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abe1Seventy-five years ago – December 5th, 1933, Congress repealed the Volstead Act (a.k.a. the “Noble Experiment“), which had prohibited the sale and manufacture (with “decrim” for users) of alcohol since 1920.  Among the reasons was the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and brought America to it’s knees. Continued funding of alcohol prohibition was impossible, while a new source of tax revenue was badly needed.  Other reasons were corruption of law enforcement and government, gang wars, drive-by shootings and contaminated “hooch” – just like today’s drug war. And once again, America is in need of additional revenue. 

Dec. 5, 2008 – Today’s Headlines on our Modern Prohibition:

* MA: OPED: A Day to Remember: Prohibition Isn’t Forever *

*Wall Street Journal OPED: Let’s End Drug Prohibition*

* Drug Czar’s Reply: Our Drug Policy Is a Success *

 Last spring, I wrote about the complexity of reforming the drug war compared to the simplicity of repealing alcohol prohibition and the defunding of the drug war that has already begun. Most experts agree that legalizing or decriminalizing Cannabis (marijuana) is a good first step. Treating it the same as alcohol and tobacco, as several countries in Europe have done, is likely the only reform that mainstream America will immediately accept. Restriction and regulation of narcotic drugs like cocaine and heroin will still be necessary – hopefully using  “harm reduction” methods, again following Europe‘s lead.

Prohibition Too Big to Fail ? – (Previous Post)

Note that users of alcohol were “decriminalized” during the first prohibition and the “experiment” still had to end. The same is true today – ultimately, legalization is the only answer for long term stability of society, respect for the law & government institutions and adherence to the Constitution.

I filmed Rep. Barney Frank (D) MA at a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference back in 2001. Rep. Frank believes that the states could be a “laboratory” of drug law reform, much like after alcohol prohibition ended, when states enacted their own laws.Rep. Barney Frank (MA): Marijuana, Politics & State’s Rights

Rep. Frank’s observations still hold true today, including the contradiction of “conservatives” in Congress ignoring the results of elections in legal medical marijuana states and the logic of putting marijuana in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.

The following are several recent newspaper articles that address the issue of the modern prohibition, with more videos from You Tube to further illustrate the controversy.

Headline: Dec 2, 2008 – MD: Column: Legalizing Drugs: The Money Argument – A report funded by the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, in association with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, features Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron (see previous post) and his conclusions:

Legalizing drugs would save roughly $44.1 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of drug laws, with about $30.3 billion of this savings going to state and local governments and the rest staying in the U.S. Treasury.

Drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $32.7 billion annually.  That’s assuming legal drugs are taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco.  About $6.7 billion would come from sales of legal marijuana, $22.5 billion from sales of cocaine and heroin and the remainder from the sales of other drugs now prohibited.

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation was founded by Eric Sterling,  Counsel to the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary from 1979 until 1989. Mr. Sterling actually help draft much of the draconian drug legislation passed during the Reagan administration. Since then he has worked to undo the injustices wrought by these same laws. Eric was the first “activist” I met in the drug law reform movement and I have deep respect for him. If only other civil servants were so conscious of their actions and duty to their country.  Here is a video from a German documentary on the American war on drugs featuring Eric Sterling.The War on Drugs – An Insider’s View

Headline: Nov 20, 2008 – CA: OPED: It’s Time To Revisit War On Drugs – Quoting Albert Einstein and citing problems oversees with 37 years of Richard Nixon’s drug war, this article looks at the “Drug War Clock” at DrugSense.org for the following figures:

 The U.S. federal government spent more than $19 billion dollars in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second .  State and local governments spent at least another $30 billion.  
Police arrested an estimated 829,625 persons for cannabis violations in 2006, the highest annual total ever recorded in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Of those charged with cannabis violations, approximately 89 percent, 738,915 Americans were charged with possession only.  An American is now arrested for violating cannabis laws every 38 seconds.

The Drug Truth Network has produced a video exposing the “eternal horror, the empowering of our enemies, the death disease and destruction of drug war”.Eternal War = Drugs &  Terror

Headline: Nov 29, 2008 – IL: OPED: Obama Should End War On Drugs – A member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition from Barack Obama’s home state sends a message:

leap“President-elect Obama – we need an end to drug prohibition and a drug czar committed to treating drugs like a health problem, not a law-enforcement problem. We need harm-reduction. We need drug policy reform.”

LEAP has an on-line petetion calling on Congress to create a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to bring an end to the modern prohibition. Make your voice heard today!

In this video, another LEAP member reiterates the reasons that law officers and anyone concerned about the stability of our society should favor reform of the drug laws.Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper on Ending the Drug War

Headline: Dec 4, 2008 – CA: Should We Tax Pot?– A columnist from Los Angeles concludes that legalization and taxation of marijuana is a bad idea, citing a study from the Rand Corporation’s drug policy research center.

I think these prohibitionists should watch this video from the Marijuana Policy Project, with an inescapably logical appeal to our new president:Open Letter to Barack Obama from MPP

Headline: Dec 5, 2008 – Web: Prohibition Ended 75 Years Ago, But What Have We Learned? –  Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, gives his observations on the old and new prohibitions in this article posted on Alternet.

albertThe prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law.  For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this
country is closely connected with this.
Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921

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