Debate about Illicit Drug Use 
Compiled by Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University

Posted December 20, 2010; updated November 16, 2021.  Disclaimer The information presented here is for informative and educational purposes only and is not intended as curative or prescriptive advice.

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"The average American's image of drug users is that of dangerous young people of color-males who will rob them to obtain money to buy drugs or female prostitutes spreading disease and delivering crack babies as a result of enslavement to drugs. These cherished misconceptions are the enduring and erroneous foundations of the ill-conceived "war on drugs." McNamara: Criminalization of Drug Use

Drugs have been part of our culture since the middle of the last century. Popularized in the 1960s by music and mass media they invade all aspects of society. You probably know someone who has been affected by drugs, directly or indirectly. Or maybe you have experienced their effects yourself.

People take drugs because they want to change something about their lives. They think drugs are a solution. But eventually, the drugs become the problem.

The debate about illicit drug use is a closed one.  Both sides argue within a closed box; that is, a closed mind!


drugnakedWe have been flirting for a long time with accepting the "naked" truth about illicit drug use in the United States and the world. Article by Williams: Naked truth drugs is no longer active.

Hypocrisy, doctored up statistics, political cover-ups, use of fear tactics and so on. Basically not facing the reality about the failures of fighting illicit drug use.  This country listened to the early 1917 advice of the advocates of the temperance union in abolishing alcohol; this legislation resulted in failure. The next big step in fighting drug use was President Nixon's "War on Drugs" legislation.  Depending on whose statistics you use, this legislation has incarcerated over 50 % of all criminals in jail as drug users.  This decriminalizatory legislation and drug enforcement have both failed to stop drug abuse. It is appropriate to consider drugs to be harmful, but also to view that our drug laws as much worse than drug abuse.  

More recently, the issue of legalizing marijuana use has become a national debate.  Regulating marijuana use is regulating behavior.  One could argue that regulating such behavior is really a reflection of a failing society.  This is not good legislation and not what the constitution had intended! 

"Jefferson said that a government that controlled what food people could eat and the kind of medicine they took would soon try to control what people thought." McNamara: Criminalization of Drug Use

boxin boxout2 We need an honest national philosophical debate about the prohibition model versus the decriminalization approach of illicit drugs, including alcoholic beverages!  Not getting side-tracked with statistical evidence on drug use, hypocrisy and biased opinions.  Nor just enforcing the current laws or enacting new ones.  We need to step out of the current smug hypocratic comfort box and look at drugs from an entirely new perspective. This should include reviewing our current medical drug prescription legislation and PHARMA as well.  We need to add to this list the issues of a failed social justice system, deregulation, review how chemical substances affect us, decriminalization and the immoral impact of drug abuse on our country. Yes, this is a big order but so is everyone's health and future!

This web-site provides information on the debate about illicit drug and substance abuse.  The author, Sorochan, endeavors to present the many aspects of this debate, without taking sides. You be the judge about how we should deal with an out of control drug problem!  So .....  where do we start?    Back to Top  arrowup

 Short Past History on Regulating Illicit Drugs  

The "war on drugs" has failed. Article by Torruella: Judge discussion war on drugs is no longer active. The USA Czar, Gil Karlikwske, has also admitted as much!  Article about Media Roots: Drug failure is no longer active.  Article by Mendosa: status war on drugs is no longer active.   Putting people in jail for drug use has not stymied drug use. Passing more legislation has been a failure. Since 2000, the war against drugs has escaladed from Mexico into United States.  We have had an expensive and bankrupt way of dealing with the war on drugs! 

"For nearly one hundred years our government has been wrong about drugs, about the people who use them and the risks they pose to society. Much of what they report is blatant misinformation, if not outright lies, despite a veneer of good intentions. It is also my [ Media Roots ] contention millions of Americans agree with me. And it is not just the millions doing drugs responsibly, either. It is the millions more who’ve come to see society’s approach to the drug crisis generate more harm than good. They cut across all age, income and race demographics. Over the last thirty-plus years I’ve [ Media Roots ] made it a point to talk with a number of them. And listen."  

