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Opinion

Opinion

U.S. has lost the war on drugs

July 18, 2010

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Ron Allen probably thinks Alice Huffman has been smoking something.

Huffman, president of the California Conference of the NAACP, recently declared support for an initiative that, if passed by voters in November, will decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana. Huffman sees it as a civil rights issue.

In response, Bishop Allen, founder of a religious social activism group called the International Faith-Based Coalition, has come out swinging. “Why would the state NAACP advocate for blacks to stay high?” he demanded last week at a news conference in Sacramento. “It’s going to cause crime to go up. There will be more drug babies.” Allen wants Huffman to resign.

But Huffman is standing firm, both in resisting calls for her head and in framing this as an issue of racial justice. There is, she notes, a pronounced racial disparity in the enforcement of marijuana laws. She’s right, of course. For that matter, there is a disparity in the enforcement of drug laws, period.

In 2007, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, 9.5 percent of blacks (about 3.6 million people) and 8.2 percent of whites (about 16 million) older than 12 reported using some form of illicit drug in the previous month. Yet, though there are more than “four times” as many white drug users as black ones, blacks represent better than half those in state prison on drug charges, according to The Sentencing Project. The same source says that though two-thirds of regular crack users are white or Latino, 82 percent of those sentenced in federal court for crack crimes are black. In some states, black men are jailed on drug charges at a rate 50 times higher than whites.

And so on.

So while the bishop hyperventilates about blacks “staying” high(?), he ignores a clearer and more present danger. As Michelle Alexander argues in her book, “The New Jim Crow,” those absurd sentencing rates, combined with laws making it legal to discriminate against even nonviolent former felons in hiring, housing and education, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system.

Allen worries about a baby being born addicted to pot, but the likelier scenario is that she will be born to a father unable to secure a job so he can support her, an apartment for her to live in or an education so he can better himself for her — all because he got caught with a joint 10 years ago.

It is a cruel and ludicrous predicament. And apparently Huffman, like a growing number of cops, judges, DEA agents, pundits and even conservative icons like the late William F. Buckley Jr. and Milton Friedman, has decided to call the War on Drugs what it is: a failure. It is time to find a better way, preferably one that emphasizes treatment over incarceration.

You’d think that would be a no-brainer. We have spent untold billions of dollars, ruined untold millions of lives and racked up the highest incarceration rate in the world to fight drug use. Yet, we saw casual drug use “rise” by 2,300 percent between 1970 and 2003, according to an advocacy group called LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). And as drug use skyrocketed, we find that we have moved the needle on “addiction” not even an inch, up or down. All we have managed, and at a ruinous cost, is to re-learn the lesson of 1933 when alcohol Prohibition collapsed: You cannot jail or punish people out of wanting what they want.

I’ve never used drugs. I share Bishop Allen’s antipathy toward them. But it seems silly and self-defeating to allow that reflexive antipathy to bind us to the same strategy that has failed for 30 years. By now, one thing should be obvious about our War on Drugs.

Drugs won.

l

Note: In a recent column, I referred to Glenn Beck as a CNN talk show host. He is, of course, employed by Fox.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com. lpitts@miamiherald.com

Comments

denak 4 years, 5 months ago

Pitts makes a few common but erroneous assumptions in his article. First, the solution to solving the disparity in drug sentencing is not to legalize drugs but to change the sentencing guidelines.

Secondly, the state already spends untold millions on treatment. I work with addicts. The state provides waivers for treatment, mortgage and housing assistance, vehicles, cell phones, vocational rehabilitation, educational assistance, medication and a slew of other services. This just on the addict. Add in the collateral damage done to the children, and we spend millions more through the foster care system, school expenditures, hospital costs, and the increase chance that those kids will they, themselves, become addicts.

One of the reasons so many people do eventually get their life together is because the legal ramifications knock some sense into them. Unfortunately, it usually takes a few trips through the revolving door of rehab and prison to knock some sense into them BUT most of them wouldn't get any help whatsoever if not sentenced. Does it always work? NO, it doesn't because addiction is not a simplistic thing. It takes a multi-tiered approach by multiple agencies. Agencies that are already underfunded. It is naive to say that we would put all that money we supposedly waste on the war on drugs into treatment. We wouldn't do that and what we would end up having if we legalized drugs, are a lot of ruined lives. More so, then we already do.

Dena

denak 4 years, 5 months ago

When a person does an intake assessment, they list their two primary drugs. Marijuana is often times the first drug.A good deal of the time, it is followed by either meth or alcohol. However, sometimes,it is the only drug.

Many times they are self-medicating because of diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illnesses. In fact, I think most people would be appalled at the number of people who are mentally ill and using drugs. It isn't as simple saying, "its our bodies, let us do what we want with it."

Marijuana is not a benign drug. It isn't on the same level as crack or meth but is still harmful and people can and do get addicted to it and it also has a negative effect on a child in utero.

Dena

sourpuss 4 years, 5 months ago

Under your logic about "ruined lives" then we should also make alcohol illegal again. In terms of my own childhood, I had an alcoholic parent and a pot smoking parent, and the alcoholic parent, by far, embarrassed, enraged, saddened, and affected me than the pot smoking parent who was gentle, patient, and kind. I completely disagree with you about people "getting their lives together" because of legal ramifications. Again, by your logic, people only abstain from behavior because of its legality. Honestly, you can't treat an addict to -anything- if that person does not want to be treated, be it "drugs", alcohol, food, sex... Casual, even regular-casual use does not an addict make. My occasional beer on the weekend does not make me an alcoholic any more than the two joints of pot I smoked during chemotherapy makes me a pothead. I don't like marijuana so I don't smoke it. I don't care if it is legal or not. Personally, I would appreciate it if I didn't have some holier-than-thou teetotaller telling me what I can and can't do with my body and having that neuroses backed up by government laws. Just legalize drugs and leave people alone about it, cocaine and heroin included.

Dragon_Wheels 4 years, 5 months ago

So when the heroin or cocaine addict busts into your home and beats you and your family bloody so they can steal everything you own to pay for their addiction, we shouldn't expect you to call the law or whine about your broken jaw, or mewl about your lost property, right? I have 2 siblings who are/were heroin addicts. One robbed me blind to feed her addiction, broke my mother's jaw when told she could not come into my mother's home, and abused, then abandoned, all three of her children. The other lived on the streets, panhandled for years, was on the verge of death, until he was arrested and forced into a drug and alcohol rehab program as his sentence. He now has a job, a home, a family. Do not preach on that which you do not understand. My family has been through hell because of drug use, which, surprisingly, all started with "harmless" pot smoking.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

The only reason they commit crimes to feed their addictions is because these drugs are illegal, which creates a lucrative black market that drives the prices up.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

All of those activities are and would still be illegal if simple drug use were legalized.

The same way that DUI is illegal even though alcohol use is legal.

And, legalizing drugs would bring prices down, and probably decrease the surrounding criminal activity, just as the repeal of Prohibition did.

denak 4 years, 5 months ago

This is a blanket answer to sourpuss and bozo,

Sourpuss, You're right....to a point. You can't treat an addict if the addict does not want to be treated. That is why I am not a huge fan of court mandated drug treatment. However, you're wrong also. Eventually, for many, the legal cost becomes to great to bear and they realize they need help. Sometimes it is the 4th time in prison, sometimes it is getting their children taken away, sometimes it is losing their job because they got caught stealing again.

People have this erroneous notion of addicts being out of control. Sometimes addicts are very functional for long periods of time and then go on binges. Sometimes, they are abstain during the week, but drink until they black out on weekends. And sometimes they will go through treatment and stay clean for 10 years and fall off the wagon. Often times, it starts with them thinking they are "cured" and that they can just have that one beer or one joint. As for your characterization of those who use marijuana and those who are alcoholic, it is incomplete. Most addicts are the most manipulative people you will ever meet. They will tell you in one breath how much they love you and then throw your but under a bus in the next instant. Furthermore, most of the addicts I work with do not have very good life skills. I think if you are honest with yourself and you look back at your childhood, you will realize it was probably a lot more chaotic and negative than you want to admit. I can't tell you how many times I read a person's profile and find out that they took their first drink at 7 or their first hit at 11. If mom and dad use drugs or drink excessively, the child learns that that is the way to cope with issues and life's challenges. It is a vicious, vicious cycle. The child grows up to do the same thing mom and dad did and their children (if they retain custody) grow up to do the same thing.

Bozo, legalizing drugs would not stop the crime. Legalization does not make the drug addictive, the substances in the drug make it addictive. People will do ANYTHING to get their drug especially if they are an addict. Legalization solves nothing. It won't decrease crime because an addict doesn't care about the laws to begin with. The addict will still prostitute him or herself. The addict will still steal. The addict will still cash bad checks. The addict will still lie and cheat. It is naive to believe that if drugs are legalized the prices will go down. Demand determines price. And lastly, just who is going to dispense these drugs? If the government legalizes, it will put controls on it just like at a pharmacy. When the addict does not get what he needs, he will do all of those things that I mention above.

Dena

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

Well, we'd have to look at the prices of drinking before and after Prohibition was repealed - I'm pretty sure the price went down.

And, the controls could be similar to alcohol - there's a wide range of alcoholic beverages available.

And, again, if it's legal, all of the associated criminal underworld and the associated problems would be eliminated.

Addicts will still be addicts, and there will be negative effects from that, but overall I think those will be much diminished if drugs were legal.

Do you favor prohibiting alcohol and cigarette use? If not, why not?

denak 4 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for you kind words.

One thing, I do think we need to get out of Columbia, Peru and Ecuador. I think the WOD has caused untold anguish for the Indigenous peoples of those countries and I think concentrating out efforts in that area is futile.

I think we would have more success if we concentrated on our borders. And I don't mean rounding up Mom and Pop Sanchez. Yes, some of them are mules but what they carry is minute compared to what is being brought into the country in semis. I went down to Nuevo Laredo a few years ago, and we had a Mexican border guard tell us that it is very easy for drug cartels to get drugs in this country because both Mexico and the U.S. border patrol is underfunded. For every 10 semis that go through, only one is checked because they do not have enough dogs or "x-ray" machines to see in the trucks. Plus, the fact that the ranchers, whose land border the border, on both sides, allow traffickers to use their land. No one is going after them.

As for whether law enforcement is the reason for success or all the government programs, who knows. When one is dealing with people, especially those with dysfunctions, it is always a gamble. In the end result, I don't know if it matters. I have seen some people turn their lives around. I had a client tell me a few days ago that she met a guy who is 40 years sober and he is still working his program. There are so many people who fail, because legal or not, the drugs are harmful, that it is good to hear of a success story.

uncleandyt 4 years, 5 months ago

Change the sentencing guidelines? Do the current guidelines call for the racial disparity in jail time? Secondly, yes it's the money, LeBowskis. There is huge money to be made in testing, rehab, snack foods, lighters, baggies, chore-boy, private prisons, and all the things you mentioned. Money spent by someone or the State is money collected by someone else. I don't think the illegal drugs will be legalized. It would ruin a lot of businesses. Prison ruins lives also, probably moreso. What a mess. I'm so glad that I don't do drugs ! Who wants a beer?

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

One perspective - The 'war' lost. More like dam holding floodwaters back.

or another

Drug conviction amnesty needed, minorities are overrepresented in prison.

from drugwarfacts.org (pro marijuana from what I observe there)

(2008) "Current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older varied by race/ethnicity in 2008, with the lowest rate among Asians (3.6 percent) (Figure 2.9). Rates were 14.7 percent for persons reporting two or more races, 10.1 percent for blacks, 9.5 percent for American Indians or Alaska Natives, 8.2 percent for whites, 7.3 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, and 6.2 percent for Hispanics."

Quigly 4 years, 5 months ago

WOW and it took 2 decades to figure this out? Ignorance is bliss. We were loosing the WOD for years. Babies being addicted to pot? What year is this? Do I need to look behind my toilet for Communists also?

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

So, given the negative effects of alcohol use, should we be making it illegal as well?

His point is a good one - we should have learned from Prohibition that it just doesn't work.

If we legalized drugs and taxed them, we would not only have reduced our expenditures by millions/year, but would also now have revenue from those taxes. In addition, prices would go down, and the criminal underworld surrounding drugs (with all the associated violence/damage it does) would disappear. And, of course, if we stopped putting those folks in jail, we'd be spending quite a bit less there as well, and wouldn't be stigmatizing non-violent offenders with felonies on their records.

So, we'd have more revenue, lower expenses, more prison space for violent offenders, and less collateral damage from the drug underworld. Sounds good to me.

Any and all arguments against this could easily be made regarding alcohol use.

And, all activities which endanger children would still be illegal, and could be dealt with accordingly, the same way we do now with alcohol use, as would driving under the influence of drugs.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

The argument for legalization isn't that we'd have fewer addicts - it's that the associated costs/negatives to our society would be reduced, the same way they were when Prohibition was repealed.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

It'd eliminate a whole lotta costs

but

there would also be some unforseen new, or cost shifting going on.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

Like what?

Also, we'd create quite a few jobs, producing, distributing and selling the drugs.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

yeah, a niche boom

a potential new big tax revenue stream

but on day one you don't think there'd be some splurgers out there that would just literally die from the novelty of access?

tomatogrower 4 years, 5 months ago

We might actually have fewer addicts. I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't do drugs just because they are illegal; although they might have used that as an excuse against peer pressure. But there could be some who did it for the thrill of doing something illegal, or got into selling drugs to make money, then became addicted. I'll bet the people who would be most against legalization would be the dealers. They stand to lose money.

Bill Lee 4 years, 5 months ago

We spend millions trying to keep drugs from coming into this country. If we can't keep them out of our maximum security prisons, what make us think we can keep them from crossing our porous borders? The war on drugs was a joke from the beginning and remains one.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

it ain't no joke misterlee

The war on drugs was a tragedy from the beginning and remains one. The war on drugs was a fiasco from the beginning and remains one. The war on drugs was a waste from the beginning and remains one. The war on drugs was a way to increase the number of employees on gov't payroll from the beginning and remains one.

wait a minute? that does look rather funny.

still where'd we come from, where're we going?

