What Motivates the Leaders of the Drug War?

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Following this week's departure of DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, Pete Guither explores the motivations of the shot-callers in America's brutal war on drugs. Are they serious? Cynical? Smart? Stupid? Insane? Who would want to put their name on something so grotesque, only to walk about each day insisting that it is gorgeous?

Years ago, I interned for Eric Sterling at CJPF and asked him what motivates the proud champions of this great disaster. Eric used to write federal drug laws, and while he did so as an observer rather than a drug warrior, he's been closer to the belly of the beast than most. I don't remember everything he said, but the point that stuck with me was that, as a nation, we've invested so much in the name of destroying drugs.

To wake up and acknowledge this colossal error is to trivialize the incalculable sacrifices we've already made. For all the lies told and lives lost, those responsible have a powerful incentive to maintain that victory awaits atop the hill. This is necessary so they may sleep at night, and also to placate the many Americans who still willfully sacrifice their tax dollars to the war and their neighbors to the gulag.

The actual depth of their convictions notwithstanding, the mighty drug war architects surely feel the pressure of widespread and growing intellectual skepticism that now surrounds them at every turn. For this reason, one can never overstate the extent to which prohibitionist political posturing is now shaped literally by a desire to refute and antagonize their opposition. The more outrageous their positions become, the more evident this is. That is why, when discussing simple commonsense issues like medical marijuana and hemp, the drug warriors are quick to dismiss their critics as instruments and/or representatives of the "pro-drug lobby."

They are driven, at least in part, by pure animosity towards us; a deep-seated compulsion to reject our philosophy. They believe that associating an idea to our movement is inherently derogatory to that idea, thus they brand as "pro-drug" anyone who opposes them, despite the failure of that label to even vaguely describe our agenda. It is enough to make one wonder what sorts of bizarre things they could be cajoled into saying simply by proposing the opposite.

As Pete stresses, we cannot claim to know what goes on between the ears of the bold and brave bureaucrats that give drug war orders from behind their desks in D.C. We can only guess what they are thinking. But the consequences of the choices they make are very real and very hideous to behold.
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Money motivates them!

I was a prosecutor in Baltimore City for a few years. Hardly anyone actually believes in the drug war - cops or prosecutors. But they can all get paid quite well for it. We can live our little middle class lives off the backs of the poor Negroes whose lives are destroyed by this war. No one cares about public health or safety. Everyone just cares about her paycheck and what sort of trinkets she can buy at WalMart with it.

Bill Cooke

The Program

Personally, I think it's a lot more sinister than most realize. It's all about making the world "drug-free". The only way to do that is through absolute global social order. There are a few people at the core of all this who believe that is not only achievable, but that it is desirable. They believe this religiously.

It all started with The Seed, spread into the government, like this, and has been exported around the world, like this: http://dfaf.org/about/founders.php

Yeah, way too bizarre for most anybody to swallow. But the current drug war doesn't just *look* like the actions of a totalitarian state, it actually originated in one. It's a viral program that disables the logic capabilities of those affected, and was originally designed to do one thing: fix social defects and maintain absolute order.

No shit.

i agree

it took me many years to arrive where i am now, but i no longer kid myself that the drug war is anything but the embrace of fascism.

Micah Daigle's picture

"Do it anyway"

Back in the summer of 2004, I visited the D.A.R.E. International Training Conference to gather intel for SSDP. The two keynote speakers were Karen Tandy and John Walters. I offer a snippet, verbatim, from Walters' speech to a room full of D.A.R.E. officers, which I believe sheds some light on the inner workings of the man's twisted noggin:

"I also came here to thank some of you who have, and urge some of you who haven't -- your colleagues -- to help us with two other things that I think are important. As you know, one of the great manifestations of cynicism about this problem is the enormous and extensively funded campaign to legalize drugs in the United States. No people are more affected by the confusion this causes than the young people you are trying to work with. We have adopted the aggressive posture of going into states where this has been proposed as ballot initiatives, and will be on the ballots in some states again this year. We have aggressively gone to state legislatures where these measures have appeared in the last year. I want to thank, sincerely, those of you who represent states and officials, some of yourselves, who have spoken up. You know that when you speak up, that this has become a very nasty debate. Of criticism, accusing people who have public responsibilities of meddling in partisan politics, of using money to try to present lies to young people, and to criticize those who stand up and tell the truth. I'm coming to ask you to stand up with us again. They WILL criticize you. They WILL try to stop you. They WILL try to shut you up. DO IT ANYWAY."

