Editorial: They Know More Than They're Willing to Admit About the Drug War

David Borden, Executive Director

David Borden
There was a notable moment, back in the early '90s, that helped inspire me to really get involved in the legalization cause. Early in her brief tenure as US Surgeon General, Dr. Joycelyn Elders asked a question about drug legalization at a public event, responding that while she wasn't sure what the ramifications of legalization would be, she believed that legalization would reduce crime, and that it should be studied.

The reaction was fast and furious, and (predictably) mostly negative. Elders later described it as "the day it rained on me." Still, to me it seemed that the issue had come alive. It was a little surreal to see a member of the president's cabinet say such a thing. The debate was stimulated, even if on the political level one might take an adverse lesson.

Another thing Elders said later was that more people agreed with her than were willing to admit it publicly. Senators came up to her at airports, she recounted, saying she was right and they agreed, but politically they couldn't say so. At least one politician defended her on the basis of it being important to talk about an issue where our policy is clearly not succeeding -- John Tierney from Massachusetts, if I remember correctly -- though he didn't stake out a pro-legalization position himself. But Tierney was in the rare minority. For the most part, the establishment rained on Elders -- possibly including people who knew better, and many who knew better failed to speak up at all.

Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, made some interesting comments on the floor of the Senate this week. The subject of the debate was a bill to combat illegal logging, but drugs came up by analogy. I've posted the remarks in our blog already, but they bear repeating:

"The Senator from Oregon [Ron Wyden (D)] made a point that is maybe the central point here when he compared our efforts to stop illegal logging to our efforts to stop the bringing of illegal drugs into the United States. We all know the tremendous amount of effort we go to, for example, to keep cocaine out of the United States. We send millions of dollars to Colombia and to other countries and we try to stop that. But the real problem we have is we are a big, rich country, and there is a big demand for cocaine here. So no matter what we do in the other countries, the cocaine still keeps coming in, and the same with other illegal drugs. Here we have a chance to make a much bigger difference than we can with illegal drugs. We still are creating the demand problem. This is a country that accounts for 25 percent of all the wealth in the world. It is a country that perhaps buys a huge volume of illegal timber from around the world. Well, we can stop that. This is not a drug addiction, this is a business practice, and it is a practice we can stop according to the laws of this country. When we stop it, we will make an enormous difference for our country and for the other countries."

Established that at least one Republican US Senator understands that the war on drugs has no chance of ever succeeding. "[T]here is a big demand for cocaine here. So no matter what we do in the other countries, the cocaine still keeps coming in." But the reason he offers for the demand is suggestive at least that attempts to eliminate demand can have limited impact at best: "[W]e are a big, rich country." People buy drugs, or some people do, because they can afford them. That's not likely to change anytime soon. And ending the poverty that plagues parts of our population -- the usual solution offered from the liberal end of the spectrum -- isn't going to end the drug problem either. Because more wealth to an extent means more drug use too, though poverty can increase the harm the drugs end up causing. Alexander didn't directly say that drugs are here to stay, but he did say that "[h]ere we have a chance to make a much bigger difference than we can with illegal drugs." And to me that statement implies that there are limits to what we can do with the demand as well.

So what is the logical next link in this chain of logic? If we can't stop drug use, the question then becomes, how best do we live with it? As Dr. Elders pointed out 14 years ago this month, prohibition of drugs causes crime. To me an approach to living with drug use that causes crime makes no sense. But while I know that many US leaders understand this (based on what Elders has reported about the aftermath of the event), they seem to mostly be unwilling to say so out loud.

That needs to change -- leadership doesn't always mean saying what's popular. A discussion of drugs and crime and violence that does not address the consequences of prohibition is an incomplete conversation. We who understand this need to stand up and demand a serious debate. The loss each day to our safety, our liberties, to the lives of hapless individuals whom the drug war has hit the hardest, is just too great to allow a continued whitewash.

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Political Facade

Dr. Robert Dupont (of all people) on marijuana policy:

"When I came to the White House, Richard Nixon said, "You're the drug expert, not me, on every issue but one, and that's decriminalization of marijuana. If you make any hint of supporting decriminalization, you are history. Everything else, you figure it out. But that one, I'm telling you, that's the deal."

Since I thought marijuana wasn't very important, I was pretty happy to accept that deal. Later on, I grew restless under that restriction. And when Gerald Ford was president, the first thing I did as White House drug czar was come out for decriminalization of marijuana. I spoke at the NORML conference, and even went so far as to say that it's not just possession, but also growing small amounts for personal use that ought to be decriminalized. That got me a big play. My recollection is the cover--but I'm not sure about that--in High Times magazine.

