*************** War on Drugs Information File ****************
"The Myths of the Drug War" Part 1, The economics of the Drug war
by Darrell Fuhriman
"The Myths of the Drug War" Part 2 -- The real effects of drugs
by Darrell Fuhriman
LD50 doses for various chemicals
Response to University of San Diego drug misinformation
Complain to FAA about DEA helicopters
Drug article from Time magazine July 26, 1993 pages 56-57 by Jill Smolowe
Cat piss leads to drug raid
Study refutes link between drug use, crime, Chicago Tribune May 4, 1993
Dethrone the Drug Czar, by Whitman Knapp NYT Op-Ed May 9, 1993
Drug War fails to stop cocaine, UPI story
Partnership for Drug Free America commercials
NORML uncovers DEA sting operation
We're losing the drug war - article & statistics from USA Today
Search and Seizure laws challenged
"The Myths of the Drug War"
Part 1, The economics of the Drug war
by Darrell Fuhriman
With the passage of the Harrison Act in 1914, the United
States began the criminalization of psychoactive substances.
Seventy-two years later President Reagan declared the "War on
Drugs." We must ask ourselves: At what cost has this war been
waged? and Does it work?
Extensive analysis of the War on Drugs (WOD) leads to an
obvious conclusion: The WOD has been both costly and ineffective.
We are losing the WOD at the cost of our youth, our cities,
trillions in tax dollars and, most regretfully, our fundamental
Why hasn't the WOD worked, and what will? This series of
articles will examine economic viability, drug use, and violation
of civil-liberties concluding with a model of the only solution
which can work: the legalization of drugs.
In 1970 President Richard Nixon declared that the drug problem
had been solved. This was not true, as the drug problem continues
During the Reagan-Bush years federal drug policy was modified,
targeting sources (manufacturers and dealers) to reduce supply and
drive street prices up as an economic deterrent to drug use. Over
the past five years alone, we have spent $692 billion for
incarceration and interdiction of drug users and runners. Yet,
availability has not decreased nor has there been a significant
impact on street price. Figures show if we were to increase
funding for the WOD by $2 billion annually, the average price of
street drugs would only increase by 3-4%, hardly enough to
discourage a casual user, to say nothing about an addict.
In 1984, Colombian authorities seized and destroyed thirteen
and a half tons of cocaine, more than the total amount seized in
the history of law enforcement; yet the price on American streets
did not change. (Latimer, Dean, Chemical Dependency, Claudia
Debner [ed.] St Paul, MN: Greenhaven Press, 1985) The drug
warriors responded by allocating more money to "catch these
criminals and put them in jail where they belong." That amount of
money continues to grow. In 1994, the annual costs of the WOD,
including incarceration, interdiction, and stolen property, will
reach $360 billion. All we've purchased is an overwhelmed judicial
In a February 1993 report Neal Sonnet, chairman of the
American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section stated, "The
criminal-justice system is devoting more of its resources and
attention to drug offenses and less to violent crime. Unless we do
something now ... we are going to have a criminal-justice system
that is crushed under the caseload of criminal cases without any
appreciable decrease in crime." This report also noted that adults
in prison for drugs rose by 327% from '86-'91, forcing the early
release of violent criminals to accommodate small time drug users.
(Associated Press, Feb 9, 1993)
At the same time politicians complain about rising crime in
the inner-cities and our children's lack of drive to succeed, they
have created an easy way out: a thriving black market of illicit
The driving force behind illegal drug trafficking is money.
The drug warriors talk about taking the glamour out of drug
dealing, although the drug warriors created the glamour. What
inner-city youth, or any youth for that matter, would not be lured
by a trade in which $5.07 spent on Pakistanese heroin can be
converted into $2425 profit in America? (The Pragmatist, Aug 1988)
Contrast the Drug Enforcement Agent who earns $100 per day
with dealers who earn $10,000 per day. Who is more likely to take
the risks necessary for success? Interdiction tactics used in the
WOD cost billions and don't work.
A recent PBS "Frontline" special highlights the deficiency of
U.S. interception methods. Blackhawk helicopter pilots have flown
the border for four years at cost of $10,000 a day. During this
period the pilots intercepted only one drug runner. This
translates into $14.6 million to capture a solitary trafficker.
A demand for drugs will always exist. With tight U.S.
restrictions dealers can capitalize on this need, creating a $160
billion industry in the U.S. alone -- all 100% tax free. With
legal drugs, the large profits would be eliminated and, with it,
the glamour of dealing in illegal drugs. Also removed would be the
violent criminal element associated with drugs such as drive-by
shootings, assassinations and theft.
Government control of the drug industry would bring prices
down resulting in safer drugs and increased revenue from tax money.
If the cost of legal drugs is 1% of the illegal price (a typical
estimate), 99% of the illegal price would be spent on other legal
goods, raising tax revenues about one third the retail value or $49
billion in 1993. This doesn't consider the decreased burden on the
health care system. ("The cost of the War on Drugs," Jim
Rosenfield.) It should be noted that approximately 80% of deaths
related to drug use can be attributed to impurities introduced when
the dealer "cuts" (mixes with a foreign substance) the drug to
increase its weight and his profits. With a varying purity the
user cannot know the actual amount of the drug he is getting,
making overdose more likely.
The only way to resolve the drug problem is through
Many would consider legalizing drugs to be giving up on the
drug problem. Legalization does not ignore the problem of drugs.
The past economics of the War on Drugs show that resources are
misguided, and could be more effective used elsewhere (to be
addressed in the last installment of this series).
We spend billions of dollars incarcerating thousands of drug
users to raise the street price of LSD from $5 a hit to $5.20 a
hit. The United States has moved into South America in pursuit of
runners. Deforestation tactics reminiscent of those in Vietnam are
used on drug crops and talk of death penalties for drug king-pins
abounds. Yet, anti-drug stratagem and the threat of severe
penalties prove ineffectual when faced with the over powering
economic incentive of illegal drugs.
"The Myths of the Drug War"
Part 2 -- The real effects of drugs
by Darrell Fuhriman
Hardly a day passes where we aren't bombarded by information
concerning drugs. I will attempt, in these next two articles, to
dispel some myths of drug use. I will primarily discuss the most
common drugs: Marijuana and Cocaine in this installment, with LSD
and MDMA (Ecstacy) in the next.
In the 1930's, marijuana was touted as an "evil weed," causing
"reefer madness," violence and increased use of other drugs. We now
know the opposite is true, marijuana causes the user to be sedate,
and non-violent. The government denied that marijuana was a
"gateway" drug. In response to congressional questioning about
whether a marijuana user progresses into heroin, or cocaine,
Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner, Harry J. Anslinger,
responded, "No, sir... I think it is an entirely different class.
The marihuana addict does not go in that direction."
In Holland, where marijuana (and other drugs) have been easily
available since the 70s, the use of harder drugs has decreased
substantially. In 1987, 1.7% of Amsterdamers said they had taken
cocaine in the past year, whereas 6% of New Yorkers admitted use
within the past six months. (The Economist, Feb. 10, 1990)
Now the Drug Warriors tell us that marijuana decreases brain
activity. The Partnership for a Drug Free America aired a TV
commercial showing a "normal" 14 year old's EEG
(electroencephalogram) readings as opposed to a 14 year old who had
just smoked pot. The first EEG showed a very bouncy reading and the
second a nearly flat line. In fact, the Partnership faked the
commercial. Marijuana actually causes an increase in alpha waves.
Alpha waves are associated with meditative states which relate to
human creativity. (Marijuana Myths, Paul Hager)
Much of the "evidence" cited to support the myths of brain
damage and decreased fertility is gathered from studies by Dr.
Robert Heath and Dr. Gabriel Nahas. In Dr. Nahas' experiments, mice
were injected with near lethal doses of cannabinoids (the active
chemicals in marijuana), those animals returned to normal within 30
days. Also, much of Dr. Nahas' work dealt with cells cultures,
which he related to humans. This inference has been rejected by the
scientific community. Dr. Nahas has also claimed that alcohol "does
not impair mental acuity" but marijuana does "even in minute
Dr. Heath's work, showing brain damage in rhesus monkeys, was
later discredited for lack of controls, too small a sample size
(four monkeys) and misidentification of normal tissue as damaged.
Two 1977 studies on actual human populations showed no brain damage
in heavy marijuana users. That same year the American Medical
Association endorsed the decriminalization of small amounts of
marijuana. ("Marijuana and Health," Institute of Medicine, National
Academy of Sciences, 1982)
Alphonse J. Sallett, Director of the Center for Drug
Prevention at the SUNY Institute of Technology admitted, "Rates of
marijuana use in states that decriminalized the possession of small
amounts of marijuana have not increased more than rates of
marijuana use in states where possession of marijuana is a crime."
("Toward a Drug Prevention Strategy for the 1990's" Alphonse J.
Sallett, Monograph Series, July 1990)
Note, not one person has died from a marijuana overdose.
Compare this to alcohol related deaths of 140,000 (not including
50% of highway deaths and 65% of murders). Furthermore, a lethal
human dosage has never been found, although it is estimated to be
40,000 times the amount necessary to get a person "stoned". (A
lethal alcohol dosage is 8-10 times the amount required to get
The statistics for cocaine show it is safer than alcohol.
Comparing the number of alcohol related deaths to number of alcohol
users shows 70 deaths per 100,000 users or .07%. With cocaine,
there are 8 deaths per 100,000 users or .008%. The death rate is
.56% for abusers of alcohol and .40% for those of cocaine. (Ethan
A. Naddelman in "The Drug Legalization Debate", Sage Publications,
Unlike heoin, alcohol and nicotine, cocaine has never been
shown to cause a physical resonance (addiction). Experienced users
cannot tell the difference between cocaine and a nasal anesthetic
or amphetamines. Cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain,
accompanied by a decline in dopamine receptors, although both
levels return to normal when usage stops. (Dopamine is an excitory
neurotransmitter and is responsible for the "rush" associated with
cocaine. [Human Biology, Sylvia S. Mader, Wm. C. Brown Publishers,
The crack baby "epidemic" and its oft cited figure of 375,000
crack babies annually is complete misrepresentation of truth.
This figure came from a study done by Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a
Chicago pediatrician. His study of 154,856 births concluded that
approximately 11% of babies were born with some exposure to illegal
drugs. This figure does not mean addicted children or those exposed
to crack, only those who are exposed to ANY illegal drug. (Assume
10% and multiply by 3.75 million births annually equals 375,000.)
Drug Warriors often cite an estimated cost of $500,000 to $1
million to treat each crack baby. Assuming $750,000 for each of
375,000 crack babies works out to $281 trillion, approximately 70
times the United States' Gross National Product or 1500 times the
amount spent on all health care in the U.S. Dr. Chasnoff has said,
"Their average developmental functioning level is normal... They
are not the retarded imbeciles people talk about." ("The Myth of
Crack Babies", Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, Jan. 12, 1992. "A Quick
Fix for the Drug War, Patricia Edmonds, Seattle Times, June 3,
It may be that the Drug Warriors consider the population to be
retarded imbeciles and have no qualms about lying to us. In this
installment I've shown that Marijuana and Cocaine, while not good,
are no worse than substances accepted as neccessary evils. In the