Carter on the Global Drug War... Something to Seriously Consider

by:Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservatism
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

There is little I would agree with Jimmy Carter on. Whether it be the proper scope of American government, philosophy, international affairs, and most everything else in between. On the issue of the global drug war, {and its dismal failure} I must agree with him.

We have spent billions attempting to cut off supply and in the process created the current multi-billion dollar illicit drug trade. Reminiscent of prohibition of alcohol back in the day. As long as there exists a demand there will be cartels and individuals who will provide the supply. This folks is not rocket science.

From Mr. Carter's New York Times opinion article.
IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.

This approach entailed an enormous expenditure of resources and the dependence on police and military forces to reduce the foreign cultivation of marijuana, coca and opium poppy and the production of cocaine and heroin. One result has been a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.

The commission’s facts and arguments are persuasive. It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment “with models of legal regulation of drugs ... that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.” For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places.

But they probably won’t turn to the United States for advice. Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults! {Continue Reading}

Ever so occasionally, when it makes objective sense, a libertarian independent Conservative can find common ground with a progressive. It is a rare thing.

Cross posted to Rational Nation USA

Via: Memeorandum


  1. I am against drug use, but it shouldn't be a criminal offense for users. The real problem is the supply.
    And to think of all those Spanish speaking countries that support the supply to our nation also support suing Georgia!

  2. John - I see no rational point in using drugs either. Although I admit to having a wine and at dinner and a brandy after.

    The real issue is demand. As long as there is demand there will be a supply. Of course unless we nuke the planet.

    We need to legalize, tax, and use the tax dollars for education and rehabilitation.

    Taxing drugs is something I have no problem with. As long as the tax dollars are used as stated above and for nothing else.

  3. Rational USA, do you have a cup of coffee every morning? If so, you are using drugs. Every have an afternoon soda or energy drink to pick you up? Drugs again. Have you ever smoked a cigarette? Drugs there too, and that wine you drink...the alcohol in the wine is among the most addictive drugs of all. Not that using it in the small amounts that you are will lead to addiction. The point is, in a FREE society, the people have the responsibility to make such choices for themselves. Compare the start of the "drug war" where less than 1% of the population had tried now where close to 50% of americans admit to having tried pot. Now, if the old way (the drug war) has been such a dismal failure, why do people think its a good idea to we continue failed policies? By driving the car into the same wall, hoping that the car wont get damaged, we are only showing how stupid this policy is, not to mention unconstitutional.

  4. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Unfortunately we will never see the War on Drugs ended any time soon. The Police State derives too much of it's power from it and is completely unwilling to give any of it up.

  5. Carter is right for the first time I can ever recall. And Chris is right about the power and money in the drug war for governments on all levels. I have written about this, I call it a government jobs program that actuall works.


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