Churches against Prohibition

The New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group of 600 churches, has issued a resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs. The resolution draws on ethical principles and also a remarkably astute reading of economics and social science:

Whereas: The public policy of prohibition of certain narcotics and psychoactive substances, sometimes called the “War on Drugs,” has failed to achieve the goal of eliminating, or even reducing, substance abuse and;

Whereas: There have been a large number of unintentional negative consequences as a result of this failed public policy and;

Whereas: One of those consequences is a huge and violent criminal enterprise that has sprung up surrounding the Underground Market dealing in these prohibited substances and;

Whereas: Many lives have been lost as a result of the violence surrounding this criminal enterprise, including innocent citizens and police officers and;

Whereas: Many more lives have been lost to overdose because there is no regulation of potency, purity or adulteration in the production of illicit drugs and;

Whereas: Our court system has been severely degraded due to the overload caused by prohibition cases and;

Whereas: Our prisons are overcrowded with persons, many of whom are non-violent, convicted of violation of the prohibition laws and;

Whereas: Many of our citizens now suffer from serious diseases, contracted through the use of unsanitary needles, which now threaten our population at large and;

Whereas: To people of color, the “War on Drugs” has arguably been the single most devastating, dysfunctional social policy since slavery and;

Whereas: Huge sums of our national treasury are wasted on this failed public policy and;

Whereas: Other countries, such as Portugal and Switzerland, have dramatically reduced the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by utilizing means other than prohibition to address the problem of substance abuse and;

Whereas: The primary mission of our criminal justice system is to prevent violence to our citizens and their property, and to ensure their safety, therefore;

Be it Resolved: That the New England Annual Conference supports seeking means other than prohibition to address the problem of substance abuse; and is further resolved to support the mission of the international educational organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition.

Comments

What's amazing is that Southern churches, if asked, would find (presumably Old Testament) scripture justifying high incarceration rates.

Or tell you that Sacred Scripture does not provide you with precise guidance on granular policy questions, such as when to parole someone.

And similarly for gambling and prostitution.

Ibid, on Southern Churches. Except for bingo, because that's For a Good Cause, and gay prostitutes for ministers, because They Were Going Through Tough Times.

You wouldn't happen to be critical of southern churches, would you?

I've yet to find southern churches that are more interested in theology (note, not ideology) than they are social and class ossification.

I attended a Methodist church in Alabama growing up that had an openly-gay chior member. Our youth group attended a showing of the movie Philadelphia. And the church strongly considered hiring its own in-house substance abuse counselor as a means of helping members avoid incarceration for substance abuse problems.

Then again, we may have been exceptional.

Are you going to wager that the same thing would fly at the Baptist church in town?

Shh... bigotry in progress. Please no interruptions.

http://www.advocatesc.org/2014/05/addiction-and-the-church/

I too would agree to legalizing drugs but with socialism, I get stuck with the bill. If people want to mess up their lives it is their own business. If we legalize drugs, I want a free market healthcare industry with no tax-based subsidies. Is it a deal?

Trust me, much more vested interests are getting much higher subsides off of your dollar than druggies.

Doesn't answer his question. But since you mention it, yes, we can abolish entire government agencies which do nothing but make transfer payments and encourage rent-seeking by US business while we're at it.

No, we can't. Nothing short of a revolution that overthrows the government can achieve that, and the masses are nowhere near a pre-revolutionary condition. The only factor in our favor is that the masses have guns, but you need much more than that. You need a revolutionary spirit which is almost non-existent today. You also need a movement and leaders, which are also lacking. No revolution today or for the foreseeable future.

I thought the revolution was going to start in Baltimore. Turns out the revolutionary spirit makers were just thugs and we are actually pretty happy with the status quo thank you very much. [buys another gun]

There's the leader: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGO-SldLrNA

If we legalize drugs you'll be stuck with a smaller bill even with the current healthcare system -- mainly because of reduced prison and law-enforcement costs. Yes, drug use may increase to some extent with legalization, but the drugs being used will be safer, resulting in reduced adverse health effects among those who do use drugs.