Translation: "The White House has been illegally campaigning against the will of states who believe that it is barbaric to lock up seriously ill people for easing their pain with marijuana. Of course, this is probably going to send a message to our nation's kids that the federal government is run by a bunch of heartless thugs. We need YOU to convince them otherwise. Good luck."

If I am able to find the right equipment, I'll upload the entire speech to YouTube one of these days.


If you upload it, I will blog it.

Micah, Good Story!! Please


Good Story!! Please hook it up with the video! Although I've had plenty of experiences that really hammered home the contrary, I really believe that we can combat ignorance by exposing it.


Stupidity and Ignorance

Stupidity and Ignorance


Motivation is a big question.  I’ll try to narrow it down to maybe a few motivations.

At least one trigger or flashpoint that sends people into some hysterical anti-drug crusade is when parents have problems with their kids’ use of drugs. 

The consequences of drug use can range from zero to the ultimate, but that’s true of any potentially dangerous hobby.  Riding a motorcycle is dangerous.  Motorcycles injure and kill people every day.  But if tragedy happens on a motorcycle, no parent responds by making a career out of busting Harley Davidson dealers, or those pesky Suzuki dealers (at least no one I’ve heard of).

It’s easy to redirect fear, anger, grief, and even an illness onto an inanimate object. Get rid of the object and fear, anger, grief or illness supposedly disappears with it.  It’s called scapegoating.  If someone comes along who fears drugs like pot or mushrooms will open the doors of perception in a way that shines a light on incipient fascism; or exposes fascism’s enablers, the religious right, then any opportunity to scapegoat this dreaded tree of knowledge will be explored and utilized. It is, after all, a war.

A perfect example is the case of entertainer Art Linkletter and the suicide of his daughter, who jumped to her death ostensibly as a result of an LSD ingestion, although the drug was never detected in her system in the autopsy, and is now believed to have played no part whatsoever in her death.  Apparently, she’d taken LSD two-years prior to her suicide.

In a TV interview Linkletter admitted it was the positive-thinking guru, the pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan for 52-years, the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, who redirected Linkletter in the midst of his fatherly grief to go on the road to tout a high profile anti-drug campaign.  It was during this time that Linkletter made an idiot of himself in front of Congress and the world by displaying his ignorance of recreational drugs and the drug culture.

The motives of authoritarian leaders need not be the same as the motives of their authoritarian followers.  Scapegoating complicates the drug war in a way that allows the puppet-masters to disguise their motives.  Understanding the scapegoating process usually nullifies its effects.  Just say know.    

Trivia Addendum:  Coincidentally, the words “pharmacy” and “pharmaceutical” come from the Greek word pharmakos, which means scapegoat.


sick of the drug war

i've said it before and i'll say it again; you guys and gals are the real heroes in this mess. i know the word "hero" gets passed around like a drunken cheerleader, but i wanted to give credit where it's due. your work is inspirational.

I've come to learn that legalization is not the way to go

Give me a break. Why are you all such conspiracy theorists? Drug warriors simply want to see the world as drug-free. While there are some ideologues among them, they are genuine.

All we want is free drugs. COME ON PEOPLE WAKE UP!

Problems are profitable.

Anyone who still believes the magnitude of incompetance that's been institutionalized by
'drug war dinosaurs" could be unplanned is naive. The motivation for the economics of punishment is manipulation of global markets based in scarcity.

Prohibition is beyond counter-productive, not merely a costly failure.
How could a policy that erodes the Rule of Law, as does prohibition possibly be legal?