And it's interesting, because at the time I knew marijuana was not good. And I always spoke about the health hazards of marijuana. I never said it was benign in the sense that it was safe. But I would balance that health message with a message that says we don't want to use the criminal law to try to solve a public health problem. We'll do this by education. It was called a policy of discouragement. You wanted to have a non-criminal policy of discouragement.

Now, what I didn't notice--it took me a long time to notice--was the only thing anybody heard was that I was pro-pot. It took me a couple of years to figure out that, no matter how many caveats I put in there, no matter how careful I was with my language, when it got to the sound bite on the evening news, the only thing they played was that the White House drug czar is pro-pot. That weighed very heavily on me eventually, to think about it. But the initial enthusiasm for it was that this was breaking new ground, and that I was doing something that was forward-looking and very positive. . . ."


Priority: Turn Off Third Rail

Turning off the third rail, the one leading to "soft on crime" attacks against politicians who declare the WOD a failure, should be a priority.

A "soft on crime" attack can be defended by a politician saying, "I'm not soft on crime. I'm tough on bad laws.", consequently pointing out that the U.S. founding forefathers were criminals in the eyes of the British king at the time, because they violated unjust laws.

"I'm not soft on crime. I'm tough on bad laws." even fits on a bumper sticker.


== "I'm not soft on crime. I'm tough on bad laws." ==

It's not so much a matter of being called "soft on crime," it's about being HARD against usurpatory, illegal changes to THE CONSTITUTION, period.

Ron Paul, M.D.
Tough on the Constitution


"Use" And "Abuse" Are Not Synonymous

"If we can't stop drug use, the question then becomes, how best do we live with it?"

Acknowledge and emphasize that 'drug use' and 'drug abuse' are two different things.

The line from use to abuse is crossed when reasonable harm occurs (a crime is committed, a doctor needs visiting, responsibilities are neglected, etc.) It's clearly possible to use certain substances without crossing that line (at least clear to people who have done it). Such use is easy to live with, because no harm is done.

Abuse needs to be prevented, and where prevention fails, treated. The treatment layer can teach us how to improve the prevention layer.

According to NIDA: "Researchers have long recognized the strong correlation between stress and substance abuse."

By perpetually evolving a prominent anti-abuse system that teaches young people how to manage stress, we give them a tool to help them turn away from substances before abuse occurs.

Add to that system proper usage guidelines for each substance (pointing out the level of risk associated with addiction for that substance), we can reduce harm even further for those of us still wanting to enjoy a substance.

As we learn more over time, we improve the system. As we improve the system, we reduce abuse. As we reduce abuse, we reduce crime and negative health. In other words, we produce a healthier, more productive society.

Why wait for the WOD to end before implementing this system?

Building this system to the extent permissible by law can give us a smoother transition into substance legality.

For those of you who think there is no such thing is 'drug use' (any use equals abuse):

Many people say marijuana isn't harmless, but I have yet to find any conclusive, irrefutable evidence proving an instance of marijuana use, in and of itself, causes any harm at all.

Can you provide me that degree of evidence?

abuse and use

But isn't the present state of affairs, such that, the use of any "illegal" drug is abuse? The law is the problem.

Many scientific studies point out the errors. Even the heroin "users" of the Viet Nam war, came back and cleaned themselves up, without any "rehab" help, 80-90%?!! Yes, there is a difference between addiction and use, as well as abuse and use. Ask any knowledgeable pain doctor. That is, those who have not prostituted themselves out to big salaries by injecting the crap out of people and failing 66% of the time to control the pain! Addiction among pain patients is rare. But, I read daily on my favorite blogs that address the problem, that it is getting almost impossible to find a doctor willing to use the, much safer, opiods for the treatment! (much safer than NSAIDs and acetaminophen)

If a doctor tries to treat them, he is called a "distributor". And if the patient needs pain meds on a daily basis, the DEA calls them "addicts". The truth has given way to the emotions! But the prisons aren't full, yet!

The doctor as a "distributor"

I lost an adult child to the drug war. She couldn't find a doctor to treat her reoccurring pain. She turned to illegally obtained prescription drugs in order to sleep got a "bad mix" and died.

Closet reformers

I saw Lamar speak at a "conservative" event back in '95, the year he was in the fray for GOP presidential nomination. His remarks regarding the drug war alluded to an admission of futility which led me to believe that --if out of range of cameras and microphones and in private company-- he'd likely talk about repealing Prohibition and, why not? It's the ONLY SENSIBLE thing to do.

What's with Republicans and their blind allegiance to this Sacred Cow of theirs, the "War on Drugs?"

