Do We Really Want a Needle Park on American Soil?
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Do We Really Want a Needle Park on American Soil?
Posted by CN Staff on June 30, 2011 at 17:40:33 PT
By Joseph A. Califano Jr. and William J. Bennett
Source: Wall Street Journal
Washington, D.C. -- The Global Commission on Drug Policy, a 19-member panel chaired by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, has declared America's "war on drugs" a failure with "devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." In a report released in early June, the commission recommended "far reaching changes including . . . decriminalization and experiments in legal regulation."
Not surprisingly, the report has led to increased calls for the legalization of drugs as a panacea to end the violence and criminal-justice costs of current U.S. drug policies. Just last week, Reps. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and Ron Paul (R., Texas) introduced a bill in Congress to remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, leaving it up to the states to decide if they want to legalize it.But legalization is no panacea. Without question, abuse and addiction involving all substances (tobacco, alcohol, illegal and controlled prescription drugs) is the nation's top health-care and criminal-justice problem, filling our hospitals and crowding our courts and prisons. But making illegal drugs more readily available is hardly the answer.Legalization will only make harmful substances cheaper, easier to obtain, and more socially acceptable to use. The U.S. has some 60 million smokers, 20 million alcoholics and alcohol abusers, and 21.2 million illicit drug users (over seven million of whom are addicts). If illegal drugs were easier to obtain, this latter figure would rise sharply. Moreover, more readily available drugs will increase criminal activity. Most violent crimes, such as murder, assault and rape, occur when the perpetrator is either on drugs or drunk, and a high percentage of property crime involves people seeking money to buy drugs and alcohol.Approximately 30% of our federal and state health-care spending is attributable to the use and abuse of addictive substances including tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) estimates the total financial cost to taxpayers to be $500 billion annually. The human misery is incalculable. Increased use of illegal drugs will increase these costs and this misery.A Medicaid patient with drug and alcohol problems costs $5,000 to $15,000 a year more in health-care costs than one without such problems. Most Medicaid hospital patients readmitted within 30 days are those with drug and alcohol problems. Do states, crushed financially by Medicaid costs, want to increase the number of Medicaid patients abusing and addicted to drugs and alcohol? The notion that taxing sales of marijuana and drugs like cocaine and heroin will provide a windfall for our public coffers is also illusory. For every $1 of taxes collected from the sale of tobacco and alcohol, we incur $9 in state and federal health-care, criminal justice and social-service costs. These costs will skyrocket if legalization becomes the norm, draining our public coffers at an even more alarming rate. Legalization in other countries has had disastrous results. In the 1990s, Switzerland experimented with what became known as Needle Park, a section of Zurich where addicts could buy and inject heroin without police interference. Policy makers saw it as a way to restrict a few hundred legal heroin users to a small area. It soon morphed into a grotesque tourist attraction of 20,000 addicts that had to be closed before it infected the entire city.In the Netherlands, where marijuana can be bought in "coffee shops," adolescent use, citizen anger and international irritation have soared. Responding to the outcry from its own citizens and from other countries, the Dutch government has reduced the number of marijuana shops, limited the amount that can be purchased, and raised the age of legal buyers to 18 from 16. This May, the Dutch government also announced that it will prohibit tourists from purchasing marijuana at coffee shops by the end of this year (in part, it said, to curb criminality and drug trafficking).Here in the U.S., facing an onslaught of angry citizens whose neighborhoods were overrun with marijuana users, the Los Angeles City Council last year closed 437 of the thousand or more "medical marijuana" shops that opened after California's medical-marijuana law passed in 1996.Sweden offers an example of a successful restrictive drug policy. Faced with rising drug use in the 1990s, the government tightened drug control, stepped up police action, mounted a national action plan, and created a national drug coordinator. The result: Drug use is a third of the European average.We strongly support greater emphasis on prevention and public-health initiatives to reduce drug use, especially among children and teens. This is a war that has to be fought on all fronts, from prevention and treatment to law enforcement and interdiction. But legalization, a policy certain to increase illegal drug availability and use among our nation's children, hardly qualifies as sound prevention. The facts are indisputable: 20 years of CASA research shows that a child who reaches 21 without using illegal drugs is virtually certain never to do so.Sadly, we've shown little capacity to keep our two legal drugs, tobacco and alcohol, out of the hands of children and teens. There is little reason to believe that we can legalize drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin only for adults and keep them away from our children and teenagers.At the end of the day, we must remember one thing: Drugs are not dangerous because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are dangerous.Mr. Califano is the founder and chairman of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Mr. Bennett was secretary of education during the Reagan administration, and the first director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George H.W. Bush administration. Source: Wall Street Journal (US)Author:  Joseph A. Califano Jr. and William J. BennettPublished: July 1, 2011Copyright: 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.Contact: wsj.ltrs wsj.comWebsite:  Justice Archives
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Comment #13 posted by afterburner on July 01, 2011 at 09:49:15 PT
Happy Canada Day
My motto for today:Cruise!Cruisin by Smokey Robinson
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on July 01, 2011 at 08:51:57 PT
I love that song. Thank you.
