Legislation and enforcement actions against substances that are deemed to be addictive or otherwise dangerous
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  • FreedomPedia
  • War on Drugs is an American term usually applied to the U.S. federal government's campaign of prohibition of drugs, military aid and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade. The initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the United Nations have made illegal. The term was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on 18 June 1971, by President Richard Nixon—the day after publication of a special message from President Nixon to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control—during which he declared drug abuse "public enemy number one". That message to the Congress included text about devoting more federal resources to the "prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted", but that part did not receive the same public attention as the term "war on drugs". However, two years prior to this, Nixon had formally declared a "war on drugs" that would be directed toward eradication, interdiction and incarceration. Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.

    Web Sites

    A Drug War Carol
    Website for the graphic novel authored by Susan W. Wells and illustrated by Scott Bieser, based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

    Web Pages

    Drug War | Cato Institute
    Commentary, studies, articles and other research from the Cato Institute on the war on drugs
    "Identification of a problem does not mean that the government should undertake to solve it, and the fact that a problem occurs in more than one state does not mean that it is a proper subject for federal policy. Perhaps no area more clearly demonstrates the bad consequences of not following such rules than does drug prohibition. The long federal experiment in prohibition of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs has given us crime and corruption combined with a manifest failure to stop the use of drugs or reduce their availability to children."


    America's Most Dangerous Politician, by Gary Johnson, Michael W. Lynch, Reason, Jan 2001
    Topics discussed include: drugs, why he stopped smoking marijuana, drug legalization, school vouchers, charter schools, road building and tax cuts
    "Nobody is going to the police department and saying, "This person sold me drugs, and I want them arrested." Everybody is getting arrested because they sold to an undercover agent. ... My premise is the war in drugs is a miserable failure. I don't know of a bigger problem in every single state, or a bigger expense that might actually have alternative solutions. Drugs account for half of law enforcement spending, half of prison spending, half of court spending. What are we getting for it? We are arresting 1.6 million people a year in this country on drug-related charges, and it's a failure."
    A Modest Proposal for the Next Drug-War Shootdown, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Aug 2001
    Some (tongue in cheek) recommendations in the aftermath of the shootdown by the Peruvian air force of a Cessna carrying Baptist missionaries
    "But seriously, folks ... Drug warriors like to stress that anti-drug programs target the guilty and it is only an accident —and a rare one, at that— when innocent people are killed. Yet it is apparently routine policy for Peruvian jets to strafe the survivors of a shootdown."
    Related Topic: Peru
    An Economic Perspective on Illegal Drugs, by Paul Heyne, Feb 1990
    Chapter 25 of "Are Economists Basically Immoral?" and Other Essays on Economics, Ethics, and Religion, 2008, originally published in Forum; suggests various policies for dealing with the negative externalities of drug use
    "Think how many more muggings there would be if muggees sought the experience as eagerly as muggers do! That's roughly the situation today with the trade in illegal drugs. The law is a weak deterrent because the absence of a self-identified victim drastically lowers the probability of apprehension, conviction and eventual punishment. ... This essay is simply a suggestion for looking at what we are doing in a somewhat different way. Perhaps it offers a middle ground on which those who want to decriminalize drug use and those who want to intensify the war on drugs can meet to converse."
    Related Topic: Personal Responsibility
    An Interview With Hugh Downs, by Hugh Downs, Bill Winter, 15 Oct 2005
    Topics range from libertarianism and the role of government to marijuana decriminalization and the Iraq invasion
    "... I'm always amused at the drug warriors who, for some reason, have gotten mired in something very ancillary that got started in 1935, when [Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger] gave enough cannabis to a dog to kill it, and tried to prove a point that way. And [some] people say, 'Well, it's a gateway. Eighty percent of hard drug users started on marijuana.' That's a nonsense statement! A hundred percent of hard drug users started on milk. What is the connection? It's just not there."
    An Open Letter to Bill Bennett, by Milton Friedman, The Wall Street Journal, 7 Sep 1989
    Addressed to then Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and beseeching him and President George H. W. Bush to discontinue their efforts to fight drugs
    "Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; ... illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault. Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages."
    Cast a Giant Ballot: Roger MacBride Made the Libertarian Party the Most Important Third Party in America, by Clifford F. Thies, The Freeman, Oct 1997
    Memorial and biographical essay, discussing MacBride's influence on the early Libertarian Party as well as his involvement in the Little House saga
    "Time and again, Roger MacBride spoke with compassion for those who were victimized by their own decisions. Concerning drugs, MacBride wrote, "Why should not you and I, it is argued, who hate the very thought of drug addiction, and who would use every resource at our command to prevent a loved one's becoming addicted, why shouldn't we force our values on another? Hard case, I agree. But the rational answer is clear: force is no answer, love and persuasion may be ... [T]here are serious issues of moral conduct. Fortunately there are many institutions other than government that can appropriately deal with these matters ...""