Then came Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico to come out of the closet and tried stirring up debate to little avail.

Now there's Ron Paul who's never been a closeted reformer and We, the People, need him to become the 44th president for a LOT more than just the drug war.

Ron Paul; a man who I could EASILY see freeing and pardoning all imprisoned drug-offenders within his fist 100 days. Even an Executive Order to nullify that of the Great Usurper, Richard M. Nixon, which created the DEA, perhaps? ( just imagine, reassigning all those agents --and hundreds in the FBI, ATF, ect.-- to hunt for terrorists, missing children, dangerous fugitives, etc. what a blessing that would be!! It's not like the enforcers would be out of a job, they just might be able to do some good and make a difference for a change)

Ron Raul, our only HOPE FOR A FREE AMERICA

They won't say it because we won't say it...

Yes, there are a number of politicians who believe the drug war is wrong. But they feel they can't say so because they also believe the public at large supports the drug war.

And that's the rub, really. There is a significant number of Americans that believe the drug war is wrong, but are afraid to speak up. Mainly it is because they feel no one else will stand with them, and they will place themselves at risk, both personally and professionally, for speaking out. It's the classic chicken or the egg debate.

What is needed is a shield for Americans to gather behind that allows them to stand up and be counted without being outed. And that shield is law and order: Everyone is for less crime, politicians and private citizens alike.

If enough citizens say "Enough," and demand an end to the crime associated with prohibition, then the politicians will find the courage to speak out. Until then, all we can expect is more of the same verbal blowjobs we're getting now.

We The People Defeat Bad Laws

"But isn't the present state of affairs, such that, the use of any 'illegal' drug is abuse? The law is the problem."

The WODS (War On Drugs Supporters) interchange the words "use" and "abuse" to meet their needs (e.g. What Americans Need To Know About Marijuana, an ONDCP document, contains something like 'Marijuana users are four times more likely to report symptoms of depression...', citing a report clearly title 'Substance Abuse Leads To Depressive Symptoms').

That confusing interchange is inundated upon society by community leaders (with little opposition in the mainstream spotlight), and based on voting patterns, has convinced the majority of voters that "drug use" and "drug abuse" are synonymous.

We should understand the critical need to separate the simple terms "use" and "abuse" when we speak, because a) such simplicity permits us to efficiently wield our just message towards the majority of voters, basically saying "Use is good. Abuse is bad.", and b) it helps society address the real problem, which is abusive behavior, not the existence of substances that get people high.

Sadly, even 'abuse experts' say terms like "substance use disorder" instead of "substance abuse", making the problem worse.

You're right. The law is the problem, but to get politicians to remove the law, the voters must demand it to a point in which it becomes political suicide to avoid such removal.

As long as the majority of voters believe "drug use" and "drug abuse" are the same detriment to society, there is no incentive to remove the bad, freedom-violating law that is the Controlled Substances Act.

What the Movement Overlooks

With all due respect, the movement seems oblivious to what former Undersecretary of HUD, Katherine Austin Fitts and others have revealed.

At least half of the drug money is legally laundered by Wall Street Corporations and their banks. That's at least $500,000,000,000.00 (five hundred Billion) dollars a year.

Think the government wouldn't fight tooth and nail to protect that cash flow?

You bet they would and they do.

Very glad to see much local progress, but this is what the movement is up against, imho.

So, if this is the case, how does the reform movement address this?

The Only Hope For America

Is for "We the People" to stand against tyranny.

There is no greater tyranny than to punish people for what they do to themselves.

We need to educate the public at large about what is really going on in the War on Drugs.

Bottom lines:

We have no right to wage war on our fellow citizens over what they do to themselves.

We have no reason to wage the war in the first place, as copious government data readily proves: http://www.briancbennett.com/pagelist.htm

and finally,

We have no prayer -- afterall, even "God" couldn't get prohibition to work: Genesis, Chapter 3, Verse 3

brian bennett

Oblivion Avoided?

We're not all oblivious to http://www.narconews.com/narcodollars1.html. You make a good point, Anonymous. Highly recommended reading.

A small group of U.S. citizens doesn't scare the U.S. government, nor the giants of the private sector. However, a very large group of U.S. citizens, as voters, can make dramatic changes to government personnel, and as consumers, can take down the largest corporation, if they wish. Such a large group is a very powerful engine of change.

We have something the WODS (War On Drugs Supporters) don't have, the truth in that replacing the WOD with an effective system of abuse prevention and treatment is likely a very good thing for society, helping improve society in very dramatic, freedom-supporting ways too numerous to mention in this comment. We should never underestimate this precious asset.

The combination of the powerful engine of change and truth is what will drive our movement to success.