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

There is such a thing as' Theraputic Communitiy'. Perhaps the NAACP should participate in prison outreach programs that promote funding ( TC ) from funds generated at thier rallies. I would also encourage the NAACP not to dicriminate between skin tones. The number Hispanics presenting for treatment has increased significantly in the past 5 years. Also drug treatment centers are prevelent in inner city neighboroods. It may just be that more NAACP members need to get thier hands dirty and volunteer. Rallies are great o incite but nothing speaks loadeer than good old one on one mentoring.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

sorry that was to be 'to" and "louder"/ I posted while coffee was brewing.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

If ifs were gifts, every day would be Christmas. (Charles Barkley)

deeds speak louder than words

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

I am confused here. The NAACP has had prison outreach programs since the early 70's. I would also like to know why you think the organization discriminates between skin tones, or really, an explanation of just what that means would be helpful. Yes, drug treatment centers are prevalent in inner city neighborhoods - please elaborate on this to explain why it was even mentioned in relation to this article. So, what you are saying is the NAACP only has rallies to incite? Incite what? I am truly curious. Some cited information would also be helpful. One-on-one mentoring is powerful - please explain how this fits the model of a therapeutic community.

Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

Wow, we get a free gift if we respond to your spam and buy some junk we don't need? Amazing!

Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

The drug war should be a moot point. Adults should be able to do with their bodies whatever they want as long as it doesn't abridge the rights of others.

We are not children of the state.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

where's that right codified? is it just below access to PC and www?

Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

Did your mommy forget to tell you how to ignore stuff?

geekin_topekan 4 years, 5 months ago

Blacks are 6X more likely to be sent to prison for their first time drug conviction than whites. The sentencing guidelines for powder cocaine, a presumed elite/white drug, is 1/10th that of crack cocaine, the poor man's drug.

The only documented case of homicidal behavior as a result of using marijuana could easily be traced to Andrew Jackson who grew the stuff on the white house grounds. When the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee Tribe in US vs. Cherokee Nation, he ignored the court's ruling and sent in the army anyway. A stoned president worked out great for the white folks so i can't see why the repubs are so fearful.

The so called war on drugs is nothing more than a corporate money grab. Privatization has created a system where the CEOs need criminals on your neighborhoods. They want drug users breaking into your home and stealing your stuff. They want you to feel unsafe to walk in your hometown. Fearful citizen is a generous citizen.

US citizens may have lost the war on drugs and the victor is in your back yard.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

some of my genetic ancesters gave the white man, who speak with forked tongue, tobacco. ain't poetic justice sweet?

If we only had smoking parks (for tobacco and marijuana) things would really be swell!

sourpuss 4 years, 5 months ago

The War on Drugs proves that Americans care more about what their neighbors are doing in their own basements than what their Congressmen are doing in their wallets.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

Right on!

Remember, write to your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write to him. (Will Rogers)

50YearResident 4 years, 5 months ago

There needs to be a distinction between 'Drug Users' and 'Drug Dealers'. Compare these figures and the convitions will look more realistic.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

yeah, the numbers are staggering. looked at some stats once. something like 500k convictons for posession and 68K for sale/distribution

pizzapete 4 years, 5 months ago

U.S. has lost the war on drugs, you can say that again. What a waste of money, addicts need treatment not incarceration.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

Addicts get treatment over& over again; both in and out of prison. In the U.S. we spend $600.00 per second on treatment & intervention. There are waiting lists to get in. The beds are always full. Drug treatment sucks trillions of dollars per year. Do you really want more drug treatment?

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

treatment only works on willing participants, the unwilling ones just use up the resource (for the most part)

50YearResident 4 years, 5 months ago

That is the problem, most addicts are not willing participants for treatment. They just simply don't want to get off of the drugs.

Corey Williams 4 years, 5 months ago

And we spend over $1900 a second to incarcerate marijuana offenders, and over $15000 a second in non prison prosecution costs.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

Isn't the therapeutic community you mentioned a form of treatment? So, are you saying treatment never works, or are you saying all drug addicts should be locked up? Do you have a cite for the $600 per second rate you stated?

LogJammer 4 years, 5 months ago

Trillions, huh? You know all those numbers ending with -illion aren't interchangeable, right?

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

http://www.drugsense.org/wodclock.htm

Fixed your link. I found the link to your $600 per second post.

This is interesting. What about drug courts?
http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/enforce/drugcourt.html

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

Well, big friggin Duh! Enough of our members of Congress seem to still have the 1950's mind set about the legalization of drugs in the U.S. that it may be awhile before legalization happens. Meanwhile, Mexican drug cartels have become established in major cities throughout our country; yes, in KC, too.

This month there was a territory battle looming for the OK territory, based in OK City, between the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels. Fortunately, the DEA got wind of it and arrested the new guy in town before things got really nasty. The cartels are laundering money in the U.S. and supposedly forming "blind" corporations to buy land in the U.S. Then there are the bankers who have, due to inexperience and ineptness, helped some of the cartels launder money and financed the cartels as well. Just one of the reasons Wachovia no longer exists.

It's going to get worse sooner than later if we don't legalize within the next two years and even that may not be soon enough. Eventually, the cartels battles for control will spill over and effect our general population, just as they have in Mexico and are beginning to in the Southwest border states.