    Curing the Therapeutic State: Thomas Szasz on the medicalization of American life, by Thomas Szasz, Jacob Sullum, Reason, Jul 2000
    Subjects discussed include involuntary commitment, the insanity defense, ADHD, government drug policies and physician-assisted suicide
    "If somebody who is undergoing anti-cancer treatment has nausea and benefits from marijuana, it would be a nice thing for this person to have it. How can I be opposed to that? But that's like smuggling Jews out of Nazi Germany with the help of a Gestapo agent. Wouldn't it be better not to persecute them in the first place?"
    Related Topic: Rule of Law
    Drug Legalization: A New Approach, by Daniel M. Ryan, 18 Jan 2007
    Suggests a different approach for those who want to end the War on Drugs
    "The old strategy, based upon the initial lies and hysteria surrounding illicit drugs, was rooted in the assumption that the Drug Warriors were at heart hypocrites. ... If it can be demonstrated to the average American that the proponents of crackdown on illicit drugs are a mere faction, with a factional interest, then their own air of disinterested service will begin to erode. ... It is possible that many lawmakers possess addictive personalities, hence their continual rallying around the Drug Warrior flag."
    Drug Legalization: How to Radically Lower the Number of Murders in New Orleans, by Walter Block, 27 Jan 2007
    Suggests drug legalization as a remedy to the increased murder rate in New Orleans and then considers six objections to such a plan and its potential effects
    "[Objection] 6. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1917 was implemented for a good purpose: to save ourselves from the scourge of drugs.
    Has it succeeded? To ask this question is to answer it. People can purchase addictive substances in any major city in the country. No, this 'war' has failed, like so many other such initiatives undertaken by government. The motivation behind this legislation had nothing to do with protecting the public in any case. It was pure and simple a racist anti-Chinese measure, in an attempt to criminalize them for using opium dens. ... The drug war is an utter and abysmal failure. And necessarily so."
    Related Topics: Children, Louisiana, Prohibition
    Drug War Dementia, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Nov 1996
    Details various police, military and school actions and legislation in the government's war on users of certain banned substances
    "If drugs were legal, we would still see deaths from overdoses, but there would be far fewer deaths from gun battles among drug dealers, far fewer neighborhoods destroyed destroyed by drug dealers, and far fewer deaths from contaminated drugs. The question is not whether drugs are bad for the individual but whether government has a right to punish people for how they treat their own bodies."
    Ending America's Domestic Quagmire, by Paul Armentano, Future of Freedom, Dec 2007
    Compares the War on Drugs to the U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan and counsels reassessment of the domestic "war"
    "For nearly 100 years, starting with the passage of America's first federal anti-drug law in 1914, lawmakers have relied on the mantra 'Do drugs, do time.' ... America now spends nearly $50 billion dollars per year targeting, prosecuting, and incarcerating illicit-drug users. As a result, the population of illicit-drug offenders now behind bars is greater than the entire U.S. prison population in 1980."
    End the Other War Too, by Sheldon Richman, 1 Dec 2006
    Discusses the case of a woman killed by police based on a false report from an informant and recommends ending the War on Drugs
    "The fact is, without the War on Drugs atrocities such as the killing of Kathryn Johnston wouldn't be happening. It is the very nature of victimless crimes that pushes the police to use unscrupulous tactics. In a victimless crime, such as an illegal drug transaction, there is no complaining witness, no one with an interest in reporting the crime to the police. ... the only way the police can detect the criminal activity is to set it up themselves or encourage informants. But the opportunity for corruption in these tactics is immense."
    Free Cory Maye, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, May 2006
    Further discussion and commentary on the case of Cory Maye (see "More Drug-War Victims", Dec 2005)
    "Maye, 25, is sitting on death row in Mississippi, the latest victim of the government's indefensible war on drug makers, sellers, and consumers. ... Such tragic events will keep occurring as long as the government asserts power to determine what we may and may not ingest. In a truly free society it would have no such power. Individual rights include the right to take any peaceful action, no matter how ill-advised. ... When government enforces laws against consensual activities, police terror is inevitable."
    He Loved the Rush, by Doug Casey, 25 Nov 2003
    Discusses Rush Limbaugh use of opiates, his posture regarding the Drug War and the hypocrisy (including Casey's suggestion of how Limbaugh could deal with the matter)
    "I have no problem with Rush doing the illegal drugs of his choice. It's his body — he owns it, not the Drug Enforcement Administration. The fact that he was able to show up for three hours a day for his radio show is further proof – not that any more is needed; Freud, for instance, was a serious cokehead – that it's as possible to operate as normally on many controlled substances as it is on nicotine and caffeine. The main problem with drugs is their illegality. Perversely, Rush has always been a drug warrior. In a Playboy interview, in December 1993, he said: 'By legalizing drugs, all you're going to do is define deviancy further downward.'"
    Illicit Drugs, by Bruce L. Benson, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Reviews various arguments made to justify the drug war (e.g., property crime, violence) versus the actual effects of prohibition (e.g., black markets, asset forfeiture)
    "Drug war advocates contend that drug cravings cause people to steal; thus, they argue, controlling drug markets will have the effect of reducing both drug consumption and property crime. However, substantial evidence shows that property crime is not caused by drug use. Surveys of jail inmates indicate that almost half of regular hard-drug users were employed full time before their drug offense was committed, and only 29% reported having had any illegal income, much of which originated as earnings from consensual crimes like prostitution and drug sales."
    Interview with Governor Gary Johnson, by Gary Johnson, Drug War Chronicle, 13 Oct 2000
    Discusses Johnson's stand on legalizing heroin and marijuana (and why he chose not to delve on the former), the impact he had in New Mexico by raising the issues and what he planned to do after he left office (climb Mt. Everest)
    "Heroin is the only drug where a model for controlled use existed, and I was actually referring to the Swiss model. I said we should be looking at a harm reduction strategy and moving from a criminal to a medical model. Indeed, let's not forget that alcohol was once prohibited and I'm not endorsing alcohol. ... I'm talking about sentencing reforms, mandatory minimums, treatment over incarceration, medical marijuana, and the legalization of marijuana -- if we can pass the legislation. But I think the advisory council's recommendations may even go beyond that."
    Related Topic: New Mexico
    John Gilmore on inflight activism, spam and sarongs, by John Gilmore, Mikael Pawlo, GrepLaw, 18 Aug 2004
    Topics discussed include: terrorism, the drug war, encryption, censorship, spam, the end-to-end principle, the right to travel, anonymity, secret FAA/TSA rules, blogs, copy protection, free software and the EFF
    "The pendulum is swinging on that issue, after decades of wasting billions of dollars and mangling hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Cancer patients get thrown in jail for smoking marijuana to keep from throwing up their chemotherapy meds. Entire countries get overrun and their leaders toppled by the US because the US doesn't like how those countries run their internal drug policies (like Panama, Nicaragua, and now Colombia)."
    Kennedy's Libertarian Revolution: Lawrence's reach, by Randy Barnett, National Review Online, 10 Jul 2003
    Comments on the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas invalidating sodomy laws and in particular on Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion
    "For example, the medical-marijuana cases now wending their way through the Ninth Circuit would be greatly affected if those seeking to use or distribute medical marijuana pursuant to California law did not have to show that their liberty to do so was somehow 'fundamental' — and if the government was forced to justify its restriction on that liberty."
    Libertarianism Is the Key to Our Future, by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom, Jul 2006
    Examines three reasons (freedom, morality and pragmatism) that suggest that Americans will eventually return to their libertarian heritage
    "Consider, for example, the drug war. No matter how much the government cracks down — mandatory minimum sentences, asset forfeiture, extraditions of foreign drug lords, violations of financial privacy, chemical spraying of drug crops, infringements of civil liberties — it will never succeed in ending drug use or drug abuse. Why is this so? Because the participants in a free market (which becomes the 'black market' when the activity is made illegal) will always figure out ways to circumvent the laws."
    Liberty Against Power: Essays by Roy A. Childs, Jr., by Doug Bandow, The Freeman, Jun 1995
    Review of Liberty Against Power (1994), a collection of Roy Childs' "best writings and speeches", edited by Joan Kennedy Taylor
    "Among the best essays in Liberty Against Power are his writings on current policy. Even before the Reagan and Bush administrations escalated the war on drugs, Roy wrote "Crime in the Cities: The Drug Connection." Although now 14 years old, the article remains a path-breaker, demonstrating, through rigorous analysis and research, how it is drug prohibition, not drug use, that fuels the crime wave enveloping cities across America."
    Mexico's Bold Drug Decriminalization Move, by James W. Harris, The Liberator Online, 11 May 2006
    Discusses a bill approved by the Mexican Congress, but not signed by President Fox, that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and similar drugs, with commentary from Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute
    "This reform would have put Mexico in the forefront of world drug reform, joining the Netherlands and a few other countries in a far more sensible and humane approach than the scorched-earth neo-Prohibitionist 'zero-tolerance' Drug War madness of the U.S. Unfortunately, Mexico's President Vicente Fox ... refused to sign it. Although he cited concerns that the bill was too radical, critics say the real reason was enormous pressure from the U.S. government."
    Related Topic: Mexico
    Milton Friedman RIP, by Walter Block, Mises Daily, 16 Nov 2006
    In memoriam, focusing on Friedman's positives and including several personal recollections
    "Another of the high points of his career, for me, was his 'Open Letter' to then drug czar Bill Bennett ... in which he alienated many of his conservative followers with his clarion call for drug legalization. The US government has truly unleashed the whirlwind on this matter. It is responsible for untold incarcerations of innocent people and tens of thousands of needless deaths around the world. When one day we as a society come to our senses and repeal drug prohibition as we previously did for alcohol prohibition, we will owe that happy day to Professor Friedman as much as to any man."
