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"Traffic" 300

Traffic is a blistering movie with a timely message: our drug policies are a disaster. Steven Soderbergh drives this home in an innovative movie (told in three cinematically different but concurrent parts, with 129 speaking roles). One of the best of the year. WARNING: As always, I talk about plot, but don't give away endings. (Read more).

The so-called War on Drugs America has waged with itself and various other parts of the world for more than a generation is one of the greatest policy disasters in recent history. Nobody with more than two brain cells believes this "war" is being won or can be won. Each year, more technology and money gets thrown into the fray, more people end up in jail, the courts are clogged even more, and more drugs come into the country, where significant numbers of Americans, young and old, use them. Understandably, the United States is a laughing stock on this issue.

That few politicians dare to seriously reconsider alternatives to this catastrophe is a commentary on the wretched state of our corporatized, two-party, big media-sponsored political system. Drug policies barely surface in the presidential campaign beyond moral posturing, which shouldn't be that much of a surprise; little else of substance did either.

It's in that context that Traffic is a bracing look at the mess.

It's a pretty amazing movie, too, another worthy addition to the strong holiday line-up -- Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonL, O Brother, Where Art Thou, Unbreakable-- that made last months' movies far more interesting than those of the preceding eleven.

If Traffic is dazzling at times, it isn't uniformly so -- the story is told in three interwoven parts, each with a distinct cinematic look, pace and style. There are an astounding 129 speaking parts in the 147-minute film, adding to its documentary, fast-paced feel. The first is shot in gauzy brown, the second through blue filters, the third in crisp, bright sunshine. Soderburgh shot the film himself, pseudonymously, often using hand-held cameras. When it works, it really works.

One story centers around two Mexican state troopers (Benicio Del Toro and Jacob Vargas) drawn into the shadowy world of the Mexican cartels. The second focuses on the ponderous, naive policies of a newly-appointed American drug czar, played by Michael Douglas, whose daughter just happens to be turning into an addict, and the third centers on a wealthy San Diego housewife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who struggles to keep her lifestyle after her husband gets arrested by the DEA and umasked as a drug lord.

Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman are terrific as DEA agents sticking their fingers in the dike. (The movie points out that once NAFTA takes full effect, Mexican trucks will be able to enter the U.S. as freely as they traverse their own country, and any pretense of halting drugs at the border will be gone).

The movie can be powerful, riveting at times, and its all-encompassing style captures the futility and hypocrisy of America's political posturing about drugs and law enforcement. But it stumbles over the drug- czar plot. Douglas is convincing as a politician over his head, but when his bright, preppie daughter (Erika Christensen) gets drawn into freebasing so that he can see the light, the movie turns clunky, predictable and heavy-handed. But never for long. The end result is a brilliant movie, tossed somewhat off-kilter.

Traffic relentlessly drives its potent message home: as a nation, we are in total denial about our failed drug policies. There's no realistic way drugs can be stopped by conventional law enforcement, or by much-touted new monitoring technologies (planes, satellites, computers, money-laundering databases). There is no widespread system of treatment, nor is there a rational political climate in which truth can be approached. So the druglords get richer and the jails get more overcrowded, and we end up waging a war against ourselves. Beyond that much-needed message, Traffic is also cinematically dazzling -- murky, ragged and colorful; shrouded by intrigue and betrayal, sudden violence and futility.

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Review: "Traffic"

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    You might be interested to know that this film is a remake of the excellent 1980's Channel 4 (UK TV station, also responsible for films like The Straight Story, Trainspotting and Elizabeth) miniseries "Traffik". Doesn't detract from the fact that this is a good film, it's just not that new.
  • Ole' H.L. said that the key to practical politics was to find a threat and use it to scare people into voting for you and your policies. The "War on Drugs" has been just such a threat for thousands of local sheriffs, legislators, and attorneys general running on "get tough on crime" platforms. Violent crime has been declining in this country since the early 90's, but you would not know it from the way local officials act.

    In addition, the War on Drugs serves as a proxy for two other wars that governments in the United States wage: The war on minorities, and the war on children.

    Regarding minorities, it serves as an excuse for local racist officials to use to embark upon sweeping raids and widespread violations of civil rights and the U.S. Constitution while dealing with "those" people (where "those" people are brown, black, poor, you know, anybody who doesn't "look like us").

    As regards the war on children, we are a nation of hypocrits. We profess to love children. Politicians get elected promising to do such-and-such "for the children". Yet we do not provide the necessities for children to engage in healthy lifestyles. Our children are fat and unhealthy because they are cloistered inside homes rather than being allowed to run and play, thanks to the "war on drugs". This allows more profit for the megacorporations that advertise on television. Similarly, our children eat fatty unhealthy foods because that's what's profitable for the megacorporations that control the U.S. food supply. If a parent fights the megacorporations and tries to guide his children into a healthy lifestyle, local governments, which are owned by developers, make sure that there are no bicycle paths, skateboard parks, obstacle/fitness courses, etc. for children to play safely on (such things cost developers money to build and affect the bottom line, after all). If recreation facilities are provided by local governments, they are inevitably for group sports rather than for individual sports such as bicycling or rollerblading -- lord knows we wouldn't want children to learn to be individuals, we want them to be well-indoctrinated consumers who create profit for the mega-corporations and who think exactly like everybody else (otherwise they might demand homes that aren't cookie-cutter suburbian glee -- oh woe to the tract housing developer!).

    The War on Drugs makes a convenient proxy for these other wars that go on every day. After all, if local skate parks are accused of being gathering places for "drug-dealing skate punks", this gives an excuse to shut them down (thus punishing those kids who would be individuals rather than comfortable groupthinkers). And if the Hispanics in your area are getting uppity and not being content to mow your lawn and trim your hedges, why, let's just send in the Sheriff's Posse to bust in a few doors and bang a few heads based on "anonymous tips"! And oh, if we manage to kill a few of those nasty brown people, gosh, that's one less spic cluttering the earth.

    Feh. As long as there are bigots and megacorps, there will be a threat. If the War on Drugs had not been invented, something else just as nasty would have (much as the "Red Scare" was similarly invented in the late 40's-early 50's to feed the careers of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon).


  • I must admit, as someone who has seen approximately 3 decades now as a thinking sentient, that things are getting better in some ways. While "tolerance" is only skin-deep in much of the country (and totally non-existent in the deep South), things are at least better than during the late 70's, where all attempts at being individualistic were swiftly and brutally put down (see what they did to the skate scene at the end of the 70's -- destroyed it, using all the power of government, using both legal and illegal means to make sure that every skate park was dismantled and every skateboard manufacturer crippled by lawsuits).

    There is still, however, a long way to go, and any gains could swiftly be wiped away if it is decided that it's not to the benefit of the megacorps that run this country. The Internet is one thing that helps today -- while it is not easy to find opposing views (it has taken over a year for me to find sites that provide news critical of the status quo), it is at least easier than trying to find things via "the grapevine" (because one megacorps controls over 90% of newsstand distribution in this country, and one megacorps controls over 80% of book distribution in this country, you can't find dissenting views at most bookstores or newsstands). That is one of the reasons I joined the EFF, so that at least governmental efforts to kill free speech on the Internet can be fought -- though if we get to the point where one megacorps controls over 90% of the Internet (the way they do w/newsstands), and can thus censor sites with impunity via their boundary routers, the EFF's efforts may be for naught.


  • 'No man is an island', you can be as libertarian as you want but we all have to get on with other humans - and that means looking out for each other and agreeing how to deal with chemicals. I think education and societal support is a lot better than throwing people into prison.
    No, we don't all have to agree. Consider the practical meaning of your words. In the real world, if "we all have to agree", then the majority has to come to some group consensus to be forced on everyone -- including those who don't approve.

    In short, you're advocating groupthink over individual freedoms, whereas the libertarian position puts individual freedoms first. I can't agree with you on that.
  • but somehow he managed to turn it into a "See? My family have experience of this thing! I know how evil drugs can be!" political triumph.

    Haha.. that line is almost verbatim from the movie "Traffic." What a coincidence :)

  • Its only going to get worse now GW is in control!!!

    A man who strongly believes that everyone who uses illegal recreational drugs should go to jail (and thus be virtually disqualified from running for president), except for him.

  • The war, IMHO, is not about drugs. It is a cover to allow/give our government the power to intrude into our lives and develop the systems and technologies to do so. With the assistance of the media, they/we can maintain taboos on sex and drugs. This puts a lot of money into the coffers of those that benefit from the technologies and systems. This includes industries running the gambit from private jailers to camera makers.
  • The Economist review of 2001 seems to think that it will be legalised in the UK by the end of the decade. Unless the US does some serious bullying, I think that Canada will be the next big western nation that legalises marijuana.
  • The US would use all necessary means to overturn any such law. This would include political and economic pressure (which could include boycotts, pressure on other countries to not do business with Canada or even a naval blockade of ports), or covert action to overthrow the Canadian government and replace it with one that toes the line. (CIA-backed coups don't just happen in Latin America; there was a documented CIA hand in the dismissal of Australia's leftist Whitlam government in 1975. If that can happen in an English-speaking country half a world away, think of what could do if a country that shares large stretches of border with the US betrays its cause in the One True War Against Evil.)
  • In theory that makes sense; though in practice, there are areas where a collective effort is much more efficient than the sum of disparate individual efforts. For example, providing a collectively-funded police force and army make much more sense than letting everyone be totally responsible for their own defence. In similar terms, spending relatively small amounts of common money on alleviating grievious social problems can reduce the total costs (including flow-on costs from crime, health issues and so on) by many times the expenditure.

    Your typical junky would not have the money to pay for their own detoxification program; if they did, they would probably spend it on drugs. If they happen to be wealthy, and can afford to maintain a habit without harming anyone else, by all means let them. If, however, they are turning to crime to finance their addiction, it makes sense for those potentially affected to finance their detoxification.

    That's the problem with simple, clear, absolutist ideologies, like Libertarianism; they tend to simplify things more than they should be. To paraphrase Einstein, solutions should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

    (Having said that, I must say I agree with libertarian views on many issues. I still think, though, that Ayn Rand is only one notch or so above L. Ron Hubbard in the credibility stakes.)
  • Yea, right. I always buy my alcohol from the local moonshiner, and I go out to drink at the illegal speakeasy. Gosh, they are doing great business competing with that legal taxed stuff, aren't they?
  • This is the most positive slashdot thread I've ever seen. I really hope we can shift some of the momentum from the list to actual efforts to improve the situation. Obviously there's a lot of work to do in terms of researching the drug problem and developing solutions to the harmful effects of drug use.

    I was a drug user for quite some time (marijuana, lsd, psilocybin, ecstacy, speed, MDA and so forth). My drug use eventually caused 'toxic psychosis', a mental illness I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. However, I still believe that people should be able to choose what they do what they will with regards to their own wellbeing, be it choosing whether to wear a seat belt, hang gliding, blasphemy (I'm an atheist myself), or using drugs.

    I believe that drugs are a health issue, and should be treated as such. I'd like to advance our understanding of the causes of sociological patterns of ill health, and educate people that alienating people involved in the illegal drug-using culture through poorly considered laws only serves to harm the people you love most.

    I'd like to support and work with those who are trying to improve the situation, and provide my experiences as a resource for those who want to understand why people take drugs, the effects on drug users by these laws and the effects of the drugs themselves.

    My prefered medium for disussion is mailing lists, but any other pointers are welcome. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about drugs and mental illness.


    Oliver White -

  • They may drive more cautiously, but their reaction times and decision-making capacity are diminished.

    Let's cut to the chase: it's time to start demanding higher standards of driver skills and decisions.

    There are damn few true automobile "accidents" out there: the root cause of most of the carnage out there is directly due to driver idiocy or carelessness. It's costing our society a fucking bijillion needless deaths every year, with that trauma not only impacting the occupants of the vehicle, but their families, employers, and our infrastructure (hospitals, fire departments, cops, etc).

    This could easily turn into a helluva rant, but I'll stop here.

    Vis a vis grow-your-own, sure. Depends how much we want our governments to profit. I'd prefer to grow than to purchase; I'm currently doing it with wine.

    More important point is that it's still regulated/controlled. Just because I vintered it doesn't mean I can sell it to the public, or even (legally) sell it to close friends.

    Decriminalization is *extremely* important and is the only way we're going to save our countries from going bankrupt from this idiotic fantasy called "war on drugs."

  • You *can* brew your own, you just can't sell it.

    I came from a middling-large (~1M pop) city of aggressive drivers, to a small (~25K pop) town of doddling seniors. Within the first month I had to make the conscious decision to slow down and relax, or die of stress.

