The following is a response to:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110329/wl_time/08599206193400?xid=huffpo-direct

If this article isn’t standalone proof of the complete failure in the war on drugs, then I don’t know what is.  Seriously man, it’s time to take another look at things, try a new approach.  We’ve been battling the manufacture, distribution, and consumption of drugs for almost a century now and all we have to show for it is increased numbers on all accounts.  More people are smoking pot than ever, cocaine abuse is on the rise again, and more drugs are invented every year.  More felons, more money, more choices, more, more, more.  I can’t honestly say that legalization of addictive drugs like cocaine will have the best possible outcome, but could it honestly be any worse than our current situation?  And in case you didn’t read the article I linked at the beginning of this, these guys are using submarines to smuggle drugs now.

So that’s our current situation.  We are spending an insane amount of money trying to keep cocaine out of America, and now we have submarines to hunt down.  No, really, submarines.  In fact, according to this article, conventional sonar won’t even work most times because of how little metal is used in these cocaine subs.  And yes, I believe the amount of money were are spending on this endeavor is actually insane, especially considering, in spite of whatever ungodly amount of cash we’re throwing at this problem, there are more than two million Americans currently addicted to cocaine and we have the second highest percentage of cocaine users in the world and we are the single largest consumer of cocaine in the world.

And that was before the submarines.

Cocaine is a terrible drug, he said opinionatedly.  Because, after all, that’s just my opinion.  I don’t believe the phrase “terrible drug” exists unless you’re referring to something that really isn’t a drug.  For instance, you could say with absolute certainty, that gasoline is a terrible drug, since it is in fact, not a drug.  The word drug carries with it an inherent benefit, regardless of the side effects.  In my opinion, however, cocaine is one of those drugs that has side effects that far outweigh the benefits.  Of course, one of the bad parts of cocaine use is the cost to the user.  Currently, it would be less expensive to snort pure gold up your nose than actual cocaine.  Add to the cost a strong desire to re-dose, and it’s a lethal combination for the wallet and bank account and furniture.

America’s war against cocaine, another in a long line of seemingly endless and unproductive wars, has failed.  Time to turn in, regroup, rethink our position, and make an educated decision regarding an issue that affects millions of people in this country.  Merely sitting on the sidelines and watching our failed legal system incarcerate these victims is no longer a viable option.  Our country is in a death spiral, for more than one reason, and a serious and honest look at our laws regarding all drugs, not just marijuana, is one of the things we need to reclaim our status as a progressive country.  A good example of proper drug law reform is Portugal.  A 2009 Time article said “in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.”

Sounds successful to me.  As I mentioned before, however, I couldn’t imagine a worse situation regarding drug laws and enforcement.  Ignoring all the damage, both physical and economic, dealt to America, the consequences of our laws are felt in numerous countries including, but not limited to, Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, and Colombia.  Cartel murders, illegal meth labs, unjust government persecution, and exploitation of labor are just a few of the results of America’s war on drugs.  We are still a superpower country and hold a lot of influence over neighboring countries, and even pressure their governments into adopting similar laws regarding drugs, sometimes in direct contradiction to local traditions.

How many cultures have a history of drug use?  More than you’re probably guessing.  From the Native Americans in modern day USA and Canada, to the Aztec and Mayans of Central America, to the Vikings in Europe, everyone was using psychedelic plants and fungi either as rites of passage or to communicate with spirits or even as a berserker rage battle stimulant, in the case of the Vikings.  Humans, as a whole, have been altering their perceptions and opening their minds for thousands of years, and only during the last 100 or so years have we started to criminalize and stigmatize these practices.  Why do we do it?  Shouldn’t a country composed almost entirely of immigrants and aliens be a lot friendlier to a conversation regarding mind-altering substances?  You would think so.

Alas, that is not the case.  Instead, we’ve opted to hunt down submarines carrying a naturally occurring alkaloid isolated from a plant that our government actually hunts down and eradicates in a country that isn’t even bordering us.  I wish that sentence was a work of fiction, fabricated in the mind of a stoned comic book writer from the 1980s.  But this is where we find ourselves.  Same laws, same government, same unwarranted fears, same problems, but with a bigger budget and a lower success rate.  Something’s got to change.

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