?" Class? Anybody? Anybody? Nobody remembers WHY they did it in the first place?
Because they have the biggest port and airport in the area, and were(are) the center of the European heroin trade. They simply did not have the resources to cope with petty pot stuff and the serious heroin and coke at the same time.
Go look up your history...it was NOT a socially motivated thing, it was just giving up a battlefield they could not afford to be on, because there were bigger targets on another field.
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