Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« 'Alberta's greed is a threat to the world' | Main | While pro-aborts celebrated downtown »

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Compendium of Conservatives on Drugs

No, no, don't worry. I'm not about to out all of the conservatives who have gone ahead and smoked the reefer or snorted the cocaine or got a little high on prescription drugs. This isn't a post about hypocrisy. Instead, it's a post about all of the conservatives who have seen fit to urge an end to the war on drugs.

The war on drugs is a disaster. And it is unjust. And this law is insane. And it is a waste of money. And it is a big government program. And it is a nanny state program. And it is all of those things, and more.

Some time in the not-too-distant future, you will agree with me. The daily deluge of policy papers, academic scribblings, op-eds, medical journal findings, and public opinion polls which all point in a similar direction is bound to have an effect on you. If not today, then tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, then a week or month from now. And if you still think it a good idea to incarcerate pot smokers and growers 20 years from now, you will change your mind 20 years later. But the longer it takes for you to change your mind, the longer will this disaster of a policy continue. The longer will we have to put up with lives utterly ruined and destroyed by this policy.

This post is aimed at small- and big-c conservatives. At those who are conservative philosophically, and those who support the political party. It is not really intended for anyone else, since the authorities I cite, and the instances I give are tailored to convince conservatives, not liberals, socialists, and so on.

Thoughtful and intelligent conservatives agree that the war on drugs is a lost cause, and the source of a massive amount of injustice, crime, and loss of life (in both the literal, and figurative sense).

Milton Friedman, a hero to most conservatives, not only thought the War on Drugs is a failure, he thought it immoral. When I asked him, citing a 1972 Newsweek article where he supported the legalization of drugs, if he still felt this way, his response was an unequivocal "Absolutely!" Hard drugs too?, I asked. "Absolutely." What about ethics?:

PJ: Now you also said in that same article that this was an ethical issue as  well.
MF: Absolutely—I've just said it—what right does the government have to tell me what I may put in my mouth? If the government has the right to tell me what I may put in my mouth, why doesn't it have the right to tell me what I may put in my mind? There is, in my opinion, no government policy that is as immoral as drug  prohibition...
(Friedman and Freedom, March 15, 2002)

Friedman headlined a list of 500 economists who supported a Marijuana Policy Project report, written by Jeffrey Miron of Harvard, urging American legislators to legalize marijuana. You might recognize some of these as heroes, too. The report says:

"The report shows that marijuana legalization -- replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation -- would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.

The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm."
(Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, June, 2005)

But Friedman, strictly speaking, was a libertarian, not a conservative. Although he was, and still is, a hero to both, you might think of him as having been only conservative by overlap. Would you say the same of the National Review? You probably have the magazine bookmarked, if you're a Canadian Tory. Here is the hallmark publication of the conservative movement proper. No chance of finding many libertarians sympathetic to this magazine, which is more likely to spit on libertarians as make common cause with them. But they don't spit so much when it comes to drugs. Instead, they support legalization:

"...it is our judgment that the war on drugs has failed, that it is diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that it is wasting our resources, and that it is encouraging civil, judicial, and penal procedures associated with police states. We all agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far."
(War on drugs is lost, Feb. 12, 1996)

Was the good ship S.S. NR rudderless? Was William F. Buckley, the founder and steerer, in the background pulling his hair as his editorial board veers away from his considered judgment? Was Buckley outvoted on the issue, and the magazine presented an opinion vastly different from his? Not even close. Here's Buckley himself:

"I leave it at this, that it is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors."
(Ibid, a speech before the NY Bar Association)

The Economist doesn't flinch from the subject. The magazine most likely to be found on the shelves of intelligent conservatives and libertarians (amongst a host of others who are serious about economics) agrees: The War on Drugs is a bad idea.

"The best answer is to move slowly but firmly to dismantle the edifice of enforcement. Start with the possession and sale of cannabis and amphetamines, and experiment with different strategies... Move on to hard drugs, sold through licensed outlets. These might be pharmacies or, suggests Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Centre, mail-order distributors...

