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We need to end the drug war!

by Mary J. Ruwart  

Recently I was asked about my stance concerning the War on Drugs. I support an end to all drug prohibition.   Here are some answers to questions I’ve given in the past:

We need to outlaw drugs to protect our children.

To save our children, we need to get drugs out of our schools. The only way to do that is to take the profit out through re-legalization.   You don’t see pushers selling tobacco and alcohol in the schools because there isn’t the profit margin that prohibition brings.   If we’re serious about saving our kids, we have to stop the pushers by slashing their profits.

The War on Drugs can’t even keep drugs out of our well-guarded prisons–how can we be so naive as to think it can keep them out of our schools?

If we legalize drugs, won’t more people turn to crime to fund their drug addiction?

Making drugs illegal drives up their prices a hundred-fold, so addicts must steal to support their habit.   People rarely steal to buy alcohol or cigarettes, even though these substances are addictive too.   Decriminalizing drugs will end the stealing and make our streets safer.

If we legalize drugs, won’t more people die?

The War on Drugs is killing more people than the drugs themselves.   Contaminated needles are the number one cause of AIDS transmission in the US.   Almost 80% of drug related deaths wouldn’t occur if users had access to standardized doses and purity.

We have to keep drugs illegal or else we will have a society of deadbeats!

It hasn’t happened in the Netherlands, why would you expect it to happen here?   Before hard drugs were outlawed earlier in this century, U.S. pharmacies sold opiates openly and addiction was not a problem.   Real-life experience should reassure you on this point.

Wouldn’t drug usage go up after legalization, especially among our young people?

Hard drug usage goes down when “softer” ones such as marijuana are available.   In the Netherlands, addicts are mostly from the older generation, probably because re-legalizing drugs keeps the pushers out of schools.

The Drug War kills more people than the drugs them ­selves.   Drug usage would have to go up 8 times under re-legalization to even ap ­proach the current death toll.   Since 15 to 20% of our population indulges regularly in illegal recreational substances, everyone would have to do drugs for re-legalization to be as harmful as prohibition.

We have to ban drugs because they are so harmful.

Alcohol and tobacco are both more addictive and more dangerous than marijuana or other street drugs.   While only 7,000 people a year die from drug overdoses, over 100,000 per year die from alcohol-related causes and over 300,000 per year die from tobacco.

In addition to the Drug War, we should ban tobacco and alcohol as well.

We tried to ban alcohol and it didn’t work (Prohibition).   Outlawing something that people want doesn’t stop them from getting it.   The only way to protect people from themselves is to show them a better way.   Every dollar we spend on the Drug War is a dollar that enriches the dealers instead of educating the drug users.

Overeating kills more people with cardiovascular disease than alcohol, drugs, or tobacco.   Should we pass a law to monitor the caloric intake of each person or should we spread the word about the dangers of weight gain?

We don’t need medical marijuana because the active ingredient, THC, is already available by prescription.

THC is available in oral form in discrete doses.   While smoking allows the dose to be adjusted exactly as the individual needs it, pills can result in overdose or underdose.   In addition, large amounts of THC must be taken for the drug to be effective orally.   These large doses can irritate the stomach.   In patients taking THC for nausea, such a side effect can be self-defeating.

Many physicians will not prescribe THC because of the extra paperwork involved and the fear of professional censure.   Patients who persuade their doctor to prescribe THC will spend an average of six hundred dollars per month for the drug instead of the pennies it would cost them to grow their own marijuana.

Marijuana should not be legalized for medical use because it will lead to harder drugs.

We offer our terminally ill patients all the addictive narcotics they want, so why forbid them the use of marijuana to fight the pain that narcotics can’t soothe?   Should we throw little old ladies in jail because they dare to use marijuana to prevent the blindness of glaucoma?   Should we let our cancer patients quit chemotherapy because the nausea and vomiting are unbearable without marijuana?   Where is our compassion and our sense of perspective?   How can we be so cruel?



Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D., is the author of Healing Our World, a liberty primer for liberals, Christians, New Agers, and pragmatists. She also wrote Short Answers to the Tough Questions: Sound Bites for the Libertarian Candidate after her Internet column (www.self-gov.org) of the same name.

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