Skip to comments.A Smart Conservative Position on War on Drugs
Posted on 12/16/2012 5:35:02 AM PST by Kaslin
"Mandatory sentences breed injustice," Judge Roger Vinson told the New York Times. A Ronald Reagan appointee to the federal bench in Florida, Vinson was railing against a federal system that forced him to sentence a 27-year-old single mother to prison life without parole because her dealer ex-boyfriend had stored cocaine in her house.
Note to D.C. Republicans: This would be a great time to take on the excesses of the war on drugs.
The Times was writing about conservatives, including Jeb Bush and former Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson, who advocate for smarter, more humane incarceration policies under the rubric "Right on Crime." In light of the GOP's need to woo more young voters, drug-war reforms offer an ideological good -- limited government -- and also might be politically savvy. Think: Ron Paul and his rock star status on college campuses.
Two areas cry for immediate action.
One: Sentencing reform. The single mother, Stephanie George, had prior drug convictions, which contributed to her draconian prison term. Even she says that she deserved to do time, but not the rest of her natural life.
What's more, her costly incarceration won't do anything to dry up the nation's drug supply or scare kingpins straight. Career dealers, like George's ex-boyfriend, who was released five years ago, know how to game the system and reduce their sentences by testifying against amateurs and patsies who think they can win at trial. As the judge explained, the guiltiest parties "get reduced sentences, while the small fry, the little workers who don't have that information, get the mandatory sentences."
When the federal government imprisons small-time criminals for life, the system grows too costly and too ineffective. It embodies the definition of big government. University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt found that American penal policies decreased crime in the 1990s. Since then, incarceration rates have risen so steeply that Levitt told the Times he now thinks that the prison population -- more than 2 million people are in prison or jail -- could be reduced by a third. If he's even half right, Washington should act.
President Obama was critical of mandatory minimums before he was elected to the White House. But he has failed to use his presidential power to pardon as he should. Obama has commuted only one sentence to date, and right now, a commutation is George's only hope of release.
Julie Stewart, who founded Families Against Mandatory Minimums, knows Democratic and Republican politicians who have issues with the war on drugs. Congress should not wait on the White House to enact sentencing reform; GOP members should lead the way.
Two: Marijuana. Though the Obama administration has rewarded sanctuary cities that choose to flout federal immigration law, the Obama Department of Justice has had a no-sanctuary approach to medical-marijuana dispensaries in states where voters have legalized medical use. In California, U.S. attorneys have gone to extremes, seizing assets without prosecuting dispensaries and suing landlords who aren't even distributing the drug.
In November, Washington and Colorado voted to legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., opposed the Colorado measure, but he supports the Respect States' and Citizens' Rights Act of 2012, which would exempt states with medical or recreational marijuana laws from the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Is Coffman ahead of Obama?
The administration has announced no policy change. Talking to ABC on Friday, Obama reiterated his 2008 view that arresting recreational users should not be a priority and said he does not support legalizing marijuana "at this point."
Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell is not impressed. "The federal government rarely goes after individual users," he noted in a statement. "The real question is whether the Obama administration will try to prevent voter-approved marijuana sales systems from being enacted or if they will force individual users to buy marijuana from the black market, where much of the profits go to cartels and gangs that kill people." And: The executive branch should reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.
"We want to put away the bad guys," former California GOP Assembly leader Pat Nolan, who served time in federal prison and now works for the Prison Justice Fellowship, stressed, but the federal system no longer is limited to hard time for hard crimes. Still, Nolan sees more conservative support for sentencing reform on the state level than on Capitol Hill.
It's time for a change. Smart conservatives should fight for government that works and an end to laws that do not. Compassionate conservatives must stand against laws that are harder on small fish than career criminals. Fiscal conservatives should oppose the policies that burn dollars without promoting public safety. Constitutional conservatives should stand up for states' rights.
And young conservatives instinctively understand this.
Not only that, I think it's a states' issue anyway. I'd like to see where the Constitution delegates authority to the federal government to allow its "War on Drugs."