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm thinking we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

Yeah inner cities because they were targeted for distribution by the government when the war on drugs started. Why because drug users can blend in inner cities & thier suppliers are everywhere because they blend too. Drugs coming in can be distributed quickly in major metro areas. This is also why the place treatment centers and clinics in these areas as well. This is not about race it is about poverty.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

I understand this all too well. Doesn't answer my question.. (shrug) What about the NAACP statements you made - I am truly interested in why you believe they discriminate based on "skin tones" and what it is exactly they "incite" during a rally.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

So we legalize it all.

Then what would the criminals do?

Just a passing thought.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

the dealers and those up the illegal drug supply chain?

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

Too funny! Brings to mind my first corporate job over in KC, the CEO Capella, Pres. Bunda, Division Anthony/all HQed in Chicago. District Mgr in KC/Fiorella

Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

Quit stealing, trip on Chinese-grown Walmart shrooms and listen to The Doors. If I was a thief and they legalized drugs, that's what I'd do.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

I know it by heart and my corporate jingle.

seriouscat 4 years, 5 months ago

There was never a "war" to begin with. For a real war there has to be some final goal, whish would entail an actual end. That was never the intention at all.

And pot is not a drug any more than my morning coffee or a coca leaf or gensing tea is a drug.

ECM 4 years, 5 months ago

Pots not a drug...really. So the guy that was high on pot and killed two of my friends wasn't altered at all from being high? Right.

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

Riiiight. We're going to send platoons of our armed forces into Mexico, without the invitation of the Mexican government, to fight the drug war. In other words invade Mexico and start a real war with a country bordering ours.

You know, on second thought, the GOP probably think that's a great idea. But they'll probably confuse Nuevo Mexico with Old Mexico and get lost in the sand dunes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

Correct-- prohibitions are mostly ineffective.

But legalizing drugs will not mean an end to problems of drug addiction, and the proliferation of guns will not make any of us any safer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

No, it doesn't make people safer. The only thing that will make people safer is if we all become less prone to violence, and gun ownership (or at least the insistence on it) has the exact opposite effect.

notorious_agenda 4 years, 5 months ago

Yes. sorry, gun ownership overall does make us "safer"

Dragon_Wheels 4 years, 5 months ago

Legalize pot, but do not allow Welfare or any other benefit to anyone who smokes it, period. Everyone who smokes it knows it kills any drive or iniative and I refuse to let my tax dollars support anyone smoking it, but go ahead and make it legal. Personally, I think we should legalize all of it, heroin, coke, and anything else idiots want to put in their body. It's their body, right? On the other hand, you must support your own habit, just as most alcoholics do. Any consequences of your drug use are your problem, do not visit them upon anyone else. If you are caught stealing or hurting anyone to support your habit, you get the death penalty. You will not be entitled to any social services if the services you seek are as a result of your drug use. You must pay taxes on your drug of choice. If you die from your drug use too bad, so sad. We can save millions in social services for junkies, millions not having to support junkies in prison. Why should we care if someone wants to kill themselves slowly but surely? They'd eventually all die out and no longer be a problem.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"Everyone who smokes it knows it kills any drive or iniative"

Yea, and everyone who ever has a beer becomes an alcoholic and beats their spouse and kids.

Dragon_Wheels 4 years, 5 months ago

Not necessarily an alcoholic but anyone drinking too many beers can, and often does, beat his/her spouse and kids, or drives a car and kills a few innocents, or falls down the stairs and breaks a neck, and so on. I am a product of alcoholics and have addicts for siblings, so don't go there. I'll assume you are a pot smoker. Been there, done that, stand by my comment.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"I'll assume you are a pot smoker."

You have no basis for this assumption, and it adds nothing to the discussion.

Pot is like most other drugs-- its effect varies from person to person. Some people can smoke every day, all day, and they function normally. For other folks, one toke of ditch weed and they are precisely what you describe. Apparently, you must be one of the latter-- that doesn't mean everyone is just like you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

I'll add one thing.

From my observations, among people who have motivational problems even when stone-cold sober, marijuana exacerbates that characteristic.

Among those who are normally highly motivated, pot has very little effect on their "motivation."

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, but that's just not true.

Pot is a drug that makes people generally want to hang out quietly, listen to music, groove on various things, and eat a lot.

It's a much more introverted effect than alcohol, which makes people want to talk loudly, argue, and get into fights.

andyk 4 years, 5 months ago

"On the other hand, you must support your own habit, just as most alcoholics do." I know you said "most", but I feel that it's important to remember that many drunks do still get free beer from the govt. I know a few.

lhaller76 4 years, 5 months ago

I am never surprised when I see articles like this.....wake up America we are not as free as we think we are!

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

When it comes to drugs we sure are. Contrary to what the NAACP has to say about it, drugs to not check your skin tone at the door. Drugs don't care who your mother or father was they are equal opportuinty destroyers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"Contrary to what the NAACP has to say about it, drugs to not check your skin tone at the door."