    More Drug-War Victims, by Sheldon Richman, 28 Dec 2005
    Relates the case of Cory Maye, who killed a policeman while defending himself and his 18-month old daughter during a late night raid from a narcotics squad (Maye was released in July 2011)
    "Opponents of the so-called war on drugs (it's a war on people) have long cautioned that enforcement of victimless-crime laws is by nature a mockery of justice. ... Nothing is more corrupt than the police-informant relationship in drug enforcement. Countless times informants have fingered innocent people ... Drug raids are notorious for leading to the deaths of people, often cases of mistaken identity, who tried to defend themselves against late-night visits from militarized SWAT teams."
    My Chat With Chong, by Ken Bush, The Liberator, 1998
    Recounts the author's interview with Chong, after chatting on a radio talk show
    "In late March, I heard Chong appearing as an in-studio guest on KMOX radio in St. Louis, promoting an upcoming nightclub gig. Much of the show centered on Chong arguing passionately for the right of adults to use marijuana for medicine, industry, and recreation. ... I phoned the show and chatted with Chong on the air about the dangerous effects of the War on Drugs. ... I complimented him on his appearance and his courage in confronting the Drug War head-on."
    New Declaration of Independence, by Vince Miller, Jarret Wollstein, Jan 2000
    Prefaced by quoting the second paragraph of the original Declaration, lists the outrages of the "modern American State" (in a manner similar to the original), ending with a list of demands including Citizen Grand Juries, Citizen Veto and Power of Recall
    "In the name of the War on Drugs they have declared open war on the people of the United States, invading farm and field, village and home, and spreading terror across the land. ... To restore the freedom, peace and prosperity of the people, we therefore demand: ... That all victimless crime laws be abolished, including laws restricting the sale or possession of ... controlled substances. That the War on Drugs be ended, Drug Peace be declared, and all persons imprisoned for victimless crimes be immediately freed and their records cleared."
    Persuasion vs. Force, by Mark Skousen, Liberty, Sep 1991
    Based on an essay by Alfred North Whitehead, Skousen suggests a new libertarian creed, "The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society"
    "Is drug abuse a problem in America? Then pass legislation prohibiting the use of certain high-powered drugs. Surely that will solve the drug-abuse problem. Yet it never addresses the real problem, which is why people misuse drugs in the first place, and how can these needs be satisfied in nondestructive ways? By outlawing drugs, we fail to consider the the beneficial uses of such drugs in medicine and healthcare and we fail to consider the underlying cause of increased drug or alcohol misuse among teenagers and adults."
    Peter McWilliams - Hero of the Day, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
    "'A hard pounding on the door accompanied by shouts of "Police! Open up!" broke the silence, broke my reverie, and nearly broke down the door. I opened the door ... and was immediately handcuffed. I was taken outside while Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents ran through my house, guns drawn, commando-style. ... Most disturbing to the DEA, I would guess, was my strong criticism of it in a two-page ad I placed in the December 1, 1997, Daily Variety. I denounced Administrator Constantine's threat to criminally investigate the creators of Murphy Brown for Murphy's fictional use of medical marijuana. ...'"
    Related Topic: Peter McWilliams
    Peter McWilliams, RIP, by William F. Buckley Jr., 22 Jun 2000
    Memorial essay, discussing how and why McWilliams died as well as Buckley's personal recollections of their friendship
    "What was his offense? He collaborated in growing marijuana plants. What was his defense? Well, the judge wouldn't allow him to plead his defense to the jury. ... The judge also forbade any mention that McWilliams suffered from AIDS and cancer, and got relief from the marijuana. What was he doing when he died? Vomiting. The vomiting hit him while in his bathtub, and he choked to death. Was there nothing he might have done to still the impulse to vomit? Yes, he could have taken marijuana; but the judge's bail terms forbade him to do so, and he submitted to weekly urine tests to confirm that he was living up to the terms of his bail."
    Related Topic: Peter McWilliams
    Right and Simple, by Charley Reese, 30 Dec 2006
    Discusses the proposition that "the right thing to do is both simple to state and simple to understand" in the context of the drug war and the political situation in Venezuela, Colombia and the United States
    "The drug war is another example of the wrong thing to do being hidden under piles of old rhetoric. The drug problem is fueled by American consumption. Our politicians try to shift the blame to the drug cartels, as if they were slipping into the country and forcing cocaine up people's noses at gunpoint. Stop consumption in America and there is no market for the cocaine, no funds for drug cartels, no money to be laundered."
    UpdSomebody Might Get Hurt, by Kevin Carson, 31 May 2013
    Comments on two unrelated blog posts to highlight a commonly offered "liberal" argument about state programs
    "Blogger thoreau ... addresses the first ... in relation to the War on Drugs: "... over-educated white suburban liberals ... want to keep locking people up in the name of 'But what if somebody gets hurt?' Um, what do you call the world's largest prison population? ... What do you call daily gang violence? I'd call that 'somebody gets hurt', wouldn't you? ... I can talk all day about the violence and injustice of the drug war but they find one study on the effects of pot on short-term memory and my whole point is considered invalid. Because if we end this war Somebody Might Get Hurt.""
