Arguments for and against drug prohibition
Arguments about the prohibition of drugs
Prohibition (drugs)
The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary legislation or religious law is a common means of attempting to prevent drug use. Prohibition of drugs has existed at various levels of government or other authority from the Middle Ages to the present....

, and over drug policy
Drug policy
A drug policy most often refers to a government's attempt to combat the negative effects of drug addiction and misuse in its society. Governments try to combat drug addiction with policies which address both the demand and supply of drugs, as well as policies which can mitigate the harms of drug...

 reform, are subjects of considerable controversy. The following is a presentation of major drug policy arguments, including those for drug law enforcement on one side of the debate, and arguments for drug law reform on the other.

Arguments that prohibitive drug laws are effective

Supporters of prohibition claim that prohibitive drug laws have a successful track record suppressing illicit drug use since they were introduced 100 years ago. The licit drug alcohol has current (last 12 months) user rates as high as 80-90% in populations over 14 years of age, and tobacco has historically had current use rates up to 60% of adult populations, yet the percentages currently using illicit drugs in OECD countries are generally below 1% of the population excepting cannabis where most are between 3% and 10%, with six countries between 11% and 17%.

In the 50 year period following the first 1912 international convention restricting use of opium, heroin and cocaine, the United States’ use of illicit drugs other than cannabis was consistently below 0.5% of the population, with cannabis rising to 1-2% of the population between 1955 and 1965. With the advent of the counter-culture movement from the late 1950s, where illicit drug use was promoted as mind-expanding and relatively harmless, illicit drug use rose sharply. With illicit drug use peaking in the 1970s in the United States, the ‘Just Say No’ campaign, initiated under the patronage of Nancy Reagan, coincided with recent (past month) illicit drug use decreases from 14.1% in 1979 to 5.8% in 1992, a drop of 60%.

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, has drawn attention to the drug policy of Sweden
Drug policy of Sweden
The Drug policy of Sweden is one of zero tolerance, including cannabis, focusing on prevention, treatment, and control, aiming to reduce both the supply of and demand for illegal drugs. Enforcement is in the form of widespread drug testing, and penalties ranging from rehabilitation treatment and...

, arguing:
In Europe, Sweden spends the second highest percentage of GDP, after the Netherlands, on drug control. The UNODC argues that when Sweden reduced spending on education and rehabilitation in the 1990s in a context of higher youth unemployment and declining GDP growth, illicit drug use rose but restoring expenditure from 2002 again sharply decreased drug use as student surveys indicate. In 1998, a poll run by SIFO of 1,000 Swedes found that 96% wanted stronger action by government to stop drug abuse, and 95% wanted drug use to remain illegal.

In criticism of governments that have relaxed their drug laws, Antonio Maria Costa, speaking in Washington before the launch of the World Drug Report in June 2006, said:

Arguments that prohibitive drug laws are ineffective

Stephen Rolles, writing in the British Medical Journal, argues:
These conclusions have been reached by a succession of committees and reports including, in the United Kingdom alone, the Police Foundation, the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, the Royal Society of Arts, and the UK Drug Policy Consortium. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has also acknowledged the many "unintended negative consequences" of drug enforcement.

The editor of the British Medical Journal, Dr Fiona Godlee, gave her personal support to Rolles' call for decriminalisation, and the arguments drew particular support from Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, who said we should be treating drugs "as a health issue rather than criminalising people" and "this could drastically reduce crime and improve health".

Danny Kushlik, head of external affairs at Transform, said the intervention of senior medical professionals was significant. "Sir Ian's statement is yet another nail in prohibition's coffin," he said. "The Hippocratic oath says: 'First, do no harm'. Physicians are duty bound to speak out if the outcomes show that prohibition causes more harm than it reduces."

Nicholas Green, chairman of the Bar Council, made comments in a report in the profession's magazine, in which he said that drug-related crime costs the UK economy about £13bn a year and that there was growing evidence that decriminalisation could free up police resources, reduce crime and recidivism and improve public health.

A report sponsored by the New York County Lawyers' Association, one of the largest local bar associations in the United States, argues on the subject of US drug policy:
In response to claims that prohibition can work, as claimed by Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, drawing attention to the drug policy of Sweden
Drug policy of Sweden
The Drug policy of Sweden is one of zero tolerance, including cannabis, focusing on prevention, treatment, and control, aiming to reduce both the supply of and demand for illegal drugs. Enforcement is in the form of widespread drug testing, and penalties ranging from rehabilitation treatment and...

 Henrik Tham has written that sometimes it's domestically important to stress drug policy as successful, as the case of Sweden where this notion is important, serving "the function of strengthening a threatened national identity in a situation where the traditional ‘Swedish model’ has come under increasingly hard attack from both inside and outside the country." Tham questions the success of the Swedish model - "The shift in Swedish drug policy since around 1980" ...(more difficult to receive nolle prosequi
Nolle prosequi
Nolle prosequi is legal term of art and a Latin legal phrase meaning "to be unwilling to pursue", a phrase amounting to "please do not prosecute". It is a phrase used in many common law criminal prosecution contexts to describe a prosecutor's decision to voluntarily discontinue criminal charges...

for minor drug crimes) There were changes of course to the drug policy of Sweden
Drug policy of Sweden
The Drug policy of Sweden is one of zero tolerance, including cannabis, focusing on prevention, treatment, and control, aiming to reduce both the supply of and demand for illegal drugs. Enforcement is in the form of widespread drug testing, and penalties ranging from rehabilitation treatment and...

 prior to the period to which, on both sides of the argument, Antonio Maria Costa and Henrik Tham refer. For example, the Narcotics Penal Act of 1968 increased the maximum penalty for a grave drug offence from one to four years. It was increased again in 1969 to maximum six years (both in the Narcotics Penal Act and in the Smuggling Penal Act). The aim was to permit notable penalties for profiteers taking advantage of the inexperience, curiosity or drug dependence of others. The Drug penalty law of 1968 increased maximum punishment for gross offences from 1 to 6 years and in 1972 from 6 to 10 years in order to achieve parity with Finnish, Norwegian and West German law. Source: Bogdan, Michael (1977). Reflections on some international and Swedish legal rules relating to drug offences, pages 1-20, note 46.
..."towards a more strict model has according to the official point of view been successful by comparison with the earlier, more lenient drug policy. However, available systematic indicators show that the prevalence of drug use has increased since around 1980, that the decrease in drug incidence was particularly marked during the 1970s and that some indicators point towards an increase during the 1990s."

Leif Lenke and Börje Olsson from Stockholm University have conducted research that showed how drug use have followed the youth unemployment in close correlation. They noted that unlike most of Europe, Sweden did not have widespread and lingering youth unemployment until the early 1990s financial crisis
Swedish banking rescue
During 1991 and 1992, a housing bubble in Sweden deflated, resulting in a severe credit crunch and widespread bank insolvency. The causes were similar to those of the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2008...

, suggesting that unattractive future prospects may contribute to the increase in drug use among the young. CAN, the Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs, 2009 report stated that the increase in drug use have continued since the 1990s with a slight dip in the mid-2000.

The professor emeritus in criminology at the University of Oslo, Nils Christie
Nils Christie
Nils Christie is a Norwegian sociologist and criminologist. He is a professor of criminology at the University of Oslo since 1966. Among his books is Pinens begrensning from 1981, which has been translated into eleven languages. He has received an honorary degree at the University of Copenhagen...

, pointed out Sweden as the hawk of international drug policy in a 2004 book. He said that Sweden are serving the role of being welfare alibi for, and lending legitimacy to the US drug war
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

. Adding that USA and Sweden have have an extraordinary influence on UNODC as the biggest donor countries. Sweden was the second biggest donor financing 8% of UNODC budget behind the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 in 2006, followed by the US. In 2007 and 2008 Sweden was the fourth biggest donor, behind the European Commission, USA and Canada. In 2009 it was the third, as USA withdrew some of its funding.

An editorial in The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...


Antonio Maria Costa's conviction that "countries have the drug problem they deserve" if they fail to follow the 'Swedish Model' in drug control has also been criticised in Peter Cohen's work - Looking at the UN, smelling a rat.

Arguments that prohibition discourages drug use

A 2001 Australian study of 18-29 year olds by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research suggests that prohibition deters illicit drug use. 29% of those who had never used cannabis cited the illegality of the substance as their reason for never using the drug, while 19% of those who had ceased use of cannabis cited its illegality as their reason.

Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the US ONDCP argues,
The DEA argues "Legalization has been tried before—and failed miserably. Alaska’s experiment with legalization in the 1970s led to the state’s teens using marijuana at more than twice the rate of other youths nationally. This led Alaska’s residents to vote to re-criminalize marijuana in 1990."

Drug Free Australia has cited the Netherlands as an example of drug policy failure because it is soft in approach. They argue that the Dutch idea of going soft on cannabis dealers, thereby creating a ‘separation of markets’ from hard drug dealers has failed to stem the initiation to drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, saying that, in 1998, the Netherlands had the third highest cannabis and cocaine use in Europe. According to Barry McCaffrey of US Office of Drug Control Policy, Dutch tolerance has allowed the Netherlands to become a criminal epicentre for illicit synthetic drug manufacture, particularly ecstasy, as well as the home for production and worldwide export of strains of cannabis with THC reportedly 10 times higher than normal. Gil Kerlikowske has attested that, where there were once thousands of cannabis cafés there are now only several hundred. Levels of cannabis use, in 2005 only marginally higher than in 1998, while other European countries have accelerated past them, are more likely, Drug Free Australia argues, the result of a growing intolerance of cannabis in the Netherlands rather than a growing tolerance. Drug Free Australia has also argued that British reductions in cannabis use after softer legislation may be moreso the result of heavy UK media exposure of the stronger evidence of links between cannabis and psychosis.

Arguments that prohibition does not discourage drug use

It has been suggested that drug law reform could reduce the use of hard drugs as it has in countries such as The Netherlands. According to a 2009 annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the Dutch are among the lowest users of marijuana or cannabis in Europe, despite the Netherlands' policy on soft drugs being one of the most liberal in Europe, allowing for the sale of marijuana at "coffee shops", which the Dutch have allowed to operate for decades, and possession of less than 5 grams (0.18 oz).

British Crime Survey statistics indicated that the proportion of 16 to 24 year-olds using cannabis decreased from 28% a decade ago to 21%, with its declining popularity accelerating after the decision to downgrade the drug to class C was announced in January 2004. The BCS figures, published in October 2007, showed that the proportion of frequent users in the 16-24 age group (i.e. who were using cannabis more than once a month), fell from 12% to 8% in the past four years.

The use of drugs by minors is much more difficult to control with drugs prohibited. To effectively regulate the sellers of drugs so as to ensure that they only sell drugs to adults, drugs must be legalized, and the sellers licensed. With drugs prohibited, sellers are "underground" and therefore nearly impossible to control. Licensed sellers in a community sometimes attempt to increase their income by selling to minors, but when the community suspects such activity, it is a trivial task to discover which of the licensed sellers is breaking the law, and then put them out of business. Underground sellers may adhere to a "code or honor" and not sell to minors, but, when they do sell to minors, it is very difficult to expose. The difficulty results from the somewhat sophisticated culture of underground drug sales and use that has evolved, with one of the most fundamental adaption mechanisms of this culture that the sellers and consumers act such in such a manner so as to make it as difficult as possible for outsiders to discover information about their activities, including, of course, who is selling to whom.

Arguments that cannabis is a gateway drug

The US Drug Enforcement Agency’s “2008 Marijuana Sourcebook” argues that recent research supports the gateway hypothesis that certain drugs (such as cannabis) act as gateways to use of harder drugs such as heroin, either because of social contact or because of an increasing search for a better high. Proponents cite studies such as that of 311 same sex twins, where only one twin smoked cannabis before age 17, and where such early cannabis smokers were five times more likely than their twin to move on to harder drugs.

Arguments that cannabis is not a gateway drug

Several research studies have addressed the question whether cannabis leads to the use of harder drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin, and concluded that it does not act as a gateway drug. A study of drug users in Amsterdam over a 10-year period conducted by Jan van Ours of Tilburg University in the Netherlands concluded that cannabis is not a stepping stone to using cocaine or heroin. The study found that there was little difference in the probability of an individual taking up cocaine as to whether or not he or she had used cannabis.

The US Institute of Medicine found no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.

In the American Journal of Public Health, Andrew Golub and Bruce Johnson of the National Development and Research Institute in New York wrote that young people who smoked marijuana in the generations before and after the baby boomers did not appear to be likely to move on to harder drugs.

Researchers from the independent Rand Drug Policy Research Center in Santa Monica, California, looking at data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse between 1982 and 1994, concluded that teenagers who took hard drugs did so whether they had first tried cannabis or not.

Health arguments for prohibitive drug laws

Advocates of drug prohibition argue that particular drugs should be illegal because they are harmful. Drug Free Australia for example argues "That illicit drugs are inherently harmful substances is attested by the very nomenclature of the ‘harm reduction’ movement." The U.S. government has argued that illegal drugs are "far more deadly than alcohol" saying "although alcohol is used by seven times as many people as drugs, the number of deaths induced by those substances is not far apart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during 2000, there were 15,852 drug-induced deaths; only slightly less than the 18,539 alcohol-induced deaths." Ratios of the harms of illicit opiates to licit alcohol and tobacco in Australia are similar, with 2 deaths per hundred opiate users per annum versus 0.22 deaths per hundred for alcohol (10 times less) per year and 0.3 for tobacco (7 times less).

The DEA has said:
Many of the deaths from using cannabis, other than from car accidents while intoxicated or violence and aggression, are more likely to figure in the longer term, just as with tobacco, where both nicotine overdose and cannabis overdose are extremely rare. While ecstasy may have lower rates of immediate mortality than some other illicits, there is a growing science on the already recognized considerable health harms of ecstasy. Drug Free Australia argues that distinctions between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs are entirely artificial, and titling cannabis ‘soft’ or ecstasy ‘recreational’ does not lessen the extensive harms of these substances.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) argues that in the United States, illegal drugs already cost $180 billion a year in health care, lost productivity, crime, and other expenditures, and that number would only increase under legalization because of increased use.

Drug Free Australia claims arguments that increased health harms of illicit drugs are the result of lack of government regulation of their purity and strength are not well supported by evidence. In Australia, which has had the highest opioid mortality per capita in the OECD, studies found that “overdose fatality is not a simple function of heroin dose or purity. There is no evidence of toxicity from contaminants of street heroin in Australia.” Drug Free Australia claims that other causes of death such as suicide, murder and accidents are an effect of the drug themselves, not of their purity or otherwise.


Drug Free Australia argues "Regarding the freedom of choice of those addicted to a drug, it is important to recognize that addiction is defined as compulsive by its very nature and that addictions curb individual freedom." [...] "As is the case with alcohol addiction, illicit drug addictions likewise serve to keep many such users functionally in poverty and often as a continued burden on friends, family and society. Where it is argued that all disabilities are a burden on society it must be recognized that most disabilities are not the result of a choice, whereas the decision to recreationally use illicit drugs is most commonly free, and with the knowledge that they may lead to an abundance of addictions."

Health arguments for drug law reform

There is evidence that many illicit drugs pose comparatively fewer health dangers than certain legal drugs. The health risks of MDMA (Ecstasy) have been exaggerated for instance, the risks from cannabis use also overstated, and health problems from the use of legal substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco, are greater, even than from cocaine use for example (occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems).

Health benefits

Researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found members of a religious group regularly using peyote scored significantly better on several measures of overall mental health than did subjects who did not use the hallucinogen.

Quality control

According to a World Health Organisation report: "As cannabis is an illegal drug its cultivation, harvesting and distribution are not subject to quality control mechanisms to ensure the reliability and safety of the product used by consumers. It is well recognised in developing countries, such as Kenya, that illicit alcohol production can result in the contamination with toxic by-products or adulterants that can kill or seriously affect the health of users. The same may be true of illicit drugs such as opiates, cocaine and amphetamine in developed societies."

The government cannot enforce quality control on products sold and manufactured illegally. Examples include: the easier to make derivative MDA being sold as MDMA, heroin users unintentionally injecting brick dust, quinine
Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic , antimalarial, analgesic , anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic...

, or fentanyl with which their heroin had been cut; and heroin/cocaine overdoses occurring as a result of users not knowing exactly how much they are taking.

The illegality of injectable drugs leads to a scarcity of needles which causes an increase in HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 infections. An easy cure to this problem, while upholding the illegality of drugs, is the Dutch policy of distributing free needles. The money spent on both increased health costs due to HIV infections and drug prohibition itself causes a drain upon society.

Studies on the effects of prescribing heroin to addicts
Heroin assisted treatment
Heroin assisted treatment, or diamorphine assisted treatment, refers to the prescribing of synthetic, injectable heroin to opiate addicts that do not benefit from or cannot tolerate treatment with one of the established drugs used in opiate replacement therapy like methadone or buprenorphine...

 as practiced in many European countries have shown better rates of success than any other available treatment in terms of assisting long-term users establish stable, crime-free lives. Many patients were able to find employment, some even started a family after years of homelessness and delinquency.

Block to research

The illegality of many recreational drugs may be dissuading research into new, more effective and perhaps safer recreational drugs. For example, it has been proposed that a drug with many of the same desired effects as alcohol could be created with fewer adverse health effects.

Misleading health statistics

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has tried to suggest that illegal drugs are "far more deadly than alcohol", arguing that "although alcohol is used by seven times as many people as drugs, the number of deaths induced by those substances is not far apart", quoting figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claiming "during 2000, there were 15,852 drug-induced deaths; only slightly less than the 18,539 alcohol-induced deaths."

The DEA's use of such figures is questionable however. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association gave the number deaths caused by alcohol in year 2000 as 85,000 - over four and a half times greater than the DEA's preferred figure. The DEA's argument also overlooks tobacco, causing 435,000 US deaths in year 2000. And, the CDC definition of "drug-induced death" includes suicides using drugs, accidental overdose,It is argued that the number deaths attributable to overdose could be reduced if drug users had access to legal products of known quality and dosage and deaths from medically prescribed (not illegal) drugs. An analysis of drug-induced deaths for the 20-year period 1979-1998 found the vast majority attributable to accidental overdose, and suicide by drug taking, which together account for about 76 percent of all such deaths. Taking into account deaths from non-illegal drugs leaves only 21 percent of CDC "drug-induced death" figures actually due to the use of "illegal" drugs.

Claims that cannabis is far more powerful than it used to be are also dubious, with "scare figures" skewed by comparing the weakest cannabis from the past with the strongest of today. Figures regarding emergency room mentions of marijuana use can be misleading too, as "mention" of a drug in an emergency department visit does not mean that the drug was the cause of the visit.

Medical uses

A document published for the non-profit advocacy organization Europe Against Drugs (EURAD) argues that "one cannot vote for a medicine" and that a scientific approval basis is essential. It says that EU rules set out strict criteria for the acceptance of a drug for medical use:

"All active ingredients have to be identified and their chemistry determined. They have to be tested for purity with limits set for all impurities including pesticides, microbe & fungi and their products. These tests have to be validated and reproduced if necessary in an official laboratory. Animal testing will include information on fertility, embryo toxicity, immuno-toxicity, mutagenic and carcinogenic potential. Risks to humans, especially pregnant women and lactating mothers, will be evaluated. Adequate safety and efficacy trials must be carried out. They must state the method of administration and report on the results from different groups, i.e. healthy volunteers, patients, special groups of the elderly, people with liver and kidney problems and pregnant women. Adverse drug reactions (ADR) have to be stated and include any effects on driving or operating machinery."

Arguments against medical uses of prohibited drugs

According to Janet D. Lapey, M.D., of Concerned Citizens For Drug Prevention, " Due to a placebo effect, a patient may erroneously believe a drug is helpful when it is not. This is especially true of addictive, mind-altering drugs like marijuana. A marijuana withdrawal syndrome occurs, consisting of anxiety, depression, sleep and appetite disturbances, irritability, tremors, diaphoresis, nausea, muscle convulsions, and restlessness. Often, persons using marijuana erroneously believe that the drug is helping them combat these symptoms without realizing that actually marijuana is the cause of these effects. Therefore, when a patient anecdotally reports a drug to have medicinal value, this must be followed by objective scientific studies."

The US Drug Enforcement Administration also says:

Arguments for medical uses of prohibited drugs

Most of the psychoactive drugs now prohibited in modern industrial societies have had medical uses in other places and times. In the case of natural plant drugs like opium, coca, cannabis, mescaline, and psilocybin, this medical history usually reaches back thousands of years and through a variety of cultures.

Psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin (the main ingredient in most hallucinogenic mushrooms) are the subject of renewed research interest because of their therapeutic potential. They could ease a variety of difficult-to-treat mental illnesses, such as chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol dependency. MDMA (Ecstasy) has been used for cognitive enhancement in people with Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

, and has shown potential in treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 
Lack of access to controlled medications

Under prohibition, millions of people find it very difficult to obtain controlled medications, particularly opiate
In medicine, the term opiate describes any of the narcotic opioid alkaloids found as natural products in the opium poppy plant.-Overview:Opiates are so named because they are constituents or derivatives of constituents found in opium, which is processed from the latex sap of the opium poppy,...

 pain-relievers. The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 is an international treaty to prohibit production and supply of specific drugs and of drugs with similar effects except under licence for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research...

 requires that opiates are distributed only by medical prescription, but this is impractical in many areas.?

Transnational Institute, June 2008:
According to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) there is now an unmet demand in opiates. Ironically, the current drug control regulations hamper access to controlled opiate medications for therapeutic use. Many patients are unable to access morphine, methadone or an equivalent opioid. Global medical morphine consumption would rise five times if countries would make morphine available at the level of the calculated need, according to a recent WHO estimate.

New York Times, September 2007:
Under Sierra Leone law, morphine may be handled only by a pharmacist or doctor, explained Gabriel Madiye, the hospice’s founder. But in all Sierra Leone there are only about 100 doctors — one for every 54,000 people, compared with one for every 350 in the United States.... “How can they say there is no demand when they don’t allow it?” he [Madiye] asked. “How can they be so sure that it will get out of control when they haven’t even tried it?”

Economic arguments for prohibitive drug laws

The DEA argues that "compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction—whether in taxpayer dollars or in pain and suffering—government spending on drug control is minimal."

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, has said:

Gil Kerlikowske, current director of the US ONDCP, argues that legalizing drugs, then regulating and taxing their sale, would not be effective fiscally.

Former directors of the ONDCP
Office of National Drug Control Policy
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy , a former cabinet level component of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, was established in 1989 by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988...

, John P. Walters
John P. Walters
John P. Walters is the former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy . He held that position from December 7, 2001 to January 20, 2009. As the nation's "Drug Czar," Mr...

 and Barry McCaffrey have accused billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling, of bankrolling the pro-pot or drug legalisation movement. "These people use ignorance and their overwhelming amount of money to influence the electorate", Walters said. Billionaire US financier, George Soros said in his autobiography, “I would establish a strictly controlled distribution network through which I would make most drugs, excluding the most dangerous ones like crack, legally available.” . The drug legalization lobby’s vigorous and well funded promotion in media and schools of a ‘safe use of illegal drugs’ message.
indicates that drug prohibition is in the midst of a pitched battle waged by those who are accepting not only of the drug user but who also strongly promote an acceptance of drug use itself.

Prohibition of hemp industry

Opposition to the legalisation of hemp, which uses plants of the cannabis genus for commercial purposes, centres on the fact that those wanting to legalize the use of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes themselves present it as their Trojan horse for that very purpose:

Economic arguments for drug law reform

The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 efforts at drug prohibition
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

 started out with a US$ 350 million budget in 1971, and was in 2006 a US$ 30 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 campaign. These numbers only include direct prohibition enforcement expenditures, and as such only represent part of the total cost of prohibition. This $ 30 billion figure rises dramatically once other issues, such as the economic impact of holding 400,000 prisoners on prohibition violations, are factored in.

The war on drugs is extremely costly to such societies that outlaw drugs in terms of taxpayer money, lives, productivity, the inability of law enforcement to pursue mala in se crimes, and social inequality. Some proponents of decriminalization say that the financial and social costs of drug law enforcement far exceed the damages that the drugs themselves cause. For instance, in 1999 close to 60,000 prisoners (3.3% of the total incarcerated population) convicted of violating marijuana laws were behind bars at a cost to taxpayers of some $ 1.2 billion per year. In 1980, the total jail and prison population was 540,000, about one-quarter the size it is today. Drug offenders accounted for 6% of all prisoners. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, drug offenders now account for nearly 51%.

