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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Tuesday's Connector of the Day – Steve Rolles

November 16th, 2009
08:29 PM ET

Drug prohibition in various forms has been in place for over 100 years. Based on the simple premise that drugs are bad for the people who take them, and for communities as a whole, Governments spend billions on attempting to eliminate the supply and use of illegal substances, like cocaine and marijuana.[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/16/art.rolles.jpg caption="Send your questions for Steve Rolles."]

While it seems wholly plausible that a drug-free world would make it a better place for the majority – there is overwhelming evidence that the criminalisation of drug production/ supply/ possession is not largely effective at creating a 'drug free' society. In fact there are many who argue that the "War on Drugs" has been a failure. Under prohibition drug usage has risen, drugs have become cheaper and more available, and illicit production has easily met the growing demand.

Worse, the policy of making drugs illegal may have led to a series of catastrophic unintended consequences associated with illegal trade – violent criminals rule production, increasing drug-related crimes manifold. The drugs industry generates over $300 billion each year which has been associated with funding corruption and terrorism (building an arms insurgency which has fuelled civil war in Colombia for example, and reportedly providing income for the Taliban.

Steve Rolles is our connector of the day on Tuesday. He works for the UK group 'Transform' which campaigns for the legalisation of all drugs. In his book "After the war on drugs: Blueprint for regulation" Rolles argues that we have a clear choice: drugs markets can remain in the hands of organised criminals and street dealers, or they can be controlled and regulated by the Government. By legalising drugs, we can minimise the harms associated with drug supply and use.

What do you think of this argument? Send your questions for Steve Rolles here and we'll put the best of them to him on Tuesday's show.

soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. Carlos Marin Delgado

    All rational arguments indicate that the recreational use of drugs should be legalized for adults. However, laws and policies are not determined by rational arguments only, but largely by ideology. Prevailing religious and political ideology in the US makes it politically impossible to legalize drugs. Huge damage will continue to be inflicted on society, particularly the societes of drug producing countries such as Mexico and Colombia, until reason finally prevails.

    November 16, 2009 at 11:27 pm | Reply
  2. Kathleen

    I have no question but I am in TOTAL agreement with ligalization of drugs. Who ever wants to use will use, legal or not. And what about alcohol? America found reasons to make it legal and profit. I firmly believe that alcohol is just as damaging as drugs are, if not even more so because of legal and higher usage. All of these substances alter the mind to some extent. As with alcohol, at least try to legalize it, if it doesn't work, resind it. Alcohol is still around and no more Valentine's Day Massacres.

    November 16, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  3. francy

    People smoking crack 24-7?

    Great idea,idiot............

    November 16, 2009 at 11:36 pm | Reply
  4. Brian

    it's time to legalize drugs

    November 16, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  5. Sonat Schulz

    I agree partly with Mr. Rolles. But how will you avoid numbers of people who will buy cocaine from a "store" who at the moment are scared to do so because it is illegal? I have a feeling this will increase the number of drug users all around the world. And instead of the taliban and other "terrorist" organizations, governments will start making huge amounts of money, like the way they do from cigarettes and never actually do anything substantial to stop the horrible addiction because it generates a huge income for them. Human beings always find a way to break the rules. As it happens now it is very easy to see scores of teenagers (13 yrs old and above) are able to smoke cigarettes..I have a feeling legalizing the drugs will increase the number of teenage drug usage..

    November 17, 2009 at 12:02 am | Reply
  6. David

    Drug laws desperately need reform. Simply look at this fact:

    According to the American Corrections Association, the average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the US is $67.55. State prisons held 253,300 inmates for drug offenses in 2005. That means states spent approximately $17,110,415 per day to imprison drug offenders, or $6,245,301,475 per year.

    Source: American Correctional Association, 2006 Directory of Adult and Juvenile Correctional Departments, Institutions, Agencies and Probation and Parole Authorities, 67th Edition (Alexandria, VA: ACA, 2006), p. 16; Sabol, William J., PhD, and West, Heather C., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2007 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2008), NCJ224280, p. 21, Appendix Table 10.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:19 am | Reply
  7. Blake Norton

    Agreed. I'm not into hard drugs, yet it has been clear in every place I've lived in the U.S., Canada and Ireland that they're easy to find. If drugs being illegal doesn't prevent the public accessing them, any debate over whether people *should* use them or not is redundant. Since people can acquire drugs regardless of the law, they may as well be from legal vendors rather than criminal gangs.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:34 am | Reply
  8. bwana

    Makes total sense to me... and I'm not a druggie. I'm a 61 year old male who has never used drugs BUT believes the current philosophy on their "control" (or lack thereof) is an utter disaster.

    Like everything else you want to control... let the government tax it out of existence!

    November 17, 2009 at 12:37 am | Reply
  9. david

    I hate drugs. They are an insidious, destructive force. Unfortunately, prohibition has proven more destructive. It is time to step away from unproductive rhetoric and political posturing and recognize that supporting legalization isn't being soft on crime or leftist insanity...it is sound public policy.

    Legalization hamstrings the criminals, provides massive tax revenue and destigmatizes what is really a health care issue.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:37 am | Reply
  10. watchman

    This type of thinking is so reasonable and sane that it doesn't have a snow balls chance in hell of being considered. In fact any one even suggesting it would be an immediate target of the beaurocracy that has been created and employs hundreds of thousands world wide to suppress such revoloutionary thinking, not counting the thousands of unemployed drug dealers it would cause. With all the unemployed people we have now, what would we do with all those prison guards and prison architects. Good heavens man suppose the afghan and pakistan economy had to give all that income up. These areas would be asking us to just give them the money instead of allowing us to run great deficets through millitary actions. The financial disruptions just boggle the mind. Better we should just stay stupid and let our people keep figuring out how to post bail.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:52 am | Reply
  11. Jonny

    I definitely agree that drugs should be legalized. People are going to do drugs regardless of whether they're legal or not.

    The only people that are benefiting by drugs being illegal are the people running that market. Take that market out from under them, have drugs be regulated by the government and all of a sudden we've taken the wasted money of fighting a pointless war as well as drastically lowering crime rates.

    I'd say this would even have an impact on terrorism. When terrorist groups are funded by the absurd profits of illegal drug sale, what happens when we take their main source of funding away from them?

    This is coming from a guy who's not ever done drugs, nor ever intends on doing so. As I said previously, people will do drugs regardless of their legal status, and those who don't don't regardless of whether it's legal or not.


    Jonny in Texas

    November 17, 2009 at 12:54 am | Reply
  12. kristina salness

    I have thought legalizing drugs the best idea for years! Take the money out of the drug trade. Why don't we do it?? Too many people are making money out of drugs? We must take a chance on a change to our present policy which is not working.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:05 am | Reply
  13. keith s wall


    I totally agree. If drugs of controlled quantity and composition were available reasonably at government outlets (along with safe use information and programs to assist addicts), the very lucrative and horrendously violent business of hundreds of cartels and thousands of thugs who ship and peddle their wares would be neutralized overnight. Killings, kidnappings, tortures, assassinations, and shootouts would end, as there'd be no business, no territory, to protect. People world-wide now employed in drug sales and distribution would be out of work and need to find other, less violent and dangerous, employment.

    The salaries of thousands of anti-drug law enforcement personnel could be diverted to health and education, job training, and the like, and the money earned at government sales outlets could be likewise used for socially useful purposes. Cities and local governments decimated by violence (along US/Mexican border, for instance) could be reclaimed for enjoyment by law-abiding citizens, and there'd be more money for parks, schools, recreational programs, health centers and the like. It's the only intelligent, and obvious, solution to a problem which has brought murder, terror, and bankruptcy to nations and communities worldwide– and on which decades of "warfare" have had no effect whatsoever except to raise the stakes and level of profitability and bloodshed.

    Many people who will object on "moral" grounds smoke and drink addictive substances and take a variety of prescription drugs to "feel better", which is all anybody wants. What hypocrisy and what a waste of money and human intelligence to maintain this failed "war" against drugs (while there's already drug store down the street and we all buy them to cure a range of physical and psychological ailments).

    Keith Wall

    November 17, 2009 at 1:12 am | Reply
  14. Sarah

    I wholeheartedly agree. Living in Rio makes one realize just how ridiculous it is that drugs are considered illegal. Here, for the people who live in favelas, life is made a living hell because the government concentrates so much energy on the "war" on drugs. And that sometimes spills out out of the favelas into the streets. They even have a special force called BOPE, an "elite" group of police officers that dress up like they're going off to war to fight the drug lords. Bu why do the drug lords exist in the first place? Because the drugs are illegal. It's a vicious cycle that will never end unless governments (like some are already doing) start dealing with drugs in an intelligent way.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:13 am | Reply
  15. Rory

    In Australia, it took the HIV AIDS crisis to align politicians and the media behind the (then) publicly unacceptable suggestion that we offer needle exchange to intravenous drug users. What will it take to align today's politicians and media behind a health-driven rather than law & order driven approach to drugs in our society?

    If we can't stop drugs getting into high security jails, we have no chance at keeping them away from an open society.

    Prohibition without the vast support of the community creates a market opportunity and is self-defeating.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:37 am | Reply
  16. sebastien pons

    Finally something smart to read about drugs on cnn.What steve advocates is so evident and logic.Nobody can in his right mind say anything positive about the war on drugs which is a major failure in any country,poor or rich.We allow alcohol and tabacco almost anywhere on earth,both of them are major killers but in our right mind we would never think of prosecute people for their use.Human beings are weak at resisting any kind of substances or pleasures.Legalising drugs is not a perfect option(there are never any...)but it is better than watching this major industry stay undergroung and therefore not being able to control it in any way except through repression.As franck zappa said years ago"legalise it and tax it!!).Everybody would benefit from it.Police and the justice department will spend more of their time on the real criminals ,guettos around the world relying on the drug business to survive could in the long term legitimise their businesses,poor farmers around the world could grow their crop and not worrie about a government drug agency half way around the world having the power to burn their crop and therefore fuel some anger and resentment against the u.s.a and it's allies,the overcrowded prison system could benefit from having less non dangerous inmates incarcerated.
    The choice between repression or legalisation is not an easy one but betyween those two evils we should choose the smartest one.Take the money from the users and make the dealers and growers pay taxes so that we can finally control this business and re-invest some of the money on education,prevention and heath care.
    Let me clarify that i am not a drug user but i do smoke and drink.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:48 am | Reply
  17. Chris

    Steve Rolles is 100% right... Take the drug business away from the criminals just as the booze business was taken from the criminals after prohibition...

    November 17, 2009 at 1:49 am | Reply
  18. Hugo Scornik

    Rolles argument is basically right but there is a very tough question:

    If there is now a 300 billion business in the hands of crooks, they are not going to let go easily the goose of the golden eggs... How do the governments proceed tp take it away from them & start running the thing themselves? Through a massive scale, expensive, dangerous, cumbersome & violent operation against the dealers? Is there any other way?

    November 17, 2009 at 2:08 am | Reply
  19. Michael Brooks

    THE argument of letting Governments regulate illict drugs is rediculous...they can't be relied on to regulate, control everything in the respective societies. This would bring even more corruption to the gGovernments – also I wouldn't want a co-worker high on something in a work enviroment . And I beleive this would bring down work production in all career feilds. There isn't any easy solution to the problem, but surely having Government control isn't the way to go. Generally in my opinion Governments make things worse when involved! Good luck wiith this crusade Steve.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:46 am | Reply
  20. Warwick Murphy

    I love the simplistic arguments of people like Steve Rolles who argue to legalise drugs like that will immediately change things. The fact is that this is not just an argument about legalise or not. It is also about the lives of individuals and their families and the trauma of drug abuse that they suffer. Where are his answers for these people? Or does he just leave them to wallow in their vomit?
    There are so many arguments against legalising but not enough room here to state them all. There are also so many holes in the pro legalisation argument but still not enough room to tackle them.
    I deal with the tragedy of drug users and their families. Has Steve asked the families if they want these substances legalised?

    November 17, 2009 at 4:19 am | Reply
  21. Eugenia

    So you are basically choosing a solution that's the least of the two evils. You fail to realize though that such drugs are still evil. Honestly, I don't think that there's a solution that can work in these times. Maybe 1000 years in the future, when all people have enough brains (either through cultural maturity or via playing with genes), then maybe you can legalize everything under the sun, and know for sure that the citizens won't choose drugs. But today, by either prohibiting them, or legalize them & regulate them, they are still going to destroy lives. It's hopeless.

    I am personally neither a pro or a con regarding the legalization of drugs. I just think it's a lost cause regardless, today.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:39 am | Reply
  22. Marcus

    The arguement to legalise drugs (read: opium, heroin and the likes) market that is regulated by the Government is so cliche.
    Are we 100% certain that it will stamp out corruption WITHIN the Government?
    Drug use has its roots in the social problems often associated with poverty and that begets violence. It is naive to think that simple laws (and bans, or otherwise) can solve or alleviate the problem without tackling other issues such as education and employment.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:40 am | Reply
  23. Steve

    In the USA, it would seem the tobacco companies would be well positioned to grow, package and distribute marijuana if it ever becomes legal. Government oversight regarding product potency and regulations prohibiting sales to minors would be expected as well. Since marijuana is a naturally occurring substance, do you believe it may receive broader acceptance among the public as a legally obtainable product than drugs that are developed under tight constraints within pharmaceutical labs?

    November 17, 2009 at 4:42 am | Reply
  24. Ed Seamus

    Well, if you cant beat 'em, join 'em. Maybe America could free up some prison space as well.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:43 am | Reply
  25. Anand

    While legalizing all drugs might be a good idea, the best way to get there would be to take baby steps. Let's start with some of the obvious ones like marijuana.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:23 am | Reply
  26. Chris Radcliffe

    Both Argentina and Mexico have recently decriminalized the use of all drugs. In Mexico you have to be caught three times with drugs before you have to attend a short mandatory rehab. This makes so much more sense than locking up people for incredibly expensive prison sentences. Even with a decriminalization program you can still drug test for the kind of public safety jobs that would obviously need monitoring. It's time to let people take a little personal responsibility for themselves. I'm tired for this nanny society that tells us drugs are bad then works with Karzai's brother who floods the world with cheap opium. Wake up America, there's a huge wave of heroin use in this country that coincides with our presents in Afghanistan. Last time that happened was during Vietnam and who brought it to you? It came from a CIA scheme to finance a secret war in Cambodia. Look how well that worked out. By the early 1970's America's streets were crawling with junkies. War makes drugs cheap! Another benefit for the unseen hand of the market they don't teach in business school. Seriously if drugs are so bad for you them legalizing them makes them another useful mechanism of natural selection. Come on all you conservatives where's the down side. And if it comes from the earth then it's gods gift, right, right?

