*************** War on Drugs Information File **************** Contents: +quot;The Myths o

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

*************** War on Drugs Information File **************** Contents: "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 liberties. 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 unabated today. 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 system. 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 chemicals. 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 legalization. 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 amounts." 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 drunk.) 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, 1991.) 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, 1990]) 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, 1990) 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

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank