George Will gets drug war right, mostly.

Columnist George Will

Columnist George Will

Conservative writer George Will addressed the war on drugs, especially marijuana, in his Oct. 29 column. True conservatives, as believers in small government, abhor the drug war with its big government meddling in the lives of Americans. But many “conservatives,” especially neo-cons, still support support the bureaucratic persecution and incarceration of fellow citizens.

Will quotes drug czar Gil Kerlikowske as saying, “not many people think the drug war is a success.”  George Will makes a great many good points to back this up.

  • Furthermore, the recession’s toll on state budgets has concentrated minds on the costs of drug offense incarcerations — costs that in some states are larger than expenditures on secondary education.
  • He quotes the Economist, “The annual U.S. bill for attempting to diminish the supply of drugs is $40 billion. Of the 1.5 million Americans arrested each year on drug offenses, half a million are incarcerated. “Tougher drug laws are the main reason why one in five black American men spend some time behind bars,” the Economist said in March.”

Will’s most important quotation from the Economist is a key truth unrealized by most law makers, presidents and drug czars:

  • “There is no correlation between the harshness of drug laws and the incidence of drug-taking: citizens living under tough regimes (notably America but also Britain) take more drugs, not fewer.” Do cultural differences explain this? Evidently not: “Even in fairly similar countries tough rules make little difference to the number of addicts: harsh Sweden and more liberal Norway have precisely the same addiction rates.” (emphasis mine)

This last point underscores the basic futility and corruption of the failed, decade’s-long war on drugs. It is doubly troubling that the drug war has been allowed to take it most savage form in the USA and transform the land of the free into the world’s largest incarceration of human beings. Drug warriors like to think that only their efforts stand between the populace and drug catastrophe; in truth, their activities are essentially irrelevant to the amount of drug use.

Will does allow Kerlikowske to make a couple of dumb points. The drug czar says, “”You don’t find many heroin users who didn’t start with marijuana.” Hey, Gil, try reading the drug czar-commissioned 1999 Institute of Medicine report that debunked this gateway propaganda, supposedly for once and for all.

Importantly, Will contrasted the failed war on drugs with the very successful American experience with the deadliest drug, tobacco cigarettes. “The good news is the progress America has made against tobacco, which is more addictive than most illegal drugs.” He continues with a discussion of historic alcohol use in the USA.

Will ended his column vaguely. He began with a suggestion to the drug czar, “With his first report to the president early next year, he could increase the quotient of realism.” But apparently George F. Will is unaware that the drug czar cannot, by the laws of his office, be truthful. He must, by law, disavow any validity to medical marijuana, a position puts him at odds with science and will prevent him from telling his boss the truth in the upcoming report.

Overall, George Will provided a refreshing account of several important truths about America’s failed war on drugs.

3 thoughts on “George Will gets drug war right, mostly.

  1. This is a very interesting article in particular. I am taking a advanced Public Affairs in high school at the college level and our selected societal problem is drug incarceration and the lack of rehabilitation for those imprisoned. Our research on this topic lead us to believe that Prohibition, although considered a priority by the federal government, is a useless and ineffective way of handling the growing drug problem with addiction and trafficking. Our correction policy to prohibition and the incarcertion that dove tails it was to instate take the money spent on building prisons and containting individuals and reallocate that into a nationwide rehabilitation program that is completely seperate from that of the prison system. Think of it as an AA program for every form of drug addiction. This program has been proven to succesfully work for alcoholics most of the time, then why can’t it be instated to work for every other drug that this nation has been faced with an addiction epidemic. If the program doesn’t work, then why are we telling these people what they can and can’t put in their body. Oxycotton is a prescription drug that is easily acquireable with a doctors note, but medical marijuana is nearly impossible to come by even though it’s treatment is universal and it’s effects of treatment for a wide variety of illnesses are unquestionably real. Are we as a nation to believe that other nations such as Spain, France, Germany, and even our own state of california are wrong? If the drugs are legalized and taxd, you’ve eliminated the problem of trafficking and the increasing money pit of prohibition. Why then, almost 100 years later, are we still debating wether or not this is a logical approach to a proven fact of policy that drug prohibion and incarceration for those addicted, is an immoral and continually indecisive arguement. My partner and I would appreciate feedback on this opinion of mine.

  2. Pingback: George Will gets it wrong: Cannabis laws make a mockery of justice. » Your Brain On Bliss

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