Our movement has a major problem, however, which is the inability to verbally wield the truth like an expert in martial arts executes martial arts moves.

For example, please publish a comment concisely telling us why ending the WOD is a positive thing for society. Any hesitation can be used against us. Imagine someone sticking a microphone in your face on national television with a similar request. You need the quick, ten-second answer that nails it.

While we can be disgusted by vague "Drugs are bad!" types of messages, such message simplicity is effective in the mainstream spotlight (as politicians and advertisers well know and demonstrate), which is where we need to win the debate.

So the questions I have are how do we get into (and remain in) the mainstream spotlight long enough to be effective, and then how do we express our truth in a positive way that gets the engine of change running?

The Only Hope For America Continued

I posted my 'Oblivion Avoided?' reply before reading The Only Hope For America.

Those are good points.j

I would comment further, but I gotta run.

*** For example, please

*** For example, please publish a comment concisely telling us why ending the WOD is a positive thing for society. Any hesitation can be used against us. Imagine someone sticking a microphone in your face on national television with a similar request. You need the quick, ten-second answer that nails it. ***

1) Persuasion is fine, but coercion against a person to live by the assessed dangers other another, is not.

2) There has never been a good war, or a bad peace.

3) Every drug dealer in America would be out of business.

4) 1.6 million arrested for non-violent drug offenses each year, and 500,000 imprisoned. That is a sad state of affairs for a country that refers to itself as the Land of the Free.

5) The Drug War is Un-American.

6) One cannot simultaneously value freedom, AND support a government scheme which denies the individual his/her sovereignty over his/her own body.

7) The drug war has effectively birthed our 51st state; the state of incarceration

8) End alcohol prohibition was a positive thing; you’d think we would have learned our lesson. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

9) Ending the War on Drugs would consequently end America’s unseen and unheard War on Science.

10) Many nonsensical laws are made due to the War on Drugs that violate individual rights – As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual”.

Pick one.

I do like the… “I’m not soft on crime, I’m tough on bad laws”.

The old "tough on crime" scam

Fact is, there would be far less crime if the "use" of "substances" was not criminal . Criminalizing the issue of use or abuse of substances is criminal itself. The policies of ONDCP can be demonstated to be criminal. The enforcement of these policies by DEA are criminal. Manufacturing crimes, (controlled substances act), in order to foster an enforcement/ incarceration industry is criminal. If it's all about the money, you know it's criminal somewhere. The WoDs is a crime against humanity. If you are tuff on crime you may be soft in the head. Why is it that the USA must always appear "tough" on any issue? Is it that "tuff" means order? GOT DRUG WAR? GOT DRUG WAR CRIMINALS!

Wielding Truth

"Pick one."

Those are some good strikes, to continue the martial-arts-expert analogy, but a knock-out blow from the perspective of the majority of voters supporting the WOD, a blow that gets them to change their vote?

I'm no martial arts expert, literally or in word wielding, but I'm suggesting that we need more fact and less opinion.

My 'summary statement' so far is:

"The War On Drugs is a freedom-violating prohibition costing U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually, allowing a black market to thrive to a degree that military resources are used to combat it, all while government teen use surveys show little, seemingly-random fluctuations in teen use. Prohibition doesn't work."

(if I have a little more time, I would add:)

"Replacing the Controlled Substances Act with an effective system of abuse prevention and treatment would strengthen liberty, improve government spending, eliminate the black market, and significantly reduce substance abuse. For the specifics, go to *insert easy-to-remember URL to a concise, clean (e.g. no ads, bipartisan), well-organized, intelligent (but not condescending), hooks-the-visitor-at-a-glance website on the matter*."

Then we need to be prepared to concisely respond to questions that may arise.

For example, "Could you tell us more about this 'system of substance abuse prevention and treatment'?"

To keep this comment shorter, I'll leave it at *insert 'martial-arts-expert' answer here*.

What the War On Drugs Supporters (WODS) basically express is 'drug use is evil', which we need to strongly counter.

Suggested counter:

"The WODS, War On Drugs Supporters, believe drug use is evil, but all they've proven is drug abuse is harmful.

For example, they don't have conclusive, irrefutable evidence proving an instance of marijuana use, in and of itself, causes any harm at all. The WODS have rhetoric and questionable science at best. As such, the WODS are evil in their nasty, unjust attack against freedom."

An important thing to remember is the majority of WODS are Conservatives. As such, our message needs to be embraced by them.

I think that a healthy emphasis on the patriotic aspects ("The Drug War is Un-American.") of our message would be effective.

I think that tying a Liberal agenda to the WOD hurts us.

I think that we should often acknowledge the harm in substance abuse (perhaps before saying anything else), and talk about how we are working hard to solve that problem (noting that we should be working hard to solve that problem).

I think that we should emphasize the positive opportunities that ending the WOD would bring.

Bottom line here?

We have truth on our side. With all due respect and sincere appreciation for the hard work and dedication by the anti-WOD movement to date, I think we need to do a much better job wielding this truth, and, once we're truly ready, getting ourselves into the arena where such wielding is effective (the mainstream spotlight).

Get Conservative support and the WOD ends.

I'm very confident that we can do this, as I've already seen some signs of change in the Conservative parts of the blogosphere.

Tough Talk

Good points, although your delivery seems pretty tough to me. :-)

When I say tough, the definition I mean is "Strong-minded; resolute" (http://www.answers.com/topic/tough)

Perhaps the better statement is "I'm not soft on crime. I'm resolute against bad laws."

Sale Forth

With all due respect, denouncing the WODS as criminals does exactly what for our cause, beside allow us to vent out our frustrations against them?

In a democratic situation such as this one, we need majority support. And right now, the WODS have that support (although perhaps dwindling in our favor).

We need American society to embrace an anti-abuse system that actually works. To get this, we need an excellent sales pitch and a 'product' to back it up.

If a salesperson has a superior product, does he or she need to spend time denouncing competition? No. He or she can just casually rattle off the facts supporting that superiority.

There is no reason why we can't build an effective system of abuse prevention and treatment by analyzing what's in place now, and figuring out ways to improve it.

The better the system, the stronger our position in opposing the WOD, and the smoother the transition will be to a WOD-less society.

I honestly don't know much about drug treatment, but I think that what can be called the prevention layer today is severely lacking.

The prevention layer should be a very well-organized, prominent, perpertually-evolving education campaign that teaches people how to properly handle abnormal stress, the basics about each substance (positive and negative effects, risk of addiction, proper usage guidelines, etc.), citing examples of positive use and negative abuse. Every citizen should be reasonably exposed to this education in a non-annoying manner throughout posterity.

on what to say

One could simply state that the US government's war on drugs is a hypocritical inhumane war against selected plants. Plants are humankind's greatest natural resource providing food, clothing, shelter and medicine. Engaging in a war against humankind's greatest natural resource is unethical, immoral, and by all rights illegal. The US war on drugs targets one plant in particular that is rarely addictive and is known to have some cancer fighting abilities, while at the same time allowing for the adding of carcinogenic chemicals to a highly addictive substance found in another plant that is known to cause cancer and kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every year.

Quite simply, the war on drugs is murder.

No Czar No War

Is it a possiblity that the WoDs will soon fall of it own weight? The heavy load of injustice will simply collapse the house. In a democracy, a thing so constructed as the WoDs , can only go as far as people will let it . Then public opinion says "enough". The pendulum then, swings in the other direction. The next US president has the option of letting the White House Office of Drug Control Policy expire. No Czar no war. Too easy? Not reality? We'll soon see. If this country continues to be a democracy of course. Gravity always wins. REDGREEN

Inevitable Fall

"Is it a possiblity that the WoDs will soon fall of it own weight?"

Possible, and even probable.

That said, the official WOD has existed since Nixon declared it in 1971, and is continuing to increase in size, also noting that the initial attack on a substance began roughly a century ago.

No leading presidential candidate shows any sign of ending the drug czar position. Only a tiny handful of politicians publicly call for an end to the WOD. If we wait, we could be waiting well past our lifetimes.

Our movement is all about getting the majority of voters to "Enough!".

The more effective we are, the sooner the fall.

Debate is great but

Hey we can sit around and debate how to go about changing things all day long but until WE ALL get up to support one candidate we basically go nowhere fast.

Ron Paul has a consistent voting record and you can read his opinions at www.ronpaullibrary.com

Ron Paul can and will win with all our support. Here in New Jersey the reactions we get as we petition and drive our Ron Paul revanloution around the state is incredible. People are beginning to realize that WE HAVE A CHOICE this year for the first time in many peoples entire lives.

Ron Paul is not holding the drug war issue out in front of his plank but he is not hesitant to answer any question. When he gets nominated due to the efforts of hundreds of thousands of very dedicated VOLUNTEERS, this question will come up in the debates against Hillary or Obama. They will try to smear him. That is the moment when all the ideas posted here about standing together in a unified voice must happen! We must stand firm with Ron Paul by writing letters to our reps, local papers, national papers, etc to say we support him and his plan.

If we do not stand together, divided we fall.

Ron Paul Support Is Great But

I would vote for Ron Paul hands down at this point, as he is easily the best candidate from my perspective.