"John Stuart Mill was right. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. Trade in drugs may be immoral or irresponsible, but it should no longer be illegal."
(Set it free, July 26, 2001)

Meanwhile, here in Canada, the newspapers conservatives are most likely to subscribe to urges legalization. The National Post has issued at least two editorials in favour of legalization. One, simply titled "Time to Legalize Pot," says:

"Marijuana legalization has long been the subject of academic debate. The time has come to turn conjecture into law. Canada's police, judges and prosecutors have better things to do with their time than track down those who produce and consume a substance no more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. We should begin the decriminalization of marijuana by immediately reducing the punishments that can be imposed for its possession to modest fines -- and start thinking about how to regulate its use."
(Time to Legalize Pot, April 1, 2000)

And here's a snippet from "Pointless Prohibition":

"The only sensible course of action is to end the pointless prohibition of a substance that is neither more dangerous nor more addictive than alcohol or tobacco, and one that has reportedly been smoked by more than 10 million Canadians at some point in their lives... It's time to make official what Vancouver's authorities have evidently already accepted, and legalize marijuana." (Pointless Prohibition, Sep. 7, 2004)

The Ottawa Citizen, another staple in the conservative newspaper diet, ran a series of four editorials urging an end to the war on drugs. Here are some excerpts:

"Too often, our political culture equates legalizing drugs with being soft on criminals. But it is criminalization, not legalization, that guarantees wealth and power for gangs and pushers. We will argue Monday that it need not be this way."
(Decriminalizing Drugs, April 12, 1997)

How appropriate is this first line in light of the recent Tory announcements about "getting serious" about drugs?... Here's more:

"The recent history of drug enforcement, both in Canada and the United States, is largely a record of failure. Tax dollars are lavished on enforcement. Police powers are expanded at the expense of civil liberties. Criminal gangs grow richer. And drug use goes on regardless."
(Decriminalizing Drugs II, April 14, 1997)


"But people constantly engage in any number of activities that, like drug use, physically endanger only themselves but risk inflicting emotional trauma on others should something go wrong: scuba diving, skiing, driving Highway 401. Others may be traumatized when sons marry outside the family religion, daughters form sexual relationships with other women, or parents divorce. With harm stretched beyond its original, liberal meaning, almost any activity that attracted a vociferous lobby group and applause-seeking politicians could be outlawed. If we are to have a free society in any meaningful sense, J.S. Mill's great liberal maxim must be re-invigorated, but with the original, narrow definition of harm intact. And Canada, secure in the knowledge of what is right in a free society, should allow its citizens to make their own decisions about whether or not to use drugs."
(Decriminalizing Drugs III, April 15, 1997)

And in the conclusion of the 4-part series, the Ottawa Citizen puts nails in what should have been a coffin:


"The history of drug use confirms that we will never live in a drug-free society: Too many people inevitably just say yes. But we can have a society in which the worst effects of drug addiction are minimized, and those who are addicted are helped. We can have a society where mafia and biker gangs are not made rich and powerful by the ban on drugs.   

Most importantly, we can have a society where the criminal law reflects not expediency and prejudice but principle. We can work toward a society clearly and consistently founded on the great liberal maxim of John Stuart Mill, that: "The individual is not accountable to society for his actions, insofar as these concern the interests of no person but himself.""
(Decriminalizing Drugs IV, April 16, 1997)

Stephen Easton, writing a Fraser Institute policy paper, thinks the enemy (drugs) has won. That's right, the Fraser Institute, Canada's most important free market think tank, the place most likely to draw the smartest and best conservatives (and libertarians) in this country.

“If we treat marijuana like any other commodity we can tax it, regulate it, and use the resources the industry generates rather than continue a war against consumption and production that has long since been lost... It is apparent that we are reliving the experience of alcohol prohibition of the early years of the last century.”
(BC's marijuana crop worth over 7 billion annually, June 9, 2004)

The Cato Institute has many friends in conservative circles. But they have been fierce on the issue. They support the legalization of all drugs. They've issued plenty of policy documents, but I will cite just one:

"By now, there can be little doubt that most, if not all,           "drug-related murders" are the result of drug prohibition. The same type of violence came with the Eighteenth Amendment's ban of alcohol in 1920. The murder rate rose with the start of Prohibition, remained high during Prohibition, and then declined for 11 consecutive years when Prohibition ended.[2] The rate of assaults with a firearm rose with Prohibition and declined for 10 consecutive years after Prohibition. In the last year of Prohibition--1933--there were 12,124 homicides and 7,863 assaults with firearms; by 1941 these figures had declined to 8,048 and 4,525, respectively...

In spite of the greatest anti-drug enforcement effort in U.S. history, the drug problem is worse than ever. What should be done now?... The status quo is intolerable--everyone agrees on that. But there are only two alternatives: further escalate the war on drugs, or legalize them. Once the public grasps the consequences of escalation, legalization may win out by default."
(Thinking about drug legalization, May 25, 1989)

There's plenty more where that came from.

Still think the war on drugs is a good idea? You swim against the tide of considered conservative opinion, my friend.

Soon, you'll be swimming alone.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2008 in Crime | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Compendium of Conservatives on Drugs:


The problem is a weak judicial system that will not expeditiously and firmly prosecute offenders.

Close the revolving door justice system and we will see success. The toll drugs is taking on our children is horrendous.