It has been argued that if the US government legalised marijuana it would save $7.7 billion per year in expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Also, that marijuana legalization would yield tax revenue of $2.4 billion annually if it were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion annually if it were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.

The creation of drug cartels

Mass arrests of local growers of marijuana, for example, not only increase the price of local drugs, but lessens competition. Only major retailers that can handle massive shipments, have their own small fleet of aircraft, troops to defend the caravans and other sophisticated methods of eluding the police (such as lawyers), can survive by this regulation of the free market by the government

Effect on producer countries

The United States' "War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

" has added considerably to the political instability in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. The huge profits to be made from cocaine and other South American-grown drugs are largely because they are illegal in the wealthy neighbouring nation. This drives people in the relatively poor countries of Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 and Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 to break their own laws in organising the cultivation, preparation and trafficking of cocaine to the States. This has allowed criminal, paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 and guerrilla groups to reap huge profits, exacerbating already serious law-and-order and political problems. Within Bolivia, the political rise of current president Evo Morales
Evo Morales
Juan Evo Morales Ayma , popularly known as Evo , is a Bolivian politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party and the cocalero trade union...

 is directly related to his grassroots movement against US-sponsored coca-eradication and criminalization policies. However, coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

 has been cultivated for centuries in the Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

. Among their various legitimate uses, coca leaves are chewed for their mild stimulant & appetite suppression effects, and steeped as a tea which is known to reduce the effects of human altitude sickness. Rural farmers in the poor regions in which coca has historically been cultivated often find themselves at the difficult and potentially violent intersection of government-sponsored eradication efforts, illegal cocaine producers & traffickers seeking coca supplies, anti-government paramilitary forces trafficking in cocaine as a source of revolutionary funding, and the historical hardships of rural subsistence farming (or the its typical alternative - abandoning their land and fleeing to an urban slum). In some regions, farmers' coca and other crops are frequently destroyed by U.S.-sponsored eradication treatments (usually sprayed from the air with varying degrees of discrimination), whether or not the farmers directly supply the cocaine trade, thereby destroying their livelihoods. Agricultural producers in these countries are pushed further to grow coca for the cocaine trade by the dumping
Dumping (pricing policy)
In economics, "dumping" is any kind of predatory pricing, especially in the context of international trade. It occurs when manufacturers export a product to another country at a price either below the price charged in its home market, or in quantities that cannot be explained through normal market...

 of subsidised farming products (fruit, vegetables, grain etc.) produced by Western countries (predominantly US and EU agricultural surpluses) (see BBC reference, below), which reduces the prices they could otherwise receive for alternate crops such as maize. The net effect can be a depression of prices for all crops, which can both make the farmer's livelihood more precarious, and make the cocaine producers' coca supplies cheaper.

After providing a significant portion of the world's poppy for use in heroin production, Afghanistan went from producing practically no illegal drugs in 2000 (following banning by the Taliban), to cultivating what is now as much as 90% of the world's opium. The Taliban is currently believed to be heavily supported by the opium trade there.

Furthermore, the sale of the illegal drugs produces an influx of dollars that is outside the formal economy, and puts pressure on the currency exchange keeping the dollar low and making the export of legal products more difficult.

Prohibition of hemp industry

The War on Drugs has resulted in the outlawing the entire hemp industry in the United States. Hemp, which is a special cultivar of Cannabis Sativa
Cannabis sativa
Cannabis sativa is an annual herbaceous plant in the Cannabaceae family. Humans have cultivated this herb throughout recorded history as a source of industrial fibre, seed oil, food, recreation, spiritual enlightenment and medicine...

, does not have significant amounts of psychoactive (THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol , also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol , Δ1-THC , or dronabinol, is the main chemical psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant. It was first isolated in 1964. In pure form, it is a glassy solid when cold, and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed...

) substances in it, less than 1%. Without even realizing the plant had been outlawed several months prior, Popular Mechanics magazine published an article in 1938 entitled The New Billion-Dollar Crop anticipating the explosion of the hemp industry with the invention of machines to help process it. Recently, governmental refusal to take advantage of taxing hemp has been a point of criticism. Hemp has a large list of potential industrial uses including textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

s, paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

, rope
A rope is a length of fibres, twisted or braided together to improve strength for pulling and connecting. It has tensile strength but is too flexible to provide compressive strength...

, fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

, construction materials, and biocomposite
A biocomposite is a material formed by a matrix and a reinforcement of natural fibers . With wide-ranging uses from environment-friendly biodegradable composites to biomedical composites for drug/gene delivery, tissue engineering applications and cosmetic orthodontics...

s (for use in cars for example). Hemp have however some drawbacks, one is that the long fibers in hemp is only a part of the outer bast, and that have contributed to that hemp have modest commercial success in countries (for example in Canada) where it is legal to harvest hemp.

The seed of the hemp plant is highly nutritious. Rare for a plant, it contains all essential amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

s. Rare for any food, it is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid
Alpha-linolenic acid
α-Linolenic acid is an organic compound found in many common vegetable oils. In terms of its structure, it is named all-cis-9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid. In physiological literature, it is given the name 18:3 ....

, an omega 3 fatty acid which is deficient in most diet
Diet (nutrition)
In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. Dietary habits are the habitual decisions an individual or culture makes when choosing what foods to eat. With the word diet, it is often implied the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management...


Arguments for prohibitive drug laws

While concerns are sometimes expressed that the ‘war on drugs’ can never be won, there is a failure to recognize that other justifiably costly policing wars such as ‘blitzes’ on speeding can likewise never be won. Such blitzes reduce and contain speeding, as with policing of illicit drug use. Failure to police speeding drivers simply allows inordinate harm to be inflicted on other individuals. Speeding is not legalized simply because it can never be eradicated.

There is an argument that much crime and terrorism is drug related or drug funded and that prohibition should reduce this.

Former US president George W. Bush, in signing the Drug-Free Communities Act Reauthorization Bill in December 2001, said, "If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terror in America."

The US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) says that drug-related offences may include violent behavior resulting from drug effects.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration claims:

The U.S. government began the Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) program in 1987 to collect information on drug use among urban arrestees. In 1997, the National Institute of Justice expanded and reengineered the DUF study and renamed it the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program. ADAM is a network of 34 research sites in select U.S. cities.

DUF research indicates that:
  • Frequent use of hard drugs is one of the strongest indicators of a criminal career.
  • Offenders who use drugs are among the most serious and active criminals, engaging in both property and violent crime.
  • Early and persistent use of cocaine or heroin in the juvenile years is an indicator of serious, persistent criminal behavior in adulthood.
  • Those arrested who are drug users are more likely than those not using drugs to be rearrested on pretrial release or fail to appear at trial.

Criminal behavior can importantly be the direct result of drug use which can cause emotional/brain damage, mental illness and anti-social behavior. Psychoactive drugs can have a powerful impact on behavior which may influence some people to commit crimes that have nothing to do with supporting the cost of their drug use. The use of drugs changes behavior and causes criminal activity because people will do things they wouldn't do if they were rational and free of the drug's influence. Cocaine-related paranoia is an example. If drug use increases with legalization, so will such forms of related violent crime as assaults, drugged driving, child abuse, and domestic violence.

That higher prices make the trade lucrative for criminals is recognized but countered by the argument that capitulating to illicit drug use on these grounds makes no more sense than capitulating to those who continue to traffic in human lives, a more expensive business because of its illegality and therefore more lucrative for the criminal, but necessary for the rights of vulnerable citizens.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy says that the idea that our nation's prisons are overflowing with otherwise law abiding people convicted for nothing more than simple possession of marijuana is a myth, "an illusion conjured and aggressively perpetuated by drug advocacy groups seeking to relax or abolish America's marijuana laws." ONDCP state that the vast majority of inmates in state and federal prison for marijuana have been found guilty of much more than simple possession. Some were convicted for drug trafficking, some for marijuana possession along with one or more other offenses. And many of those serving time for marijuana pled down to possession in order to avoid prosecution on much more serious charges. In the US, just 1.6 percent of the state inmate population were held for offences involving only marijuana, and less than one percent of all state prisoners (0.7 percent) were incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge. An even smaller fraction of state prisoners were first time offenders (0.3 percent). The numbers on the US federal prisons are similar. In 2001, the overwhelming majority of offenders sentenced for marijuana crimes were convicted for trafficking and only 63 served time for simple possession.