That said...

Ron Paul is very popular among young voters, but young voters are notorious for making lots of noise and then failing to show up to vote (a number of them are even apparently willing to sacrifice their right to vote, for full college tuition or an iPod). People 50 years and older dominate the vote, and the majority of them don't seem quite as enthused about Ron Paul.

While I'll do my best to talk up Ron Paul, my question for you Ron Paul supporters is what are you doing to convince the 50+ year olds to support him?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but in order for Ron Paul to be elected as the Republican nominee, don't his supporters (e.g. you) have to register as Republicans in order to participate in the Republican Primary? How many of you have done that?

Not to provide flame bait, but you can saber rattle all you want about Ron Paul, but his chances of becoming president seem very slim. Please feel free to prove me wrong, as I hope that I am proven wrong.

I also submit that I believe that a healthy debate is the precursor to proper action.

Drug abuse is hardly a problem

Perhaps being so apollogetic is not good for our cause. By apollogetic i mean all the emphasis on making sure they understand that we are concerned about drug abuse. Maybe we should be much more aggresive.

The SAFER campaing for legalizing possesion of marijuana in denver was very aggressive; their argument was practically "marijuana makes our lives safer because the more people smoke marijuana, the less people drink alcohol, and marijuana is safer than alcohol." That argument is hardly even true -why believe that people won't just drink AND smoke pot?- but it worked!

Maybe we should argue "Drug abuse is hardly a problem".

Maybe by being that aggresive we could really get a penetrating notion out there that "This whole WOD is just absurd!!" And when they jump and say "are you crazy!? drug abuse is not a problem!?" We explain "No. Only 1.3% of the population is addicted to drugs. Yet we spend billions and billions of dollars, we increase crime, we overcroud our prisons, build more prisons, fuel a civil war in colombia, support terrorists in afghanistan... and all because 1.3% of the population is addicted to drugs!?"

-that figure, btw, is from the "law enforcement against prohibition" video.

Drug abuse is hardly a problem (continued)

I forgot to add (and this is a very significant point to include): Every single person loses civil liberties so that we can get 1.3% of the population to stop using drugs.

But Abuse Is The Problem

I didn't suggest apologizing for anything.

By aggressive, do you mean with hostility, or just energetic and determined? I prefer the latter, noting nothing I've written in any comment suggests a lack of such aggression.

Voting patterns suggests that from the viewpoint of the majority of American voters, we are the bad guys. Drugs are evil. Those who support drug legalization are therefore evil. As such, anything we say at this point is not to be trusted. Period.

The WODS achieve this false perception by solely displaying, in the mainstream spotlight, examples of extreme drug abuse (choosing only from the 1.3%), proclaiming that drug use is evil.

We need the majority of voters to strongly encourage change in our government, because without that, what's the incentive for our government to change? The 'good' law enforcement enjoys 69 billion taxpayer dollars annually (also a LEAP figure). The 'bad' law enforcement enjoys tapping into what the United Nations calls a 400 billion dollar a year trade in illegal drugs.

While there is a strong effort to end the WOD, evidenced by organizations like this one, voting patterns have only changed slightly in our favor, so far.

I firmly believe that if we focus hard on changing majority voter perception (again, noting Conservatives dominate that false perception) by attacking the WOD lies (with concisely articulated facts only, not opinion) in the mainstream spotlight, we can turn what appears to be slow change (at this pace, it will take decades to end the WOD) into rapid change.

We need an aggressive 'drug use is not automatically drug abuse' public relations campaign targeting mainstream America.

We must publicly demand conclusive, irrefutable evidence proving that an instance of substance 'x' (e.g. marijuana), in and of itself, causes any harm at all. When they fail to provide that appropriate degree of evidence (citing refutable studies, etc.), we show that drug use is not evil, and the WOD is evil for its reckless, freedom-attacking policy.

Coming up with an excellent, carefully-prepared press release for this campaign, and continuously submitting it to the mainstream media (until we get the desired investigative reporting examining the WOD) is one way to gain access to the mainstream spotlight.

High-quality art and merchandise supporting this campaign can also help.

Strongly acknowledging the existence of (not apologizing for) and helping solve the drug abuse problem (even if it's 1.3%) improves our image dramatically, as well as helps improve society.

WODS say legalization would raise that 1.3%. If we implement an effective system of substance abuse prevention and treatment (which I can see no reason why we cannot, effective immediately), we strike a hard, finishing blow against the evil WOD.