Having said that the government is causing more harm than good in their “War on Drugs”, I must say that not enough people understand how harmful marijuana is. Marijuana causes psychosis in one form or another. It creates paranoia and attacks the central nervous system. Some people appear more affected than others, but it is a very harmful psychedelic drug.
I think that a huge blow could be made against marijuana in a simple way: legalize, even encourage the industrial production of hemp.
Female marijuana plants are grown for the drug THC found in the resins they produce to catch pollen. Thus marijuana farmers cull all the male plants, because when a female plant is fertilized, they stop producing resin.
Even so, male marijuana pollen is so pervasive right now, that better drug quality female marijuana plants have to be grown indoors to keep them away from it.
Female hemp, however, while of the same species as marijuana, produces just trace amounts of THC in its resin, but male plants still produce vast amounts of pollen.
So if hemp production is legalized, there will be such enormous amounts of hemp pollen in the air that even indoors it will get to the female marijuana plants. Thus the quality and potency of the marijuana will significantly drop.
But there is a huge bonus beyond even this, because hemp is a tremendously versatile crop, producing a very high quality paper superior to wood pulp paper, *and* also very fine fabric similar to silk.
Hemp does not need prime farmland, either, just marginal land, with minimal irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide.
All told, wide scale hemp production in the US would be worth billions of dollars every year and employ tens of thousands of workers, directly and indirectly. And instead of grinding up good trees to make wood pulp, they could be used for much more valuable lumber.
TL;DR - Reduce marijuana potency, while creating a new industry and making billions of dollars.
On it's face, it's a great idea. Attack narco-traffickers, growers at the source in an attempt to limit drugs entering America and on to the streets.
Then on the local level, hunt down distributors and traffickers from the user up in an attempt to curb drug activity.
Problem being, it's been a miserable failure. All these tax dollars simply evaporate in a never ending battle.
The federal government never really stepping in to do what is needed to stem the flow of drugs into America through the southern border, choosing instead to leave the border wide open.
Having this conversation, it's difficult to bring out the blatant hypocrisy of legislators when it comes to their selective enforcement of drugs.
We have a drug on our streets that is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths over the decades and it is absolutely legal......Alcohol.
I'm not advocating a new prohibition on Alcohol, but it does beg a few questions. One of which would be, why does the government allow legal consumption of alcohol when there is countless studies on the ill effects of this drug on society, on individual health and our families?
I think it's time to rethink this multi-billion dollar debacle known as the war on drugs.
Wrong! This perpetrator is three times the danger to the community than the dealer:
(1) She makes her home a safe base for the drug culture, thus infecting the community;
(2) She brings the drug culture home to infect her children, thus multiplying the future tolerance and spreading it; and
(3) She plays on the misplaced compassion of the bleeding hearts of the liberal, already drug-tolerant members of both the neighbors and of the law/justice segment.
In this, she needs twice the sentence, and perhaps death as a fitting cure and warning to her family and the community (same as though she drove negligently and caused disability and her own death); and the judge who would diminish rather than increase her penalty should be fired, perhapas jailed.
That can be a start on taking the conquering of a life of drug adventuring seriously. She did not heed the warnings of her first misadventures, and the justice system did not cause her to treat the drug life as a red-hot iron and forsake it.
To even consider the judge's attitude as viable means the general community does not take the drug problem seriously.
A number of people I have known, friends, family, co-workers have had their lives destroyed by drugs. Yet so many people think that they can sit around and get high and it will not happen to them... Anybody that manufactures, imports or distributes quanties of illegal drugs should get a fast track trial, appeal,and excecution.... Dealers (indirectly) kill hundreds, enslave thousands and cause half of the crime in this land. But when they get caught only get 5 to 8 years in prison.....Make their trade to dangerous to persue...
Vin Suprynowicz, in his book “Send in the Waco Killers”, noted that before Prohibition was passed, everyone understood and agreed that the prohibition of alcohol would be unconstitutional without a Constitutionall Amendment.
But, after the FDR years of alphabet agencies and regulations, even as Prohibition was being repealed, there was no Constitutional issues raised when Congress passed the drug prohibition laws.
Very true. I love the look on my friends’ faces when I asked them why booze needed a constitutional amendment, but drugs didn’t. Thanks in part to Scalia, interstate commerce trumps all now.
