mm439: Let’s choose ALL of our wars more wisely

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MUDGE’S Musings

Today’s a day when I very well might wish I were a user of “recreational chemicals.”

Monday.

Reported to the office at 6:45am.

At the end of the day, saw a new doctor for yet another new indication.

Came home to old and new family and economic stresses.

Ugh.

Might be fun to escape, for even a little while.

But.

I’ve always tried to be a law abiding citizen. Regardless of the usefulness or the sensibleness of the law.

When the kids of my Boomer generation embraced the dope-smoking, LSD-tripping, free-love ’60s and early ’70s, burning flags and bras, I remained a pretty straight arrow.

Married my high school sweetheart. Never smoked anything stronger than tobacco, ever. And I couldn’t ever get used to inhaling.

Once in a while I drank too much; not often, though, the outcome was embarrassing.

But you don’t have to be a drug (ab)user (or perchance, the parent of one) to know a pointless war when you see it.

We’ve written on the subject of this country’s wrong-headed crusade against drugs several times before, most recently when we enjoyed Steve Chapman’s incisive decriminalization opinion piece. You might enjoy seeing that one again; there is a link to another war on drugs post you might also find of interest.

The World Health Organization has weighed in on the subject recently. I know, it’s an organization filled with wild-eyed radicals.

alternet12

The World Health Organization Documents Failure of U.S. Drug Policies

By Bruce Mirken, AlterNet. Posted July 2, 2008.
WHO survey of 17 countries finds that we have the highest rates of marijuana and cocaine use.

The United States has some of the world’s most punitive drug policies and has led the cheering section for tough “war on drugs” policies worldwide, but a new international study suggests that those policies have been a crashing failure. A World Health Organization survey of 17 countries, conducted by some of the world’s leading substance abuse researchers, found that we have the highest rates of marijuana and cocaine use.

The numbers are startling. In the United States, 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the United States leading the world by a large margin.

This study is important because it’s the first time a respected international group has surveyed drug use around the world, using the same questions and procedure everywhere. While many countries have their own drug use surveys, the questions and methodology vary, and comparisons between countries are difficult. This new study eliminates that problem.

Some of the most striking numbers are from the Netherlands, where adults are permitted to possess a small of marijuana and purchase it from regulated businesses. Some U.S. officials have claimed that these Dutch policies have created some sort of decadent cesspool of drug abuse, but the new study demolishes such assertions: In the Netherlands, only 19.8 percent have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.

Isn’t that interesting. The Netherlands, infamous for its freely available marijuana in coffee shops, has fewer users, who start using at an older age, than in tightly controlled U.S. Oh, marijuana is illegal in the Netherlands; it’s a law that they just choose not to enforce.

The World Health Organization Documents Failure of U.S. Drug Policies | DrugReporter | AlterNet

From the same source, AlterNet.org comes this related piece:

alternet12

How Long Does Drug Prohibition Need to Continue Before It’s Declared a Failure?

By David Borden, Drug War Chronicle. Posted June 30, 2008.

How long does an experiment need to continue before it’s declared a failure?

For alcohol prohibition, our US version, it was about 13 years. Between mafia crime, poisonings from adulterated beverages, and the dropping age at which people were becoming alcoholics, Americans decided that the “Noble Experiment” — whether it should actually be regarded as noble or not — was a bad idea. And they ended it. New York State did its part 75 years ago today, ratifying the 21st amendment to repeal the 18th amendment, bringing the Constitution one state closer to being restored. It took another half a year, until December 5th, to get the 36 states on the board that were needed at the time to get the job done. But Americans of the ’30s recognized the failure of the prohibition experiment, and they took action by enacting legalization of alcohol.

A stalwart bastion of the establishment, the billionaire (at a time when the term really was unique) John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil, weighed in on prohibition this way.

Industrialist John D. Rockefeller described the evolution of his thinking that led to the recognition of prohibition’s failure, in a famous 1932 letter:

“When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”

It’s no less true today when it comes to our illegal drug war. What is restricted most tightly turns out to be the most attractive.

And a source of wealth to our enemies around the world, not least the Taliban.

How Long Does Drug Prohibition Need to Continue Before It’s Declared a Failure? | DrugReporter | AlterNet

Isn’t it time to stop the madness? Besides, we need all that prison space for members of the Bush administration!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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