NAACP has never said anything even remotely like that. What they have said is that enforcement of drug laws is what is checking skin color, and the statistics bear that out very clearly.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

Alot of light toned ,persons are in prison for drugs. Federal prisons. The NAACP is trying to keep divisivenss alive and well. Notice the drug mentioned in the article is crack. The number one drug on the street right now is Meth. Who makes Meth? It isn't inner city kids. If you scew statistics enough, if you focus on target populations then of course you will increase your numbers statistically speaking. We should spend less time worrying what color the dead guy on the corner is and more on trying to find out who he was.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"The NAACP is trying to keep divisivenss alive and well."

No, they are merely the messenger pointing out that divisiveness is alive and well, and all you can think to do is shoot the messenger.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

I would then ask my question again (do you have an aversion to answering specific questions?)

Here it is again:

What about the NAACP statements you made - I am truly interested in why you believe they discriminate based on "skin tones" and what it is exactly they "incite" during a rally.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

...and I would add to that question - what does a "light skin tone" have to do with any of this? There are plenty of white people in prisons. Federal prisons. So what?

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

Leonard Pitts is divisive too. I have yet to see a Sunday column where there was't a argument about race. Just because Leonard Pitts dislikes Fox news, it does not mean everything related to Fox is untrue.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

It is sadly normal for a racist to have no insight into their own prejudices. However, it is not acceptable, in my eyes, to ignore racism of any sort simply because others may feel it is being "divisive" for bringing it to light.

You obviously have no facts to back up your convoluted claims.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

On that note - just because you don't like Leonard Pitts, doesn't mean everything he says is untrue.

Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

I hope you were wearing a lab coat while experimenting.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

The reason I do not care for Leonard Pitts is because he draws such a harsh line. For him it is either black or white( or should I say night or day) The truth is there are all kinds of people in this world. I only know a couple people on this forum ( at least I have met a couple) If I disagree it is based on what has been posted by them, not because of race. Because I do not know thier race by what they post. The war on drugs is about life and death not race. People of all backgrounds die from drug use. Only racists keep count of who it is that is dead as a result. The rest of us mourn equally.

beatrice 4 years, 5 months ago

And what do you have to say about the fact that that blacks are more likely to go to jail for drug charges than are whites?

If the enforcement isn't equal across racial lines -- and it isn't -- then the system is flawed. I believe this is what Pitts, in part, is saying here. Wouldn't you agree with this?

beatrice 4 years, 5 months ago

So if blacks are more likely to be given prison sentences, and longer prison sentences, than whites for breaking drug laws, you don't think this as a flaw in the system?

You can't be serious. Please explain how you could come to this view.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"The reason I do not care for Leonard Pitts is because he draws such a harsh line. For him it is either black or white"

Actually, Pitts's columns are quite often about the very wide gray lines that exist on so many of the issues confronting us, including this one.

But even when there are gray lines in an issue, some aspects of it are indeed black and white. Why do you have such difficulty in acknowledging the rather stark racial disparity in how the war on drugs is enforced?

beatrice 4 years, 5 months ago

Have we ever fought a win or lose battle on drugs? It has always been more like an "Occupation on Drugs." We seem to be in it for the long haul, with constant battles along the way, without there ever being the hope of actually winning anything.

ralphralph 4 years, 5 months ago

I have come to the point of believe that the "war on drugs" is, in fact, lost, and that it probably shouldn't be continued. All the points have been hit above ... the cost, the damage, the lack of any progress, the violence which has given rise to folks south of us acting a lot like Capone and Dillinger during the prohibition era. The war, if it was a war, failed.

I cannot, though, bring myself to ignore the effects I have seen on people I know who have been hooked on, for instance, Meth. Those effects are devastating and the addiction can be overwhelming and seemingly unbreakable. It seems that whereas pot can make people lazy and stupid, Meth might make them sick and dead.

How do I square my belief that the "war on drugs" is unsustainable with my observation of the effects of the "hard stuff" on people around me? Anybody?

beatrice 4 years, 5 months ago

So much money is spent on marijuana enforcement that the harder stuff is allowed to slip through. Imagine if every dime spent on trying to stop people from smoking weed (false education about addiction, court and jail costs, etc...) went to preventing meth use. Think it wouldn't have a positive impact on the availability and education about the hard stuff? Recognizing the difference between the hard stuff and the not hard stuff is the first step in making the war on drugs a reasonable thing to battle.

Recognizing that the current war on drugs is unsustainable isn't the same as saying you think people should have access to all illegal drugs. It would be like someone claiming they are against the death penalty, but that doesn't mean they are against jail sentences. You can recognize that the war on pot is unsustainable, but fighting abuse and addiction to other manufactured drugs is a social necessity. It is the right thing to do. Just get pot out of the equation first and then it will be reasonable to fight the hard stuff.

How was that?

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

Alcohol and cigarette use have extremely negative effects on human beings physically and mentally, but are legal.

Legalizing drugs is not a statement that they are good for you, it's a statement that the government shouldn't be trying to regulate behavior that is bad for people.

If we're trying to make sure people don't do anything that's bad for them, we'll have to outlaw alcohol, cigarettes, unhealthy food, etc.

If not, we should legalize drugs.

beatrice 4 years, 5 months ago

But when blacks are more likely to serve longer prison sentences for similar crimes ... kill the messenger, correct?

JimmyJoeBob 4 years, 5 months ago

Since Law Enforcement primarily goes after the dealers what are the percentages of black dealers versus the percentages of black dealers. Users are generally the people being preyed upon by the dealers

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

What? No! Heroine was marketed by the Bayer company in the early 1900's or so as a pain reliever. Abuse of the substance came later. Methadone was introduced to urban neighborhoods( a sort of test run in densly populated use areas) as a way to ween addicts off the heroine. At the time they were not aware it would become addictive.

It is rumored that crack was introduced first to inner city groups( with the same concept) as a way to ween addicts off cocaine in it's pure form. Some say a FBI chemist came up with this, but that is not confirmed. The concept was that a dirivative of a base drug broken down would be less addictive and it was hoped that addicts could be weened from the subsequent drug more easily. In practice however they found the darivitives were equally as addictive.

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

edjayhawk, that story dates back to the late 50's early '60's during the civil rights days and it was allegedly the CIA that introduced hard narcotics in the ghetto to keep the blacks down.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

Yeah " say hello to my little friend" You know there is a reason why Doctors say take medication as it is perscribed. If a doctor tells you to take one tablet orally every day that is what he means. He doesn't tell you for faster effect to water it down , load a syringe & inject it. That can be deadly and this is why dosages are based on how the system can break down the particular base. Moriphine ( which is where heroin comes from) is a strong pain killer. It was used in the field to aid soldiers who stepped on land mines or had missles shot into thier camp. You know major injuries. The average person would not need that much moriphine for a migraine When a medication in in pill form once injested it passes through phases in order for the body to absorb the chemical safely. Over time though abusers found that snorting( never snort heroin) and injection were quicker ways to get the drug into thier system and that it also amplified the effect drastically. The reason being that the drug does not absorb when snorted or injected it skips passes that would naturally break the substance down safely. The result is that you have too conentrated amounts to soon. This creates the rush drug addicts seek. Long term use build immunity which requires the body to need more to achieve the same rush. Hospitals still use moriphine today by injection. We don't hear the term Heroine except associated with abuse ( Heroin was actually a brand name) at times we get perscriptions in pill form that are similar to Heroin though, your phamacists will call it Codine. So far as i know neither Moriphine or Codine have a target group that they are percribed to.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

Mom used to get Chericol couph syrup at the drug store OTC. Codine was the active ingredient. Sure quited the cough.

RiverCityConservative 4 years, 5 months ago

There was never any war on drugs. There was instead a convenient rhetorical prop for winning political points at the expense of thousands of decent human beings and their families who have suffered the effects of short-sighted social policies that used drugs as an excuse to rip apart families, incarcerate peaceful citizens, and auction off the private property of anyone unlucky enough to be convicted of a serious drug crime. How many lives have been harmed by this rhetorical flight of fancy that we can thank Reagan and a number of Democrats who colluded with his administration in creating these policies.

LogJammer 4 years, 5 months ago

This argument should really shift away from the effects of drugs. We all know that alcohol's worse than weed, crack kills, etc., etc.

The penal aspect of this is more important. You may know someone who got busted, got locked up, and ultimately got clean. But they're an outlier. Most who go to jail for drugs are introduced to a world of violence and dehumanization previously unimaginable to them. If/when they're released, they're changed on the inside and all but excluded from the society they supposedly wronged. It's hard enough to find work now without being an ex-con.

Precluding a past offender from working, as Pitts says, is residual punishment. You may have no sympathy for that, but surely you feel for the offenders' children. And if you are hard-hearted enough not to, think of how it affects you. The society into which these inmates are released is yours, and your childrens.' Treatment isn't always effective, but neither is jail. And I'm far less worried about walking home among the recently treated than the recently incarcerated.

As far as the racial aspect of this goes, the numbers just don't lie. My anecdotal evidence, which I'm not really proud of, is that I'm no stranger to recreational drug use, but I never really feared being arrested. I doubt many kids in the inner cities would say the same.

Lastly, the worst case scenario is already upon us, all but proving the futility of the drug war. It's time for action, not mindless "tough on crime" politicking. The drug cartels are ultraviolent and indiscriminate. We should have been regulating and taxing these substances all along, and not doing so has allowed the cartels to thrive and encroach into America. Every cent we waste locking up nonviolent drug users in the name of the War on Drugs is ultimately diverted from what will be an ACTUAL WAR on drug cartels.