Until 100 years ago, drugs were simply a commodity. Then Western cultural shifts made them immoral and deviant, according to London School of Economics professor Fernanda Mena. Article about Media Roots: Drug failure is no longer active.  Article by Mena: Narcophobia is no longer active.

Religious movements led the crusades against drugs: In 1904, an Episcopal bishop returning from a mission in the Far East argued for banning opium after observing "the natives' moral degeneration." In 1914, The New York Times reported that cocaine caused blacks to commit "violent crimes," and that it made them resistant to police bullets. In the decades that followed, Mena said, drugs became synonymous with evil. Article about Media Roots: Drug failure is no longer active.

Nixon drew on those emotions when he pressed for his War on Drugs. Article about Media Roots: Drug failure is no longer active.     arrowup

Since 2000, the drug cartels in Latin American, and especially Mexico, have escaladed the distribution of illicit drugs into the United States and Canada.

 Federal Political Policy on War on Drugs 

According to a 1998 article published in the University of Chicago Law Review, the ability of law enforcement agencies to financially benefit from forfeited assets, and the provision of large block grants from Congress to fight the drug trade "have distorted governmental policy making and law enforcement." The authors [ Blumenson and Nilsen Article by Blumenson: Govt conflict interest in drug cases is no longer active.  ] believe that "the law enforcement agenda that targets assets rather than crime, the 80 percent of seizures that are unaccompanied by any criminal prosecution, the plea bargains that favor drug kingpins and penalize the 'mules' without assets to trade, the reverse stings that target drug buyers rather than drug sellers, the overkill in agencies involved in even minor arrests, the massive shift in resources towards federal jurisdiction over local law enforcement - is largely the unplanned by-product of this economic incentive structure."   Article by Blumenson: Hidden facts about drug legislation in USA is no longer active.  Article by Blumenson: Govt conflict interest in drug cases is no longer active.   This point of view challenges the validity of government policy of war on drugs.   arrowup

 What is the current picture on illicit drugs?   Here are some statistics to think about!

"The United States, the largest user of illicit drugs, is the appetite that sets the illicit drug industry in motion."   Article by Torruella: Judge discussion war on drugs is no longer active. 

"Relatively few of America's estimated 80 million illegal drug users go on to commit other crimes."  McNamara: Criminalization of Drug Use

Kinds of illicit substance abuse: [ illegal drug users in the United States ]

Illegal Drug Chart   Drug Alcohol Rehab: illicit drugs

Most drug rehabilitation programs have not been successful.  The success rate among substance abuse rehab programs is difficult to accurately evaluate since the majority of such rehab programs fail to provide reliable evidence-based information.   

We have a culture of drug use that fails to provide social enforcement against drug use. We lack public figures as role models for our youth and society in general. 

Another reason is that our educational system fails to provide adequate drug education in schools.   

prisons bureau feb 2009
Source: Bureau of Prisons Feb 2009

The United States has the second highest incarceration rate in the world. A very large portion of people who are incarcerated are imprisoned for drug-related crimes. In 1994, it was reported that the "War on Drugs" results in the incarceration of one million Americans each year. Of the related drug arrests, about 225,000 are for possession of cannabis, the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States.  Wiki: War drug history in USA

Cost of fighting the war on drugs: After 40 years, the United States' "war on drugs" has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives. Drug use is rampant and violence; even more brutal and widespread. Article about Media Roots: Drug failure is no longer active.   Article by Mena: Narcophobia is no longer active.

Federal Folly

In 1969, the federal drug enforcement budget was $65 million. Last year it was $19.2 billion, greater than a 295-fold increase. (These figures don't include the state and local costs.)

If the price of coffee, which sold for 25 cents a cup in 1969, had increased at the same rate, coffee would now sell for almost $75 a cup - more with sales tax.

