• RSS Ludwig Von Mises Institute of Austrian Economics

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Republican Liberty Caucus

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Freedom Watch

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Free Talk Live

    • FTL Digest 2016-08-22
      Free Talk Live's Daily Digests feature highlights from our full-length seven-day-a-week live radio show, selected and edited by Riley Blake. Enjoying the digests? Please donate $5-10 per month to Riley via this link: https://www.patreon.com/crblake86 If you want to donate via bitcoin, you can do so at the following address: 1NytDNA14UcYsvzX5DHhzowGCqNou […]
    • Free Talk Live 2016-08-23
      NJ Weedman Refuses Prison Term Plea Offer :: Undercover Informants :: Trump :: Gary Johnson Advocating Carbon Tax :: Obama Photo Op in Louisiana :: Bank Takeover :: Are Spiritual, New Age Quotes BS? :: Johnson the Skeptic :: Mindfulness :: College Debt :: Rolling Stone Targets Gary Johnson for Hitpiece :: Witt Attacks :: Being Present :: Hippie Towns :: Anon […]
    • FTL Digest 2016-08-21
      Free Talk Live's Daily Digests feature highlights from our full-length seven-day-a-week live radio show, selected and edited by Riley Blake. Enjoying the digests? Please donate $5-10 per month to Riley via this link: https://www.patreon.com/crblake86 If you want to donate via bitcoin, you can do so at the following address: 1NytDNA14UcYsvzX5DHhzowGCqNou […]
  • RSS Break the Matrix

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Schiff Radio

    • Big Policies, Bigger Failures
      By: Peter Schiff, President and CEO Euro Pacific Capital Economics is far simpler than most in academics or government would have you believe. To make accurate predictions all you really need is an honest appreciation of the self-interest that is at the heart of free market transactions and an ability to understand how regulations that […] The post Big Polic […]
    • Fed Advocates Higher Inflation And Larger Deficits! – Ep. 187
      The dollar was broadly weaker today with the dollar index closing down .85 to 94.78 At that time gold was up about $18; sliver up about .25 Then all of a sudden New York Fed Chairman William Dudley in an interview on Fox Business basically said that a September rate hike was still possible Look, […] The post Fed Advocates Higher Inflation And Larger Deficits […]
    • Central Banks Are Choking Productivity
      By: Peter Schiff, President and CEO Euro Pacific Capital If the Economy were a car, productivity would be the engine. Heated seats, on-demand 4-wheel drive and light-sensitive tinted windshields, are all very nice. But they mean little if the engine doesn’t turn and the car just sits in the driveway. The latest productivity data from […] The post Central Ban […]
    • Kill The Estate Tax To Save Jobs – Ep. 186
      Today we got the official numbers for Q2 Non-Farm Productivity and the consensus was that it would increase for the first time in 3 quarters; the prior 2 quarters we saw a decline in productivity So analysts were looking for a .5 increase in the second quarter Instead, we got a decline of .5 More […] The post Kill The Estate Tax To Save Jobs – Ep. 186 appear […]
    • “Strong” Jobs Report More Politics Than Economics – Ep. 185
      What a difference a week makes, or maybe and economic report The two big reports that everybody seems to focus on are the GDP numbers and the jobs numbers It seems that the weaker the economy is, as measured by GDP, the more jobs, somehow, the economy seems to create We got the jobs report […] The post “Strong” Jobs Report More Politics Than Economics – Ep. […]

Portugal, 10 Years after Decriminalization

According to a recent Forbes article, 10 years ago after all drugs in Portugal were decriminalized, drug abuse in the nation has been cut in half.  Portugal has had one of the most progressive drug policies out of modern countries, and they are a shining example of why we should follow their example and end the War on Drugs.  Most critics to Portugal’s decision thought that it would make the country a drug vacationing destination, but contrary to popular belief this never happened.  Drug addiction switched from being treated as a criminal problem to a health issue, and this allowed addicts much easier access to seek treatment instead of having them locked up in a cage.  Thus, drug abuse was treated more humanely and at a far cheaper cost to society.

According to the report:

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

Prohibition Never Works: Ending the War on Drugs

On January 19th, 1919, the United States passed the 18th Amendment of the US Constitution, enacting prohibition.  This meant that the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the United States for beverage purposes was prohibited.  It failed miserably.  On December 5, 1933 the 21st Amendment was passed, repealing the 18th Amendment (the only amendment to be repealed in its entirety).

Prohibition was the crowning jewel of the temperance movement in the early 20th century which had worked tirelessly to demonize alcohol.  Like most things from the progressive movement, it was a grand social engineering agenda based on good intentions.  Violence and debauchery needed to be purged from society, and alcohol undoubtedly fueled these sins.