    Related Topics: Democracy, The State
    Stop-and-Frisk: How Government Creates Problems, Then Makes Them Worse, by Sheldon Richman, 14 Aug 2013
    Considers two recent decisions, from the Justice Department and from a Federal judge, that attempt to ameliorate previous bad policies
    "... Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will keep nonviolent small-scale drug sellers who have no links to criminal organizations from getting caught in the mandatory-minimum-sentence trap. ... Federal District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York Police Department carries out the [stop-and-frisk] policy in a manner that violates the Fourth Amendment rights of blacks and Hispanics."
    The Death of Politics, by Karl Hess, Playboy, Mar 1969
    Discusses libertarianism, contrasting it with both conservatism and modern liberalism, including specific policy differences
    "The current laws against marijuana, in contravention even of all available evidence regarding its nature, are a prime example of the use of political power. ... The person who uses drugs imprudently, just as the person who imprudently uses the politically sanctioned and franchised drugs of alcohol or tobacco, ends up in an unenviable position, perhaps dead. That, rationally, is his own business as long as he does not, by his actions, deprive you of your right to make your own decision not to use drugs, to assist addicts, or, if you wish, to ignore them."
    The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise, by Milton Friedman, 16 Nov 1991
    From keynote address at Fifth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform; examines why, 20 years after Friedman's admonition against Nixon's drug war, the government continues its attempts at enforcement, in spite of the observable, predicted results
    "First, most literature that I have read on drugs takes it for granted that the drug problem is a special case to be discussed in terrns of specific issues associated with drugs—the substances involved and so on rather than a special instance of a more general phenomenon. ... Such reformers believe that if they could write the law, the law would be enforced the way they wrote it. That is an illusion. ... The people who wrote the law on drugs did not intend to kill hundreds of thousands of people in the process. They did not intend to have a system under which prisons and prisoners would grow like Topsy."
    The Drug War Hits Home, by David Boaz, Future of Freedom, Jan 1992
    Reviews several cases of non-users caught in "the tentacles of the War on Drugs" and explains why civil forfeiture is attractive to law enforcers
    "The war on drugs increasingly demonstrates the futility of efforts to prohibit people from engaging in peaceful, voluntary activities. There is an inherent problem with enforcing crime laws which entail no violence against another person: There is no complaining witness, as there is in such crimes as rape and robbery, so the police are forced to engage in undercover work ... we are giving up our liberties in order to fight crime that is actually caused by the War on Drugs. A cynic might wonder whether restricting civil and economic liberties and expanding the power of the state is actually the point of the war on drugs."
    The Drug War's Immorality and Abject Failure, by Anthony Gregory, Future of Freedom, Jul 2006
    Discusses how drug use differs from criminal, property-rights violations, the justifications for the drug war and the many areas where it has had detrimental effects on society: inner cities, rule of law, foreign relations, etc.
    "If the idea is to create a drug-free America, then we can safely say that after hundreds of billions of dollars spent, millions of arrests, and decades of escalating police and military efforts, the war on drugs is a complete failure. ... The attempt to use government force and central planning ... to effectively mold society by preventing people on an individual basis from growing, producing, transferring, and ingesting drugs of their choice, is a ridiculous fantasy and always has been."
    The Economics Behind the U.S. Government's Unwinnable War on Drugs, by Benjamin Powell, 1 Jul 2013
    Analyzes the economics of the drug war, including the demand-supply effects of prohibition on both users and distributors, the effects of higher prices and variable quality, comparisons to alcohol prohibition and external effects
    "The net effect of prohibition on drug users is, at best, to decrease consumption while making the consumption of the remaining drug users much more dangerous because their purchases are more potent and less predictable. This is borne out in the data on deaths from drug overdoses. From 1971—two years before the creation of the federal government's Drug Enforcement Administration and Nixon's declaration of the war on drugs—to 2007, the rate of death from a drug overdose per 100,000 total deaths increased by a factor of ten."
    The Egregiously Destructive War on Drugs, by Gennady Stolyarov II, Mises Daily, 30 May 2006
    Discusses the adverse effects that the war on drugs has on innocent people who don't consume drugs
    "I personally find all currently illegal drugs loathsome; they stunt the mind, inhibit the body, and curtail productivity. I would never consume such substances myself, and I would advise others against doing so. Yet, compared to the adverse effects of their illegalization, the harm of drugs themselves is small indeed. Drug-taking is extremely unhealthy for the persons engaging in it, but not for anybody who abstains from it. The 'War on Drugs,' by contrast, harms everybody subject to a government that undertakes it."