    November 17, 2009 at 5:31 am | Reply
  27. Bobby

    I am a 39 year old, hard working, college educated, middle class American from a major east coast city. I have never been arrested in my life, nor has any of my family or friends. I live in a very safe neighborhood, and lead a very normal life. Yet, like millions of others like me, if I so desired, I could pick up a telephone and call a friend, who would call a friend, etc, etc. and I could buy illegal drugs. Almost any kind, almost any time – high quality and at a very reasonable price. In fact, the price of almost all popular drugs, cocaine and marijuana for example, has not risen in over 20 years!
    We give up our civil liberties, spend over $50 billion and arrest over 2 million Americans each year and yet high quality illegal drugs are cheap and always widely available. Something is not working here.
    The simple fact is that The War on Drugs can never be won. At least not this kind of war. Thirteen truck loads of cocaine are enough to satisfy U.S. demand for one year. The United States has 19,924 kilometers of shoreline, 300 ports of entry and more than 7,500 miles of border with Mexico and Canada. The idea of stopping drugs at the borders is ridiculous. The time has come for a different approach.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:34 am | Reply
  28. Vaail Hussain

    I believe Rolles argument is a valid one. It gives extra validity due to the fact drugs have not been legalized thus leaving it as a plausible solution. I however do believe that drugs such as herion, acid... more harmful drugs should not be legalized. My one question to Mr. Rolles would be – "Do you roll up joints and such for your own consumption"?

    November 17, 2009 at 5:47 am | Reply
  29. PeterDWarren


    November 17, 2009 at 6:14 am | Reply
  30. singing Rock

    Absolutley right. i know it he knows that and the goverments around the world know that. so if the Gov knows that but is not acting to fullfill this it makes you wonder about their goals. it seems that the Gov are interested that there will be crime and terror. this way they can impose harsh laws and make it easier for them to control us 'regular' citizens...

    November 17, 2009 at 7:00 am | Reply
  31. Kevin

    Are you high?

    November 17, 2009 at 7:07 am | Reply
  32. Andrew

    Hi Steve, I agree with the theory of your sentiments above, particularly when it would appear that some drugs have been made illegal for so called moral reasons, rather than scientific ones.

    I wonder though, if it is possible to somehow "model" the effects of making drugs legal in society so that we would have a chance of seeing any unintended consequences. Perhaps Portugal is a good example of the effects of decriminalizing drugs.

    Also, I was wondering what are the steps towards legalizing drugs? Where do you start?

    November 17, 2009 at 7:08 am | Reply
  33. Bruce

    I agree that harm reduction is a better paradigm than prohibition for dealing with currently illegal substances like marijuana, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth. But I haven't yet seen any good plans for dealing with violent crack addicts. How do you propose to handle them?

    November 17, 2009 at 7:41 am | Reply
  34. Ryan McIntosh

    Mr. Rolles,

    As a non-user with a degree in History I salute you. The forgone conclusion that the "War on Drugs" has failed is long since forgone. It is time to accept that humankind's search for both profound spiritual experience and good ol' fashioned escape is eternal and absolutely impervious to prohibition based on the mores of the hour.

    Legalize 'em, regulate 'em, and tax 'em...and thus accomplish the lofty goals set by decades of "pro-society" administrations: rip the teeth out of organized crime, short-circuit funding to terrorist groups, relieve law enforcement of the undue burden of "policing" a private citizen's choices in his or her own living room...and watch the glitz and glamour of the forbidden fruit wane over time.

    Nothing kills the thrill like making it available to grandma.

    Let America "Transform", Mr. Rolles. Let us "Transform".

    Best regards,

    Ryan McIntosh

    November 17, 2009 at 7:57 am | Reply
  35. Chris

    Until you eliminate the demand for drugs – there will be no possible way to stop their use, Illegal or otherwise. With legalization you have or should have better control of who gets drugs. The problem would then be like the last call at the bar. When and who do you not serve. That will become the issue but should be easier to control. The serious problems of drug use and their fall out will then be on the hard users who can not or will not stop.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:55 am | Reply
  36. Mary Hayes

    I think that we should at least legalize the use of marijuana, the money we could make from taxes could bring needed cash flow back into the economy. We could establish areas where you can buy a product legally and monitor who can grow the product.

    Ask the working public to be honest about their history of alcohol and marijuana use, you would most likely see that over 50% have used both, and are not hardened criminals they hold down jobs and raise families.

    It is as simple as a vote. Give the public a chance to choose the option to legalize marijuana I believe most would say go ahead.
    We have bigger fish to fry, like global warming and health care.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:32 am | Reply
  37. Lionel

    One can take exemple from Holland, they have legalized 'soft' drugs for over 20 years now and it hasn't become a nation of junkies, their economy is doing very well, they have a few multinationals which is quite an achievement for a small country. 90pct at least of the people hanging around the legal marijuana outlet are foreigners amazed at this society and travelling to experience what is it like to smoke some without being considered a criminal dangerous for society. The point is that people will not become addicts because it is legal but some who are trying to destroy themselves for whatever reasons good or bad will find a way. In fact the illegality of drugs is probably what make it so attractive to rebellious, disillusioned people as a kind of statement against the establishment.

    Yes legalize and destroy the black market. Without opium money there would not be taliban or any other of the same kind.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:01 am | Reply
  38. Ken

    Drugs are no good for a person's health and would be dangerous for all users of the road as well as putting the lives of thousnads at risk. I do however think that drug addicts should be supplied free of drugs that would be used in a controlled manner to enable them to, over a period of time, beat the habit. This would also help to get rid of drug runners and others associated with it.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:16 am | Reply
  39. Billy Neal

    Heard that Portugal recently switched their focus from locking everyone up with drugs to treatment and it is working fine

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am | Reply
  40. druguser

    as a recreational user, i have had terrible trips on laced drugs. i believe decriminalization can only be good for the community as it will help produce cleaner safer drugs for use. also, legalization could help the economy as the government could put a tax on drugs. why not? we will use them no matter what. might as well make them safer and clean up the drug-cartelrelated violence.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:28 am | Reply
  41. Alsha

    I truly believe there are much more important things the Government could focus on and spend on, thousands of people get arrested every year for drug possession and the Government is stuck with paying their daily expense as pointed out earlier, and this is a waste of money.

    However, i also think that not ALL drugs should be allowed; marijuana should definitely be taxed, sold and controlled in an intelligent manner. Can you imagine the amount of money that countries could make with having such a system of selling marijuana (just like medical shops in LA operate).

    The trick is to make sure there are heavy heavy controls to ensure that such a drug is not used during work hours, and is not sold to minors.

    I don’t do any drugs, however i have travelled all around the world. Marijuana doesn’t kill people, alcohol is way more dangerous causing murder, rapes, fights, suicide, accidents, death etc..

    It’s nice to see so many people expressing their views, however i doubt anything will change in our lifetime.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:33 am | Reply
  42. David Kai

    he is high!! good for me, u live to fight prohibition..

    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am | Reply
  43. Jannie

    100% you are moving in the right direction, take a look at Amsterdam they show how it can be done, control it make sure the people that use drugs get what they paid for and not something that can kill them. The best thing of all is the Governments can Tax it and in the same kill the gang business, people will always use drugs if it is illegal or not.


    but will they ?????

    November 17, 2009 at 10:41 am | Reply
  44. Kevin Amsterdam

    Perhaps you should consider the drug dealers in this scenario.

    Their unemployment rate would sky rocket.

    Mexico has legalized possession. The country didn't fall apart.

    Marijuana is legal here in Amsterdam. This country hasn't fallen apart either.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:46 am | Reply


    November 17, 2009 at 10:46 am | Reply
  46. Mr. Roach

    Prohibition doesn't work. Having criminals running the drug business is just stupid.
    Prevention/education/regulation do work, it is proven. I agree with the author 100%

    The beneficiaries of the war on drugs: the war industry is the biggest winner, together with criminals and correctional facilities that are now more and more privatized.

    The losers: The people in general.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:48 am | Reply
  47. Jeff

    I think it is possible that legalization combined with effective government regulation could be a realistic approach to ending global drug crime. Napalming the poppy fields of Afganistan, the supplier of 98% the worlds opium / heroin trade, seems a step no one is willing to take from some reason so might as well redirect the revenues to more constructive ends. As far as winding up with a drugged out populace? No reason that a drug free work place policy should suddenly go away. Want a job? Put your sample in the cup. Want to get stoned? Fine, whatever.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:56 am | Reply
  48. Russell ghant

    It is not a question of 'legalizing drugs'. The question is, what constitutes adult behavior and freedom. Drug prohibition, as with many other laws, reduces individual responsibility by substituting self control with social rule.

    As with helmet and seat belt laws, this is a ridiculous infantilization of grown-up people. It is obvious that riding a motorcycle implies protecting one's skull. If it is not obvious to someone, perhaps we do not need that someone reproducing more imbeciles. But, if one is injured following his/her decision not to take evident precautions, society should not be required to pay for the mistake. Freedom to choose means taking the consequences.

    So, it is not a question of drug legalization, it is a question of requiring people to act independently with responsibility. Does society really want fully responsible, thinking individuals? If so, it is not evident.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:58 am | Reply

    I am the father of a son who died from drugs in his early 30's.Believe me i know the hardship drugs can cause on a family and society.
    However Its with out question that we should follow the example of Holland and legalize drugs.Our homes and streets will be safer and the underground profits from the sales of these illegal substances will evaporate. It seems to me that our leaders and politicians have learned nothing from the past prohibition of alcohol in America.
    Peace & Regards
    Wes Carroll

    November 17, 2009 at 11:03 am | Reply
  50. Ewan Hoyle

    If heroin and crack addicts were receiving drugs free or low cost from the state, what would happen to the motivation for criminal dealers to recruit young people into their customer base? Would there be any point in pushing drugs onto young people if they could then go and get those drugs at a much lower price, and at guaranteed purity elsewhere? What would happen to the number of young people experimenting with hard drugs if we have a strictly regulated legal market with virtually zero marketing?

    November 17, 2009 at 11:48 am | Reply
  51. Nadeem

    I agree with legalizing drugs. It will help significantly decrease violent crime. We can still advertise the ill effects of drugs and try to promote abstinance from drugs. Will there be a lot more crack heads and pot heads out there? Depends. My work will not allow me to work if I test positive for any of these or for alcohol. Same for pilots, law enforcement, military, teachers etc. So there will be opportunities for regulation. Are you allowed to go to school or work drunk? No. However, remember that there is a bid difference between marijuana and cocaine, one being a mild drug with few side effects and the other i.e. cocaine with the potential to cause major heart attacks. I think we should first legalize marijuana. That in itself will havea huge impact. The reason marijuana is the gateway drug is not because it encourages you to use other drugs but because you buy it from the same people who are selling cocaine, oxycontin, and heroin. What would they prefer you use?????

    November 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  52. Martin Powell

    I've read the whole report, and recommend everyone at least looks at the executive summary. Both are available for free download at http://tdpf.org.uk/

    November 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  53. Bloggs

    Sorry to break this, francy: many people DO smoke crack 24-7 with prohibition, which has never, and will never work. Give me one counterexample.

    Regulation (rather than legalization) will merely stop the flow of huge sums of money to criminals and their gangs.

    Got a problem with that?

    November 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  54. Martin Powell

    The arguments for taking a $300 billion industry away from criminals, restabilizing poor countries, reducing health harms and slashing robbery and burglary rates are irrefutable. The question is, how do you give politicians a route out of the corner they have painted themselves into with their 'tough on drugs' rhetoric so they can at least explore alternatives to prohibition sensibly?

    November 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  55. Benjamin Vanbrocklin

    Legalizing drugs could generate a lot of money, just imagine tobacco companies could charge 50 dollars for a 10 pack of joints, 45 dollars could go to pay off the national debt the rest could be for the companies profit. Although I bet the alcohol beverage companies would not like this, they are probably the biggest lobbyists against legalization, due to the fact it would maybe greatly effect their sales.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  56. Gunnar

    There is one alternative; why don't the 'international society" buy up all the production of cocaine and heroin rom the farmers at a reasonable good price, better than they get today, and then destroy it? Must be much less expensive than the costs of fighting against the illegal trade, prisons, controls,healtcare sivilian casulties etc etc
    Side-effect; i will also take away the income from the terrorists,so the enourmous costs connected to , the so called , war on terror will probably be dramatically reduced as well.
    There are other ways to spend money that suits the world better.
    Even in USA, there are 50 mill people that doesn't get enough food!

    November 17, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  57. Clive Hill

    The corollary to legalisation is that the government or manufacturer through regulation supply information very prominently on taking any given drug. That includes alcohol and cigarettes.

    A House of Commons select committee commissioned a report in July 2006 by scientists on the 'dangerousness' of 20 popular drugs. The assessment was based on physical harm; dependence (addictiveness) and social harms. Alcohol came 5th.

    There is no question but that legalisation in some form not only should happen but will happen – as it was inevitable that the prohibition of alcohol in the USA would end in the 1920s. It would be better if it's done well but after all the years of demonisation of drugs and the fear that engenders in risk-averse politicians and media, it isn't too likely.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  58. Bryan Llanos

    If drugs destroy people and their lives, how can you make them legal ?

