Ed's Rants


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"The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile and children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent. "

-Billy Sunday on prohibition

I have some bad news... we have lost the War on Drugs!

I could burn up some bandwidth providing myriad examples of how thoroughly we have failed to control drugs, but I am going to go forward with the assumption that anyone who does not realize that this war is completely lost is too immersed in a state of denial to bother with. I will settle with the presentation of a single statistic; drug overdose is the fifth leading cause of inmate death in state prisons ( US Dept of Justice).

Think about it, the death rate from drug overdose is actually greater within an environment where the government holds the keys than it is among those running free. So, if you can't keep drugs out of the hands of people confined under lock and key, what are our chances of keeping drugs from those who we don't have locked up? NONE!

In all of history, has any government including totalitarian states, ever been able to successfully ban anything? NEVER!

Now try this question, even if the government was able to successfully eliminate all controlled substances what effect would that have? There are two possible answers. One is the official government stand that people would immediately abandon all attempts at substance abuse and become model citizens. Second is the answer that would be derived by historical reality, people would either turn to prescription medications or start doing even stupider things like sniffing "Transmission Go." There are endless ways of getting high, if you are sufficiently motivated.

The most amazing thing is how little we learned from prohibition, that is assuming that anything was learned. Historians will tell you that decreasing the supply of alcohol invariably resulted in a rise in the price people would pay which brought the supply back up. Another well understood, except by lawmakers, concept is Thorton's Law which states that when substances are made illegal the potency invariably goes up. In other words, whiskey was no more risky to provide than beer, so bootleggers went for the more profitable whiskey. In today's world, cocaine is more profitable to import than marijuana, so while marijuana may, at times, be difficult to get, there is always plenty of cocaine.

Unfortunately, we are "blessed" with a government that chooses to invent their own reality rather than allow facts to stand in their way. Year after year the facts verify that drug use is climbing even while our "leaders" claim to be winning the war on drugs. They consider an addict "successfully treated" if they can go 30 days without testing positive. needless to say most addicts are "successfully" treated on a regular basis. I read of one lady who was arrested while celebrating her 50th successful treatment. Any one want to guess what the charge was?

Bizarrely, our government seems unable to understand that just like prohibition provided the birth of organized crime the current war on drugs is keeping organized crime profitable. Meanwhile, this is how one DEA agent described trying to take the dealers off the street, "It's like sweeping sunshine off the roof."

The war is over... except for the shooting!

Do not mistake my point, drugs ARE bad. The question is how we are going to respond to the challenge. We have our jails so stuffed with minor drug offenders that we are letting dangerous criminals out early to make room for them. Is it possible that the $30 billion that we spend on the drug war might be better spent treating the disease, instead of punishing the ill?


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