Thank you Randy for providing this forum, what a great idea! Ok, on to the issue of the "War on Drugs":
Prohibition does not work, as demonstrated by the end of the "Noble Experiment" heralded by the repeal of the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution (the ONLY Amendment to be repealed, with the passage of the 21st Amendment).
While its aims may have been wholly noble, the unintended consequence was the creation of a irresistibly profitable, violent, criminal black-market. This was evidenced by the violent exploits of Al Capone, et al. during Prohibition and now by the similarly violent acts of modern drug suppliers. "The War on Drugs" is even worse than the Prohibition of the early 20th century since it bypasses the Constitution of the United States in a campaign against its very own citizens.
Notice that you've never hear stories of drive-by shootings or homicides over legal drugs like tobacco, alcohol, or Prozac.
Notice how the Federal government raids medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized the substance in a clear violation of state's rights provided by the 10th Amendment.
Notice how hypocritical the "Land of Free" sounds when we actually have the highest rate of incarceration among industrialized nations. The greatest impetus behind this growth is the "War on Drugs." According to the Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, "The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges" (http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/usa/incarceration/). The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
This is unacceptable in my opinion. Law enforcement and courts are here to protect individuals from violent aggression and fraud, not dictating and punishing morality. Morality is the province of civil education and churches, not the government.
The War on Drugs is expensive, inefficient, and destroys American lives. Economists agree that an end of prohibition would benefit millions, creating extraordinary amounts of revenue (see http://www.econjournalwatch.org/pdf/ThorntonDoEconomistsApril2004.pdf and http://videosift.com/video/Harvard-Economist-on-why-marijuana-should-be-legalized).
I personally don't drink much and do not enjoy any other drugs, and likewise I don't support prohibition because it only serves to destroy families and waste money. As a professional hypnotherapist, I have helped many with drug dependencies (mostly tobacco cessation) and understand that the answer lies in education, patience, and kindness, not guns and jails.
Joseph PuenteJake makes an excellent case for legalizing drugs but I'm curious to know what the effects of such an act might have on our society. My mind is particularly open to the legalization of marijuana for medical use so long as it can be clinicallly proven as an effective medicine. I'm not so sure about the legalization of hard drugs like cocaine, heroine or meth. I've seen what addiction to these substances can do to people. True, there are no drive-by shootings related to tobacco but does addiction to tobacco impact the lives of smokers the way the addiction to hard drugs does? Smokers don't "nod off" in a drug induced euphoria or effect ones ability to function productively. Can the same thing be said for drugs that are presently illegal? I doubt it.
I can get behind easing the penalties for minor drug offenses but legalizing hard drugs across the board is not something I feel comfortable with.
Jake ShannonTo answer your question, you need only ask what effect has the legalization of alcohol had on our society?
As my personal political hero, Rep. Ron Paul writes in his forward to Judge Andrew Napolitano's book "Lies the Government Told You":
"Of course, smoking, whether of marijuana or tobacco, does have negative health consequences-but respecting the right of the individual to be wrong, as long as they don't interfere with the rights of others, is one of the pillars of a free society"
My question to you Joe is this, since when is it the province of the state to concern itself with "ones ability to function productively"? The state does not have a legitimate claim on the fruits of our labor and the state does not own our bodies. This same principle underlies why I seek to abolish both prohibition AND the IRS.