What have we received for our so-called "investment" of about $1 trillion in the past 35 years? Absolutely nothing. Nothing except the largest prison-industrial complex in history. Thanks to our drug war, one out of every four prisoners in the world sits in a U.S. jail or prison.   arrowup  

 Types of substance abuse 

People use many types of drugs --- from aspirins to alcohol. Those who have socially drank beer, wine and hard liquor may be startled to discover that alcoholic beverages are drugs as well. This great variety of drugs [ chemical substances ] raises the question of just what is a drug? This section provides the scant basics of drugs and is not intended to cover the entire spectrum of drug pharmacology. 

A drug is any chemical substance that, when taken into the body, produces physiological, emotional, or behavioral changes. This definition thus includes the entire spectrum of chemical substances used in the treatment of illness and for recreation or pleasure as well as street drugs; from aspirin, pain killers, anesthetics, antibiotics and antiacids to marijuana, cough syrups, morphine, soft drinks, over the counter drugs, sugar, corn syrup, coffee, chocolate bars, mescaline and methamphetamine.

Drugs that are taken for the sole purpose of altering consciousness in some way are usually referred to as psychoactive drugs. There are many types of pyschoactive drugs with a wide variety of psychological effects. Depressants [ alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers, opiates ], for example, slow down body functions by depressing the central nervous system; they thus have a relaxing effect. Drugs that have an opposite effect of depressants are stimulants [ amphetamine, coffee, nicotine and cocaine ]; these speed up the activity of the central nervous system, thereby elevating mood and activity.

It would be nice if all chemical substances could be classified as either depressants or stimulants. Unfortunately, there are some chemical substances that can cause both reactions in the body. Examples include some amphetamines and cocaine, that initially stimulate the body and then later depress body functions. These dual-effect substances are difficult to classify.

Finally there are chemical substances that produce hallucinations [ LSD, peyote ] and that alter perception, mood, time sense and thought processes.

The effect drugs can have on the body depends on the dosage and biochemical individuality of the user.

All drugs can be addictive; that is, cause physical or/and psychological dependence in the user. Physical drug dependence means that the body actually adapts to the drug and makes it a part of the body's chemistry. When the user stops taking the drug, the body must adjust to a new "withdrawal situation."

There is no such thing as a safe chemical substance or drug! The world of drugs gets even more complicated when drugs are combined, thereby producing a "synergistic effect." The combined effect is greater than that of two drugs taken at separate times.


 Successful Drug Legislation in the World 

Europe’s most liberal drug policy has been a huge success. Not, as you might think, those hippie Dutch, but Portugal, where possession of all drugs for personal use was decriminalized in 2001. Chivers: Portugal free drug law 

"On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were “decriminalized,” not “legalized.” Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense.

While other states in the European Union have developed various forms of de facto decriminalization— whereby substances perceived to be less serious (such as cannabis) rarely lead to criminal prosecution—Portugal remains the only EU member state with a law explicitly declaring drugs to be “decriminalized.” Because more than seven years have now elapsed since enactment of Portugal’s decriminalization system, there are ample data enabling its effects to be assessed."  Greenwald: Portugal drug lesson

Decriminalization of illicit drug use and possession does not appear to lead automatically to an increase in drug-related harms. Nor does it eliminate all drug-related problems. But it may offer a model for other nations that wish to provide less punitive, more integrated and effective responses to drug use. Hughes: Learning from Portugal

For a brief review of how other countries are dealing with illicit drugs, go to  Article by Torruella: Judge discussion war on drugs is no longer active.  StoptheDrugWar: Argentina-Mexico legislation

United States and its hard-line drug policies are increasingly isolated from the rest of the world!  Other countries are doing more about substance abuse than United States is!   arrowup

 The Naked Truth About Drugs  [ Excerpted from  Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active. ] Article by Williams: Naked truth drugs is no longer active.