    November 17, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  59. Smiley Walker

    I live somewhere where soft drugs are legal. They are SO difficult to find. This country has made production and personal use legal and increased the strictness of buying and selling. I know people that have lived here for almost a year who cannot find a single joint.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  60. mos

    Drug users will get drugs any which way. Criminals will make money any which way. Keeping drugs off the streets is about trying to safeguard the general population who do NOT use drugs and who want the Government on their side fighting to keep it out of their children's reach. It is the families of the world that need the Government's protection – and individual, self-centred adults with no family responsibilities, not compunction about taking drugs and no future can continue to scrabble to find their high.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  61. Ben

    Steve, thank you for the work you're doing at ending a policy of drug prohibition. Your gestalt approach of legalizing all drugs is philosophically consistent, but in terms of likelihood of practical political success, don't groups such as NORML or the Marijuana Policy Project that are focused on decriminalizing specific drugs have a better chance? Isn't the cause better served by a 'one-step at a time' approach?

    November 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  62. Corey

    Murder should be legalized also. People who murder will continue to murder regardless of laws in place, therefore it is only logical to remove those laws...


    November 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  63. brett

    Legalizing drugs does not mean that they should be for sale at the corner store. They should simply be decriminalized.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  64. Vladimir

    Well, as I see it, the problem is still with some kind of regulation. Drugs like marijuana and hashish can be legalised, but what with harder substancies such as heroin and crack? How (effectively) to stop children or teenager to use them? Or even the groun up ones to protect from the potentialy devastaning medical and psihological circumstances? Still we would have to have a lot of restrictions that will not work 100%. The question is would the sistem work better than today. Still, I think that under kind of partly legalised market for drugs, it would be easier to fallow heavy users and impose some kind of medical treatment over them, and to keep evidence and regulate the quality of those substancies, so to reduce overdoses or other death cases. Also, it can probably lead to reducing of criminal behaviour of direct users, minimasing involvment of criminal grups, and some sort of regulation what can and cannot be sold and under which circumstances (such as closed clubs, evidence of drug buyers etc.) Just to add, I have some knowledge of drug using, like marijuana and opijum (seldomly), but was never addict.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  65. Gerard

    Legalize drugs (except Heroin).
    drug-users do not get government health-care!

    November 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  66. Safety Guru

    It seems like that no one has learned the lesson of U.S. Constitution amendment #18:

    ("...the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited...)

    The great Prohibition started the age of the Gangsters, with the profits of selling alcohol funding their activity. Speakeasy's opened up in the shady parts of town, where people could buy alcohol illegally. Many people died because they drank "alcohol substitutes", such as anti-freeze. Corrupt doctors made massive profit selling medicine with alcohol content in it, and many corrupt police officers didn't mind the illegal business because they were payed fees by the gang bosses to "look the other way".

    No matter how much many people (including me) hate recreational drugs, but the sad reality is that by banning things, selling the banned article on the black market proves to be very profitable. By banning drugs, many people still use them, more profit is made selling them, and the market is encouraged. By legalizing drugs, more people may still use them, but the profits of selling them go down, violence could decrease, and it becomes one less problem for the police.

    This dilemma will only stop once people make the active choice to not use drugs in the first place...

    November 17, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  67. JP

    I agree only partially. Only drugs that are known not be the cause of an overdose should be legal, with no restrictions such as marijuana, hashish, mushroom and lsd. Drugs like cocaine and heroin should only be legal for those who are already struggling with addiction, and clinics should be made available for them to get their fix. In countries where soft drugs are legal most of the population does not use them. In the Netherlands for example 95% of the people you see involved are tourists on a vacation. Its time for the governments to educate people about the REAL effects of soft drugs and remove all the lies and stigmas that currently haunt their users.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  68. Matthew

    I am suprised that the government over here (UK) has not made drugs legals beacuse if they did they would end up selling them at a higher rate than te drug dealers have been selling them. If they legalise it to a certain amount and sell them cheaper than the drug dealers do then in my opinion i would have a good effect, as "mos" said Drug users will get drugs anyway so why not give them what they want but control it, its better than not being in control at all plus a lot of drug users come from a low class background and this would hopefully help them finationally, just my opinion

    November 17, 2009 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  69. Damian Stoyanov, Bulgaria

    The answer is – legalize some drugs, not all. Then control the quality of what is legal. Finally – make those who choose the use of drugs pay for their health. Also – strict control and restriction of drug users' activities. They shou ld not be allowed to be teachers, doctors, civil cervants, etc.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  70. Jane

    I agree, make drugs legal. Drug use will increase. Criminality will decrease. Divert funds used for policing, enforcing and imprisonment, to drug recovery facilities and job retraining, education. 95% of addicts feel hopeless and helpless. Use the money to retrain them. Give them hope in their lives. The other 5% will probably sadly remain addicts until it kills them, which eventually it will.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  71. Jason

    If illeagle drugs cost what the do now on the streets, and people get robbed by junkies so they can get the money to get the next high...how does placing government taxes and probaly raising the price of the drug make this situation any better. The drug may be easer to come by but the price may be higher. So the people who want to use them might have to mug a few more people and knock over a few 7/11s to be able to afford the stuff.
    I'm not saying that drugs are the only motivation for muggings but it seems to be the primary reason. Does leaglising drugs solve this problem? There will always be crime, but the burning sensation to get that next high is very powerful, and it is a mind altering chemical, (So is alcohol) so I will admit I am a bit scared at the prospcet, however I was also scared of my alcoholic uncle who was stonned drunk all the time. Regulation of the drugs and regulation of the money earned seems to be a good idea that needs more working over before it gets my vote. The current system however does seem to be a bit lacking.
    I do not know..maybe I do not have enough information on either argument.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  72. Eugene Berkovich

    Legalization of illegal drugs is entirely a beneficial process. I do not see any cons to it.

    people who want to use drugs are able to do so freely. people who don't (like myself) will continue not using them. Nothing will change in that respect. What will change is that we will save billions of dollars now spent on the "Drug War", billions of dollars spent yearly on the drug users prison sentences, will provide billions of tax revenue, will allow the drug addicts to freely see medical advice or rehab without the fear of being prosecuted.

    And another thing – with illegal drugs freely available, the distribution will be removed from the hands of criminals (why would a criminal continue the distribution that is available freely) like booze was after the end of the prohibition.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  73. Ann Woodman

    It's something I have maintained for years.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  74. Andrew Taylor

    I've been saying this for years. It makes no sense that the two most dangerous drugs of abuse (alcohol and tobacco) are legal while others are not.

    Those who want to destroy their lives with drugs will continue to do so, but a legal drug trade would provide tax income for drug education and treatment programs.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  75. PBerry


    November 17, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  76. Bill

    Don't forget that alcohol IS a "drug!" It's a legal and very powerful central nervous system depressant. I get tired of people mistakenly putting it in a different category than other "illegal" drugs, some of which have a far less powerful effect on the body.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  77. Paul

    I am glad to hear that finally we are having a rational debate on drug policies. Time to legalize and make drug dealers and drug lords fully unemployed. States should regulate drugs like any other substance that can be freely used even though harmful (cigarettes, alcohol, junk food, etc). Individuals should be helped if they want to stop using drugs, if not, as sad as it might be, it's their choice.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  78. Tudor

    To all the ones that say it's a bad idea:

    Look at Holland. Look at crime numbers, drug overdone deaths and so on. Compare that to the US or the UK... you will be shocked.
    The state should not regulate this, just tax it a lot like smokes for example.

    You don't need to fight the current 300 billion business. All you need is to allow people to get a license for a drug store and sell drugs legally in that store. That in turn would make the vendors ask the suppliers for invoices for the product and so on up the line all the way to the production.

    It's really economy 101...

    It would also be advised to only make natural and soft drugs legal. No stuff like LSD and no Crack-Cocaine... Again .. this is happening in Holland for a long time now and the results are very good. It's nothing to invent here, just the need to "copy".

    One last thing: having people high at the workplace as an argument is plain absurd. If the company you are working for allows for people to come drunk at work, then yeah ... you might see them high also. Even so, I would prefer a colleague that is high on weed to one that is drunk ...

    November 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  79. Julia

    Dear Steve,
    I acclaim your suggestion – this is a very brave and revolutionary initiative. Of course it raises a lot of problems and questions but the basic idea is alright. I ' m afraid it will take a lot of time till enough people will realize that this is maybe the only relevant answer to drug-problems.
    Many people would hit the roof when hearing this idea and the statesmen are not brave enough to embrace such an initiation but history has shown that mankind has developed through revolutions.

    By the way – just out of curiosity- what about your experiences with drugs?

    best wishes,

    November 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  80. Dantini

    We cannot legalize drugs! The profits of illegal drug lords MUST be protected. We all love these guys, right? And legalizing drugs would sharply curtail your chances of being mugged or burglarized by a drug addict to support an expensive habit, and we all treasure these experiences. And what would our local drug dealers do for a living if drugs were suddenly decriminalized, sending drug prices crashing? These people are the bedrock of our communities!

    Please, fellow citizens! Don't buy into the propaganda! Stand with me in support for our drug lord friends! Fight to preserve the right to be a victim of crime! And protect our beloved local drug dealers. This is what America is all about! Why else would we spend all that money on a drug war to preserve these wonderful things?

    November 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  81. K

    Ah yes the inevitable comment of "Prohibition didn't work" Well conversely it can be said the LACK of Prohibition has not worked either.

    So now to legalize all drugs. I'd like those people wanting that to go and chill out with the junkies, to go and sit in rehabs, to have a chat with users and see what it is like.

    For those saying legalize and then tax it to heck, yeah that is kinda funny too since ya know the black market and all. Taxing won't do a thing people will find a way to get it cheap.

    The things that are currently legal such as tobacco and alcohol obviously are NOT helping society at all. They are legal we cannot do anything about it. Sure they are taxed and then people complain the things cost too much. So they find it elsewhere cheaper.

    Legalizing drugs won't freaking help a thing either. It won't get rid of crime, it won't get rid of drug lords or anything of the like, it won't stop people from taking them. So just leave it illegal. It will be broke EITHER way so no point in changing it.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  82. petersanning

    There are so many reasons for legalization and many have been already told here, but this is alos a question of the right to one's own body. In many countries suicide is legal but drug use is not. So completely finishing yourself off (or attempting to) is ok, but partly damaging yourself is not? As long as a person is voluntarily doing something to or with his own body, without forcing himself or – drugs – on to someone else, I think its no one else's business what he or she is doing. We live in a new modern world, without a "king" that owns us. You might be born in one country, move to another and end up in a 3rd or 4th. All of them with different rules on drugs, i.e. what you are allowed to do against your own health.
    To me it only makes sense that we each and every one of us (who is an adult) must have the right to decide for ourselves what we want to do with our own bodies.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  83. Cathy Kayser

    Complete legalization is the only way to go. There are vested interests in keeping it illegal – not only drug lords want it illegal. In the US the prison system and law enforcement agencies thrive on drugs being illegal. Nevertheless, we have seen the state cannot protect people from themselves.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  84. Danny M

    I Like to smoke Marijuana and i would love for it to legal, but as for hard drugs like heroine, coke, meth and crack they should never be legalised. It is obvious the affects drugs like that have on people, unlike Marijuana which has been proven to have benefits. I think that if Marijuana was legal allot of people would prefer to buy something legal in the store than something illegal on the street. I know i would.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  85. Chris McBride

    I agree that drug prohibition is not effective. In many cases it's counteractive. The money the government spends on the war on drugs could be spent on awareness and prevention campaigns, as well as addiction recovery. Let's keep room in the jails for dangerous criminals. Ending prohibition will significantly decrease gang violence and will reduce the need of organized crime. Most the danger to the public comes from the ones who sell and transport the drugs, not the users. Ending prohibition sounds like a crazy dream at first, but it would truly result in a safer America.

    Marijuana is especially ridiculous. THC is less addictive, less harmful, and impairs the user less than alcohol, yet history tells us that alcohol prohibition does not work. Why then is an even less potent drug illegal?

    I do have a couple questions, though.

    Do you think that if the US (or Canada) legalized drugs (or even just one or a few drugs) it would set an example, and cause other nations to do the same? Or the opposite question: do you believe that the US would be more likely to consider legalization, or at least decriminalization if other nations did it first?

    I'm also curious as to what you think the cultural effects would be if drugs (or even one or a few drugs) were legalized.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  86. Pillowcase

    Why not still fight the drug war – Even if it is a total failure and Wa$te.

    Reason...: It's a jobs program. It supports many prisin guards, prisin support services, investigators, cops chasing after drigs, etc.

    Also, it's a great job stimulis package for criminals, traffickers, and gangs. Without the war on drugs, they'd all be out of work.

    So who cares if it's a waste, and a loosing battle for 60 years...?

    November 17, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  87. Flibbertygibbet

    Who benefits from prohibition?

    November 17, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  88. Joe M

    I actually did a report on this in debate class when I was in high school about 12 years ago.
    It's easier for kids go get crack than it is to get alcohol. Nobody sells alcohol on the streets.
    Regulation, not prohibition.

    Joe –
    Clean for 5 years

    November 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  89. Margaret

    While reading this article the first thing that came to my mind was 'survival of the fittest' – if idiots want to smoke crack all day, do it, and they'll die and not procreate – creating a better society

    Another thing that came to mind was 'temptation' – because drugs are illegal they're more exciting and risky, eliminate that thrill of 'doing something bad' and the temptation to do drugs may deminish

    November 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  90. Roger

    Hi, yes I too agree with some of the sentiments of Steve's position.
    The War on Drugs has failed to control drug use and production and has succeeded in creating a booming black market and funding a criminal underworld. Of course, drug use is undesirable in society generally, but this is not to say responsible informed adults are not able to occasionally enjoy some recreational drugs and lead entirely normal lives – rather than being criminalised for this as currently.

    A good start would be for drug classifications to be based on risk level – rather than ideological (often religious) views. My view is that drug classification does little to deter and only criminalizes individuals to greater extremes.

    Where I live in Amsterdam marijuana use is legal in a controlled environment and I see no sign of this being a negative on society. In most countries marijuana is an obvious first drug to legalize ahead of the more addictive methamphetamines. Education and regulation should be part of any moves to legalize and this should be monitored and evaluated carefully. From this we can learn about under what conditions decriminalisation/regulation can be an effective control/monitoring on both the drugs market and the limitation of social harms from drug use.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  91. Margaret

    And I def agree with Gerard – drug users should not be eligable for health care!!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  92. John

    Are you ef'ing kidding? Have we all forgotten what it was like to be a teenager? Your brain doesn't function rationally as an adolescent. Sure, I pushed the bounds and smoked a little weed, but had harder stuff been accessible, I probably would have given it a try, just because my parent's wouldn't approve. Yet, even at that age, I had enough sense to know that if it was on the "very bad" list, I could get my thrills from doing a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

    Making it legal would have encouraged me to use things that were much, much worse for me. I went through my phase. Some people I know have wasted their lives on cocaine and crystal meth.

    Before you go hootin' your horn about how badly drug laws have failed, think about how much worse things could have been had they not been there at all. And all of those criminals–do you think they will just disappear? Quite likely that they'll still find even worse ways to make illicit money, like extortion and kidnapping–already happening in some places where drug money is not to be made.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  93. Sara

    An increase in the availability of illegal drugs would probably lead to overdosing and death of many drug addicts... problem solved.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  94. James

    I can imagine the headlines now..."ABC Narcotics Co. posts record profits sending their stock price to new highs and junkies across the country are raking in the profits".

    November 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  95. Brian

    All the way on top it says the US spends about 6.25 Billion to lock up criminals associated to drug crimes. Round it up and lets say 10 Billion a year we are paying for the War on Drugs that is currently failing.

    Estimates of Medical costs of smoking vary a lot. As it is hard to point down. Based on NMES-2, (1987–88 data), the estimated total expected medical expenditures in the United States in 1987 were $3.265 trillion, the smoking attributable medical expenditures in 1987 were $212.275 billion, and the fraction of expected medical expenditures attributable to smoking was 6.5 percent. (http://www.rwjf.org/reports/grr/024844.htm)

    If you legalize all drugs, I guarantee you that we would be spending a lot more on taking care of the addicts and the after effects of them taking the drugs then we do now as well as what we spent on the war on drugs.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  96. juan bosco

    100% agree with you. All drugs should be legal, NOT ONLY ALCOHOL AND TOBACO ... my theory is that in this modern world everithing is profit driven, so, alcohol and tobaco (real killers of hundreths of thousands if not millions users AND not users each year), so alcohol and tobaco are legal because they produce more profit that way; and weed, coke, tar, etc, etc, are illigal because they produce more profit that way.... so, until the governments are willing to take away that profit from organized crime, is not going to happen, but when and if it happens, organized crime is not just going to sit there and say, "o.k., now's your business"... there'll be a diferent kind of equally bloody 'drug war' then,,,, so, is not that simple..... so, as a drug user friend told me: "why do they want to legalize?, so we can do what we've always done anyway?

    November 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  97. mark

    Bravo, bravo.... but they'll never do it, but it would solve a lot of problems.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  98. Gerben Wierda

    Rational politics work far better in a case like this. Education and health care are far better mechanisms for fighting drug (ab)use then prohibition and (state) violence. This has even been proven scientifically.

    Completely free is not a good alternative either. It is possible to take measures that limit the scale of abuse. E.g. price mechanism (taxes), prohibition of advertizing, etc.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  99. Gerben Wierda

    BTW. Legalizing drugs is the best anti Al-Qaida measure one can take.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  100. Matthew

    i completely agree with jane put the money into better use, a rehab place a proper one, crime sould go down and everyone will be a lot happier and i am someone how never uses the stuff

    November 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  101. Robert Yeatts

    The basic underlying argument supporting prohibition is that if you legalize another drug, you will be adding another problem to our society joining alcohol and tobacco.

    The crucial problem with that viewpoint is that people are going to use drugs regardless of legalization or not. You really aren't reducing drug use by prohibiting it. Regulation, Taxation, and Control are the best solutions.

    It's a joke that the DEA calls those substances that are illegal "controlled substances" yet they have less control over the manufacture and distribution of them than tobacco and alcohol.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  102. Alexandre

    Greetings from Brazil,

    I have a question for Mr. Rolles. I agree with legalization (in fact it is advancing slowly but steady throught the last decades), but in countries like Brazil, with huge criminal rates, it could unleash a kind of hell. We can imagine that the well armed fellow that rule drug dealing from the "favelas" (slums like seen in Rio) will not start selling used cars or microwave ovens. These people simply will advance like a juggernaut over the rest of the society. Therefore, in such cases, what can we expect from legalization or should we do this at all?


    November 17, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  103. Robert Yeatts

    I just wanna counter this guy's post above that said this_____

    November 17th, 2009 1528 GMT

    "I can imagine the headlines now..."ABC Narcotics Co. posts record profits sending their stock price to new highs and junkies across the country are raking in the profits".

    I think this guy's comment is stupid. Apparently he'd rather have the mexican drug lord's raking in millions than have actual American citizens benefit economically from drug sales.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  104. Chris

    Druggies of the world unite. At least alcohol has some passing health benefits (and I believe counts as a poison rather than a drug). There is NO benefit to the hard drugs and there are MANY downsides. We should increase punishment for the drugs not make them more lax. If you follow the studies one joint has the same effect on response times as being drunk. The hard stuff is worse.

    I don't understand how any of you can actually believe that drugs would make the world better.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  105. Gerrie

    What kind of backwards insanity is this! You people should listen to yourselves, "People are going to break the law anyway.. might as well make a profit." Are you kidding me! That is like saying, "murderers are going to murder anyway, might as well make a profit. We could create a reliaty TV show where murderer kill each other and entertain us."

    Dont you people have any self respect left. This whole question already presupposes that making your body completely dependent on an artificial form of pleasure is ok. What a wicked people we are to entertain such an idea.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  106. adam

    francy, people already smoke crack 24-7, we just don't get any tax revenue from it.


    November 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  107. Keith

    We have to change the way we deal w/ problems. The war on drugs, the war in the middle east, the war on health care, etc. etc. The reason so many people are smoking pot these days is because of all these wars—everyone is just looking for an escape from this destructive reality.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  108. Lee Russell

    Look to China for the two paths we could take to solve our huge drug problem. China used to have legal opium dens where all the druggies could go to get buzz on. Drug use was very common then. I guess all of the supporter of legalized drugs are looking to create many legalized crack dens though out the USA. I think this we all ready have this but there not legal. China did not want this so they began executing all users, sellers, and everyone connected to the drug trade. Their prisons are empty as they have little crime compared to the USA. I am in favor total capital punishment for all who traffic and use drugs or legalization of all drugs. Our system is broken we need a change.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  109. Jim Jimmerson

    I truly wish this issue was given more of a public forum, its nice to see it being discussed on CNN. It is true most drugs are harmful and destructive, but the criminalization of these substances has had no positive affect. Rather, adverse affects have arisen as were mentioned by several astute commentators. I truly hope we as a society can see the benefit of decriminalizing most drugs. Perhaps not all...

    November 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  110. Thomas S

    People should really think before they post:

    "Murder should be legalized also. People who murder will continue to murder regardless of laws in place, therefore it is only logical to remove those laws...

    There is a 300 billion dollar business that employs 100,000s of criminals surrounding murder? No. Infact a massive amounts of murders take place because of drugs deals etc.


    To anyone who says they 'hate' drugs should think carefully next time they do them. Like drink a glass of wine, or anything with caffeine in it, take an aspirin or have a cigarette.

    Someone please explain to me how we are all for saving the planets species until the Man tells us certain ones (Cannabis, psychedelic mushrooms, cacti etc.) are bad therefore they are illegal and don't think twice about killing them off as fast as possible.

    3000 deaths occur every year in the US directly caused by aspirin. No one has ever died from smoking cannabis.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  111. Scott


    Are you saying that the only thing keeping you from smoking crack "24-7" is that it is illegal?

    November 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  112. Rich

    Let me say first off that I've never used any illegal drugs, not even pot. I've also had a brother destroy himself and die at age 40 from using them.

    You know, the way I look at this issue is rather simplistic, I'll admit, but let's look at the known factors here. We do not know if enacting legalization would reduce or increase drug use. We can only speculate. We also do not know the exact impact on things like crime. Again, speculation. What we do know is that instead of losing money available for government spending and programs, we could be gaining money to use on those programs and spending.

    In other words, if you consider any particular economic issue or social cause, you can be certain the government will have more income, and that income -might- go toward the cause you most support. That, in itself, seems like a persuasive argument to legalize these drugs.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  113. petersanning

    I would also like to make the distinction between what is legal for consenting adults, and what should continue to be illegal for those who are under-aged. I saw someone arguing that the rest of us had forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. Well that should of course not change. It should be the same as for alcohol, of course! I don't think many serious debaters would argue for legalization for children!

    Another thing to be said for legalization is the control of quality of the drug. Many people get hurt from drugs because they are mixed with other non-illegal substances that are not intended for consumption. Like when they mix cocaine with different things. Imagine that you had to go to the local pharmacy to buy the cocaine and you knew that for example Johnson & Johnson had produced it. And you would then be sure that you got what you paid for and that it would not be anything else than cocaine (for example).... Or it would be "cut" with something that wouldn't be dangerous.

    Same goes for ecstacy and other drugs too.

    I also agree that it is by far better for our society to give information and spend money on that, and on helping those who get stuck in a addiction, just like we should help those with alcohol addiction.

    And think about all the gun wielding Colombians who would be jobless, that should put a smile on most right-wing-forbidd-everything voters

    November 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  114. Joao Leonel (Brazil)

    A few questions:
    What exactly do we mean by “legalizing” drugs?
    Does legalizing mean that organized crime will loose its hand on traditional (as cocaine, LSD, etc) or innovative (synthetics still to be invented) heavy drugs, since there is always a good margin for profits from addicted people that will buy any substance that will provide the “trip”?
    Considering the drama of the XIX Century’s “opium wars” in China (which was a major factor in the downfall of the Chinese Empire), as human beings, are we so different from the Chinese people?
    What will the “human price” be of a mistaken policy, which results in thousands of newly addicted in a short period of time?
    Are we really in a “war against drugs”? The police probably is. But what about governments and its politicians, or the regular citizen who buys and uses those drugs?

    November 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  115. Phyllis Roth

    You have some very good points. My main concern would be that young people who would not use illegal drugs would assume they are not too harmful if they are legal. Most people feel this way about alcohol and tobacco and we know the damge done with smoking and alcohol abuse and dependence.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  116. silencedogood

    Not all of them. We need a top down look at which ones, absent hype, really are harmful and those should still be illegal...at least until I'm no longer paying any civil services (be it health care, welfare, etc.) for people who choose to use those drugs.

    November 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  117. D Concepcion

    I have been preaching this for years! Recently a couple of Ex-Presidents from Latin America (i.E. Fox, Gaviria) have stated that the war on drugs is not working! Mexico and Argentina have taken the lead to de-criminalize Marijuana. Europe is ahead of the game, the US is behind on this issue. Taking away all that power given to the FBI, DEA, etc is going to be hard. A lot more unemployed. But really, we need to stop this ridiculous approach! In Puerto Rico (USA) a youngster is caught with a bit of Marijuana and his is arrested. He will have a criminal record that will prevent him or her from getting a Pell Grant nor a Job. This is inhumane!

    November 17, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  118. Nathan

    I agree wholeheartedly with legalization as long as it is accompanied by significant regulation–which seems to be what Steve is advocating, judging by the title of his book (which I have not read). It is obvious the goals of the "War on Drugs" have not been met and it is not for a lack of effort and funding. I also believe it will be politically difficult to get legalization the consideration it deserves, but it is up to people on this board to start inserting this into discussions and asking questions. A few things that have frustrated me here:

    1. People who equate murder and drug use. "Let's legalize murder too!" I imagine you realize how stupid you sound–there is a broad consensus on murder, whereas there is no such consensus on drugs. If you really believe having a gram of pot is equivalent to violent crime then you will not be convinced by any sort of reason.

    2. Legalization doesn't mean there is no regulation or monitoring of usage. "I don't want my coworkers coming to work high!" Just as it is possible to make a driver or employee take a breathalyzer or blood test to make sure they're not drunk, you can punish people for using in the wrong circumstances.

    3. Legalization doesn't mean your kids will have easy access. "I don't want my 10 year old buying coke from a government run store!" If you're under 21, you're not even allowed to set foot in a liquor store. Purchasing drugs (whichever ones are deemed safe enough for broader public access) could be regulated in any number of ways–most importantly by age.

    4. Just because it's available, doesn't mean everyone will start using hard drugs. "If crystal meth is available everyone will try it!" Education on drugs and their effects is critical and will keep people (like me) who have experimented with drugs from going straight to the most powerful ones available.

    5. Drug dealers will not overnight become criminals to an even greater degree. "My local drug dealer will start shooting and robbing people because he can't sell drugs!" First, this makes it seem like you're okay with someone dealing drugs to whomever he/she pleases as long as he doesn't harm you. Second, drug dealers are in large part fairly regular people and often have very regular jobs. They do not want to hurt people–they just want to make more money and don't have a moral problem with drugs. The ones who wish to harm people in general will commit violent crimes in addition to, not as a substitute for, selling drugs.

    The tax money that can be gained is a distant secondary or tertiary effect but one that is a net positive. The real benefits are: 1) police and security forces that no longer have to concentrate efforts on monitoring drug dealers (most of whom are not "dangerous" in the violent sense) and can pursue the murders, rapists, terrorists and robbers who continue to inflict pain on our communities and 2) removing money from the hands of the outlaws who grow, manufacture and distribute drugs in the forms of cartels.

    Undoubtedly, drugs can take an enormous toll on society–but many people who overdose on drugs have gotten them from our convenient stores (Tylenol) or taken them from home medicine cabinets (pain killers, etc.).

    By legalizing and regulating drugs we can monitor user habits and give addicts help they sorely need–in the form of weening people off of drugs by scaling back dosage, or getting them to clinics that can help them live happy lives without drugs. Require people to have prescriptions, not contacts in the criminal underworld.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  119. Mary

    I completely agree. People will do drugs regardless if it is legal or not....remember as a teenager being 18 or 19 (some of us even younger)...sneaking in alcohol despite it being illegal, did that stop us?? No, we did it anyways...the same goes for drugs. Just because you label it as illegal, does not mean that will deter others from trying drugs. The Government needs to provide a safe alternative for individuals who choose to do drugs, in a responsible manner. The Government should not be meddling what you do in the privacy of your own home, the government should only interfere when you are irreversible harming others or harming yourself....such as getting behind the wheel and possible killing others. You will be surprised how many individuals use "soft drugs" like marijuana, your high school teachers, your police officers, your mayor, and the list goes on...and these are individuals who pay their bills on time, act responsibly in every aspect of their lifes, but choose to do this in the PRIVACY of their own home, while not infringing on others and not harming others, should these individuals be jailed?? Not in my opinion, they are people in our communities that are not drug dealers, not junkies, or peddlers, but upstanding members that use drugs in a recreational manner, they are not addicts that will sell every bit of furniture or become so consumed with drugs that they control every aspect of their lives. There is a big differences between a recreational user and an addict, with an addict there are other underlying issues that lead to addiction that have nothing to do with the actual "drug" itself. The same laws we must follow for alcohol and tobacco use, should apply. While the alcohol and tobacco industry rake in billions of dollars each year from consumers, the government sure doesn't mind as long as they are putting money in their pockets, ignoring the thousands of cases of individuals dying from cancer and various others illnesses caused by alcohol and tobacco. As a nation, we should be more involved in what our government is doing to us....If we dont become involved, WE DON'T COUNT!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  120. Shadysider

    Legalize organic drugs. Marijuana, mushrooms, opium and hash. I would have a harder time condoning the legalization of hard drugs such as Meth, Crack, coke, heroin, speed, etc. These are the grugs that lead to huge problems.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  121. Bob in Kansas City

    The drug interdiction that the use has engaged in for 50 years has resulted in nothing except creating an entire industry to support the interdiction machine. Just as homeland security has done with absolutely no results of deminishing. Time to regulate marijauna use and spend the money elswhere!

    November 17, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  122. Terri

    Finally, a voice of reason in the darkness ...

    November 17, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  123. Bruce KRANZLER

    You take the money out of the drug trade you have no trade. Econ 101 But don't fall into the trap of taxation and commercialization. If cigarettes were legal but it was strictly forbidden to promote or glamorize them in any way (Helvetica # 12 font spells out "Marlboro" on the package) smoking would be waning in this country. Making the state complicit in their sale is not a solution. This prohibition in turn is easy to enforce. No black market, no glamor. Simple. In the US these (idiotically) become "free speech" issues. The only way poison should be advertised is with a skull a crossbones.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  124. carl

    On the face of it, taking the subject of legalising drugs makes sense and i have thought so for a few years now.

    You ensure quality and standardise the product – everyone knows what they are getting. The shady, back alley traders are eliminated. Government revenue is increased. Crime is reduced and so, you would think, are policing costs. And i would imagine that health services would benefit too.

    However, I have a couple of nagging points:

    Firstly, how would the supply chain work?
    -Would there be government labs across the country producing consumer grade cocaine, ecstasy, weed etc...?
    -How would you apply consumer testing (though I'm sure plenty would volunteer)?
    -What about licensing outlets, wouldn't the temptation to have a little dabble of the 'white stock' be too much for the 'shop assistant' (i mean, what's a little dab of the finger when you have a couple of kilos' in the back room?) just how would this be managed?

    Secondly, would it really remove the criminal element?
    If we take Alcohol, Tobacco and Over The Counter (OTC) Drugs, all of these are available in counterfeit form already. I'm sure it wouldn't be too long before Legalised Cocaine, Weed etc.. would be available in counterfeit form.

    What about the supply chain security. Wouldn't the production labs and outlets be targets for criminal gangs?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for popping down the road, registering for a couple of grams and a bag of weed and having a good weekend. I would prefer very much to know exactly what i am buying, and get health advice based on funded and controlled research. Its a nice dream, but no government is strong enough to make it happen, and the overall population is to insecure to let it happen.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  125. Carol Roche

    For "FRANCY", you are so naive. People are ALREADY SMOKING 24/7. Get in touch with reality. Finally people have expressed exactly what needs to be done in ALL countries. It would be amazing to see this happen in our real world!

    November 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  126. Alexandre


    Your statement was perfect. I can't believe how stupid some people can be. First: they imagine that legalize drugs means SUPPORTING drugs!! Second: they imagine, as usual with a unbeliveable naivety, that drugs will be sold on every corner, to anybody, even kids!! Third: people that NEVER have tried on drugs will suddenly became junkies just because it will be legal!

    However, the point 5 ("Drug dealers will not overnight become criminals..") doesn't aply to places like Brazil (I've submit another commet above). In fact, this is what exactly will happen here, unfortunately.

    Greetings from Brazil


    November 17, 2009 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  127. Marisa Landau

    Totally agree with decriminalization, especially cannabis which is *not* a drug (i.e. processed) but rather a "plant", a simple weed that grows everywhere in world just by the roadside. How can you forbid people to smoke some leaves of grass??

    Another reason, besides all those pointed out here, is that the anti-drug laws are profoundly anti-poor and anti-black. Here in Brazil the middle and upper classes smoke marijuana and snort cocaine to their hearts' content, unbothered, but if you are a poor, black person caught with a tiny amount, you are doomed.

    And of course the police and drug departments would have to be diverted to something useful like defending the public agains real criminals and serving the public in case of natural catastrophes etc. Go ask them if they want this. Where's the money for them in it?

    But I'm not so pessimistic since I see states and individual cities in the US liberating drugs like a recent article in the NY Times about a ski town in Colorado.
    Maybe our grandchildren will be luckier than us?

    November 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  128. Vence

    Give me 1000 soldiers take me out human rights, and I will finish with the drug problem in the U.S.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  129. ED

    It's not just "legalize". You have to register the currently addicted users, so you know how much to manufacture and provide. You have to have a significant educational program that deals honestly with the range of choices that people can make.

    And even with all that, I am not sure you can make it clear to the younger generation what the difference is between organics and bio-actives. Maybe you can. Maybe just TV commercials showing 4 year users of each drug would be sufficient.

    And like one post said, the heavy users drawn to hard drugs will drop out of hte gene pool in just a few short years.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  130. herbert schall

    just like whiskey during the 20,s failed
    so is this system
    we should learn from what we have learned from history

    have a drug dept. like fire and arms and alchhol
    with the same results

    November 17, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  131. Erkanino

    well legalize weed at least tax it and make money..as for harder drugs dont think so.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  132. John Doe

    All drugs aren't the same and shouldn't be treated the same. All drugs need to be categorized based on severity of addiction, ill health effects, association with spreading disease, and level of inebriation while under the influence. Note how alcohol and cigarettes rate on this system. Cigarettes are very addictive and unhealthy, yet they do not inebriate, nor is there a possibility of overdose. People can OD on alcohol, can be severely inebriated (causing accidents), a large minority do develop severe addiction, and there are also ill health effects, although not as severe as cigarettes. Any drug that rates lower than alcohol and cigarettes should be allowed for recreational use, Anything else should be illegal to sell but not to use. Use should be considered and treated as a disease. Money saved through lower incarcerations, and taxes levied would pay for treatment and prevention programs. This approach would provide the best health, safety, and the fairest balance of rights vs social stability.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  133. Ronaldo Franca

    I just think that the best example of all this is what happeneded with the USA in the XIX century trying to prohibite alcohol. They tried hard and then became to conclusion that would be better for all society legalize. Why they don`t do this with drugs? It is an interesting question to think.
    To be honest, I think that it is a matter of time. And the future generations will laugh how hypocrite we all were!!

    Ronaldo from Brazil!

    November 17, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  134. Ahmed Bahgat

    Certainly the drug laws must be changed, the only way to kill the drug black market is to legalized it,.

    Everyone self responsible for any harm done to the self.


    November 17, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  135. Hank Beard

    Yes we should legalize the use of drugs for the past 45 years people are still user legal drugs, and people keep coming up with new drugs every year and it not going to stop. Were is all this money going and who is receive it? We keep building more and more state prison putting more and more people in them and when one go's in there is some one esle to take theie place in the durg war. When our we going to see we can't win this way and we are not going to win. You have to take the cash cow profit out on the plan and then we will see a change.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  136. Goat

    In response to Fancy: People are already smoking crack 24/7... just they don't know what is in it, they are probably committing violent crime robbing your house to get the money to buy it, and they have no support structures available to them if they want to get off. Before calling people idiots, why not look at a bit of history... Prohibition worked all so well in the US, allowing the perfect money making vehicle for the Mafia giving them immense power in the 1930's and onwards. In Holland 'soft' drugs are de-criminalized, marijuana can be bought direct from Coffee Shops and there is a thriving drugs tourism trade (only because surrounding countries don't have the same laws), but the Dutch per capita are one of the lowest users of soft drugs in Europe – as there is nothing "cool" about taking them. Why? Because they can. Legalize drugs, with controls of course, you have a taxable, clean product, support systems and tests (like drink driving), you would pull more than a million people out of the present prison system and prevent many more to follow, completely undermine gangs, organized crime, terrorists (and probably the CIA) from their funding, and save who knows how much money of this fifty year failed war on drugs... will there be teething problems? Yeah, sure. But driving it underground, making it non-taxable and highly profitable for disreputable organizations is idiotic. Anyone who can't see the common sense above the puritan fear of the word "drugs" needs to have a good look at themselves.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  137. Peter Bell

    The Chinese had legal opium and they still died in the thousands from the crack houses they visited legally and criminals still grew up in that culture also.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  138. Pop Music Pro

    Okay...I'm going to take a deep breath and inhale as a salute to the writer of this article!

    Only kidding folks, but seriously, as a recreational marijuana user, I am quite surprised really about about the various different aspects of this whole issue, but in light of this, several things are becoming very clear to me after reading both this article and the reader's comments, namely:

    1. The illegality of drugs is clearly connected to violence and terrorism.

    It was never so brutally clear to me until I just finished reading this article.

    Or, as we would say in Pothead-Speak...

    "Whoa. Heavy man."

    2. Although I am and have long been against total 100% legalization on relatively moral grounds (can you believe it?...yes, me the recreational pothead has traditionally been AGAINST full legalization!), primarily concerning the future fate of all potential children that would inevitably be affected by such a radical decision that full-on legalization represents.

    However, when I now think about it, with the point being made about how the violence would inevitably come to a dramatic slowdown and eventual end, the mentally comparative evidence becomes almost shockingly clear.

    What I find a bit fascinating though is that bizarrely enough, it would not end there though.

    Fascinatingly, the drug traffickers would then logically become financial competitors with the government who made the drugs legal, but it would probably most likely go more along the lines of how the U.S. Postal system has to deal with independent mail services like UPS or Fedex!

    (A little joke for my fellow PotHeads: Can you imagine the government fighting the indie suppliers on who's gonna win the marketing war on supplying "Kind-Buds" to the people?...!!!! – Sorry CNN, I just had to say that, I really couldn't resist!).

    But still though, where would be the need for the violence any longer?

    This blatantly obvious and extremely important point can simply not afford to be ignored or overlooked by any politician who sincerely cares about the factual safety of their own children in this world.

    Can any sane person disagree with this?

    No, not even me, the Pot smoking guy who thinks that drugs shouldn't be totally legal!

    It is in my humble opinion that when compared to the deadly violence inflicted upon the innocent masses from the drug traffickers, and also by way of the governments themselves (unintentionally of course), maybe the total legalization of drugs would seem a moot point after all in comparison.

    As I smoke my imaginary joint, it certainly has me thinking, I'll tell you that much!

    Remember, this is coming from a guy who typically does not feel that drugs should be 100% legalized – I have long been a fan of controlled decriminalization and sensible tolerance by the government, just like they do it here where I live in The Netherlands.

    Because of the more sensibly relaxed attitude toward marijuana use in particular here, there exists a feeling of (relative) overall content with the government officials by the people who smoke it, thus de-activating any potential uprising of the people against the government, and yes, also naturally taking the "sting" out of the violence from the drug traffickers.

    Perhaps our good and very cool ex-marijuana smoking president should take a national survey of the people on all the points surrounding this critical issue and maybe do a trial run to see what would happen if for 6 months to a year the USA simply refused to allow the drug dealers any room for doing their dirty work whatsoever and just go ahead and legalize it for a limited test period, and then make it illegal again to see what happens afterwards.

    No matter how much I might love my marijuana, I still feel it is imperative to have a sane and balanced approach to what is clearly a volatile issue in this world.

    And incidentally, to think about how much money the governments would rake in each year from this action is truly staggering, and I think that is putting it very mildly.

    We're easily talking into the multi-Billions folks.

    Not to mention the whole Hemp issue, which would free up thousands of acres of farmland to grow Hemp, an almost 100% THC-free relative of smokable marijuana, and this product alone could revolutionize the entire U.S. economy on it"s own merit...(I think in all honesty that Hemp has the potential to so deeply overshadow the revenue that the now currently illegal drugs would bring in if they were legal, that it's literally no laughing matter. they should really consider this massively non-ignorable point).

    Any thoughts people?

    Over and out.

    A concerned World-Citizen.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  139. sergey

    It is time not to change Law by legalizing drugs – But it is the time to alter stupid democracy – change the stupid system – go to downtown of San Francisco , CA, USA or Vancouver, Canada – people using and dealing drugs few yards away of Police stations – WHAT A JOKE !!!

    November 17, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  140. John Doe

    One more note. The use of a drug principally harms the user, not the people around him, in the way that theft or murder do (provided he doesn't drive under the influence). If a drug is illegal, then the production and sale of it do result in people being harmed, sometimes innocents caught in crossfire. Legalization of such drugs would stop these crimes, further reducing the harm users put on others. For drugs that are extremely addictive and harmful, such as heroin, they should be illegal to sell direclty to consumers, but should be available freely in treatment centers, where users can get a fix in a controlled environment. Making sales legal to such hospitals would legitimize production of them as well, further depowering cartels.

    November 17, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  141. Brent

    Yes, it is absolutely time that drugs are legalized and decriminalize all drugs! The present course of action isn’t working. I’m in my late fifties and tried pot for the first time when I was 15 and have enjoyed it off and on for about 43 years now. I’m a productive member of society, I’ve never been on welfare and I don’t over consume and I have not become addicted to other drugs. But I can tell you this, I hate the fact that every time I buy some pot and smoke it I’m breaking the law. Just who are these people, my peers, who fail to see the common sense of simply legalizing drugs? Meanwhile Wall Street barons are getting away with swindling savings from hard working citizens and walking away scot free and HMOs are bankrupting families with health issues. It makes one wonder what in the world is going on and where is the common sense? I just don’t get it!

    November 17, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  142. Rich


    I won't pretend to understand Brazil's unique atmosphere, but you might be surprised. Funding an army to take on the government is expensive business, at a time when profits would be nil for entities that rely mostly or solely on drug sales.

    Assuming your country itself has good intentions and isn't simply the official face for such criminals, at least. If they will combat violent criminals, then I think you'd see criminals at a low, as their means of making money dwindles.

    Plus, the government would have more money to fight crime because of new taxes on these drugs. This income would also offset some of the desire to get in bed with criminals.

    The bottom line is that corruption, crime, etc will always exist, and will always look for ways to overcome justice and morality, but these drugs are a resource – no less than money, oil, and so on. He who controls the resource has greater power, and right now we're allowing those criminals to control this resource. If nothing else, legalizing drugs would put control of that resource in gov't hands.

    November 17, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  143. raganjo

    ok, first off before anyone here gets on a rant let me start off by saying im 35, male, employed, and have never been in trouble with the law. having been in the restaurant industry for 20 years now i cant count how many times ive seen patrons sit at the bar get VERY drunk and then get behind the wheel of their cars and drive home only to get a dui or even worse hurt somebody else. and yet alcohol use is totally legal here in the us. however if i were to buy an ounce of marijuana and sit in my apartment and get high im supposedly a menace to society and should be locked up in jail. and yet the funny thing is, i dont really ever drink. id much rather sit at a friends house and smoke a joint, watch some tv or just play some game and enjoy my friends company and not go anywhere. i find it very hard to believe that our society considers a person like me to be immoral and detrimental to society when im not doing anyone harm. our society is full of hypocrites who chastise people like me and then go out and drink themselves to death or even worse hurt somebody else. ive met and known many police officers and health care professionals who virtually all agree that decriminalization of "soft drugs" like marijuana and mushrooms would actually be beneficial to society. imagine if the police officers didnt have to worry about locking up somebody for having a joint on their person and instead could be out looking for drunk drivers, rapists, murderers etc. imagine the economical gains from a new industry which the govt can regulate and tax. most users agree that a $50 per ounce tax would gladly be paid for the right to smoke pot and not have to get arrested. the logical reasons for legalization far outweigh prohibition, unfortunately our political leaders are cowards and lack the resolve to make the necessary decisions that would end this losing war on drugs we have now. i find it funny that whenever you see on tv or read in the paper about decriminalization of drugs the only ones who will go on record for it are the local judges, police officers, cos, medical professional, and average citizens who have nothing to loose but everything to gain from this. basically the people who have to deal with this problem day in and day out. as a person who has smoked marijuana for almost 20 years i can honestly say that ive never had a desire to do any other type of drug. ive never laid a hand on my ex wife(as a high majority of alcoholics do), never hurt someone, nor have i ever tried to rob or steal from someone to get high(i just get a little cranky), heck i dont even like to get drunk anymore really, id rather smoke pot and not get a hangover. its funny that in todays society its become socially acceptable to say "im an alcoholic and ive ruined my life and destroyed my family", but if you were to say "i smoke pot and actually lead a productive life" you are instantly categorized as a looser and therefore should be locked up in jail. my dad was abused by his alcoholic father when he was young and because of that i have little tolerance and pity for alcoholics, as an employer i flat out refuse to hire someone with a drinking problem because ive seen it ruin many lives and yet because of our current legislation if i were to openly say this to my superiors i would be terminated instantly. however ive know MANY people who all are all recreational pot smokers and they have some of my best workers. its a shame that our country looks down on people like myself and yet the abusive alcoholics are given a free pass. my only crime that ive ever committed is buying a bag of weed and getting high while i watch discovery channel. we desperately need to change our drug laws but until our elected leader decide to "grow a pair" the status quo will continue and many people will go to jail for committing a victimless crime. legalize "soft drugs", tax it, stop spending money on prisons and start spending it on rehab centers and community awareness projects. anyways thats just my two cents worth...


    November 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  144. Will

    Drugs, guns, and prostitution. Only one of these is legal in the US save Nevada. And only one of these is designed with the intent to kill or mame other people. Oddly enough that happens to be the one that is legal. Wow if we only used the money fighting drugs and prostitution on education and developing jobs in this country... maybe folks wouldn't need so many drugs to feel better.

    November 17, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  145. OJS

    Criminalization of drugs benefits the criminals. Just like prohibition benefited those who sold illegal liquor, drug criminalization makes bilions for the drug trade. The best and only way to win the war on drugs is to take out the profit for drug dealers and make drugs available through government outlets. This will also make drug treatment available to users. Add to the decriminalization of drug use the life imprisonment of any one other than the government selling drugs and we'll have a chance of reducing the drug problems we face.

    November 17, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  146. Natalie

    I think drugs are a very selfish habit, similar to alcohol and cigarettes when they are abused. The children are the largest suffers. Adults can make their own health decisions, the children however cannot. If drugs are legalized, there at least need to be strict guidelines for those citizens with children. A parent or caretaker may never go above a certain testable limit. PLUS many say the solution to decreasing the usage, is through taxation. Taxes will just cripple a person, but never stop them. Look at how many poor people still smoke and drink. They just go without healthy and sufficient food to make up for the dent in their pocket. Right now supposedly only the rich can afford drugs, but there are people that would rather pay for drugs than their rent, making them homeless and talespin into a horrible poverty cycle. Yeah the war on drugs costs a lot, and it isn't really effective. I simply don't think there is a good solution, but legalization is far from the answer.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  147. Keira

    What kind of drugs are we talking about legalizing? Is it just marijuana? Cocaine, crack-cocaine & crystal meth? Ecstasy??

    While I agree that the 'war on drugs' has spent billions (or even trillions) trying to erradicate drugs, what are some alternative steps to curb the use of drugs while keeping it a cost-effective 'war'?? Is this a govt issue? A medical issue? Can both entities work in tandem to find a happy medium?

    I don't mind the legalization of marijuana if it ever came to pass, but the other, more serious drugs? It's not sitting right with me at the moment.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  148. Teacake

    Of course drugs should never be legalized! What I want is for other intoxicants to be banned just like during the prohibition era. What do you think will happen if drugs are legalized when people can't even drink alcohol in safe quantities! See how much societies pay in terms of money spent of law enforcement personnel, innocent lives lost, health problems etc, as a result of alcohol abuse.

    Whether influenced by relgious or political ideology these harmful substances should be removed from societies because human beings on the average cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  149. sas473

    as it is – nothing is stopping people from taking illegal hard drugs if they want it – they can get it; those who don't chose not to do so
    if you legalize all drugs, all you'll drop is the jailing of drug users – the choice to use drugs is not influenced if it's legal or not

    November 17, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  150. Dennis L Bailey, MD

    The illegal drug trade will continue,whether drugs are legalised or not.The profitsare astronomical. The main reason why these drugs ,like cocaine and marijuana, should stay banned, is because they are injurious to good health, and in some cases actually cause SUDDEN DEATH in young "users"

    November 17, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  151. Bailey

    Legalizing might help, but as in the case of alcohol there shoul be a boundry for too much. However, I believe only the non-addicting drugs apply to this equation as the taxpayer will pick up that bill as well.
    The drug problem only applies to those that have fell out socially,whether in school or in the adult workforce. This would seem to be the wiser thing to focus on as drugs are just one of the problems of this. It's the little things that become large, like "wheres Joey? I don't know, who cares were having fun". Well guess what, we found Joey and now, Joey is a problem that needs more attention now than he would have if we had cared for a minute.
    People are the problem, not the various things they use and do. Let's try to stay focused here.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  152. rodneyrenfro

    one step at a time. progress..social progress. the debate here tells me the radicals from the past are quite common today and may be near the 50 percent tipping point of social change.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  153. Alexandre


    I've seen people saying that Rio de Janeiro is likely to NY in the seventies. I can assure you that is a lot worse. We don't have the problems with paramilitary groups (like Colombia has) fighting the government. We have, in fact, a chaotic urban violence, since extreme poverty neighborhoods stands side by side with wealthy ones in our big cities. I'm not standing against legalization (I'm a supporter indeed), but it's interesting to put this on the debacle because this subject is too complex and demands extensive analysis.

    Another interesting thing to consider it's the tobacco situation today. I'm a smoker, and I feel that soon only smoking at home will be allowed here. We're under a growing legal hard smoking control and it's seems that will not stop. I think these kind of concerning reveals what we could expect from drugs legalization. It will be a very narrow space... Nothing like these "wild party" scenario that some fellows imagine.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  154. Patti

    I agree with Natalie. Legalization is far from the answer. It will only make a bad situation worse. Young people would have easier access to hard drugs in the home and on the streets. Unfortunately, young people do not make the best choices. So many young people are alcoholics because it was so easy to try a drink at home or at someone else's home. I just think the thought of easy access to hard drugs may create more addicts, more homeless and more people dying for diseases such as AIDS. We have to protect our youth, because they are the future.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  155. Mark

    To the people that are claiming that crack will take over the streets,
    What you need to understand is that crack is just a cheaper form of cocaine. Most people get addicted to cocaine and then branch on to the cheaper, more dangerous form of crack. If you were to legalize cocaine, and control distribution, then it is safe to say that crack would not be an issue (due to different pricing). So to say that if you do this crack would take over the US, just doesn't make much sense. Do I think that people should use cocaine on a regular basis? No. But if they get addicted I would rather the government control their income, rather than create an underbelly of underground "Cooks".

    November 17, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  156. Jack

    Let’s make all drugs illegal. Keep the illegal drugs illegal and make all other illegal too, alcohol (get rid of distilleries and brewers), tobacco (stop that agriculture industry, smoking also releases green house gasses), caffeine (wont everybody be happier at work?)and all prescription drugs (put an end to the giant pharmaceutical companies that don’t actually cure anything, just keep the people alive so they can get more money). This way everything is fare.

    Come on people, last I heard it was a free country, unless you want to smoke a little bit of a completely natural plant, then the US isn’t the country for you. People are free to make our own decisions, or so we are told. Legalize it and see if people can really make the right decisions.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  157. Fred

    We could solve this whole "drug" problem with 2 simple steps.

    1) Treat drug use like a public health issue like it is in the more advanced societies of western Europe. Provide physical and mental health services to those who abuse drugs. Clean needles and medical supervision. Recognize the drug use itself isn't the problem it's the social problems that drive people to it that are. Nobody "wants" to be a drug addict. I'm not being a bleeding heart I'm just being practical. We are spending billions on the brute force method that obviously doesn't work. We would spend a lot less on treating it like an illness rather than a crime.

    2) Figure out how much money we are spending to interdict drugs,
    start cutting deals with the drug producers in Mexico and Columbia
    with some of that money. The government offers to buy a certain amount for "X" dollars. If the Cartel sells only to the US government they will not be pursued. Their cost of doing business will drop immensely because they have no interdiction or prosecution risks. Drug Cartels are not ideologues, they are business men. Treat drug production like a business and cut them a deal. There would be no more need for violence, no more threat of blood borne disease with dirty needles.

    Unfortunately this is logical and serves the best interests of the American people. This is why the US government will not implement it. It serves only the arms industry, the corrections industry and the surveillance industry. The people who profit from the status quo. That's why the problem will not be solved.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  158. Snowy90

    I think at least they should try to legaliza them and see what effect it has on many things such as consumption, drug-related deaths, etc. The downside to it is that it will take at least a decade to assess a somewhat accurate result of susch change. Having said that, society should still impose rules on consumption at the workplace, school, etc, however they think is appropriate. The example is that they could legalize it, but you still do not want people being under the influence at a job that requires "soberness", and this should be completely understandable. Anything that impairs your ability to act normal and be productive should not be tolerated in any job, and if drugs are one of those things, then such industries should have a right to still ban them. It is just like alcohol, it is legal, but if you come drunk to work you could potentially get fired

    November 17, 2009 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  159. Gio

    Seriously, its about time to legalize drugs. For how many years now, people have being buying illegal drugs. Nothing has improved.

    Drugs are something that exist on earth. Plants that exist will exist for ever, they will just keep growing some where. Its like fighting against nature itself. Impossible.

    Just let them grow. Its just part of life, nature and its uses.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  160. Raphael


    – Reverse the current legislation, allowing for a return to the staus quo if three (4? 5?) years of experience demonstrates failure of the new alternative approach.

    – Users of crack, heroin, and other similarly lethal compounds must first post a burial bond prior to their purchases (no reason for the public to pay for voluntary stupidity).

    – American farmers will grow the undisputed BEST product worldwide (tax the living hell out of it all, and load it with duties: devote the revenue to international hospitals for children).

    We might be surprised by the results, and if not, well then back we go to the old plan again. It will take political guts, but it is the most sensible approach (don't hold your breath though). ~

    November 17, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  161. Robert Yeatts

    The United States of America calls itself the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Yet our Incarceration rate is the highest of any nation in the history of human civilization.

    It's sad that we happen to be the biggest hypocrites in the world.

    It's all because of the failed prohibtion.

    76% of Americans view the War on Drugs as a failure according to Norml.

    With such a broad consensus, why don't we look for a new approach?

    Full Blown Legalization? No.

    Tax, Regulate, and for Adults only similar to alcohol? Yes

    November 17, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Reply
  162. Keith

    Anyone who thinks legalizing drugs will temp their kids more, or give them easier access to the stuff is really in dire need of a reality check. Kids can get anything want already. As a parent you should know this by now!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  163. Nathan


    Good point and a fair question. I have been to Brazil, but can't say I know enough about the society and culture to comment on what would happen.

    I worry some about harder drugs. Many of those require more rigorous regulation and are thus harder to get in a legal but regulated market (there are few plausible explanations for writing a crystal meth prescription). Perhaps drug lords and cartels will simply move on to manufacturing these drugs, since there will undoubtedly continue to be a market for them (i.e. users/addicts who can't find a legit reason to have them prescribed). This is troublesome. However it is certainly more difficult to produce these "laboratory" drugs than to grow or purchase organic drugs that many require for their operations today. And, I believe, the individual demand for those drugs is relatively low in comparison to marijuana and cocaine.

