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2007 MAY 10

THURSDAY

 

 

IN 2006, MARIJUANA WAS AMERICA'S BIGGEST CASH CROP

 

  • Illicit Drugs are Easier Than Ever to Get as Sales Increase to Those 25 and Older. 

  • Kids Turn to Gasoline & Household Products as Inhalants 

  • More Patients Can't Get Medication For Legitimate Disorders

  • The War Has Badly Hindered Medical Research

  • Banning the Use of Pain Medication in Hospitals is Possible

  • The White House & Partnership For a Drug-Free America are Claiming the War on Drugs is Successful With Only 9,000 Deaths Due to Drug Abuse in 2006. 

 

"We are evolving into a society dependent upon community drug dealers who don't have the training or the knowledge to treat the public. Meanwhile, our physicians are rapidly declining in their ability to treat patients as the war on drugs has placed them in a stalemate position...  In 2004, I personally was referred by a Health Educator in Santa Clara County to obtain medication from a street dealer for treatment of narcolepsy...  If this is happening in California, it is either happening now or will happen soon across the country... The best method for preventing drug abuse is not to let it start.  Our government is making a serious error by not understanding the drug issue more clearly.  They are absorbed with fear and paranoia -- the very ingredients that triggered the war on drugs in the first place.  We don't need a war... we don't need violence and living in a police state... we don't need victims to be incarcerated... we don't need to turn the public against drug users or drug abusers... what we need are educational programs that provide youth with a foundation of honest information.   The reason why we haven't is because we don't have much of this information ourselves.   The war on drugs has weakened our knowledge base.  Our approach to psychostimulants is borne out of fear rather than true insight... Drug Use Education (DUE)--  if applied correctly --  will virtually eliminate abuse potential... DUE begins at home when a child is old enough to crawl to a cabinet, open it, and explore the contents of an opened container thinking it's food.   The training should include credit hours from grades K through 12 with at least 40 semester hours of training inside a hospital... By educating our youth, our healthcare providers become more aware of the triggers that cause some percentage of the population to be drawn to chemical substances, specifically psychostimulants. The answers that we have now are inadequate."

R

 

Technically, the United States is the only nation that supports public policy towards drugs which is so restrictive that medical providers find it impossible to prescribe controlled substances for citizens that need them.   Instead, physician must refer patients to staff whose function is to guide patients to clandestine resources, such as drug dealers who provide patients in "high risk groups" with illicit drugs that are analogs of controlled substances.  In the US, zero tolerance eliminates the need to distinguish drug use from  drug abuse which is defined as any personal use of a drug contrary to law that defiles the Constitution .  The definition includes otherwise legal pharmaceuticals if they are obtained by illegal means or used for non-medicinal purposes.

 This differs dramatically from what mental health professionals classify as drug abuse per the DSM-IV, which is defined as a more problematic form of  drug misuse, both of which are different from drug use.

In 1994, it was reported that the War on Drugs incarcerates 1 million Americans a year.[9] Of the 1 million drug arrests each year, about 225,000 are for simple possession of marijuana, the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States[10] In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes was rising 28 percent, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126 percent.[11] The United States has a higher proportion of its population incarcerated than any other country in the world for which reliable statistics are available reaching a total of 2.2 million inmates in the in 2005. The US Dept. of Justice, reporting on the effects of state initiatives, has stated that, from 1990 through 2000, "the increasing number of drug offenses accounted for 27% of the total growth among black inmates, 7% of the total growth among Hispanic inmates, and 15% of the growth among white inmates."

 

 

 

[edit] United States foreign policy

The United States has also initiated a number of military actions as part of its War on Drugs, such as the 1989 invasion of Panama codenamed Operation Just Cause involving 25,000 American troops. The U.S. alleged that Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of government of Panama, was involved in drug trafficking in Panama. As part of Plan Colombia, the U.S. has funded coca eradication through private contractors such as DynCorp and helped train the Colombian armed forces to eradicate coca and fight left-wing guerrillas such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and right-wing paramilitaries such as the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), both of which have been accused of participating in the illegal drug trade in their areas of influence.

In 2000, the Clinton administration initially waived all but one of the human rights conditions attached to Plan Colombia, considering such aid as crucial to national security at the time.[12] Subsequently, the U.S. government certified that the Colombian government had taken steps to improve respect for human rights and to prosecute abusers among its security forces.[13] The U.S. has later denied aid to individual Colombian military units accused of such abuses, such as the Palanquero Air Force base and the Army's XVII Brigade.[14][15] Opponents of aid given to the Colombian military as part of the War on Drugs argue that the U.S. and Colombian governments primarily focus on fighting the guerrillas, devoting less attention to the paramilitaries although these have a greater degree of participation in the illicit drug industry. Critics argue that Human Rights Watch, congressional committees and other entities have documented the existence of connections between members of the Colombian military and the AUC, and that Colombian military personnel have committed human rights abuses which would make them ineligible for U.S. aid under current laws.

