Skip to comments.Tancredo Says It's Time To Legalize Drugs; Former Congressman Says Drug War Lost
Posted on 05/21/2009 10:27:30 PM PDT by rabscuttle385
DENVER -- Admitting that it may be "political suicide" former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo said its time to consider legalizing drugs.
He spoke Wednesday to the Lincoln Club of Colorado, a Republican group that's been active in the state for 90 years. It's the first time Tancredo has spoken on the drug issue. He ran for president in 2008 on an anti-illegal immigration platform that has brought him passionate support and criticism.
Tancredo noted that he has never used drugs, but said the war has failed.
"I am convinced that what we are doing is not working," he said.
(Excerpt) Read more at thedenverchannel.com ...
There’s too much money involved. Each doper in jail is 20,000+ out of the tax payer’s pocket. Not to mention all the government and corporate bureaucracy that the war on drugs brings in on your dime. Add no knock warrents etc... and the war on drugs is too good a scam to quit.
Three of my friends are LEOs, two are sheriff's deputies, and one a suburban municipal cop, all in disparate areas of the country... All of them tell me the very same thing wrt crack/meth. Burglaries and petty thefts increase exponentially as users increase. This is extremely easy to see in rural areas where crime is rather low prior to the arrival of "kitchens" in the area.
They have no reason to lie to me, or to promote any propaganda. I also know the local LEOs pretty well, and the local street. Without a doubt, it is the users jonzin' for a fix that are behind most of the theft here.
And sitting here, I can think of five kids I know personally who have become "drug zombies"... One particularly who had her two children illegitimately (at age 15), and then lost them to the state because she was not capable of caring for them because she was stoned out of her mind all the time. She has been convicted twice of felony theft and B&E, and also illegally selling prescription narcotics... all to support her meth habit.
All of the kids I am talking about were great kids - Bright, out-going, full of life. All were above average in grades until they hit the party scene. All of them now have illegitimate children, and have been through detox at least once, have utterly destroyed themselves and their families, and of them all, only one has a chance in hell of turning it around, and that is a small chance at that.
You may cry BS all you like, but the impact of drugs on this country is deep and wide, and I dare say you will find it hard to find a single family anywhere that has not been damaged by drug abuse in a very intimate way. It is insidious and pervasive, and is not limited to the user, ever.
True, drugs are self punishing. I don’t see why I should be taxed for yet another big government program that is ineffective.
Some cities have under 50% arrest rates for murder, and of those, near 50% convictions for an effective 25% conviction rate for murder. I wouldn’t doubt that rape, break ins, auto thefts are in the 10% rate.
It would be better if those crimes where solved at higher rates.
Drugs are an easy, make work, time eating event for the many town and city union security bureaucracies. Not to mention part of the Lawyer Income Support Act.
Libertarians are very anti welfare state, not only seeing it as corrupting of the welfare ‘clients’, but no one has the right to take from you and your kids and give it to another, and also the political control the government welfare industry has over people. Entire cities are now human welfare farms who’s main reason for existence is to supply urban voters to state and federal Democrat politicians.
If the gov't can't keep drugs out of maximum security prisons, they'll never be able to keep them off the street.
That said, drugs are harmful to individuals who rely on their mind to survive... who don't have the claws and teeth of tigers or the agility of the gazelle. Taking drugs is analogous to pulling the tigers' teeth and breaking the gazelles' legs.
About five years ago I was superving remodeling a waterfront estate. I had a few white homeless guys that cleaned up, lumped, did grunt work.
I was driving them back to their ‘camp’ and asked them if they wanted a 12 pack of beer. They said no thanks, they were getting meth and heroin cheaper than beer.
This was five years ago. State and Federal are doubling the taxes, at least, on beer, wine, spirits.
It is getting to the point that illegal drugs are less expensive than legal drugs.
In Massachusetts a carton of Marlboro’s have gone from 25$ to 75$ and soon 90$
Oregon has proposed doubling the cost of beer. Not doubling the tax, the cost. So too yesterday Senator Grassly (R) proposed doubling the federal alcohol tax. Look for a PBR to cost 5$ in a bar.