    I'm sure you can make the same decision.

    I'll want some sort of clinical trials studies performed to prove that the average driver can perform as-well or better when drugged up on whatever you care to name.

    Until such time, best we err on the side of caution, and demand undrugged, attentive drivers.

  • In Canada, the hemp industry is already alive, well and kicking ass.

    All in all, I'd prefer the American government to keep both marijuana and hemp illegal. Doing so does wonders for the Canadian economy. BC pot trades ounce-for-ounce for American-supplied cocaine across the border. And we're pretty much the only source for good hemp.

    Canada has an export economy. The less America is able to provide pot and hemp for itself, the better off Canada is. :-)

    [oooooh, idle thought: isn't the FBI/CIA/NSA/whatever the hell spook system y'all run down there tracking *EVERYTHING* we're saying?! Damn!]

  • Damn straight.

    If all drugs -- *ALL* drugs -- were legalized, and taxed at point of sale, personal income taxes could be eliminated. If the government were to get involved in its manufacture, testing and distribution, there'd be all that much more profit for it.

    Controlling its use? Hey, do it just like we control the use of alcohol and tobacco and codiene. Sell the use-at-home drugs over the counter at the local pharmacy. Sell the more radical drugs for use at licensed "pub" establishments, which have medical staff on-hand to deal with any bad shit that happens.

    The naysayers shriek "Oh no! But look at the problems our society currently has with alcohol and tobacco! Any damn kid can get ahold of booze and ciggies! God forbid they get ahold of pot, coke and horse!"

    Sorry, buddy, but the kids *already* have access to that shit. The solution isn't to make it harder for them to get it: that's been tried and has failed.

    The solution is to get serious about prosecuting those assholes who endanger others by their use of it.

    Drunk driver? Mandatory loss of license for one year, and several months jail-time to boot. Second offense, big jail-time and permanent loss of license and license to drink. Unlicensed driving? Jail-time, asshole. Drunk driver kills someone? Hey, I'm all for eye-for-an-eye justice in that case.

    And the same can be done for drivers stoned, high or otherwise doped-up. And for drivers who are putting on their makeup, chatting on their cellphone or otherwise abusing their driving privileges.

    Caught selling drugs on the street? Mandatory jail-time and a massive fine. Caught growing your own? Mandatory jail-time and fine.

    Drug habit is destroying your ability to raise your family? You lose your family, at least temporarily, and go into drug rehab and parent training. Given the tools to do things better.

    Turn into a drug abuser, shooting up way too much horse? Drug rehab is made available. Unable to hold a job because of it? Well, then, getting welfare is contingent on entering drug rehab and then a back-to-work support program.

    All the potential problems are solveable by a combination of punishment and rehab support.

    There'd be far fewer people in jail, far fewer disrupted lives, lower taxes, greater personal responsibility. It'd be a damn big step in the right direction...

  • To continue your metaphor, you don't take the jacket off in the Arctic -- unless the jacket is doing you more harm than good. This may sound odd, but it's more exact -- the War on Drugs isn't helping to stop drug abuse in our country more than a little, but it's doing enormous harm to large parts of the population:

    • The poor communities that are decimated by crack (a drug that exists because it's more profitable to distribute than powder cocaine, and therefore more worth the risk of trafficking).
    • The black and hispanic communities torn apart because their citizens are disproportionately imprisoned in the Drug war.
    • The children who are lied to in class by DARE representatives, only to find from their friends (and personal experience) that they really were lies, and proceed to ignore the rest of the message (some of which is worthwhile).
    • The American citizens who know casual drug users who are not ruining their lives, recognize the propoganda for what it is, and become jaded with the system.

    If you're in the North Woods, and your down jacket gets wet, you take it off because it's cooling you faster than exposed skin. This is a much more accurate metaphor for the Drug War.

    But in the interests of lighting a candle, here is a sane alternative. We could make drugs legal, and regulate their use, production and advertisement, like we do now with tobacco and alcohol. The details of the regulation could be refined over time until we got the best compromise between social health and integrity of freedom. But that can't happen until we declare a truce, at the very least, in the Drug War.

    Feeling like "Unordered-List Man" today

  • The February 12, 1996, issue of National Review, by far one of the best periodicals available, was dedicated to the war on drugs and even bore the title "The War on Drugs is Lost". It is well worth searching out this issue at the library (or via back issue). It has much thoughtful commentary about the drug war and the drug problem.

    You can read the title article by William F. Buckley, Jr., at .html [].

  • The war on drugs has made drugs more concentrated; this parallels the phenomenon during Prohibition where beer and wine were replaced by whiskey and other harder liquors, with manufacturing errors leading to blindness. And obviously it gave a firm foothold to organized crime in America. Maybe the push for Prohibition was partly subsidized by the crime bosses of the 1910s.

    Larry Niven's fiction described wire-heading or current addiction, where a user gets an implant that can electrically tickle a pleasure center in his brain, powered by a wall-plug AC adaptor with a timer. (The timer prevents death due to starvation or dehydration, which happened in real rats on whom experiments of this sort were done.) We could probably end the war on drugs even without legalizing any drugs, by introducing legal/safe/cheap wire-heading. The technology is trivial and could be productized in six months tops, if anybody wanted to do it. The profit motive for criminals and law enforcement would disappear, and with it, the war on drugs.

    There would be a transient massive spike in number of addicts, and gross economic displacement in South America. The latter could be plastered over by shifting the DEA budget into foreign aid. Introduction of legal/safe/cheap wire-heading would of course be violently opposed by everybody who wins in the war on drugs: organized crime, the DEA, big booze/tobacco, etc. So it won't happen, but it's a fun little libertarian fantasy.

  • The American mindset is poisoned by some bad ideas that prevent a lot progress from ever happening. The only way to ever progress is to wipe out these ideas.

    In the case of the drug war, the two biggest poison ideas (IMHO) that prevent the war from being stopped, are:

    1. Tolerance is equated with advocacy
    2. Society is responsible for people's happiness and welfare (instead of the people themselves)

    Because tolerance is mistakenly treated as equivalent to advocacy, Joe Schmoe thinks that legalizing drugs "would send a message to kids that it's ok to use drugs." This meme must be destroyed. You can be anti-drug and anti-drugwar.

    That society is responsible for people (instead of the people being responsible for themselves), leads to countless problems, and some of them are very apparent in the drug situation. There is a strong (and justified) consensus that smoking crack, shooting heroin, eating cyanide tablets, etc. is bad for the user in many ways. If society is reponsible for the consequences of someone eating a cyanide tablet or smoking a crack rock, then society must not allow anyone to eat cyanide tablets or smoke crack rocks. (Ever notice that we also happen to have laws against suicide? It's no coincidence.)

    One of the corrollaries of society being responsible for people is public health care. If someone incurs medical expenses from doing a stupid thing, and I am forced to pay (in the form of taxes or maybe insurance payments from overly-broad insurance pools) for the medical care, then I am under very strong pressure to lobby for making it illegal to do stupid things. How can I legalize drugs under these circumstances?

    Get rid of this burden which has been immorally placed upon society, so that people are responsible for their own actions, and a lot of the drug problem (and many other problems too) will go away.

  • But my question is How do we know that life would be great, crime would go down, and there would be great joy if the war on drugs was dropped and legalized everything?

    Don't know for sure, but more importantly: don't care. It's an irrelevant issue.

    The purpose of law and the government that enforces that law, is to stop people from victimizing each other. It's to protect freedom. It's not for making life great.

    We can make life better without resorting to deadly force, and ultimately, that's what giving power to government is: giving up and resorting to force. If a problem's solution does not require force, then it doesn't require government or laws.

  • I think the movie is better than you give it credit for. You're simply saying that since you knew what the message was (and even agree with it, see below), that it was uninteresting. But as a movie, I thought it succeeded very well. It felt as though it gave some insight into a few different worlds which most of us probably don't have much contact with; it was also quite entertaining, for a movie with such a serious subject. I also enjoyed the cinematography, although I found myself having to squint through the glare on occasion. Compared to the movies I saw in 2000, I'd have to say it was one of the best.

    I agree the Michael Douglas subplot was a bit weak. An interesting aspect of the movie is the fact that it's a remake of a (Canadian?) series that aired on British TV (as noted elsewhere here on /.), with relevant details changed (e.g. British MP => US Drug Czar.) I haven't seen the series, but I wonder to what extent Soderbergh "blockbusterized" it, turning into something that a mass audience might pay to go and see. If so, I think he's done a service in terms of raising the issue.

    I think you're right about the hypocrisy being a problem in the War on Drugs, but that's really a major point of the movie, surely? Seems like you're coming from the same place, although you might draw different conclusions. I don't think the movie rammed any conclusions down the audience's throat, though, which is a good thing.

    People have to learn that they are responsible for the consequences of their own actions, and that they can't always count on a second chance. When people learn this, they'll become more responsible.

    The only problem is that by the time they learn this, it may be too late. Your sentiment sounds fine in theory, although it's usually heard from rather right-wing Republicans, but it doesn't really gel with how humans behave in real life. Ignoring human nature usually makes for bad public policy, even if you're only concerned about your own self-interest and tax bite. If you seriously favor the Asian model of response to drugs, the only way you're going to have that in your lifetime is by moving to Asia. And I for one am glad of that.

    Speaking of second chances, the current and future U.S. President are both testaments to the concept. In a way, second chances are a fundamental American value. In no other country is having run a failed business less stigmatized, for example. People do, in general, learn from mistakes, if you let them. "No second chances" is a recipe for squandering human resources and huge societal cost in the long run.

  • Why a police state is good for us, according to "The Man"


    The Drug War

    You forgot:

    Kiddie Porn

  • > For instance Marxist rebels in Columbia have found themselves pitted against a regieme supported by War on Drugs money and soldiers trained by American 'advisors'.

    I thoroughly expect Columbia to be the USA's "next Vietnam". Slip-sliding, one decision at a time... Too much invested to back out now... Besides, we're just doing God's work to prevent the spread of Communism^w drug use... It's only a police action... The whole region may go unstable if we let Vietnam^w Columbia fall...

    And so it goes. You've heard it all before, if you're old enough to remember.

    Also notice that the "stop the spread of Communism" argument in the '60s followed the rabidly anti-Communist McCarthyism of the '50s. Initial anti-drug involvement in Columbia in the '90s followed the rabidly anti-drug whateverism of the '80s.

    The more things change....

  • What about decrimilization?

    A lot of people don't realize that alcohol and tobacco aren't legal, they are decriminalized. There are laws that say when and where you can use them, where you can buy them, etc. Like here, I can't buy alcohol before noon on Sunday or after midnight most nights. I can't buy hard liquor at all on Sunday and only before 9pm any other day of the week. I'm not allowed to be drunk in public, I'm not allowed to give either to kids.

    Why not say, ok, you can do any drug you want, but you're going to have be over a certain age, see a doctor to make sure you aren't addicted, you can only do it in your house or in designated clubs. You can't give it to little kids. You can't drive a car under the influence -- and prosecute these people. The ones sitting in their home not bothering anyone aren't the problem.

    I always looked at it this way, it's a whole lot like prohibition, scary parallels in fact. Decriminalize it, tax the hell out of it, and the manufacturers will still be able to undercut the sales of the black market. No one is going to want to buy an unknown something off the street when they can go down the road and know exactly what they are getting, and in what amount. You also don't have to worry as much about overdosing or poisoning yourself because the stuff you bought was more/less pure than you're used to. It's why you don't see many moonshiners or alcohol bootleggers today. It's cheaper and better to buy down at the corner store. Not only that, the government makes money instead of wasting it fighting a futile war! The black market is gone, and street crime goes down. I don't know why this is so hard to wrap your brain around.

  • By that measure, water is equally lethal. :)
  • Er, that's not true.

    Oh, yes it is []. The law was struck on July 31. The Justice Ministry had until Sept. 29, 2000 to appeal. At this point, the best they can do is rewrite the law to allow medicinal use while continuing to prohibit recreational use. However, medicinial use will have to be allowed under the new law, advancing Canadian law a bit farther than it was before.

    In a best-case scenario, the Justice Ministry would just decriminalize the drug and move on to more pressing issues. I've already outlined the worst case, outside of "outside pressure" encouraging the government to ignore the decision and reinstate the law untouched.
  • Hardly anyone is actually talking about the movie--everyone here is just bashing the War on Drugs.

    I saw the movie, and didn't think it was that great. Of course, Katz calls it "One of the best of the year", which is trivially true, since we're only 7 days into 2001, but misleading.