Was hopefull this approach would come along. Words, images, slogans, all designed to catch the eyes, ears and minds . Maybe a "face" should be attached. Have to get past "Cheech, Chong " image. Keep things simple,but effective. The word DRUG is demonized past repair. The word MARIJUANA is predominant only in two countries. The WoDs is global . The globe knows the WoDs is a concoction of the USA. And the globe is tired of the USA wars on anything. Of course Hollywood has been trying for years to show smoke use as casual. But a campaign of common sense might prevail under the current climate.Aggressively thoughtful, common sense. The one thing opposition doe's not provide is common sense.

Escaping This Thread

The first thing that needs to be done is getting this public relations campaign idea outside of this thread.

Is David Borden reading these comments?

Mr. Borden, and people like him, are in command of the resources needed to execute this campaign to the excellent degree necessary.

I suggest that marijuana should be the initial focus, aggressively publicly challenging the WODS to:

"Please provide 'We the people' conclusive, irrefutable evidence proving an instance of marijuana use, in and of itself, causes any harm at all."

I put a lot of work into that exact wording, as it is designed to quickly cut through the spin, rhetoric, and refuted studies.

Using this campaign as part of a two-prong-approach (medicinal marijuana being the other prong already well in motion), we should be in good shape.

Once we win the case against marijuana prohibition, the basic principle enabling victory will apply to the other substances. Each substance is vastly different, so each one should be analyzed separately to determine the healthiest way to legalize it.

Some suggested simple slogans:

"Drug Use Is Not Drug Abuse!"
"Legalize Freedom Now!"
"Prohibition Doesn't Work!"
"The War On Drugs Touches Every Major Issue!" (wow, I think it actually does :-)

Mr. Borden, please comment.

Guess what?

So, thankyou warriors for this great diatribe of thought. I am 63 yrs young and what I see is the change of attitude about drugs since the Beatles, and others, proclaimed drugs as part of the CURE and ENLIGHTENMENT of society"s human shortcoming and, well boredom and plain just being stuck. LSD, Psyllysibin, Mescaline and other psychoactive plants, yes, lets use the word plants in place of the drug word, was seen as beneficial to people. This was the original presentation of the early 60's hippie in the park. rainbows, freedom, Spiritual growth Dali LLama, etc was the POSITIVE ATTITUDE portrayed. Of course the Charlie Mansion fiasco gave the press freedom to DEMONIZE plants as evil and paint a picture of debacury and sin. Plants(some) have been part of mind EXPANSION, when wisely used by sages and medicine guides forever. This is SACRED. It is not the evil that conservative fundemental right wingers fear but the SACRED, ectastic, liberating feelings of the human experience. Bring back this attitude and we have a chance. No more getting loaded, smashed, bombed and other derogoratory terms used by the unenlightened. Bottom line is that plants are good and perhaps even God. Peace and Love Sex Plants and Rock n Roll

drug war...

The message is getting out, slowly, to be sure, but it is spreading.
I've been told to not preach to the converted but I have found that every time a pro-pot speech, article or event is publicized, a few more folks are educated.
One fear I have heard repeated is that I am trying to persuade someone to try pot, and thence to become addicted. I have a lot of fun explaining that to the contrary, I just want to be left to grow a little and smoke it in peace, with or with out my friends around me.
I don't know anyone, not even a most aggressive seller I know, who wants to get you addicted to pot (which is physically impossible) but I can sure see the way it is done. Look at the tobacco lobby, the booze makers, the legit pharmas. The money spent on advertising the most potent poisons supports a lot of votes.
Write letters, e-mail your representatives, phone them, demonstrate peacefully, and talk to people. Always be cool, calm and collected, know your material, present yourself in the best possible light, and believe in what you say. Know your facts, be persistent but polite. and always appear friendly and harmless. Appearance is everything so fit your environment'; be dressed and groomed accordingly.
Gee, that sounds like the instructions given to missionaries from several pseudo-religions, doesn't it?
And keep the faith, baby. We're right and we know it.

"Drug use is not drug abuse"

--By aggressive, do you mean with hostility, or just energetic and determined?

I meant reckless in stating facts (and even a little deceptive, the way politicians are (politicians are not apologetic about that)).

"Drug abuse is hardly a problem" is technically a fact. Ofcourse, though, it's only a fact if you look at it in a certain way. Drug abuse is a huge problem for any individual or family, but percentage-wise, to the population as a whole, drug abuse is hardly a problem. (and still, it's kind of arguable that's not true, if you include drunk drivers, and also, if you count cigarrette users as addicts, then that 1.3% would probably rise dramatically). But if you consider only illegal drugs, then "drug abuse is hardly a problem", is technically a fact.

