Thursday, December 11, 2008

End of Work, End of Affluence IV: Crime and Prohibition

15 new provocative Readers' commentaries--check them out!

Prohibition and recession both create crime. The single best way to lower both petty and organized crime in the coming Depression is to end the failed Prohibition on marijuana. Those seeking the low-cost medical benefits of marijuana would no longer be criminals, and the money wasted on an ineffective "War on Drugs"/Prison Nation could be redirected to taking violent criminals out of circulation.

By a wide margin, no policy has failed more spectacularly and at greater cost in human lives and national treasure than the "war on drugs." No policy runs so counter to well-established research or law enforcement views, yet at the same time no policy is more heavily defended politically as "essential" and "unquestioned."

The "War's" single success is the unparalleled reach of the propaganda machine behind the "war on drugs"/Prison Nation gulag.

Before you freak out and accuse me of claiming marijuana is "harmless," I am making no such claim. I am not a user and don't enjoy the stuff, to be honest, but I can report that many people, especially the chronically ill and elderly, find its medicinal and pain-relief effects are not propaganda but real.

My only claim is that any rational person considering these facts would realize supporters of the War on Drugs are either brainwashed or on the take in some way:

1. One drug has killed approximately 700,000 citizens, mostly innocent victims of the "high" user, since the "war on Drugs" was launched 40 years ago, while hundreds of thousands of other users have killed themselves via suicide or chronic diseases or murdered others citizens in drug-induced rages.

Is that drug marijuana? No. Is it cocaine? No. Is it heroin? No. It's alcohol, of course, good old perfectly legal booze. Drunken driving deaths up in 22 states.

Alcohol also fuels sexual assault and domestic violence: Cannabis (marijuana) vs. Alcohol.......some facts:

a. Studies find alcohol use contributes to the likelihood of domestic violence and sexual assault and marijuana use does not.
b. Studies find alcohol use contributes to aggressive behavior and acts of violence, whereas marijuana use reduces the likelihood of violent behavior.
c. Alcohol use is highly associated with violent crime, whereas marijuana use is not.
d. Alcohol use is a catalyst for domestic violence.
e. Alcohol is involved in nearly 50 percent of all domestic violence cases and the use of alcohol by the perpetrator is a predominant factor in fatal cases of domestic violence. Source: Abrams, Margaret L., Joanne Belknap, Heather C. Melton. When Domestic Violence Kills: The Formation and Findings of the Denver Metro Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee. March 2001.
f. Alcohol use is prevalent in cases of sexual assault and date rape on college campuses. Marijuana use is not considered a contributing factor in cases of sexual assault and date rape, as judged by the lack of discussion of marijuana in sexual assault and date rape educational materials.

"Alcohol is the most commonly used chemical in drug facilitated sexual assault. In large part this is due to the fact that alcohol is easily accessible and a chemical that many people use in social interactions." Given the fact that marijuana is also "easily accessible" and used widely in "social interactions," it is quite telling that marijuana is not even listed at all on this "Drug Facilitated Assault" page.

2. Another drug kills 435,000 citizens a year: Annual Causes of Death in the United States.
Is that drug marijuana? No. Is it cocaine? No. Is it heroin? No. It's tobacco.

3. Legal prescription drugs kill how many U.S. citizens a year?
32,000, but of course that's just an estimate. It's probably much higher.

4. How many deaths can be directly attributed to marijuana?
Apparently the number is statistical noise. (See above sourcing, and Marijuana Data).

"Despite the widespread illicit use of cannabis there are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose. In Britain, official government statistics listed five deaths from cannabis in the period 1993-1995 but on closer examination these proved to have been deaths due to inhalation of vomit that could not be directly attributed to cannabis (House of Lords Report, 1998). By comparison with other commonly used recreational drugs these statistics are impressive."
Details of Cannabis "Related" Deaths (2001):
While only three of the deaths in 2001 are said to have been directly caused by the use of marijuana, there is also the issue of "drug-related" deaths. That is, those deaths in which use of a given drug is said to have played a part in leading to the death, though not necessarily part of the direct chain of events that "caused" a given death. Cannabis "Related" Deaths: 138

5. How much law enforcement time and energy is wasted arresting citizens for posession of marijuana?
Given that hundreds of thousands are arrested for this "crime," we can say "a lot:" Marijuana Arrests.

If that wasn't indictment enough, here's two more crushing facts:

1. law enforcement realizes Prohibition didn't work with alcohol, and it doesn't work any better with marijuana.
2. Drug use in nations with strict drug laws is double that of nations with legal marijuana. So much for "tough drug laws" discouraging use--they actually increase use.

Here are the facts--as presented by a conservative columnist:

Drug warriors against the war (on drugs)
Last week saw the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. In Washington, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) - a group of former cops and drug-war veterans who have soured on America's war on drugs - gathered to celebrate the anniversary, and to argue for an end to America's current prohibition on marijuana and more serious drugs.

