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Video: Former Drug Czar Gets Destroyed in Legalization Debate

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This recent debate between former Drug Czar John Walters and blogger/author Glenn Greenwald is worth watching in its entirety.

Since 98% of Greenwald’s writing isn’t even about drug policy, it’s easy to forget what a powerful advocate for reform he really is. His opening statement is impressive and couldn’t easily be improved upon. Walters is terribly boring and dispassionate by comparison, aside from being completely wrong about everything.

Many of us, particularly Pete Guither, have salivated for years at the thought of standing onstage across from Walters and taking him apart as Greenwald does here. It’s a rare and interesting event, but it also serves to illustrate something I’ve struggled at times to explain to enthusiastic young reform activists: our opponents don’t vanish in a puff of smoke when you beat them in a debate. They don’t break down like Michael Douglas in Traffic, and proceed to rebuke everything they stood for the day before. It’s not that easy.

Still, there was a time in the very recent past when someone with John Walters’ towering drug war credentials would never even entertain the idea that another approach existed. That he must now take the stage in defense of his own legacy is an interesting thing to see, even if every word out of his mouth is what we expected to hear.

In so many ways, not even George Soros has done more to devastate the popularity of prohibition in America than former Drug Czar John Walters. Any time this man wants a microphone in front of his face, we’ll do well to make damn sure he gets it. 

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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The harm of Prohibition.

A friend and I got caught with cannabis 13 years ago. I took drug classes to reduce my sentence and he refused. He went to jail for 2 months for refusing to add to the stats that drug treatment for marijuana is necessary. I took the deal and completed classes and joined the Marine corps. I have not been able to get a job because of that charge. It is shown on every background check for employment in this state. There is no limitation on how far back they look in Indiana.  I can't feed my family if I can't even get a job stocking bananas at a grocery store. Despite my honorable service to this nation, I am denied the ability to fend for myself and I live off my wife's wages while I take care of the kids. Other than turning to a life of crime, what options do I have at this point? This is why crime is up. It isn't the drugs, it's the policy. I can't get a job because 13 years ago I got caught with 1/4 ounce of pot. I can pass a drug test, but no one cares about that. They just see my charge from 13 years ago and don't care that I completed drug abuse classes. They don't care that I served honorably in the Marine Corps. They don't care that I am an adult now, they just see a criminal. I am branded for life because of a plant that virtually harms no one. Yes I technically committed a crime, but no I don't feel that I have done anything to deserve this treatment. I am resentful towards our government for these insane policies that destroy peoples lives. I am resentful towards police officers and do not respect their jobs. This whole thing only taught me that our government wants complete obedience and they will destroy your life if you don't give them it. I don't feel like a person living in a free country. I feel like a prisoner still. The government creates criminals with their horrible drug policies. When someone can't get a job even tho they have done everything they could to put the past behind them and move on after treatment, what do you think that person is going to do for a living when it haunts them forever and makes it impossible to live their life after they do everything that they can to move on? I can't make a living because I got caught smoking pot 13 years ago. What options do I have? I know drug dealers still and I know how I can make money to survive if I was desperate enough. It's almost worth the risk just to provide a better life for my children. Were poor and going through a bankruptcy. Were losing our house. Can I rejoin society or not? It sure doesn't feel like it. What other options do I have other than making money through illegal means? I don't and that's why were poor and losing everything. I feel horrible and barely a man at all because I can't provide for my family. I have been branded a criminal for life because of a misdemeanor charge for possessing a plant. Prohibition has directly ruined my life not pot. Pot saved my life from prescription drug abuse. Instead of taking pain killers for spinal injuries I smoked pot. It was a healthier choice and I stand by my actions and defend them.

In Response to The Harm of Prohibition

Mr. Horton,

Thank you for your service to our country. Your story is a perfect example of what Mr. Greenwald was saying in this debate. Current drug policies create more harm to our communities than good. Good luck to you, any employer worth working for will see this injustice for what it is and will give you a chance.

Thank you.

Thank you. It really sucks when your kids are sick and you can't afford medication for them. I had to break down and ask friends to help me out yesterday. I hope someone will give me a chance at a decent job soon. Otherwise I don't know what's going to happen to us. I filed to have my records sealed, so lets hope that it is approved and I can finally move on with my life. Cannabis has done nothing but good things for me and I don't know what i would have done without it. I would be addicted to pain killers still I'm sure, because they had me on them for years while I healed. I started having complications with my liver because of those drugs, then a doctor recommended (off the record) that I replace the dangerous drugs prescribed to me with cannabis. In Indiana that's a HUGE no no. It really did save my life and has made me a more empathetic human being. 

"...and they [organised

"...and they [organised criminals] will continue to exist after drug trafficking [is legalized]". Walters knows it's only a matter of time.

I watched the whole debate.

I watched the whole debate. Knowing the truth about drugs policy it was more than easy to see through the lies and cherry picked statistics Walters presented. However, devils advocate, if you were on the fence.. or completely ignorant to the issue.. I worry about how much Walters 'moralising' and softly-softly approach would appeal to 'the fear' people have about drugs (largely due to people like him) and sway the opinion to the wrong side of the fence...

Greenwald's Performance Vs. Walters's

Someone wrote that Glenn "destroyed" Walters, and that simply isn't true. For example, Greenwald never responded to Walters's statistics seeming to show that things were still worse in Portugal compared to other European nations. He also failed to engage Walters's contention that countries like the Netherlands are recriminalizing drugs, for example closing down Amsterdam's famous "coffee" houses. Did he fail to challenge those contentions because they're true? And if so, what does that say about the efficacy of decriminlization, let alone legalization?