Ofcourse it's not.


Free Andre Furst!

Minutes to Midnight

Cannabis agriculturists being imprisoned for carrying out their essential work reveals a perversion of the justice system so extreme as to portend synergistic collapse of structures upon which we all depend. Andre Furst must immediately be released, as the Cannabis plant is being globally (though much too slowly) recognized for its true value. I suggest that we all see clearly that, because of the importance of Cannabis for "atmospheric forcing," our survival may depend upon how much Cannabis we can grow, how fast.

At this time of the year in many countries of the world, the "Million 'Marijuana' March" translates to a global harvest celebration. I suggest that people who profit from sale of the herb would do well to consider how directly their own freedom to farm is connected to Andre's. Will the Cannabis culture rally support for Andre's release, before the court mistakenly renders its misanthropic decision?

My vision of what may be needed is an on-line digital video film blitz, with all the films of Chanvre Info that have been made, broadcast everywhere possible, along with the call from the Global Cannabis Culture for his release. I believe it is important for people to see what Andre has achieved, and why it is worth praise not prison.

I will let you all know when I manage to coordinate this in some form on-line, and encourage you all to gather the digital videos that you have made or know of. In the meantime, anyone who would care to help is invited to contact me off-list.

The international drug policy reform, harm reduction, medical marijuana, hemp agriculture community had better stand up for Andre Furst, to make certain he is immediately released. Shame on anyone who turns their backs on the best hope for our species. Cannabis agriculture has the potential to be a primary mitigating measure, producing atmospheric aerosols and sequestering carbon to heal global UV-B broiling and warming.

Andre Furst is an exceptionally courageous ambassador for the world's most ancient global culture. For him to remain in prison is an international outrage of global and historic dimensions. To outlaw such an eloquent expression of how the world could and must eventually be is a crime of immense gravity.

I extend my heartfelt condolences to Andre Jr. and family Chanvre Info. Next spring, it is my individual intention to replicate the model of sustainability exactly as Andre Furst has accomplished with Cannabis at Chanvre Info.

Failure of the Swiss courts to free Andre Furst, and primitive violence being threatened at the farm, are symbolic of each other. If the inhumanity of the irrational is inflicted then we will all be set back by it.

Andre must not be allowed to be culled from the progressive herd by a chemically corrupted court. His expertiece in biodynamic Cannabis agriculture and sustainable manufacturing of fuels, essential oils, and building materials is invaluable. It is the trail that we all must take, as soon as possible, if our children are to inherit a liveable planet.

Cannabis agriculture is not optional. It is morally obligatory, out of proportionate spiritual respect for the rights of past, present and future generations to use "every herb bearing seed."

Posted by Paul J. von Hartmann at 9:45 PM 0 comments

Money and "Messages"

I think Bill is right: drugs are almost as big an industry for law enforcement, courts and prisons as they are for drug dealers themselves. They're even a source of employment for people like me, who work on the defense side of the law. Money, I think, explains why so many people are so complacent and simply don't give a damn one way or the other about whether the drug war works or what its collateral consequences might be. It's a lot like the way the need to have jobs made us fairly indifferent to environmental issues for decades: we just prefer not to think too hard about these things because it will screw up our established way of life if we start taking them seriously.

The more mysterious thing, for me, is the people who are sort of the "drug war intellectuals," if that's not an oxymoron. I don't think these folks are driven by "animosity" so much as a conviction that is essentially moral in its character. They just feel that (some) drug use is bad, and refuse to consider any policies other than "war" on drugs. It's kind of like "abstinence only" campaigns that refuse to discuss condoms because condoms might imply an endorsement of sex. Never mind that the policies don't really work: it's all about the moral message they send.

In its origins, a lot of drug prohibition policy was profoundly racist and classist, and was very obviously a tool to marginalize immigrants, blacks, etc.. Today, the moral theorizing that supports the war on drugs doesn't use the racist vocabulary and probably many of the people who continue to act as architects of the policy don't think of themselves as racists. Nevertheless, the policies that they promote have always had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable segments of society, and they still do today.


