Call Off The Global Drug War

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  Call Off The Global Drug War

Posted by CN Staff on June 18, 2011 at 04:52:21 PT
By Jimmy Carter 
Source: New York Times 

USA -- In an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.
The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders. These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.” These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries. This approach entailed an enormous expenditure of resources and the dependence on police and military forces to reduce the foreign cultivation of marijuana, coca and opium poppy and the production of cocaine and heroin. One result has been a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries. The commission’s facts and arguments are persuasive. It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment “with models of legal regulation of drugs ... that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.” For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places. But they probably won’t turn to the United States for advice. Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults! Some of this increase has been caused by mandatory minimum sentencing and “three strikes you’re out” laws. But about three-quarters of new admissions to state prisons are for nonviolent crimes. And the single greatest cause of prison population growth has been the war on drugs, with the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses increasing more than twelvefold since 1980. Not only has this excessive punishment destroyed the lives of millions of young people and their families (disproportionately minorities), but it is wreaking havoc on state and local budgets. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out that, in 1980, 10 percent of his state’s budget went to higher education and 3 percent to prisons; in 2010, almost 11 percent went to prisons and only 7.5 percent to higher education. Maybe the increased tax burden on wealthy citizens necessary to pay for the war on drugs will help to bring about a reform of America’s drug policies. At least the recommendations of the Global Commission will give some cover to political leaders who wish to do what is right. A few years ago I worked side by side for four months with a group of prison inmates, who were learning the building trade, to renovate some public buildings in my hometown of Plains, Ga. They were intelligent and dedicated young men, each preparing for a productive life after the completion of his sentence. More than half of them were in prison for drug-related crimes, and would have been better off in college or trade school. To help such men remain valuable members of society, and to make drug policies more humane and more effective, the American government should support and enact the reforms laid out by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is the founder of the Carter Center and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.A version of this op-ed appeared in print on June 17, 2011, on page A35 of the New York edition with the headline: Call Off the Global Drug War.Newshawk: HopeSource: New York Times (NY)Author: Jimmy CarterPublished: June 17, 2011Copyright: 2011 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  Justice Archives

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Comment #15 posted by FoM on June 20, 2011 at 11:10:01 PT
The time frame to the tightening up of drug laws happened because different events occurred and formed the perfect storm. That's just my opinion but that is how I remember it happening. 
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on June 20, 2011 at 11:05:21 PT
I hadn't seen the article until you posted it. That is one of the main reasons we are in this mess today. As far as organizations I have no idea. They all have their own agenda and they all are flawed. I really believe change will come from elected officials and the general population saying enough is enough.
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Comment #13 posted by afterburner on June 20, 2011 at 10:35:37 PT
FoM #11 dongenero #12 - A Little More Background
Iran hostage crisis
The episode reached a climax when, after failed attempts to negotiate a release, the United States military attempted a rescue operation, Operation Eagle Claw, on April 24, 1980, which resulted in a failed mission, the destruction of two aircraft and the deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian. It ended with the signing of the Algiers Accords in Algeria on January 19, 1981. The hostages were formally released into United States custody the following day, just minutes after the new American president Ronald Reagan was sworn in. ...The crisis has also been described as the "pivotal episode" in the history of Iran – United States relations.[6] In the U.S., some political analysts believe the crisis was a major reason for U.S. President Jimmy Carter's defeat in the November 1980 presidential election.[7]
}Iran–Contra affair
The Iran–Contra affair[1] (Persian: ایران-کنترا, Spanish: caso Irán-contras) was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior Reagan administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo.[2] Some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress.The scandal began as an operation to free American hostages being held by terrorist groups with Iranian ties. It was planned that Israel would ship weapons to Iran, and then the U.S. would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of six U.S. hostages, who were being held by the Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah, who in turn were connected to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. The plan deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages.[3][4] Large modifications to the plan were devised by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council in late 1985, in which a portion of the proceeds from the weapon sales was diverted to fund anti-Sandinista and anti-communist rebels, or Contras, in Nicaragua.[5][6]
}CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US
Former CIA agent David MacMichael explained the inherent relationship between CIA activity in Latin America and drug trafficking: "Once you set up a covert operation to supply arms and money, it's very difficult to separate it from the kind of people who are involved in other forms of trade, and especially drugs. There is a limited number of planes, pilots and landing strips. By developing a system for supply of the Contras, the US built a road for drug supply into the US."[4]
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Comment #12 posted by dongenero on June 20, 2011 at 08:19:26 PT
A very interesting comment you make regarding the role of cocaine in the escalation of the drug war, and most notably the misguided war against the cannabis plant.I came across this article Friday:The Day The Drug War Really Started the way, who do you all feel are the most currently effective and contribution worthy organizations in the nationwide cannabis reform movement? NORML, DPA, SSDP? All of the above? This situation simply has to change.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on June 19, 2011 at 14:34:58 PT

I agree with you. I was young and didn't know much or care to know much about politics. My frustration was because of knowing that cocaine stopped our forward movement on marijuana decriminalization. Hard drugs weren't the same as marijuana. My generation tried about every drug there was available to try and we knew marijuana was totally different. I admired Carter for asking us to sacrifice. That was honest of him. We could have slowed it down but that wasn't what they wanted. 
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on June 19, 2011 at 14:13:50 PT

I've read that Congress refused to pass Carter's decrim bill. The president doesn't make laws! I think we'd all be better served if we started seeing the president as a spokesperson rather than a leader. That is the reality of the situation.I would argue that the federal govt. has largely been doing the exact same thing every year since the 1930's, since WWII ended.Also remember that Carter was the last president to ask Americans to sacrifice something - anything. He was vilified and taken down by the mainstream media within a couple years of that statement.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on June 19, 2011 at 07:27:33 PT

Jimmy Carter
When President Kennedy was assassinated I was so crushed at a very young age that I didn't care who was President. Then when Jimmy Carter spoke about decriminalizing marijuana I got a little hope again. Then cocaine entered the picture and it was all over it seemed. I remember thinking when my generation gets to a point in their lives where they can help bring change they would and they did and still are trying. I was so upset when Jimmy Carter didn't change the law in his first term I voted the very first time for Reagan because Reagan said he wanted government out of our lives. I thought that meant leaving marijuana consumers alone. We know how that went and I never voted again until John Kerry and then of course President Obama. 
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Comment #8 posted by rchandar on June 18, 2011 at 23:55:29 PT:

Peanuts Jimmy
Yeah, I'm glad this post loaded. Jimmy's a tireless fighter for human rights and equity. He was a great President and did not equivocate with Khomeini. He was misunderstood in his time. Rosalyn also a fearless and dedicated human being. Charlie Daniels would appear on the Muppet Show. Georgia go left!
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on June 18, 2011 at 19:44:04 PT

President Obama
Give Mr. Carter a call. Invite him to the White House. Ask for some advice and pay attention.Please.In fact. Remember that guy you invited over for a beer? Why don't you invite the elder Statesmen, Schultz and Carter, over for dinner and get some advice from them about the drug war?For our sake. For our children's sake. For your children's sake. For the sake of all the lives that you now may have the power to save.Don't waste another day. The time is now.
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Comment #6 posted by Paint with light on June 18, 2011 at 19:37:01 PT

history lesson
For a history lesson google,bourne + cannabis + carterlegal like alcohol.
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Comment #5 posted by CaptainAjnag on June 18, 2011 at 19:23:43 PT:

Jimmy Carter
My newest hero.
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Comment #4 posted by Paint with light on June 18, 2011 at 19:20:39 PT

I have always admired Carter and some of his ideas.He was willing to start a new productive dialog but we all know he was blindsided by one of our own.He still should have finished the job because it was and still is the right thing to do.I expected at least as much from Obama.Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #3 posted by Storm Crow on June 18, 2011 at 12:24:44 PT

Hemp World-
Totally agree! Way under-rated! 
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on June 18, 2011 at 11:54:17 PT

Presidents... Past and Present
It would be really nice if President Obama would take a cue from Mr. Carter and at least try to do something good and right about the prohibition cess pit. Jimmy Carter tried. Even when he was actually President. Which is way more than you can say about any other president, in office, retired, or passed on.Jimmy Carter is my, hands down, favorite Ex-President. He's a good man. Apparently always has been.This is a very good column he's given us here. Blessings to you, Sir, and may you prosper with us still for many more years.Peace Prize winner? I'd like to see him ... or anyone... get the Peace Prize for ending Global Prohibition... starting right here in "The land of the free, the home of the brave".

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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on June 18, 2011 at 07:32:51 PT

Jimmy Carter
One awesome American! This man has been vilified by the republicans for decades. But he was the best and most visionary president ever!
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