Carter on the Global Drug War... Something to Seriously Consider

by:Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservatism
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

There is little I would agree with Jimmy Carter on. Whether it be the proper scope of American government, philosophy, international affairs, and most everything else in between. On the issue of the global drug war, {and its dismal failure} I must agree with him.

We have spent billions attempting to cut off supply and in the process created the current multi-billion dollar illicit drug trade. Reminiscent of prohibition of alcohol back in the day. As long as there exists a demand there will be cartels and individuals who will provide the supply. This folks is not rocket science.

From Mr. Carter's New York Times opinion page.
IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.

This approach entailed an enormous expenditure of resources and the dependence on police and military forces to reduce the foreign cultivation of marijuana, coca and opium poppy and the production of cocaine and heroin. One result has been a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.

The commission’s facts and arguments are persuasive. It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment “with models of legal regulation of drugs ... that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.” For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places.

But they probably won’t turn to the United States for advice. Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults! {Continue Reading}

Ever so occasionally, when it makes objective sense, a libertarian independent Conservative can find common ground with a progressive. It is a rare thing.

Cross posted to the Left Coast Rebel

Via: Memeorandum


  1. As bad as it is at present, opening the borders (indifferent attitude) and reducing penalties will not reduce the violence associated with narcotics consumption in the US. In fact, it will only make things worse. As dismal as it sounds, it's true.

  2. Take away the illegalities and you make the cartels legitimate businessmen. Both the US and Mexico, as well as the rest of the world needs to do this.

    I am not in favor of drug use. I am also not in favor of spending trillions over the next forty years fighting a lost war.

    I understand the concerns many like yourself share. Indeed I do ad ave struggled with my position for years. I am no comfortable with it.

  3. Increase the fines on the criminals and that will offset the cost.

  4. Right. And accomplish what exactly?

  5. The social cost of opening everything up on narcotics - and the "safety net" healthcare costs would be staggering. Look at Europe (CLOSELY) before you advocate for this position.

    So you buy cocaine at the local WalMart and free base it in the parking lot? Understand the nature of this drug completely and the horribly addictive character of it -- for as bad as things are now, they would get a whole lot worse. I'm not talking about the Libertarians (many of whom are potheads) and their desire to get high legally on 420 the way others do on alcohol. This is a completely different animal.

  6. LL - What is the statistical model that shows if legalized there would be an increase in usage.

    I have thought about this long and hard. I suppose I will continue to do so.

    For now I stand with {unbelievable as it is} Carter on his one.

  7. Stiff fines against drug criminals would further discourage the crimes and fund efforts to stop them.

    LL is right. Things would get a lot worse if you remove these limiting factors on drug abuse.

    "LL - What is the statistical model that shows if legalized there would be an increase in usage."

    It's common sense. You don't need a statistical model. Just now that abuse would increase once the disincentives were removed.

    So, really, would we need a $4,300,000 government study to show that people would roll through intersections with no pause if stopsigns were removed?

  8. Perhaps you are both right. I am not yet convinced of it however.

    In the mean time the violence continues and billions if not trillions will be spent.

    There just seems to be a continuation of the same with no positive lasting results and at increasingly higher costs.

    What is the definition of insanity?

    You guys may be right but the jury is still out on this one.

  9. It is the illegality and the drug war itself that are the triggers of death and violence. It is the illegality that is the behind the property crimes by addicts.

    Treatment has long proven less expensive than incarceration.

    Nobody's advocating selling cocaine at Wal-Mart.

    Common sense, please.

    Even Nixon had a study that advocated de-criminalizing pot. He ignored it.

    The Drug War is here because the politicians are bought by the Alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical interests that want to sell their own brands of poison/and or medicine.

    The Drug War is also standing proof of the anti-big government conservatives' hypocrisy. It is a failed Big Government program that strips freedom from non-violent people. But it is what the corporate donors want. Our so-called representative republic only represents Big Money now.

    Bottom line, folks.

    This is another reason democracy is the better solution. Since the people are no longer represented, ballot initiatives have gone far in conveying "we the peoples'" desire for the madness to end.

  10. IF you can believe the TV (I know!), with legal drug use in Europe, the drug use in YOUNG people went down considerably. The older, hard-core users will only quit when they OD.


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