I would have to agree as a drug war victim everything is based on money. I have seen in my own life, and in numerous other people's, the state of Illinoise paying bond for cocaine and heroin charges, but not for marijuana. This is because if you let an addict out after sitting in jail for a day or so you will catch him doing the same thing the next day. Where as if someone is caught buying marijuana they will not return the next day they are not addicts in the same sense of the word.
But ask yourself this question who regulates drug prohibition? The government. Who creates laws and institutions to deal with this prohibition and the effort it requires? The government. So for the drug war to end the government would have to get rid of part of itself, its own employees, and even whole institutions( like the DEA). So think about this would the government fire its own employees because its the 'right' thing to do? Can we trust government to ever do the 'right' thing?

Not only money

This is an excellent topic, and one that I believe is too frequently overlooked in the drug policy debate. I have worked for DEA for a little over 10 years, and in my opinion the issue is more complex than most of the posts so far imply. Here are a few observations I'd like to offer:

1. Most "drug warriors" don't consider themselves that at all. It is a job-- sometimes a good one, sometimes a bad one, and sometimes a boring one. Like a beat cop, a tax collector, a repo man, a car salesman, an insurance adjuster, or nearly every other job, it entails doing things we don't agree with because of idiotic policy, inept leadership, or both.

2. There is a fair degree of harm reduction sentiment within law enforcement, and particularly within DEA. Look, the vast majority of DEA agents got into the job to go after truly ruthless dealers, violent Colombian and Mexican cartel/cell heads, etc. I can't say for certain, but my sense is that a sizeable majority disagree with busting medical marijuana clubs, small-time dealers, doctors who overprescribe pain pills (according to Tandy, at least!), etc. CHECK OUT LEAP.CC!!! Sorry about the excessive capitalization, but I really implore you to do so. More than once I have shared their promotional DVD with a co-worker and was told, "I thought I was the only one!"

3. DEA, and all federal law enforcement, falls under the executive branch. As the name implies, its job is to "execute" the laws passed by congress. One of my frustrations about the harm reduction/decriminalization movement is that it tends to focus on DEA and ONDCP as targets. We only enforce the laws that the people you elected pass. That energy would be much better directed at your elected officials-- DEA can't make laws!

4. Your observation that the response of "drug warriors" toward reform advocates is driven by animosity is somewhat true-- again, that certainly applies more to policy makers than to the rank-and-file. The larger issue is an increasing "us vs. them" attitude that is infecting law enforcement. Hardly a day goes by without another video of an innocent (or, let us remember, presumed innocent) person being tasered, beaten, threatened, shot, etc. by a cop. Law enforcement is becoming dangerously militarized, and the risks are far more significant and far-reaching than drug reform. We are living in the dawning of a police state.

5. On a related topic, remember that the "war on drugs" (and particularly the war against marijuana users and pain doctors and patients) is less about substances than it is about government control of your life. With the income tax, the government essentially exerts control over your entire income, since it has the power to set any tax rate it pleases between 0% and 100%. One of the primary goals of the drug war is to exert control over your body. You can get relief from pain, anxiety, glaucoma, etc if big brother says you may; otherwise, you can't. The issue isn't drugs. Drugs are the mechanism and the means. The issue is control. Maybe that sounds crazy, but to paraphrase P.T. Barnum, "nobody ever went broke underestimating the wickedness of the government."

So why don't more of you

So why don't more of you guys speak out publicly? It would make a world of difference if the American public could see that reformers aren't just a bunch of druggies. LEAP is great, but for the most part, they're retired, right? I've talked to several cops who have said that continuing down this path is huge waste of time and resources, and downright immoral. But they usually only say so in private.

Howard Wooldridge (LEAP's man in DC) said there was one congressman who agreed with him, but didn't want to say so publicly unless he could have a bunch of cops literally standing behind him. Howard told him he could get *retired* cops, but that wasn't good enough for the congressman.