    After the first third of the movie, I knew how each of the three sub-plots was going to end. Yes, the War on Drugs doesn't work, and we all know that Hollywood loves to tell us that, so it was pretty easy to see where it was all going.

    The cinematography was interesting, and there was nothing really wrong with the movie, but it wasn't brilliant or anything. Michael Douglas's character was straight formula, with little depth and only what character development was absolutely required by the plot.

    In my opinion, "What Women Want" (which I saw the day after Traffic) was better, simply because it was less ambitious (and thus managed to accomplish all its goal--namely, making the audience laugh).

    Since everyone else is using this as an excuse to talk about the War on Drugs, I'm going to play devil's advocate. Everyone talks about the "European Approach" to drugs--decriminalization, lots of free rehab, free needles, etc. Nobody talks about the Asian approach, i.e., very harsh punishments, strong family values, etc. Neither Asia nor Europe has the same kind of drug problem the US has, because they both have consistent drug policies (though these policies are on opposite ends of the spectrum).

    The real problem with the US War on Drugs is that it's inconsistent and hypocritical. The US gives unreasonably harsh prison sentances to drug users (as compared with sentances for violent crimes), while giving the Whitehouse keys to other drug users. Marijuana is illegal, but tobacco and alcohol are legal.

    Another hypocrisy I'd like to point out: tons of people here say that drug use should be legal because it's a victimless crime, but, in the same breath, they say we need free treatment centres for addicts. Who do you think pays for those treatment centres? The rest of society. Unless it's drug users paying for their own treatment, they are victimizing everyone who has to pay for their rehabilitation.

    My solution? Make drugs legal, tax them, fund treatment centres with the tax revenues... Use the rest of the tax revenue for drug education programs. Show kids in schools videos of addicts their own age passed out in their own bodily fluids. Show them real footage of addicts overdosing. Tell them it's their choice.

    Oh, and please don't give me that crap about people not chosing to become addicts, etc. Maybe they didn't choose to become addicts, but they did choose to take that first toke/hit/pill. Sometimes mistakes have harsh consequences. People have to learn that they are responsible for the consequences of their own actions, and that they can't always count on a second chance. When people learn this, they'll become more responsible.

  • The HK MP5 is made by a German company. But the idea gets through, its an expensive gun and they wouldn't have it if America wasn't paying for it. Hell we even TRAIN a bunch of their soldiers.

  • People kill for money. Let's outlaw money!

    Seriously, a family friend was killed by a drunk driver (repeat offender, no less) a few years back. I don't think we should outlaw alcohol. I just think that the DWI laws should be stricter.

    I also don't think anyone NEEDS drugs to have a good time -- those who believe otherwise are delusional idiots that I choose to avoid spending time with. But if someone wants to use chemistry to alter their brain, in the privacy of their own home, and isn't hurting anyone (and the reason you don't usually hear about those who don't hurt anyone is BECAUSE the stuff's illegal so they don't want to talk about it -- think about that for a bit), who the hell cares?

    There are states that still have consensual sodomy laws and that consider cohabitation without marriage a felony (though I doubt these laws are enforced very often). Does this stop people? No. Should it? No.

    Sure, I have better things to do than drugs. But keeping them illegal just makes them more enticing for some people. The War on Drugs is ruining far more lives than drugs themselves will ever do. And those lives INCLUDE people who don't do drugs themselves (like the woman who was shot two blocks away by someone who was trying to kill her son over a drug deal).
  • I'm not just talking about pot. Unfortunately.

    I'm also talking about the vandal that punched out my car window while under the influence of something (my neighbor says he suspects it was PCP), and a speed freak I knew in college who was making my life unpleasant (and creating dangerous situations for anyone foolish enough to fall for his charm and date him, like breaking plates over his SO's head) even while sober.

    Then again, I was also talking about the belligerent drunk that screamed obscenities and swung at me while I was on first-aid duty at Pennsic and responding to a call of "unconscious person in a ditch." By the time I got there he was conscious and MEAN. Fortunately for me he was sufficiently drunk that his aim wasn't too good. :P

    As for hallucinogens -- never done any, but been around plenty of people under the influence of acid and shrooms, and they never seemed inclined to do anything more antisocial than paint graffiti on their own furniture.

    My comment stands. Chemicals (legal or otherwise) might stand to remove inhibitions, but chances are excellent that someone who is an asshole under the influence is also an asshole (maybe a more repressed one, but an asshole nonetheless) while not under the influence. Someone who has a violent temper might be more inclined to show it (especially under the influence of alcohol, in my experience), but that doesn't mean the temper's not there to begin with.

    This is also why I think there need to be better studies on the REAL effects of various drugs, and even then -- well, you choose to take the drug, you still get to be responsible for your actions under the influence. Don't hurt people, don't damage property, and don't do things that require your judgment and coordination to be unimpaired (ie driving).

    Otherwise, it's your body and I don't care what kind of junk you feed it.
  • 1. As has been posted elsewhere on this thread, it makes a dandy excuse for the government to play with surveillance equipment and to otherwise generally ignore our rights. Since drugs are supposedly such a terrible thing, the end (getting drugs off the street) justifies the means (basically turning the Bill of Rights into toilet paper).

    2. It's good for all the (over 21) alcoholics and tobacco addicts who don't do any other drugs -- they can point and say "hey, at least our habit's legal!"

    3. It serves as a justification for some truly horrible racism. In fact, that's how many drugs became illegal in the first place -- they were associated with a minority group that might be evil enough to try to seduce your innocent white daughters...

    4. In the case of marijuana in particular, hemp's many industrial uses scare a lot of big businesses who would rather not have to deal with the competition that widely-available industrial-grade hemp would offer.

    5. Biggest of all, the Wo(s)D is welfare for the middle class. The drug-prevention industry is huge, the prison industry is huge, new police are asked for and hired in the name of getting drugs off the street, etc. This is particularly true in the case of the prison problem. Not only is a ridiculously large portion of prison space taken up by non-violent drug offenders, but if you've read Flashbacks (Timothy Leary's autobiography), you know about the Harvard prison experiments. If you haven't read about this, here's what Leary and the other researchers found: the prisoners that had the experience of a controlled mescaline trip while in prison stayed OUT of prison once they were out 90% of the time. 90%! That is absolutely amazing. It irritates me no end that these experiments had to be shut down, and that they are seen as an excuse for careless use of drugs by the ill-informed.

    I'm sure there are other reasons, but those are the big ones I can think of right now.

  • Another point along the same lines: since there isn't an anti-Communist Cold War raging against Russia, and since the users at least of "psychedelic" drugs tend to be more politically liberal than average, it's a nifty way to keep the Cold War going, and/or to have an excuse to throw "radicals" in jail. (Case in point: Timothy Leary getting ten years for pot possession, for a tiny amount that actually belonged to his daughter. Even most of the prison guards were saying "Wow, sorry you're here!" Of course, he managed to convice people he was nice and non-threatening because they were stupid enough to give him psychological tests that he designed. *laughs*)
  • Well, sure, because they stopped shooting people in the head :) Seriously, if you consistently maintain the death penalty for a crime, then of course the rate of occurrence of that crime will decrease and stay fairly low.

    Incorrect. States with capital punishment for murder do not have a lower incidence of murder.

    In the drug trade, dealers already accept the possibility of a violent death. Users accept the possibility of death by overdose or adulteration. The possibility of the death penalty doesn't mean much in that context.

    That's not the current policy in China, I imagine; it was just employed when the Communists first got into power.

    As I said eariler in this thread, the death penalty has been used for drug crimes - for tobacco posession in 17th century Russian and the Ottoman Empire, for opium sales in 18th century China, for any drug sales in present day China. It still exists in the U.S. today under the Narcotics Control Act for sale of heroin to minors (though I don't think it's ever been imposed). Yet drug abuse continues.

    We can't even keep drugs out of prisons.

    Even with totalitarian measures, prohibition doesn't work.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • What is the motive? Whom does it benefit?
    Who benefits?
    • The prison-industrial complex. Prison building and prison labor are big businesses.
    • Law enforcement agencies. With the magic of civil forfeiture, they get to steal all sorts of stuff from suspects, without inconcenient trials.
    • Manufacturers of legal recreational drugs. Several beer and cigarette companies contribute to the "Partnership for a Drug-Free America".
    • Manufacturers of certain pharmecuticals. Legal cannabis could replace a lot of theraputic drugs, and it hard to make a high profit off of something people can grow in their backyard.
    • Manufacturers of synthetic fibers, who are still fighting against the growing hemp industry.
    • Self-righteous politicians looking for scapegoats.
    • Drug dealers.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • But when it comes to super addictive stuff like cocain and nicotine, I say ban it and enforce it, because this indulgent culture can't stay away from it.
    Cocaine is banned. The ban is enforced. The ban does not work.

    Cigarettes have been banned before. In 17th century Russia, and the Ottoman Empire, tobacco possession was punishable by death. In the U.S. in 1921, cigarettes were illegal in fourteen states. []


    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • Wake up to what? What happens on your street is not my concern.... As for murders and such on the street, it is your responsibility to clean it up on your street.

    Ah, the short-sighted ideas of the self-involved. (Are you, by chance, an Objectivist? And/or a member of the Libertarian Party?)

    What you don't realize is that what happens on my street today, can happen on your street next week. The people commiting murders and such on my street could very well move into your neighborhood, or at least the factors that drove them to murder could come to apply to people in your neighborhood.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • When the communists came to power they took all the drug addicts, pushers, users etc etc, lined them up in a square and shot them in the back of the head. Drug use dropped overnight.

    Long term, it still doesn't work. Drug use still exists in China.

    A quick Google search for "drug use in China" shows that opium is still grown there; HIV transmission via shared needles is still a problem; and China's State Council said only months ago that "the situation is grim for the anti-drug struggle."

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • You can put this down as "victimless crimes" or more precisely "consentual crimes" []. Every crime that doesn't result in harm to another human being (or his/her property) should be eliminated. How can a free society permit government to dictate what we can or can't do with our own bodies, minds and souls? If my actions upset you then don't watch! One day I will be tried for a consentual crime and on that day I will preach until it is thrown out of court or I am put away for contempt.
  • Plan to throw the first version away, you will anyway.
  • However, something I haven't figured out: Is there a tax break if your company is over a certain size, and you do pre-employment drug testing?

    I don't think there's a tax break, but I do know that a company has to do drug testing to get government contracts. I work for such a company. Even though I don't touch anything government-related, the entire company has to pee in a cup at least once every 3 years.

    I'm going to pay a lot more attention to the next job I get. Because I'm annoyed that any employer thinks they have the right to my bodily fluids. I don't do recreational drugs, never have, and likely never will. But I still don't want to pee in a damn cup. Any employee with a drug problem will be obvious to coworkers, and if you can't tell, then it's not a issue related to work performance.
  • you forgot one big player in the war on drugs:

    the artificial fibre industry, who has a lot to lose if they get competition from hemp fibre..

  • >... If someone is driving, and is on something, passes out at the wheel, and kills your family, come back to me and tell me that you still want your weed legalized.

    so you're also pushing to criminalize alcohol? I do want ym weed legalized, and here in the netherlands it practically is. But just like alcohol, you have to think a little: no driving under influence (already covered by law), or operating heavy machinery. The stance on hard-drugs in the netherlands is also quite relaxed, you won't be imprisoned for being a drug-addict (but you WILL be arrested for shoplifting etc. , if you do..).

    In general the Netherlands does not have a big drugs problem. marihuana use in the netherlands is lower than the US, and so is the use of hard-drugs. The dutch kids can make out for themselves if they want to drink beer (at 16), smoke pot (at 18). actually, above ages are for the sale of stuff, not the use.. and ofcourse.. smoking pot isn't especially cool, nor is it a very good way to rebel against your parents.

  • That analogy would only work if murder was legal.
    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.
  • I understand where you're coming from (I'm an advocate of decriminalization for most drugs), but I still think that the argument about the drugs still posing a danger to others because of how they change the way people act is an important one to understand. It's a bit of a trump card for advocates of the war on drugs, so we can't just pretend it doesn't matter, especially since the advocates are the ones making the laws.

    I also don't believe that all drugs do is increase the chance of things happening when the tendencies are already there. I honestly think that once one gets into the range of meth, hallucinogens (including massive amounts of THC), and X (where the effects of a high for chronic users are very different from the effects for occasional users), there is little comparison between the effects of severe intoxication with many drugs and the effects of being extremely drunk.

    That may not mean that these drugs have to stay illegal, but I think there should definitely at least be public intoxication laws pertaining to them. But what I think doesn't matter, because if you want to convince your local congressman of anything, you better not try to use the effects of pot to explain issues pertaining to powerful stimulants.
  • So some questions are:

    Will legalization increase the proportion of people to whom drugs are available? (yes)

    Agreed, but what I advocate, and what most people advocate is decriminalization, which is a whole different pack o' cards. Under decriminalization, it is legal to posess drugs but drug trafficking remains illegal - so, hypothetically, drug dealers will still be just as hard to find. This is a long shot, but it might actually make drugs harder to find, as police will quite possibly quit trying to find users and put more effort into finding dealers. This could burn the candle at both ends for drug dealers, as not only would more dealers be taken off the streets from being arrested, but fewer dealers would be there to take their place as dealing would possibly become a less popular job.

    Then again, if enough more people decide they want drugs when if they are decriminalized (I doubt it - in my experience, psychonauts and addicts are usually not the kinds of people who let laws stop them, so anyone who would use drugs already is.), dealing could become very popular. There's really no way of knowing which way the pendulum swings until we try it.

    Is the decrease in drug related violent crimes worth the increase in citizens doing stupid things to themselves? (normative - you the viewers at home get to answer)

    That's a very good question, but I would like to ask will people definitely start doing more stupid things? My guess would be that if, for example, pot were legalized in the US, the situation would be pretty bad here for a couple years and then it'd be a lot like Amsterdam - we'd all realize how stupid it is to fry your brain on pot and get so sick of the perma-dazed stoners walking around the streets that, much like in Amsterdam, people who do smoke weed (possibly a greater number of people) would do it in much more moderation than anyone here does nowadays, and the vast majority of people walking down the streets stopping to stare at every shiny object they see would, at least along the northern border, be Canadian kids crossing the border for a day of toking. At least I hope that's the way it would turn out.

    Would the legalization of said drugs decrease their stigma and increase use? (yes)

    I have a feeling it would decrease their abuse, though. If you take a look at many places where drugs are easier to get, more people use them but fewer people use them to the point where they cause problems. One example in my mind is European teenagers with alcohol vs. American teenagers with alcohol. The international students from Europe in my high school all thought we were pretty stupid about the way we drank.

    What effects would increased positive drug meme's have on the american cultural locus? (normative)

    If it means movies like Dude, where's my car? would become more popular, I think I might reconsider my position on drugs. =)

    Is liquor a good example of potential effects of cocaine/crack, etc? (no idea)

    Not at all. Cocaine and its derivatives are strong stimulants, alcohol is a depressant. A caffiene overdose is more similar (though still quite different.)

    Does anyone really care or do they just view it as a sort of cultural selection akin to natural selection except it isn't about genes - more about class and social interactions. In other words - if someone wants to be a druggie and ruin their life on crack/cocaine we should just let them smear themselves out?

    Given the worries I have about a lot of my friends, I've thought about that for a long time, and, it seems to me, when people do indeed want to smear themselves out, they generally won't let anything stand in their way. When people want help, they should certainly get anything we have to offer to help them. The group I can't decide for is the people who are screwing up their lives simply because they have no idea what they are getting into - kids who hough spraypaint, for example. I hate to admit it, but in addition to the part of me who is scared for them there's a part of me that really wants to say "If you're going to inhale LACQUER of all things, you probably weren't a very rational human being to begin with, so it's not like brain damage will hurt any vital organs."

    You're probably talking primarily about weed use - and I don't see it as that bad - but what about other drugs? Although, even weed, E, and some of our legalized drugs are just easy ways out and can and will still ruin lives.

    Yeah, if we ever change the drug policy I think we should definitely start slowly beginning with weed. I'm really not sure about other stuff - weed, in my opinion, is more benign than alcohol in most ways except that it makes people dumb, which to me is a horrible thing, but most stuff that's much harder is pretty dangerous - I wouldn't want LSD or mescaline to be easy for kids to get, and E is pretty dangerous, too (the data's not all in yet, but it looks like it has a greater potential for mermanent effects on a person's psyche than acid.) I really don't think it's possible to make a safe opinion about harder drugs and hallucinogens until we've tried weaker drugs like pot and seen what the effects of legalizing/decriminalizing those were.

    See I'd like to make a decision one way or another, but I don't find the evidence thus far convincing either way.
  • "legalize drugs"? Which drugs? May I hypothetically prognosticate?

    Legalize penicillin (yes, penicillin is a controlled substance, just try walking into a pharmacy and asking for a bottle of it with no prescription) and relative to a control group, you'll soon see a small increase in penicillin-resistant pathogens. That, at least, is the rationale put forth by the U.S.A.'s profit-oriented medical profession, why ordinary folks like you and I should not be able to buy antibiotics over-the-counter without first writing a big old check to an M.D. somewhere first in return for his scribbled sig on a scrip pad. I suspect that that for-profit aspect might have something to do with it too, but maybe I am just a cynic, feel free to disregard me.

    Legalize marijuana, and, socially speaking, well, nothing happens. No one dies of marijuana overdoses, no one at all, not now and not "then," never. It could be argued that marijuana use would go up, but that assumption presumes that our idiotic War on Drugs actually does something today to inhibit marijuana use. This presumption seems to be contradicted by facts such as the one about marijuana being California's number-one cash crop. Evidently, legal or not, millions of people smoke marijuana anyway. The only public effect, then, would be that the jails would have more room for armed robbers, rapists, and that ugly ilk, and those taxes spent on enforcement of marijuana laws could be either spent on something more socially productive or rebated to the taxpayers, and the tens of billions of dollars which go into the illegal marijuana market would stop disappearing underground. Oh yeah, and when you'd go the the bookstore and buy new books they'd be printed on cheap, high-quality, acid-free paper that lasts just about forever.

    Legalize heroin and other opiates, and among other effects you'll see a diminution in the number of overdose deaths. I've got a specific mechanism in mind. #1: junkies can only afford one or two doses at a time. #2: our junkie especially values that intense rush he gets when he shoots up, that rush is something he doesn't want to miss. #3: the concentration of street dope varies wildly from day to day. #4: overdoses suck; they don't feel extra-good, on the contrary, they feel real bad, plus of course OD'ing squanders a whole bunch of perfectly good dope. But in order not to miss out on that rush (junkies are not noted for caution), the junkie shoots up all he's got anyway. Unfortunately, sometimes the dealer is trying to do his customer a favor by supplying especially good, that is, high-purity dope. Alas, the poor junkie. All his old friends miss him.

    But imagine that one could buy opiates in shrink wrap right over the counter at your local pharmacy and/or liquor store. (It isn't that fantastic, after all - keep in mind that a hundred years ago, right here in the U.S.A, you could buy all the morphine you wanted, with no legal restrictions.) Well, in that case, our junkie would probably not overdose, because, having bought a commercial product with a known concentration, he wouldn't want to take too much, and he'd know exactly what quantity he's taking. By the way, counting overdose fatalities, I exclude suicides. If opiates were readily available, they'd probably the means of choice for deliberate self-extinction. As Schopenhauer [] put it, "...there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person." This might be a specific advantage of legalization, for victims of painful, terminal diseases. The obvious down side of opiate legalization, of course, would be that while you would see fewer overdose deaths, you would also most likely see a whole lot more people who become physically addicted to these opiates for one reason or another, If for any reason their supply were cut off for seventy-two hours, they would be reduced to agonized withdrawal victims. Maybe not good, huh? At least something to worry about.

    Legalize cocaine. Imagine an ultra-libertarian world where even cocaine were available without restriction (again, this was the situation one century ago, when among other luminaries Freud and Conan Doyle dabbled in it). Now, first of all, too much cocaine kills, that's a simple medical fact. And second, for some people at least, cocaine is the perfect and complete binge drug. Particularly when you strip off that pesky HCl with a little NaHCO3 + H2O, heat the resulting solid precipitate to vaporization in a pipe, and inhale the gaseous product... Take these two facts together, you can see the danger here. More and more leads to more and more and more. So I am told. Individuals differ, of course. For example, someone I knew well a long time ago had that very same problem with mere common alcohol. One drink, one single little drink, and absolutely surely from that moment he'd stop eating and start drinking non-stop, for days and weeks until he had to be ambulanced to an emergency room in epileptiform delirium tremens. Anyway. My guess is, you make essentially limitless quantities of coke available o.t.c. and one result would be that every big city's Sanitation Department would have to take on a new, disgusting duty: patrolling the alleys every morning before dawn, carting off the corpses of the freshly OD'd dead. Gee, I don't like cocaine.

    Well, all this is highly hypothetical, and who knows? maybe even incorrect in point of fact, but there's four of them. Only four of the countlessly many currently proscribed drugs, each wildly different from the others. That's the point I'm trying to make here: "drugs" are all different. Talking about globally legalizing "drugs" is like talking about legalizing, I don't know, green things. Cabbages, iguanas, bottles of absinthe, hand grenades, treat 'em all identically, they're all green. I could maybe accept this attitude from an ideologically pure radical Libertarian or anarchist. At least he is consistent: possession of any thing should be legal. Conversely there's the equally consistent but dystopian 1984/police-state model where everything is illegal. It's not over the issue of self-contradiction that we reject the Khmer Rouge theory of government! Anybody else, however, who jabbers about drug laws without explicitly distinguishing between the various drugs in question, I have to accuse him of shallow, or sloppy, or downright dishonest thinking.

    So which drugs, exactly, did you want to legalize?

    Yours WDK -

  • 1.) Methadone gets you high as a motherf***in' kite. Wow, boy oh boy, is it ever strong to last long. By "last long" I mean where a strung-out junkie might start feeling itchy only eighteen hours after his last shot of smack, he'll still be OK thirty-six hours after the last cup of "my favorite flavor cherry red." If you, with no tolerance, steal and drink up some junkie's take-home (don't do that, it's cruel), be prepared not only to cop a Hell of a buzz today but also to wake up all buzzy and loaded tomorrow morning, after the greatest sleep, illuminated by Technicolor dreams, that you ever had in your life. That's how it works, it's that simple; the clinic simply substitutes a regular daily dose for those street drugs the patient has been acquiring and taking at such risk to his person. Don't ever discount the profound effect of being free of having to cruise the dismal and dangerous drug underground just in order not to get mortally sick.

    2.) Methadone is also real mother to kick. After all, it is a strong-as-Hell opiate, maybe the strongest there is. When the clinic finally tapers you off, it takes months.

    3.) Methadone treatment works absolutely great to get people who are physically addicted to street opiates free of their addictions. This is a hard fact, I've seen it with my own eyes - I'm talking about guys, apperently total burn-outs, who, if you'd known them at the depth of their addictions, you'd have bet any amount of money that they'd end up dead or locked up forever real soon. These same guys, after a few years (yep, I said years) in the hands of a methadone clinic, have been turned back into regular, sober, respectable, intelligent, even happy people. It's the damndest thing you ever saw, and I wouldn't be surprised if you are incredulous - you'd have to see it to believe it.

    Yours WDK -

  • Actually, H&K is a part of Royal Ordnance (a UK company), which is itself part of British Aerospace.

  • Rampant deregulation of narcotics has a habit of creating a drug epidemics, see 19th century China. History is actually pretty unclear as what is the best way to combat drug abuse.

  • "In fact, because your wits are more about you when you are sober, the sentence should be greater when you are NOT intoxicated and have committed a crime."

    So, by your logic, drunk drivers who cause fatal accidents should be slapped on the wrist, since they didn't know what they were doing. Tell me Mr. Dumbfuck, what's your rationale for that argument? Anyone who puts others at risk due to their own indulgence in alcohol or drugs deserves to be put away.

    "Public safety is NOT a right."

    True, but that doesn't give you the green light to put someone else's life at risk. People do die, but if you cause someone to die, you'll definitely be paying for it, no matter what fucked up bullshit rhetoric you try to offer.

    As far as I'm concerned, you can put whatever you want into your system. Do it in the privacy of your own home.

  • Let's not forget the other half of this movie. The fact is that drugs can and often do become terribly destructive ways of coping with real feelings and issues. While this movie was good at pointing out the problems with the war on drugs, it only briefly touched on actual solutions to it. IMHO, making drugs illegal is equivalent to making suicide illegal - not very useful.
  • By that measure, water is equally lethal.

