Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: War on Drugs

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Is the American War on Drugs succeeding or should it be abandoned?

Background and context

The War on Drugs is a highly controversial campaign of drug prohibition and foreign military aid being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade,
and to combat leftist political movements and insurgencies in foreign nations.
This initiative includes a set of strict laws and policies - such as prison-time for drug offenders and crop-eradication efforts - that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of targeted substances. The term was first used by President Richard Nixon in 1969. On May 13, 2009, Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, signaled that although it didn't plan to significantly alter drug enforcement policy, the Obama administration would not use the term "War on Drugs," as he claims it is counter-productive. The contemporary debate surrounding the continuation of Drug War policies and the use of the term "War on Drugs" is presented and quoted below.

See Wikipedia's article on the topic here for more background.

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Effectiveness: Has the war on drugs been effective?

[Add New]

Pro

  • War on Drugs has been effective in many places Ben Perin. "We are winning war on drugs, say police." Swindon Advertiser. March 11th, 2010: "The war on drugs is being won by Swindon Police after a number of successful raids. [...] It comes after one of the biggest cannabis factories was discovered in the town centre by officers at the former West Bromwich Bank on the junction of Morley Street and Commercial Road on Tuesday. [...] Two men were arrested – a 20 and 40-year-old from Vietnam – at the scene in connection with cultivating the 2,000 plant crop at various stages of growth. [...] Now the head of the dedicated drugs squad Sergeant Scott Hargreave, based at Gablecross Police Station, said his team was winning the war on drugs in Swindon. 'In the 10 months we have been up and running as a drugs team we have arrested in excess of 60 people,' he said. 'Out of these 46 have been charged with intent to supply. We have executed 46 warrants and 80 percent have been positive searches, whereby drugs have been found."
[Add New]

Con

  • The War on Drugs is not working "A no-win 'war on drugs'." Los Angeles Times. February 28, 2009: "It has been nearly 40 years since President Nixon began the "war on drugs" in 1971. Its objective from the outset was to suppress the manufacture, distribution and consumption of illicit drugs. By all of those measures -- and by common agreement -- the multibillion-dollar effort has been a failure. Supply is plentiful, distribution sophisticated and consumption steady. Today, there is rare consensus among policymakers, law enforcement leaders and healthcare professionals: Our drug policy, they concede, is not working."
  • War on Drugs cannot be won; drugs will always exist Drugs will always exist in society, with people trying them for recreational and other purposes, and with the government having little ability to control these private affairs. The War on Drugs - or efforts to eradicate the trading and consumption of drugs - is, therefore, ultimately unwinnable.
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Usage: Does War on Drugs reduce usage?

[Add New]

Yes

  • War on Drugs increases price of drugs This is seen as a sign of success because it suggests that the supply of drugs has diminished as a result of such things as coca field eradication in Columbia. In general, the diminished supply of a good makes the good more scarce and more valuable or expensive on the market. Since the price of cocaine has increased, therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that a decrease in supply is the result. This scarcity, along with higher prices and the mere illegality of drugs, helps discourage many users from trying drugs in the first place.
  • War on Drugs helps hold down usage Per Ann Coulter in her book, "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)": "Prohibition resulted in startling reductions in alcohol consumption (over 50 percent), cirrhosis of the liver (63 percent), admissions to mental health clinics for alcohol psychosis (60 percent), and arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct (50 percent)." -- p.311[1]
  • War on Drugs sends clear message that drugs are bad Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of UNODC (June 2006): "Policy reversals leave young people confused as to just how dangerous cannabis is. With cannabis-related health damage increasing, it is fundamentally wrong for countries to make cannabis control dependent on which party is in government. The cannabis pandemic, like other challenges to public health, requires consensus, a consistent commitment across the political spectrum and by society at large."
[Add New]