I hate the lack of resolve among conservatives that do not have the intestinal fortitude to see this through. Shame on you all. No progress is still much preferred to full scale retreat and losses. The battle for clean and healthy living and to produce solid citizens that will do us proud depends on us not abandoning them.

To end the war on drugs is to abandon our children.


Posted by: epsilon | 2008-01-29 8:27:02 AM

True. And I will grant you that in many cases these scum are also one and the same. But I see no reason why we cannot multi-task when it comes to ridding our cities of scum.


Posted by: epsilon | 2008-01-29 8:35:15 AM

The page with his Milton Friedman interview which Peter linked to seems to have been taken down.

Fortunately the interview can also be found on his personal website: http://www.peterjaworski.com/Friedman

While you made it quite clear that this post was aimed at conservatives and not any other group (including libertarians, whom I suppose should need no convincing on the matter), I would still like to mention my discomfort as a libertarian with one of the arguments against drug prohibition advanced in the sources you cite and frequently found elsewhere. I will focus on the Fraser Institute’s report because they portray themselves as a free-market libertarian think-tank and because Canadians often look to what the Fraser Institute is saying to see what it is that libertarians think.

Walter Block summarizes the argument with which I have a problem like this: “right now, addictive drugs can only be bought and sold on the black market. As such, the government obtains no tax revenues thereby, since all these transactions are entirely off the books. However, if this industry were but recognized as a legitimate one, then its products could be taxed, just as in the case of all legal goods and services. Thus, the government could obtain more revenues than at present. And this in turn would mean either a reduction in other taxes, a lower deficit, more government services, or some combination of all three.” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block29.html)

I don’t doubt that this assessment is correct: that taxes on marijuana and other presently illegal drugs would indeed result in large amounts of additional tax revenue. Using this sort of reasoning to make the case for drug legalization is fine for socialists, conservatives and all the rest who do not have a principled objection against taxation, but not for libertarians. Perhaps the BCMP and the Fraser Institute feel that this sort of reasoning is necessary to convince people of the benefits of legalization, but I see that the other arguments for legalization are not only plentiful but much more powerful and that in engaging in this line of argumentation we obscure what we really stand for and encourage the implementation of a policy we would rather not have. Libertarians should not be encouraging the transfer of even more privately earned wealth to the government; instead, while still advocating legalization, we ought to recognize that the increase in government revenue is one of the negative effects that drug legalization is likely to have.

I agree with the Fraser Institute report footnote 51 (in http://www.fraserinstitute.org/COMMERCE.WEB/product_files/Marijuana.pdf) that it is a “wild flight of fancy” to think or hope that government would choose not to tax marijuana given the environment within which legalization might occur in Canada or the US, but that does not justify identifying increased government revenue as just another argument in favour of legalization, nor to call for particularly onerous taxes as this report does.

The report endorses a tax on marijuana with a rate that would leave the street price for a marijuana cigarette unchanged, replacing the “premium on illegality” with government taxation. The author would rather see these approximately 2 billion dollars in the hands of government than in the hands of “organized crime”. On this point, I disagree. I would rather see this money go to the various entrepreneurs, producers, workers, and vendors in the marijuana industry than to the government, a legitimized and more centralized “organized crime” group with much more ability to infringe on my rights and the rights of others. The government’s actions are necessarily parasitical and criminal whereas the former’s activities are actually productive and non-criminal and only so often carried out by criminals incidentally because of the current legal environment within which marijuana production and sales take place. The “unsavoury groups” who provide consumers with marijuana for recreation, medical use etc. and take huge personal risks as a result of operating under the atmosphere of prohibition are far more deserving of the money paid by dope smokers than the government who have no good claim on the money of drug users.

Another problem with this approach of replacing prohibition with heavy taxation especially if applied in the case of heroin, cocaine and other “hard drugs” is that much of the crime associated with prohibition (that deriving from the robbery, theft, and fraud engaged in by addicts in order the pay the high price for their next fix) would not be reduced unless the market were able to do its work and the price of these drugs were able to drop significantly. Without changes being made in how these drugs are supplied and their prices being allowed to drop, the provision of these drugs will always be associated with far more violence and crime than the present provision of legalized substances like tobacco or alcohol which are supplied by non-criminals (excepting the LCBO and other similar organizations) in a peaceful and voluntary manner.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-01-29 9:07:20 AM

You’re such a hippy, Peter. Not once did you mention the family in your post. The family is the first line of defence against tyranny – and it gets taken for granted by libertarians...some libertarians.

Here are my thoughts on this subject:

Drugs are bad. Prohibition is worse. We’ll get rid of drugs when we peacefully get rid of the drug culture – and we do that by strengthening the civil institutions and values which make up a conservative culture. Good ideas will crowd out bad ideas.