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Comment #11 posted by afterburner on July 01, 2011 at 08:37:33 PT
FoM - Your Morning Smile!
YouTube - Bob Marley- Three Little Birds (With Lyrics!)‏{ Don't worry about a thing,'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.Singin': "Don't worry about a thing,'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"Rise up this mornin',Smiled with the risin' sun,Three little birdsPitch by my doorstepSingin' sweet songsOf melodies pure and true,Sayin', ("This is my message to you-ou-ou:")
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on July 01, 2011 at 06:36:43 PT
Afterburner and Hope
Thank you.
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Comment #9 posted by Paul Pot on June 30, 2011 at 22:28:48 PT:
bad journalism
"A poorly crafted and deeply flawed piece of....".
I mean this article is seriously offensive for all the outright lies it contains.
The needle parks referred to have actually been hailed as a success at home because they saved lives and reduced crime.
And what a naive joke to try and suggest that drugs are not easily available to street wise 12 year olds right now and some not so street wise 12 year olds who find themselves in the wrong circumstances all thanks to prohibition. Alcohol is legally available yet children only rarely get their hands on it because adults generally take the responsible approach and don't give it to children.
Adolescent drug use in Holland and Portugal has not soared and is about the best figures in Europe, in fact it is America that has about the worst teen drug use rate on the planet and that is under a state of extreme prohibition. Failed again.
And no acknowledgment of the devastating effects on the economy. A trillion dollars spent on policing, trillions handed over to the worst people on the planet to fund wars and corrupt government, and many trillions in lost revenue from not having legal ganja and hemp industries while at the same time showing no reduction in drug consumption in fact the total opposite. Really not sustainable policy.The fact is pot is the safest one of the lot and there is nothing you can do to stop people doing drugs of some kind, it's actually human and quite natural to use natural stimulants and relaxants, even animals do it. So you might as well let everyone smoke cannabis, because its a whole lot less dangerous than all the other options. I just saw an article about how the 20 million or more street kids in India are all sniffing glue and white out fluid. Before prohibition they would have been smoking ganja and it would have been a lot less dangerous to them.
Total legalization is needed to the point that poppies and ganja plants are growing everywhere. Legalize opium because you can't OD from smoking opium resin and needle users who are trying to get off the habit can smoke the opium pipe to help them thru it.
You use facts and figures to prove what you say is true but have you ever been stopped and searched in the street. Ever had a swat team in your home pointing high powered weapons at your children and killing your dog in front of them.
There is no argument that can possibly justify the "American War".
Please take a look on YouTube at "No Knock Raid" by Lindy. 
If it doesn't make you cry, you're a cop.
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Comment #8 posted by afterburner on June 30, 2011 at 21:53:47 PT
FoM - Remember Good Times - Pray for the Future
CSN&Y - Carry on 1969 House Crosby Stills Nash & Young, I agree with you about alcohol: I have lost too many friends & relatives to its treacherous effects.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on June 30, 2011 at 21:48:28 PT
I'm very sorry about your loss, too.Califano and Bennett are monsters. They always have been.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on June 30, 2011 at 19:49:51 PT
Thank you. Over the years I tried to help him but was never critical. I knew he wouldn't or couldn't control his drinking. I agree he is in a better place. He was a very good hearted and caring man.
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Comment #5 posted by CaptainAjnag on June 30, 2011 at 19:35:13 PT:
Try not to let this article get you down. Theres always gonna be stubborn idiots out there (like the guys who wrote this) trying to keep the laws to their liking...instead of how they actually should be. They're gonna continue to lie and use scare tactics to try and make the public agree with them. And they're never gonna truly understand our point of view...or even try to. But in the end, they dont really matter. Eventually, we WILL win this war. They may be able to slow us down but they're never gonna be able to stop us. Don't lose hope.And I'm sorry to hear of your friends passing. I'm sure hes in a better place now, probably feeling alot happier up there than down here.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on June 30, 2011 at 19:10:01 PT
dongenero and ekim
Thank you too.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on June 30, 2011 at 19:06:32 PT
cheer up FoM
today came word that judges will accept notes from jurors on wanting to ask a question in their case. thanks for all you do FoM
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Comment #2 posted by dongenero on June 30, 2011 at 18:50:17 PT
 FoM - i'm sorry for your loss
Shoot us is what THEY want to do, and the underlying thrust of this article. 
Regardless of ANY dangers of ANY drugs, (of which I refuse to put cannabis in a common group with other hard drugs, illegal or legal), arresting, incarcerating and stealing the assets, families, livelihoods, and freedom of American citizens is THE ONE unacceptable answer. This articles' opinion is flat out wrong and deeply flawed logic.WSJ is now a Murdoch rag with not much more credibility than Fox News in my opinion. Note, it's authored by William Bennett. It's prohibitionist drivel. You are on the right side of this fight FoM.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 30, 2011 at 17:44:01 PT
Just Shoot Us And Put Us Out Of Our Misery
I am very upset about this article. We just lost a longtime friend because of alcoholism. His name was Carl and we loved him very much and my heart is broken. In the eyes of the writers Carl was worthless but to his friends his was a wonderful but troubled man. I better not say anymore of how I feel.
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