    The essence of liberty: What is it that really makes one a libertarian?, by David Nolan, Libertarian Party News, Mar 1995
    Discusses five points of "no compromise" that Nolan considered essential to libertarianism
    "In fact, libertarians believe that individuals have the right to own and use anything-gold, guns, marijuana, sexually explicit material-so long as they do not harm others through force or the threat of force. Laws criminalizing the simple possession of anything are tailor-made for police states; it is all too easy to plant a forbidden substance in someone's home, car, or pocket. Libertarians are as tough on crime-real crime-as anyone. But criminal possession laws are an affront to liberty, whatever the rhetoric used to defend them."
    The Indivisibility of Liberty, by Mary Ruwart, 23 Apr 2008
    Discusses how advocating that others be deprived of some liberties results in negative repercussions on our own liberties
    "When we take away our neighbors liberty, because they like to use substances we consider to be harmful, we expose ourselves to harm. Close to one-half of all murders in this country result from the prohibition of drugs. Turf wars between gangs result in the death of many innocent victims. The exorbitant black market prices mean that more people steal to fund their habit. Thus, we are twice as likely to die from a mugging when drugs are illegal than when we are not. Our children are also put at risk. The high black-market profit margin in illegal drugs guarantees that pushers will haunt our schools, addicting our youth."
    Related Topics: Libertarianism, Liberty
    The Invisible Hand Is a Gentle Hand, by Sharon Harris, 14 Sep 1998
    Defends the free market and individual liberty, quoting among others Frédéric Bastiat, Thomas Jefferson, David and Milton Friedman, John Lott, Isabel Paterson, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Adam Smith, Thomas Sowell, John Stossel and Walter Williams
    "James Burton ... is living literally in exile in the Netherlands. A Vietnam War veteran, he suffers from a rare form of hereditary glaucoma. ... Burton found that marijuana could hold back, and perhaps halt, the glaucoma. So he began growing marijuana for his own use. Kentucky State Police raided his 90-acre farm and found 138 marijuana plants and two pounds of raw marijuana. ... ophthalmologist John Merritt ... testified that marijuana was the only medication that could keep Burton from going blind. Nevertheless, Burton was found guilty of simple possession and was sentenced to one year in a federal maximum security prison, with no parole."
    The Life and Death of Peter McWilliams: Another casualty of the War on Drugs, by R. W. Bradford, Liberty, Aug 2000
    Tribute to McWilliams, relates his life from 1996 until his death in June 2000
    "In 1996, California voters enacted a law legalizing the use of marijuana by people ... who needed it for medical reasons. ... the Clinton administration announced it would ignore the state law ... it remained very difficult for others who needed medical marijuana to get the drug. So Peter helped finance the efforts of Todd McCormick to cultivate marijuana for ... those who needed it for medical reasons. ... in the early morning of December 17, 1997, federal agents invaded his home and business, and confiscated a wide array of his property ... In July 1998 they arrested him on charges of conspiring to grow marijuana."
    Related Topics: Government, Peter McWilliams
    The Longest-Running War, by Doug Bandow, 20 Dec 2004
    Reviews the books Bad Trip: How the War on Drugs Is Destroying America (2004) by Joel Miller and Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (2004) by Jeffrey A. Miron
    "But the longest-running ongoing "war" is the war on drugs. For decades the U.S. government has attempted to suppress the use and sale of illicit substances ... Cocaine and marijuana, which once were legal, are now banned ... The answer of both authors is that the government only ineffectively cuts drug abuse, and does so at a very high social cost ... If drug prohibition were merely ineffective, it wouldn't matter too much. There is, of course, the $33 billion or so spent to enforce the drug laws, but the cost of attempting to prevent millions of Americans from voluntarily using drugs has been far, far higher."
    Related Topics: Afghanistan, Prohibition
    The Morality of Drug Controls, by Thomas Szasz, Future of Freedom, Apr 1990
    Condensed from an article in Dealing With Drugs: Consequences of Government Control, 1987, Ronad Hamowy (editor)
    "I believe that just as we regard freedom of speech and religion as fundamental rights, so should we also regard freedom of self-medication as a fundamental right; and that, instead of mendaciously opposing or mindlessly promoting illicit drugs, we should, paraphrasing Voltaire, make this maxim our rule: 'I disapprove of what you take, but I will defend to the death your right to take it!' Sooner or later we shall have to confront the basic moral dilemma underlying the so-called drug problem: Does a person have the right to take a drug, any drug, not because he needs it to cure an illness but because he wants to take it?"
    The Most Absurdities per Kilo, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Feb 2006
    Describes the SWAT attack on Tommy Chong residence for the purpose of confiscating bongs, part of Operation Pipe Dreams
    "... on February 24 [2003], Ashcroft proudly announced the most decisive attack ever on purveyors of bongs ... At a time when political leaders warned that a terrorist attack on the homeland could be imminent, more than 1,200 federal law officers were involved in Operation Pipe Dreams, ... the biggest attack on glass bowls in American history."
