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Swiss Pol Who Probed Secret CIA Prison System Says Legalize Drugs

In an interview Friday with the Austrian newspaper Kurier and reported in the Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger, prominent Swiss politician Dick Marty called drug prohibition a failure. Drugs should instead be legalized, taxed and regulated, he said.

Dick Marty
Marty was the state prosecutor in Ticino for 15 years and in 1987 won an award from the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association. He was elected to the Swiss Council of State in 1995 and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 1998. He has hold both positions ever since. Marty gained international prominence when he was appointed by the Council to investigate the collaboration of various European governments in the CIA's secret prison program and issued a damning report in 2006.

Drug prohibition has been "a total bust," Marty said Friday. "It only leads to high prices and corresponding profits for the drug mafia, without diminishing the access to drugs."

Recalling his years as a prosecutor, Marty added that it was only the small-time dealers who got paraded through the courts, while the drug lords were "little bothered" and stayed in luxury hotels. And despite the endless low-level prosecutions, it has never been so easy to get drugs, he added.

Money wasted on enforcing drug prohibition could instead be spent on prevention, and after legalization, governments could control the drug sector through regulation and taxation, as is the case with alcohol and tobacco, Marty said.

Although he conceded that "drug prices will fall" and consumption would rise -- perhaps only temporarily -- if prohibition is ended, Marty said societies must confront the problem of consumption, much as the US did after the end of Alcohol Prohibition. He pointed to a Swiss example, as well: the use of heroin maintenance programs to reintegrate hard-core addicts into the social fabric. "These people are supported medically and they can work again," he said.

Ending prohibition must be a global affair, he said, pointing to the emerging discussion of the theme in Mexico as it is buffeted by prohibition-related violence that has left 28,000 dead in the past 3 ½ years. Still, Marty isn't holding his breath. "Worldwide drug legalization isn't going to happen" in my lifetime, he predicted.

Dick Marty is only 65. Let's see if we can't prove him wrong.

Switzerland
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Unfortunate

At least it is movement in a less negative direction, but it is truly unfortunate that Dick Marty can't see that the tax and regulate model brings with it a new class of problems and in the final analysis will leave us as un-free as the current model where the State is presumed to have carte blanche to medal in the most intimate details of our life.

This is simply WRONG. The State has no compelling interest in how I deal with my health issues or how I choose to entertain myself or what I choose to ingest -- period. Only a decriminalization model moves us in the direction we need to go. The State does not need more taxes.

Taxation is inevitable

As much as we would all (and I definitely include myself) like to live within the hippie model of stash-sharing and home-grows, marijuana has become big business. As with any big business, regulation and taxation is part of the package. But even if we were just talking about chamomile tea, there would be taxation and regulation. So, for all who would prefer that Prop 19 go down in flames because it would "involve government" in the business -- guys, government is here to stay.

What we can do is to bring the cultivation, distribution and use of cannabis into the sunshine. Prop 19, while no panacea, will at least do that. When it becomes clear that civilization, as a whole, did not decline and California did not fall into the ocean as a result, you will see other states climbing all over themselves to legitimize cannabis as a business, in order to reap the benefits.

towards decriminalization

Look at the Portugal model. It  is very effective and doesn't involve taxation.

borden's picture

It's only decrim which means

It's only decrim which means it leaves the black market in place.

the alternative market

Black market has such bad connotations. It makes more sense to refer to it as the free alternative market.

borden's picture

semantics

Call it what you want, a brief Google search turns up plenty of evidence that drug selling and trafficking in Portugal is treated as illegal (their threshold is 10 days personal use quantity), and that there is often crime associated with it.

Which in turn means that decriminalization is a good step forward -- Portugal has shown this -- but that ultimately legalization on the supply side is needed also. I don't see your decrim approach as inherently more sensible than a legalization approach at all. (What will work politically is another question.)

Legalization is the only answer...

