More Solutions to the War On Drugs

Money talks.

The article "High Canadian Dollar Hurts Sales Of Premium BC Pot In US" supports our view that understanding economics is crucial to understanding how to deal with the illegal drug trade.  The article quotes an economist:

"It's very simple," said Stephen Easton, professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. "Canadian marijuana production costs are met in Canadian dollars, and those are worth more now."

Previously, he said, pot growers could produce a pound of potent "B.C. bud" for about $2,000 Canadian and, with the exchange rate, smugglers buying with U.S. currency could sell it for a hefty profit south of the border. In those days, an American dollar in Canada was like a 50 percent discount card, and there's nothing like a wholesale discount to bolster retail profits.

Production costs remain in the range of $2,000 Canadian, Easton said. But with the currencies at par, the profit margin is completely gone, unless Montanans are willing to pay 50 percent more for the prime northern bud. A smuggler's risks and transport costs are no longer offset by profit.

"The upshot is that the Canadian marijuana is now less competitive against marijuana grown elsewhere," Easton said. "This is a cost-driven business. With exports no longer viable, the British Columbia marijuana industry has certainly taken a hit, so to speak."

With much of the 5,000 mile US-Canadian border being rugged and remote, and around 1,000 agents sharing the patrol duties, that leaves approximately 5 miles of border per agent.  With the long, open border between and the police having a great many other things to do, selling Canadian marijuana in the US was actually less challenging than growing it right here, and the profits were higher as well.

Since the relative value of the US dollar to the lower Canadian dollar boosted the profits of smuggling pot into the US, a booming export business was created.  Though it was strictly illegal, the export market for pot became an excellent case study from an economic point of view.

Easton and his university colleagues published a study in 2000 that estimated the annual market value of British Columbia's pot at around $5 billion, with perhaps 90 percent of the crop being shipped south into the U.S.  Subsequent changes in the value of the US dollar against the Canadian dollar have essentially closed the export market to Canadian pot.  The above study estimated that the approximately $5 billion spent by American consumers for Canadian marijuana represented about 3% of the total US marijuana consumption market.

This leads to an obvious question: has the actual consumption of marijuana by US residents decreased due to the import deficit from Canada?  While there is no direct "market survey" data available, since overall price is down and convictions for trafficking are up, one could be forgiven for assuming that US marijuana consumption was not substantively impacted.  The drug market is clearly more resilient than the oil market - imagine what would happen to gasoline prices with a 3% drop in supply!  No provable impact occurred in the drug market.

Now What?

As we have stated before, there are only two direct ways to "solve" the American drug problem: summarily kill anyone found with any illegal drug for any reason, or totally lock down our borders.

With over 6,000 miles total of miles of Canadian and Mexican borders and 2,000 miles of coastal regions in Florida and Puerto Rico for the 11,000 men and women of the US Border Patrol to guard, it should be no surprise to anyone who has once used a Wal-Mart or McDonalds this decade that the primary language of the poorer classes is fast becoming Spanish.  For the same reasons as the encroaching language shift, the ease and availability of multiple illegal substances from pot to X to H is growing year by year with a seemingly impotent police force more and more obviously duplicitous in this sub-current of illegal economies.

Border restriction demonstrably isn't working.  Quick execution for possession isn't politically feasible regardless of whether it is a good idea or not.  Consumption is up, addiction is up, political will to effect lasting solutions is down.

Interestingly, we are fast approaching the time of year when we get to vote on what politicians we would have rule over us, so here is the ultimate question: Do we as a nation even care about illegal drug consumption and drug addiction, and subsequently, how important of an issue is it in comparison to terrorism, international opinion of the USA and the economy?

Since that is a complex question, let's ask it differently: Which is more likely to directly impact you: drug abuse, terrorism, international opinion of the USA, or the economy?

There is an Answer!

We have seen our government try many methods to attack the illegal drug industry.  They have sprayed weed killer in all the garden spots of the world, they have sent our tax dollars to militarize local police forces all over the world, they even read our electric meters to see who has more lights burning than expected, they analyze our sewers to find neighborhoods where drugs are being used...but after the trillions of dollars and billions of hours spent we see that it all makes no difference whatsoever.

A shift in the US dollar relative to the Canadian dollar completely shut off drug smuggling from Canada because there was no longer any money in it.  The only way to stop the illegal trade is to take the money out of it, which means legalization.

The prohibitionists are worried that if it's legal, businesses will want to increase the number of addicts by marketing it.  We've seen sales increase when businesses market alcohol and tobacco, so they have a point.

The only way to keep businesses from marketing a legal product is to take all the money out of it, which means the government has to give it away.  Giving away drugs is a lot cheaper than putting people in jail, we'll de-fund the Taliban, and addicts can stop stealing to support their habits.

In fact, we'll go back to the way things were before we tried our ill-advised experiment with drug prohibition, which we now know doesn't worked any better than alcohol prohibition worked half a century ago, and for pretty much the same reasons.

Demosthenes is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Demosthenes or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Not a bad idea. But, why stop there?

My truck insurance keeps going up, in part because of auto theft. If cars and trucks were free, no one would be interested in stealing mine, and rates would go down. And, if anyone bothered to steal mine, I'd just get a newer one. Problem solved!

Same thing for the sub-prime mortgage problem some people are having in this country. If the government gave out free houses, no one would have to borrow money and they couldn't lose their home. Of course if the mortgaged their home for other purposes and lost it, the government could always give them a new one. Problem solved!

I hear there is a lot of crime in prostitution. I'm sure the government could fix that.
March 20, 2008 11:28 AM
BillyBob has expressed an idea which has attracted the best thinkers for a long time - it's called communism. The Soviet Union tried it starting in 1917 and it didn't work out too well. However, without their experiment, we would not have known that it doesn't work.

The communist approach of involving government in providing a service is known not to work in Russia and it doesn't work in the US where schools are concerned. The point of involving government in drug distribution is that we don't WANT people to use drugs. If we merely legalize drugs, smart marketers will increase drug use. If the government gets involved, however, a) there won't be any profit in it and b) people won't want to deal with the government so drug use won't explode.
March 20, 2008 12:34 PM
I think the idea here is that we do not WANT people to do drugs, so letting an incompetent government monopoly take it over is OK. We do, however, want people to have houses, insurance, cars, etc., so a government monopoly there would be bad.
March 20, 2008 12:35 PM
I have a more basic suggestion. It should be illegal to express an opinion on the subject until someone can pass a basic factual quiz and can prove they have read certain basic research. If that happened, then there wouldn't be any of these arguments.
March 21, 2008 10:22 PM
Okay, it's clear we have the fascist guy in the community here. "It should be illegal to express an opinion"? Yeah... good luck with that, buddy- maybe you should move to Cuba.
March 21, 2008 10:32 PM
Who gives the quiz? You? Considering the story you've told about the pain your loved ones have gone through, one might suggest you are biased in the other direction. Are you willing to swear on a stack of Bibles that every single article/story/essay/opinion on your website is based 100% off of fact that you can prove to the nth degree? If not (and of course you can't) then you are also peddling mistruths.
March 21, 2008 10:36 PM
>Jennifer said:
>Okay, it's clear we have the fascist guy in
> the community here. "It should be illegal to
>express an opinion"? Yeah... good luck with
>that, buddy- maybe you should move to Cuba.

Well, the problem is that American drug policy is built and supported by the people who know the least about the subject. If you instituted this law, for example, it would be the last time you would hear from any government drug official.
March 21, 2008 10:46 PM
>twibi said:
>Who gives the quiz? You?

Until somebody comes along with a better one, anyway.

>Considering the story you've told about the
>pain your loved ones have gone through, one
>might suggest you are biased in the other

I am not sure what you are referring to. But see my next response.

>Are you willing to swear on a stack of Bibles
>that every single article/story/essay/opinion
>on your website is based 100% off of fact
>that you can prove to the nth degree? If not
>(and of course you can't) then you are also
>peddling mistruths.

Well, I have had a standing offer for almost the last twenty years. If you have any research on the drug laws that you think tells the story better than what I already have there, then send it to me and I will post it with the rest. I have had many contributors to the online library over the years. I have specifically sought out people with opposing viewpoints and allowed them free space on my web site to post the full text of any research they thought was important.

As you may note, I post the full text of all the works. That way nobody has to take my opinion for what they said. You know, like an intelligent reader could read a good deal of that research and come to some idea of what the consensus of scholarly opinion really is.

That offer is open to you, too. Funny thing is, though, whenever I make this offer to anyone who has said something like what you said above, they never seem to come back with anything. In fact, it always quickly becomes clear that they haven't even read what is already there, so their statement is just so much hot air.

So let's start with something like Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy. That is a collection of the full text of every major government commission on drugs from around the world over the last 100 years.
As it is, they all say fundamentally the same things. Do you have any comparable body of research that says something different? Got any major government commission reports I missed?

March 21, 2008 10:55 PM
> No provable impact occurred in the drug market.

A comment on this particular item. You will commonly see dollar figures offered by various government officials about the drug problem. With few exceptions, all such figures they offer are complete and hopeless bullshit.

Let's take one for example. You will commonly see people say that illegal drugs cost umpty-forty gazillion dollars of damage in lost work, sick time, etc., etc., etc.

Think this one through. Where did that supposed data come from? Where do they have anyone who stands by and tries to tote up whether someone took a day off because they legitimately had the flu versus being wiped out on drugs?

If you take a day off from work does some goverment surveyor come around to ask you whether you were really ill or just decided to stay home and get loaded? If you were getting loaded, would you be likely to admit it?

These estimates are obvious bullshit just because there is no way to collect any such data. Any time you see such a figure you can be 100 percent sure that whoever is talking is trying to con you, or is repeating some bullshit from someone who conned them. Guaranteed.

Let's take another one -- the size of the market. The US Government gives no official figures on what they believe that drug imports into this country might be. However, when asked in Congressional testimony, top DEA officials have said that they estimate they seize less than ten percent of the drugs coming into the country. Huh?

We know the size of the market for beer. It is slightly over $100 billion per year. We know this for a simple reason. Beer sellers paid taxes on $100 billion worth of beer. However, illegal drug dealers don't pay taxes. If you tried to survey the market by other methods -- like going and knocking on their doors and asking them -- you would get spectacularly unreliable results. So how do they get these figures?

How about figures on drug use? The goverment officials will tell you that, because of their heroic efforts, drug use has gone down dramatically in whatever period of time they cherry pick.

If you want to read the government's own surveys of drug use (let's assume they are gospel, even though they are not) you will find that drug use fluctuates over time. If meth use is up then cocaine might be down. If cocaine is up then heroin use might be down. Then you will notice that all these pattern fluctuate even more for different age groups. Kids may be doing less cocaine but they might be doing more prescription pills.

The government officials will cherry pick parts of this data, by particular age groups, and use it to claim they are heroes. They know, of course, that the typical clod on the street hasn't read anything on the subject, and isn't likely to, so most of the people who read these internet forums will buy it just like it was the revealed word of the Lord.

In short, if you have ever believed any government official on this subject, then I have this great deal on some swampland that you will want to jump on right away.

March 22, 2008 12:00 PM
Funny little item I remembered. Years ago I was involved in a conversation with an expert on drug policy (that is, someone who actually has read the major research and really is well-educated). He had spent some years working for the Federal Government at the highest levels and had day-to-day experience with people like the Drug Czar and the people of that type. He had a participatory role in making decisions about drug policy.

I asked him (as I always do with with government officials) if he had read the basic research on drug policy such as I have on my web site. He said he had -- and furthermore, to his great credit -- it was apparently that he actually had read the materials. The guy could pass any quiz that I could give.

So I asked him what he thought of US drug policy versus the research. He said, in so many words, that US drug policy is complete idiocy. There is simply no real connection between the research and what the policy is.

I also asked him about the fact that, whenever these people try to engage in any serious debate, they get their asses whipped so badly that it is really ridiculous. "What's going on here?", I asked. "Why don't they learn anything?"

His response -- in a nutshell -- was that he had come to the same conclusion that I have -- that a lot of these people are just too stupid to learn. You try to tell them that the world isn't really flat and they just don't want to hear it.
March 22, 2008 12:55 PM
I've run across a lot of the same type people as Mr. Schaffer. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that they were actually quite a bit smarter than I had thought at first. The guys Mr. Scaffer talks about have quite a good thing going. They don't have to accomplish anything because nobody expects any results, but they got to spend a lot of money. They also get to run around waving guns at everybody. They get paid and don't have to show results, what could be sweeter? They are at least smart enough not to knock a good thing.

This article explains why we should expect more and more of this sort of thing.
March 22, 2008 8:26 PM
Lost Children of The X-Box Generation Leads to an Increase in Community Violence

James Miller - Author, "Three Keys To Youth Crime Prevention" 2008, Rowman & Littlefield Education Publishing, Inc.

The systemic break down of the Three Keys of a child's life is leading us back to an age of anarchy and chaos. The fundamentals of family, education and sense of community are being lost to the X-box generation. Do we blame media and video games? Do we blame the children and youth? Do we blame the politicians? Absolutely not. We should blame ourselves for the lack of commitment to our children in working together to integrate lasting and effective solutions. We should blame our continued ignorance of each other and each others beliefs.