As a side note, the same goes for most far-right wingers, and even teachers I've talked to. I really don't think the vast majority of the people support this insanity any more, but they just remain silent, and the political charade goes on.

DEA Objectives

Being an employee of the DEA, you are in a much better position to bring about change from within than we drug reformers are in trying to bring change from without. I hope that you will further your efforts.

Regardless of the law enforcement objective of the DEA, there must be some overall realization by the DEA and ONDCP that issues such as medical marijuana are a public relations disaster of monumental proportions. The fake drug propaganda affects not only the credibility of drug enforcement, but that of the federal govt. as a whole. Although, with Bush currently in the Whitehouse, nearly any information coming from the federal govt. could just as well be originating from some supermarket tabloid.

The communications revolution means that the old methods of social control no longer work. Modern societies can no longer get away with treating their citizens as ignorant children by lying to them. I would really like to see the ONDCP/DEA focus on the truth, and a mea culpa for past prophylactic misinformation would be refreshing as well.

Maybe at some future date, enough truth about individual drugs from the govt. will create enough trust in the govt. to achieve certain health goals regarding drug use without resorting to prohibition. However, the popularity of soft drugs such as marijuana will continue regardless of any and all drug enforcement efforts.


That is actually a great

That is actually a great idea. A mea culpa from the government for all their Drug War misdeeds is more than overdue. When a government gets caught engaging in something that comes to be (later) widely recognized as egregiously ignoble, they usually issue an apology and or perform some other small act of good faith that.
Ex. -Japanese Internment (Executive Order 9066 and resultant acts)
-Many early 20th century injustices

I know it took forever in those cases, and I feel like as a youngster hearing some such apologies contemporaneously I remember thinking how shallow and small of a gesture, way too little, way too late, it was to atone for such a misdeed. However, I have since realized these apologies and acceptances of responsibility serve an important purpose. Reminding ourselves of our past misdeeds distinguishes our current government as 'enlightened' in contradistinction to the moral bankruptcy demonstrated by the old government's misdeeds. That is a more Machiavellian purpose. There is also relevance here to the otherwise over-used Holocaust adages "Never Forget" and "Never Again."

P.S. As I was writing this and thinking about it, there's plenty (if not plenty more than not) deplorable injustices which are barely, if even, publicly acknowledged, to say nothing of being apologized or repented for. EX. Latin America; U.S., and many more.


So, you now know the wrongmindedness of your former employer. But, backwhen ,you were just following orders. They tried the same nonapologetic excuses at Nuremberg in 1945. We forgive you anyway. I hope that your present job does not entail being a fascist. War crimes are war crimes, and your former employer has declared it a war. LEAP is a 12 step program for former offenders, but I support it.

What Is The DEA? That's Obvious!

DEA = Dumb Evil Assholes


To the DEA agent

1. I've had jobs I didn't LIKE, but never one where I "did things I didn't agree with" -- in other words, things you know are wrong. "Just doing my job" didn't fly for the Nazis, and it don't fly for cops.
2. Harm reduction? Oh, you mean like kicking in my door in the middle of the night, holding my CHILDREN at gunpoint while you ransack my home? And since we all know that the "ruthless Mexican cartels" WOULD NOT EXIST without YOU, tell me, who reduces the harm YOU do?
3. "Execute" is a very good word for what you do -- either gun us down in cold blood or take our lives away one piece at a time; "enforcing" the laws -- what about laws against breaking and entering? child endangerment? perjury? theft? excessive force? I could go on, but you get the picture; the cops who busted me broke more laws in that ONE day than I have in my entire life.
4. YOU might be living in the "dawning of a police state," out here it's high noon. And don't blame the people for the "Us versus them" attitude of law enforcement --"Us" (cops) have guns and badges, grenades and tanks. "Them" (the people) have homes and families. What are you afraid of?
5. I've known for a long time it ain't about drugs. It's about arrogant, self-serving politicians who are willing to sacrifice our lives and the lives of our children to further their own careers. So, why is this okay with you?