To be honest, though, I more or less take that back. Maybe that would be too reckless. It might have a powerful effect to do a campaign with the slogan "Drug abuse is hardly a problem", and always talk about the 1.3% when defending what we mean, but in the long run it might hurt us more.

It might be better to have a campaign that has "Drug use is not drug abuse" as its main slogan, and on the side remind people constantly "Only 1.3% of the population is addicted to drugs".

abuse of what?

Excuse me, but MY drug use, whether recreation, addiction or medical, is, or should be, MY decision, MY problem. DRUG USE IS A VICTIMLESS ACTIVITY.

Abuse of power by police, prosecutors and judges, on the other hand, damages the lives of millions of Americans every year.

I would remind those who worry about being "soft on crime" that there are also laws against breaking and entering, perjury, excessive force, child endangerment, assault, homicide, theft, destruction of private property and trespassing -- all of which involve victims, and all of which are routinely violated by drug police.

Malkavian's picture

A truth so simple it's incomprehensible

It doesn't really matter if someone really hates, despises and loathes drugs. It is still a fact that smoking a joint or taking a pill does not deserve the label "a crime". It's a risk taken by the user and no one else, but even if it's risky or even stupid ... well, it's still not a crime.

Drug abuse is a social and health issue. It's nonsense to solve these problems by imagining them to be crimes.

You know, all this talk is

You know, all this talk is good to an extent, in the essence that we are motivated towards the common goal of ending the war on drugs. However, we have lost scope of the initial article in these responses. The article offers the point that even the conservatives and people who support the drug war, do not even really believe that it will work. They know that what the pro-legalizers are saying is truth.

Most of the time, a WoDS will not even engage in a debate against someone who is well informed in pro-legalization. If they are not side stepping issues, their responses have nowhere near the strength, and often make fools of themselves.

As in the article, a lot of them (WoDS) AGREE already, but say, "They can not politically say so". This will change as the consensus changes because a lot of them probably see it as political suicide to speak out against the WoD.

So why does the majority feel we should not end the war on drugs? (If that is indeed the case). There are only two possible reasons. 1) They feel it is better than the alternative, which is to legalize drugs. 2) They feel it would send the wrong message to young people, or the general populace.

The first is ignorance, a negation, of what history has taught us during alcohol prohibition. Those who take this stance are defeated by referring to this important lesson in history. Regardless of the factual negative consequences of the war and regardless of the positive consequences of legalization… it is all theoretical to the WoDS without the facts of history to support the claims. However, it is difficult to sum up these facts in some catchy little phrase… except simply, “Prohibition doesn’t work”

The second is defeated only by liberty. It is not the role of government to send messages to us about what is right or wrong. Free people decide what is right and wrong for themselves. Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it is right, or good. Likewise, just because something is illegal, doesn’t mean it is wrong, or bad. They are two different concepts. Just because it is legal for my children to curse at other children doesn’t stop me from effectively teaching them not to do it. The legitimate role of government is limited to protecting the rights of the individual. The government has no right to act as my dad, and neither does any individual, or any majority of people. It is our job as parents to send messages to our children about what is right or wrong. No one else or the government, has a right to attempt doing so for us. The government acts wrongfully to force me to live by someone else’s assessment of dangers. The government has no right to tell me I can’t ingest intoxicating substances any more than they have the right to say I can’t eat unhealthy fast food, skydive, or play football.

This is the underlined stance that we all must stand by, and many of the problems are due to a division even within those who are pro-legalization. Many of those who support marijuana legalization often loathe the idea of legalizing drugs such as methamphetamine. I tell you there is NO difference, in the liberal stance OR the consequential stance. If methamphetamine were legalized… all clandestine meth labs would close, legal manufacture of meth would be safe and have a consistent product, toxic waste from meth production would be safely disposed of, all meth dealers would be out of business, meth addicts would be medically treated rather than criminally. Before prohibition of meth; smoking, snorting, and injecting was almost unheard of… they popped speed pills and that was that. Prohibition has resulted in more dangerous administration activities. It you are for legalization… be consistent… all drugs should be legalized, not just some.

Unfortunately, and disturbingly, the liberal stance will often be shrugged off; when in fact it is more meaningful than the consequential and historic lesson. Those who shrug off the liberal point must then disagree with the principles that America was founded upon (and why it prospered). Therefore, the patriotic argument may be more powerful for some… and summed up with liberty in statements such as, “The Drug War is Un-American”


Why aren't we able to deliver a knockout blow against the WoD?

How do we convince the majority of voters that ending the WoD is a major issue?

Why does the mainstream media remain virtually silent on this issue?

We have a huge number of points favoring our cause, but we haven't projected them right, considering that we're still losing at vote time.

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