    My guess would be that water is actually quite a bit more lethal than heroin. I've heard it said that you can drown in a half cup of water -- and yet, certain irresponsible docters recommed we drink eight cups of the vile stuff a day! Think of the children!
  • The US is still waging this "war" on drugs because it would be political suicide for a politician to oppose it. Most Americans have come to accept the war on drugs as a fact of life and as an implicitly good thing. If a politician took a stand against it, said that it should be stopped because it is not working, (s)he could expect not to win the next election. As far as most voters are concerned anti-war-on-drugs == pro-drugs, and who would vote for a pro-drug canidate?
  • If the War on Drugs is so absurd, why is the U.S.A. wasting millions of dollars on such a futile war?

    What is the motive? Whom does it benefit?

    Politicians promise to continue the war on drugs; they get elected; they continue the war on drugs. Now everyone's acting all surprised? It's a democracy, that's how policies get made.

    Of course, its more fun to actually whine about it than go to the voting booth it seems.
  • certain irresponsible docters recommed we drink eight cups of the vile stuff a day!

    Yes, I know it's meant as a joke, but the 8 glasses-of-water rule is a myth; the LA Times had a really interesting article on it here []...
  • Its interesting that the movie focuses on heroin addiction (the duaghter) and yet people here are talking about the benefits of legalizing pot.

    The movie didn't spend two seconds on the topic of pot, which is essentially pseudo-legal now anyway (when was the last time you knew someone who was busted for smoking up?)

    Heroin and cocaine are the issues at hand, which are probably way too dangerous to ever be legalized in any way.

  • the war on drugs has got to be the largest sham ive personally ever heard of. the figures i have found all seem to say figures to the tune of 19 billion dollars a year, also every few months some congressman manages to add 10 million or so to the yearly pool. 19 billion is a lot of money.

    now take a look at what they do with that money, they setup special police forces that go to public schools, concerts, and various other suspect spots. this is great for catching the end user of said substances, but that is hardly stopping the problem.

    lets now look at the technology that exists. there are radar style devices out there that can detect very small amounts of cocaine, barbituates, or opiates. now if you think about the bigger drugs, almost all of them fit into these categories. these are also inexpensively mades. if these devices were used instead of being left on the shelf, the us border patrol would not only be able to detect the drugs, but they would also see them about a mile away. the technology that is used, is usually dogs who can supposedly smell larger amounts of drugs.

    lets also look at where the border patrol is told to watch. the heavily patrolled area is basically right along the us/mexico border, when in fact, more drugs come through from canada. vancouver, and montreal are the two largest drug centres in north america. both of these are port cities, and both of them are ridiculously close to the us border. i, being a canadian have crossed the us canada border more times than i can count, including several times in the two previously mentioned cities. not once have i ever seen any form of narcotics detection. most drugs that come through mexico are usually flown in, or brought in by people with "special clearance". yes, people who have paid the right people dont even get to be sniffed by the previously mentioned dogs.

    yes folks, it seems the us wants to lose the war on drugs, but why? well, there is a lot of money being made from it. i dont mean employing a few hundred people, i mean several thousand occupations seem to benefit from it. the justice system obviously, most of the people in jails in the us wouldnt be there if drugs werent an issue. the police need larger numbers of people, with even more training. the hospital system gets a lot of drug related cases. those on the other side of the law make phenomenal amounts of money. more importantly, this "war on drugs" gives the politicians something to talk about during the debates. they tend to like keeping the real issues quiet. all the parties at hand tend to also make a great deal of money directly from those involved in the drug trade. medical professionals who come into contact with these people are often paid better to keep that whole doctor client secrecy thing a bit tighter, lawyers are paid twice what they normally get, arresting officers are often paid to lose evidence, the list goes on and on.

    recently there was a push in vancouver to make needle drugs semi-legal. this is mostly because vancouver is the heroin capital of the western world. aids rates are high, crime in the troubled spots is outstanding (for canada at least). they wanted to make "shooting galleries", to ensure that people had clean needles, as well as having trained staff make sure that if there was an overdose the person would live. they also wanted education to be the focus, and possession of personal amounts to be perfectly legal. everyone in the city (i mean everyone) was excited. all of a sudden most of the people who were voting on it were suddenly against the idea. about four months later, a large drug bust revealed that these people were actually paid by the largest street gang to keep the drug illegal! it seems the gang makes more off of an illegal substance than off of a legal one.

    that cant be an isolated incident.


    Drink more tea []
  • How about this. Since you must agree that driver's licenses are a good thing when driving. Perhaps we need this type of thing for drug use. A license to use drugs.

    PLEASE!!! This would be and even bigger mistake than the war on drugs... "Yes Uncle Sam, I use drugs, oh wait, you told my employer? FUUUUUCK!" ... or better yet ... "Yes, I use drugs and have a license for it... What do you mean I don't qualify for any insurance, at all? FUUUUUCK!"

    Just as social drinking is something that can either be done publicly or privately, we need to respect people who chose to use drugs IN THEIR OWN HOMES.

    Sorry for ranting, but I can imagine someone in Congress trying to pass something has horrid as this...
  • If a parent fights the megacorporations and tries to guide his children into a healthy lifestyle, local governments, which are owned by developers, make sure that there are no bicycle paths, skateboard parks, obstacle/fitness courses, etc. for children to play safely on (such things cost developers money to build and affect the bottom line, after all).

    "Hey, there's a vegetarian down the street, tear down the playground!"

    Seriously though (well, not really), you left out one important part of the Grand Conspiracy - personal injury lawyers. Remember, "children" and "play safely" don't really go together too well. With team sports, you can always sue a player or coach if your child gets injured. Individual recreational activities limit the blame to either the injured person (not likely in this society) or the owner of the property that the injury took place on. That makes recreational areas a big liability in a country with more lawyers than it could ever really need. These lawyers need food, shelter, and luxury cars, so they jump on any opportunity to make someone pay for something (as long as they get a cut). The atmosphere this creates is one of suspicion and distrust. Why try to save someone's life if you could get sued if you don't succeed? Why apologize for something if it could be taken as an admission of guilt? Why say anything if the speech could be viewed as harmful, offensive, inciteful, or otherwise "wrong" in some way? With everyone busy looking out for themselves, they can't combine their abilities and resources to put up a unified front against real threats. The people need someone to trust, and that's where good old Uncle Sam comes in, just like a big brother...

  • The drug war as such has gone on for decades, with no major positive result, i.e., the war on drugs certainly has not been won.

    I Look at this, and I think of programming maxims that have been passed down, such as here [] an other excellent places. A few that might be appropriate include:

    • "There's no time to stop for gas, we're already late"
    • Craziness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
    • When troubleshooting, make sure you are trying to fix the right problem.

    Point being, I wonder what we would find if we applied proper bug finding and engineering standards to the drug war. Some solutions we would not want to apply to humans, of course.

    But I bet we would find alot of hidden factors that are not being even looked at one way or another.

  • From what I could see from the trailers Traffic looked more like the old standard "anti-drug message" type of movies that we were pelted with during the 80s and 90s (you know the ones, where the whole plot revolves around some drug (usually a new drug) that's gonna totally ruin a city or a nation or whatever and the intrepid "good guys" have to save us all, blech).

    However, it looks like this movie is deeper and more interesting than that and most importantly isn't just a 2 hour long "don't do drugs" PSA (and it looks like it has a good plot too).

  • Illegal Drugs killed just over 8000 americans in 1994. Compare that to how many died from alcohol or tobacco. Is it really worth imprisoning over 800,000 americans, and letting out violent criminals? Is it really worth funding the Columbian army with 12 billion dollars to kill other Columbians, when the Columbian army is guilty of human rights violations? Have you noted the fact that despite actions over the last decade to curb supply, and massively increased funding, the street price of cocaine has dropped significantly in the last ten years. You might also look at the fact that drug use is not declining in American youth. In the Netherlands, where soft drugs are basically legal, drug use statistics are generally half that of the US, and the murder rate is down. Just wait until one of your friends or family gets imprisoned for taking a wrong turn in life, and watch just how much that imprisonment helps them overcome their problems and addictions. The war on drugs is the war on american children. Education is better than the slow erosion of the Bill of Rights.
  • If the War on Drugs is so absurd, why is the U.S.A. wasting millions of dollars on such a futile war?

    What is the motive? Whom does it benefit?

  • A lot of the reasons listed by others here are essentially correct, but the biggest factor is the politiicians' _fears_, which are:

    1. Fear of losing their jobs from saying the "wrong" things.
    2. Fear of losing campaign contributions from corporations and interests who have a _need_ for the continuation of the War on the American People.
    3. Fear of the results from radically changing a policy, even though we all know the results will be largely beneficial.

    This seems to be a problem that only state initiatives seem to be solving (albeit slowly), as the public doesn't have to play politics over this issue. California voters, in fact, just accepted a drug treatment plan for first and second-time "offenders."

    I know a lot of people here will disagree with me, but this War on the American People and politicians' innate inability to cope with issues directly and factually is a symptom of republicanism (small 'r') and can only be ultimately cured with increasing doses of direct democracy.

    For more info on the failed War on the American People, check out this site: They produce excellent articles in a weekly newsletter format that's emailed to subscribers.

    Steve Magruder

  • Yes, Traffic is way more sophisticated than those types of movies. In fact, Katz makes it sound as if Soderbergh put an explicit message into the movie. Not really. There is an implied message that Jon got, but it is rarely spelled out. It's almost a documentary in its approach -- you get to see how things are, and then you can make up your own mind.

    When I left the theater, I overheard several groups of viewers talking about what they had just seen. There were disagreements about the 'message' of the film, which is a great sign that the movie doesn't preach but trusts its viewers to think for themselves.

    It's great to go to a movie and want to talk about what it meant afterward with a group of persons. Too few movies allow this level of thought.

  • Heroin, like most opiates, is a pain killer, and a very good one at that - far more effective than morphine.

    Cannabis has no known proven medical benefits. Some takers with cancer says it helps, but to the best of my knowledge, most scientific tests on the subject have been inconclusive. That doesn't mean it doesn't help - it's just right now supporting its legalisation on those grounds would be like demanding hayfever sufferers be able to get cammomile tea on the NHS.

  • Because the comparison was discussing the medical usefulness of cannabis, and demands it deserves special treatment because of the benefits, not the legality of it.

    There's about as much evidence (ie plenty of commonsense and anecdotal, but little or no scientific) that pot helps with pain as there is that camomile tea helps relieve the symptoms of hayfever. Hence supporting the legalisation of pot on the basis that it might help as a painkiller is like making a pro-chamomile demand on the basis that it helps with hayfever.

    Sorry if that wasn't clear enough.

  • What about Jack Straw's son?

    (Note to non-British: Straw is home secretary (minister of the interior.) His son was arrested for possession a year or two ago. If there was any justice in the world, it would have been a major political embarassment for Straw who's as bad as his political opponents in the Conservative Party when it comes to drugs, but somehow he managed to turn it into a "See? My family have experience of this thing! I know how evil drugs can be!" political triumph.


  • Well, well, it seems that a lot of libertarian-minded folks read this site. I am one myself, and I am all for legalizing drugs. But there's one catch. All government funded or subsidized drug treatment must end too. If you really believe in freedom, you should also believe in my freedom to not pay for someone else's addiction.
  • Coming from the other side of the "fence" on this war on drugs issue maybe I could point out a couple of things. I was born and lived almost 23 years in Buenos Aires, Argentina (I'm 25 now). Also, since I was 19 and due to my job, I had the opportunity to visit several other latin american countries including Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico)...sometimes staying there for months at a time.

    Having this background (no offense, but I'm sure most of you don't have it), maybe I can shed some light in a couple of issues :

    1) There is NO such thing as a 'War on Drugs' in any of the above mentioned countries. The 'War on Drugs' is viewed mainly as a US domestic initiative and there's actually no help, or very little help at all, from the US to these countries to combat the problem locally, at its source. Sure, there are each countries policies on drugs, the occasional DEA presence and help packages...but all those do very little. The somewhat recent help package from the US to Colombia (in money and BlackHawk helicopters) did nothing actually.

    The money ended up in the pockets of corrupt gov't officials, politicians and other 'power' individuals (yes, including some drug lords). The choppers are generally used to combat the guerrillas along the Colombian-Venezuelan borders. To presume the US gov't doesn't know about all this is ridiculous.

    2) In fact, almost 50% of the drugs actually consumed all over latin america come from the US (and to a lesser extent, Europe). Drug exporting countries in latin america generally export the raw product. Processing is done in US based labs and then exported back south. Processing cocaine is not terribly difficult, chemically speaking... but trying to process it in the amounts that are demanded is. The amount that is actually demanded far surpasses what can be processed in few jungle labs here and there.

    The 'War on Drugs' it's a joke. If you want an analogy, think if in WWII, Germany sent their soldiers to be trained on the US and then the US sent them back to fight against its own men. It doesn't make sense... but in a way, it's what's going on right now.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @10:27AM (#525157) Homepage Journal

    Being critical without an idea for a solution is the worst possible thing.

    There are several options. Even do nothing at all about drugs looks better than the war on drugs. Currently, we are in the arctic wearing a coat made of dry ice. By all means, take the coat off!

    People don't seek treatment for drug addiction (or even admit they have a problem) because they can't without confessing to a crime. Crime gets involved in drug distribution because of the extremely high profit margins. Violence gets involved because of the huge amounts of money involved and the high cost of getting caught. Very few people shoot it out with the police to avoid a fine for operating a business w/o a license.

    The war on drugs has destroyed our sense of justice. That nice kid next door who got caught with a joint (perhaps not even his) will probably do as much or more time than the armed robbers they caught on the corner. It's hard to see judges as wise or the police as the good guys when they keep perpetrating such mind numbing stupidity and needless destruction of young lives.

    Realistically, do nothing will probably not be enough. For one, I would suggest taking a fraction of the money being spent now, and use it to fund addiction treatment and counciling programs. Perhaps it could be funded with a modest tax on the drugs themselves. Nobody will complain because even with a hefty tax, pot will still be cheaper than it is under prohibition.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:56AM (#525158) Homepage Journal

    But when it comes to super addictive stuff like cocain and nicotine, I say ban it and enforce it, because this indulgent culture can't stay away from it.

    All that will accomplish is trading one problematic 'war' for another. There are a few very simple facts related to the drug war:

    • People do stupid things
    • Nothing can stop them.
    • Nobody can agree on exactly what things are stupid
    • If we ban everything that anyone has ever used in a stupid and harmful manner, there won't be anything left.
    • People will still manage to hurt themselves.
    • The rest will die off or revolt because society will crumble.

    The sooner our society (and government) realises this, the sooner we can start spending those billions of dollars a year on something worthwhile. For example, the amount we have spent on the War on (some) drugs so far would have been enough to put every homeless person in the U.S. into a nice apartment complete with food, clothing, and counciling to help them reenter society with enough left over to treat drug addicts and lower taxes.

    Drug related violence would disappear overnight. You'll notice that alcoholics rarely get into shootouts with police or each other in the Winn Dixie checkout line in spite of their impared reasoning processes (or DTs).

    Police would no longer be able to legally steal Grandma's car w/o a trial under the bizarre (to say the least) legal fiction of charging the car with drug trafficing.

    We wouldn't have to listen to the drug czar doublespeaking about how (to paraphrase) drug trafficing has decreased to only double the previous figure.

    Your enemies couldn't legally destroy your home and disrupt your life just by making an anonymous call to the local drug squad from a payphone (it's not unheard of, sometimes homeowners get killed that way).

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:27AM (#525159) Homepage
    Just for kicks, let's through in the Corporate Government.

    Anyone with two brain cells to rub together acknowledges that marijuana is a far less harmful drug than alcohol or tobacco, and recognizes the absurdity of illegalizing it.

    The Corporate Government is intent on creating a passive mass public over the next thirty to fifty years. A public that performs its duty as a consumer society, buying every p.o.s. merchandise that they can get their hands on; and working as good little labourers who toe the company line and don't demand better wages, better benefits or better hours.

    Those people who use marijuana can only be considered dangerous free-thinking/free-acting radicals who are a threat to the Corporate Government power structure. They're the rabble-rousing riff-raff who would have the guts to demand company medical coverage, safer working conditions or, god forbid, vacation time.

    These sorts of people must be eliminated, so that they can no longer influence the passive, mass public.

    Goodness. I should be writing for X-Files.

    But I betcha there's a kernel of truth in there...

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:35AM (#525160) Homepage
    The best book on the absurdity of consensual crime is Peter McWilliam's "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do."

    You can [read the entire book online] []. It's very thought-provoking, and stands a good chance of significantly changing the way you've been programmed to think.

    Free your mind, AC. :-)

  • by philg ( 8939 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:40AM (#525161)

    There are some good points in the article. The Drug War under Clinton has failed, just as it did under Reagan. (FWIW, though, Clinton locked up more people than Reagan did, so simply making the laws tougher doesn't seem to work.)

    I also believe in holding people accountable for their actions, and becoming intoxicated on anything is a choice. But I do think we need to apply an even standard, and I don't think O'Reilly presents one.

    His plan would penalize anyone who "uses illegal drugs or overindulges alcohol" (paraphrasing). So it's okay for people to use alcohol as long as they don't "overindulge", but it isn't okay to use illegal drugs at all (or, presumably, use legal drugs in a non-prescribed way). With regard to current law enforcement policy, this is status quo.

    It would make more sense to regulate the currently illegal drugs the same way we treat legal ones, and deal with intoxication in more general terms. It's okay for people to be intoxicated on alcohol, but certain activities (driving) are more dangerous than others (watching TV, talking with friends), and people caught doing those things are treated harshly if they are intoxicated. People below a certain age are not allowed to become intoxicated because they generally do not have the life experience necessary to make that kind of decision.

    The exact details of what is dangerous may vary depending on the type of drug and its effects. But I think these guidelines are more rational than giving alcohol (and nicotine) the undeserved status of being safer than other drugs, because we can allow people to indulge in it, but not in illegal drugs. Its intoxicating effects are, in many ways, more dangerous than several illegals


  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:08AM (#525162) Homepage
    We are slowly moving towards an elimination of the drug war. People are realizing its ineffectiveness, libertarians are getting more votes [] nationwide, and ballot initiatives are looking to slowly change the system. Note this one [] from Boston:
    • The proposed law would expand eligibility for the program under which a person charged with a drug crime may request a court finding that he is drug-dependent and would benefit from court-monitored treatment. If the court so finds, and the person then successfully completes a treatment program, the criminal charges are dismissed. The proposed law would allow requests to enter this program by persons who are at risk of becoming drug dependent and by persons charged with a first or second offense of manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance, or possessing a controlled substance with the intent to do any of those things, or trafficking 14 to 28 grams of cocaine.

    Eventually we'll learn and stop bothering people. Eventually.
  • by austad ( 22163 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @06:30PM (#525163) Homepage
    >who struggles to keep her lifestyle after her husband gets arrested by the DEA and umasked as a drug lord.

    How do I umask something as a drug lord? I have a user on my system who is a drug lord and I'd like his default permissions to reflect it. Would it be 'umask 0420'?
  • Silly question: why didn't everyone die a century ago when they were legal?
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @11:43AM (#525165) Journal
    Just a reminder that on July 31 of this year, the federal law banning possession and growing of marijuana expires in Ontario due to an Ontario Appeals Court ruling striking said law down as unconstitutional. Reason: no provision for medicinal users! The feds had a chance to rewrite it, but it appears they're going to let ti slide.

    After July 31, the law comes open for attack around the rest of the country, and is likely to fall really fast.

    And I imagine there will suddenly be a lot of "pressure" to reinstate the law during the months of June and July from "certain parties." Considering that our prime minister isn't exactly known for having a backbone in the face of international pressure (what can you say about a guy who treated former Indonesian dictator Suharto like a good person and friend while protesters were pepper-sprayed outside?), I can only hope he grows one and holds the line. It'd be nice to see some sanity show up on the North American continent.
  • by fable2112 ( 46114 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @09:53AM (#525166) Homepage

    Drugs should be legal (or at least decriminalized), but being under the influence should not be considered a justification for the committing of any crime.

    I've been around people who've done some pretty stupid and violent things while drunk or stoned or otherwise under the influence. And I can't think of a single case where the potential wasn't there. The drugs may have lowered inhibitions, but most of these people clearly had violent tendencies even while sober. *shrug* I don't think keeping drugs illegal because a small minority is going to be irresponsible is that wonderful of an idea. That's like outlawing the Internet beccause some people post kiddie porn.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Sunday January 07, 2001 @10:19AM (#525167) Homepage Journal
    I have to agree with the other posts here. The act of attacking you is a crime, not matter what his state of mind. He must take responsibility for his actions and the drugs are no excuse. This is a case of one guy ruining it for everybody else. I have my own reasons for not taking drugs but as the old saying goes, I may not agree with you but I'll fight to the death to protect your right to do it.
  • by Life Blood ( 100124 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @08:03AM (#525168) Homepage

    I have seen a lot of posts basically saying this: "The Drug War is a failure and it historically never works, we should just legalize everything as save ourselves the money." Question: Does legalizing everything work either?

    Alright, drugs are legalized. What happens? First and foremost, drugs get relatively cheap and most likely get weaker. The hard drugs like heroin and cocaine, who were basically created by regulation, become less widespread. The system becomes less violent because there aren't as many profits to be made. No more drug related shootings in the streets, because the street gangs need to do something else to make their cash. These are the good things.

    The bad things? Drug use skyrockets. Lots more users, more addicts, more overdoses, more everything. The barrier to entry is now practically nil so lots of people use pharmaceuticals recreationally. The smart individuals stop after a while when they get tired of it or realize its taking over their lives. The stupid or short-sighted progress to harder drugs and the problems for them escalate. So after about five years the problem will got from a serious criminal problem before deregulation to a serious public health problem afterwards.

    In short deregulation is not as simple as it sounds. You could quite possibly end up with a culture reminiscent of mainland china at the turn of the 20th century. Chronic opium use was characteristic of over 30% of the society. How did they finally combat it? The Communists began summarily executing the opium users, providers, and everything else in the whole system. They started and won a Drug War.

    So deregulation is trading a huge expensive criminal problem for a huge expensive social problem. The deregulation of liquor did not destroy alcoholism did it? It just brought it back out in the open. I will admit that the war on drugs is a fiasco, but will deregulation be any better?

    My guess is no. It will demarginalize the problem and create an epidemic. If we are to really stop the problem of drug use we will need to start going for its throat at the source suppliers instead of biting off its fingers in the distribution networks.

  • by Raunchola ( 129755 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:10AM (#525169)
    For any of you who watch the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, Bill O'Reilly had an interesting take on the War on Drugs [] on his show last week.

    Certainly interesting and somewhat inflammatory. Gotta say I agree with it though.

  • by Dannon ( 142147 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @03:14PM (#525170) Journal
    From The Onion's book, Our Dumb Century:

    WASHINGTON, DC-- After nearly 30 years of combat, the U.S. has lost the drug war.

    Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey delivered the U.S.'s unconditional surrender in a brief statement Friday. "Drugs, after a long, hard battle, you have defeated us," he said. "Despite all our efforts, the United States has proven no match for the awesome power of the illegal high."

    "In retrospect," McCaffrey added, "this was not a winnable war."

    McCaffrey then handed over power to High Times magazine editor Steven Hager, who will now head the new U.S. Office of Drug Policy, replacing the now-defunct DEA.

    "We must all get behind drugs now," outgoing DEA Chief Thomas Constantine said. "I recommend we all get really, really baked."

    With the defeat, drugs will begin a full-scale occupation of the vanquished U.S. Massive quantities of crack, heroin, PCP, LSD, marijuana and other drugs will flood the nation legally, saving America's estimated 75 million drug users billions of dollars on their yearly drug budgets.

    Street gangs, working in conjunction with Columbian coke lords, will assume leadership of America's inner cities, and federally backed marijuana farms are expected to begin appearing throughout the rural Midwest and Northern California by the end of the year.

    Drug kingpin Amando Fuentes said it was "inevitable" that the U.S. would surrender. "We knew we would eventually win this war," Fuentes told reporters from his impenetrable Mexico City palace. "America's relentless campaign of anti-drug slogans, TV public-service announcements and elite elementary-school D.A.R.E. forces were a formidable enemy in this war. But in the end, my well-armed and well-financed army was victorious."
  • by gwjc ( 181552 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @07:40AM (#525171)
    The very premise of telling people what they should and should not put into their bodies is ridiculous from the get go and a violation of their liberties. When one considers that 80% of prisoners in American penal system are there because of using, selling, manufacturing or trafficing drugs it shows how much more insane the policy is. Think about how many real criminals could be prosecuted if drugs were legalized. The last American Pres and Vice Pres both admittedly used illegal drugs in their past.. should they go serve their time? Everyone knows Bush used Cocaine in his youth.. Is he going to go do his time now? No, of course not rich white people usually don't have to ('cept maybe John Delorean). Even the freaking ex Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop said that drugs should be decriminalized and that the war was not only a failure but was ultimately responsible for killing more people than drugs ever could. This is the same nonsense that people argued about during alcohol prohibition, before they came to their senses and did the right thing. Legalize all drugs and everything will be much better than it is now.
  • by Ergo2000 ( 203269 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @07:26PM (#525172) Homepage

    One thing that I've often been curious about is how the WoD could effectively be stopped. For instance I'm a Canadian and generally feel a very liberal attitude among most Canadians that the WOD is absurd and should be abolished. Marijuana is pretty much decriminalized and while you'll be arrested if you sit in front of police headquarters smoking up, generally it is an ignored "crime". There are still images of beatnick police officers standing in front of grossly overstated confiscated "Crops" but these are less frequent and received with much more scorn and derision than every before.