This is the reality...

Only users lose drugs.

"users lose drugs" great quote!

Alcohol is a drug! I guess a great many of the people in this country are losers, then! I don't drink, myself! And I don't use or encourage the use of alcohol, or any other drugs, either! I spent my career trying to stop it! But, I should have not been playing cop!

But, the crap has to stop sometime! I think it is time to prohibit alcohol again!! At least, if you really think it will work, any better than it did the last time! It is really much more toxic than many other "drugs". Hypocrisy reigns!

DEA>you have seen the enemy> YOU

If you really are DEA and you really have begun to see the light, why not show the courage of your convictions...RESIGN./ QUIT. USERS and NON-USERS LOSE THEIR RIGHTS. Right on Rita.

Great iDEA!

Nothing boosts a drug's popularity like prohibition. . .

Why the Drug Warriors

Perhaps you have to be my age (late sixties) to appreciate that the "war against drugs" today is primarily cultural. If you were old enough to "appreciate" the 50's (totally rigid and censored ) you would realize what a "liberating" decade the 60's was. So many "cultural" taboos were broken. It was represented, in part, by the use of drugs.This was (and still is today) totally unacceptable to the "cultural conservatives" who flourish and have great power in this administration.
To soften the laws on drugs is to surrender to the hippy, free love, peaceniks etc. culture. TO THE EXTANT THEY CAN PREVENT IT THIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED
Unfortunately, they have convinced the generally uninformed, that they are 1) doing god's work
2) saving our children
3) preventing crime (which they, of course, created)


Prohibition is driven by all that is negative in the human psyche---it's now faltering; indeed, the whole rotten edifice may be approaching the point of collapse. They've fooled people for over seventy years, but that's about to change. If, tomorrow, it slips into the slime from which it came, it still won't be soon enough.

Government wants it to be pharmacuetical drugs not drug free....

You have to remember the food and tobacco and the pham. companies pay billions of dollars a quarter to keep marijuana illegal. If the war on drugs were to end then where would all the gov't funding for the dea go...President is not going to get rid of his friends in the dea..Would you let go of one of your buddies if you didn't need him any more. NO!

It is Already a Police State!

we're way past the slippery slope and already off the jump ramp. the only mystery is whether or not we stick the landing. but it doesn't look good:

for the truly heinous act of lighting plants on fire and inhaling the ensuing smoke to amuse ourselves, our "leaders" have decided that the threat we present to society is so grave that we must be subdued with extreme firepower, violence and death.

wait 'til you see what they do to us in the name of "protecting" us from terrorism.

brian bennett


Deaths due to marijuana usage 2006: 0
Deaths due to government enforcement of marijuana laws 2006: ??
Funny thing, this statistic is not enumerated.

Blackwater in your town?

I think bb has something. When Blackwater is sent packing from Iraq they will be repositioned in the USA. A private police force to handle domestic "problems". A further militarization of police policy. They will be kicking doors in for " freedom". How much innocent blood must flow before cynicisim turns towards violent ends. Get your exit visa's now.


Good call on the Blackwater thing. Check out this article in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR200711... .

Blackwater is branching out into the spy biz. Watch for some govt. jerk to recommend privatizing the drug war.


Plan your escape

"Get your exit visa's now."

Ya know?

Marijuana Deaths

while it is true that no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana (as it really is as "non-toxic" a substance as it gets), there are indeed actual documented cases of death that are officially blamed on marijuana.

indeed, it would likely behoove us to start calling attention to the "fact" that the number of deaths due to marijuana increased by a whopping three hundred percent from 2003 to 2004. ohmigod, that modern day super weed really is killing our children! we need to call attention to the absurdity of it all as a way to help people better understand how it's all exaggerated to the nth degree.

from 1980 to 2003, there were 37 deaths attributed directly to marijuana


and in 2004 there were 6 more:


by comparison, over 2.6 million Americans died in 2004 -- so we clearly need to focus tremendous resources on trying to prevent even more death and mayhem created by the use of the devil's weed.