Detective superintendent Eva Brännmark from the Swedish National Police Board
Swedish Police Service
The Swedish Police Service is a collection of Government agencies concerned with police matters in Sweden. The Swedish Police Service consists of 28,500 employees of which 39 per cent are women. The staff consists of 20,000 police officers of which 25 per cent are women and 8,500 civilian staff of...

, in a speech given to Drug Free Australia’s first international conference on illicit drug use, said:
The argument that drug addicts are forced into crime by prohibition should first and foremost highlight the fact that this argument presupposes and underlines the addictive nature of illicit drugs (which legalization proponents often downplay), addictive enough to create a viable criminal supply industry. Secondly, the harms of increased drug use, which as previously outlined would be a consequence of legalization and its cheaper prices, far outweigh the current crime harms of prohibition.

Violence and profits of drugs traffickers

Prohibition protects the drug cartel insofar as it keeps the distribution in the black market and creates the risk that makes smuggling profitable. As former federal narcotics officer Michael Levine states in relation to his undercover work with Colombian cocaine cartels,from Lamar
"I learned that not only did they not fear our war on drugs, they counted on it to increase the market price and to weed out the smaller, inefficient drug dealers. They found U.S. interdiction efforts laughable. The only U.S. action they feared was an effective demand reduction program. On one undercover tape-recorded conversation, a top cartel chief, Jorge Roman, expressed his gratitude for the drug war, calling it “a sham put on for the American taxpayer” that was actually “good for business”.

Critics of drug prohibition often cite the fact that the end of alcohol prohibition in 1933 led to immediate decreases in murders and robberies to support the argument that legalization of drugs could have similar effects. Once those involved in the narcotics trade have a legal method of settling business disputes, the number of murders and violent crime could drop. Robert W. Sweet
Robert W. Sweet
Robert Workman Sweet is an American jurist and currently a senior United States federal judge serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.-Early life and career:...

, a federal judge, strongly agrees: "The present policy of trying to prohibit the use of drugs through the use of criminal law is a mistake". When alcohol use was outlawed during prohibition, it gave rise to gang warfare and spurred the formation of some of the most well known criminals of the era, among them the infamous Al Capone
Al Capone
Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently became known as the "Capones", was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early...

. Similarly, drug dealers today resolve their disputes through violence and intimidation, something which legal drug vendors do not do. Prohibition critics also point to the fact that police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 are more likely to be corrupted in a system where bribe money is so available. Police corruption due to drugs is widespread enough that one pro-legalization newsletter has made it a weekly feature.

Drug money has been called a major source of income for terrorist organizations. Critics assert that legalization would remove this central source of support for terrorism. While politicians
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 blame drug users for being a major source of financing terrorists, no clear evidence of this link has been provided. US government agencies and government officials have been caught trafficking drugs to finance US-supported terrorist actions in events such as the Iran-Contra Affair
Iran-Contra Affair
The Iran–Contra affair , also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or Iran-Contra-Gate, was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior Reagan administration officials and President Reagan secretly facilitated the sale of...

, and Manuel Noriega
Manuel Noriega
Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno is a Panamanian politician and soldier. He was military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989.The 1989 invasion of Panama by the United States removed him from power; he was captured, detained as a prisoner of war, and flown to the United States. Noriega was tried on...

 but the isolated nature of these events precludes them from being major sources of financing.


Human rights organizations and legal scholars have claimed that drug prohibition inevitably leads to police corruption
Police corruption
Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest....


On 2 July 2010, former Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

 President Jackie Selebi
Jackie Selebi
Jacob Sello Selebi is the former national commissioner of the South African Police Service, and a former president of Interpol. In January 2008, Selebi was put on extended leave as national police commissioner, and resigned as president of Interpol, after he was charged with corruption in his...

 was found guilty of corruption by the South African High Court in Johannesburg for accepting bribes worth $156,000 from a drug trafficker. After being charged in January 2008, Selebi resigned as president of Interpol and was put on extended leave as National Police Commissioner of South Africa.

Stigma of conviction

Despite the fact that most drug offenders are non-violent, the stigma attached to a conviction can prevent employment and education.

Children being lured into the illegal drug trade

Janet Crist of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
Office of National Drug Control Policy
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy , a former cabinet level component of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, was established in 1989 by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988...

 mentioned that the anti-drug efforts have had "no direct effect on either the price or the availability of cocaine on our streets". Additionally, drug dealers show off expensive jewelry and clothing to young children. Some of these children are interested in making fast money instead of working legitimate jobs. Drug decriminalization would remove the "glamorous Al Capone-type traffickers who are role-models for the young".

The lack of government regulation and control over the lucrative illegal drug market has created a large population of unregulated drug dealers who lure many children into the illegal drug trade. The U.S. government's most recent 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that nationwide over 800,000 adolescents ages 12–17 sold illegal drugs during the previous 12 months preceding the survey. The 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Youth Risk Behavior Survey
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is an American biannual survey of adolescent health risk and health protective behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drug use, diet, and physical activity conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...

 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nationwide 25.4% of students had been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug by someone on school property. The prevalence of having been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property ranged from 15.5% to 38.7% across state CDC surveys (median: 26.1%) and from 20.3% to 40.0% across local surveys (median: 29.4%).

Despite more than $ 7 billion spent annually towards arresting and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses in 2005, the federally-funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana “easy to obtain.” That figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1975, never dropping below 82.7% in three decades of national surveys.

Legal dilemmas

Several drugs such as dimethyltryptamine
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is found in several plants, and also in trace amounts in humans and other mammals, where it is originally derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and ultimately produced by the enzyme INMT...

, morphine
Morphine is a potent opiate analgesic medication and is considered to be the prototypical opioid. It was first isolated in 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner, first distributed by same in 1817, and first commercially sold by Merck in 1827, which at the time was a single small chemists' shop. It was more...

 and GHB
Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid
γ-Hydroxybutyric acid , also known as 4-hydroxybutanoic acid and sodium oxybate when used for medicinal purposes, is a naturally occurring substance found in the central nervous system, wine, beef, small citrus fruits, and almost all animals in small amounts. It is also categorized as an illegal...

 are illegal to possess but are also inherently present in all humans as a result of endogenous synthesis. Since some jurisdictions classify possession of drugs to include having the drug present in the blood in any concentration, all residents of such jurisdictions are technically in possession of multiple illegal drugs at all times.

User cost of drugs

When the cost of drugs increases, drug users are more likely to commit crimes in order to obtain money to buy the expensive drugs. Legalizing drugs would make drugs reasonably cheap.

Arguments for inconsistent drug laws

In response to the issue of consistency with regard to drug prohibition and the dangers of alcohol former director of the ONDCP John P. Walters
John P. Walters
John P. Walters is the former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy . He held that position from December 7, 2001 to January 20, 2009. As the nation's "Drug Czar," Mr...

, has said, "It's ludicrous to say we have a great deal of problems from the use of alcohol so we should multiply that with marijuana".

Arguments against inconsistent drug laws

Since alcohol prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

 ended and the War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

 began there has been much debate over the issue of consistency among legislators with regard to drug prohibition. Many anti-prohibition activists focus on the well-documented dangers of alcohol (such as alcoholism, cystisis, domestic violence, brain and liver damage). In addition to anecdotal evidence
Anecdotal evidence
The expression anecdotal evidence refers to evidence from anecdotes. Because of the small sample, there is a larger chance that it may be true but unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise unrepresentative of typical cases....

, they cite statistics to show more deaths caused by drunk driving under the influence of alcohol than by drivers under the influence of marijuana, and research which suggests that alcohol is more harmful than all but the most "dangerous" drugs. When the level of harm associated with the other drugs includes harm that arises solely as a result of the drugs illegality rather than merely that danger which is associated with actually using the drugs, only heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and street methadone were shown to be more harmful than the legal drug alcohol).

A 2002 DAWN
Drug Abuse Warning Network
The Drug Abuse Warning Network is a public health surveillance system in the United States that monitors drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments and drug-related deaths investigated by medical examiners and coroners .-Organization:...

 report for the USA records two possible drug-induced deaths where marijuana was the only drug found. Legal drugs however, have been the cause of more than half a million deaths a year: 480,000 from tobacco smoking
Tobacco smoking
Tobacco smoking is the practice where tobacco is burned and the resulting smoke is inhaled. The practice may have begun as early as 5000–3000 BCE. Tobacco was introduced to Eurasia in the late 16th century where it followed common trade routes...