Fatty foods and lack of exercise are harmful to the health of productive individuals. The government has no right to tell me what to eat or when or how much to exercise. My body, my choice.
Please. Law enforcement is the least reliable entity. Their jobs depend on the War on Drugs. There are certainly people who ruin their lives on drugs, but people ruin their lives on bunches of other stuff too. And guess what, it's their lives to ruin.
>> ...drugs are harmful to individuals who rely on their mind to survive
> Fatty foods and lack of exercise are harmful to the health of productive individuals. The government has no right to tell me what to eat or when or how much to exercise. My body, my choice.
Look. I implied the validity of your former statement by saying that the gov’t can’t even keep drugs out of prisons. My point on the effect of drugs on one’s mind/reason was just to show that it isn’t prudent to use drugs if you want to maximize your survival. And yes, it’s not prudent to harm your body either... and yes, it is your choice, as long as the rights of others are not violated. A very stupid choice, imo, but yours nonetheless.
Tancredo’s right...time to legalize it...it will bring the prices down leading to less crime (fewer break-ins and robberies by addicts) and put the narco-terrorists out of business..oh yeah, also generate some taxes
My point was that I know these men personally. They have no reason to lie to *me* in our conversations, and they do not know each other. Yet their stories are remarkable in their similarity. I dare say *any* cop would have a similar story to tell. The ones I know would say that drugs are involved in almost every aspect of their work, and without the influence of narcotics (incl. alcohol), most of the nasty crap they see every day would not happen.
There are certainly people who ruin their lives on drugs, but people ruin their lives on bunches of other stuff too. And guess what, it's their lives to ruin.
So who picks up the pieces? Who accounts for the broken homes, the bastard children with no supervision, the next generation, who will only be worse than the first? What about the muggings and robberies, the victims of those, and their families? What about flop-houses burning to the ground, taking other buildings with them? It is not as simple as *their* lives alone. The impact of the drug user goes out like ripples in a pond.
One will only increase the welfare state by leaps and bounds by your solution, along with a spiraling crime rate, which is the precise reason opiates and cocaine were outlawed/controlled in most states early on - We've been there, and done that.
I've been known to be a gamblin' man, but will not make that bet. It's a lose/lose.
I dont see why I should be taxed for yet another big government program that is ineffective.
I don't like being taxed for much of anything. I don't like paying insurance for socialized risk. We pay for individuals who wittingly/unwittingly attack/cause damage to themselves in a myriad of ways or cause damage to others. I don't like paying for any (through police or medical or firefighters or insurance) irrational, anti-self behavior.
Prohibition kills effective regulation. Do you see illegal liquor stores on the block where the meth labs are? No, because licensed establishments can be told where to locate. Do you see crime waves carried out by drunks who need a fix? No, because they can obtain their drug legally, and have a disincentive to break the law. Meth addicts are already criminals by virtue of their addiction, so that line is already crossed.
Prohibition also makes rehabilitation more difficult if not impossible, first by making addicts afraid to seek treatment for fear of getting busted, and then by sucking up all the available funding for law enforcement, leaving none for rehab.
The kids you know who are addicts -- obviously, the threat of prison hasn't kept them from becoming addicts. Would imprisonment help them kick? Maybe, but it usually doesn't. If the goal is to prevent addiction, it certainly would help to devote resources to -- wait for it -- helping addicts, rather than devoting unlimited resources to punishing them and treating rehab as an afterthought.
Buy that doesn't mean you legalize them, you change the way you are fighting the war. Look into 19th century China, when about 1/2 the population was addicted to opium. Not a pretty picture.
"By 1900, about one American in 200 was either a cocaine or opium addict."
"There were an estimated 980,000 hardcore heroin addicts in the United States in 1999, 50 percent more than the estimated 630,000 hardcore addicts in 1992."
"Among those using cocaine in the United States during 2000, 3.6 million were hardcore users who spent more than $36 billion on the drug in that year."
The US population in 2000 was about 280,000,000. So according to the DOJ, the combined addiction rate was about 1.6% in 2000 vs 0.5% in 1900.
Where in the constitution specifically does it say the federal government can ban murder?
So long as you will accept that banning murder is a legitimate federal interest, I will go with that as an assumption.
