One e-mail titled
"short and sweet" had a suggestion that indeed fit that bill: "Drug
prohibition is a waste of time, resources, and lives. It hurts people
who need our help. E-mail me at ___ and I'll tell you more."
The advantage of this line, in addition to its shortness, is that it expresses
the anti-prohibitionist viewpoint in terms of values that most people share
-- not hurting people, especially the people we say we're trying to help,
not wasting resources on a system that doesn't work. Something it
doesn't do is provide the listener, who might think prohibition is helpful,
with our arguments as to why it is not. But it is still pretty good,
and giving out the e-mail address is a nice touch.
"It didn't work for alcohol,
and it's not working for drugs" -- a succinct expression of an historical
analogy that people are likely to understand. From the same reader:
"It is a public health issue, not a criminal issue, and we don't lock up
fat people." "Using drugs does not make you a criminal -- just ask
George Bush." "The war on drugs creates more casualties worldwide
than drug usage does." Another reader offered this one on the same
idea: "We were smart enough to repeal alcohol prohibition.
Another reader offered these
among others: "Because legalization allows for regulation and control."
"Because the last time somebody shot up the neighborhood in a liquor store
turf war was the '30's." "Because I need protection from murderers
more than I need protection
from junkies and stoners."
LEAP's Howard Wooldridge,
whose picture with his horse and cross-country traveling companion Misty,
said he has used the following throughout the nation with positive effect:
"Why do cops want to legalize drugs? To focus on drunk drivers and
child molesters, cut crime in half, and stop funding terrorists."
Bob Newland of South Dakota
wrote, "There's a lot of evidence that prohibition laws create massive
corruption and reduce the effectiveness of programs designed to help people
who use harmful substances to excess."
Jay Fleming of Law Enforcement
Against Prohibition (whose "Cops Say Legalize Drugs -- Ask Me Why" t-shirt
inspired this discussion) assured me you get used to this if you wear the
t-shirt enough and had some great suggestions: "a 12-year-old can
walk into a bar to try and buy alcohol and get thrown out. The same
12-year-old walks up to any drug dealer and get drugs." "The only
one controlling the purity of drugs, where drugs are sold, to who, and
where the profits go is the drug dealer. If you want to control something,
it must be regulated." "There are no gangs fighting over whiskey
territories or anything else that's legal. Gangs are fighting over
territories covering drugs. Drug prohibition creates a black market
with enormous profits that attracts the criminal element and gangs.
With marijuana literally worth its weight in gold, as long as people can
grow gold in their basement this will not stop."
"jackl" of the blogosphere
suggested, "No one would suggest putting millions of alcohol consumers
in prisons and their children in foster care as a way of 'protecting kids.'"
Mark Haden of Canada suggested,
"All jails have lots of drugs in them. If prohibition does not work
when we have individuals guarded and in cages it will not work on our streets,"
and "The black market [created by prohibition] produces violence, crime,
disease, corruption and death and sets up a system that makes drugs widely
available and engages our youth."
This one strives to cover
a number of the many prohibition-related problems in a breath: "Because
it doesn't work! Drugs are as plentiful as ever and almost everything
we identify as the 'drug problem' is not inherent in the drugs but is a
direct result of prohibition; such as: crime, violence, overflowing prisons,
lack of treatment facilities, corruption, third world upheaval, the evisceration
of civil rights, destroyed lives..."
Consistency is a prohibition
issue: "Why have the presently illicit drugs been selected for prohibition
while similar drugs have not?," Australia's Peter Watney wrote.
Then there is the futility
and counterproductiveness of it: "Because 60 years of the present
policy has made things worse." "Because there are more drug users
dying today than when drugs were not prohibited."
A lot of people out there
don't buy the freedom or rights argument for drugs, unfortunately (and
inconsistently), but that doesn't make it unimportant. If this is
the kind of argument you want to make, our readers had some ideas:
"It is my mind and body." "Freedom to pursue happiness." "Freedom
from incarceration." "Freedom to get into trouble. Freedom
*not* to get into trouble." "Under what moral authority does one
adult punish another adult for ingesting harmful substances?"
I was not thinking of marijuana-specific
arguments when I put this question out, but that is an approach that many
advocates take (because of marijuana's relative mildness and safety), and
we got some suggestions for it: "Because 800,000 Americans are arrested
each year for marijuana, which is clearly non-addictive and less harmful
than alcohol." "No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose; it
is a natural plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years.
Also, it has a number of medicinal properties." Robert Holsinger
excerpted from his blog: "Marihuana arrests mess up peoples' lives
far more frequently than the herb itself."
More short and sweet ones:
"End the drug war, save lives." "Because the fruits of drug prohibition
are crime, corruption, violence and death." "90 years and still no
light at the end of the tunnel" (Timothy Colgan of Washington state).
"When drugs are outlawed, only outlaws will have drugs" (Robert Cook).
"We've got bigger fish to fry, and better ways to spend our tax dollars"
(also Robert Cook). "It just doesn't make sense when you look at
the strategy and the results" -- good if you're not sure what someone's
beliefs are, according to the author. "Prohibition is an experiment
which has failed" (Dave Michon). "Because dealers don't ask for ID!"
"The war on drugs is a failure,
it costs billions and has not stopped anyone from getting drugs if they
want to. We should stop wasting tax money on a war that cannot be
won any more than prohibition could stop drinking."
"Anytime you make something
in demand illegal, you merely create a black market. Would you rather
the profits go to criminals or farmers and taxes?" "Who do you want
to control your children's access to drugs, drugstores or dealers?"