We don't need strong drug laws to keep our children safe from drugs; we need strong families. And we'll never have strong families or any vital civil institutions until these institutions once again perform vital functions. That means the state has to withdraw from the functions best left to private individuals and private institutions (family, church, community)...functions like raising children and teaching the value of abstinence from drugs.

Any parent who counts on the state to keep their child away from drugs, alcohol or tobacco, is abdicating their parental responsibility.

When the state helps businesses with subsidies, we get weak businesses. When the state takes on the role of parent, we get weak families. The war on drugs hasn’t helped anyone, especially families.

There is an important philosophical difference between vices and crimes. Justice demands that we recognize the difference:


Let’s create a law that makes it a crime to sell drugs to minors and get rid of the rest.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-29 9:39:32 AM

If we weren't wasting so much money on all this so-called enforcement, we'd have a lot more available for "social programs". My idea of a social program is a bit different than the current style.

I'm heavily involved in amateur sport. Canadians don't like to support amateur sport because there's a (mistaken) belief that the government already funds all sport. I don't want more money from the gov. What I want is a policy of tax credits that encourage private donations. Mr. Harper and company have opened the door a crack already. They need to throw it open like some other nations have done.

A great way to offset these tax cuts is by cutting back on the need for all this (ineffective) enforcement. Maybe we could pay a little overtime to cops who volunteer to coach minor sports?

Sport has probably saved more youth from a life of crime than any other social activity. Family, Church, Community are all great, but the competitive nature of sport builds citizens who can make a difference.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 9:55:46 AM

A love of sport is nurtured within the family and supported by the community. Let's reduce government and cut taxes so that sport can thrive.

Kids who get involved in sport are less likely to get involved with drugs.

This is what real conservatism looks like!

Great comment, dp!

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-29 10:06:53 AM

Talk about a cop making a difference.

One RCMP officer stopped 5 young native boys from getting involved with drugs this last weekend. He piled them into an SUV and drove from Fort Chipewyan to Calgary non-stop to a boxing tournament. They didn't all win their matches, but they they all came out winners.

This guy didn't get a penny for doing this. He was just trying to give back some of the great experience he had as an athlete.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 10:42:25 AM

At $400/oz. the idea that marijuana is being sold to children who, when found in possession, wouldn't remain silent as to the source of the contraband and wouldn't get a criminal record or any serious sanction is ludicrous.

Who in their right mind would risk going to jail by selling a $400/oz drug to children?

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-29 10:51:27 AM

Holy jumping!

Is pot that expensive? Surely you got the decimal point in the wrong place.

I found out an ex-girlfriend had been cultivating pot before I met her. I found a few "weeds" in her garden that she assured me were her ex-husband's. Now I know why she seemed to have more net worth than she could have accumulated legitimately.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 11:03:11 AM

"We can have a society where mafia and biker gangs are not made rich and powerful by the ban on drugs."

Jaworski, Get real, the USA will never comply with ending the war on drugs so there will continue to be a lucrative market for the underworld to supply.

Mathew Johnston ... the world of sport is so filled with drug users and cheaters that kids will naturally emulate their heroes.

The drug problems in a free society are unresolvable. The lure of the 'altered mental state' and relief of pain, physical or mental, is too compelling. We just have to live with it.

Just as we have to live with extreme poor and homeless, the lazy and the mentally retarded etc. Life ain't fair and in sure ain't perfect. Humans are imperfect beings and we all do what we do despite all your great solutions and ideas.

If you want to end drug use, offer the death penalty for selling or producing drugs. That will go a long way to cutting it back, but I guarantee you, there will be many who will continue because to them, there is little choice, or they are willing to take the risk or they are just plain stupid.

You cannot control humanity. That has been tried, but always falls apart eventually. Boredom and distraction always lead people away from their most earnests efforts and ideals.

The only constant is change. Has the war between good and evil ever taken even one day off?

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-29 11:06:08 AM

Yes, dp, marijuana is 4 hundred dollars per ounce.

Your RCMP saint probably saved those 5 Indian kids from huffing gasoline, which isn't going to become a criminal offence any time soon.

Alcohol is a lot easier to get, cheaper, and probably suits their fetal alcohol syndrome better.

But then, nobody worries about children getter their greasy little mitts on alcohol, do they?

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-29 11:13:12 AM

I can't believe that you just implied that sport is part of the problem.