No

  • Drug prohibition does not correlate with decreased use "How to stop the drug wars." The Economist. Mar 5th 2009: "fear [of legalisation] is based in large part on the presumption that more people would take drugs under a legal regime. That presumption may be wrong. There is no correlation between the harshness of drug laws and the incidence of drug-taking: citizens living under tough regimes (notably America but also Britain) take more drugs, not fewer. Embarrassed drug warriors blame this on alleged cultural differences, but even in fairly similar countries tough rules make little difference to the number of addicts: harsh Sweden and more liberal Norway have precisely the same addiction rates."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Economics: Is the War on Drugs economically sound?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Legalizing drugs to tax them is a perverse idea John Hawkins. "In defense of the drug war." Human Events. January 25th, 2007: "If we legalized drugs, we'd be able to tax them and bring in more revenue for the state. But, how is that working out with alcohol and cigarettes? In 2004 and 2005, 39% of all traffic-related deaths was related to alcohol consumption and 36% of convicted offenders 'had been drinking alcohol when they committed their conviction offense." When it comes to cigarettes, adult smokers 'die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers." But, will we ever get rid of tobacco or alcohol? No, both products are too societally accepted for that and perhaps more importantly, the government makes enormous amounts of revenue from their sale. Do we really want to be sitting around 10 or 15 years from now saying, 'Gee, we'd like to get rid of heroin, but how could we replace the revenue we make from taxing it at an exorbitant rate?'"


[Add New]

Con

  • War on Drugs is simply too expensive The United States efforts at drug prohibition started out with a US$ 350 million budget in 1971, and is currently (in 2006) a US$ 30 billion campaign.[2] These numbers only include direct prohibition enforcement expenditures, and as such only represent part of the total cost of prohibition. This $ 30 billion figure rises dramatically once other issues, such as the economic impact of holding 400,000 prisoners on prohibition violations, are factored in.[3]
  • Legalizing drugs is the least bad option "How to stop the drug wars." The Economist. Mar 5th 2009: "the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs. 'Least bad' does not mean good. Legalisation, though clearly better for producer countries, would bring (different) risks to consumer countries. As we outline below, many vulnerable drug-takers would suffer. But in our view, more would gain."
  • War on Drugs has destroyed valuable hemp industry The War on Drugs has resulted in the outlawing the entire hemp industry in the United States. Hemp, a variety of Cannabis sativa, the plant that marijuana comes from, does not have significant amounts of psychoactive (THC) substances in it, less than 1%. Without even realizing the plant had been outlawed several months prior, Popular Mechanics magazine published an article in 1938 entitled The New Billion-Dollar Crop anticipating the explosion of the hemp industry with the invention of machines to help process it.[4]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Crime/violence: Does the war on drugs help reduce crime/violence?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Drug War enables governments to crack-down on cartels Bret Stephens. "In Praise of Mexico's War on Drugs." Wall Street Journal. March 3, 2009: "The problem is Mexico's record of corrupt, weak and incompetent governance, which has created the environment in which the cartels have hitherto operated with impunity. The same might be said about other countries in Latin America: These states did not become basket cases on account of the drug trade. It is the fact that they were basket cases to begin with that allowed the drug trade to flourish. [...] The government has managed to spark power struggles within and among cartels, and the vast majority of Mexico's murder victims are themselves involved in the drug trade. More important, Mr. Calderón has sent the signal that his government will not repeat the patterns of complacency and collusion that typified Mexico for decades. Whatever else might be said about his government, it's a serious one."
  • Drugs fund terrorists; War on Drugs is justified There is an argument that much crime and terrorism is drug related or drug funded and that prohibition can reduce this. This argument was made by Former US president George W. Bush, in signing the Drug-Free Communities Act Reauthorization Bill in December 2001, said, "If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terror in America."[5]
  • War on Drugs helps combat drug-related crimes The US Drug Enforcement Administration claims: "Crime, violence and drug use go hand in hand. Six times as many homicides are committed by people under the influence of drugs, as by those who are looking for money to buy drugs. Most drug crimes aren’t committed by people trying to pay for drugs; they’re committed by people on drugs.— US Drug Enforcement Administration (2003). "Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization" DUF research indicates that: Frequent use of hard drugs is one of the strongest indicators of a criminal career. Offenders who use drugs are among the most serious and active criminals, engaging in both property and violent crime. Early and persistent use of cocaine or heroin in the juvenile years is an indicator of serious, persistent criminal behavior in adulthood. Those arrested who are drug users are more likely than those not using drugs to be rearrested on pretrial release or fail to appear at trial.[6][7]


