How do we stop the War on Drugs?

morrisonhimself asked this question on 5/20/2000:

Scholars and even slightly educated people with common sense and a knowledge of history know about alcohol prohibition and its effect on crime during the 1920s. Yet apparently few "opinion leaders" make the connection to drug prohibition and crime in our time.
Is there any way the average American citizen can make the old-party politicians realize the danger to our peace and our freedom that the so-called War on Drugs is?
What course of action can we take to get the attention of the Republicans and Democrats? (I note New Mexico's Governor Gary Johnson was pilloried when he -- rightly -- called for changes.)
Michael Morrison

madpol gave this response on 5/21/2000:

The short answer is that too many people on both sides of the law are making too much money, and acquiring too much power for their other agendas to want to see common sense enter into the drug war. That's why anti-drug groups always fight appropriations for treatment programs.

Not only does the Drug War make people forget their history, it makes Republicans forget their economics.

For the last 30 years, the US anti-drug strategy has been to set artificially high prices, discourage competition, promote cartels, and provides billions of dollars worth of free advertising and celebrity endorsements of specific drugs.

If there is still anyone who believes in Reaganomics, why aren't we trying the things that Republicans claim destroy other industries? Legalize drugs, Break up the monopolies, Overregulate, Tax punitively, Encourage labor unions, let people sue for as much as they want with the burden of proof on the suppliers.

That might not work entirely, it hasn't with cigarettes yet, but at least it would be consistent.

The problem is that people who say that the ends justify the means, are usually more in love with the means than the ends.

JesseGordon gave this response on 5/21/2000:

The needed course of action is to continue pointing out the fallacies and hypocrisy of drug prohibition, collect up influential people who believe that they're fallacies and hypocrisies, and then wait for the current hysteria to end.

The Governor of NM was pilloried by some, but was held up as an example of common-sense thinking by many others. And there have been other high politicians who have touted common-sense too -- then-Secretary of State George Schultz refused to take a urine test for drugs, and hence single-handedly weakened Reagan's federal employee drug policy.

I thought in 1992 that Clinton had made a real difference by admitting (sort of) that he had smoked pot, and winning anyway. Gore at that time admitted fully that he had smoked pot, and I assumed that when he ran, he would be common-sensical about pot. But his stances are as pro-Drug War as Bush's, so that will have to wait for the next election. (See for his views).

However, there has been some progress. Both major candidates in this presidential election admit having smoked pot (more or less). Bush is only "more or less" because he says he hasn't touched pot in 25 years, but was "young and irresponsible" prior to that. See s.htm for the full quotes.

Both major candidates still toe the line on the Drug War. I think they feel obligated to do so, despite the inherent hypocrisy of former pot experimenters forbidding the same in their kids, because they sense the American people's ongoing hysteria about the issue. Certainly, the federal government has fed that hysteria with ad campaigns about the evils of drugs; and that's where perhaps things will change under Bush or Gore. Assuming they don't actually believe in the Drug War, they can tone it down enough to decrease the urgency of anti-drug warriors, and then in the next election perhaps some common-sense policies will be possible.

And there are some third-party candidates who point out, as you do, that Drug Prohibition yields the same results as alcohol prohibition. Harry Browne, the Libertarian party candidate, is pretty fervent about it (see Nader, the Green Party candidate, hasn't said much yet, but is likely to come out against the Drug War (he endorses legalizing industrial hemp -- crossing the Rubicon for many drug war proponents).

In summary, the road to ending the Drug War, I think, will be a long one. What can a concerned citizen do? Not much in the current setting of hysteria. But you can hone your advocacy skills at "The Forum on Drugs" at 1 . And you can read about the candidates' views at

morrisonhimself rated this answer:

Mike, one thing that can be done, of course, is to write the New Mexico legislature urging support for Johnson's views. A grass roots effort from a national audience may begin to convince legislators that they could be on the cutting edge of a new groundswell. Remember the song Alice's Restaurant?

Return to index