In January 2007, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales met in Mexico with his counterpart Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza to discuss ways to stem growing drug-related violence in Mexican border towns associated with the illegal drug trade to America. More than 2,000 Mexicans died in gangland-style killings in 2006, prompting a petition by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open new offices in Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Nogales. The requested expansion would bring the total number of Mexican offices to 11 and increase the number of DEA agents from 81 to nearly 100.[16]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Criticism

The War on Drugs has been criticized for a variety of reasons.

[edit] Legality

In his essay The Drug War and the Constitution [17], Libertarian philosopher Paul Hager makes the case that the War on Drugs in the United States is an illegal form of prohibition, which violates the principles of a limited government embodied in the Constitution. Alcohol prohibition required amending the Constitution, because this was not a power granted to the federal government. Hager asserts if this is true, then marijuana prohibition should likewise require a Constitutional amendment.

In her dissent in Gonzales v. Raich, Justice O'Connor argued that drug prohibition is an improper usurpation of the power to regulate interstate commerce, and the power to prohibit should be reserved by the states. In the same case, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a stronger dissent expressing the similar idea.

[edit] Efficacy

Richard Davenport-Hines, in his book The Pursuit of Oblivion (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), criticized the efficacy of the War on Drugs by pointing out:

10-15 per cent of illicit heroin and 30 per cent of illicit cocaine is intercepted. Drug traffickers have gross profit margins of up to 300 per cent. At least 75 per cent of illicit drug shipments would have to be intercepted before the traffickers' profits were hurt.

Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990-2000, described U.S. foreign drug policy as "failed" on grounds that "for 10 years, there has been a considerable sum invested by the Peruvian government and another sum on the part of the American government, and this has not led to a reduction in the supply of coca leaf offered for sale. Rather, in the 10 years from 1980 to 1990, it grew 10-fold."[18]

Critics often note that during alcohol prohibition, alcohol use actually increased. [citation needed] They argue that the War on Drugs uses similar measures and is no more effective. In the six years from 2000-2006, the USA spent $4.7 billion on "Plan Colombia", an effort to eradicate coca production in South America. The main result of this effort was to shift coca production into more remote areas, the overall acreage cultivated for coca in Colombia at the end of the six years was the same, and cultivation in the neighbouring countries of Peru and Bolivia actually increased. [19]

Similar lack of efficacy is observed in other countries pursuing similar policies. In 1994, 28.5% of Canadians reported having consumed illicit drugs in their life; by 2004, that figure had risen to 45%. 73% of the $368 million spent by the Canadian government on targeting illicit drugs in 2004-2005 went toward law enforcement rather than treatment, prevention or harm reduction. [20]

There is little correlation between the use of drugs and crime, except in so far as the possession and cultivation of drugs are crimes.

[edit] Hindrance to legitimate research

The scientific community has criticized U.S. drug policy as being "outdated,"[21] and a hindrance to legitimate medical and scientific research efforts. For example, the U.S. government's classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (having no medicinal value) is contradicted by the journal Nature Medicine [22]:

"the endocannabinoid system has an important role in nearly every important paradigm of pain, in memory, in neurodegeneration and in inflammation;" although this quote refers to endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids made from the body itself and not taken in from the outside of the body), research on cannabinoids from secondary sources such as the cannabis plant has shown them to have legitimate medical uses.

[edit] Racial inequities in prosecution

The social consequences of the drug war have been widely criticized by such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union as being racially biased against minorities and disproportionately responsible for the exploding United States prison population. According to a report commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, and released in March 2006 by the Justice Policy Institute, America's "Drug-Free Zones" are ineffective at keeping youths away from drugs, and instead create strong racial disparities in the judicial system.[23]

[edit] Environmental consequences

Environmental consequences of the drug war, resulting from US-backed aerial fumigation of drug-growing operations in third world countries, have been criticized as detrimental to some of the world's most fragile ecosystems[24]; the same aerial fumigation practices are further credited with causing health problems in local populations [25].  However, it doesn't begin to compare to the irreparable damage sustained from greenhouse gas emissions, factory pollution that lingers in the in air from as far back as the early 20th century.  RF emissions from wireless systems an LF emissions from power lines have been producing impacts on the Ionosphere since the invention of the radio that may be contributing to disorders like Autism and ADHD. 