[Add New]

Con

  • Higher price of illegal drugs causes more crimes by users William F Buckley Statement to New York Bar Association. July 1st, 1996: "This is perhaps the moment to note that the pharmaceutical cost of cocaine and heroin is approximately 2 per cent of the street price of those drugs. Since a cocaine addict can spend as much as $1,000 per week to sustain his habit, he would need to come up with that $1,000. The approximate fencing cost of stolen goods is 80 per cent, so that to come up with $1,000 can require stealing $5,000 worth of jewels, cars, whatever. We can see that at free-market rates, $20 per week would provide the addict with the cocaine which, in this wartime drug situation, requires of him $1,000."
  • War on Drugs keeps drug trade profitable Experts like Andreas von Bülow and Milton Friedman concede that almost every serious crime of terrorism is funded by illegal drugs but they don't agree that prohibition can reduce these phenomena. In fact the prohibition protects the drug cartel insofar as it keeps the distribution in the black market and creates the risk that makes smuggling profitable. As former federal narcotics officer Michael Levine states in relation to his undercover work with Colombian cocaine cartels.[8]
  • War on Drugs destroys local suppliers, gives cartels monopoly Mass arrests of local growers of marijuana not only increases the price of local drugs, but lessens competition. Only major retailers that can handle massive shipments, have their own small fleet of aircraft, troops to defend the caravans and other sophisticated methods of eluding the police (such as lawyers), can survive by this regulation of the free market by the government.
  • War on Drugs wrongly stigmatizes drug-users The UK drug policy reform group Release believes that the stigma attached to drug use needs to be removed. Release's actions have included challenging such stigmatisation with its "Nice People Take Drugs" advertising campaign.[9]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Imprisonment: Is imprisonment rate in War on Drugs justifiable?

[Add New]

Yes

[Add New]

No

  • War on Drugs imprisons too many people Between 1983 and 1998, annual drug admissions to state and federal prisons increased approximately 16-fold to about 170,000.[10] Mike Gravel. 2006 - "The United States incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other peacetime nation in the world. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics the number of US residents behind bars has now reached more than 2.3 million. We are losing an entire generation of young men and women to our prisons. Our nation's ineffective and wasteful 'war on drugs' plays a major role in this. We must place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and prevention. We must de-criminalize minor drug offenses and increase the availability and visibility of substance abuse treatment and prevention in our communities as well as in jails and prisons."
  • Enforcing drug laws would mean mass imprisonment Terry Michael. "The War on Drugs is No Laughing Matter." Reason. March 27, 2009: "Our government's own research (a 2006 survey by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) reveals that over half of the adult population of America has, at one time, used a controlled substance. Which means—if our drug laws were equally applied—that over 125 million of us would have spent time in jail, as Barack Obama and George W. Bush themselves would have done for what we euphemistically and absurdly call 'youthful indiscretions.' Obama has admitted using marijuana and cocaine. Bush, who was less candid, simply refused to deny it."
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Civil liberties: Are liberties protected in War on Drugs?

[Add New]

Yes

  • State justified in protecting individuals from own drug abuse. The state has the authority vested in it by the people to protect individuals from doing harm to themselves and others. The need to assume this responsibility is especially heightened if the individual is not aware of the risks, or is addicted and thus not making informed choices.
[Add New]

No

  • State should not regulate belief in creative value of drugs Some people believe that altered states of consciousness enable many people to push the boundaries of human experience, knowledge and creativity. There is thus a moral imperative to experiment with drugs in terms of human progress, teleological development, or just increased artistic creativity; such ideas are central to Cognitive Liberty, Stoned Ape Theory and Aldous Huxley's Doors of Perception.[11]
  • State should not regulate spiritual interest in drugs Terence McKenna. "Non-Ordinary States Through Vision Plants, Sound Photosynthesis." 1988: "We're playing with half a deck as long as we tolerate that the cardinals of government and science should dictate where human curiosity can legitimately send its attention and where it can not. It's an essentially preposterous situation. It is essentially a civil rights issue, because what we're talking about here is the repression of a religious sensibility. In fact, not a religious sensibility, the religious sensibility."[12]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Youth: How does the War on Drugs relate to youth?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Unpunished drug users are unlikely to fight their substance dependency. If they are not punished, then they'll keep using drugs (even though they probably know drugs may ruin their health).
  • Youth are not excused for committing crime of drug use. Just because youth are under 21, this doesn't mean they should have priveleges of getting away with crimes. Drugs are illegal and they should be punished equally for using them.