    The NFL is Not for Libertarians, by S. M. Oliva, 26 Apr 2012
    Examines various statist aspects of the National Football League
    "The only reason Goodell wants HGH testing is to appease the federal government, which has long viewed professional sports as a key source of propaganda for its Drug War. When famous football players are routinely subject to drug testing, opens the door for expanding such testing to other parts of the population—particularly high school and college students. It reinforces the message that a person's body is ultimately the property of the state."
    Related Topic: American Football
    The Price of Empire, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Apr 2006
    Discusses U.S drug warriors' unfruitful efforts to eradicate coca production in some Andean countries and the consequent migration of cultivation elsewhere
    "Why is the U.S. government bent on destroying the coca crops of innocent Andean farmers? The drug warriors will say that the crop eventually ends up on the streets of America in the form of cocaine. People in Latin America can't understand why they are scapegoats for the American demand for drugs."
    Related Topics: Imperialism, Peru
    The Secret State, by Carl Oglesby, 19 Dec 1991
    Details various events from the dismantling of the Office of Strategic Services after World War II to the 1991 death of Danny Casolaro, which Oglesby said are reason to be worried about "a secret and invisible state within the public state"
    "... our last two examples, one of which is that of the still emerging scandal around the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. ... One fascinating aspect of the BCCI scandal is that it may at last supply us with the final solution of one of the outstanding riddles of the last decades—namely, why does the government insist on keeping drugs illegal since any fool can see that the only result of this is to keep the price of drugs high? Could this be because it is the secret elements of the Government—The CIA, the NSC, the Enterprise—that is actually selling them?"
    The War on Drugs: Seen vs. the Unseen, by Angela Dills, 26 Oct 2015
    Discusses the drug war in the context of Bastiat's essay "What is Seen and What is Unseen"
    "The Drug War is used to justify civil asset forfeiture and restrictions on medicinal uses of drugs. It is the likely driving force behind the militarization of police and discourages addicts from seeking treatment. Michele Alexander points to the Drug War as the New Jim Crow, decimating African American communities. Prohibition diverts resources from more productive uses and encourages the infringement of civil liberties. Legalizing and medicalizing marijuana has not led to large increases in its consumption .... It has, in fact, led to reductions in traffic fatalities, suicide rates, and probably homicide and assault rates ..."
    Related Topics: Moral Liberty, Prohibition
    The War On Drugs Is Lost, by William F. Buckley Jr., Steven B. Duke, Joseph D. McNamara, Ethan A. Nadelmann, Kurt Schmoke, Robert W. Sweet, Thomas Szasz, National Review, 12 Feb 1996
    Symposium with essays from William F. Buckley Jr., drug policy researcher Ethan A. Nadelmann, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, former chief of police Joseph D. McNamara, judge Robert W. Sweet, psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and law professor Steven B. Duke
    "We are speaking of a plague that consumes an estimated $75 billion per year of public money, exacts an estimated $70 billion a year from consumers, is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the million Americans who are today in jail ... I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession [lawyers] would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors."
    Thoughts on Freedom - Politics and Prohibition: It Wasn't American Protest That Ended Alcohol Prohibition, by Donald J. Boudreaux, The Freeman, Mar 2002
    Explains why, based on the story of alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition will not end solely on the realization of policy failure and side effects such as gang violence
    "Apart from its immorality, the war on drugs has been too costly from its inception. This 'war' has long consumed billions upon billions of dollars' worth of resources, all spent with no discernable positive impact. Indeed, the only clear impact of the drug war has been a repulsive trampling of freedoms. Asset forfeitures, government espionage on its own citizens, and racial profiling are just the most blatant attacks on our freedoms unleashed by the war on drugs."
    Related Topic: Prohibition
    Time to Rethink the War on Drugs, by David Boaz, Future of Freedom, Oct 1999
    Lists several effects of drug prohibition and suggests using some common sense regarding drug legalization
    "It's time for some common sense about the war on drugs. More than $30 billion is being spent annually on the drug war. One and a half million people are being arrested every year. But 78 million people say they have tried drugs, and 80% of teenagers say drugs are easy to obtain ... the war on drugs has been a tragic failure ... drug prohibition creates high levels of crime ... drug prohibition channels more than $40 billion a year into the criminal underworld ... prohibition is a classic example of throwing money at a problem. The federal government spends some $16 billion to enforce the drug laws every year – all to no avail."
    Tommy Chong Will Be Free In Prison, by Debra McCorkle, 16 Sep 2003
    Describes and comments on Chong's earlier career and on his arrest and conviction for selling drug paraphernalia
    "Because of the court's refusal to accept this devil's bargain to turn Tommy Chong into another horrible Just Say No advertising shill for the Partnership for a Drug Free America, Chong is a free man. For the mere price of nine months in jail, he can spend the rest of his life as a hero for libertarian ideals. He doesn't have to kiss John Ashcroft's ass. He doesn't have to be a liar and a hypocrite."