What is it that is contributing to the children being bullied? Maybe the child is lacking direction in their life. It could be that they are victim to abuse or neglect in the home. When they get around their peers, they act in an aggressive manner as this is what they are being taught as an acceptable form of resolution. It could very well be that they are being victimized in other areas of their life. Maybe at home they are being bullied or abused. When they are at school, they act out on others in order to regain a sense of control over others. They are so deeply suffering the loss of control in their own lives when it comes to the abuse they are suffering and the power that is being stripped from them at home. Maybe the home life is an ideal situation for raising children and it does not have any contributing factor to the child's need to control others. It could be that they are masking a mental health condition whereas they do not feel in control or capable of getting control of their own life. Thus, they feel a sense of satisfaction in controlling others. Another option is that they were controlled and manipulated so much by their peers and when they spoke out felt not enough was done to give them a sense of closure and resolution. Now they act out against others to gain that sense.

The three keys to a child's life are so rapidly clashing with each other and society continues to add turmoil to their confusion. An example of this could be a youth going through a struggle with one's sexual identity. While they are hearing the political correctness of people saying, "It is ok as long as they are happy" while in public they continue to use derogatory terms against gay persons or racist comments about others. They hear the courts saying it is against the human rights of every person to be judged on race, gender, sexual orientation and yet they watch the news and see the politicians speaking about the rights of gays to get married or the need for profiling individuals for the "no fly list". Society continues to send mixed messages to children and youth. If you think these things go unnoticed by our ch8ildren and youth, you are sadly mistaken. When we get to a point where everyone is truly equal, our children and youth will feel more at ease to be who they are and stand firm for their true beliefs, not just for the beliefs of what they think society will accept this week.

Families who come to our countries to make a new life or find a better life are told they can achieve their dreams and be free from racism and bigotry. Yet we know that things such as no fly lists target certain ethnicities more than others. We see the majority of persons in inner city areas are of minority race. Society fails to treat them as equals based on geography and financial stature. Think about that before you deny this. If you were in a dark parking lot and there are two African American people around you. One person you know was from South Central Los Angeles and one from Bel Air. Both dressed in similar fashion. Who would you go to for help? Again, we a teaching our children and youth through not only words but attitudes. Personally, I suggest you go towards the one from South Central. They are used to having to work harder and go out of their way to try and earn your respect. Even more so, how about just realizing that you even have to give it any thought and revisit your own values and attitudes. The gangs are preying on new immigrants and children with less of a social network amongst their own peers. Each and every person has a need to feel as they belong and that they are accepted. The gangs know this and they offer that false sense of belonging and acceptance in order to recruit them. The recruiters are not going to be the obvious gang bangers; they are going to attempt to blend in more than that.

The Three Keys to a child's life are the home, school and community. All three of these are breaking down and failing to deliver the same, consolidated messages to our young. Now wonder they are so confused. No wonder they have so many mixed messages. Let's stop blaming the movies and video games. A normal, well adjusted child is not going to go and kill another child as a result of playing too many hours of Grand Theft Auto. The media and video games can be one of the many contributing factors in a child's life who ends up acting out in an aggressive manner. Their will be many warning signs and if the Three Keys fail, that child goes on without the required help and we should first blame ourselves as parents, teachers and a community. It may be easier to blame everyone else but if we continue to blame everyone, it continues until eventually it will get right back to us when there is no else left. It would be so much easier to stop pointing our fingers and take initiative to learn about the causes and effects of violence in our communities and then take the bull by the horns to work together in implementing the solutions.

We want to fight the war on drugs. We want to have people think that we are going to support them if they make the required steps to change their lives. We want to help them remove themselves from temptation. Yet if they are working on getting their lives together and have to go stand in a welfare line on welfare day in order to pick up a cheque, there are dealers openly selling the drugs to those while in the line-up and will even go as far as drive the recovering addict (or current addict) from the welfare office to the cheque cashing facility around the corner. Security officers are placed on the inside of the welfare offices but how about placing a few police or security officers outside to help keep temptation away from those who are stuck out their for hours at a time and even people using in the parking lots. Let's get some under cover officers in those lineups and get these punk drug dealers who are preying on the weakness and illness of other and lock them up. Let's show these people that we will help them in their recovery, not contribute to subjecting them to hours of temptation and potential to relapse. (For anyone who thinks this is an exaggeration, I have done my own confirmation of his issue by standing in a welfare line in Surrey, BC several months on issue days to witness this problem first hand. It is an issue with welfare offices throughout Canada and the US).

