US News & World Report: ‘Is It Time To Scale Back The War On Drugs?’

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 10, 2012

    The editors at US News & World Report are asking the question, ‘Is it time to scale back the war on drugs?’ They’ve assembled a round-table of participants to respond.

    Arguing in favor politics as usual are Kevin Sabet, former Senior Policy Adviser to President Obama’s Drug Czar and David Evans, Special Adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation. Predictably, neither author’s platitudes are resonating with US News readers. (Both Evans and Sabet have only 15 ‘up’ votes combined, versus some 650 ‘down’ votes.)

    Myself, Aaron Houston (Executive Director: Students for Sensible Drug Policy), and Neill Franklin (Executive Director: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) take the opposite approach — and are much better received.

    You can read an excerpt from my commentary below:

    “It’s time for politicians to call for a truce in the so-called war on drugs. According to a 2010 investigation by the Associated Press, lawmakers have spent over $1 trillion dollars enforcing the drug war. Their actions have resulted in a quadrupling of the U.S. prison population since 1980, but little else. In fact, according to America’s present drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, “in the grand scheme, [the drug war] has not been successful.”

    Least successful among the government’s drug war policies is its long-standing criminalization of marijuana. Since 1970, over 21 million U.S. citizens have been cited or arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet despite this vigorous criminal enforcement, over 100 million Americans—including the president—acknowledge having consumed cannabis, and 1 in 10 admits using it regularly. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t dissuaded the general public from consuming cannabis or reduced its availability, especially among young people. But it has damaged the lives and careers of millions of people who were arrested and sanctioned for choosing to ingest a substance that is safer than alcohol or tobacco.

    … Despite more than 70 years of federal prohibition, marijuana is here to stay. Let’s acknowledge this reality, cease ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises, and put it in the hands of licensed businesses.”

    Click here to read all of the round-table submissions and to cast your vote.

    35 responses to “US News & World Report: ‘Is It Time To Scale Back The War On Drugs?’”

    1. Anonymous says:

      Love it

    2. TheOracle says:

      Wonderful. However, someone has got to get through to the Latin American leaders, read as Mr. Peña Nieto as the most important, that when U.S. citizens talk about supporting legalization that is only cannabis. Polls to not indicate support for outright legalization. I’m trying to get through to folks here in Mexico that that is what the American people will support, along the lines of Dutch style harm reduction with treatment and possibly in some cities and states there being support for safe injection rooms. Of course, methodone programs, etc. and other strategies along the lines of what Trimbos Instituut would advocate. The money Mexico is wasting on keeping marijuana from getting to the States could be used for badly needed economic development. If the money is ultimately coming from the U.S. then the U.S. could put it to better use to modernize more parts of Mexico.

      My two cents

    3. Don says:

      There were indications from Obama that he would Re-Evaluate the “War on Drugs” in his supposed second term, All I have to say is BULLSHIT! He said that to help him get elected in the first place then threw us ALL under the Bus! If he wants people to assure him another 4 years – He better do it BEFORE the Election, Otherwise I see him NOT getting another term, What really sucks is Romney is not any better, As a matter of fact, He would crack down MORE and most likely try to close down ALL Medical Cannabis outlets, Regardless of individual State Laws passed by the VOTERS, End the INSANITY and Re-Legalize Cannabis NOW!!! WOW, 2012 – A real choice here, Between Dumb and Dumber.

    4. Joel: the other Joel says:

      The Nixon’s legacy of hate and revenge to those who disagree with him must end.

      Save the United States!

    5. joe says:

      this country is broken record with regards to are leaders they are not gowing to listen to the people of this country.who do we vote for the are both sticking there hands in the deep pockets of big pharma america has always been for sale.

    6. claygooding says:

      Obama has a “get out of jail free card”” in the ASA hearing,,if it occurs before election and the 9th District Federal Court rules in favor of their petition,,since the decision by this Court cannot be ignored as they did when Judge Young ruled against the DEA’s refusal to change the scheduling of cannabis.

      Re-scheduling cannabis and taking the DEA/NIDA out of control of the studies being allowed and they’re furnishing dirt weed for any studies will result in legalization.

      There are no “bad laws” they can write against marijuana that won’t eventually be “fixed”,,just keep spreading the knowledge and the herb,,it’s gotten us this far and it will take us the rest of the way.

    7. Galileo Galilei says:


      I agree about better spending the money to encourage economic development in Mexico. This could relieve some of the pressure driving illegal immigration. The Drug War has destabilized northern Mexico, a region right along our very border. Lawless areas like this are inviting to terrorists. The only good news I see is that the drug cartels are not likely to be particularly welcoming to any group whose goal is to destroy their lucrative market, ie the good old USofA.

    8. Ol Smoky says:

      So this has long been a question of mine: Does NORML also support the decrim of other harder drugs. I ask because though its clearly foolish to be anti pot as it is harmless, in the 90s i had alot to with meth and i still feel it should be illegal fully. Maybe even jailable. Its bad hoo-doo. So does norml feel cocaine and others should have the same treatment as pot?