Essentially, they believe that the war on drugs creates criminals. Richard Van Wickler, a onetime New Hampshire county corrections superintendent, noted during a LEAP conference call last week that despite America's drug laws, 114 million Americans (out of more than 300 million) have used illegal drugs, 35 million of them in the last year. The law is not much of a deterrent.
World Health Organization researchers found that 42.4 percent of Americans had tried marijuana - the highest ratio of any of 17 countries surveyed. New Zealand, which has tough drug policies, scored a close second place at 41.9 percent. Dutch residents can buy cannabis at coffee shops, yet less than 20 percent of Dutch respondents said they had tried cannabis.

Researchers concluded, "Drug use does not appear to be related to drug policy, as countries with more stringent policies (e.g., the United States) did not have lower levels of illegal drug use than countries with more liberal policies (e.g. the Netherlands)."

Meanwhile, drug prohibition does work, Van Wickler added, as "a wonderful opportunity for organized crime."

It is simply fact that organized crime is the primary benefactor of marijuana Prohibition--global crime networks, and the "war on drugs"/Prison Nation lobby. One way to keep hiring strong in law enforcement and prison systems is to work overtime painting a dark propaganda picture of how that first puff of pot inevitably leads to (i.e. is the "gateway drug") coke and smack (heroin).

The actual evidence suggests addictive drugs like alcohol, tobacco, cocaine and heroin appeal to a certain genetic profile of people, who will get their hands on some addictive substances one way or the other. Those not so inclined have no interest, even if the addicitive substance is free.

I don't have time to post all the research links, but nicotine is more addictive than heroin in terms of the rapidity of the addictive action. Those of us (following the Pareto principle, apparently 80% of us) who have little to no interest in addictive substances somehow tear ourselves away from the cigarette aisle, and if there were packages of MJ (marijuana) on the shelves beside the nicotine, we would be no more interested in them than we are in the tobacco.
So the quickest way to redirect law enforcement, the judicial system and the prison system toward reducing violent crime would be to fully legalize marijuana nationally.

Since street prices of MJ are high, I would further recommend nationalizing the production of marijuana, and grading it much like tobacco. Not only would the Mexican drug gangs no longer be endangering us all by growing marijuana in National forests, but the "product" would be of uniform quality and properly packaged.

If an ounce of high-quality marijuana was priced at $5 and sold with the same restrictions currently in place for alcohol and tobacco, an enormous amount of drug dealing and theft would vanish overnight.

I would also legalize cocaine and heroin, and dispense both drugs to admitted users at low cost via doctors' prescriptions, much like "legal" drugs like Vicodin (also addictive, in case nobody noticed) are controlled and distributed.

"Doc, I'm a heroin addict."
"OK, let's check that out." (Doc performs routine exam.) OK, here's a prescription, and a sheet of paper which describes treatment programs available to you at no cost."

95% of drug-related arrests: gone. (Crank, Meth, Ice, i.e. methamphetamines, would still be totally illegal). 95% of drug sales profiting street criminals and crime syndicates: gone. Meth users likely to switch to legal pot: many.

Here's another fact: booze makes many people impulsive and violent, Marijuana doesn't. Which drug do you want potentially angry, unemployed, disenfranchised citizens high on?

Any citizen in possession the above facts--and some friends in law enforcement who can tell them what dealing with armed, violent drunks is actually like--would choose marijuana. No other answer makes sense.

It's time to move beyond propaganda and "just say no" fantasies and deal with the fact that strict drug laws simply double the number of users, encourage criminality, funnel billions of profits to drug rings and syndicates, and divert billions from the law enforcement we need--to locate, convict and imprison predatory violent criminals--away from failed policies and "make-work" arrests.

In an End of Work, End of Affluence society, allowing people to get mellow with MJ at a low cost will save society from an incalculable amount of violence, mayhem, death, pain and grief created by illegal-drugs-related crime and the stupendously destructive forces of tobacco and alcohol. Those will be still be legal, of course, but if even some small percentage of drug users could be diverted from the known killers (tobacco and alcohol), that would actually be a campaign on needless death we could win.

I know this isn't the propaganda we've been fed for decades, but look at the above facts. What other conclusion is both rational and fact-based?

One last thought: if Philip Morris had grown, harvested and packaged marijuana alongside tobacco, and Proctor & Gamble sold marijuana-based pain relievers and "digestives," do you really think marijuana would have been outlawed? I would be happy to get Philip Morris in on the production and quality control of marijuana, and would be delighted for P&G to enter the MJ-based pain-relief business.

That would be one product the U.S. could export in quantity and at great profit.

15 new provocative Readers' commentaries--check them out!

Here is Part II of Chris Sullins' strategic action thriller, Operation SERF: Operation SERF, Part II(Chris Sullins, December 6, 2008)
It was a half hour after dawn and the early morning light provided enough illumination to the living room via the large broken picture window and open doorway to Eduard Morgan’s home. Mark had regretted allowing his aunt Maria to come back to the home with him to check things out. She was now knees down on the carpet next to Eduard’s body sobbing with her face buried in her hands.
Operation SERF, Part I

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