The unintended consequences caused by prohibition were disastrous.  Crime rates soared as gangsters made millions of dollars on illegal alcohol sales, the most notable at the time being Al Capone.  The newly created black markets allowed Capone to reap obscene profits and because of this he was able to build one of the largest crime syndicates in the country dedicated to the smuggling and bootlegging of liquor.  Soon corruption was rife as law enforcement officials in charge of enforcing prohibition went on the take, from beat cops all the way up to the office of the United States Attorney General.  The actual harm caused by alcohol abuse was made worse, thanks to the economics of prohibitions.  Black market alcohol was of dubious origin, unregulated by market forces, and tended to be more potent and more dangerous.  Therefore, hospitalizations related to alcohol soared.  To sum it all up, wealthy industrialist John D. Rockefeller stated in a letter “When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”

Flash forward to the present day and prohibition is still alive and well, just in another form: the War on Drugs.  Now the federal government has taken prohibition to the next level thanks to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970, and this time they’ve disregarded any pretense of following the constitution (despite the failure of prohibition, at least it was passed constitutionally by adding an amendment).  Even states where medicinal marijuana is legal (ie CA), the DEA is not afraid of trampling over the state’s rights (the 10th amendment) and will shut down medical dispensaries and arrest patients.  Nearly 40 years after the CSA passed, we have 400,000 people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes, a domestic police force that often looks and acts like an occupying military force, nearly a trillion dollars spent on enforcement both here and through aggressive interdiction efforts overseas, and urban areas that can resemble war zones. Yet illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana are as cheap and abundant as they were in 1970.

Throughout the past year, a civil war has been waged in Mexico between giant drug cartels and the government.  If it weren’t for our War of Drugs and the ridiculous black market profits from illegal drugs, none of these Mexican gangs could exist.  If we ended our prohibition on drugs, we’d immediately pull the rug right out under the gangster’s feet by crippling their primary source of revenue.  But for now, the heart of the problem is being ignored by our government, and instead we’re preparing for military intervention in the border cities of Mexico and the US where gang violence is growing.  Instead of the Al Capones, our prohibition has now led to the rise of the cripts and bloods, the Mexican gangs, and even terrorists organizations such as Al-Qaeda which uses illicit cocaine sales to fund most of their activities.

It’s pretty clear that the War on Drugs has been an abject failure, but our government is not willing to realize it.  Instead, the government will continue to throw money at the problem in order to fix it, instead of cutting their losses and scrapping it altogether.  However, most hardlined anti-drug officers won’t admit this and continue to argue for the Drug War as a matter of self preservation.  Just like the prohibition era, the drug war has corrupted many police departments and they’ve resorted to using drug busts as a source of primary revenue.   With unjust asset forfeiture laws, police can reap double the benefit of drugs busts by not only getting paid for the bust, but also gaining profits from the seized cash and property.  It’s a sad day when our law enforcement engages in legalized theft to exist.

The hypocrisy of the War on Drugs should be quite clear to most people who see politicians abusing other legalized drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and pain killers.  These politicians think it’s perfectly fine for certain drugs of their choice to be legal, but will fight vehemently against others they don’t like.  One can make the argument that alcohol is a much more dangerous substance compared to others such as marijuana, but the politicians will immediately rebuke it using the silly gateway drug argument.  Sadly, they’ll ignore any evidence that decriminalizing drugs actually has worked, such as with Portugal.  According to a report entitled, “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies,” while drug use across the European Union has risen steadily since 2000, Portugal, which has the most liberal drug laws of any country, has actually seen its prevalence rates decrease in various age groups since it decriminalized all drugs in 2001.  “I think it’s bizarrely underappreciated what’s been done in Portugal,” said Salon writer Glenn Greenwald, who authored the report.  The problem of drug abuse should be a medical issue instead of a criminal one.  As Greenwald writes in the report, “By freeing its citizens from the fear of prosecution and imprisonment for drug usage, Portugal has dramatically improved its ability to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources that were previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available to provide treatment programs to addicts.  Those developments, along with Portugal’s shift to a harm-reduction approach, have dramatically improved drug-related social ills, including drug-caused mortalities and drug-related disease transmission,” the report continues. “Ideally, treatment programs would be strictly voluntary, but Portugal’s program is certainly preferable to criminalization.”

In a free society, individuals should have the liberty to choose what they can put into their body.  The War on Drugs completely opposes this principle and turns ordinary citizens into criminals for violations of laws without victims.  No matter how tyrannical a government, laws intended to modify human behavior will never work.  If an individual is addicted to hard drugs, that individual will find a way to get high no matter what is legal and what is not.  It is time to end the war on drugs and usher in a new era of tolerance and freedom.  The old styles of thinking are going to end, regardless of what the hypocritical politicians, who fear political suicide for opposing the War on Drugs, think.  Will it take 10 years for it to happen?  Or will it be sooner?  I believe the latter.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

http://www.reason.com/news/show/130383.html

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Portugals_drug_decriminalization_bizarrely_underappreciated_Greenwald_0406.html

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers