Archive for war on drugs
Conservative Republicans are sometimes said by the media to be “libertarian” or “libertarian-leaning.” This is especially true if they say something about marijuana legislation being left up to the states because of the Tenth Amendment.
A recent article in the Huffington Post about the attitude of certain Republican politicians—all presidential hopefuls—toward marijuana legalization reminds me to mention the drug war litmus test, especially as we head into another election season.
Review of Dean Becker, To End the War on Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press, and the Public (DTN Media, 2014), iv + 337 pgs., paperback.
It was a hundred years ago this month that Congress enacted the Harrison Narcotics Act to make the importation, manufacturing, sale, and distribution of cocaine and opiates illegal without being registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, recording each transaction, and paying an annual tax and licensing fee. This was the federal government’s first major salvo in the war on drugs.
Dean Becker has just launched his own salvo, but in the opposite direction. He is a man on a mission—a mission to end the drug war. His new book, To End the War on Drugs, will tell you why Bush drug czar John Walters refused not only to consent to an interview, but to even talk to the author.
There, I said it: legalize heroin. For those in a state of shock, let me say it again: legalize heroin. And for those conservative Christians who want to use the power of the state to stamp out sin and vice, let me say it again: legalize heroin.
Diacetylmorphin (or morphine diacetate or diamorphine), better known as heroin (or smack), is an opioid used as both an analgesic drug (to kill pain) and a recreational drug (to get high). I mention these basic facts about heroin because most defenders of the war on drugs, although they are adamant that heroin should be illegal, can neither tell you what it is or how it differs from cocaine, LSD, and crystal meth.
I recently came across two articles in which the authors advocated the legalization of heroin. I agree with them, but not because of anything they wrote in their articles. Nevertheless, here are some things they say.
“Simply arresting and warehousing people has not worked to abate the flow of drugs, and it has caused far worse collateral damage.”
— Jay Hall
Introducing Christians for Liberty Conference speaker Jay Hall from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, who will present about Christians and the War on Drugs. LEAP is an international organization of current and former members of law enforcement who support eliminating the drug war.
Jay Hall has served as a law enforcement practitioner in several capacities. As a police officer in the Houston Police Department for 24 years, he focused on arrests; as a juvenile probation officer in Indiana, he focused on prevention; and as an adult parole officer, he focused on rehabilitation. But over time, he realized that as criminal justice approaches, none of these were a long-term solution to drug abuse and problems caused by the illicit drug market.
“Our drug problem is self-perpetuating; the short-term law enforcement solutions to these health issues are not working,” Jay says. “My job as a juvenile probation officer in Gary, Indiana was challenging because I saw that most of the juveniles I worked with looked up to drug dealers as role models. As a parole officer, I supervised about 100 ex-convicts, and those with a history of drug offenses were always the first to return. Those in our profession can see that the high recidivism rate is a barometer showing that our system does not work to rehabilitate people brought into the criminal justice system for drug crimes.”
Jay, who tragically lost his brother to violence caused by the illicit drug market, has always believed in making a difference by communicating with young at-risk people. “We can teach them about character and encourage them to do better,” he explains. “But simply arresting and warehousing people has not worked to abate the flow of drugs, and it has caused far worse collateral damage. Further, the government no longer has money to keep throwing at the incarceration solution.”
As for a new approach, rehabilitation is key for Jay. “As a spiritual person, I would say that God has a greater calling for your life than being addicted to drugs. From a practical standpoint, people struggling with drug addiction need counseling and treatment for their illness. Rehabilitation involves teaching people how to fish rather than giving them a fish.”
Jay holds an associated degree in law enforcement, a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and master’s degrees in public administration and management. He is currently working on a doctorate degree in organization behavior, management and leadership. In his rare spare time outside of academic work and LEAP, he enjoys chess and exercise.
The latest ruse of some conservatives to garner the sympathy, support, and votes of libertarians is to declare that they are “constitutionalists.” Although they are sometimes referred to as “libertarians” in the media, sometimes even portray themselves as “libertarian-leaning,” and get ecstatic when real libertarians describe them as “liberty-minded,” these conservative “constitutionalists” are not only not libertarian, they are not even constitutional.
The United States was set up as a federal system of government where the states, through the Constitution, granted a limited number of powers to a central government. As James Madison succinctly explained in Federalist No. 45:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
In article I, section 8, of the Constitution, there are eighteen paragraphs that enumerate the limited powers granted to Congress. Everything else is reserved to the states—even without the Tenth Amendment. Four of them concern taxes and money. One concerns commerce. One concerns naturalization and bankruptcies. One concerns post offices and post roads. One concerns copyrights and patents. One concerns federal courts. One concerns maritime crimes. Six concern the military and the militia. Once concerns the governance of the District of Columbia. And the last one gives Congress the power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”
One can search the Constitution morning, noon, and night with an electron microscope, x-ray vision, and night-vision goggles and never see a reference to the national government having the power to identify drugs, regulate drugs, classify drugs, set up a Drug Enforcement Administration, outlaw drugs, pass a single law related to drugs, or have anything whatsoever to do with any drugs.
Any drugs, whether they are stimulants, hallucinogens, or sedatives. Any drugs, whether they are opiates, cocaine, or cannabis. Any drugs, no matter how unhealthy, harmful, or immoral. Any drugs, no matter how addictive, potent, or dangerous. Any drugs, whether they are smoked, snorted, or injected. Any drugs, whether they are used for medical, therapeutic, or recreational purposes.
So why do constitutionalists support the drug war?
The federal government’s war on drugs is a monstrous evil that has ruined more lives than drugs themselves. The drug war has failed to prevent drug abuse, end drug overdoses, reduce drug use, or keep drugs away from teenagers. Instead, it has fostered violence, unnecessarily swelled prison populations, clogged the judicial system, corrupted law enforcement, hindered legitimate pain treatment, destroyed personal and financial privacy, violated civil liberties, and made criminals out of mostly otherwise law-abiding Americans. The war on drugs is truly a war on individual liberty, private property, personal responsibility, and a free society.
For the moral and philosophical case against the drug war, see my book The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. But aside from this, and aside from every negative thing I mentioned above about the drug war, what is most relevant here is that the war on drugs is a war on the Constitution, limited government, the free market, and federalism—things that constitutionalists claim to hold dear.
This is because the Constitution not only doesn’t mention drugs, it nowhere authorizes the federal government to regulate, monitor, or restrict the consumption, medical, or recreational habits of Americans. This is why when the Progressives a hundred years ago wanted to ban alcohol on the national level, they realized that an amendment to the Constitution was needed.
Constitutionalists claim to revere the Constitution. They say they adhere to the Constitution. They lambaste “activist” judges for not being strict constitutionalists. They criticize those who speak of a “living Constitution.” They talk about following the original intent or original meaning of the Constitution.
But Constitutionalists are hypocrites and enemies of the Constitution if they support the drug war. All of their talk about the Constitution is merely hot air. Just like when Republicans say in their platform that they are “the party of the Constitution.” And just like when conservatives awarded former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the “Defender of the Constitution Award” at one of their Conservative Political Action Conferences.
A real constitutionalist would not support the federal government having an Office of National Drug Control Policy, a Drug Enforcement Administration, or a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. A real constitutionalist would not support legislation like the Controlled Substances Act, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, or the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. A real constitutionalist would not support the federal government having a National Drug Control Strategy, a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, or a Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.
A real constitutionalist would support the Constitution instead of the drug war.
Originally published on LewRockwell.com.