Cannabis News Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  Former Drug Czars Believe Their War Has Been Won
Posted by CN Staff on June 30, 2006 at 22:05:34 PT
By John C. Burnham 
Source: Columbus Dispatch  

justice USA -- The United States has won the war against illegal drugs. That was the conclusion of a unique gathering on June 17, which marked the 35 th anniversary of the war’s beginning in 1971 with the appointment of Dr. Jerome H. Jaffe, a psychiatrist, as the first White House drug czar.

Jaffe was joined at the the anniversary gatheing in by six other former czars, Dr. Robert L. Du Pont, Dr. Peter G. Bourne, Lee I. Dogoloff, Dr. Donald Ian Mac-Donald, Lee Brown and retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey. Also attending were 20 former staff members and a handful of experts, including me, a specialist historian.

The meeting, sponsored and hosted by the University of Maryland, was held for the purpose of making a historical record.

The seven former czars and former staff members held remarkably unanimous views, though they come from a variety of backgrounds and included Democrats and Republicans who worked for five very different presidents. And what they had to say was often surprising.

The main conclusion – that we won the war on drugs – was the biggest surprise, because advocates of illegal drugs have in recent years filled the media with rhetoric about "the failed war on drugs." The czars’ straightforward conclusion may come as a shock, but, as they outlined what the war was about, what they had to say made a lot of sense.

Thirty-five years ago, the big worry was the veterans who were returning from Vietnam who had been using illegal drugs. And the drug causing overwhelming concern was heroin. A hard-headed public-health approach showed an alarming number of deaths directly related to heroin, not to mention crimes committed by addicts.

As the veterans showed that their use did not continue after their return to the United States, and as methadone-maintenance programs came into place, along with enforcement and education, heroin use declined, and even more dramatic was the decline in heroin-related deaths. This was the great victory of the war on drugs. A recent small uptick in illegal drug use is remarkably insignificant compared with the original problem.

Only in the 1980s, when the price of cocaine, in the form of crack, went down did that drug become a significant public-health problem. But what about marijuana? At that time, the serious effects of pot smoking were largely unknown. But in the late 1970s, the parents movement developed – parents who had seen what happened when their kids got addicted to marijuana and their young brains got fried. This was a huge group of very angry people, and they were political dynamite.

The main tension in the office of drug czar was between enforcement and treatment. Congress would fund enforcement but did not like treatment, although one czar told of taking a couple of reluctant members of Congress to view a treatment center and see how much money treatment was saving the public as addicts, often under court coercion, were enabled to work productively.

For historians like me, the collective experience of the former czars provides two lessons. The first is unwelcome to extremists of the right and left and their shady commercial allies: Prohibitory laws can work. Historians have established that the 1920s experiment in alcohol prohibition was successful and was repealed in 1933 only because of a massive, well-financed propaganda campaign.

The leadership of the drug czars in reducing supply and demand of illegal drugs is reflected not only in the public-health statistics. They can also cite public opinion polls. Thirty-five years ago, illegal drugs were usually first or second and no lower than fourth as public concerns. Now the drugs issue trails many other problems.

Everyone at the conference knew that the problem is going to continue for American society, but at a much lower level than 35 years before. That is what laws do: They attempt to control problems, not bring perfection. Laws against murder provide hope to control the problem, not abolish murder.

The second lesson is more subtle. The title czar was ironic, because the appointees had no direct, executive power. Instead, they coordinated the many federal and local agencies dealing with aspects of the drug problem and drug-law enforcement. The czars used persuasion. They got a drug detection and treatment system into the armed services, where the programs served as models for private businesses and other units. When new substances of abuse came along, often the czar was able to get officials and private businesses, especially pharmaceutical companies, to get one substance or another restricted before it became a major problem.

So what if the amusingly designated czars had no real power? They proved that in American government, there can be impressive leadership beyond formal power.

John Burnham is research professor of history at Ohio State University, where he specializes in the history of medicine and American social history.

Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Author: John C. Burnham
Published: June 30, 2006
Copyright: 2006 The Columbus Dispatch

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Comment #31 posted by FoM on July 03, 2006 at 21:36:35 PT
I'm looking forward to hearing his response. Please let us know.

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Comment #30 posted by Wayne on July 03, 2006 at 21:32:11 PT
For anyone that is still checking this, I got an email today from the ONDCP itself, saying that it forwarded to John Walters a copy of this article that I sent to them. However mean-spirited, misguided, uninformed, or just flat-out stupid his response may be... I eagerly await it. I have a feeling that he might be a little too arrogant to just let this one slide...

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Comment #29 posted by kaptinemo on July 03, 2006 at 05:22:11 PT:

Mr. Weiner, redux
(Sigh) Him, again. Still trying to score points off his former employers so he can get the big brass ring labeled "Drug Czar" next time. Only he's not well enough connected politically. So he'll be consigned to forever sniping from the sidelines. But that won't stop him from trying.

Penn and Teller have this guy pegged: Go see for yourself. Another Brandeisian "man of zeal...without understanding". This is the kind who, as an officer in a war zone, gets fragged by his own troops.

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Comment #28 posted by observer on July 02, 2006 at 12:01:44 PT
Courtier ''Historians''
...experts, including me, a specialist historian.


[ Post Comment ]

Comment #27 posted by FoM on July 02, 2006 at 09:50:34 PT
Related News Article from
Drug Czar's Office Blamed for Hike in Violent Crime


By Kate Monaghan, Correspondent

July 02, 2006

( - Following sharp declines in violent crime in the U.S. between the mid-1990s and 2004, the trend has begun to reverse and a former official with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) places the blame on the Bush administration's budget cutting efforts.

"The current administration's overall anti-drug budget has been slashed by over one-third from $19.2 billion in 2001 to $12.7 billion for 2007," stated Robert Weiner, former spokesman and director of public affairs at the ONDCP during the Clinton administration. Weiner's op-ed on the subject was published Thursday on a website called, based in Memphis, Tenn.

"This reduced budget ... is a genuine threat to our national security," Weiner wrote.

But a current spokesman for the government agency, which is commonly known as the drug czar's office, insisted that there have been no budget cuts. "There's no spin here involved in this. That's what it is," ONDCP Deputy Press Secretary Rafael E. Lemaitre told Cybercast News Service.

FBI statistics released on June 12 show that the incidence of violent crime increased by 2.5 percent last year, following dramatic decreases in the previous decade. Justice Department statistics show that the incidence of violent crime dropped in every year between 1994 and 2004 except one - 2003. Violent crime incidents in the U.S. totaled 4,190,000 in 1993, but only 1,648,100 in 2004, a 154 percent decline.

Despite the increase in violent crime in 2005, Lemaitre said Weiner's premise is false. "It's completely bizarre and flat out wrong," he said.

Not only are the cuts false but the anti-drug budget has actually increased, according to Lemaitre. "The anti-drug budget has gone up every year. The drop that's stated there --between $19 billion and $12 billion -- that was because we stopped counting programs that did not have a full anti-drug nexus within our budget."

The Bush administration has also "asked for increased funding in the national youth anti-drug campaign," Lemaitre said. "The [Weiner op/ed] states that we've slashed it ... [however] Congress has continuously decreased the amount of funding for it. We're very enthusiastic about it and we want to increase funding for it but Congress hasn't given us the money."

Weiner told Cybercast News Service that he anticipated the ONDCP's reaction to his op/ed. "I knew they would say that because the figures that we've quoted are proposed ... through testimony and so they're going to say how Congress has restored this and that funding. No thanks to them."

The Bush ONDCP "tried to cut the programs and slash them and disintegrate them and so they cannot take credit for final figures when they tried to keep them low," Weiner argued.

He concluded that while the ONDCP may claim to have asked for more funding, this is not really the case and is "disingenuous and unfair to the nation's fight against drugs."

According to the ONDCP website, the anti-drug media campaign focused on America's youth will receive an increase of $21 million in Fiscal Year 2007, for a total of $120 million.

Copyright: 2006 Cybercast News Service

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Comment #26 posted by John Tyler on July 02, 2006 at 07:43:51 PT
Drug war won or lost
On the issues of is the Drug War won or lost I guess it depends on your perspective. If you are a “type A” personality leading or working for a weird, flawed organization that can’t stand the aura of failure associated with their name, then you just lie with a few well-selected statistics and say you won. You get a PR firm and/or pay a historian to spin out some bologna to proclaim your victory. You get a little certificate or a plaque for a job well done. You get to note it on your resume under Achievements: won the Drug War, for your next job. The only problem is, it is not true, is it? Usually when a war is over everyone knows it, don’t they? You would see announcements like, “Drug War Over!”. The troops come home. Prisoners of war are released. The propaganda machine is turned off. The war budget is eliminated. A feeling of relief settles over the land. Has anybody noticed that? I haven’t. It still feels like the same ol’ Drug War to me. The only people these guys are fooling are themselves.

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Comment #25 posted by afterburner on July 02, 2006 at 07:31:03 PT
Worth Reading and Remembering
Drug WarRant by Pete Guither. Friday, June 30, 2006. Independence Day.

Happy Independence Day, America!

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Comment #24 posted by whig on July 01, 2006 at 22:29:31 PT
I actually forwarded part of your quote to a friend in e-mail (someone I hope very much will join us here).

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Comment #23 posted by whig on July 01, 2006 at 22:27:03 PT
I read the Wiki article and it really made no sense from a certain perspective. It was talking about the effects/safety/etc. of "drugs." Well, that's just too broad. Drugs? Which drugs? Illegal drugs. Which ones do what? They're different. Except that they're all illegal it doesn't make any sense to make any kind of effects/health/safety comparisons at all.

Here's the one thing in common about "illegal drugs". You can get arrested for them. That's a risk. That's a risk for all of them, regardless of their particular effect or safety independent of the legal system.

There is no saying that other than that fact, anything sensible compares cannabis and heroin to other things. Cannabis doesn't compare in the same way as heroin does. They aren't the same thing. They don't do the same thing. They have different effects and safety considerations. Completely different. One is actually very safe. One actually is not. See?

Sorry, this isn't really addressed at you but as a sort of general response to the Wiki article which doesn't seem to have a useful place in the article itself (and I'm not in the frame of mind to be editing Wiki tonight).

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Comment #22 posted by FoM on July 01, 2006 at 19:46:30 PT
I won't say anything either.

BGreen you are just too funny.

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Comment #21 posted by Hope on July 01, 2006 at 18:58:41 PT
Lol! BGreen
I'm not going to say a word...except: Who's the blue comic now?

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Comment #20 posted by lombar on July 01, 2006 at 15:17:28 PT
I knew it...
I'm trying to re-invent the wheel. --------------------------- Wiki

Arguments for prohibition


A common reason given for banning drug use is that drug use is perceived to be unhealthy, with possible effects ranging from lowered intelligence to insanity to death by overdose, or little or no health effects at all. Some illegal drugs are statistically more dangerous than other unhealthy things. Unlike alcohol, many illegal drugs were once legal until their health problems and addictive properties were realized. [edit]

Drug prohibition as a solution to perceived problems of society

Some proponents of drug prohibition, such as members of the Temperance movement, support drug prohibition on the basis that many of the perceived problems or flaws of society are caused by the use of drugs or drug addiction. As to maintain consistency with this stance, these proponents often call for prohibition of alcohol. Proponents of drug prohibition fear a society with more addicts and drug pushers (attracted by profits) if prohibitions are legalized. They believe addicts are more likely to commit more crimes because their minds are altered (some prohibitions may cause harmful behaviour), much as drunk criminals do sometimes. [edit]

Commercial exploitation of drug addiction

Some people, especially those who might otherwise support drug legalization, are against it because of the impact upon society of the commercial exploitation of the addictive potential of drugs. The basic concept is that tobacco and alcohol are extremely popular even though they are relatively more dangerous than many illegal drugs and are subjectively less pleasurable. This, critics say, is attributable to the large marketing campaigns of tobacco and alcohol companies. If these same companies were able to sell drugs that were arguably more addictive and pleasurable, then chances are even more people would become addicted. This genre of critics is pessimistic that a system could ever be created whereby drugs could be legalized but not be commercially exploited. They often call for reinstated prohibition of alcohol. One factor critics point to is the tremendous lobbying power of alcohol and tobacco companies, as well as the large areas of commerce that are already related to illegal drugs, such as t-shirts about drugs, or songs about drugs. These critics also dismiss the idea that legalizing drugs will make them cheaper, pointing to the fact that most brands of alcohol are more expensive than most illegal drugs for an equivalent level of inebriation (this might be true in the USA, UK, Scandinavian, Muslim and some other countries, but is not true in many other, most, countries; also, prescription drugs, as opioids, are much cheaper, when legally bought, than similar illegal drugs). Many of these critics feel that those involved in the production of certain currently legal drugs such as tobacco and prescription opioids are already profiting off of the addiction of their users. This criticism is directed not only toward the commercial exploitation of physiological addiction, but also of psychological addiction, which in addition to drug use can occur in relation to many types of behavior, for example gambling, overeating and economic consumption. [edit]

Moral and religious

Some hold the position that consciously altering one's mind or state of consciousness is morraly unjustifiable, and or against God's will as the creator of the human mind. [1]


'beliefs' and 'opinions' are not facts like 700,000+ people arrested for cannabis possession, real medical efficacy being denied to preserve profits, and constant lies about cannabis.

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Comment #19 posted by Max Flowers on July 01, 2006 at 15:15:36 PT
Revisionist history
The stated objective was to (paraphrased) "remove the scourge of illicit drugs from America" and "make America safe for the children" regarding the availability of drugs.

They can say now whatever stupid, deceptive things they like to make themselves feel better about the "work" they did in their lives, but the above is what they set out to do, and at that goal the war on drugs has utterly failed.

And they know it.

When will all these psychotic pseudo-puritans realize that America is not about behavior control, shaming citizens, punishment, meddling law enforcement, people narc-ing on each other, and intrusion into citizens' private lives? It is supposed to be about responsibility, independence, and FREEDOM of the individual. The fredom to exist in the sanctity of one's own home or premises without fearing that agents of the government could come busting in at any moment.

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Comment #18 posted by billos on July 01, 2006 at 14:40:39 PT
These guys are the Founding Fathers of
the flat earth society.

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Comment #17 posted by BGreen on July 01, 2006 at 14:35:30 PT
Pain pills, tranquilizers and erectile dysfunction
They've GOT to stop giving all of these decaying old men these erectile dysfunction pills to counter the side effects of the Vicodin and Xanax tablets that they swallow like candy just like their poster child, Rush (Pills) Limbaugh.

These smelly old farts have so much of their blood racing through their teeny weenies that their brains have stopped functioning. LOL

If your pee pee doesn't work anymore, try getting off of the 10 or more "prescriptions" that you're taking, instead of just adding another pill to your system.

Or, at the very least, just shut your mouths and stop saying stupid things that hurt other people.

To say that the US government has WON the war means that we must have LOST the war, and we all know that hasn't even come close to happening. We win little battles every day. In fact, knowing that I may be helping to prevent cancer by firing up a phatty is proof that it is not the U.S. that has won the war on cannabis, but rather it's US, you and I, that are the winners.

Placing career soldiers in the roles of handling social issues has been a colossal failure, and in the end these warriors have no choice but to lie about their success, for this is the only way to secure more money for their failed cause and perpetuate this war that they say is over, yet are fighting harder and bloodier against the innocent than ever before.

The Reverend Bud Green

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Comment #16 posted by mayan on July 01, 2006 at 13:39:32 PT
Drug War Won
Good. I want my tax dollars back! We can now repeal all of the drug laws!

Actually, I bet these old farts haven't walked or drove down an inner city street lately.

Just when you thought you'd heard it all! Amazing.

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Comment #15 posted by lombar on July 01, 2006 at 12:10:27 PT
"Takes a lot of tranquilizers to subdue one's conscience."

You do not have to subdue that which is not there. It is hard for me(and likely all the posters here) to imagine what it would be like to have no remorse for wrongdoing. I feel bad when I accidentally squash a bug sometimes. Now being that sensitive, it is hard to imagine what it would be like to not care. Accidents happen but I fear what would happen should I lose compassion ever for the smallest of critters.

Anyone who can continually advocate the drug war must either be ignorant of the reality, or have no remorse for the damage they are causing. In the course of my life I have encountered people with no remorse for the wrongs they have done. No conscience, no remorse.

Ignorant, or evil, that is the legacy of the drug warriors, whatever their intent, their results are bad. Use of decpection to maintain war (for profits) is wholly immoral, misuse of power...

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Comment #14 posted by lombar on July 01, 2006 at 11:59:05 PT
The links you posted were fascinating. What a surprise (sarcasm) that a substance like Niacin could be used to help schizophenics, yes, a substance with no patent. Not an SSRI like zyprexa, paxil, risperdone, which nets big pharma billions.. Funny how they have no problem with mentally ill people being 'addicted' to those drugs. Clipped for the notebook.

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Comment #13 posted by Hope on July 01, 2006 at 10:34:35 PT
Whig comment 11
So true.

I'd be curious to know, too. But THEIR drug taking is private and none of our business, so we aren't likely to know. But I'd bet on a couple of them, at least.

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Comment #12 posted by observer on July 01, 2006 at 10:33:32 PT
Former Drug Czars Believe
Former Drug Czars Believe Their War Has Been Won

They're delusional. They want it both ways.

Insanity [is] ... Continuing to do the same things and expecting different results. -- Albert Einstein

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Comment #11 posted by whig on July 01, 2006 at 10:16:46 PT
What percentage of prohibians are actually on psycho-pharms anyhow? Probably a lot. Takes a lot of tranquilizers to subdue one's conscience.

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Comment #10 posted by Hope on July 01, 2006 at 09:49:13 PT
There little get together...
All sitting around the table, wild eyed, dissheveled, in their matching straight jackets. An attendant standing behind each of them managing their IV drip of big pharm made anti-pcychotic drugs.

"We won! We Won!" They scream.

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Comment #9 posted by unkat27 on July 01, 2006 at 08:15:15 PT
Rewriting History
This guy is one of those historians hired by the aging old fart republicans band to rewrite history so they can stop seeing the awful truth and start living their favorite fantasy-illusion full-time, in complete denial 24/7. It's fairly easy for them to do this, since they are retired and living in their federalist mansions, not wasting away and going insane in some prison for getting entrapped in a drug-raid and caught with a bag of BC bud.

Any 20th century US history buff can prove the guy dead-wrong about the facts of the 20s alcohol prohibition. The only well established fact in this article is the point about heroin being the real problem for Vietnam vets. So, after they basically fixed that problem, why the hell did they have to go after mary-jane? Imo, if they had simply left mary-jane users be, instead of treating them all like axe-murderers, crack-cocaine probly never would have become the problem it did in the 80s.

The real problem isn't illegal drugs, the real problem is drug-warriors always looking for another drug and new drug-users to make war with, just so they'll have a job to pay their rent.

If the drug war was really won, then all the dim-witted dupes that fight it would be on the unemployment lines.

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Comment #8 posted by afterburner on July 01, 2006 at 07:28:31 PT
Wayne & lombar
"Send this story to your Congressman and call for an end to the Drug War, because it's already been won."

Yes, time to cut the funds. If the "Drug War" is over, then the US taxpayer can save lots of money, or funds can be re-allocated to hurting social programs!

lombar -- in case you missed it (schizophrenia research):

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Comment #7 posted by Wayne on July 01, 2006 at 07:00:04 PT
Alright, the Drug War has been won, now let's bring all the troops home. Let's bring home all the troops in Colombia and Bolivia who are waging war on the coca farmers. Let's bring home all the troops who are waging war on the Afghan poppy farmers. We've achieved victory. Let's call back all the helicopter teams in California who are waging war on the marijuana growers. Hooray, the war is over!! Let's bring the troops home and give them a big ticker-tape parade.

Oh wait, we can't pull them out. That would be 'cutting and running', wouldn't it? Has an eerily familiar ring to it. We'll never learn, will we?

One thought did occur to me. I saw two names missing from that list: William Bennett and John Walters. Do they agree that the War has been won? Walters would be out of a job if he said yes. And Bennett... well we all know what a jackass HE is. After all, he is the one who claimed last year that the crime rate would drop if we started aborting all black babies (see link below). He would never say the war is over, because fighting wars and spreading hate is all he knows how to do.

I wasn't a bit surprised to see McCaffrey on that list. Didn't he say a while back that most drugs have been decriminalized? How arrogant and detached can these people really be, anyway?

Somebody with authority really needs to call these guys on this. They're actually handing us an opportunity to expose this whole thing. Send this story to your Congressman and call for an end to the Drug War, because it's already been won.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #6 posted by FoM on July 01, 2006 at 06:55:54 PT
A Question
Any war can be said that they won if you fill your prisons with people if they don't listen.

How many people over all these years have had their lives ruined by the laws our government has created? How many do drugs but do them quietly so they don't get caught and go to jail? How many get strung out on legal pharmaceuticals? Is that success? It makes people resent the laws and then they break the laws and then they dislike the government. Is that what we are going to celebrate on the 4th of July? We are more dependent then ever on the laws they have made to make us conform to whatever they think is right no matter how individuals or groups of people feel.

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Comment #5 posted by RcHot on July 01, 2006 at 06:41:59 PT
How old are these Czars
this is crazy they haven't stopped the production of any illegal drug! To win a war the enemy has to be defeated or the enemy has to give in to your needs. Since illegal drugs are inanimate objects I doubt that they can throw up the white flag. What I really believe is that this a war against drug users. Drug users are only going to stop when they are ready to stop.

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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on July 01, 2006 at 06:24:03 PT
This guy earns his salary as a history professor, and he's teaching that 1920's Prohibition WORKED? are you kidding? Does this guy live and research in a cave?

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Comment #3 posted by Toker00 on July 01, 2006 at 05:00:46 PT
"Don't worry, we got it, we got it, we GOT IT!..
THUD!!! don't got it."

Claiming victory while wretching in the agony of being torn apart by the Jaws of Truth. Pitiful, isn't it?

I'm filing this one with the first Prohibition claim that alcohol prohibition will end when a mouse flies to the moon with the Washington monument tied to his tail. Did anyone get videos of that happening?


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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on July 01, 2006 at 04:01:19 PT:

The anti-anti-prohibitionist backlash continues
This is nothing but an attempt to blunt the growing use of the word 'prohibition' in the media and attempting to head off the inevitable comparison the public will be forced to make between today's prohibition and yesterday's. And it is as doomed to fail as the DrugWar, itself. Just like a certain 'Mission Accomplished" banner prematurely unfurled 3 years ago, the author of this drivel is being a wee bit too optimistic.

Lombar's already hit upon the main points of this slanted puff-piece. But the obvious fact remains that if victory has been achieved, then there is no further need for the DrugWar, and it can be dismantled...oh no, wait, it can't be. We still somehow need the drug laws. Even though the prohibitionists won. They say they've won, anyway. Has anyone told the cartellistas that they've lost, and they can stop sending shipments, now?

The capacity for self-delusion in the present government is breathtaking, sometimes.

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Comment #1 posted by lombar on July 01, 2006 at 02:26:03 PT
Oh my... what a pile of cowpies.
But in the late 1970s, the parents movement developed – parents who had seen what happened when their kids got addicted to marijuana and their young brains got fried. This was a huge group of very angry people, and they were political dynamite.

Oh? What was the name of the organisation? Who were the founders? What were the names of the children with fried brains?

Prohibitory laws can work. Historians have established that the 1920s experiment in alcohol prohibition was successful and was repealed in 1933 only because of a massive, well-financed propaganda campaign.

Funny, for a historian, this guy sure doesnt know much about history. The original people who pushed for the amendment to prohibit alcohol in the USA were the same ones who fought to repeal it.

Now the drugs issue trails many other problems.

Like fixed voting machines, 9/11, lies that led to war and deaths of thouasands of people, the looting of the treasury, the loss of jobs overseas, illegal immigrants, pollution, global warming, looming energy crisis... yes sirreee bob, things are so much better now.

" Laws against murder provide hope to control the problem, not abolish murder."

Laws against murder are based on the notion that murder is immoral, wrong. There is a victim and an assailant. Laws against drugs do not control the problem, it cedes it to the ruthless and/or criminal elements of society. When people can honestly compare murdering someone to smoking cannabis I have to wonder how. Murder, rape, robbery, fraud, all involve non-consentual action, a clearly wronged party and a wrong-doer. Two people sharing a bong is consensual action between adults, someone selling a joint to someone else is also consentual. No victim, no person to complain to the police.

There's another argument "If you want to legalize pot, you might as well legalize 'murder' (insert heinous crime here)." It is an indirect ad-hominem attack, it attempts to call into question the legalization advocates morality.

The list cant be very long, prohibitionists are not that original.

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