-related illnesses and 80,000 from alcohol abuse
Alcohol abuse
Alcohol abuse, as described in the DSM-IV, is a psychiatric diagnosis describing the recurring use of alcoholic beverages despite negative consequences. Alcohol abuse eventually progresses to alcoholism, a condition in which an individual becomes dependent on alcoholic beverages in order to avoid...

. Together, tobacco and alcohol cause about 20% of all yearly deaths in the USA.

It is argued that inconsistency between the harm caused and the legal status of these common drugs undermines the declared motives of the law enforcement agencies to reduce harm by prohibition, for example of marijuana.

In February 2009 the UK government was accused by its most senior expert drugs adviser Professor David Nutt of making political decisions with regard to drug classification, for example in rejecting the scientific advice to downgrade ecstasy from a class A drug. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is a statutory and non-executive non-departmental British public body, which was established under the UK's Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.-Mandate:Its terms of reference, according to the Act, are as follows:...

 (ACMD) report on ecstasy, based on a 12-month study of 4,000 academic papers, concluded that it is nowhere near as dangerous as other class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, and should be downgraded to class B. The advice was not followed. Jacqui Smith, then Home Secretary, was also widely criticised by the scientific community for bullying Professor David Nutt into apologising for his comments that, in the course of a normal year, more people died from falling off horses than died from taking ecstasy. Professor Nutt was later sacked by Jacqui Smith's successor as Home Secretary Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson
Alan Arthur Johnson is a British Labour Party politician who served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was...

; Johnson saying "It is important that the government's messages on drugs are clear and as an advisor you do nothing to undermine public understanding of them. I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to advise me as Chair of the ACMD."

Consistency between drugs

In the United States, defendants convicted of selling crack cocaine receive equal sentences to those convicted of selling 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine. This disparity was lessened during the Clinton administration when the Powder Cocaine Sentencing Act changed the ratio to 10 to 1. The majority of offenders convicted for selling crack are poor and/or black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

, while the majority of those convicted for selling cocaine are not.

Same policy for distinct drugs

Many drug policies group all illegal drugs into a single category. Since drugs drastically vary in their effects, dosages, methods of production, and consumption the arguments either way could be seen as inconsistent.

Racism and unequal enforcement of drug laws

Some consider the war on drugs, at least in the United States, to be a "war on some drugs" … and some drug users. Current drug laws are enforced in such a way as to penalize non-whites
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 more harshly and more often than whites, and to penalize the poor of all races more harshly and more often than the middle and upper classes.

Civil rights arguments for prohibitive drug laws

The Christian Institute argues that there is no point in having criminal laws unless those caught breaking them will at least face prosecution. Less serious offences, such as failing to complete a census form, may also attract a criminal record, so the contention that criminalizing drug use is draconian can be seen as overstatement.

Drug Free Australia argues "The notion that illicit drug use is a victimless crime and that everyone should be free to do what they want with their body disregards the web of social interactions that constitute human existence. Affected by an individual’s illicit drug use are children, parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues, work, victims of drugged drivers, crime victims, elder abuse, sexual victims, patients made sicker by medical marijuana etc. Illicit drug use is no less victimless than alcoholism."

Drug Free Australia gives the example that in 2007 one in every nine children under the age of 18 in the United States lived with at least one drug dependent or drug abusing parent. 2.1 million children in the United States live with at least one parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs.
"Parental substance dependence and abuse can have profound effects on children, including child abuse and neglect, injuries and deaths related to motor vehicle accidents, and increased odds that the children will become substance dependent or abusers themselves. Up-to-date estimates of the number of children living with substance-dependent or substance-abusing parents are needed for planning both adult treatment and prevention efforts and programs that support and protect affected children."

Drug Free Australia concludes any democratic society that deems the use of a certain drug to present unacceptable harm to the individual user, to present unacceptable harm to the users’ surrounding community or to transfer too great a burden to the community will seek legislation which will curb that particular freedom of the individual.

Sweden’s centre-right alliance government Moderate Party
Moderate Party
The Moderate Party is a centre-right, liberal conservative political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1904 as the General Electoral League by a group of conservatives in the Swedish parliament...

 advocates "Zero tolerance for crime", arguing:
Many people argue that only drug dealers should be fought and not the drug users themselves. But this rests on the fundamental error that big-time drugs smugglers and dealers hawk illicit drugs to new consumers. This is most often not the case. Rather it is the users themselves that are mostly responsible for recruiting new users through networks of friends or relatives demonstrating that users need to be targeted as the recruiters of new drug use, and that an emphasis on early rehabilitation for young users is the best answer to curbing widespread dealing. Sweden’s mandatory rehabilitation program has resulted in the lowest drug use levels in the developed world.

The freedom of choice of those addicted to a drug is also questioned, recognizing that addiction is defined as compulsive by its very nature and that addictions in and of themselves curb individual freedom. Likewise, the proposal that addictive drugs should be legalized, regulated and opened to ‘free market dynamics’ is immediately belied by the recognition that the drug market for an addict is no longer a free market – it is clear that they will pay any price when needing their drug.

Cognitive liberty

Authors such as Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

, and Terence McKenna
Terence McKenna
Terence Kemp McKenna was an Irish-American philosopher, psychonaut, researcher, teacher, lecturer and writer on many subjects, such as human consciousness, language, psychedelic drugs, the evolution of civilizations, the origin and end of the universe, alchemy, and extraterrestrial beings.-Early...

 believed what persons do in private should not be regulated by the government. It is argued that persons should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies, including the recreational use of drugs, as long as they do not harm others. Such arguments often cite the harm principle
Harm principle
The harm principle holds that the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to other individuals. John Stuart Mill first articulated this principle in On Liberty, where he argued that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized...

 of philosopher John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

 who urged that the state had no right to intervene to prevent individuals from doing something that harmed them, if no harm was thereby done to the rest of society: 'Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign' and 'The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.' The argument is that drug use is a victimless crime and as such the government has no right to prohibit it or punish drug consumers, much like the government does not forbid overeating, which causes significantly more deaths per year. This can be equated with the quest for freedom of thought
Freedom of thought
Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints....


Spiritual and religious

Some religious groups including the União do Vegetal
União do Vegetal
União do Vegetal is a Christian religion based on the use of Hoasca in a program of spiritual evolution based on mental concentration and the search for self-knowledge...

, the Native American Church
Native American Church
Native American Church, a religious denomination which practices Peyotism or the Peyote religion, originated in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, and is the most widespread indigenous religion among Native Americans in the United States...

, the Bwiti
Bwiti is a West Central African spiritual practice by the forest-dwelling Babongo and Mitsogo people of Gabon, where it is counted as one of the three official religions, and the Fang people of Gabon and Cameroon...

 religion and the Rastafari movement
Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement or Rasta is a new religious movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, which at the time was a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black descendants of slaves. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia , as God...

 use psychoactive substances as sacrament in religious rituals. In some religious practice, drugs are sometimes used as a conduit to an oceanic feeling or divine union, equated with mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 or entheogen
An entheogen , in the strict sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts...

ic ('that which causes God to be within an individual') experiences. In others, the 'entactogenic' qualities of drugs are used to enhance feelings of empathy
Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B...

 among congregations.  To my knowledge these practices appear spontaneously among children of all societies, and I suspect they have done so throughout history as well. In our society, children quickly learn to keep this sort of play out of sight of grownups, who instinctively try to stop them. The sight of a child being throttled into unconsciousness scares the parent, but the child seems to have a wonderful time; at least, he goes right off and does it again. }}

Personal development and exploration

Some people believe that altered states of consciousness enable many people to push the boundaries of human experience, knowledge and creativity. There is thus a moral imperative to experiment with drugs in terms of human progress, teleological development, or just increased artistic creativity; such ideas are central to Cognitive Liberty
Cognitive liberty
Cognitive liberty is the freedom of sovereign control over one's own consciousness. It is an extension of the concepts of freedom of thought and self-ownership....

, Stoned Ape Hypothesis and Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

's Doors of Perception.

PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story is a book by Dr. Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin which was published in 1991. The subject of the work is psychoactive phenethylamine chemical derivatives, notably those that act as psychedelics and/or empathogen-entactogens...