    It is also ironic that many of the hardest drugs out there are made from drugs you can find OTC or even in the aisle of your local grocery store. Comprehensive legislation can help to make this more difficult, but again I'm looking at it from the perspective of what is familiar to me–the US market, society and regulatory structure.

    What I will say about Brazil–they've taken US-style capitalism and have had positive economic results (at least at times). However, they also have an extreme problem that the US faces concurrently–widening gaps between rich and poor. I feel that this issue is at the heart of many social problems that elites tend to (inaccurately, or at least without sufficient definition) blame on ruffians and thugs and criminals and the uneducated masses. Too much in the hands of too few harbors resentment, and crime is one of the many ways people handle those feelings/desires to improve their situation.

    Thanks for your follow up.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  164. A S in Calgary

    I find the comments here interesting, yet many remain so uninformed and still have visceral and emotional reactions. Who really cares if someone decides to take drugs to lessen his or her pain, forget about their troubles, as medicine or to relax. If you care, stop! You don't care if someone in your family has a glass of wine or a beer a day. You don't care about homeless, who often have addiction and mental health issues. If you feel that strongly that you should take drugs, then don't.

    As for some that wonder how will a $300 billion industry be controlled by the government, that's super easy. Tax department around the world already does a fantastic job of making sure their share is looked after and collected. You could bet your last joint that the IRS in the US and CRA in Canada would be all over everyone that would sign up as a producer and retailer to make sure they paid their taxes. You could be damned sure of it. It is high time that drugs are legalized and taxed accordingly.

    All for it and great article Steve. Also check out this documentary before you decide to go all half baked with any more arguments for prohibition.
    Definitely educational.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  165. Tony

    I am totally shocked at the overwhelming positive response to this debate. I have to agree that the anti-drug policy has not worked because there is to much money, corruption, and greed involved.
    If the government was involved it would still deal with money, corruption, and greed involved.

    I think selling hard drugs legally would be the destruction of our society. Holland has legalized weed, but Europeans are moderate with (alcohol – a drug) along with countless other things.

    The addictive nature of drugs would create the destruction in one mode or another as addicts crave another fix.

    If you were close to an addict your thought process would be very different.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Reply
  166. Ricardo

    – Why alcohol and cigarettes are legal?... there are a lot more deaths related to those two stimulants than the ones related to other drugs.
    – Talk about “drugs” in general ?. Under what basis do we compare marihuana to heroin?… nothing to do one with the other.
    – Why a guy that light a joint is a "drug addict" that has to be punished, exhibited, or tagged as a seek person, when someone who drinks is a very nice guy who knows how to have fun?... more advanced societies have legalized mild drugs.
    – It is not true that one substance leads you to another… it is anxiety, suffering or pain the things that are to be addressed.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  167. rene

    Crime organizations will lost business, so they will finance public campaings against legalization.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  168. jblooze

    Dear francy... people smoking weed can lose their whole lives because someone says that's bad and the money generated FOR criminals rises and rises and the cost of taking that guys life away is put on the public and whatever people he supported now have no-one to rely on. Having a drink doesn't make you a drunk does it? If you smoke a joint or do a line or a hit of acid or ecstacy doesn't make you an addict. Many people responsibly manage their drug use without robbing people or destroying their lives or the lives of others so why not separate these people from the people who can't. We've done it with alcohol for decades. Or do you want prohibition back too? Wise up and see that the damage done by keeping up the ridiculous "War on drugs" running in it's current form is a losing battle for the public and a win win for drug lords who would not even be able to exist if it weren't for the status quo in policy. No-one is for sending bags of coke and heroin to the schools and as long as you keep seeing anyone raising the issue of legalization as advocating stupid behavior like that instead of seeing it as putting meaningful useful reforms in place then you are more of a problem to your society than any drug. ignorance kills. Look at the problem. The drug war is not working.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  169. Hillman

    What people don't seem to understand is that we ALREADY HAVE legalized drugs. Doctors can and do prescribe some seriously heavy opiates, stimulants, mood modifiers, etc etc etc...

    In fact, one of the fastest growing markets of "illegal" heroin are those that have become addicted to "legal" opiates and have now either lost health insurance, or, for whatever reason don't have access to the legal version anymore.

    But basically what it boils down to is that rich people get legal prescriptions (ala Rush Limbaugh, many pro athletes, etc...) and poor people have to go through the criminal system to get the SAME EXACT STUFF. The so-called war on drugs is just the newest front for the ongoing class warfare that has been plaguing society for centuries.

    Wake up

    November 17, 2009 at 11:00 pm | Reply
  170. Ty Boyer

    Historically drugs are legal to those who control the organs of power – just as socialism and democracy are well and alive to those at the top. When you legalize drugs and tax it – you take out the plutocracies’ ability to make huge profits from it. Profits they use to control much of the world. There is a large community on the planet that want it – you cannot stop them from having it. Yes, legalize and tax all drugs.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:00 am | Reply
  171. emily comedis

    It is high time to bring down drugs under the control of the government by legally regulating it. I myself had been working in the government that combat transnational crimes and I can empathize with the frustrations of many law enforcers in combating drug trafficking. By legally regulating it, it will definitely bring the solution we had been craving for.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:10 am | Reply
  172. Chris

    Regardless of policy and criminal activity, it makes no sense that someone can tell another person what they can or cannot do to their body, as long as said drug user isn't hurting someone else. Plain and simple.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:16 am | Reply
  173. Andrew Taylor

    Some additional comments:

    I disagree that pot is not a drug because it is a plant. Marijuana, like coffee, is a plant containing a drug. That's close enough for me. Coffee, BTW, is the most popular recreational drug in the world.

    Cocaine has legal uses (n the US anyway) as a topical anesthetic.

    If drugs of abuse are legalized, how will the CIA fund its black projects?

    I've had the drug legalization talk with a relative who works in the Corrections industry. There are so many pot heads locked up that there is no room for the murderers and rapists. We both agree that something else needs to be done.

    I believe that drug use would increase if they were legal, but I also believe that after the initial increase, most people would move on as (in my experience) drugs are much more attractive when unavailable. Drug use would eventually plateau and may even decline. It's similar to the stereotypical difference between sex as a single person and sex as a married person, but that's another story,

    November 18, 2009 at 12:18 am | Reply
  174. Nuno

    Legalizing drugs would end drug related violence
    And those who want to take it ? Take all they want!
    Bosses are eager to have armies of brain dead zombies to work for next to nothing in their shops/factories/restaurants etc
    I NEVER used drugs but I vote LEGALIZE

    November 18, 2009 at 12:40 am | Reply
  175. Miles Smoljo

    I would legalize all drugs except antibiotics (widespread misuse can have a catastrophic global affect via resistant bacterial evolution). However, I would prefer to see them sold under direct government supervision within a system that provides drug education and regular counselling. For example: someone wanting to buy cocaine would have to register with the government-run retail system (and perhaps get an I.D. card). This individual would then have to attend an introductory drug education program before being allowed their first purchase. Furthermore, they would have to attend a certain number of counselling sessions (say, once a month) in order to maintain their drug purchaser's eligibility. Counselling and education would be funded through an appropriate tax on the drugs (it would still be much cheaper than current street prices). Mandatory education and regular counselling for drug consumers would help reduce abuse and treat addiction more effectively.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:46 am | Reply
  176. Mick McCard

    Mexican drug cartels with their wars, kidnappings and cross border incidents are justification in itself to end drug prohibition. Drugs are all about economics and only economic systems that are well regulated can protect citizens. The Budweiser truck doesn't show up at the middle school passing out samples and selling product. Why, because the owner and employees have a stake in a legal enterprise that would be endangered by such behavior. Is alcohol a perfect model for drug decriminalization, taxation and regulation, probably not but its a far cry from stick you head in the sand puritan prohibition.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:08 am | Reply
  177. Brad

    Make it legal but tax it extremely high. Also make it available at very few restricted sites under supervision.

    In Sweden the tax on alcohol is very high and they have a much lower problem with alcohol abuse and that is with lots of home brewing going on.

    I don't see people growing their cocaine and heroin or setting up their own ecstasy lab in their basement.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:13 am | Reply
  178. Frunobulax

    Put it on the 2010 ballot – binding referendum by state. Get the feds paws out of this. Consequences of "use " or "abuse" will be continue to be regulated by the states (e.g., drink drive laws) and private industry.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:48 am | Reply
  179. david brown

    francy, people who smoke crack 24-7 will di it anyway. why dont you try thinking ?

    November 18, 2009 at 1:59 am | Reply
  180. Belize Rasta

    Couldn't agree more. Especially soft "drugs" like marijuana. It is absurd for some people to suggest that legalizing drugs would be comparable to legalizing murder, rape, child molestation etc. These are crimes against other people. If drugs were legal the police would have more resources and manpower to deal with crimes of that sort. In Belize where I live a very large percentage of the population use "Ganja" on a daily basis. Sometimes even on the job depending on the type of work you do. Yet people can get arrested and jailed or fined for one joint or less. Totally ridiculous since the herb is readily available in every city town or village in the country. I don't consider myself a "drug user" but I have been smoking herb since I was in elementaty school and I am now 50 years old. I am quite accomplished when judged by the standards of those same morons hating on the legalization movement and I know many other "herbalists" that are far from losers like the haters would have you believe about marijuana smokers. It is time for governments to wake up and smell the smoke, maybe someone will get some inspiration to do th right thing. Like so many people pointed out, look at Amsterdam. I was not at all surprised to see one of the cleanest cities I have ever visited with hardly any crime to speak of. Not to mention the enormous revenue that is earned from taxing sales. As the late great Peter Tosh said in his famous song, "Legalize It and I Will Advertize It". Rastafari Liveth!!!!

    November 18, 2009 at 2:07 am | Reply
  181. Dave

    Society would be a better place if drugs were legalized, regulated and taxed.
    The war on drugs has been an overwhelming failure. We now only have two options: Criminals control distribution and reap the benefits or government controls distribution and reaps the benefits.
    Crime would take a triple hit. They would have far less income, second, law enforcement would have far more income and third, we would be making fewer criminals out of regular citizens (look at what percent of incarceration is due to simple drug possession). I lose respect for law enforcement and the criminal justice system because of their brainless and damaging stance on drug law. They do more harm than good.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:14 am | Reply
  182. Rollee

    Mr. Rolles......you are, of course, quite correct in your observations! The current "war on drugs" is the engine that fuels most of the bad things that happen involving drugs..including a tremendous amount of murders. My Father was brutally murdered in the California Bay Area by a "crack cocaine" addict...for his diamond ring! The man then sold the ring for approximately 5% of its value and smoked that amount of crack up in one night with his friends!
    The ramifications of this war on drugs has far reaching effects! I now live in Thailand, where the US government put a policy in place many years ago that tied foreign aid to the outlawing of marijuana. Here in Thailand marijuana was a natural "drug" or herb that had been used by the population without negative effects for centuries. Now that it has been outlawed, alcohol has taken its place and the negative of its use is catastrophic! The country has an epidemic of alcoholism, which of course, effects the country as a whole indirectly from the horrible suffering caused by its abuse on the nuclear family and extended family. I am involved in this cultural tragedy also, as my in-laws are alcoholics. I sincerely hope that SOMEONE is also working to remove the tying of foreign aid to outlawing of marijuana....so that this and other cultures that have used it for centuries can again go back to it and move away from alcohol!!! Thanks Mr. Rolles for you "good work" to bring these truths to the attention of the masses (I hope!),

    November 18, 2009 at 2:38 am | Reply
  183. Adam

    Sonet – when I was a kid growing up (about a decade ago) it was MUCH, MCUH easier to get drugs than tobacco or alcohol. The reasons being that you have to find a store owner willing to break the law and sell to a minor. While a persistent youth can find it, it takes a lot of trying.
    But drugs dealers don't worry about age constraints – they are already breaking the law. So the were available all the time – even at school.

    Also, you seem to think that people out there want to do drugs but are scared of breaking the law. Being fearful of breaking the law is indicative of having the common sense to see the long term effects of your behavior. Someone who can see the long term effects of buying illegal items would also see the long tern health effects of doing drugs. So no, I don't believe it is logical to assume that drug use would go up.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:41 am | Reply
  184. optimist

    Drug use = an inability to be in control of your own life, a weakness. Why accomodate for weakness in society? If we are changing the way society views drug use, lets change it consturctively. Simply exterminate all producers, dealers and drug users. Problem solved.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:55 am | Reply
  185. whatever

    Marijuana is legal here in Amsterdam.
    Thats about the only drug I would legalize.
    someone mentioned about the ammount of drug users in prison in america and what its costing the tax payers. first of all in america u are jailed for everything and anything. I disagree that drug users are imprisoned. Like in Australia they either go to a rehab or go on methadone for years for how long it takes to get over their addiction. But not to prison.
    I actually dont think it would work legalizing drugs apart from Marijuana. too many people will give it a go, get hooked, loose their jobs, do badly at school and can reep devastation. I dont thing anyone is looking at the consequences.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:59 am | Reply
  186. Joey

    Hi Steve. The war on anabolic steroids is pathetic. Why grown, responsible adults can't responsibly use AAS is preposterous. We allow cigarette smoking to be rampant, yet we prohibit steroids, which have not been linked to a single major side effect. If we bring it out into the open, then even the minor side effects can be minimized.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:11 am | Reply
  187. Xer06siX

    I understand the concept, and your idea. tHowever, that would not make it easier for anyone, or the prison system. Imagine the level of crimes commited by individuals under the influence of Alcohol. Now imagine an open door to anything you can get your hands on. I firmly believe that the commision of crimes in connection to use of the drugs would outweigh the numbers of persons busted and incarcerated in our system for posession or distribution of illegal drugs by at least TWO fold. This does not seem like a good compromise to me. No thank you sir.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:11 am | Reply
  188. Michael

    I live in Mexico. We see the effects of drug trafficking rival gangs eliminating one another every day on the news. Legalizing drugs implies that some parliamentary or congressional action must be taken. I have heard the term "decriminalize" and though that may not be correct it seems a little more accurate. All that has to be done is for the pertinent governing body to eliminate any laws against drug production, transportation, sales and use. Then just step back and let private industry take it from there.

    Yeah, I'm a capitalist and I believe it works. There is just too much trade and profit involved to allow it all to stay in the hands of violent criminals.

    I am not a fan of laws which restrict personal freedoms. Whether those personal freedoms may involve injury or death. Examples of over-kill in restrictions or too easily made laws are such as helmet requirements on motorcycles. Seat belts in cars, cell phone usage while driving. Sure these are things that can affect more than just the individual but hey, life is risky.

    Remove the laws. Less is always better where the government is concerned.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:15 am | Reply
  189. peter

    Meth, crack and heroine freely available over the counter?

    Whoever proposes such idioticy should get out of mom's basement into the real world to see the devastating destruction such drugs produce.

    Sheesh, are these people really so stupid? Is anyone?

    November 18, 2009 at 3:26 am | Reply
  190. mos

    Drugs cause brain damage. – latest newsflasj – ketamine causes memory loss.

    How are parents supposed to proiect their children if the Government sides with the druggies to make their lives easier? Society is bad enough as it is, but legalising drugs will make it impossible for drug-free parents to raise children as decent human beings.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:31 am | Reply
  191. sergey

    It is naive to think that legalizing drugs will stop crimes related to drugs and illigal production of drugs. Also drugs are highly addictive – if there is a problem for ordinary people to quit smoking tobacco – what can you say about responsible use of hard drugs – are you kidding yourself ?

    November 18, 2009 at 3:49 am | Reply
  192. Just-us

    I think smoking Pot is not very bad as compared with Cocaine and Heroin. Those Drugs destoy lives. with them now being illegal many times they destroy not only the lives of the victims, but also the providers with drug wars, roberys imprisonment.

    Hard drugs convictions should be sentenced with the death penalty because this actually is a crime against humanity, or another form of mass murder. Pot and other less harmful drugs should be considered for legalization.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:00 am | Reply
  193. Anthony

    None of the prohibitions of drugs have ever worked from King James of England prohibiting tobacco under sentence of death, to the American Prohibition of alcohol and the current prohibition of alcohol over much of the Middle East.

    Our slavish addiction to the words drugs and alcohol as though alcohol is something different is really one of the key points which makes us think somehow that you or I drinking alcohol is somehow different from someone shooting up on a street corner.

    In actual practice if the person shooting up on the street corner could obtain pure drugs legally at a reasonable price they would be leading a perfectly decent lives unlike the very nasty alcoholics I come across from time to time.

    Alcohol is one of the few drugs whose entertainment dose and lethal dose are very close together, but nevertheless we are quite happy to welcome this in to our society.

    The entire history of drug use in the United States is documented in a very good book, the Consumer Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs.

    From this book it is quite clear that drug habits are established by regulatory authorities telling lies about drugs, (the madness of marijuana) then making them illegal and creating a black market.

    This black market has no controls over quality, dose or offering advice to users, resulting in some bad experiences, but more importantly creating an ugly underworld of criminal dealers who will stop at nothing to earn a dollar.

    The assumption that everyone will rush off and entertain themselves with all the drugs under the sun should they be made legal does not wash. Ganja has been available throughout India and Asia for thousands of years, but it has been incorporated in to the society with no obvious ill effects.

    I can go and buy alcohol 24 hours a day in my society, but I choose to actually spend my money on sailing. The freely available alcohol does not turn the society into a total lush.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:08 am | Reply
  194. Nick O

    Of course all drugs should be legalised but it needs to be done on a worldwide basis, not country by country. I don't think it can be done effectively until we have a world government (maybe another hundred years).

    November 18, 2009 at 5:15 am | Reply
  195. Renato

    I think the current situation in the US is akin to alcohol prohibition of 80 years ago. The legalization of drugs is counter-intuitive and i am for it. The Mexican border and other hot spots of the world are a disaster costing tax payers billions of $$. i am happy to see countries moving forward by liberalizing their drug laws. The late Milton Freedman said it well when he stated that administering rehab would be much more cost-effective than the current war on drugs. yes, in an ideal world, we would not have drugs. But since we must manage them, the best way is to legalize and tax them. i don't believe that all countries should legalize drugs, but i do believe it is the best solution for the US. i once thought legalizing drugs was absurd, but i am now convinced that we need a drastic change of law.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:56 am | Reply
  196. Dan in Hong Kong

    Why are drugs and prostitution illegal? Because people are harmed and killed from these activities and they are a net negative on the public good. This is why I suggest that we beef up our fight against activities that cause harm to the public good. People who drive automobiles harm others and themselves daily, thus I propose a 'War on Driving'. Also we need to stop the ravages of obiesity and diabetes in our society which harms millions yearly with a 'War on Snacks and Fast Food'. Maybe we also need a 'War on Tatoos and Piercing', 'War on Alcohol and Tobacco', 'War on Sloth and/or General Unhelpfullness'...etc. etc. Maybe we should just jump to the conclusion that everyone should be institutionalized 'just in-case'. Then we could have a general 'War on Freedoms'.

    November 18, 2009 at 6:40 am | Reply
  197. keith vanzandt

    For the people who say that it tears apart families I say it wouldn't because they will not have to steal their families mobney to 'score'. All they have to do is go to the "store" andf spend one/tenth of what they would from the local dealer. They are going to use anyway you look at it so they may as well have enough left over to let their families eat and have a roof over their heads.

    November 18, 2009 at 6:44 am | Reply
  198. Tim Potten

    Did the US learn nothing from Prohibition, or the so called "Noble Experiment", during the period from 1919 to 1933, during which the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption were banned nationally via Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution?

    November 18, 2009 at 7:27 am | Reply
  199. ann

    I wouldn't want to be driving on roads where people are probably stoned.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:24 am | Reply
  200. Stevie

    My great problem about criminalization has always been this: it is against the concept of the autonomy of the individual. Sure, we know that drugs are bad but this should be no reason for prohibition. Yes, people should have the right to do unhealthy things to their own body. After all, it's their own property, right? Prosecuting drug users is the idea of the Thought Police come true.
    I would like to live in a freer world than that.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:25 am | Reply
  201. swirl groove

    Dear Readers we all now that drugs Ben there since long time ago, I'm not saying my opinion is correct but, look closely at the side effects of making the drugs illegal, it gives chance for people to buy it from street dealers or friends. like any black market it's a ciaos. i think as for health hazards substance like alcohol and nicotine. there for also soft drugs should legalized and taxed for governments as extra income. this way benefit from and transfer consumers who go after hard drugs will find alternative for soft drugs,If you grow marjoina u can earn from it paper and cotton. what I'm trying it's not totally bad. there are certain aspect we look at, everything in life as it's positive's and negative's, it depends also how you see the subject point of view,this is my point i could transfer my opinion well to the reader's of cnn, if wear on my leader shoe i would allow it to be legal.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:25 am | Reply
  202. Tomaz

    Drug prohibition is not sufficiently effective, but that goes for all law enforcement. I don't see you calling to legalise child pornography on the basis that it will happen anyway. I don't see how drug legalization is any different in this regard. Unless all drugs were provided free of charge, all associated problems would still happen.

    As to the difference between alcohol and hard drugs, it takes several years of significant use to develop a dependance on alcohol comparable to two marginal doses of heroin or a similar substance. The amount of damage done to human brain with just one dose of ecstazy is comparable to a year or two of heavy drinking.

    It's like justifying personal posession of high end nerve gases on the basis that 4" knives are legal, and both can be used to kill somebody anyway. You just can't compare the two.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:36 am | Reply
  203. Margarita Carse

    I agree all drugs should be discriminalized but with some regulations like no advertizing and sold in special places.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:49 am | Reply
  204. daniel jeger

    I fully agree drugs should be legalized. Prohibiting drugs has had no positive effect on consumption levels. It's time to try another approach. My friend Yo agrees.....

    November 18, 2009 at 9:29 am | Reply
  205. Russ

    The reason drugs are illegal is, in large part, due to the business and profit they generate on the legal side of things.

    Consider the entire criminal-justice system, the gigantic federal bureaucracies such as the DEA, the privatization of prison systems.

    And then there's the funneling of huge amounts of drug war money which to corrupt governments who tend to be in league with drug cartels.

    Unfortunately both the "good" guys and the bad guys would to lose if drugs were legalized.

    Which is even more reason that all drugs should be legalized and regulated as the drugs tobacco and alcohol are.

    November 18, 2009 at 11:02 am | Reply
  206. Belize Rasta

    Hey Optimist, you should change that to Pessimist. You and the other idiots here talking about exterminating all drug users must be using too much prescribed drugs. Why not start with yourselves. Have you ever checked the side effects of some of the drugs your friendly neighborhood dealer......I mean Medical Practitioner is prescribing to you. When compared Marijuana is like a placebo. Most major Pharmaceutical drugs will kill you with long term use. Name me someone you know that died from smoking weed. Talk of exterminating people makes you no better than that guy wit the funny mustache that called himself Adolf. See what that got him?? He was EXTERMINATED!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  207. alex

    so the government are not crimminals then?

    November 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  208. Robert Yeatts

    This was supposed to be a free country, but not these damn cops want put you in prison for smoking a plant.

    I thought everyone knew the war on drugs was a complete failure.

    Apparently there's some people commenting here that disagree. I guess they think 35 years and half a trillion dollars with no results is a good think?

    Give it up people, the war on drugs was created by richard nixon, one of the most disliked presidents in history. It infringes a person's right to put whatever they want into their body in the privacy of their own homes.

    People who don't want to see it legalized have reservations about the abuse that could come along with it. There's always going to be abuse, legal or not, but all we want is to be allowed responsible use, at home, not abuse at work, around your kids, or in public.

    Get it right people, and address the issue at hand. Fear mongering tactics are what got us in this situation in the first place.

    Remember reefer madness?

    November 18, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  209. Robert Yeatts

    Today the AMA voted to reverse its longstanding endorsement of cannabis’ Schedule I prohibitive status. The vote took place during the organization’s annual Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates in Houston, Texas, and marks the first time that the AMA has revisited its position on cannabis in eight years.

    As newly amended, the AMA’s official position (see specifically pages 12, 13, and 14) regarding the medical use of cannabis no longer “recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.” Rather, the Association now resolves “that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.”

    The AMA also today demolished long-held pot prohibitionist claim — frequently publicized by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and others — that “no sound scientific studies have supported medical use of smoked marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data support the safety or efficacy of smoked marijuana for general medical use.” To the contrary, the AMA has adopted a report drafted by its Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, “Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes,” which states, “Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.”

    Look even the AMA recognizes that the government is telling a complete lie about Cannabis by characterizing the drug as schedule 1 meaning it has no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. Even Coke and Meth aren't schedule 1, but schedule 2 which allows for medicinal use.

    Can't you people see that the government is completely stupid on this issue?

    November 18, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  210. Bud

    Let's also take a look at the topic of "Purity."

    We would know that legal Cannabis was grown without contamination, along with it's potency rating.

    Cocaine, a Sched. II drug, would be manufactured under sterile conditions and not cut with any like-colored powders one found laying around. Again, noted for potency.

    Heroin, the same as cocaine. No drain cleaner, rat poison, whatever as the cutting agent. Noting potency here (along with purity) could do away with heroin ODs.

    There are many additive substances in each drug store we walk into. Do we enter with a worry about our kids? When you buy a pack of ciggies or that 6-pack for later, are your worried about your kids?

    The government thought it'd protect you and it's failed miserably. It's wasted Billion$ of your tax tollars. It's thrown your friends into jails and prisons and kept your kids out of college. Just how much more of this "protection" are you willing to take???

    So, here's my idea. First off, reschedule Cannabis to Schedule II, thereby opening it to prescriptions and legitimate testing. Finally, allow Senator Jim Webb's Blue Ribbon Commission on Crime to get started. That would be a great "First Step!"

    November 18, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  211. Belize Rasta

    There are many developing nations where legalization debates would be entertained. The problem is that most of these countries depend heavily on economic aid from the US. If they were to make any progress toward legalization the US would threaten to cut off aid and then these cowardly, albeit needy governments would sign agreements to allow US helicoptors to come in and spray poisonous chemicals on the marijuana plantations. This happened in my country when all we had here was good quality herb. Long time conosseurs might remember "Belize Breeze". After our plants were sprayed mysterious planes started landing at the international airport at night after the airport was closed. All of a sudden ganja was scarce and coke was everywhere. Remember the Iran Contra, drugs for arms, CIA, Ollie North, L.A. crack connection? Here is where the coke filled CIA planes stopped for refuelling. Go check it out! My point is whenever countries start thinking about legalizing, the US will keep exerting economic pressure on them and that will be the end of the debate. It happens all the time.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  212. Blair Anderson

    Worlds best ('and some say mildgreen) drug policy initiative?

    Rolles is to be applauded for bringing some reason into the beyond prohibition debate, and from a UK perspective it adds dimension to what needs to be done give the appalling sacking of the expert advisory chair, Professor Nutt. However, at the TRANSFORM launch in New Mexico it was heard that one sovereign state had already implemented a legal framework for a non-punitive and rational drug policy by adding a new schedule under the Misuse of Drugs Act, ostensibly recognising 'soft drugs that are both recreational and psychoactive. By placing 'regulated substances regulations' under the UN compliant parent Act this leads the world in an applied rational response by making provision for sale, storage, advertising, packaging and labeling, age of consent, place of sale etc, all under the aegis of existing commercial and civil laws and recourse's. It has been in place for a year. No one has objected, or really noticed how good these 'regulations' are. In the words of Transform itself, good drug policy is boring. (search for 'restricted substances regulations' on http://www.legislation.govt.nz ). Now that would make a CNN news item...

    December 7, 2009 at 12:17 am | Reply
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  214. Swirl Groove

    I can't agree anymore with u r opinions, they really make sens to me. Very rational & logic, most of high demand drug substance should be leglised & taxed as well, this way the gov. Has total control

    December 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Reply
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