James Miller is an author and researcher of Youth Violence Prevention Strategies and teaches youth crime reduction programs worldwide. James Miller also founded the international organization, E.N.D. Youth Violence He can be contacted through this web site or via telephone at 1-604-582-9624 - 24 hours. He is available to the media, parents and youth, schools, government and anyone else concerned with school and community violence. His programs and systems have been used in schools from new York to the UK. His programs have been taught to groups from social workers, law instructors, police agencies including the RCMP and thousands of others. His consulting services can be discussed through the web site. All programs are either free or offered on a sliding scale basis.
March 23, 2008 6:52 AM
OK, Mr. Miller, that is a nice argument for "do it for the children". Where have I heard that line before -- in every sanctimonious crusade since alcohol prohibition?

Now tell me about what you know about the drug war and its effects on children. Have you studied the drug war at all? Have you read any of the basic research on that topic? Tell me what you read and what you think it means in terms of drug policy.

If you can do that then I will share with you the latest groundbreaking research on why people take drugs in the first place.

But, frankly, my impression right now is that, however learned you may be on children, you don't even have the basics on the drug war. What causes drug epidemics among kids, anyway?

March 23, 2008 10:00 AM
In response to Thomas Moore, I have to say that some (a lot) of prohibitionists genuinely have an intellectual deficit. Call it "brain damage" for short.

Let me give you a specific example that you can try yourself.

You are a smart guy. I am sure that you understand the difference between "drugs are bad" and "prohibition is the solution." For example, we all know that alcohol is bad for society and health in all kinds of ways. There is no question about that.

However, just because alcohol is bad doesn't necessarily mean that prohibition is the solution to the alcohol problems. In fact, prohibition only made those problems worse, and created a whole bunch of new ones. In fact, the problems were so bad that few people even entertain the idea of alcohol prohibition today.

Now go talk to any prohibitionist of your choice. Mention that drugs should be legalized. The reaction you will get will be "drugs are bad" -- plus probably a lot of ranting and raving about how crazy you are.

Give them the example of alcohol and alcohol prohibition, and remind them that just because something is bad doesn't mean that trying to outlaw it is the best solution. There is the "problem" and then there is the "solution" -- and the two are different. Other means might work better than just trying to lock everyone up for the rest of their lives.

Note the responses you will get. They won't even consider the question. They don't have the brain cells to consider the question, just like some people don't have the brain cells to do algebra. The more you try to explain it to them, the more irrational and hysterical they will get until they just leave the conversation. They will curse you all the way as they leave, too. Don't be surprised if they call you a pedophile for just bringing up the subject.

What is happening is a thing called cognitive dissonance and a lot of people just can't handle it. It really makes their head hurt and then they just go into a rage.

Try it yourself with a number of prohibitionists. They are incapable of intelligent conversation on the subject.
March 23, 2008 10:10 AM
Let's give Mr. Miller something specific to answer:

1) What was the situation like with kids and drugs before drugs were outlawed?

2) When did drug-related crime first become a real problem?

3) Alcohol prohibition was passed with a campaign of "Save the Children from Alcohol" -- much like your current argument. What happened with children after alcohol prohibition went into effect?

4) What caused the first major meth epidemic in the 1960s?

5) What caused the LSD epidemic in the 1960s?

6) How did glue sniffing get started?

March 23, 2008 10:22 AM
>We want to fight the war on drugs.

Show me any significant study of the drug laws in the last 100 years that agreed with you.

>We want to have people think that we are going to support them
>if they make the required steps to change their lives.

Yes, we certainly want that. However, they don't get the idea that you are on their side when two-thirds, or more, of the entire budget is spent on putting people in jail. They particularly don't get the idea that you want to help them when you jail them in wholesale quantities, as happens with black men in the US.

The Rand Corp. says that treatment saves seven dollars in related social costs for every dollar spent on treatment. Law enforcement, on the other hand, actually increases related social costs. One of the ways it does so is increasing welfare costs for children whose parents have gone to prison -- which just causes another generation of kids with problems.

Yet, where is most of the money spent? It is spent on jails.

Why is it spent on jails? Because the people who build and run jails are some of the biggest lobbyists around. In California, the biggest single political donor is the California prison guard's union. Also ranking right up there are the companies who build prisons.

And you thought this was all about helping people, I bet. Boy, did you get hosed on that idea.

>We want to help them remove themselves from temptation.

Let me ask you a question. If we wanted to remove you from all the tempting things that you might use to destroy your life, what would we have to do to you? Cheeseburgers kill more people than illegal drugs and there are cheeseburgers on every corner.

How about helping them deal with their problem as it is, recognizing that the world is full of all kinds of temptations?