Presumably, the right to legislate punishment for crimes against others comes from the principle that people’s persons are legitimate objects of protection, and that the government can protect a person’s life.
Some would argue that this power of government would naturally extend to harm against one’s own life, the most obvious example being a law against suicide. Many otherwise good limited-government conservatives support a law against suicide, but I won’t argue from that basis.
So the question is, can the government legislate against a behavior that can clearly be linked to harm against OTHERS, even if there is not a certainty of that harm?
To explain: I’ll assume you are OK with government passing a law saying you cannot drive the wrong way on a one-way street. What gives government that right? because driving the wrong way puts other people in danger. Now, you could well drive the wrong way and be good enough at it that you do not hurt anybody. But we know that allowing people to drive the wrong way increases the changes of hurting people.
Well, we also know that recreational drug users do increase the risk of harm to others. Many do not, but some do. Just as many speeders don’t cause accidents, but some do, and some drunk drivers don’t cause accidents, but some do, and some people building large explosive devices in their homes don’t ever blow things up, but some do.
The courts have generally taken a position in these cases that government can act if the rights they are limiting are less severe than the gain from the limitations.
Now, if you believe government has no right to regulate drunk driving, shooting guns in your back yard, driving the wrong way down the street, or dropping pennies from the empire state building, you could well argue government has no right to limit recreational drug use either.
Instead, you could argue that we should only punish people for ACTUAL harm. So the drunk driver gets punished if they hit another car or destroy someone else’s property, the penny-dropper only gets prosecuted if they hit someone, you can shoot guns anywhere and only go to jail if you actually harm someone else, you can let your pit-bull run free so long as it doesn’t attack another person.
But it is not required by the libertarian philosophy that actual harm be done before something can be controlled by government, just that the government be limited in the application of it’s power to protect people from one another.
If there was a way to legalize drugs and ensure that those taking drugs would do no harm to anybody else, I would entertain the argument that the government would have no constitutional authority to do otherwise. I would note though that laws such as this were on the books at the time our country was founded, so it is clear the founders themselves did not see “limited government” in the same light.
Now, if we restrict our argument to the federal government, I think a strong argument can be made that, so long as the drugs to not cross the borders, or any state border, that the feds have no authority to regulate their use. But the STATES could still make drugs illegal.
I have no doubt people of reason can rationally take a different position than this, but that is my quick take on a justification for making certain recreational drugs illegal.
Why can the government regulate food? Well, I guess so that the food companies do not harm others. But that wouldn’t allow them to ban foods they don’t think are good for us, or that hurt us but in known ways. Except the government did that with artificial sweeteners.
Now, I would argue that for society to work, the people in the society have to be of sound mind, and that using drugs is therefore a harm to the common society that we all depend upon for our liberty. However, that doesn’t mean government has a right to do anything about it — it just means that I can argue that, if government is ALLOWED to regulate drugs, they SHOULD do so for the good of society, at least so far as harm to society can be reasonably predicted from the use of a drug.
But since we allow people to drink, and being drunkards harms society, that isn’t really the only rationalization being used.
I welcome a serious debate on the topic, I simply disagree with Tom’s argument that “we aren’t winning the war, therefore we should surrender”.
If you have a statement to make, I would urge you to make it.
I’m not going to debate each of you on the subject.
If Tom’s argument was “it doesn’t matter that drugs are bad, we have no constitutional authority to stop them”, then your response to me would be a good one.
But Tom was arguing that “we haven’t won the war, so we should surrender”, and for THAT argument my response is that you don’t surrender simply because your current approach isn’t working, you stop the war if there is no good reason to WANT to win the war.
BTW, regardless of whether drugs can constitutionally be criminalized, I think the government has EVERY RIGHT under the constitution to be CONCERNED about illegal drugs. There are things government can do short of making something illegal, and I don’t think many of the “legalization” supporters are saying government should simply eliminate all the laws on the books about drugs.
If it would be OK with you constititutionally for government to regulate, control, and tax drugs, then you are saying government has a legitimate concern about the issue.
Tancredo has done some nutty things in the past. Add another inane statement to the tally.
If the cost of the war exceeds the benefit of the war then it is not only a good argument, it’s the moral thing to do.
IF that were true, we would oppose laws that kept mental patients from getting guns, blind people and drunk people from driving cars, people driving heavy equipment without a license, and a host of other laws that restrict what free people can do NOT because of direct harm, but simply because of an INCREASED POTENTIAL for harm. Now, if you actually do oppose any law that restricts people's actions unless those actions lead to actual harm, you would be consistant in applying that belief to drugs. But you would be wrong to suggest that such laws would be abhorrent to a free society -- the argument generally isn't whether we can restrict activities that have potential for harm to others, but instead at what degree of potentiality we should set the bar. Otherwise, you would have no recourse if someone built a meth lab in the apartment next to yours, unless it actually blew up and killed you.
I should think that what is happening in our country today would be clear enough evidence that what happens to society as a whole IS a great concern for individual liberties.
...Let’s hope so, I need a laugh. BTW, Bravo, Mr. Tancredo...
My 15 years and counting of law enforcement experience compels me to agree with Tancredo.
I agree with him.
There should be laws against forcing or tricking someone to take drugs, and laws against giving drugs to minors. There also should be strict laws against driving under the influence, etc., and drug addiction shouldn't be considered an excuse for committing a crime.
But, spending billions to save people - who are willingly buying and taking the drugs - from themselves doesn't make much sense.
Plus, economists point out that the WOD has led to harder drugs on the streets because it's far easier to sneak some powder across the border and around the streets than bags of marijuana, for example, and a smaller amount of powder can yield more money.
Bravo to Tom -- and to you -- for being honest about this!
People here are "shooting the messenger" because they don't like the message that "we've lost the war on drugs", however true it may be. On one hand, we say that we want "honest politicians", but on the other, we really hate it when politicians tell us what we don't want to hear.
The fact is that you can't save people from themselves -- if they want to get drugs, they will, and that's why there will always be "a drug trade" whether we like it or not. The only thing that the war on drugs has done has been to make that drug trade far more profitable and violent.
There is only so much violence that John Q Public is willing to tolerate on their streets to fight this "war" -- especially when we have tied the hands of law enforcement to do what's needed to ever win it.
It's a Catch 22 -- lose your civil rights to win a drug war, or lose a drug war to preserve your rights as citizens. Whatever potential we have to win one, loses us the other -- it isn't the way we wish it was, but it is the way it is. I'd rather admit losing the war on drugs, than I would sacrifice my rights as a citizen to the government -- it's a tough choice, but one that I ultimately must make.
Americans these days, apparently, have developed an affection for their chains.
good for him
***...as it has the right to regulate food and ethical drugs.***
Ending the prohibition on pot would hurt the two segments of our population that want to keep it illegal: 1) the black market players (growers/smuggler/sellers) that will lose profits if legal product was commercially available and 2) the law enforement agencies that would lose funding from the government and from property siezures and who would have to lay off thousands of officers because of the lack of work.
The rest of the country would benefit by reduction in prison populations, less expensive product negating criminal activity to fund a drug habit (prostitution, burglary,etc) and a government with a new revenue stream via pot taxes.
Article 1, section 8, clause 18.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3
Translation: "by the way, the federal government can do anything it wants"
We can thank Alexander Hamilton, great knee-pad wearer for limitless central government power, for corrupting the nascent US Constitution with these seeds of tyranny.
Thank God Aaron Burr extinguished that POS before he could do more damage.
(Lest someone accuse me of some burning hatred of "financiers" (generally a term today used as code to imply a rather tiresome charge of more mundane bigotry), I would remind all assembled that Hamilton gave us nationalized banking, Burr gave us two great American private banks)
You will note it reads, "the government has", not, "the government should have", and not, "the federal government has."
Once any government decides on prohibition, then they make a market black, i.e. with people willing to kill or go to jail because it is so profitable. Where's that black market profitability with underage alcohol drinking?
Only individual citizens have RIGHTS. Governments just have powers granted by the governed.
Of course it’s a failure, at least to its public stated purpose. However to some, it is a necessary failure.
I always wondered what allows people to have the illogical idea that alcohol, a drug, should be legal but “drugs” should be illegal. Especially a drug like pot, which is nowhere near as dangerous as booze.