Don't you think drugs would become more potent and lethal? Now, when a very potent batch of drugs hits the streets it draws people out instead of repelling them. This is what people want. This will cause a lot of deaths and then we would have to expand all kinds of social programs "for the children".

The situation is expensive now but it could be more expensive with legalization.

"Don’t you think drugs would become more potent and lethal?"

No. For one thing, manufacturers will be exposed to civil liability. For another, the variability and uncertainty in potency seems to be a major danger, and that variability and uncertainty will go away under legalization. Also, right now there's a bias toward drugs that may be dangerous, but relatively easy to manufacture (e.g. crystal meth), which you could expect to be displaced by safer alternatives that don't have to be cookable in a basement or 2-liter soda bottle.

But legal drugs like painkillers are more potent and lethal. Why?

Sorry to jump in here, but i don't know there is much evidence that Rx painkillers are more potent than the heroin (sometimes laced with synthetics, like fentanyI) that is out there. Both can be very strong and lethal. At least the typical user knows what he is getting with a mass-produced prescription drug, whereas he is taking a gamble when buying heroin on the street.

Opioids have been around for millenia and used by every society with access to them. They were sold legally--if not accurately labeled--in the US until the early 20th century (excepting the odd state or local restriction on their use). By most accounts, opioids were certainly a problem then, but probably not a widespread epidemic much worse than what we have today. The issue with these drugs the past 20 years is that the medical community started to use them much more liberally, helped by aggressive marketing pointing to questionable research that downplayed the risk of addiction and the emergence of pain as the "fifth vital sign". Now we have a generation of addicts who were liberally prescribed opioids, which were masquerading as safe medical therapies without any stigma attached to their use. The clinical community generated a level of demand for them that we likely wouldn't have seen had these drugs either been legal and taboo or heavily regulated and more judiciously prescribed, as they were a couple decades ago. This doesn't absolve patients or doctors of their responsibility to recognize problematic opioid use and dependence, but it explains the perfect storm of addiction we have now.

> But legal drugs like painkillers are more potent and lethal. Why?

The mortality rates of heroin junkies is orders of magnitude higher than recreational prescription painkiller users. Do you seriously think it's safer to use street heroin over Percocet?

There is evidence suggesting that prohibition makes drugs more potent and lethal.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2014/02/04/how-prohibition-makes-heroin-more-dangerous/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_prohibition

"Don’t you think drugs would become more potent and lethal?"

No. See http://www.stuartmcmillen.com/comics_en/war-on-drugs/

> Don’t you think drugs would become more potent and lethal?

I think you're artificially conflating "potent" with "lethal". In the context of street drugs potent confers higher purity with fewer adulterants. Most of these adulterants are at best neurally harmless, and at worse exceedingly dangerous. For example cutting heroin with quinine or cocaine with lidocaine. In virtually all cases pharmaceutically pure substances are by far the safest. Research shows that there's neuropharmacological difference between methamphetamine and amphetamine, but users of illicitly produces crystal meth suffer much higher complications than users of Adderal.

In some sense, what you're getting at is that death rates can increase when a particularly pure batch of drugs hits the street. This is because users aren't initially aware of the dosage, using the same volume of a 95% purity product as last week's 25% purity product. In this case the problem isn't the overall potency, but rather the variance and lack of information. In the same way that a 80 MPH road isn't really much more dangerous than a 40 MPH road, but having drivers go both speed on the same road is exceedingly dangerous.

"In some sense, what you’re getting at is that death rates can increase when a particularly pure batch of drugs hits the street. This is because users aren’t initially aware of the dosage, using the same volume of a 95% purity product as last week’s 25% purity product."

Doug, I know enough professionals in the healthcare/toxicology fields to know this isn't the reason. People hear that there is potent stuff on the street, and they knowingly seek it out. Seriously, they even travel to neighboring cities when they get the news. It is kinda sick.

As to your other comment above. " The mortality rates of heroin junkies is orders of magnitude higher than recreational prescription painkiller users. Do you seriously think it’s safer to use street heroin over Percocet?" I am comparing old legal painkillers versus new legal painkillers not legal painkillers to heroine. However, since you brought up the subject; more people die from legal prescription drugs than illegal heroine or cocaine. This switch happened in 2002, and it is much worse now. Here is the paper:
Increasing deaths from opioid analgesics in the United States.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16862602

I would argue that it is a person's right to mess up their own health, but then we would all pay a bigger bill in terms of health care because it is socialized. I don't want to pay more. If you want to end the war on drugs and make them illegal, please un-socialize medicine.

> People hear that there is potent stuff on the street, and they knowingly seek it out. Seriously, they even travel to neighboring cities when they get the news. It is kinda sick.

If you were a drinker during prohibition, wouldn't you go out of your way to buy Canadian Club instead of dirty bathtub gin? Or even more directly people go out of their way for Starbucks even when they have coffee machines at home? For junkies who spend a very high proportion of their income on drugs, it makes even more sense. Buying a higher-purity product at the same price also means they're paying less per mole of heroin. It seems like a quite logical response, consumers naturally seek out high-quality, high-value products. Whether it's "sick" or not, doesn't invalidate my claim. Junkies aren't explicitly trying to OD, but underestimate just how pure the new product is. Consistent pharmaceutical grade product results in consistent dosing. This isn't just conjecture, Switzerland's experiment with pharmaceutical grade heroin resulted in much lower mortality rates than street heroin:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16002023

> However, since you brought up the subject; more people die from legal prescription drugs than illegal heroine or cocaine. This switch happened in 2002, and it is much worse now.

More people also die in automobile than base jumping accidents. That doesn't mean that driving is more dangerous than extreme sports. Prescription drug deaths didn't become more lethal, simply more people started abusing prescription drugs due to widespread availability. There's over 20 times as many recreational prescription drug users and heroin users in the US.

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends

> If you want to end the war on drugs and make them illegal, please un-socialize medicine.

I'd love nothing more than fully free market healthcare. But the tide's most likely against it. And it's a pretty slippery slope to say it's fine to regulate personal liberty X because of community healthcare costs. Nearly any activity can be justified under that criteria. Outlawing handguns, taxing new cars, shutting down football, limits on sugary food, mandatory exercise programs, censoring advertising, etc.

Doug and Keith, great comments both of you. I'm giving this round to Doug, but on the whole I feel much smarter from having read both of your comments. Thank you!!!

Do you think your share of the bill for the War On Drugs(TM) is bigger or smaller than your share of the bill for people wanting to mess up their own lives?

I say the WoD bill is larger by an order of magnitude.

Hard to say. I would like to see those numbers. Medical care, especially for drug addicts in our emergency rooms, is very, very expensive.

A lot of the "medical care" for addicts in emergency rooms is people actually looking to obtain opioids, which they could obtain without the drug seeking trips to the ER if prohibition was scaled back.

You ever worked in an emergency room? Even at 3:00 in the morning, it's head cases for the psych staff, venereal disease, sick babies, dental problems, &c.

Not myself, but have interviewed people who do. I also recently spent a long night there with my own sick baby--not a good scene. I missed the head cases and VD patients, but that would have made for a more interesting experience!

I'm sure it varies by ER, but there are lots of "frequent fliers," regular patients who are just there with made up ailments looking to score. Unfortunately a lot of them are basically given Rx opioids to go away--get them out of the ER and allow the practitioners to concentrate on the more pressing issues. Seems incredibly inefficient and unfair to patients who really do have legitimate pain and need care.

but there are lots of “frequent fliers,” regular patients who are just there with made up ailments looking to score.

By feigning sore throats, urinary tract infections, and the clap?

Terrible back pain, once-in-a-lifetime migraines and basically anything that can't be proven with typical clinical assessments. You've worked in an ER and really don't know what I'm talking about? I must have been talking to some real outliers.

Terrible back pain, once-in-a-lifetime migraines and basically anything that can’t be proven with typical clinical assessments. You’ve worked in an ER and really don’t know what I’m talking about? I must have been talking to some real outliers.

I dealt with the paperwork, and, no, the mass of patients on the overnight were not complaining of migraines or back pain. It amazes you why they do consult an emergency room physician. An office mate of mine scanning a complaint said she figured some of our patients showed up when they had nothing better to do.

I'm not saying the majority of patients fall into this category, that would be really high. But a lot of them. Also, I don't know when you were there but the rx abuse crisis really started early 2000s and got a lot worse by about 2010. I have also heard it is common for people who are just lonely or have mental health issues to go in to be seen, similar to how someone else would decide to go get a coffee. So lots of random visits wouldn't surprise me.

I say the WoD bill is larger by an order of magnitude.

Given the prison census, roughly 20% of the police, prisons, and courts budget is attributable to efforts to enforce drug laws. I believe 1 or 1.5% of the labor force is made up of law enforcement personnel and that law enforcement budgets in toto do not amount to more than about 3% of GDP, so 0.6% of domestic product is about what can be attributable to drug enforcement.

And how much goes into combating gangs that deal illegal drugs?

"I too would agree to legalizing drugs but with socialism, I get stuck with the bill...."

How are you not stuck with the bill of drugs being criminal filling the prisons with about twice as many people?

Would you also advocate free market justice where poor victims and poor criminals got no justice? If you were robbed by a poor person, you would pay for his capture, prosecution, and incarceration yourself?

After all, its your fault for failing to act to ensure you would not be a victim of a random crime. Everyone knows how to not be a victim of random crime. Right?

Since prohibition "has failed to achieve the goal of eliminating, or even reducing, substance abuse", the bill is presumably zero (for additional health care costs attributable to ending prohibition). Not to mention that prohibition (if you believe the above list) also leads to a lot of additional costs borne by the tax payer.

"Whereas: Our court system has been severely degraded due to the overload caused by prohibition cases and;
Whereas: Our prisons are overcrowded with persons, many of whom are non-violent, convicted of violation of the prohibition laws and;"

I recall Tyler posting a study showing that ending the drug war would have a modest effect at most on prison population, and that our prison overpopulation is due to draconian sentencing for other crimes.

But how many times did that study use the word "whereas," and if the number is low, how seriously can we take its claims?

It depends how you define "modest", but all the evidence I've seen pointed the other way. I would love to see that study, if you remember when it was posted.

The reason for the longer prison terms was to fight the crime caused by all the free market drug activity by darkies.

Eg, there were no stop and frisk policies implemented in front of the Wall Street trading floors and broker and banker offices, even though everyone knew drug use was rampant.

White guys in suits can do free market deals in anything including drugs while darkies can't do any free market deals that aren't criminal.

I recall Tyler posting a study showing that ending the drug war would have a modest effect at most on prison population -

About 21% of the census is attributable to convictions where a drug charge was the top count. People sometimes confuse the federal prison census (wherein the majority are drug cases) with the total census; the federal census is 11% of the total census.

and that our prison overpopulation is due to draconian sentencing for other crimes.

Mean time served for those remanded to state prison is 30 months. For those remanded to county jails, its a matter of weeks. You might argue that the number is superoptimal (as New York does satisfactorily with a lower proportionate census). Draconian? Not a chance, unless you dislike punishment, which Jerome Miller did, the ACLU does, and libertarian arrested development cases commonly do.

About 21% of the census is attributable to convictions where a drug charge was the top count.
It still does not seem worth it Art. What are we supposed to be gaining from this effort?
Mostly the police ignore drug law violations. If the police enforced the drug laws consistently it would take a huge toll on society for a while.
If you as a citizen want less drug use (which BTW I do), I think you should get out there and try to convince people that recreational drugs are bad.