Professional sport is a business. Minor sport is influenced by it to some extent, but they are as different as day and night. For one thing the coaches and organizers are mostly volunteers. They view it as a stepping stone to business/job opportunities, not to professional sport.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 11:16:35 AM


My last post was directed at John's comments

As for the gas sniffing, I've always believed that there are many things worse than pot. For the life of me I can't recall an incident where pot smoking led to a senseless act of violence. I've worked near some of the most desperate reserves in North America, and as far as they're concerned booze is the devil.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 11:22:53 AM

"I can't believe that you just implied that sport is part of the problem."
dp | 29-Jan-08 11:16:35 AM

If you're talking to me, don't believe it, because I didn't imply it.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-29 11:23:26 AM

P.M. Wrote: "Still think the war on drugs is a good idea? You swim against the tide of considered conservative opinion, my friend.

"Soon, you'll be swimming alone."

No, I swim against the tide of a few cherry-picked conservatives' opinions. Rounding up half a dozen quotations and stringing them together doesn't amount to a compelling argument for change, P.M. It amounts to half a dozen quotations strung together.

Using the logic presented here, we'd abandon the "war on crime" as well, because no matter how much we try or how much we spend, we can never altogether eliminate crime. So I guess we'd better let individual Canadians decide whether or not to turn to crime, eh?

In any case, since pot is still illegal in the rest of the world, the only way this mass surrender to humanity's baser instincts would ever succeed would be if we could bring all or nearly all of the rest of planet along for the ride. Since I have yet to see a convincing proposal for how this might be achieved (or even an acknowledgement in pro-marijuana circles that it would be necessary), the war on drugs will remain with us for a long, long time, no matter what those old hippies at Harvard think.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-29 11:31:55 AM


I'm glad you mentioned fetal alcohol syndrome. It really is the gift that keeps on giving. It has to be the most overlooked problem in today's society. Why is that?

The problem is it isn't confined to any one segment of society. Social drinkers and connoissers of fine wine contribute more to the ranks of FAS than all the Reserves in the world. It's been known for years that even moderate drinking in the first trimester can have a drastic effect on the fetus. Since many pregnancies aren't detected for a month or two, any alcohol consumption can be a life sentence.

My mother never touched alcohol, nor did my ex-wife. For years I considered them prudes, party poopers. They sure did me and my kids a favor. You see, most FAS victims don't know they have it. I probably only have about half the brain cells I was born with, but I can't blame it on someone else's bad habit.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 11:38:02 AM

Unfortunately Kalim, most "hard drug" addicts are not able to hold a job of any kind, and people are getting tired of letting layabouts sit on welfare, so even that funding is drying up. Even cheap drugs will therefore still cost more than most addicts could afford, so that isn't likely to lower the property-crime rate much.

A more effective way would be to pass a law allowing property owners to kill any intruder found inside their homes or place of business. This would only apply to within the structures, not to the surrounding land. People trespass for all sorts of stupid reasons that don't merit death, but they don't break and enter except with a few (universally felonious) intentions in mind.

When are people going to wake up to the fact that people will do only what you allow them to get away with?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-29 11:44:59 AM


I didn't imply that sport was a drug problem how you managed to twist that in your brain is beyond me.

What I said was the the professional and serious amateur athletes are taking performance enhancing drugs to win. Many pro players in baseball, football, basketball etc are cocaine and marijuana users. They are busted regularly ... it's on the TV ... in the papers .... Kids see that. GET IT!!

It is wonderful when kids opt to do sports instead of drugs, but that combination is becoming more common in our competitive world.

My overall point was that drugs have always been with us and always will be, because it's human nature to want to take drugs for whatever reason and there are many.

Whether you conduct a war on drugs or try to manage an orderly legalization of drugs .. it will be a mess because drugs is a messy business.

Don't bother to dissect what I am saying here because it is a very simple point. There is no solution to the drug problem, only some futile efforts to manage it whether in a legal or illegal state of affairs.

Various drugs present various levels of risk and damage. Alcohol is as bad or worse as any of them. What we have been doing with alcohol forever, is trying to manage it's harmful effects. I have not seen much in the way of benefits in the use of alcohol, but I have sure seen the downside.

If alcohol weren't already legal, it could never pass muster nowadays. It's one of the worst.

I will tell you why alcohol is legal ...

Quality alcoholic beverage are not easy or cheap to produce and cannot be done in secret. The government realized that alcohol is one drug that actually can control and tax the shit out of while pretending to manage the bad effects.

They will never be able to control any other demand drug like they can alcohol. That is why there is no point in legalizing drugs. There is still major reason to produce it under ground.

I think they would reduce damage to our society by simply decriminalizing pot which is far less dangerous than any other drug. No criminal penalty for pot would save a lot of careers and lives.

Pot does actually have some beneficial effects such as anti nausea and analgesics. The hard drugs should not be ignored they destroy human life and human society.