At least someone who is also for alcohol prohibition is being intellectually consistent.
Once any government decides on prohibition, then they make a market black, i.e. with people willing to kill or go to jail because it is so profitable. Where's that black market profitability with underage alcohol drinking?
Let me elaborate. Just what's a kid? What's the age of majority that you have all the rights of an adult? This is tricky. Modern studies of brain imaging indicate that "Teen Brain Still Developing and Maturing to Mid 20s."
It's tricky because it's fairly arbitrary. What age do you pick for determining the cut-off ages for be able to legally marry, smoke or use tobacco, drink alcohol, vote, or becoming an infantryman? There's a reason for the root of the word infantry. It gets me when I hear stories about child soldiers that are obviously at least old teenagers.
What about statutory rape, or being tried as an adult? Those are just some of the problems with the "It's for the children," argument i.e. when should they be considered adults. I have trouble denying eighteen year old infantrymen any rights. I wish they couldn't vote until they were at least twenty five, but that's another story.
If it is found in nature, I would let them sell it like alcohol and tobacco, possibly with the exception of hallucinogens. If it is chemically processed and refined, then it would come under the juridiction of the DEA, FDA or both. Making opium and coca leaves illegal created the incentive to concentrate the active ingredients into heroin and cocaine.
That also created the incentive to inject drugss intravenously with all the attendant spread of viral and bacterial disease. The latter makes me believe in needle exchange programs, not just for the immediate costs to society of the intravenous drug abuser, but to the innocent victims that they infect with various forms of hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, etc. It's quite a list.
Taxing it like alcohol and tobacco will only become problematic when the taxes are so great that the government creates the temptation to just steal it and sell it relatively cheaply.
Only the left believes you can change human nature. Those who believe harsh penalties deter it can look at how chock full the prisons are. The war on some drugs is just a war on human nature, IMHO.
Thank you for expressing your alternate opinion. I read it and appreciate it.
Great post bump!
Don’t believe in police, firemen, medics as slaves to others.
So, don’t blame the taxes at the point of a sheriff’s gun on me.
So long as you have more than one person, you will have socialized risk in everything, indemnified or not
I’m with Tancredo on this, the war on drugs is a monumental failure. It has actually increased the number of people using drugs - absolutely does not work.
Libertarians favor smaller government - that would end the welfare state right there.
I would disagree with this. Prohibition does work. But it has to be enforced at all levels of a society, or it will not. Societal forces that allow for the sub-culture to form and exist must also be controlled, or the behavior will be continued.
"No-fault" divorce and single parent homes are two of those societal forces. Children raised without guidance from both parents in a stable home are almost guaranteed to enter the party scene, and continue the same behavior which caused their parents predictable failures.
Especially harmful is the absence of the male role model - Where the woman yields, is nurture, loving and giving, it is the man who is generally unyielding - He is law and justice, demanding responsibility and discipline.
Our education system teaches narcissism, and the popular culture backs it up. "Do your own thing" is not liberty. It is libertine. Until society returns to some semblance of right and wrong, nothing will truly change.
But, now I am arguing your case, aren't I? Not really. Prior to the 60's drugs were all illegal at the state level to some degree. and the popular culture was against them, as were societal and familial norms. The prohibition against drugs worked pretty well.
To legalize drugs is to finally lose the last leg of that fight to liberalization. That cannot be good. What needs to occur is strengthening of the other legs. As I said upthread, I agree that the fed has overstepped it's bounds, and that states rights and personal rights have been lost. Those must be restored. But there must be a uniform means of addressing the issue in order to be effective.
And foremost among them, before anyone says ANY effort has been made, close that damnable border. Seal it off. That is definitely within Federal jurisdiction, and is way cheaper and more effective than any other thing they might endeavor to do. Until that is done properly, and with great vigor, don't even tell me that they have tried and lost.
With our product liability laws I cant see how any company could market those drugs. They are deadly substances. I think pot would be do-able.
I will grant you this. Let’s have one of the laboratories of democracy test market the idea...say California. Think of how much money regulation/taxation would bring into their coffers...perhaps they wouldn’t go bankrupt. Then we’ll see where they’re at in 5, 10, 20 years.