It is naive to think that the current body of drug laws will be changed, except to entrench it.
The money involved(in the 100s of billions) flows through the accounts of well-connected people who use all the devices of American Beltway influence to ensure their outlaw monopoly.
Bribes in the millions are mere nuisances to these untaxed lords of dope.
This is regulatory capture like no other. It will last as long as the progressive Roosevelt-launched American socialist regime lasts.
And that is unknowable.
People who use illegal drugs to escape reality are cowards. Don’t like your reality? Change it. No culture values cowardice. Smoking choom to escape reality is just running away from reality, and ultimately, reality is still there ,just waiting for you. We don’t need more cowards in this country. Blowing weed changes nothing except moving money from your wallet to a Grifter drug dealer’s pockets. Legalize it, and create more cowards. And cowards are afraid of reality and they want someone to protect them from reality and there stands the Democrat party saying, “Here. Here. We understand. We know you’re afraid. Just give us some money and your vote, and we’ll take care of you.” Nope. We don’t need more frightened Democrats.
All good points you make here, the Constitution was written on hemp and the WW1 uniforms were crafted from hemp, we need hemp production here in Oregon to create jobs.
“People who use illegal drugs to escape reality are cowards. Dont like your reality? Change it. No culture values cowardice. Smoking choom to escape reality is just running away from reality, and ultimately, reality is still there ,just waiting for you. We dont need more cowards in this country. Blowing weed changes nothing except moving money from your wallet to a Grifter drug dealers pockets. Legalize it, and create more cowards. And cowards are afraid of reality and they want someone to protect them from reality and there stands the Democrat party saying, Here. Here. We understand. We know youre afraid. Just give us some money and your vote, and well take care of you. Nope. We dont need more frightened Democrats.”
You post what is essentially the same argument in every marijuana thread. Please find one enumerated power in the Constitution that supports your views that the federal government has been granted the authority by the people to conduct the war on drugs or interfere in the personal lives of its citizens who choose to use drugs.
If an individual seeks to temporarily live in an alternate reality, be it drug induced, alcohol induced, through reading a book or watching a movie what business is it of yours or, more importantly, the federal government?
When you keep using the word “cowardice.” To quote Inigo Montoya (from a fantasy movie many millions viewed to escape reality, btw): “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
“should get a fast track trial, appeal,and excecution”
That’s what they did in China many years ago, just executed them if they were found in possession.
Maybe you would be happier living over there in China instead of in the U.S.
I agree with you on both points: the federal government should get out of it and let the states decide, and if it were up to me in my state, it would be legal. BUT . . . it’s also true that not enough people understand the dangers of marijuana. In a way, the two are related though. Alcohol and tobacco are legal and marijuana is classified in the same category as heroin and cocaine. At some point, every teenager is going to find out that in fact marijuana is not nearly as dangerous as heroin and cocaine, so then having been “lied to” by all levels of government, they figure it’s probably not dangerous at all. But that’s not true either, and it can become a problem.
As between government by rock-star (which we have right now) and good government by good laws, I'll take the latter instead.
Oh, you want to get over on the doper vote? Yeah, that'll work. Remember what happened to China in the 19th century, when the mandarinate was wrecked by opium and China lost her independence to the drug dealers.
Saunders is a whore and a troll.
Yeah, because it's a good argument, and a true one.
Please find one enumerated power in the Constitution that supports your views ....
Oh, is that your complaint? Okay, let's say arguendo that there was no federal law, but all 57 States had strong laws against the evil weed and all its psychotropic cohort. You'd still bitch, wouldn't you? Because you wanna smoke dope, and by God it's your right to smoke dope, and nobody's gonna tell you different! Who the hell is North Dakota/Illinois/Ohio to tell me I can't ingest/smoke/inject the sacred mushroom, the virtuous hemp-seed, the noble Afghan black, the mighty horse?
Get over yourself. You're just the online equivalent of a crack ho.
Yeah, Woody, that'll wreck 'em.
And meanwhile you'll be running around out there having a great time getting wrecked.
So where do you find it in the Constitution for the feds to regulate intrastate marijuana policies?