>Yet if they are working on getting their lives together and have
>to go stand in a welfare line on welfare day in order to pick up a
>cheque, there are dealers openly selling the drugs to those while
>in the line-up and will even go as far as drive the recovering addict
>(or current addict) from the welfare office to the cheque cashing
>facility around the corner. Security officers are placed on the
>inside of the welfare offices but how about placing a few police or
>security officers outside to help keep temptation away from those who
>are stuck out their for hours at a time and even people using in the
>parking lots. Let's get some under cover officers in those lineups and
>get these punk drug dealers who are preying on the weakness and illness
>of other and lock them up. Let's show these people that we will help
>them in their recovery, not contribute to subjecting them to hours of
>temptation and potential to relapse. (For anyone who thinks this is
>an exaggeration, I have done my own confirmation of his issue by
>standing in a welfare line in Surrey, BC several months on issue
>days to witness this problem first hand. It is an issue with welfare
>offices throughout Canada and the US).

OK, this particular statement sounds like it came from a DARE officer, and that is pretty bad. Anyone who refers to "punk drug dealers," etc. clearly isn't doing any rational analysis of the situation. It also becomes pretty damn clear that he isn't as educated on the topic as he claims to be.

There was a time in history when none of this was really a problem. Can you tell me when that was and what the general conditions were?

There are places in the world right now where this is not a problem. They have drug use but they don't have the kinds of problems you describe. Most of the addicts are gainfully employed, and not living on the streets or committing crimes. Overdoses have dropped to about zero. New addicts (where its really at) are at the lowest levels ever. Can you tell me about any of those places?

Let me make a prediction. Mr. Miller will not try to defend his ideas. Neither will he address the questions I have asked. I predict what I have called the "shout and run".

March 23, 2008 12:44 PM
"I have to say that some (a lot) of prohibitionists genuinely have an intellectual deficit. Call it "brain damage" for short."

It's no wonder you can't convince anyone of anything. You shouldn't be surprised or frustrated about how unreceptive your audience is. Just go back and read the stuff you've said or written a few times; that should help clear it up. (In Mein Kampf, Hitler repeatedly referred to the Jews and his opponents as "lacking intelligence", "mentally inferior" and "stupid". Whenever I hear someone use those words now in a debate, I instantly lose all respect and consideration for what they say)
March 23, 2008 2:22 PM
Well gchang, like it or not, it is true. You can check out yourself. Find some good prohibitionist leader and run the test I proposed.

As for convincing people, I dare say that I have done my fair share of that. You might say that I kinda "wrote the book" on the subject, so to speak.

What I am giving you is an honest assessment of the other side that you can test yourself, any time you want. The opposition are not people who are open to a fair and honest debate on the subject. They just aren't. They have demonstrated it for many years. It is closer to religion than it is to sensible public policy. They literally run from an open and honest discussion and straightforward questions.

For example, one of them, Calvina Fay, was invited to appear on a drug policy panel. She agreed, and then refused to participate and left the hall when she heard there would be questions from the audience. All of the people supporting reform chose to remain and answer questions. The prohibitionists never do.

But I guess by your remarks, that I didn't convince you. So then tell me:

Which arguments of mine about drug policy do you think are wrong? Explain why, with references.

Which of the recommended reading items that I listed have you read? Please share your opinion on why you think those items are right or wrong.

I think, by your own case, we can probably deduce some clues as to why some people remain unconvinced.
March 23, 2008 2:32 PM
BTW, gChang, the argument that "I am not going to listen to what you say because you insulted someone" is about as lame as they come. A real masterpiece of reasoning.

You can figure out why, can't you? You don't like what so-and-so said so your response is to stick your head in the sand. You don't choose to go educate yourself and make a cogent response. You just claim the insults are too great to continue.

In truth, it is just the lame excuse of people who already determined not to listen, anyway, and were just looking for an excuse for their own bigotry. How do I know? Like I have never seen this routine before, not even a thousand times.

You are free to make whatever intelligent rebuttal you choose.
March 23, 2008 5:15 PM
No, not really. I understand everything you've said as does everyone else reading. Nothing you've mentioned is hard to get or particularly complex. I just reject on the basis that sometimes you have to pick the better of two evils.

As for intelligence, you can reassure yourself that "everyone else is just stupid" but I'm pretty sure my two master degrees (physics, mathematics) stand up nicely next to yours.

The ability to be civil and taciturn are the hardest elements to master in a debate, particularly when one has devoted great amounts of time to research. Maybe some people are just too "intellectual deficient" to understand that.
March 23, 2008 7:49 PM
The question to you was: What have you read on this topic?

And, if you haven't read the referenced items, why not?

You see, the question isn't really whether someone is "smart". There are lots of prohibitionists out there with degrees.

Now, assuming you can read well enough to get said degrees, and assuming you actually have enough interest in the subject that you keep commenting on it, then we come back to the point of why you haven't read, but just content yourself with the idea that you have somehow picked the lesser of two evils.