This disturbs me, because I am a progressive left-libertarian, and I'm sympathetic to Greenwald's overall argument. Though I am fairly well self-educated on this topic, I am certainly no expert. Because Glenn failed to engage those points, I'm going to have to research them myself. If I discover that Walters's is right, well, I'm going to have to rethink some of my own assumptions. If on the other hand I discover he is wrong - or is twisting statistics, bending them to his argument - then I will have wasted a whole lot of time. My point is that Glenn needs to do a better job in the future in these sorts of debates. In this one, he just managed to hold his own.

Not responding can be a powerful argument.

Greenwald did not respond to Walter's claims because he had already discounted them. The reason the netherlands and Amsterdam are recriminalizing is because the US is using their political power to push them to. And I tried to understand Walter's Charts that showed that Portugal is not improving and they seem to me to be misleading.


It's my opinion that Greenwald didn't respond because Walter's argument was weak enough on it's own.

I can tell you why Amsterdam

I can tell you why Amsterdam is re criminalizing as i am a citizen. America has said cut off your "drug" industry so our tourists cannot get to them or else. That is the bottom line America has pushed our country to the breaking point... You all seem to forget you are not alone in this war. (i apologize for my grammar as this is not my native tongue)

Thank you!

Thank you for making it clear why your country's leaders have gone stupid. Hopefully Washington will re-emburse your country for the lost billions that will occur over the next 2 years (about how long I figure it will take your people to pressure your leaders to allow them to milk us for those "marijuana-tourism" again). By then it will be legal here, and the whole thing will be a moot point. None the less, you guys have the 30 years experience of growing, and marketing on us and as such will keep your rep as a #1 spot for stoners to vaca!

Take heart, be patient, and keep your ear to the ground. I am certain that your leaders didn't bother to recalculate your country's budget for this massive loss of revenue. Before long, they will see the stupidity and short-sightedness of this policy change, and will back-pedal fast enough to win a marathon!


amsterdam still the mecca

It is not really true that Amsterdam is closing down coffeeshops. It was a plan but is not happening. Now, 2013, some Dutch city even wants to start growing its own cannabis.

Tourists are still welcome in Amsterdam and coffeeshops still available. Amsterdam is still the place to smoke weed, try mushrooms or truffles and many more. Also you can still order seeds, truffles and even cool herbs like salvia from the netherlands.

For more info on the Dutch drug policy also check here: dutch drug policy pragmatic


Still my favorite city in Europe though! :D


John Walters actually started by quoting David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance! For those who don't know David Raynes is well known this side of the pond as one of the leading voices in the prohibition campaign. He is certainly no expert, he's actually an ex customs officer.

Walters has told lies of biblical proportions

Walters has told lies of biblical proportions at the start of this debate. Portugal is seen in Europe as a great success and the official statistics show this. He quotes the BBC for his statistics and he has been caught telling extreme lies as this BBC reporter

shows and the statistics have improved since this.

As for the Netherlands hes is only partially correct in saying that it is making cannabis illegal and shutting down all its cannabis cafes. It is only stopping tourists from France initially in its border regions whilst German and Belgium tourists will continue to be able to buy cannabis. Amsterdam city council has said that it will not expand this policy and that it is going to stop their extremist Christian minority part of the coalition government. I would like to point out that I am not against any religion and I am in fact an Irish Roman Catholic Christian in Ireland but the Netherlands Christian minority (who used fear to get elected and most Dutch people now disapprove of their actions) part of the coalition government is reminiscent of the prohibitionist USA Christians that oppose cannabis now and that opposed alcohol in the league of temperance that plagued the USA in the prohibition era.

Monkeys, Rats, Mice and Humans

Johnny Pee says we're all the same.  Really?  Human ability to reason, logic, personal behavior, et al, are the same in all four classifications?  Education plays no roll in the scenario?  As a non-drug user, I failed my way through high school.  Later, cannabis use got me to a double Ph.D, plus several other licensed achievements.  College found me on the Dean's List, semester after semester.  Where are the equivalent "monkeys, rats and mice?"  At many points in my life, I've decided (and without any problems) to not use for extended periods due to the differing situations involved.

One must remember, Johnny Pee was the leader of the largest US "Propaganda Machine."  He sold his ethics (if he ever had them) for "the Dollar."  The ONDCP Re-Authorization Act specifically directed him to lie at every occasion.  And he felt comfortable under those rules.  Still does, it seems.

As I understand it, our current VP Biden is responsible for writing the Re-Authorization Act.  It unsurps Constitutional power from the States, who are made up of "We, the People."  Washington, DC is made up of "We, the Government."  Washington will not listen to the people they govern.  It's up to YOU to make your ideas heard.  You only have one voice (which is getting weaker, day by day).  Use your VOTE to "Rock The Hill!"  Support you idea and allies.



Drug Legalisation Debate

Derek Williams is incorrect in stating that David Raynes is 'an ex customs officer'   !

He spent 37 years in UK Customs & Excise, with 25 years as an Investigator. He retired in June 2000 as an Assistant Chief Investigation Officer

David was the UK’s first ever dedicated Heroin & Cocaine Intelligence Officer in any law enforcement organisation.  He has been employed internationally in several countries - training and mentoring Senior Customs Managers at Ports and Airports in South Africa for example.

David is certainly the media spokesman for the National Drug Prevention Alliance - his knowledge of the drugs 'trade' and his background in investigating drugs traffiking makes him  a sought after speaker at conferences all over the world.

What is David Williams background and experience in the drugs field ?




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