Please Stop Telling Politicians That Voters Like the Drug War

With due respect to David Harsanyi and Reason, I'm getting a little tired of being told that politicians and voters are united in opposition to reforming drug laws. How many times have we heard this before?

If polls reflect a growing appetite for legalization of marijuana, why is it that so few elected representatives of note—and by "so few" I mean "no"—support it? If the war on drugs is by all metrics a failure, why is there not a single elected official in D.C. working on the terms of surrender?

Voters…are notoriously irrational. And few elected officials can make the case that lawlessness is a reason to disregard laws—that is, unless they aspire to be former elected officials.

Well, maybe the reason more politicians don't come out in favor of reform is because syndicated columnists like David Harsanyi keep insisting – with no evidence whatsoever – that it would be political suicide for them to do so. Anyone who'd like to see major changes to our marijuana laws shouldn’t be spreading the message that public officials will be punished for working on that. It may be true that politicians in D.C. aren't exactly leading the charge for outright marijuana legalization, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Let's not forget that our President was elected on a platform of respecting medical marijuana laws and generally easing up on the whole "drug war" situation. Was that a problem for him on the campaign trail? Was there any public outcry when Congress reduced the penalties for crack cocaine last month? Can anyone even think of a single politician who's paid a political price for endorsing any sort of reform to our drug policy?

I don't know how anyone could look at the current political climate surrounding drug policy and not see exciting progress. The polls are moving fast in our favor, politicians are beginning to side with us on key issues like medical marijuana and sentencing reform, state-level initiatives are consistently winning big around the country, and the media is taking up the issue in a way we've seen before. To address the politics of drug policy while failing to note all of this renders one's analysis rather dull, if not misleading.

Pete Guither has more.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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No, our president was elected to be a ferocious drug warrior

Obama's campaign promises included a massive expansion in the FBI and Federal law enforcement generally.  He has made good on those promises.  No president in history has ever waged a drug war on the scale of Obama's war.  He is the biggest drug warrior ever in the White House, and that's exactly what he promised on the campaign trail.  The only thing he has done was to tell the DEA to lighten up on state-legal medical marijuana.  That doesn't make it legal.  That doesn't mean that medical marijuana businesses can operate without fear.  They are committing Federal felonies and if some DEA team or prosecutor is having a slow day at work, and is worried about running out of make-work things to do, there's no reason to think they won't head for SF or LA and make some easy arrests and get some easy convictions.

I'm sorry, but . . .

Anyone who voted for Obama thinking he was going to help reform drug laws was stupid.  NEVER, EVER, believe what a Democrat or Republican says while on the campaign trail, they lie to your face and do the exact opposite once in office.


Do not confuse "exciting progress" with "enough progress".


The Same Old Masonic Dynamics!

Moonrider, no credit to Obama for staying out of Prop 19?

I don't think that's what the Repubs would have done. Now maybe having the feds against it would be a + for prop 19 in the current anti- government atmosphere, but that's really a separate question.

Scott,This is a point where


This is a point where i'm going to have to disagree with you. On the issue of the drug war, if any campaign is even bringing it up, there is little support in many other states, for the drastic changes we are seeing in california.

Sadly those in middle america either do not care about the issue or are fervently supporting of police and everything they do. There was a great video posted today at that shows jurors stating that a police officers words are generally true, and they should hold more water than just an average citizen.

Organizations like yours, MPP, DPA, and especial LEAP have done great work in beginning to beat back some of these stereotypes involved in the anti-prohibition side. But your average voter follows the Mr.Mackey line of "drugs are bad, um kay" and they, like the law makers think that all we need to do is stop demand and the market will dry up. WHen its obvious that demand will be there no matter what laws they pass.

What I'm hoping is once Prop 19 passes, the two years in between elections will drive the issue into the main stream. But until others see the case study of california, I wouldn't hold out on any law makers working to repeal marijuana laws.

Politicians respond only to pain and pleasure, until the anti-prohibitionist's realize that to be affective they need to organize, something that california advocates learned years ago, they cannot make their issue noticable because there is nothing to offer the legislators. Unless you can offer them votes or, more effective in my opinion, cut some of their campaign funding we wont see this issue brought up in many areas.

There is at least one

"why is there not a single elected official in D.C. working on the terms of surrender?"

There has been at least one that I know of... Ron Paul.

But overall I agree there isn't even nearly the number there should be speaking out against the Drug War.

 Why? Seems pretty simple to me, we have no politicians anymore that have the spine to stand up for what's really right. What we have for the most part, is the best Government that money can buy. But represent us little regular guys? Forget it. It takes BIG MONEY. 

That's a good point.  And if

That's a good point.  And if someone like Ron Paul can pronounce that the Drug War is an absolute failure in a conservative state like Texas and get elected over and over again, then it makes little sense to suggest that politicians will be opposed for standing against the failed War on Drugs.   Anyway, who cares if they are initially well received?  Could you imagine what progress would have been made in the area of civil rights in the South if politicians had been afraid to speak out against unjust and discriminatory policies?  Stupid policies will eventually collapse of their own weight and the politicians' cowardice in speaking out against failed policies (like the Drug War) only delays the inevitable, but does not prevent the eventual abolition of such idiotic policies.

Its shows how the conservative mentality works

For every other issue be it healthcare and taxes they like to use polls and voter statistics.


When polls show opinions different than they like they call voters irrational.


They don't want real freedom they want their views and can't deal when people exercise independent choices.

Is Reason saying voters united in opposing drug reform?

I can't see what the Reason article cited is actually saying, because the link in this article doesn't work. But I know that Reason is strongly against the Drug War, and I'm pretty sure I've read pieces in the magazine that have been more optimistic about the prospects for reform.

By the way, here's a terrific 8-minute animated video about freedom and self-ownership that's a good one to which to refer prohibitionists --

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