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-29 12:00:19 PM

Drug dependency is indeed often supported by property crimes. I suppose killing anyone who attempts to trespass would cut down on some drug use.

Addicts probably support themselves by prostitution as much as by stealing. The myth of strippers working their way through college comes to mind. It's a complicated web. Drug dealers who double as pimps, Escort agencies owned by organized crime (hells angels own almost all of them). Strippers who spend all their earnings on cocaine they buy from their pimps. Which of these should we execute? The pimps, the hookers, the johns, the dealers, or all of them?

And what was the root cause that gave us all these fine citizens? Was it a gateway drug like marijuana? I doubt it. Most of us agree it was the breakdown of the family. And what is the leading cause of family breakdown? One of them is substance abuse. Jesus, I'm back where i started.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 12:08:41 PM

Sorry for the misunderstanding John. Cheating athletes are a sore spot for a coach who's trying to keep his own kids/athletes on the straight and narrow.

This talk about doing away with addicts has made me wonder how well Mao's tactics in China have worked over the long run. I believe he executed millions of opium addicts in a matter of a year or so. Did it have a lasting effect? I seem to remember hearing that he didn't stop at the addicts, but included their families in the purge. Maybe someone has some information on opium use in modern China?

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 12:21:05 PM


I did a quick search and found lots of info on the continuing and growing drug use problems in the Peoples paradise. Here is an excerpt.

"BEIJING - Chinese leaders stunned the world last week with an uncharacteristic disclosure that the country was losing its People's War on Drugs, conceding it had failed to control smuggling or reduce the rampant recreational narcotics use that is dogging the communist republic.

As an American working and residing in Beijing, I am uncomfortably aware of the current drug pandemic coursing through the communities of both Chinese nationals and resident expatriates.

Designer narcotics such as Ecstasy, the “head-shaking drug,” are increasingly available at any disco, while karaoke bars have become the opium den of the new millennium for methamphetamines and the popular horse tranquilizer/party drug known as ketamine."

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-29 12:33:28 PM

Is not smoking weed a pre-requisite to being a Conservative? Did I miss the memo?

Drugs are a societal problem. Not a political one. No one political philosophy is more correct on how to deal with the issue.

Personally I feel enabling drug addicts through government programs is ludicrous.

Posted by: Paul | 2008-01-29 12:35:57 PM

Is not smoking weed a pre-requisite to being a Conservative? Did I miss the memo?

Drugs are a societal problem. Not a political one. No one political philosophy is more correct on how to deal with the issue.

Personally I feel enabling drug addicts through government programs is ludicrous.

Posted by: Paul | 2008-01-29 12:36:04 PM


If the repressive and highly controlled society in China cannot control drug use ... what hope do we have here in the loosey goosey world of Liberalism, permissiveness and victim worship.

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-29 12:36:58 PM

Ketamine sounds suspiciously close to what we used to call angel dust. These are bad, bad drugs.

Maybe cars are to blame. The export and trafficing would be a lot harder if they went back to bicycles.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 12:39:46 PM

Actually, DP, the leading cause of family breakdown is crappy family members. Some people are just mean, lazy, and stupid. Unfortunately, there's little we can do to prevent them from starting families without trampling their rights, so they will likely always be with us.

To answer your question, whom do we execute, the answer is 1) the drug dealers; 2) the drug growers; and 3) the drug smugglers. Also, being high or drunk should be changed from a mitigating factor to an aggravating factor when assigning culpability for crimes; i.e., you would do LONGER in the can for a drug-related burglary than for a simple burglary.

I agree more treatment should be available, but let's face it--detox is a crapshoot at best. Many old-time vice cops were of the opinion that once you went on an opiate, it would have its hooks in you forever. Experience has by and large borne out this view. I'm not saying it can't be done, but for many, going on drugs is the first step in a death spiral that simply can't be unwound. You can drink or even smoke dope regularly without turning into an animal. Try that with crack or meth.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-29 12:40:52 PM

So liberal societies can't deal with drug abuse. Conservative policies can't deal with drug abuse. Dictatorships can't stop it. Hardline communists have lost control. Mass extermination only postponed it. I give up. I can't even afford a joint to help dull the sense of hopelessness.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-29 12:49:59 PM


We are on the same page.

I have suggested that just like in any economic situation, you can use the supply side as a controlling factor. "if there is a demand, someone will always step up to fill it".

It is not a perfect solution but I suggest that everytime you find a stoned out user of hard drugs, you lock him up, let him go through the torture of the dry out then send him on his way.

After a couple of dry outs, that particular person will have lost his habitat. He will be forced to 'move on' to a local that may tolerate his habits.

This worked well to curb tobacco use. Simply by eliminating 'habitat' you cut down on use and there fore on demand. You may be aware the the north American tobacco producers have zeroed in on china, India and other places where there is a more welcoming habitat for smokers.

Once again all we can do it try to manage the world of drug use. We cannot eliminate. Human nature DICTATES that people will continue to seek drugs and others will continue to supply it.

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-29 12:53:47 PM

OOps sorry I meant to say we can use the "demand side" to control drug problems.

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-29 12:55:22 PM

Drug abuse is like crime is like risk is like death, DP. You can't eliminate it. But you can intelligently manage it to the point where you don't need to be overly concerned about it. And note that managing a situation consists doing something, not doing nothing. It is the pro-pot lobby's insistence on the latter, their insistence that pot is as harmless as soda pop, that hobbles their cause. Pot is not harmless. It is merely less likely to catastrophically wreck your life than cocaine.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-29 3:27:50 PM

DP wrote: "Maybe cars are to blame. The export and trafficing would be a lot harder if they went back to bicycles."

That still leaves planes, trains, boats, and horse-carts--not to mention the aforementioned bicycles.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-29 3:32:41 PM

ummmm, I don't know where you get your pot, speller, but it is not 400 dollars an ouce unless you are getting it up the hoop at the same time or live in a very isolated area. That's nonsence. I am know a few casual pot smokers that buy it by the ounce. In some cases it is half of what you say it is! So please, don't pee on our our legs and tell us it's raining. I don't agree with drugs, but if you are going to fight it, be honest in doing it or your credibility is shot!

Posted by: Raining | 2008-01-30 6:42:35 AM

Frankly, I'm surprised it's that expensive. And it introduces a new wrinkle into the stoner's mind; it really is remarkable the things some people would rather have than money.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-30 7:28:31 AM

I posted a piece on a marijuana price discussion website previous to this but the POS spam filter keeps blocking it.

Apparently the supposed 'webmaster' that is maintaining this site is too busy editing the archives to check what is getting caught in the filter.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-30 10:20:41 AM

Inflation's a bitch. The last time I checked pot was about $40 an ounce. Beer was $12 a dozen. I think booze was around $25 a bottle. If Speller is even close to being right (for some reason I think Raining might be more accurate) then pot has suffered more from inflation.

I can't remember the price of smokes from that era, but I'll guess $1. That would make tobacco the winner of the inflation race. It sounds like booze has held the line better than the rest.

If prices were tied to addiction levels, I can understand why smokes top the list. Booze is less addictive, but more damaging, so apparently health is not a factor in pricing. If pot were legalized the price would likely end up lower by comparison than booze or smokes. It must be easy to grow judging by all the grow-ops I've seen on the news. It could likely end up at a few dollars an ounce.

Smuggling is already illegal. The US border is not exactly porous. Their only complaint would be about the flood of tourists heading north. They could always come up with some law prohibiting citizens from commiting US laws abroad. Actually, I think they already have such laws.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-30 11:59:45 AM

I had no idea that any-one but Ron Paul was open and up front on this issue.(Conservatives)There are the Rush Limbaugh's that use it and cry mercy.Of course they find help and go right back to preaching to the people in their audience.The president himself was a dope smoker at the very least and has continued to prosecute the drug war with vigor.It remains to be seen how another former drug user,Barrack Obbama ,will deal with the issue.I have some small degree of hope that he won't be the hypocrite that Bill Clinton and GWBush have been.If John McClain is elected because of some democratic misstep,We know what he'll do.Nothing!

Posted by: Terry McKinney | 2008-01-30 2:04:36 PM

It's interesting to read the conversations that have gone on in the opinion section.Prohibitionists trying to figure out ways to justify the current,disastrous drug "policy"can't even agree on why they oppose it or what they feel would be a solution.I've been fighting drug prohibition for 40 years,Because,I want to stop the crime and bloodshed that comes as a direct result of letting the cartels run the show.It doesn't matter how the details are worked out.We have to take control of the drug issue and deal with it in a realistic manner.Prohibition has never ,will never and doesn't ever work.It just creates dynasties that will one day be main stream politicians,like the Kennedy's.

Posted by: sicntired | 2008-01-30 2:19:45 PM

Here is a story on the use of cannabis in California that mentions price:

$40-$60 per 1/8 ounce
Therefore, $320-$480 per ounce unless there is a discount for buying a larger amount.


Posted by: Brent Weston | 2008-01-30 2:29:43 PM


Do you want all drugs decriminalized? I only support legalizing pot. Coke, meth, ecstacy, etc. should remain controlled substances in my opinion.

Prohibition creates demand. Think back to when your parents told you " you're not old enough to smoke". So smoking makes you seem older? Why did ice cream taste better than carrots? Why did you pretend to enjoy the taste of booze? Come on, noboby really likes the taste of booze.

