The Beginning Of The End Of The War On Drugs?


Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Katherine says:

    This will be a very pleasing trend if it does continue, for America’s neighbours as well as yourselves – with Canada’s two major centre and left parties now endorsing legalization, I think a major reason no provincial governments are trying it is the major adverse reaction it would get from the US.  If you guys loosen up on marajuana, so can we.Report

  2. Avatar Herb says:

    It’s nice that Georgia is re-thinking their incarceration strategy and Chris Christie is proposing mandatory treatment, but really those are not about ending the war on drugs so much as fighting them a different way.  The true end of the war on drugs will come from places like Colorado, where simple possession won’t get you arrested and where we already have a thriving medical marijuana industry.

    Yes, industry.  We’ve gone from “Lock em all up” to “Let them open stores.”Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    It’s simple economics, folks.   The 18th Amendment was repealed when the government realized to its horror all it had done was create an extremely lucrative market over which it had no power of taxation.   Folks, that will stimulate a politician, that bit o’ insight.


    • Avatar David says:

      It would be nice if your government would realise that their actions are horrific in general. Personally, I am right now aghast at the temerity of your rather pompous government to attempt to extradite a young man from my country, for actions he took in my country which are not illegal in my country, so that they can abduct him to your no longer democratic society and persecute him under your misguided laws.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Horrific is as horrific does.   We never were a democracy except for a brief period under Andrew Jackson (America’s Nazi) when there really was a tyranny of the majority.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Extradition treaties are legal documents, there’s nothing about them that’s “abduction”.

        Which case are we talking about here, anyway?Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

          I can think of two major extradition cases that are problematic at the moment, one to do with the MegaUpload fiasco in New Zealand and the other to do with the UK and the “TV Shack” crap. Both are terrible policy, but I would hardly call them un-Democratic or “misguided”…

          That is to say, if you’re a Kiwi, I can understand the sentiment that Americans are probably not as democratic as they could be, but if you’re a Brit, there’s some pot calling kettles black here.Report

  4. Avatar Aaron says:

    Part of the increase in the population of prisons arose from the closure of state mental hospitals, and one might cynically note that incarceration is a lot cheaper than inpatient mental treatment (let alone good inpatient mental health treatment). There were serious problems with what happened before, and a shift to a respect for the rights of the mentally ill and treatment in the least restrictive setting were good things. But the subsequent history of underfunding leaves me skeptical when I hear a state talk about not wasting money on “expensive short-term prison services for… the mentally ill’, as it was out of budgetary concerns that many mentally ill prisoners ended in in prison in the first place.

    I have similar concerns with drug treatment. In theory prison should be a decent place for drug treatment, as in theory you have a period of intense supervision and enforced sobriety. The reality… not so much. The fact that we can’t keep drugs out of prisons should tell you something about whether the “war on drugs” is viable.

    The practitioners I speak with tell me that we had a better environment for drug treatment twenty or thirty years ago – more quality facilities with longer-term inpatient treatment following detox. Now we seem to have a world of private pay rehabilitation, affordable to few, and insurance-paid rehabilitation that involves payment for inpatient detox followed by a short term IOP (intensive outpatient program) and perhaps follow-up therapy and monitoring – but with an eye more on cost control than on what is most likely to work.

    There’s truth to the saying that drug rehabilitation isn’t likely to be effective until the addict wants to enter recovery, and sometimes not even then. I’ve heard addicts argue against decriminalization on the basis that it was the threat of criminal conviction that finally led them into treatment, through drug diversion, drug courts and the like. (I’m not endorsing that argument – although I’ll note that another saying in drug rehabilitation is that everybody has their own “rock bottom”, the point at which the cost of continued addiction is perceived as outweighing the benefit, and if a criminal charge is “rock bottom” for some it’s a long way from where others bottom out.)

    The best results in recovery from addiction seem to be among doctors. Why? The most likely factors that come to mind are that they’re intelligent, they have a very strong incentive to recover (their medical license), they are monitored during their recovery, and on the whole they have access to the best and longest-term treatment. Jail is no alternative for treatment, but I’m not expecting that states looking at alternatives to jail for drug addicts are going to put serious resources into effective treatment.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      I spent three years as a state budget analyst.  State legislators are caught in an impossible situation in terms of spending. First, almost all states have a political limit on the revenues available to them: state and local tax collections fall into a fairly narrow range of about 9-12% of state GDP, and a group of legislators that pushes revenues beyond that gets voted out of office.  Most states have reached the political limit on their revenue.  Second, the two biggest ticket items in combined state/local spending are K-12 education and Medicaid.  Both have grown, and are continuing to grow, faster than state GDP (hence revenues), and are crowding out other services.  Roads are falling apart in many states; some states are on a path that looks to take them out of the higher-ed business entirely; and unsurprisingly, prison programs beyond “lock ’em up” have been defunded.

      None of the other things are going to get their funding restored unless some way is found to get K-12 and Medicaid spending under control, meaning growing slower than overall state/local revenues, not faster.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        not locking ’em up is cheaper.

        K-12 is paid locally around here.

        Some places rather deliberately allow the roads to fall apart.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Imagine a person who enjoys a glass of wine (or four) on a Friday or Saturday night. They don’t drink during the week, they don’t drink and drive, they don’t necessarily even drink every weekend… but, maybe, every other weekend or so (at least once a month) they put away a bottle of wine over the course of an evening.

    How much benefit will the government and/or society see by putting this person into alcoholism treatment?

    What social benefit is there in not making a distinction between this person and someone who cannot get through the day without a snort at lunchtime and maybe one for the road?Report

  6. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    it would be great if things go this way.  OTOH, Noot has indicated in the past that he would escalate the WOD such as the Drug Importer Death Penalty Act from 1996.Report

  7. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    “They’ll only take my marijuana when they pry it from my cold dead fingers… or distract me with something shiny.”Report