[Add New]

No

  • Addicted youth should be helped, not punished. Scarlett Swerdlow, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) said in 2005[13] - "Half of all high school seniors graduating this year have tried illegal drugs at some point. More than eight in ten say it’s easy for them to get their hands on marijuana. Drug policies should take this reality into account and respond sensibly. But instead, the Drug Czar wants to alienate students who have problems with drugs by arresting them, kicking them out of extracurricular activities, and taking away their financial aid for college."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Vs treatment: Should "war" be reduced in favor of treatment?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

  • Treatment cuts drug-use far better than incarceration William F Buckley Statement to New York Bar Association. July 1st, 1996: "Pursuing utilitarian analysis, we ask: What are the relative costs, on the one hand, of medical and psychological treatment for addicts and, on the other, incarceration for drug offenses? It transpires that treatment is seven times more cost-effective. By this is meant that one dollar spent on the treatment of an addict reduces the probability of continued addiction seven times more than one dollar spent on incarceration. Looked at another way: Treatment is not now available for almost half of those who would benefit from it. Yet we are willing to build more and more jails in which to isolate drug users even though at one-seventh the cost of building and maintaining jail space and pursuing, detaining, and prosecuting the drug user, we could subsidize commensurately effective medical care and psychological treatment."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Vs. harm reduction: Is a "war" a better idea than harm reduction?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Drugs are very harmful; War on Drugs is justified The U.S. government has argued that illegal drugs are 'far more deadly than alcohol' saying 'although alcohol is used by seven times as many people as drugs, the number of deaths induced by those substances is not far apart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during 2000, there were 15,852 drug-induced deaths; only slightly less than the 18,539 alcohol-induced deaths.'
The US Drug Enforcement Administration has written: 'There is a growing misconception that some illegal drugs can be taken safely. For example, savvy drug dealers have learned how to market drugs like Ecstasy to youth. Some in the Legalization Lobby even claim such drugs have medical value, despite the lack of conclusive scientific evidence.' — US Drug Enforcement Administration (2003). 'Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization.'"[14]


[Add New]

Con

  • Harm reduction is better approach than War on Drugs Ethan A. Nadelmann. National Review Online.: "Th[e] concept [of harm reduction] holds that drug policies need to focus on reducing crime, whether engendered by drugs or by the prohibition of drugs. And it holds that disease and death can be diminished even among people who can't, or won't, stop taking drugs. This pragmatic approach is followed in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, and parts of Germany, Austria, Britain, and a growing number of other countries."
  • Harms of many illicit drugs have been exaggerated. There is evidence that many illicit drugs pose comparatively fewer health dangers than certain legal drugs. The health risks of MDMA (Ecstasy) have been exaggerated for instance,[15] the risks from cannabis use also overstated,[16] and health problems from the use of legal substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco, are greater, even than from cocaine use for example (occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems).[17]
  • Most try drugs only a handful of times; little harm Ethan A. Nadelmann. National Review Online.: "1. Most people can use most drugs without doing much harm to themselves or anyone else, as Mr. Buckley reminds us, citing Professor Duke. Only a tiny percentage of the 70 million Americans who have tried marijuana have gone on to have problems with that or any other drug. The same is true of the tens of millions of Americans who have used cocaine or hallucinogens. Most of those who did have a problem at one time or another don't any more. That a few million Americans have serious problems with illicit drugs today is an issue meriting responsible national attention, but it is no reason to demonize those drugs and the people who use them."
  • Many illegal drugs have medicinal qualities. Most of the psychoactive drugs now prohibited in modern industrial societies have had medical uses in other places and times. In the case of natural plant drugs like opium, coca, cannabis, mescaline, and psilocybin, this medical history usually reaches back thousands of years and through a variety of cultures.[18] Psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin (the compound in magic mushrooms) are the subject of renewed research interest because of their therapeutic potential. They could ease a variety of difficult-to-treat mental illnesses, such as chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol dependency.[19] MDMA (Ecstasy) has been used for cognitive enhancement in people with Parkinson's Disease.[20]
  • Legalizing drugs would improve quality control Many of the health dangers associated with recreational drugs exist or are made worse precisely because they are illegal. The government cannot enforce quality control on products sold and manufactured illegally. Examples include: the easier to make derivative MDA being sold as MDMA, heroin users unintentionally injecting brick dust, quinine, or fentanyl with which their heroin had been cut; and heroin/cocaine overdoses occurring as a result of users not knowing exactly how much they are taking.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Health/disease: Is the War on Drugs good for health/disease?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Crop-eradication: Are crop-eradication efforts a good idea?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