Pot has a pretty big placebo effect. Most first time users actually pretend to be high. They are told that the effect gets better when you get a lot of experience. So experienced pot smokers get high easier?

I'm convinced that pot consumtion would decline if it was decriminalized. The hard core smokers will always use, legal or not. Once some of the myths are exposed as such, a lot of the attraction will disappear. What kid wants to sneak around and defy his parents by smoking an herb? Since it isn't physically addictive, it won't have the same hook that tobacco has.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-30 2:47:35 PM

If you support prohibition, you support the black market and enormous profits for traffickers, high taxes from enforcement and prisons, higher welfare costs from broken families, higher health costs from impure and unsafe drugs, massive corruption in police forces, reduction of individual rights, increased crime and violence in the streets, and the deaths of innocent victims of the drug war.

And people still do drugs.

In regulated markets, disputes are handled by lawyers. In the black market, disputes are handled by guns. I have no love for lawyers, but I'd rather get hit by a stray brief than a stray bullet.

Posted by: Pete Guither | 2008-01-30 3:30:32 PM

SicnTired wrote: “It's interesting to read the conversations that have gone on in the opinion section. Prohibitionists trying to figure out ways to justify the current, disastrous drug "policy" can't even agree on why they oppose it or what they feel would be a solution.”

That’s because they’re actually trying to come up with a policy that might work. Your policy is there should be no policy. That’s a pretty simple strategy to remember.

SicnTired wrote: “I've been fighting drug prohibition for 40 years, Because, I want to stop the crime and bloodshed that comes as a direct result of letting the cartels run the show.”

Judging from your sloppy writing, poor reasoning skills, and petulant attitude, I’d say it’s more because you’re an over-the-hill flower child who’s been smoking weed since before people knew where Woodstock is.

SicnTired wrote: “It doesn't matter how the details are worked out.”

Details matter, dumpster-brain. You can’t just take a hands-off approach and expect matters to take care of themselves. Hmm, profound intellectual lethargy, that might be a symptom of something…

SicnTired wrote: “We have to take control of the drug issue and deal with it in a realistic manner.”

Which would include a plan. You haven’t got one.

SicnTired wrote: “Prohibition has never ,will never and doesn't ever work.”

Do you take the same attitude towards private ownership of machine guns?

SicnTired wrote: “It just creates dynasties that will one day be main stream politicians, like the Kennedy's.”

Or the Clintons or the Trudeaus? (Trudeaux?)

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-30 7:48:41 PM

Pete wrote: “If you support prohibition, you support the black market and enormous profits for traffickers, high taxes from enforcement and prisons, higher welfare costs from broken families, higher health costs from impure and unsafe drugs, massive corruption in police forces, reduction of individual rights, increased crime and violence in the streets, and the deaths of innocent victims of the drug war.”

Well, so does the whole world—practically every country—so basically, your argument is that all the world’s statesmen are wrong, and the potheads are right? Using this logic nothing would be illegal.

Pete wrote: “And people still do drugs.”

And people still commit murder. Hey, let’s legalize that, too.

Pete wrote: “In regulated markets, disputes are handled by lawyers. In the black market, disputes are handled by guns. I have no love for lawyers, but I'd rather get hit by a stray brief than a stray bullet.”

Any over-regulated market is indistinguishable from prohibition. And don’t pot advocates like to say that alcohol causes more violence and health problems than pot even though it’s regulated? Could it be that the drug’s effect on people is the same regardless of its legal status?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-30 8:03:30 PM

-Expect to pay 100-110 bucks a quarter(oz ed.) for BC .
40-50 bucks for Mexi buds , 175 an ounce for Mexi and 380-400 bucks and ounce for Kind buds

-yeah 50 an 1/8 here of the chronic humbolt.

-Yeah. 200 an ounce for good weed in BC sounds about right. It's the same in Alberta. I don't know what's going on in the east.

-325 an oz here near bozeman...

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-30 11:27:52 PM

-In beantown you can find og kush, sour d, trainwreck, etc for 400-500/zip

-yeah prices are pretty high where i am. I dont smoke anymore but my friends stil do and I watch them thrown down a good chunk of cash each week for it. they pay up to $25/g(gram ed. there are 28 grams/oz) for good stuff like headies but it is rediculous. where are you in MA?

All gleaned from:

As you can see, the price varies with location and quality.

The REALLY good stuff is $400/oz.
I happen to know a lot of people who are in wheelchairs, they have constant pain and poor appetites, who get the good stuff.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-30 11:28:47 PM

Whew, made it in 2 parts.
Take that, spam filter.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-30 11:30:12 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.