    War on Drugs Taking People to New Lows, by Dimitri Vassilaros, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 14 Mar 2000
    Discusses a plan by Allegheny County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. to create a "nationwide drug intelligence network"
    "Has a bag of marijuana ever been arrested, handcuffed, arraigned, tried, convicted and then incarcerated? Are you at war with inanimate objects such as a joint, bong or syringe? If not, then the War on Drugs is really the War on People. ... Police are the foot soldiers in this War on People. District attorneys are further up the chain of command."
    What the Martha Stewart Case Means to You, by Harry Browne, 5 Mar 2004
    Examines the Martha Stewart insider trading case, including juror and prosecutor comments after the guilty verdict
    "Anyone can be grist for a prosecutor's conviction record. The Drug War has provided a bonanza for U.S. attorneys. Getting a conviction on drug charges is a slam-dunk. The defendant doesn't have to have dealt drugs or even to have used them. Just charge him, scare him to death, and get him to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Or promise someone a lighter sentence if he'll name other people (with no concern for the guilt or innocence of the other people). The November Coalition has documented scores of these cases. For one example, look what happened to Debbie Vineyard."
    Related Topics: Founding Fathers, Rule of Law
    Will You Be Safer If Guns Are Banned? Part 2, by Jarret Wollstein, Future of Freedom, Aug 1994
    Examines the potential consequences of U.S. nationwide gun prohibition, based on what happened with alcohol prohibition and the war on drugs
    "America's experience with alcohol prohibition and the war on drugs shows us what to expect as guns are banned: lucrative and lawless black markets in guns and ammunition will develop, dominated by violent criminal gangs. ... Gun prohibition will ultimately require gun confiscation and a war on guns, which will surely be even more bloody than the war on drugs. The violence we have witnessed between police and drug dealers is nothing compared to the violence you will see when police try to confiscate people's guns. ... The war on drugs has established the legal precedents for expanding such paramilitary attacks."


    Stand-Up Guy: Comedian Drew Carey on network censors, Hollywood guilt, and why he likes eating at Bob's Big Boy, by Nick Gillespie, Drew Carey, Steve Kurtz, Reason, Nov 1997
    Topics range from Hollywood reactions to Carey's humor, his attitude toward government, the ABC network censor, Las Vegas, drug legalization and more
    "Reason: I take it you favor drug legalization?
    Carey: Yeah. But every time you bring that up, people always ask, "Oh, you think they should sell heroin and crack in stores?" Sure: Smoke crack, die, get out of my way. As long as I don't have to pay for it (laughs). There's always the argument that not everyone is as responsible as you are, that we have to protect everyone from people who would smoke crack and not be responsible. Like we're doing now, right? Liquor prohibition led to the rise of organized crime in America, and drug prohibition has led to the rise of the gang problems we have now."

    Cartoons and Comic Strips

    You're under arrest for the possesion of narcotics, by Parker and Hart, 26 Jun 2013


    Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America
        by Ted Galen Carpenter, 2003
    Partial contents: Thirty Years of Failure - Forging the Bad Neighbor Policy - Escalating and Militarizing the Drug War - Plan Colombia - A Mix of Flawed Strategies - Washington's "Ugly-American" Tactics - Reaping the Whirlwind - Mexico: The Next Colombia?
    Related Topic: Latin America
    Friedman and Szasz on Liberty and Drugs: Essays on the Free Market and Prohibition
        by Milton Friedman, Thomas Szasz, 1992
    Includes excerpts from Free to Choose: A Personal Statement and The Tyranny of the Status Quo by Milton Friedman and Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers by Thomas Szasz
    Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use
        by Jacob Sullum, May 2003
    Contents: The Silent Majority - Chemical Reactions - Strong Drink - Going Nowhere - Crazy, Man - Random Sex Acts - Killer Drugs - Too Good - Body and Soul - Managing Moderation - Notes - Bibliography


    Penn's Obama Rant, by Penn Jillette, Penn's Sunday School, 19 May 2012
    Penn talks about Obama's admission of using "marijuana and maybe a little blow"
    Related Topic: Barack Obama

    The Cost of the War on Drugs, by Foundation for Economic Education, 17 Jun 2011
    Presents facts about the costs, economic and human, of the war on drugs, 40 years after Pres. Nixon declared having "turned the corner on drug addiction" in the U.S.

    The High and the Mighty: The War on Drugs, by Milton Friedman, Uncommon Knowledge, 2000
    A debate between Milton Friedman and Peter Wilson, former governor of California, about drug prohibition

    The War on Drugs: A War on Ourselves?, by John Stossel, 30 Jul 2002
    ABC News special; includes police baiting, the unintended consequences of prohibition, the drug war in Colombia, right to choose, hard drugs and legalization in Europe and the U.S.

    The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "War on drugs" as of 20 Jul 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.