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

Are you saying this is a current action by the U.S. government? Which agency? Please explain, because I don't know what you are talking about.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

Morphine and heroin are opiates. Heroin was developed by a British chemist, then marketed by Bayer. They thought it would be useful in the treatment of morphine addicts. Of course they found out differently. Artichokeheart - if you wish to discuss instead of dictate, I suggest you find another source of information as yours is flawed. Everything else you said made no sense and certainly did not address the question as to why you do not believe there is an unequal enforcement of drug laws based on race.

Logjammer - nice post.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

I never said drug laws were unequal based on race. Not once. A drug is a drug and it matters little how many times you break it down; whatever the form it will be addictive if abused or used improperly. This is why treating drug addiction with drugs has never been effective. I will say this one more time real slow. The most prevelent cause of addiction is poverty. If not for that those who become addicted would not feel the need to escape into oblivian in order to feel at ease. Densly populated areas have a higher incident of usage because there are more people. It is not uncommon for areas such as this to have more low income residents at low paying jobs, I know a white woman in Edgewood who has less to work with than Claude Brown did in the Promised land. You however will discount her because she is not within the relhm of your argument and her story will likely never be on the best seller list.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 5 months ago

It's settled then - you are just not the brightest when it comes to research, reading comprehension or being able to understand the basis of the article. I know you can't help that, not everyone is smart. However, your denial of racism is unforgivable.

Reuben Turner 4 years, 5 months ago

I JUST READ THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE AND THAT IS WHAT I WILL COMMMENT ON. THE WAR ON DRUGS IS PROBABLY NEVER GOING TO BE ONE, BECAUSE WE HAVE SOME REAL BAD ADDICTS OVER HERE TOO. AND AS LONGS AS THERE IS A NEED, IT WILL CONTINUE TO BE A PROBLEM. LET'S STOP BLAMING ALL THIS ON THE BORDER AND FOREIGNERS; WE ARE A BIG PART OF THE PROBLEM TOO; A REAL BIG PART OF THE PROBLEM.

ralphralph 4 years, 5 months ago

On the race issue here, I think the point is misplaced -- not entirely wrong, but missing a point. My experience is that the people who end up in prison are POOR people, not rich people. Distinguish that from Black people vs non-Black people. You may argue, and you may or may not be right, that those poor people are poor because they are Black; I think, though, that they are in jail more often not because they are Black but because they are poor.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 5 months ago

Heroin was initially a brand name. There is no unequal enforcement of the law. If you sell drugs you go to jail. If the law was unequal only black individuals would be in prisons and jails for drug sales and use. That is simply not the case. There are plenty of white's Hispanics and Asians incarcerated for drug sales and use. Also there are people of all races and genders incarcerated for indirect associiation with drugs. Wether it be theft murder or other crimes.Statistics have always been dependant on who is counting the beans. The NAACP is little more than a radical group that incites divisiness as i have said multiple times. They exist solely for the advancment of one group. That is the definition of racism. Having said that it is a damn shame that so many surpport the act of racism that they are so opposed to.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

MacHeath is correct-- while heroin addiction is never a good thing, most addicts if given a pure supply of consistent potency can function relatively normally-- probably more normally than the average alcoholic does.

But when addicts have to get heroin on the street, it's very expensive, it's often been adulterated with potentially dangerous contaminants, and the unknown potency can easily lead to overdoses.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

I strongly advocate legalization.

But, it seems silly to me to deny the negative effects of drugs. They are all harmful.

Sigmund 4 years, 5 months ago

The "War on Poverty" has also failed. In this time of soaring Federal budgets deficits it is time to face reality; despite untold billions wasted poverty won. Time to stop the "Great Society" social spending irrespective of any hyperventilations from the like of Pitt's.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

The fact is that as imperfectly as the so-called War on Poverty was implemented, in did, in fact, greatly alleviate many of the worst aspects of poverty.

But thanks to Reaganism, a bizarre version of Schadenfreude has infected the national psyche wherein anybody unfortunate to be poor is that way because God wants them that way.

Sigmund 4 years, 5 months ago

Correct, the War on Poverty is a complete failure despite the billions spent before and after Reagan. I guess if the government subsidises poverty and laziness the country will get more of it. Who would guessed?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

Do you think it's a coincidence that the poverty rate increases when Republicans are in charge?

http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/

"How has poverty changed over time?

In the late 1950s, the poverty rate for all Americans was 22.4 percent, or 39.5 million individuals. These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.

For the next ten years, the poverty rate remained above 12.8 percent, increasing to 15.1 percent, or 39.3 million individuals, by 1993. The rate declined for the remainder of the decade, to 11.3 percent by 2000. From 2000 to 2004 it rose each year to 12.7 in 2004."

And it weren't for Social Security and Medicare, the following would not be the case--

"Since the late 1960s, the poverty rate for people over 65 has fallen dramatically."

But there is still much to be done-- unless you're a Republican.

"The poverty rate for children has historically been somewhat higher than the overall poverty rate. The poverty rate for people in households headed by single women is significantly higher than the overall poverty rate."

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