Would you accept that kind of argument in physics or math?

March 23, 2008 8:00 PM
Physics/math deal with data. There isn't a lot of guess work; at least not with the low and mid level stuff. Issues like the prohibition of substances are not nearly so cut and dry. Saying "this doesn't work" or "that failed" is open to great debate; the results seem to very subjective. As I previously stated in the other Scragged thread, you are obviously more thoroughly read on this issue than I. That's fine. There are issues I am more thoroughly read on. My response here was, again, not aimed at suggesting I've read all of your material on the subject. My point is this and only this --> Once you paint your opposition as stupid and intellectually inferior, you really only paint yourself.
March 23, 2008 8:51 PM
gChang said:
>Physics/math deal with data. There isn't a
>lot of guess work; at least not with the low
>and mid level stuff.

Quite correct.

>Issues like the prohibition of substances are
>not nearly so cut and dry. Saying "this
>doesn't work" or "that failed" is open to
>great debate; the results seem to very

Quite wrong, and simply proof that you haven't bothered to read. There is no serious disagreement that I have ever encountered in people who have read the major research. There are no serious differences in the conclusions of all the major studies of the subject over the last 100 years, no matter who did them, or where, or why. The only serious differences come from those who have never bothered to read and don't grasp how overwhelming the evidence is.

Suppose someone came to you and told you that physics was all just a matter of debate, and no one was certain of anything, and the earth was only 6,000 years old. You would immediately know their educational level on the subject of physics, wouldn't you?

>As I previously stated in the other Scragged
>thread, you are obviously more thoroughly
>read on this issue than I. That's fine.

And I will grant that you are probably better educated than I am in math and physics.

> There are issues I am more thoroughly read
>on. My response here was, again, not aimed at
>suggesting I've read all of your material on
>the subject. My point is this and only this --
>> Once you paint your opposition as stupid
>and intellectually inferior, you really only
>paint yourself.

Well, let's turn it around and see what you say.

Someone comes to you and they say that 2+2=3.

You tell them that 2+2=4. You give them examples, and show them where they can discover for themselves what the correct answer might be. You know from your own research that the evidence that 2+2=4 is simply overwhelming. There is no serious question about it.

They tell you that they believe that they have the correct answer and though they will continue to argue that 2+2=3, they won't bother to read any of the most basic texts that you have offered. In fact, the idea that 2+2 might not equal 3 often seems genuinely distressing to these individuals.

What would you conclude about such a person?

Or assume they told you that the world was flat, and insisted on that belief, refusing to read anything that might disagree. They will argue like hell that the world is flat, but they won't read, or really even address arguments as to why the world might be round. What would you conclude about them?

Just FYI, it happens every time this subject is discussed on some internet forum.
March 23, 2008 9:22 PM

Here you go, gChang.

Tell you what you can do for all of us. You go round up any prohibitionist who thinks they can make an intelligent argument on the subject. You find us one of these great American heroes, who are saving us all from perdition, and protecting our precious children, and fighting the evil drug legalizers.

Here are some good places to start.

Calvina Fay, Executive Director, Drug Free America Foundation -

Dr. Eric Voth or anyone at --

Sue Rusche or anyone else at National Families in Action --

You tell them that Cliff Schaffer is over here claiming that they are a bunch of know-nothing fools who can't last five minutes in a fair debate. You tell them that I have almost the whole crowd convinced here and it is time they came around and slapped me down and put me in my place.

After all, these national authorities on the subject surely have an intelligent argument and could win this thing hands down. They ought to be able to just mop the floor with me. Don't you think?

We already tried Mr. Miller. He did the "shout and run". I doubt we will hear from him again.

But surely there is someone out there who will just have all the real facts and just stomp the bejeezuz out of me.

So why don't you go round them up and bring them over to debate the subject? You want proof positive? Go find me an intelligent prohibitionist who can make a sensible debate against an educated person. Just try. One is all we need to prove I am wrong. Go ahead and see what results you get.

When you get done with that little project, something about the overwhelming weight of the evidence should start to become clear to you.
March 23, 2008 10:05 PM
For gChang:

The complete lack of a coherent prohibitionist response is no accident. The failure of any prohibitionist leader to come forward and try to make their case -- anywhere on the internet -- is no accident.

You see, g, way back in 1989 I determined that the prohibitionist argument was built entirely on falsehoods, nonsense, and platitudes. I determined that, if someone had the proper evidence assembled and could cite it, then the prohibitionists would be left without an argument.