  • Coca crop eradication badly damages the environment Coca crop-eradication efforts involve spraying plant-killing chemicals over wide areas of territory. Because coca farms are often dispersed within rainforests and other sensitive environments, crop-eradication campaigns often have the effect of killing large numbers of trees, plants, and wildlife.
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Producer states: What effect does the War on Drugs have on producer countries?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

  • War on Drugs destabilizes producer countries The United States' "War on Drugs" has added considerably to the political instability in South America. The huge profits to be made from cocaine and other South American-grown drugs are largely because they are illegal in the wealthy neighbouring nation. This drives people in the relatively poor countries of Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil to break their own laws in organising the cultivation, preparation and trafficking of cocaine to the States. This has allowed criminal, paramilitary and guerrilla groups to reap huge profits, exacerbating already serious law-and-order and political problems.[21]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Vs. alcohol etc: Is the War on Drugs OK without a war on alcohol/cigarettes?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

  • Why a War on Drugs and not on alcohol and cigarettes? It has been suggested that ending prohibition could reduce the use of hard drugs as it has in countries such as The Netherlands. Since alcohol prohibition ended and the War on Drugs began there has been much debate over the issue of consistency among legislators with regard to drug prohibition. Many anti-prohibition activists focus on the well-documented dangers of alcohol (such as alcoholism, cystisis, domestic violence, brain and liver damage). In addition to anecdotal evidence, they cite statistics to show more deaths caused by drunk driving under the influence of alcohol than by drivers under the influence of marijuana,[70] and research which suggests that alcohol is more harmful than all but the most "dangerous" drugs. When the level of harm associated with the other drugs includes harm that arises solely as a result of the drugs illegality rather than merely that danger which is associated with actually using the drugs, only heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and street methadone were shown to be more harmful than the legal drug alcohol).
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Case-studies: What do the case studies on Drug Wars show?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

  • Harm reduction drug policies work in many countries Ethan A. Nadelmann. National Review Online.: "harm reduction. That concept holds that drug policies need to focus on reducing crime, whether engendered by drugs or by the prohibition of drugs. And it holds that disease and death can be diminished even among people who can't, or won't, stop taking drugs. This pragmatic approach is followed in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, and parts of Germany, Austria, Britain, and a growing number of other countries."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Term "War": Is the term "War on Drugs" appropriate?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

  • War on Drugs is perceived as a war on citizens The Obama administration’s new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief, announced on May 13, 2010 that the US would no longer use the phrase 'war on drugs.' "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a war on drugs or a war on a product, people see a war as a war on them."[22]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Pro/con sources

[Add New]

Yes


[Add New]

No

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Organizations pro and con:

[Add New]

Yes

  • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) - Cited increase in cocaine prices in 2006 as evidence of success.[23]



[Add New]

No

  • Drug Policy Alliance.
  • Government Accountability Office.
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
  • DrugWarRant.com
  • Human Rights Watch, opposes the War on Drugs largely on the basis of the incarceration costs.



See also

External links and resources


Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.