1. Mark's Dad
    March 11, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

    Your limited definiton of war does not allow for holy wars, cold wars, price wars or high definition DVD wars.

    But war can also be a struggle or competition between opposing forces for a particular end.


  2. Windypundit
    March 11, 2008 @ 7:06 pm

    I think it’s worth fighting against the harm that drugs do, but prohibition is a really bad way to do that.

    Personally, I favor a regulated system similar to that used for alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs. We could keep drugs away from our children, reduce the harm to non-users, and stop the war on our civil liberties.

    By the way, I think your $40/gram tax on cocaine is way too high. I’m guessing you based it on street prices. Cocaine is sometimes used as a topical anesthetic for certain types of surgery—it deadens pain and reduces bleeding because it’s a vasoconstrictor. I can’t find a current price, but back in the 80s it was about $30 per ounce. I doubt it’s more than $100/ounce today.


  3. jigmeister
    March 11, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

    Mark’s Dad is right. A war is whatever government and society thinks it is.

    We just applied different rules to the battles and the captured prisoners than a declared or undeclared war between nations. The pseudo odeological and religious wars are the most destructive and never ending. The next one is economic, OIL.

    In terms of your position–the war on drugs has been lost. It may be controlled somewhat though were we to legitimatize drugs, tax them significantly higher than other consumer goods (say like sin tax items) to cover the societal costs associated with those intent on hurting themselves.

    Realistically though, we will be having this discussion 20 years from now.


  4. Ron in Houston
    March 11, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

    The whole concept of substance abuse is one big paradox. On one hand in today’s fast paced society a lot of people take Xanax or drink to cope with the stress of life. On the other hand you don’t want people who can’t function in society without their fix.

    Solving substance abuse is a pleasure/pain phenomena. Most people won’t quit seeking the pleasure that drugs given them until the pain from taking them makes them want to stop. So the pain of the criminal justice system is sometimes what people need to quit. It’s probably a highly inefficient and draconian way of solving the problem but it can work.

    I do think we need a society based on rational decision making and not the Government knows best. Prohibition didn’t stop drinking and it helped fund organized crime. The war on drugs hasn’t stopped using and it’s helped fund organized crime.

    Why don’t we learn from history?


  5. Ron in Houston
    March 11, 2008 @ 7:32 pm


    You’re probably right. We will probably be having this discussion 20 years from now.

    I’ve gotten a lot more cynical in my old age, but I haven’t totally abandoned hope.


  6. Mark Bennett
    March 11, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

    Jigmeister, I don’t think that’s what dad is saying, but if it is he’s wrong. “War” is a legal term; for good reason, we give the government certain powers during times of actual bygod war than we do in times of peace. If we give the government the power to define war, we’ll find ourselves in an Orwellian state of eternal war. (Oh, wait . . .)

    Society can define the word “war” to include Burger King and McDonald’s fighting over hamburgers; that’s the way the language is made. But a price war or a trade war is not legally a war.

    Why will it take — why has it already taken so much longer for us to have this discussion than it took to do away with the prohibition of alcohol?

    Ron, in my observation the pain of the criminal justice system very rarely induces people to quit. People quit when they’re ready to quit, and for most people being jailed is not rock bottom. The DEA agent may be right: removing appendages would work better.


  7. Mark's Dad
    March 11, 2008 @ 10:36 pm

    The “war on drugs” is not a legal war, but it is a metaphorical war as are the wars on poverty, cancer, und so weiter.

    And as a parent who has long used the legal drug to adjust my reality, I have good cause to be surprised that, metaphorically, neither of my acorns has landed anywhere near the tree.


  8. Michael
    March 11, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

    I was waiting for your response to AHCL’s comment that the War on Drugs was worth fighting for. Nice job. I wonder if $40 a gram is a bit steep for taxing cocaine; at that price, you’ll still create a black market for bootleg cocaine to avoid the tax (like the bootleg cigarettes in the northeast).


  9. Colin
    March 11, 2008 @ 11:11 pm

    as for an explanation for why we will continue to have this conversation, is there really a mystery?

    for one, the vast majority of voters don’t know anything about hard drugs. this ignorance breeds fear which causes the poorly thought out backlash that we’ve been dealing with for decades.

    for two, drug prohibition is a very delicate and hot item in public discourse. it is not “safe” for many people to be seen advocating a legalization of drugs, no matter what their personal beliefs. it operates much like religion (especially the old style witch burning kind) and the SS. if you’re afraid that your neighbor will john proctor your ass, you shut up and toe the line.


  10. jigmeister
    March 12, 2008 @ 12:16 am


    I see David Finn (what kind of trial judge, I wonder) still hasn’t apologized. It also looks like he is still cutting and pasting.


  11. Mark Bennett
    March 12, 2008 @ 12:38 am

    Interesting: he seems to have taken down the Las Vegas Sun piece (after receiving a call from the Sun, I suspect) as well as the DOJ press release about my client.


  12. S.C. Ruffey
    March 12, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

    War on Poverty, War on Drugs, War on Terror. Three political boondoggles that simply cannot be won while we maintain some semblance of a free society. But they look good to the voters come election time.

    The voters want their politicians to “do something” about crime, drugs, sex offenders, terrorists, whatever. I suspect that our beloved leaders do know their history and are fully aware that the current “wars” are as completely failed as was prohibition. But they will never back down because their personal, vested interest is not in solving problems, but rather in getting re-elected.

    If there is to be any change in the system, it is going to require voter action nearly on par with a revolution.


  13. robert howard
    March 13, 2008 @ 8:51 am

    Viewpoints, Outlook : March 12, 2008, 8:44PM
    At least give Spitzer credit for taking on the bad guys, PERIOD.
    It was David and Golith; while, David stood for righetous and slew the GIANT. I think this quote will suffice for us all mortals. The man without sin; standing and throwing the first stone. Still the Law of Land Prevails, because he was the enforcer for poor ethics of all morals. Now, it is his time because he must receive what he practiced and pay for not following what history has put in writing for himself and the leaders that have not been identified in illegal ethical behaviors.


    Robert Howard


  14. Wire Writers Speak : Defending People
    March 28, 2008 @ 7:50 am

    […] post on the “war on drugs” and my response started with AHCL’s question on the overall message of The Wire with regard to that […]


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