    However what if Canada took the initiative and decided to legalize a wide variety of drugs through a national production and distribution chain (for example cocaine, LSD, etc.). Aren't there worldwide conventions and agreements dictating the general drug laws of most countries? What if Canada decided to ignore these (if they do exist) : Could you imagine the treatment Canada would get? Firstly traveling to another country would pretty much guarantee a strip cavity search, and trade over the border would likely grind to a halt as every truck were searched, etc. Every day on the news overpaid, underskilled, entrenched US politicians would be filling the airwaves about the evil emnating from the neighbour to the North, blah blah blah. "Satan on Earth! The next Hitler! Eroding American values and threatening our way of life!"

    So where does it start? Realistically I can't see any 1st World nation starting it seriously without the US doing it first due to fear of reprisal from the US (Do I think it would be beyond the US to invade another sovereign nation because they don't follow laws that the US agrees with? Not in the slightest. To see US politicians throwing monkey shit at South American countries because said countries provide what is requested by supposedly free US citizens just blows me away. The extent with which many Americans [obviously not all thankfully!] are willing to throw away their freedoms in the name of freedom is frightening). The likelihood of something like this taking hold in the US seems incredibly unlikely : While the intelligent sector of society has long realized the absolute absurdity of the WoD, there is a large lemming majority that will believe anything they're told by the propagandaists, and there is a large hierarchy that wants things to stay just the way they are : Police have a public enemy to ask for more funds, military can come in and do some trivial action every now and then, the Coast Guard gets lots of dough, and politicians have a public enemy that they can continually declare war on and get good ratings despite metrics that are absolutely abysmal. There is an entrenched and brutally corrupt political structure in the states with everyone having their stake and their frontman pushing their ideas. It just seems very unlikely.

  • Its funny, isn't it, that we Americans always insist our way is the best way, and yet even as we continue the war on drugs, other enligtned european countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium and the UK have legalised cannibis, and seen an attendant shortfall in hard drug abuse.

    Did you know that mariujana is California's largest cash crop ?

    What is going on here ? It seems a bit messed up to me.

  • by philg ( 8939 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:00AM (#525174)

    "What is the motive? Whom does it benefit?"

    Campaign contributors, of course. And law enforcement, as I've pointed out in a previous post. They're in a unique bind. Most organizations can look forward to growth and increased prestige if they do their jobs right; law enforcement done right leads to lower budgets and decreasing power, since there's less crime to fight. So law enforcement is incented to always have an enemy to fight, and preferrably a morally reprehensible one, so we can't use the ineffectiveness of our opposition as an exuse to resign. With an enemy like that, you can go on growing forever....

    Apart from law enforcement, here's a few other powerful lobbies that benefit:

    • Gun and Law Enforcement Equipment Manufacturers. For obvious reasons. Since many of them also supply the military, you can see how they might have the money to make a fuss.
    • Drug Testing companies. Until the '80's, there was no drug testing industry. Now, it's worth millions. Most of that comes from the drug most likely to be legalized if the War is ever de-escalated: marijuana. So they have a vested interest in increased support for the War on Drugs.
    • For-profit rehab facilities. It is necessary to have help for people with addiction problems who can't help themselves. But like the drug-testing companies, for-profit rehabs have been able to blossom under the Drug War. They charge healthcare industry prices, but don't have many healthcare industry expenses (like diagnostic or surgical equipment, and many fewer pharmaceuticals), so their margins are relatively high.
    • Alcohol and tobacco. Only the War on Drugs could make these industries look like the Safe Alternative.
    • People who have bought the propoganda. Recreational drugs provide an excellent scapegoat -- they're shadowy, genuinely dangerous (though so is driving a car, or owning a gun), and generally not part of most people's everyday lives. Given the thorough whitewash they've been given by the mainstream media and the government, there are many people who think they know the facts and vehemently oppose the Evil Drugs. Until those who oppose the Drug War get their message out to these people in a way that makes them really look at the issue, they will continue to support it.


  • by alienmole ( 15522 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:50AM (#525175)
    I'm guessing you haven't seen it. Don't base your opinion of a movie on a Katz capsule review. Try these reviews instead: Entertainment Weekly [] and New York Times [] (free login required.)

    I found the movie very immersive, informative, and thought provoking. It lays out quite vividly something that most smart people already know: why the classic "war on drugs" approach can't work, because the enormous demand for drugs will create a supply, no matter what legal prohibitive steps are taken.

    Instead of encouraging the people -- especially the young people -- to lead healthy drug-free lives, this movie basically says that it's useless to fight the drugs; give up already.

    I think the move does exactly what you want: it suggests that a large part of the answer is up to us. This is highlighted quite clearly when the drug czar's daughter in the movie ends up in a rehab program (not really giving away any plot.)

    You'll see in the reviews something that was made amply clear, in fact stated in so many words, in the movie: that the "war on drugs" is a war, in part, on the people we love: our own children, for example. The movie wasn't saying we should give up; rather, it presents a well-constructed view of the drug industry from a number of different angles, giving some insight into what drives it and why efforts against it have had limited success, and poses the question, is the approach being taking right now really the most effective one? If you're not even willing to discuss the question, then it's your motives that should be scrutinized, not Steven Soderbergh's.

  • Nobody says drug abuse is good. We're just saying that throwing resources at turning drug abusers into criminals is a waste of the resources because you can't stop drug abuse in that manner. Much better to put those resources into helping drug abusers put their lives in order.
  • by fable2112 ( 46114 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @10:34AM (#525177) Homepage
    1. People DO get busted for smoking up. It has happened to people I know within the past year or two.

    2. Many of the dangers of heroin and cocaine are a direct result of them being illegal. For example, overdoses happen because of impurities in the drug or because someone gets a more pure batch than usual. Crack was created as a result of cocaine being illegal, much as moonshine became quite popular during Prohibition. There used to be cocaine in Coca-Cola (and lithium in 7-up for that matter), but somehow that didn't seem to be associated with massive social problems. Perhaps full legalization isn't a good answer here, but decriminalization and expansion of treatment centers seems like a damn good idea to me.
  • by BetaJim ( 140649 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @07:26AM (#525178)
    I really hope that many people go to see this movie. I especially hope that lots of average Joe's go to see this movie. Too many people never give a second thought with respect to the War on (some) Drugs.

    Sadly, this issue was hardly even discussed in this years US election. Even if you watch the nightly news you know nothing about the Wo(s)D's. You don't hear about the people killed by officers busting into the wrong house. You most likely didn't hear about the pit of 100+ dead bodies found just over the border in Mexico. If you want to know more you should go and read back issues of DRCNet's newsletter [].

    Lastly, support of the War on Drugs is tact support for the mob and cartels. Remember what prohibition does folks. This lesson should have been learned during the 1930's. It isn't a War on Drugs, it is a War on Personal Freemdom. Remember that at all times please.


  • by Cinematique ( 167333 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @12:34AM (#525179)
    I have been fucked by this War On Drugs.

    I go to school at Kent State University, and one night in October, I was trying to meet new people and I came across a room in my hall which was occupied by several individuals. The door was wide open, with the guys inside sitting around playing or watching Tony Hawk on the TV in the far corner of the room. I peeked in and said "wazzup" and found myself sitting there with them.

    No more than fifteen minutes later, a police officer came to the door, saying we were being too loud, something which I can't contest since it it was quite late at night. The officer asked us why we were still up, and why we were being so loud. The kid whom the room belonged to appologized for the noise and assured the officer that we were just getting a little carried away in a conversation. The officer didn't exactly take that too well, and then asked to do a room search. Why he felt compelled to do a room search is still beyond me, my guess is that if you are up past a certain point at night, you must do drugs, being considered "suspicious"... but whatever... my story continues.

    The kid said it would be alright if the cop looked around, and quite matter-of-factly stated he had nothing to hide. As soon as the cop turned around, he found several marijuana seeds sitting on the desk behind the door.

    I'm now fucked.

    The officer then asked to see anything else in the room that may be of illegal nature, and the kid pointed out that there was probably (!!) naddy light in the fridge.

    Fucked x 2.

    So for the record, since I was simply in the room, I was charged with not only violating my dorms quiet hours policy (low volume levels between 8pm-11am) but was in "possession" of both alcohol and marijuana under Kent State's "Joint Responsibily" clause.

    The schools policy on the matter is stated very clearly in the student handbook: First marijuana violation = $100 fine. Nowhere in the book was I able to find a punishment for an alcohol violation. When I went to the schools proprietary court system called Judicial Affairs for an intake hearing, I was told that the pressing punishment was to be kicked out of Kent State.

    Let me recap: I was at the wrong place at the wrong time and I am now being told that I face being kicked out of college little over a month after starting. I had no prior offenses.

    Paranoid that the school would actually kick me out, I had gone, two days after the late-night incident, to the local health clinic on my own free will, hoping to help clear the charges. I paid $85 for a drug test, which came up negative of all "street drugs," weed included. Armed with the knowladge of both my clean drug screening, and the fact that the school never gave me a sobriety test, I felt a little comfortable going into my hearing.

    My parents were there, two KSUPD officers representing the officer which was there that night, my RD, the RA of the floor this happened on, and finally the judge.

    Soon after the actual trial started, which was a full month after the incident, I began to feel very cornered and nervous. The judge attacked me for the fact that I was around the guys at all, would not accept that I did not know them before that night, that I did not know the seeds and beer were in the room, and that my grades were low enough (2.0GPA, and this wasn't even at midterms yet, what the fuck...) to warrant my being shoved out the door.

    I Fired back stating that they broke their own policies for room search seing that the cop had already entered the room before he asked to search. The punishment being pressed upon me was not in accordance with the printed university handbook. The fact that I had no previous criminal nor Kent State record. The fact that my grades were in the toilet because I had missed a test in Algebra and still needed to make it up, thus giving me an F in the class. (FYI, before the test, I had an "A" and ended up with an "A" as a final grade...)

    Finally, the hearing officer told me that I was being both irresponsible for own actions, and being arrogant. He then proceded to actually YELL at me, telling me that I "NEED TO GROW UP AND ACCEPT RESPONSIBLITY" for something which I had no responsiblity for. I didn't see the weed seeds(!) in the room, and I sure as hell don't have x-ray vision to see through refrigerator doors.

    I waited till the very end to show him my drug test results. This enfuriated him even more.

    The Resident Assistant ( a student ) tried pleading for my case, but to no luck. My Resident Director ( the Kent state employee who is hired to watch after a whole dorm building ) sided with my judge. The cops was obviously clueless, since they weren't there that night.

    The judge finally left, came back, and said that he really wanted to remove me from Kent State, but would instead be "lenient" and give me a $100 fine plus 12 months of strict diciplinary probation. In this time, I can not violate any rules, including another noise violation, or even simply locking my keys inside my room. The drug thing was my warning card, I guess. Perfect.

    So now I have to go back to this horrible excuse for a higher education facility in a week to begin my Spring semester. I have pretty much lost any chance of transfering out until my probation runs out, since it won't be removed from my record until then, if ever. The appeal I had was answered by the school in a rejection stating that the punishment was fair due to the "overwhelming perponderance of evidence against [me]."

    Long story... now a simple question: Who do I turn to in this clear case of being fucked over?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:19AM (#525180)
    Because the U.S. has been stuck in a low-grade civil war since the 1960s.

    Although most of the currently illegal drugs were outlawed early in the century, drug politics didn't really take their current shape until Nixon seized upon a "war on drugs" as a convenient proxy war against young hippies and radicals. It wasn't politically possible to directly criminalize young people in general, so he did the next best thing -- pick what he perceived to be an attribute of his young political enemies -- recreational drug use -- and criminalize that.

    Nixon came and went, and Carter toyed with the idea of stopping the drug war, but he didn't do it -- one of the major errors of his administration -- and by the time Reagan was elected, the drug war had already proved extraordinarily effective as a "law and order" issue -- in spite of the fact that drug prohibition causes much of the disorder and lawlessness that getting "tough on drugs" is supposed to correct.

    Now, there is simply too much money in the drug war for it to be stopped from within the government. In California, for instance, the prison guards lobby is one of the strongest political entities in the state. Pharmaceutical companies are also in on the game -- with their billion dollar drug testing programs, and with the billions of dollars in patented drugs that do exactly the same thing as unpatentable illegal drugs (Marinol for instance.)

    The media profits immensely from the drug war -- they receive millions of dollars in U.S. government anti-drug advertising, and also take money to insert government anti-drug messages in their programming. You can organize an anti-drug-war demonstration, and the only thing that you can be assured of is that it will either not be covered by the media, or mocked by the media. They know who is paying them. When the media are forced to cover anti-prohibition stories, they heavily slant them. Usually, the headline or the first sentence will have a cute little pun -- "Initiative goes to pot", that makes the article appear trivial and funny, and such articles tend to use derogatory terms such as "pothead", or invoke stereotypes -- "The police really suck," said a protester. "We just want to toke up the kind" in the same way that a newspaper of another generation might have used the word "nigger", or invoke negative stereotypes against blacks. Drug users are uniformly portrayed as ignorant, lazy, prone to crime, politically irrelevant, and in need of government suppression and control.

    Quite simply, illegal drug users -- be they recreational or medicinal users -- have about as many civil rights in the United States as blacks had in the 1940s.

    There appear to be two effective methods of counterattack against the drug war machine.

    The first are voter initiatives, in the states that allow them. Right now, the only successful initiatives have been for decriminalizing medicinal marijuana, but initiatives for outright legalization have a surprisingly strong showing. Did you hear about the Alaska marijuana decriminalization initiative? Probably not. The results were hardly covered. 40% of the voting population voted not only to legalize marijuana for all adults, for all purposes, but also to issue pardons and reparations to drug-war prisoners. The organizers of the initiative will try again in two years, and I believe that they will win by the end of the decade.

    The second effective resource against drug prohibition is the internet. If you read a newspaper, you'll be lucky to find a single article about the drug war that isn't pro-war, but there are some excellent web sites that are documenting the drug war.

    mapinc [] is an archive of thousands of drug-war related stories gathered mostly from print publications. It's an excellent place to get a good "feel" of the pulse of the drug war. Click on the blue "50000+ Drug-Related News Clippings!" link for the meat of the site.

    Richard Cowan's Marijuananews [] is another excellent resource. Cowan picks out articles, and provides biting analysis. It's one of my favorite sites on the net.

    In a nutshell, the drug war continues unabated because it has become part of American life. So many people and entities -- the government, corporations, individuals -- directly profit from drug prohibition, that it has taken on a life of its own.

    I believe that drug prohibition will only be destroyed at the polling place, because, in the end, the victims of drug prohibition are individuals, and not just individuals who use drugs. The model employee who has never missed a day in his life who is fired because he went to a concert, and inhaled enough second-hand marijuana smoke to show up on his surprise drug test the next day. The mother whose child was shot to death by the police in a botched police swat attack on the wrong house. The father who stands up against a school drug-testing program, and bears the wrath of his community. The person who sees their best friend -- who is fighting cancer -- arrested and imprisoned for using marijuana to control the symptoms of chemotherapy. The parent who thinks that DARE creates an unhealthy fascination with drugs. The parent whose child becomes addicted to heroin, because their DARE instructor said that heroin is just as bad as marijuana, and because the kid already knows that pot is not addictive, she decides that the officer is lying to her -- which he is -- and starts using an addictive drug. The kid who "just says no" to marijuana, then is hooked on a lifetime addiction to tobacco, while his pot-smoking friends stop using pot when they get tired of it.

    Even if you don't use drugs, you should oppose drug prohibition, for the simple reason that you could find yourself, a friend of yours, or a member of your own family on that list tomorrow.
  • by philg ( 8939 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @07:37AM (#525181)

    Before the deluge of "what does this have to do with News for Nerds?" posts starts to swell, I'd like to point out that the federal government has, in the last few decades, used two primary examples of "public safety" to get their eavesdropping agenda through:

    • Terrorism
    • The Drug War

    Of those two, terrorism is mostly only used when there's a major incident (the two that come to mind are the Trade Center bombing and the Murrah Federal Building bombing). Drugs are used whenever there isn't a good explosion somewhere.

    You want to know why they think they can put Carnivore through? So they can "finally begin to stem the tide of drugs into our country." (That's not a quote, just a characterization.) Why do you think there's a serious threat of them using Tempest gear in the real world, or cavalierly subpoenaing reams of logging info from your ISP? So they can fight the War on Drugs -- and incidentally have the apparatus in place in case someone declares some other entirely consensual behavior as criminal. Reverse engineering by individuals, perhaps, or encrypted communication with other countries.

    And why do such surprising entities as the Motion Picture and Recording Industries think they can take away our rights to our own property so carelessly? Why are people so apathetic that their property, once legally purchased, can be monitored so closely by the manufacturers? Because the government has been softening us up for years with slow encroachments on our freedom, justified by the above drug war.

    So if you're fed up with the way our rights as individuals are being trampled on -- first by the government, then by companies with an excellent template to follow -- you're fed up with the drug war. And movies like Traffic really do have a direct impact on you. For that matter, so do "crackpot" (uh, poor choice of words) organizations like NORML, who have pointed out the increasing absurdities of this rationalization for years.

    Another thing this Drug War enforces is continual international hostility to the US -- we're constantly tampering in the affairs of other countries, especially those in this hemisphere, and justifying it in the name of "stopping the supply of drugs." If you would rather not have China or Columbia dictate policy to us, and you believe in the Golden Rule ("Do unto others," not the one we generally use), then you, too, are against the Drug War. That's probably not news for nerds, though, so I'll let that drop....


  • If you put a murderer in jail, you have removed a killer from society. If you put a drug dealer in jail, you have created a job opening.

    That, in two sentences, is why a war on drugs cannot work. It is too expensive to control the behavior of third parties. You can control the behavior of people who interact with you at a reasonable cost, but you cannot control the behavior of people who interact with other people. Neither of them will cooperate with you.
  • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:58AM (#525183)
    Lastly, support of the War on Drugs is tact support for the mob and cartels. Remember what prohibition does folks. This lesson should have been learned during the 1930's. It isn't a War on Drugs, it is a War on Personal Freemdom. Remember that at all times please.

    It was learned before the 30s.
    Back in the '20s, I believe, the US government was beginning to set up public treatment centers for opiate addiction. A few years later, politicians in all their political posturing decided that "wasting money" on helping people who often are volunteering to get help was a dumb idea and that we should just throw them in jail instead. Within a year, not only did the number of people being arrested for opiate posession increase (which I would assume was the intended affect of this precursor to the war on drugs) but also the number of people killed and hospitalized for overdose.

    (Speaking of that, what is called overdose isn't necessarily an overdose. Mon pere, who is a doc in an inner city hospital, has observed that what gets written down as "overdose" on death certificates is just as often an unmistakable result of impurities in the drugs as it is a bonafide overdose.)

    But anyway, this problem with drugs back in the '20s was investigated by a congressional committee, as has been done in the early 1930's, and they basically all come to the same conclusions: Imprisoning drug addicts is a harsher penalty at a much higher cost to the government that is also much less effective than treatment centers (which are admittedly not all that effective, either). The war on drugs is a major reason why the US is the country with the largest percentage of its population in prison. The war on drugs puts drug addicts in a situation where it is very hard to look for help or get their lives back on course. As a former homeless junkie friend of mine observes: You have to get off the junk before people are willing to help you, but you need to get help to get off the junk. (For years all the rescue missions and crisis shelters and such in my town would turn him away at the doors. The worst drug problem they would accept someone with is alchoholism. Incidentally, you also have to convert to christianity to get help, but that's another rant.)

    Of course, in my mind, this is all trumped by a stumbling block that has much graver impilcations for how our society is structured than I think most people want to admit: We've known for decades now that punishment is an ineffective deterrent, that increasing sentences in the US rarely does anything to reduce crime rates (often the crime rates inexplicably increase as sentences get harsher - ex: states that have the death pentalty in the US have violent crime rates that easily dwarf the violent crime rates in states without it.), and that, given what we know about conditioning and learning and the structure and time frame of crime and punishment, there is no way in hell punishment could ever be an effective deterrent of crime.

    I would love to see one state - just one state in this country - cut back their laws concerning heroin and directly pump the money they save on prison costs into methadone clinics. Not a single methadone clinic in this country has the funding for enough methadone to give a patient anything even resembling the reccomended treatment schedule, so we still don't really know how effective a well-run methadone clinic can be.

    That's one thing I love about this country. Even after we find out something doesn't work, we've got our heads so far up our asses that I don't even think we are capable of thinking, "Hey, this isn't working. Maybe we should try something else." It's a sight to see - kind of like this hamster a friend of mine has that will repeatedly stick its head out of its hamster wheel while running at a high pace and get hit on the top of the head by a spoke hard enough to throw him onto his face. He's had this hamster for a year now and it's looking like it will be getting hit in the head with spokes for the reast of its life. In a sadistic way, we rather hope it doesn't. It's funny to see the antics of cretins much more idiotic than yourself.

    Then again, I can't find America funny, since we're fucking up peoples lives with our antics.
  • by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:00AM (#525184) Homepage Journal
    "If the War on Drugs is so absurd, why is the U.S.A. wasting millions of dollars on such a futile war?"

    We have a culture which believes that history is bunk, and that we are all much smarter and more sophisticated than our ancestors. Because of this, we forget, or ignore, the lessons of the past, such as the experiment prohibition.

    Laws such as prohibition, drug laws, etc., have the effect of turning a large percentage of our population into criminals. This effectivly cuts off the conversation between the public (now criminals) and government. The ensuing mess is reminicent of the "red scare" of the 1950's... with everyone "turning in" those around them, as to not be outcast themselves.

    Cutting off the conversation has also caused the great wave of apathy apparent in voter turn out. It encourages the notion that there is nothing a citizen can (or should) do to fix things. The default behavior then becomes to wait until crisis before action, which can often be too late.

    It is apparent to me that morality can not be legislated. The only two ways out at this point are to either let the experiment go to it's ugly, terrible conclusion (a totalitarian regime which destroys our republic), or to start a dialog which questions the sanity of our current course, and restores the notions of personal liberty, privacy, and freedom to do as you will (until it effects others).

    We have existing laws which cover the behavior of people who chose to become intoxicated. We even have laws which permit the advertisment, sale, and use of substances that kill if used as intented. Why can't we use those same laws to allow the individual to make their own choices, and pay for the consequences?

    It's time to choose, destruction, or a way out.


  • by psicic ( 171000 ) on Sunday January 07, 2001 @08:19AM (#525185) Homepage Journal
    Let me first start by saying that the issue of drugs is probably the only area on which I have anyway conservative views - but even I can see that the 'War on Drugs' launched by America is not only a failure, but a catastrophy.

    I would almost say world-wide catastrophy.
    Sites like [] give a smattering of alarming statistics about the effects in America of the war on drugs(for example "The average sentence for a first time, non-violent drug offender is longer than the average sentence for rape, child molestation, bank robbery or manslaughter..."). Walter Cronkite takes a dim view of the war here []. Also, some surprising 'mistakes' of the war on drugs can be found here [].

    But here's where the international aspect comes in: most of the War on Drugs aid that is being sent to foreign(i.e. non-US) nations is being mainly used to support regiemes that otherwise might topple. For instance Marxist rebels in Columbia have found themselves pitted against a regieme supported by War on Drugs money and soldiers trained by American 'advisors'. As [] puts it :"Formally, all U.S. aid to Colombia, which produces most of the world's cocaine and most of the heroin consumed in the United States, is intended for anti-drug rather than counter-insurgency efforts. But in practical terms, the distinction is fading...". Ironic, considering it's pro-government paramilitaries that control the larger proportion of the drugs trade...the very same paramilitaries that routinely commit genocidal raids on villages that have tried to remain neutral...the very same paramilitaries that wander Columbia armed with American made weaponary such as MP-5s and secure in their training from American soldiers...oops! I mean advisors. No-one's saying that the rebels are angels - they too have participated in the drugs trade and kidnapping and so on. I'm just saying when a policy has got it so wrong, both on the American domestic front and on the foreign front, why is the policy persued so fanactically by certain Americans?
    Anyway....just to be more on topic, I saw C4's 'Traffikk', pretty good. I hope the film 'Traffic' hasn't dulled the message too much so as to render the message unreadable to the vast majority of people(i.e. non-slashdotters 8).


Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming