Ron Paul's stance against the US Drug War: Makes sense or simply a nutty idea?

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JuanGalt's picture
JuanGalt
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Ron Paul's stance against the US Drug War: Makes sense or simply a nutty idea?

In the past and again last night's in the Republican debate Ron Paul reiterated some of his thoughts on calling for the end of the US Drug War. The average Joe Blow voter will of course listen to this and opine this is some nutty old man talking nonsense again. Or is he?

A few points to consider...

- What has the US actually accomplished in this Drug War they have been waging for over a quarter century? Things as bad if not worse as they have even been now?

- If you criminalize certain drugs and prosecute these non-violent crime associated with them does that not create the higher prices for such drugs and in fact incentive the massive and highly proftable illegal drug business that leads to the violent crimes? How about the added stress on the already overtaxed criminal justice and prison systems. If these drugs were legal most of the violent crime associated with them would not exist as the illegal business would no longer be nearly as lucrative because the drugs would available in competitive free markets, priced lower and no longer encourage the violent crime associated with the business.

- What makes a drug like marijuana (which even has substantial proven medicinal benefits) any worse for people or dangerous than acohol or tabacco? Do more people not die from smoking induced lung cancer and heart disease than from use of illegal drugs? People who become drunk and worse drive drunk are as dangerous than anyone high off most drugs. Why criminalize one and not the other?

- Does the US gov't really intend on "winning the Drug War". Several federal agencies like the CIA, DEA and Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms have been linked numerous times to being involved directly in the drug trade themselves. Major banks the world over have been charges and fined often for being involved in money laundering on behalf of the cartels and their biusiness associates. With all the amazing surveillance technology, advanced weapons systems, financing, power, political influence and military might the US has could it not win this war if it truly aspired to? 

- Is fighting this supposed war worth all the costs to a bankrupt country and overstressed criminal justice and prison system - especially given the pathetic results and corruption that runs rampant within the federal law enforcement agencies charged with investigating the criminality and enforcing the law, banks who launder the illegal funds and puppet politicians who do their bidding.

I don't know, it seems like Ron Paul may just have a point.

What do you think? 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Ron Paul and the War on Drugs

 If I get a chance I'm going to vote for Ron Paul, but his ideas on legalizing all drugs are my main disagreement with his platform.  I'll vote for him anyway because our country needs a complete reboot or reset and he'd give us that.  All the other candidates including Obama stand for making ADJUSTMENTS to the status quo, promising us their particular little adjustments will be the best.  Our problems are too big for adjustments -- we need to start over with the minimal Constitutional foundation. 

Drug and alcohol abuse is always a partial cause AND a definite result of societies in moral, social and economic decline.  Look at countries now that have legalized or openly tolerate drugs.  Afghanistan is a good one where opium is the national pasttime.  And when people light into me for being in favor of keeping certain drugs illegal, I'd like to know from each of you if you have a loved one who has been addicted to heroin, meth, cocaine, marijuana or alcohol (just to name a few).  Watching a loved one fall apart before your eyes is heartbreaking.  I have to wonder if we want to make it easier for people to do that to themselves and take away from ourselves one of the few tools we have to encourage them to stop (criminal action in court).  And what will happen to any country that allows such self-destruction of its people?  I haven't heard Ron Paul say so, but judging by his philosophy and values I imagine he would also de-fund all treatment related federal programs saying, "It's a free country.  You can use drugs but if you become addicted we aren't going to help you."  He's nothing if not consistent.

Practically speaking, what would a President Paul actually do?  Repeal Federal drug laws?  I doubt Congress would approve.  De-fund the enforcement agencies?  If he got his way on the budget I'd expect him to starve the DEA, other enforcers and related block grants into near oblivion. I could go along with that because there are a lot of good things our government COULD do but we can't afford at this time.  I would love him to take all the FBI agents assigned to drug enforcement and assign them to work with the SEC to begin investigating and prosecuting economic crimes. And no matter what President Paul did federally regarding drugs, it would still be up to the states to decide whether to keep their own drug laws and continue paying for their enforcement.  I imagine all the drug users would flock to California, New Jersey and similar states where they would be free to poison themselves, leaving those who know better to create our own drug-free environments.

All said, I'll still vote for Ron Paul when the Republican primary comes around to Pennsylvania.  I've changed my party affiliation for that exact purpose.

 

russiaways's picture
russiaways
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how could it be worse?

Drug use consequences exsist regardless of legality.  They can and should be dealt with culturally as we have with so many substances:

designated driver protocals, Betty Ford Clinc

no smoking in public places, info on health risks, insurance rates

decaf

methadone, 12 step programs

interventions by loved ones

incarceration for actions taken because of drug use or while under the influence

 

The legal prohibition layer also has consequences:

high cost, financial stress, crime to satisfy supply

quality control/dosage unreliability and risk

drug user culture separated from society and cultural support and guidance

police protection costs, drug war costs

high cost of prison system and crime culture enshrined there

corruption of officials due to price which will rise enough to ensure some (even if limited) supply

credibility of official/systemic structure in doubt

violent out-of-system competion for drug market

potential for failed state, ie Mexico

 

I'd prefer just to deal with the former list and ideally with even half the resources now applied dealing with the latter list.

joemanc's picture
joemanc
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THC - I hear ya. I was

THC - I hear ya. I was always anti-drugs, of any kind, until I came across Ron Paul. I have mixed feelings about it. The drug war has been a colossal and expensive failure. Our jails are overcrowded. But legalizing everything could be a complete disaster also. You see the alcohol abuse already, I could only imagine what the drug abuse would look like. You mention funding for drug abuse programs - that could be funded by a tax on legalized drugs, similiar to alcohol abuse programs are/could be funded by sin taxes. Maybe we need the Netherlands solution, legalizing marijuana, and leaving the oher stuff be.

Johnny Oxygen's picture
Johnny Oxygen
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Re: how could it be worse?
russiaways wrote:

Drug use consequences exsist regardless of legality.  They can and should be dealt with culturally as we have with so many substances:

designated driver protocals, Betty Ford Clinc

no smoking in public places, info on health risks, insurance rates

decaf

methadone, 12 step programs

interventions by loved ones

incarceration for actions taken because of drug use or while under the influence

 

The legal prohibition layer also has consequences:

high cost, financial stress, crime to satisfy supply

quality control/dosage unreliability and risk

drug user culture separated from society and cultural support and guidance

police protection costs, drug war costs

high cost of prison system and crime culture enshrined there

corruption of officials due to price which will rise enough to ensure some (even if limited) supply

credibility of official/systemic structure in doubt

violent out-of-system competion for drug market

potential for failed state, ie Mexico

 

I'd prefer just to deal with the former list and ideally with even half the resources now applied dealing with the latter list.

 

Johnny Oxygen's picture
Johnny Oxygen
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thc0655 wrote: If I get a
thc0655 wrote:

 If I get a chance I'm going to vote for Ron Paul, but his ideas on legalizing all drugs are my main disagreement with his platform.  I'll vote for him anyway because our country needs a complete reboot or reset and he'd give us that.  All the other candidates including Obama stand for making ADJUSTMENTS to the status quo, promising us their particular little adjustments will be the best.  Our problems are too big for adjustments -- we need to start over with the minimal Constitutional foundation. 

Drug and alcohol abuse is always a partial cause AND a definite result of societies in moral, social and economic decline.  Look at countries now that have legalized or openly tolerate drugs.  Afghanistan is a good one where opium is the national pasttime.  And when people light into me for being in favor of keeping certain drugs illegal, I'd like to know from each of you if you have a loved one who has been addicted to heroin, meth, cocaine, marijuana or alcohol (just to name a few).  Watching a loved one fall apart before your eyes is heartbreaking.  I have to wonder if we want to make it easier for people to do that to themselves and take away from ourselves one of the few tools we have to encourage them to stop (criminal action in court).  And what will happen to any country that allows such self-destruction of its people?  I haven't heard Ron Paul say so, but judging by his philosophy and values I imagine he would also de-fund all treatment related federal programs saying, "It's a free country.  You can use drugs but if you become addicted we aren't going to help you."  He's nothing if not consistent.

Practically speaking, what would a President Paul actually do?  Repeal Federal drug laws?  I doubt Congress would approve.  De-fund the enforcement agencies?  If he got his way on the budget I'd expect him to starve the DEA, other enforcers and related block grants into near oblivion. I could go along with that because there are a lot of good things our government COULD do but we can't afford at this time.  I would love him to take all the FBI agents assigned to drug enforcement and assign them to work with the SEC to begin investigating and prosecuting economic crimes. And no matter what President Paul did federally regarding drugs, it would still be up to the states to decide whether to keep their own drug laws and continue paying for their enforcement.  I imagine all the drug users would flock to California, New Jersey and similar states where they would be free to poison themselves, leaving those who know better to create our own drug-free environments.

All said, I'll still vote for Ron Paul when the Republican primary comes around to Pennsylvania.  I've changed my party affiliation for that exact purpose.

 

 

Good post thc0655

I like Ron Paul a lot but won't vote for him because of his stance on privitization. I've posted about that before.

The drug issue is a tough one. Yes if you decriminalize it you would get rid of the black market aspect and yes people could make their own choices. But there is a problem with this thinking.

Some drugs are so overwhelmingly powerful that they remove a persons free will and therefore their liberty IMO. Especially if you are young or uneducated you could easily fall into a life long addiction from simply making a poor choice.

Dunno. LoL. I wish I had the answers.

 

TimesAwasting's picture
TimesAwasting
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How about legalizing drugs

How about legalizing drugs for those over 21 years of age (just like alcohol) and taxing the hell out of it!

Some of the tax revenue could fund treatment centers, anti-drug abuse campaigns and rest could be applied to our national deficit.

Wasted funding of the criminalization process is largely eliminated and those who wish to take part can do so legally. Those who choose to do drugs will fund the treatment of those who aren't able to use responsibly. And, just like alcohol users, drug users are held responsible for their actions.

Seems pretty simple to me... we haven't made a dent in this so called "war". Time to end the costly experiment and move on. BTW, there was a time, not too long ago that there was no such prohibition of drug use... and the world did not end.

Full disclosure: do not use; have no intention of ever using; still think it should be legal!

Johnny Oxygen's picture
Johnny Oxygen
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Re: How about legalizing drugs

I've even played with the notion of making pot legal to grow but illegal to sell.

This way you could keep the tobacco companies, and others, from 'commercializing' it and marketing it.

Individuals could grow it and trade it or secretly sell small amounts but the big guys would be cut out all together.

Just a thought.

 

patrickhenry's picture
patrickhenry
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How did prohibition work out for the U.S. ?

Yeah, it doesn't work.

 

In addition, even if the federal government calls off the drug war, states can keep heroin, or whatever they want illegal.

 

Ron Paul or No One

texan's picture
texan
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war on drugs

If you did not even try to stop some of the drugs in the US just think about the millions and billions tax payers would have to spend every year on children with birth defects from dope heads getting pregnant. If you leagalize drugs for the taxes you would not collect enough to cover a fourth of the medical bills caused from drug use.

Johnny Oxygen's picture
Johnny Oxygen
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texan wrote: If you did not
texan wrote:

If you did not even try to stop some of the drugs in the US just think about the millions and billions tax payers would have to spend every year on children with birth defects from dope heads getting pregnant. If you leagalize drugs for the taxes you would not collect enough to cover a fourth of the medical bills caused from drug use.

 

LoL

Huh?!

tictac1's picture
tictac1
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"Some drugs are so

"Some drugs are so overwhelmingly powerful that they remove a persons free will and therefore their liberty IMO"

You mean like cigarettes?  They are considered either one of the most, or THE most, addictive drug, depending on those data you chose.  And yet most people that try them are able to resist becoming an addict, like every other drug.

The "drug" issue is filled with disinformation.  Before coming to any conclusions, you should try to discern the facts, as best as possible.  The war on drugs is immensely profitable, on both sides, so there is a strong economic incentive to propagandize.

Whenever you vote on a law, what you are really doing is telling the government  "I want to pay you to send large armed men to my neighbor's house to _______."  If your purpose is to suppress theft, rape, murder, that's a noble cause.  But when the action you pay them to take is regulating another person's personal life, you are treading very dangerous ground. 

Remember, it wasn't long ago that we had laws dictating people's sexual behavior, too.

Personally, I find other telling other people what to do with their lives presumptious, rude, and just a little self-righteous.

2OLD4OKEYDOKE's picture
2OLD4OKEYDOKE
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Several aspects here --

There are political aspects, social aspects and economic-legal aspects. This being the usually very practical CM site, there could also be, I suppose, practical aspects discussed here or under Permaculture -- such as where to obtain poppy seeds and how to cultivate them -- but there would likely be legal problems incident to those discussions.

I agree with Rep. Ron Paul that the 'War on Drugs' is just not worth the price. That's true of many other wars as well that are currently plaguing the USA. In particular, the war on marijuana and hemp cultivation and commerce contributes to the budget deficit and to the trade deficit. Marijuana prohibition continues because it's a major revenue-producer for governments and also (especially) for public officials.

Here's my 2¢ worth on the details --

1. Political aspect: Ron Paul

I support Buddy Roemer for President, and I strongly support the DISCLOSE Act and the OCCUPIED Amendment -- as introduced by Rep. Deutch in the House and by Sen. Sanders in the Senate.

I admire Ron Paul for taking stands based on the Constitution, and probably in every instance of that, I agree with him. However, I disagree with Ron Paul on trade and monetary policy. That is, I disagree with Paul when he effectively serves as stalking horse for the economic dogma of the von Mises Institute. In particular, although I support USA leaving the WTO, I am opposed to Paul's suggestion that unilaterally dropping all trade barriers would or coud be a successful policy for the USA for most of us who were born and live here. In short, I am a monetarist and a protectionist. See, American Monetary Institute. Also see, www.TradeReform.org (Coalition for a Prosperous America). On taxes, I am of the Henry George school on fundamentals, but for all practical purposes, I follow Citizens for Tax Justice (www.ctj.org), as well as the research of David Cay Johnston.

2. Social aspects: Drug culture is flip side of anti-drug culture

The American people do not really believe the brain-washing, but they are programmed constantly to believe that prohibition is necessary for anything that mass media tells them is evil and should be prohibited. That's how it works. Along with a controlled mass-media state and a security-surveillance state (loss of privacy rights), we have a prohibition state that considers itself to be empowered to go into our bodies and sort out what is good for us and what is bad for us, throwing citizens in jail not for bad behavior but for unacceptable chemical composition of our bodies, presumably indicative of unacceptable states of consciousness. I am opposed to the mass-media state, to the security-surveillance state and to the prohibition state.

3. Economic-legal aspects: 'Drug Wars' and where to draw the line

Drug wars are never fought to enforce prohibition. Drug wars are fought to enforce illicit monopolies in supply-chain distrubition involving 'prohibited' drugs.

In particular, prohibtion of large-scale cultivation of hemp in the USA is detrimental to US agriculture, is a clear example of harmful regulation that distorts markets and tends to worsen our trade deficit.

Some substances must necessarily be controlled by law and regulation. We can't have C4 explosives available at the corner store. But IMO, it's a bad idea to extend regulation or prohibition to include substances that naturally grow around us or that can profitably (and organically) be cultivated in our fields. If naturally occurring plant materials such as marijuana are processed chemically, then a line has been crossed. For example, if grape juice is fermented, that should be exempt from regulatory law as is grape cultivation itself, but regulation of distilled spirits is another matter. In general, there needs to be some regulation of commerce in dangerous substances produced by chemical or industrial processes.
 

docmims's picture
docmims
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texan wrote: If you did not
texan wrote:

If you did not even try to stop some of the drugs in the US just think about the millions and billions tax payers would have to spend every year on children with birth defects from dope heads getting pregnant. If you leagalize drugs for the taxes you would not collect enough to cover a fourth of the medical bills caused from drug use.

They already do get pregnant. i just did a C-section today to deliver a baby with low APGARS because it had repiratory depression from the Oxycontin the family gave her to "reduce her labor pain".  I don't know if she had chronic use, but you know what?  Anybody can get any drug they want, anytime in this country.  The drug war is a total failure.  The only people that benefit are the drug cartel bad guys.

Any teenager arrested for a marijuana charge is condemned to a life of poverty and unemployment from their "criminal record" even if they never do another drug.  They are victims of the drug war -- not of drugs.  They are victims just as surely as the heroin abuser shooting up in his penile vein because he has fried all his other veins.

Drug violence is 90 percent related to the drug war.  The violence is related to drug profits -- not to drug addicts who do petty crimes, but are very ineffective at true violence. 

Anyway, if you look at costs/benefits, i think the drug war costs us way more in innocent lives ruined, than the small increase in lives ruined by a increase in drug use by legalized drugs.  I agree with Ron Paul.  There are not going to be huge numbers of people going out to buy heroin if it were legal. If they wanted it now, they could go get some for 20 bucks in an elementary school near you.

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matt3
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 Well said Doc!

 Well said Doc!

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