At that time -- even before the Internet was really much of anything -- I figured out that the way to win the debate forever was to put all the major research online, complete with original historical documents -- all full text -- so that everyone could read it and draw their own conclusions.

You see, I had read the research some years before and I knew what it said very clearly. It says very clearly that the prohibitionist argument doesn't last past the first platitude. It says that the whole thing was lunacy from Day One and remains absolute lunacy. No question about it. You just can't read any serious amount of the research and come to any other conclusion.

Therefore, I determined very early on to end the debate forever. So I went out and got the major studies of the subject from university research libraries and began to scan them and post them full text on the net. That was back about 1992. I also began to educate other people in the research and how to make the arguments in the debate.

Of course, the prohibitionists never had anything comparable to what I collected. I contacted them early on and specifically asked them for any research they wanted to contribute. I never got a piece of actual research from any of them. It was all secondhand propaganda material, which invariably made incorrect statements about whatever they did cite. I have numerous examples of such on my web site.

So we started having debates, in front of live audiences, on TV, and on the Internet.

Well, to make a long story short, it was a complete blowout. The prohibitionists quickly learned that a public debate was an invitation to a serious ass-whipping. In 1994, the DEA wrote a debate manual to try to give their people some help. (The idea of a government agenecy issuing such a manual promoting their own favorite policy is an interesting idea in itself.) The manual didn't help. They still got their asses seriously whipped every time they showed up. So, by 1995, they stopped showing up at all.

No kidding. It was in 1995 that I went out to debate the local DEA rep in front of a high school crowd. That was when they figured they would do better if they didn't show up at all. Now they are down to the "shout and run". That is, pop off with some stupid declaration and then don't hang around long enough to have their ideas fairly tested.

The "legalizers" own the Internet, and have a sizeable influence on the other media as a result. You see, I determined long ago that the Internet would be key as a method to distribute research that had long been lost and forgotten. I determined that, once that happened, sooner or later the prohibitionists would be reduced to the sorry state that they are in now.

And you can go ask the prohibitionists yourself. One of their major leaders was lamenting not too long ago that they had lost the Internet and were badly losing the debate.

March 26, 2008 12:07 PM
BTW, for anyone interested in this topic, I recommend they check out the show on Showtime called The American Drug War. See

It is a couple of hours long and features speakers on both sides. One of the more interesting ones is a former 18-year LAPD narcotics officer describing his knowledge of CIA involvement in the smuggling of cocaine to the US. It also includes people like Celerino Castillo, former top DEA agent. It shows a picture of him standing with the first Bush in Panama. Bush has his arm around his shoulders like a close buddy. Castillo says that, at the time the picture was taken, he leaned in close to Bush and told him that the Contras were being funded by sales of cocaine. He said that Bush turned away and said nothing in response. He goes on to say that he pretty much knew that the drug war was phony at that point.

Just FYI, if anyone is wondering who Judge James P. Gray is in that show, he is a former prosecutor who once prosecuted the largest heroin case on record. Lots and lots of the people speaking out against the drug war now are ex-law-enforcement. See, for example - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. One of the guys on their board was responsible for busting about 120 tons of cocaine in South America. They have been there, done that, and they just don't believe that same old drug war crap anymore.
March 26, 2008 2:05 PM
This article describes how the Mexican and South American drug lords are hiring ex-special forces soldiers to help them move drugs.

The article says:

"Former Kaibil soldiers have been lured to work as assassins and run security for powerful drug lords by cash payments that can be as much as 10 times the average army salary, according to a Kaibil commander interviewed by Reuters."
April 25, 2008 9:34 PM

is an article which explains the huge impact of Canadian pot growing:

Inspector Brian Cantera of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Vancouver believes that John's small grow-op is one of 20,000 to be found in residential houses around the province.


The striking aspect of BC's marijuana trade is that it has gone beyond the boundaries of traditional organized crime groups (although some are still heavily involved) and entered into the middle classes.

Much of the revenue derived from BC Bud, as the cannabis crop is known, goes on paying college fees, perhaps buying a second car or making that holiday to the Caribbean just a little bit more affordable.

The trade is so large that the police in BC are faced with an impossible task.

Inspector Cantera walked me around a cavernous warehouse somewhere east of Vancouver where the RCMP lock up goods confiscated from people involved in the drugs trade.

The most spectacular items are the cars, speedboats and even helicopters which the traffickers use to send the marijuana down to its biggest market across the 49th parallel in the US.

These busts net goods worth millions of dollars but it still isn't enough to dent the extraordinary profits of the drug runners.

Unfortunately, neither candidate has said anything about drug policy.
July 22, 2008 11:35 AM
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