[edit] Propaganda cover for paramilitary operations

The epithet "War on Drugs" has been condemned as being propaganda to justify military or paramilitary operations under the guise of a noble cause; in particular, Noam Chomsky points out that the term is an example of synecdoche referring to operations against suspected producers, traders and/or users of certain substances. This form of language is similar to that used in other initiatives such as Lyndon B. Johnson's "war on poverty" and George W. Bush's "War on Terrorism". The word "war" is used to invoke a state of emergency, although the target of the war isn't anything against which standard military tactics are effective.

[edit] Government's war against the people

In their book Multitude, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri oppose the view that the use of the term "war" is only metaphorical: they analyse the War on Drugs as part of a global war of a biopolitical nature. Like the War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs is a true war, waged by the US government against its own people.[26]

[edit] War on drugs as cyclic creation of a permanent underclass

Since illegal drug use has been blamed for feeding the growth of the underclass, this has caused prohibitionists to call for further increases in certain drug-crime penalties, even though some of these disrupt opportunities for drug users to advance in society in socially acceptable ways. It has been argued by Blumenson and Nilsen that this causes a vicious cycle: since penalties for drug crimes among youth almost always involve semi-permanent removal from opportunities for education, and later involve creation of criminal records which make employment far more difficult, that the "war on drugs" has in fact resulted in the creation of a permanent underclass of people who have few education or job opportunities, often as a result of being punished for drug offenses which in turn have resulted from attempts to earn a living in spite of having no education or job opportunities.[27]

[edit] Gateway drug infrastructure

Illegal drugs that are less dangerous tend to gain more widespread popularity than dangerous ones. An example would be the relationship of marijuana, a less dangerous drug, and heroin, a more dangerous drug. People are more willing to experiment with marijuana than heroin because the consequences are less severe. But because both are illegal, both require a black market infrastructure for distribution. Because marijuana is popular, it creates a network of people for this black market distribution infrastructure that is larger than would be present if only heroin were illegal, and marijuana were legal. In this manner does the criminalization of multiple drugs serve as a gateway of access to those drugs which are more dangerous.

[edit] Response to criticism

A common argument heard in support of the War on Drugs is that the war is not something that can be "won" or "lost." This argument states that the War on Drugs is much similar to our medical efforts to end human disease--both have technically "failed" to an extent, however, very few people will argue that we should end all our funding of medical research on the basis that it hasn't 100% succeeded in curing illness. This argument implies that while there are negative effects from the War on Drugs, the alternate, legalization, would lead to an even worse state in society.

The weakness of this metaphor is that some diseases (for example smallpox) have successfully been eradicated, and the impact of others, such as poliomyelitis has been greatly reduced, whereas drug use has increased despite the best efforts of prohibitionists. This weakness is exacerbated by the logical problems in likening all drugs to fatal diseases. For some drugs, like meth, the argument holds better. For others not so. This line of reasoning is further complicated by those who argue that the same "medical" argument should apply towards the prohibition of alcohol, which is commonly understood to be acceptable in moderation, despite its harms.

Although legalization of narcotics would reduce criminal activity simply by redefinition, advocates of prohibition claim that increasing the availability of drugs will increase usage, and that the social costs of increased drug addiction would be worse than the costs of prohibition.[28] Prohibitionists also point out that the cheapest, most popular legal drug, namely alcohol, is responsible for a larger proportion of crime than all illicit drugs combined, indicating that legalization of other narcotics would indeed lead to an increase in crime.[29]

Criminalization of theft and other crimes has not led to their eradication, but few would suggest that crimes of person and property be legalized. Analogously, prohibitionists argue that the failure of the war on drugs to reduce drug use should not be taken as a reason to legalize it. Although advocates of legalization would argue that this is a false analogy, and that that drug use only disadvantages the user, prohibitionists point to the effects of drug use upon others.[28] In response to that point, advocates of legalization would point out that tobacco and alcohol have the same effects as other illegal drugs (intoxication) and can lead to the same end (addiction, disease, social problems, death) and are still legal, so therefore the government is contradicting itself by making certain substances illegal when the legal ones have the same effects.

 

[edit] Where Will It End?

The fact is that the war on drugs is a total failure that has victimized American citizens, destroyed our healthcare system, and has put US citizens in far more jeopardy than drugs ever could.  As statistics get churned to show progress, there is not one shred of evidence that can be found among the 36 years of squandered funds for a program that is out of control.   Meanwhile, only one group has seen any benefits from the war on drugs.  That group comprises drug dealers and suppliers who are secluded from law enforcement, not particularly because they live in remote areas, in fact, they are well known.  Some of them are physician, others members of the local police force, and still others are business owners and politicians.  These individuals are the ones who keep the war on drugs intact.  They are indeed the loudest supporters of the war on drugs because they know that if the war on drugs ends, so does their drug empire.