Whereas: To people of color, the “War on Drugs” has arguably been the single most devastating, dysfunctional social policy since slavery....

I would argue that the rise of the welfare state has been far more devastating. And far more costly.

Without the war on drugs, how many single black moms would no longer qualify for welfare?

LOL at this leftoid with hysterical visions of baby-daddies, ripped from matrimonial bliss by the heinous War On Drugs.

https://mysecretiveblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/omfg_you_are_not_the_father.gif

"I would argue that the rise of the welfare state has been far more devastating. And far more costly. " You mean, you have to settle for mercedes instead of a porsche, while a poor devil gets at least some dignity... I love those Chri$tian values...

Are you actually making the claim that welfare gives people dignity?

So Moreno Klaus you so sure that he is wrong that you do not even feel he need to discuss how the assumptions that lead to his point could be wrong.

See here:

Youngstown was transformed not only by an economic disruption but also by a psychological and cultural breakdown. Depression, spousal abuse, and suicide all became much more prevalent; the caseload of the area’s mental-health center tripled within a decade. The city built four prisons in the mid-1990s—a rare growth industry.

See here:

The authors trace the effect to negative behavioral changes associated with early retirement and conclude that “32.4% of the causal retirement effect can be directly attributed to smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.”

Seems plausible that welfare and minimum wage could lower the rates of employment leading to more alcohol consumption for breakfast leading to a lower quality of life. I can think of arguments against the proposition but it seems at least plausible.

They're two sides of the same coin. Welfare policies destroyed black families and communities. As the violence spilled over into middle-class neighborhoods the war on drugs was utilized as a clunky simulacrum of martial law in order to keep a lid on thugs who grew up without fathers or work ethic.

Doug, the census of those on TANF ca. 2008 was a third the census of those on AFDC a dozen years earlier. Other benefit programs are not conditioned on paternal absence. The net effect on the illegitimacy rate of withdrawal of reducing the AFDC clientele was negligible. The majority of 1st born children now arrive out of wedlock and the routinized practice of bastardy broke into the common-and-garden working class (and, occasionally, the bourgeoisie) more than a generation ago. A disorganized family life is how people do business nowadays, and that's how business is done among tens of millions who've never received any kind of means-tested welfare for aught but the briefest periods in their life and really never would apply for it unless they were at the end of their rope. The drivers are not economic.

And you're history is cockeyed. Prohibition of street drugs is a policy a century old. Devotion of resources to enforcement after 1967 followed an explosion of use, an explosion that was coincident in time with the explosion in index crimes. At the time federal resources were being committed, slum neighborhoods were ever more lightly policed (see Lawrence Mead on this point) and court systems were in the business of substituting social work for punishment (see Ernest van den Haag on the evolution of the probability of incarceration for offenses after 1960). There was no martial law, or any simulacrum of it.

> A disorganized family life is how people do business nowadays

Fair enough point. But not all illegitimacy is created equal. There's a big gap between ghetto and Swedish family structures, even though both have majority illegitimacy. The American white middle-working class looks much more like the latter than the former. First the large majority of unmarried parents are still monogamously co-habitating at the time of birth, and a high proportion eventually end up married. Teen pregnancy is very rare and both parents are usually older, having completed their education. Separation rates are higher than traditional marriages, but not extraordinarily so. Even in that case the father remains highly involved in his kids lives, in both an economic and interpersonal sense. Multiple children by multiple partners is limited and rare.

> And you’re history is cockeyed. Prohibition of street drugs is a policy a century old.