, Alexander Shulgin
Alexander Shulgin
Alexander "Sasha" Theodore Shulgin is an American pharmacologist, chemist, artist, and drug developer.Shulgin is credited with the popularization of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, especially for psychopharmaceutical use and the treatment of depression and...

, argues that the psychedelics help us learn about ourselves; indeed that is where the name "psychedelic" (mind expanding) comes from.

Moral arguments for prohibitive drug laws

Some people argue that drug use is immoral. In 1992 US national drug policy control director William J. Bennet called drug use "stupid and morally atrocious".

Moral arguments for drug law reform

Many people, including some non-drug using religious groups, argue that the war on drugs is itself immoral.

In 2007 Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales, one of Britain's most senior police officers, said "If policy on drugs is in future to be pragmatic not moralistic, driven by ethics not dogma, then the current prohibitionist stance will have to be swept away as both unworkable and immoral, to be replaced with an evidence-based unified system (specifically including tobacco and alcohol) aimed at minimisation of harms to society."

The author and physician Andrew Weil
Andrew Weil
Andrew Thomas Weil is an American author and physician, who established the field of integrative medicine which attempts to integrate alternative and conventional medicine. Weil is the author of several best-selling books and operates a website and monthly newsletter promoting general health and...

 has commented on the peculiar attitude and emotional bias of some people who think "drug taking is bad", but who never-the-less consume alcohol, and formulate the unhelpful conception "We drink. Therefore alcohol is not a drug."  The ubiquity of drug use is so striking that it must represent a basic human appetite. Yet many Americans seem to feel that the contemporary drug scene is something new, something qualitatively different from what has gone before. This attitude is peculiar because all that is really happening is a change in drug preference. There is no evidence that a greater percentage of Americans are taking drugs, only that younger Americans are coming to prefer illegal drugs like marijuana and hallucinogens to alcohol. Therefore, people who insist that everyone is suddenly taking drugs must not see alcohol in the category of drugs. Evidence that this is precisely the case is abundant, and it proves another example of how emotional biases lead us to formulate unhelpful conceptions. Drug taking is bad. We drink alcohol. Therefore alcohol is not a drug. It is, instead, a ‘pick-me-up,’ a ‘thirst quencher,’ a ‘social lubricant,’ ‘an indispensable accompaniment to fine food,’ and a variety of other euphemisms. Or, if it is a drug, at least it is not one of those bad drugs that the hippies use.}}

The UK drug policy reform group Release
Release (agency)
Release, founded in 1967 by Caroline Coon and the late Rufus Harris , is a UK agency that provides legal advice and arranges legal representation for people charged with the possession of drugs...

 believe that the stigma attached to drug use needs to be removed. Release's actions have included challenging such stigmatisation with its "Nice People Take Drugs" advertising campaign.

Arguments for sending out signals

Some argue that sending out signals should be a consideration of drug policy. Previous UK Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker argued "is not part of any system with respect to drugs [...] not only trying to send messages out to people who misuse drugs but also about trying to send messages out to people out there in the community?"

In response to the UK government's official drugs advisory body's opposition to cannabis reclassification (upwards, from a class C to a class B drug) in 2008, prime minister Gordon Brown said: "I believe that if we're sending out a signal, particularly to teenagers – and particular those at the most vulnerable age, young teenagers – that in any way we find cannabis acceptable, given all we know about the way that cannabis is being sold in this country, that is not the right thing to do. There's a stronger case now for sending out a signal that cannabis is not only illegal, it's unacceptable."

Arguments against sending out signals

The Science and Technology Committee appointed by the House of Commons to inquire into the Government's handling of scientific advice, risk and evidence in policy making agreed with Transform Drug Policy Foundation's view that "Criminal law is supposed to prevent crime, not 'send out' public health messages". Transform warned that sending out signals could backfire by "fostering distrust of police and public health messages amongst young people". The Select Committee's report said "The Government's desire to use the Class of a particular drug to send out a signal to potential users or dealers does not sit comfortably with the claim that the primary objective of the classification system is to categorise drugs according to the comparative harm associated with their misuse. It is also incompatible with the Government's stated commitment to evidence based policy making since it has never undertaken research to establish the relationship between the Class of a drug and the signal sent out and there is, therefore, no evidence base on which to draw in making these policy decisions."

Arguments for political calculation

John Donnelly, writing for the Boston Globe on the presidential race of 2000, suggested that the candidates' silence on drug policy may stem from a widely shared belief that any position even hinting at reducing penalties for drug use would be political suicide. Charles R. Schuster, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institute on Drug Abuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a United States federal-government research institute whose mission is to "lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction."-History:...

 under Presidents Reagan and Bush (Snr.)
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

, was reported as saying in 1997, "Talking sense about drug policy in today's climate of opinion can be political suicide."

Drug policy academic Mark Kleiman
Mark Kleiman
Mark Albert Robert Kleiman is an American professor, author, and blogger who is a Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs...

 has argued:

Scott Morgan reports how he once attended a discussion of Peter Reuter and David Boyum's book "An Analytic Assessment of U.S. Drug Policy", in which the authors admitted ignoring the legalization option in their analysis. Boyum claimed that there was no legitimate political support for ending the drug war and that he and Reuter had therefore confined themselves to recommendations that they thought were politically viable.

Arguments against political calculation

Two teenagers deaths in March 2010 triggered nationwide concern about the drug mephedrone in the UK. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended a ban on 29 March, which was quickly passed into law, but the decision was criticised for being politically rather than scientifically driven and led to the resignation of the ACMD's Eric Carlin, the eighth member of the council to leave in five months in protest at what was seen as political interference. Toxicology reports released later in May 2010 revealed that the boys had never taken the drug.

Professor Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said: "This shocking news should be a salutary lesson to tabloid journalists and prejudiced politicians who held a gun to the heads of the ACMD and demanded that this drug should be banned before a single autopsy had been completed [...] The politicians talk about using drug classification as a way of sending 'messages' to young people. I fear that the only message that will be sent by the hasty decision on mephedrone is that the drug laws deserve no respect."

Professor David Nutt, the former chairman of the ACMD, said: "the previous government's rush to ban mephedrone never had any serious scientific credibility – it looks much more like a decision based on a short-term electoral calculation. This news demonstrates why it's so important to base drug classification on the evidence, not fear, and why the police, media and politicians should only make public pronouncements once the facts are clear."

Public opinion for prohibitive drug laws

A direct example of societal attitudes driving the International Drug Conventions is the 1925 speech by the Egyptian delegate M. El Guindy to the 1925 Geneva Convention forum which prohibited cannabis – largely reproduced in Willoughby, W. W.; John Hopkins Press 1925 In the late 19th and early 20th century drug use was regarded by the public “as alone a habit, vice, sign of weakness or dissipation,” similar to the view of those who could not control their use of the licit drug alcohol. The use of illicit drugs has been prohibited internationally since 1912, almost an entire century, because of international agreement that the general community has a greater right to protect itself from the harms of illicit drug use than does an individual user to use a harmful substance recreationally.

Currently there is still greater public support for the continued prohibiting of illicit drug use than there is for legalizing and regulating the use of these substances. In the United States 82% of those polled by the Family Research Association in 1998 were opposed to the legalization of heroin and cocaine in the same manner as alcohol is legal. In October 2009 a Gallup poll found that 54% of those polled were against the legalization of cannabis. In Australia, which has had the highest levels of illicit drug use in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (or OECD) countries for more than a decade, according to a 2007 survey, 95% of Australians do not support the legalization of heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, and 79% do not support the legalization of cannabis.

It can be argued that the negative attitudes to illicit drug use which issued in the international drug Conventions, with prohibitions against their use 100 years ago, still exist today. Taking again statistics from Australia, 97% disapprove of the regular use of heroin, 96% disapprove the regular use of amphetamines or cocaine, and 76.5% disapprove of the regular use of cannabis. In any democracy where ‘the will of the people’ is respected by its political representatives, the prohibition of these substance might well be expected to remain intact.

Public opinion for drug law reform

According to Transform Drug Policy Foundation
Transform Drug Policy Foundation
The Transform Drug Policy Foundation is a registered non-profit charity based in the United Kingdom working in the field of drug policy and law reform. TDPF began as an independent campaign group called 'Transform, the campaign for a just and effective drug policy', and was set up in 1996 by its...