and here's a break out of all the "drug-induced" deaths from 2004:


click any of the charts to lead to various levels of detail on the different aspects depicted.

and, of course, it helps if you put the "drug-induced" deaths in perspective: http://www.briancbennett.com/charts/death/2004/perspective.htm

and, most of all, it really helps if you put all the marijuana related data in perspective: http://www.briancbennett.com/charts/nutshell-marijuana.htm

when you put it all together in one place, it becomes quite easy to see that there is no reason to be waging this war against our own people -- especially on the grounds of attempting to prevent them from acting directly upon themselves of their own will.

it ain't about weed. it ain't about medical pot, or needle exchanges, or sentencing disparity or any of the other laundry list of thousands of bits and pieces we know so well and hate so much. it's about preventing tyranny -- and we are abolutely running out of time.

totally agree

I don't even smoke the stuff, but I totally agree with you. Alcohol is far, far more dangerous, and it's legal.

Oops, bad stat

in 2004 there were just under 2.4 million deaths in the U.S. -- not "just over 2.6"


Malkavian's picture

Indoctrination -> institutionalization -> self-interest

This is simplified, but I propose a three step explanation to what motivates the drug warriors.

First of all there is the indoctrination. This is driven by all the propaganda and scare mongering that both state and parents stand for(I will not address the genesis of the anti-drug establishment here but refer readers to Mike Gray's "Drug Crazy").

This indoctrination happens very early - quite a lot like how most religious beliefs get passed on to children. When it works (which it often does) it is because pretty much no one knows about drugs, so they do what they normally do: believe in other people who seem sincere (and if anything the DEA folks seem sincere!).

This means they learn their hatred of drugs in a way that really doesn't involve much critical thinking or studying. It is for the most part a second hand/learned emotional response, and I suppose the parroting can go on for so long that in the end the anti-drug person really feels strongly about the issue.

As sceptic Michael Shermer wrote to answer the question "Why smart people believe in stupid things": they have acquired their belief in a non-rational way, but being so smart they are really good at defending their belief even when it's not true. (Clearly this is aided by all the well-known biases of the human mind like availability bias, general bias and dislike of cognitive dissonance).

Secondly, when something gathers a significant number of adherent these people create institutions to embody their ideology/religion/philosophy. Today there are numerous big and powerful players who make up the anti-drug establishment and who embody the specific War on Drugs approach to fixing the problems with drugs. Such institutions will always try to reproduce themselves, keep alive and expand - just like a living organism or species does.

Thirdly we have the individuals acting within those institutions. Most of the time they simply work there. It is where they earn the money that keeps them alive, gives them food and puts their children through college.

What such individuals figure out real fast is that freedom of speech is not absolute. If someone speaks openly about the failure of the Drug War that person will be punished simply because he is acting illoyally towards his work place (this is one way how institutions sustain themselves). That's why LEAP is populated by EX-cops: they no longer have anything to lose from being honest and truthful, but they would have lost everything because there really isn't any free speech for practical purposes.

In simple terms it is egoistic self-interest that makes a VAST amount of people keep their mouths shut even if they know better. So when the propaganda/indoctrination has failed there is always persecution to beat people into submission.

The situation is a so-called "Nash Equilibrium": it is such an inoptimal solution we have fixated upon, but no one individual has an incentive to defect from the Drug War Rethoric as long as everyone else sticks to their guns.

Modus Operandi

The institutionalization aspect of your tri-phase model has its own peculiar spin in the drug war. 

Dr. Peter Cohen, PhD,  of the University of Amsterdam, in 2003 published this relevant piece analyzing the modus operandi of drug war institutionalization.  


Tri- phase...triumvir

The "tri- phase" model holds well with me. As to the "modus".....should change the moniker, "czar", to (((( DRUG PONTIFF )))). It does seem to fit well enough.


How about 'Dope Pope'?


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Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School