The prohibition of 1915 is inherently different than that of 2015. Drug control was decidedly secondary and orthogonal to the policing of violent and property crimes. Today drug laws are a integrated part of police tools to combat and control violent crime. That's largely due to a transition in the nature of drug distribution that peaked during the crack wars of the 1980s. Hard drug distribution went from being an illegal but gentlemanly endeavor run by "legitimate businessmen", like illegal gambling, to one exclusively dominated by violent psychopaths. Nearly all thugs became hard drug dealers, and nearly all hard drug dealers were thugs. There was a combination of super-high risk created by mandatory minimums, and police indifference to violence following the Warren court decisions. The competitive advantage shifted from keep-appearances-clean mafioso types to nothing-to-lose hyper-violent Scarface-worshipping lunatics.

The prohibition of 1955 was an essentially progressive policy, derived from the temperance movement, and genuinely concerned about helping junkies find their inner light. Modern drug prohibition is a firmly conservative policy, rooted in making sure the police have a highly effective tool in their arsenal to keep ghetto chaos from spilling into the suburbs. The Nixon-Reagan-Rockefeller template for drug policy does indeed represent an approximation of urban martial law in a way that prior drug policy did not. One that was a (largely successful) response to the soft-on-crime re-socialization fiasco of the 1960s. This is evidenced by the unprecedented explosion in the incarceration rate.

Nonsense. You will notice that the black illegitimacy rate exploded in the 1960s and plateaued when welfare reform was passed in 1996. Unfortunately 30 years was long enough to wreck the black family and the Obama administration has moved to reverse welfare reform.

Can we outlaw the drug alcohol? 12,000 Americans are murdered every year by terrorists: drunk drivers.
It would be civic to strip and publicly horsewhip liquor distributors.

That work out so great the first time.

They are not murdered. They die in accidents. Accidental death is characteristic of life in nature and life in society. Liquor distributors sell liquor, not accidental death. The same goes for cell phone vendors.

Notwithstanding his sarcasm, B Cole is on the right track. We need to get rid of drug prohibition, and we simultaneously need to change the law to hold people who intentionally became drunk/high 100% criminally and civilly responsible for their behavior, just as though they were sober. Yes, I would apply that to alcohol and prescription drug use too. To take your example, at least where I live, if you hit somebody with your car while you're sending a text message, you can and likely will go to prison. When you kill somebody with your car while you're drunk/high/texting, it's not an accident; it's murder.

We need to get rid of drug prohibition,

For what purpose??

When you kill somebody with your car while you’re drunk/high/texting, it’s not an accident; it’s murder.

I take it no one ever uttered the term 'vehicular manslaughter' in your presence or that of B Cole.

WOD is working precisely as intended.. which is why nothing will actually change, and why I'd expect a Methodist church from NE to put this out.

1) The prison population is resulting in higher representation of Republicans in state and national government - because prisoners count as "population" but cannot vote. Prisons are mainly located in very rural areas.
2) The vast majority of people charged and imprisoned are Those People - black - not because use is actually notably higher, but because that's the population which is policed, and therefore is "caught." Do you actually think police sit on every corner in Ruxton, one of the richest old-money suburbs of Baltimore?
3) WOD is the law behind for-profit prisons.. good luck fighting Wall Street. Incidentally, ALL for-profit prison contracts charge a penalty to the county/state if their population is not full to a certain percentage. You don't think the desire to avoid the penalty is what causes ridiculous arrests?
4) WOD is the first justification for the up-armoring of state/local police forces.. and the resultant grotesquely unnecessary COST imposed upon the citizenry. No, MRAP's aren't free either to purchase or to perform weekly maintenance on. And that up-armoring also came with the assertion of danger even though nothing actually changed... as well as the proscribed solution being the increase in police force FTE count. Even if, of course, those additional FTE's were used to do nothing more than issue chicken-S parking tickets among the local citizens.

What if the recent "slowdown" by the NYC police was unwittingly a return to the actual amount of police who are in fact necessary to keep "crime" low? Actual policework requires actual relationships with the citizens.. and a return to the Mayberry style of policing where every Officer of the Peace is a part of the community.. rather than the current Law Enforcement Officer based solely on fear.