, over the past decade there has been strong shift in public opinion in favour of drug policy reform. This shift has taken place despite successive government’s reluctance to consider or debate the subject, or even call to for an independent inquiry.

A national telephone survey conducted in 1993 found that between 52% and 55% of Australians believed that growing and possessing cannabis for personal use should be legalised.

An ICM poll of 1201 people for The Guardian in 1998 found that 47% believed that the illegality of drugs actually encourages young people to try them.

46% of UK adults in a 2002 Guardian poll (of 1075) felt that drug addicts who register themselves as such should have access to certain illegal drugs via prescription.

An ICM poll of 1008 UK adults (aged 16+) for The Guardian in 2008 found that 38% would support a scheme, similar to that established in Portugal and Spain, whereby it is not a criminal offence to possess and use drugs privately.

Following President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

's win of the 2008 presidential election
Presidential election
A presidential election is the election of any head of state whose official title is president.- United States :The United States has elections on the state and local levels...

, hosted a service on their website named the Citizen's Briefing Book
Citizen's Briefing Book
Citizen's Briefing Book is a compilation book of recommendations made to President Barack Obama by visitors to the website, given to the President after his January 20, 2009 inauguration...

 allowing United States citizens to give their opinion on the most important issues in America, and allow others to vote up or down on those ideas. The top ten ideas are to be given to Obama on the day of his inauguration, January 20, 2009. The most popular idea according to respondents was "Ending Marijuana Prohibition", earning 92,970 points and obtaining a total of 3,550 comments.
The second most popular argument, by contrast, was "Commit to becoming the “Greenest” country in the world." with 70,470 points.

David Simon
David Simon
David Simon is an American author, journalist, and a writer/producer of television series. He worked for the Baltimore Sun City Desk for twelve years. He wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and co-wrote The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood with Ed Burns...

, creator of television series The Wire
The Wire (TV series)
The Wire is an American television drama series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was broadcast by the premium cable network HBO in the United States...

, in 2011 told U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
Eric Holder
Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. is the 82nd and current Attorney General of the United States and the first African American to hold the position, serving under President Barack Obama....

 that he'd "give him another season of the HBO show for an end to the war on drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

." Holder had invited show stars Wendell Pierce
Wendell Pierce
Wendell Pierce is an American actor, best known for his work in HBO dramas, including his portrayal of Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire and trombonist Antoine Batiste in Treme.-Life and career:...

, Sonja Sohn, and Jim True-Frost
Jim True-Frost
Jim True-Frost, born Jim True, is an American stage, television and screen actor. He is most known for his portrayal of Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski on all five seasons of the HBO program The Wire.-Biography:...

 to Washington on behalf of an anti-drug public relations campaign and at the time called on Simon and Ed Burns
Ed Burns
Ed Burns is a producer, screenwriter, and novelist. He has worked closely with writing partner David Simon. They have collaborated on The Corner and The Wire . Burns is a former Baltimore police detective for the Homicide and Narcotics divisions, and a public school teacher...

 for another season or a movie of the show. Simon replied via a letter to a newspaper offering the trade.

External links

Further reading

  • "The Mission to End Prohibition." Making Contact. National Radio Project, Oakland CA: 4 Nov. 2009
  • The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World's Most Troubled Drug Culture. Richard DeGrandpre, Duke University Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8223-3881-9
  • Toward a Policy on Drugs: Decriminalization? Legalization? Currie, Elliot. Dissent. 1993. Rpt. in Drug Use Should Be Decriminalized. At Issue: Legalizing Drugs. Karin L. Swisher, ed., San Diego, CA.: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1996: 55–64.
  • Rolles S. Kushlick D. Jay M. 2004 After the War on Drugs, Options for Control Transform Drug Policy Foundation
  • Legalization Madness. Inciardi, James A. and Christine A. Saum. Public Interest 123 (1996): 72–82. Rpt. in Legalizing Drugs Would Increase Violent Crime. Current Controversies: Illegal Drugs. Charles P. Cozic, ed., San Diego, CA.: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1998: 142–150.
  • Poll Shows Most Russians Against Legalization of Soft Drugs. ITAR-TASS. BBC Monitoring 26 June 2003. Newsbank. 1 Feb 2004.
  • Jaffer, Mehru, U.N. Firm Against Legalization of Drugs. Inter Press Service
    Inter Press Service
    Inter Press Service is a global news agency. Its main focus is the production of independent news and analysis about events and processes affecting economic, social and political development....

     17 Apr. 2003. Newsbank
    NewsBank, Inc. is a major publisher of news, historical information, and documents to consumers, libraries, educational institutions, and research institutes around the world....

    . 1 Feb. 2004
  • Luna, Claire. Orange County Judge Gray, a Drug-War Foe, Will Run for Senate Now a Libertarian
    Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

    , the Longtime Advocate of Legalization Will Challenge Boxer in 2004.
    Los Angeles Times 20 Nov. 2003: B3. Newsbank. 1 Feb. 2004
  • Lynch, Gerald W.
    Gerald W. Lynch
    Gerald W. Lynch was the third President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the only institution of higher education in the United States dedicated exclusively to the study of criminal justice, law enforcement, police science, and public service...

     Legalizing Drugs Is Not the Solution. America 13 Feb. 1993. Rpt. in Legalizing Drugs Would Not Reduce Crime. At Issue: Legalizing Drugs. Karin L. Swisher, ed., San Diego, CA.: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1996: 110–113.
  • McNeely, Jennifer. Methadone Maintenance Treatment. Lindesmith Center 1997. Rpt. in Methadone Is an Effective Treatment for Heroin Addiction. Current Controversies: Illegal Drugs. Charles P. Cozic, ed., San Diego, CA.: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1998: 91–95.
  • McWilliams, Peter
    Peter McWilliams
    Peter Alexander McWilliams was a writer and self-publisher of best-selling self-help books. He was an advocate for those suffering from depression. And, in his later years, he was a cannabis activist. Terminally ill with AIDS and cancer, he became a vocal campaigner for the legalization of medical...

    . Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do
    Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do
    Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country is a book by Peter McWilliams in which he presents the history of legislation against what he feels are victimless crimes, or crimes that are committed consensually, as well as arguments for their...

    . Los Angeles, CA. : Prelude Press, 1996 (full text)
  • Mendez, Julia de Cruz and Ralf Winkler
    Ralf Winkler
    Ralf Winkler, alias A.R. Penck is a German painter, printmaker and sculptor.He was born in Dresden, Germany, and studied together with a group of other neo-expressionist painters in Dresden. He became one of the foremost exponents of the new figuration alongside Jörg Immendorff, Georg Baselitz and...

    . Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Jan. 1996. 24 Mar. 2004
  • Paulin, Alastair. Taxation Without Legalization. Mother Jones June 2003: 26. Newsbank. 1 Feb. 2004
  • Rodriguez, L. Jacabo. Time to End the Drug War. CATO Institute 13 Dec. 1997. 23 Feb. 2004
  • Should We Re-Legalize Drugs? United States Libertarian Party. 22 Feb. 2004
  • Thornton, Mark
    Mark Thornton
    Mark Thornton is an American economist of the Austrian School. Thornton has been described by the Advocates for Self-Government as "one of America's experts on the economics of illegal drugs." Thornton has written extensively on that topic, as well as on the economics of the American Civil War,...

    . Alcohol Prohibition Was a Failure. CATO Institute 17 July 1991. 24 Mar. 2004
  • Zuckerman, Mortimer B. Great Idea for Ruining Kids. U.S. News & World Report 24 Feb. 1997. Rpt. in Legalizing Drugs Would Increase Drug Use. Current Controversies: Illegal Drugs. Charles P. Cozic, ed., San Diego, CA.: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1998: 151–152.
  • Leavitt, Fred. (2003) The REAL Drug Abusers. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Armentano, Paul
    Paul Armentano
    Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of and the NORML Foundation. Mr. Armentano is an expert in the field of marijuana policy, health, and pharmacology, and has served as a consultant for Health Canada and the Canadian Public Health Association...

    . Drug War Mythology in You Are Being Lied To. China: The Disinformation Company Ltd., 2001. Pages 234–240
  • Goldstein, P.J., Brownstein, H.H., Ryan, P.J. & Bellucci, P.A., Crack and Homicide in New York City: A Case Study in the Epidemiology of Violence, in Reinarman, C. and Levine, H. (eds.), Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 113–130.
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