 

Borden is correct.  America, currently, "claims" to be in an economic cryssis while other sources state it's over.  I can tell you from first hand experience, there are huge barriers for many people maintaining a well paying job, or any job at all for that matter.

Bill Clinton did a lot for this nation... and if we weren't so quick to the scapegoat perhaps we could have avoided the bush administration all together, but perhaps that's a national psychological systemic memetic problem, 'nuff said. 

Obama, despite his wishy washy ways, I believe has our nations best intentions at heart, however it's not the figure head that decides our nations fate, it's a democracy.  I'm sure he can relate with the bush administration more then we know, but at least he has single mothers as a top priority to ensure a good future for the future leaders of America.

Legalization will do a number of things.  Take away power from law enforcement agencies and give them sight to the blind corners of criminal abuse.  It will shine a light on ALL users so that non-violent addicts can get the proper therapy, prescriptions, and or advice on how to maintain proper use and avoid abuse of their substance or substances of choice.

Chemical compounds used to alter states of mind were created by medical professionals, therefore we can see why we have the largest prison population in the world, we are policing substances instead of creating jobs for the FDA and medical field to monitor their use and abuse and deal with it accordingly.

I won't go into the negative ramifications of legalization, it is best to remain optimystic.  It is unimportant, perhaps we won't see legalization, regulation, and taxation in our life times.  However, if America desires the greatness it claims to behold, perhaps it should take a second look at who the law enforcement agencies are allowing to possess and control that which should be regulated and taxed. 

 

However we must remember to have compassion for all beings in all matters pertaining to this subject.

May God Bless America and may we hope for prosperous future for our nation and the nations we are attached to.

McD's picture

Portugal

I don't know what the copyright situation is with re-posting other people's posts from elsewhere online. I suppose I should just summarise this, but I think it's better to get this 'from the horses mouth'. I read this online last night at http://bigthink.com/ideas/21737:

"Nuno Miranda Ribeiro on August 11, 2010, 5:19 AM

I am 35 years old, portuguese and live in Portugal. I have seen how the law concerning drugs has changed over the years. First I'd like to clarify this: the use has been decriminalized, mas [sic] (most) drugs are still illegal. I'm not sure if you use the verb decriminalize in the same way we do. But I think it's pretty close. You have the word "Misdemeanor", and the word "Felony". Our legal system also separates acts by their seriousness and, consequently, their legal punishment. Instead or the word "felony", we use the word "crime" for the most serious actions that are punishable by law. So, by "decriminalizing" drug use, what we did was make the act of consuming drugs less punishable by law. In other words, "it is no longer a felony". But drugs are still ilegal. Possession is illegal. And dealing is a crime (a felony). And the only way to get hold of a drug is to buy it from an underground dealer. I just wanted to make that clear, because it sounded that Portuguese law was been presented as more liberal than the laws in Netherlands. And, being a portuguese, I have a different perception and look at Netherlands' drugs laws as much more liberal than ours. The justification for that change in portuguese law is that drugs adicts should not be looked at as criminals, but as sick people and in need of help, of treatment. They said that the real criminals were the dealers, and law enforcement should focus on them. This is not close to what is proposed here. But I see it as a positive thing. In my opinion it is wrong to fill prisons with drug users, exposing them to more serious offender and criminals. That way prisons are like crime schools, were young people, caught using drugs, will learn their ways in big time criminal activities." 

 

So, we really need to forget this 'decrimilisation' business. Full-blown legalisation, with or without taxes, is the only way to go. The question now is, 'just how and which drugs should be legalised?'

Having said that, I must say living with decriminilisation is better than facing criminal charges.

On a scale any larger than a country the size of Portugal, however, it wouldn't be possible to sneak decriminalisation under the UNODC radar, as Portugal did, anyway. Do remember, Portugal was derided, ridiculed and subject to intense pressure to mend their wayward folly from all official sides - the UNODC and other such guardians of our souls - for several years. It's only recently, shortly prior to the appointment of Yuri Fedatov being made public, that the heat on Portugal has been turned down.  

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