Police serve the citizens - not the other way around.

The prison population is resulting in higher representation of Republicans in state and national government – because prisoners count as “population” but cannot vote.

The prison and jail population amounts to 1% of the total adult population, and is disproportionately drawn from the civically disengaged. It's having no significant effect on electoral contests.

It’s having no significant effect on electoral contests

Well that makes me feel much more assured about institutionalized disenfranchisement.

You're concerned that convicts are not voting? You need to set priorities.

1% at any given moment, but the number of people who have been incarcerated at some point in their lives is much higher. And many lose voting rights for extended periods after prison, sometimes forever. http://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000286

> The prison population is resulting in higher representation of Republicans in state and national government

The biggest reason Republicans are overrepresented relative to their vote totals is actually because blue people are moving to red states. States like Texas, Florida and Arizona have experienced net inflows from states like California, New York and Massachusetts. Since districting is done by the existing party in power, it will naturally bias towards the voting proclivities of the old population against the new. In an extreme case imagine a state with a million Republicans, and 100% Republican legislature, now say a million Democrats move in overnight. The sitting legislature gets to draw the districts for the next election, and will do so to highly favor themselves. Democrats will get 50% of the vote, but well than that percent of the seats.

Obviously this is "bad" in the sense that it somewhat undermines the democratic will of the people. On the other hand those Californians moving to Texas may be voting D at the ballot box, but are voting for Republicans with their feet. So maybe it's not exactly the worse thing in the world that Republicans are being electorally rewarded.

This is one way to try to get some new members to fill out the dwindling ranks of one of the mainline Protestant churches. Maybe they looked at what the pope was doing and said, "We can do something like that. Drugs, maybe?"

Marijuana is the new blood diamond, and those using it are complicit in the death and violence. When TNR published the article by Greg Campbell (Blunt Trauma: Marijuana, the New Blood Diamond) the voices of dissent and denial were loud and strident; it's one of the few times I can recall that left, right, and center agreed on anything, the common denominator being hypocrisy on a grand scale. This resolution is less about the dysfunction caused by the War on Drugs than about assuaging the guilt of the complicit.

What about people in California using medical Marijuana or the legal stuff in WA or Co? Most of it is grown legally in very Northern California so it is not Blood Diamonds but the route to economic growth for some of the poorest and least populated areas of California. Give it another decade, California will be the Kansas of Big Pot!

I live in the Bay Area. Everyone buys their weed either from government sanctioned and regulated "pharmacies" or from friends who do so.

The weed shops have a high quality product at a reasonable price. They sell a wide range of products including oils, waxes, edibles and dozens of different varieties of leaf.

They don't threaten you with violence. They keep normal, reliable hours. They don't take credit cards but all of them have ATMs. They're usually located next to taquerias and they hire attractive hippie chicks, what's not to like?

Why would anyone want to buy on the black market?

Yea, im not following the logic here at all. As Collin said, when Marijuana is legal it can be grown locally without fear of arrest. Where is the blood diamond?

So I read that article, while there is plenty to disagree with, his conclusion is solidly that legalization is the best answer to the violence associated with the drug trade:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/politics/magazine/104914/greg-campbell-blunt-trauma-marijuana

"Marijuana, on the other hand, is illegal in the United States. That means the simplest option—growing it yourself—comes with varying degrees of risk. Even in states that allow cultivation for medicinal use, it’s still a federal felony to grow a single plant. And outside those states with well-regulated dispensaries, it’s impossible to say where the weed stashed in countless sock drawers originated. Demanding proof of origin for every dime bag is impossible when domestic growers with no affiliation to the cartels must, by necessity, remain in the shadows."

"The closest thing to a closed-loop system can be found in Colorado, where lawmakers require the state’s retail dispensaries to grow their own product. Regulators inspect farms and review sales data, ensuring (at least theoretically) that every gram sold to qualified patients was grown locally. But some communities in Colorado have voted to ban retail sales, meaning that private growers are completely off the regulatory radar and accountable to no one. For as long as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, measures by the states to ensure transparency will always fall short."

"Many smokers will point to the carnage south of the border as an argument for legalization. They’re right, of course, but legalization isn’t likely to happen anytime soon."

Exhibit # 125360 in the file marked: "Liberal protestant bodies have no non-derivative viewpoints. They merely dress up liberal blather in church-lady trumpery".

In other news, can we talk about how execrably outmoded resolution language is?

How many of the people in jail for drug use simply accepted the drug charge as part of plea-bargaining?

Usually a step down from a more violent crime.

The drug war is like a Faustian bargain. During the 1960s, police power to deal with violent criminals was greatly curtailed. Crime naturally exploded. Drug laws are like a deal with violent, risk-insensitive psychopaths. Yes we'll let you collect prohibition rents from the lucrative venues of street-dealing monopolies backed by gang-violence. But in exchange, by walking around prohibited substances, we don't need to deal with Warren court civil liberties to take you off the street or throw you in prison. It makes River North much nicer because CPD can stop-and-frisk thugs, but the South Side much worse because now those same thugs live there and have money and guns.

In some states more people die from drug overdoses than car accidents. We don't have seatbelts or airbags for drug addiction and you guys want to remove the speed limit? Deaths from drug overdoses will increase. Do you care? Or are you in denial?

though postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage—have decreased dramatically.

Don't forget that prohibition also costs lives. First, it makes drugs more dangerous than they would otherwise be - by gifting the whole market to criminal entrepreneurs, government loses all ability to regulate for purity, or control of dosage, meaning that, when it is profitable to do so, criminals will cut drugs with toxic impurities, and sell them in doses of unknown strength, greatly increasing the risk of overdose (in those drugs that have a significant overdose risk - this is less of a problem with, say, cannabis).

Secondly, prohibition costs lives by creating a lucrative market for criminal entrepreneurs to fight over - and since they can't fight with lawsuits, they are more likely to resort to violence. Getting rid of drug prohibition wouldn't eliminate organised crime, but it would cut off a major source of funding, and shrink the scope of organised crime.

Thirdly, prohibition costs lives by funding terrorists in producer countries. At least part of the reason the Taliban are able to continue to fund violence and mayhem in Afghanistan is because most countries in the world (including, of course, Afghanistan itself, at least nominally) have criminalized its main cash crop. The same sort of argument applies to terrorist groups in Latin America / cocaine.

It is conceivable that, once a certain drug is legalized, the number of people who use it will increase so much that the number of marginal extra fatal overdoses outnumber all the people who would otherwise have died from the side effects of that drug's continued prohibition, but you'd have to make a really strong case for that to be plausible for most commonly used currently-prohibited drugs.

Yeah for the New England Conference of United Methodist Churches.

Yay for the New England Conference of United Methodist Churches.

So many true and important points falling on so many deaf ears.

Damned Christianists need to get their rosaries off my crack pipe.

Unfortunately, they miss with their very first point: the original purpose of the federal war on drugs was not to curb substance abuse at all. Its purpose was to ensure that the US would be militarily and economically dominant all over the world all the time. See the Shangai convention of 1909 for example.

Basically, in the late 19th century China was acting like a "wounded" Italian soccer player, claiming to have a huge opium problem when realistically they probably had a moderate one. The US came along and said "We can help you stop all that opium flowing in, if you open up your markets to us." Then we realized "Hm, we'd better make sure we look prim and proper for this gig...first step, obviously, is to make opiates illegal." But of course you can't actually stop drugs coming into your country without some cooperation from neighboring countries. So then we held a couple of international conventions where we pressured other countries to follow a bunch of drug laws that we made up or else we wouldn't support or trade with them. Then we passed the Harrison act in 1914 and the rest is history. The tie-ins between drug prohibition and our international globalist interventionism since then are almost too overwhelming to think about--indeed, few people do.

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