"All drugs were legal and cheap and readily available in America prior to 1914, and we were even encouraged to use them. Heroin was available from the Sears mail order catalog, as was morphine, opium and cocaine. But if you couldn’t wait for the mailman, all those same drugs were sold at the corner grocery or drugstore. Our addiction rate then was very low and we had no drug crime [ although circumstances were different from 2010 ].   Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active.

What changed it all, what disrupted our peaceful co-existence, was the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, a confluence of religious arrogance and racial bigotry, spread by a surprisingly small number of men and all tinged with political opportunism. All of which metastasized over the years and morphed into Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs."  Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active.    arrowup

 Debate Arguments for fixing current drug legislation 

There are a variety of sound arguments for the repeal of drug prohibition. One is the Declaration of Independence, which guarantees our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, arguing the sovereignty of our bodies. Another is the Constitution, which defines treason against our United States as “levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” We are not fighting drugs per se; we are levying war against those who use them. Meanwhile drug prohibition has enriched our enemies with hundreds of billions of dollars and will guarantee hundreds of billions more, giving more than enough aid to any comfort.  Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active.

The best argument, where I believe we share the greatest commonality and the least polarity, is the one for law and order. The hugely inflated prices addicts pay for illegal drugs force many into a life of crime, committing nearly all our larceny-thefts, crimes the FBI report as non-violent. And though some addicts would just as soon shoot you as look at you, most drug violence occurs at the higher echelons of the black market, stemming from territorial and distribution conflicts. Repealing drug prohibition will bankrupt the black market and reduce the overall Crime Index by at least 50%, an argument central to the debate and hard to counter.  Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active.

History is replete with drug stories and tales both good and bad, but all provide empirical data, unequivocal in its conclusion, that drugs are here to stay. So we are going to live with them one way or another. We lived in peace for over a century and have been at war nearly as long, ninety years. And rumor has it drug warriors, no longer intent on maintaining the status quo, have plans on paper just itching to be implemented that will end the drug war once and for all. It will not be pretty, making today’s methods seem almost quaint.  Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active.

We drink, we smoke, we ingest and inject. It is part of who we are that no policy can change, no law. So we change our law and policy. But the biggest canard of the drug debate portrays those favoring repeal as being “soft on drugs.” Not at all true. We’re just being hard on stupidity. Whish is why ending drug prohibition is society’s smartest step toward jack-hammering all those good intentions paving the way to hell.  Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active.  arrowup

 Additional Pros and Cons of this debate  have been summarized in:  Wiki: Pros & Cons drugs      Article by Solivetti: Italian viewpoint is no longer active.  StoptheDrugWar: Argentina-Mexico legislation  Article by Mena: Narcophobia is no longer active.   arrowup

 National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010 Official Summary: 

This act is merely going to review and make recommendations about the Justice System of United States.  It is not decriminalizing drug use. 

5/6/2010--Reported to Senate amended. National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010 - Establishes the National Criminal Justice Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system, including federal, state, local, and tribal governments' criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. Directs the Commission to:

    061bullet make findings regarding its review and recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice;
    061bullet conduct public hearings in various locations around the United States;
    061bullet consult with federal, state, local, and tribal government and nongovernmental leaders and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including the U.S. Sentencing Commission; and
    061bullet submit a final report, within 18 months after its formation, to Congress, the President, and state, local, and tribal governments, and make such report available to the public. Expresses the sense of Congress that the Commission should work toward unanimously supported findings and recommendations. Sets forth the membership composition of the Commission and its administrative provisions. Exempts the Commission from the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Requires all records and papers of the Commission to be deposited into the National Archives. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-2011. Terminates the Commission 60 days after it submits its final report to Congress. National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010  Senator Webb: Criminal Justice Act 2009    arrowup

 Putting ALL issues in perspective: 

It is impossible to review all the information on the debate about decriminalization and prohibition of chemical substances and illicit drugs on this web-site.  You can find a lot of additional information about the drug use issues on the internet and your local library. Hopefully a small amount of information on these issues may be enough to start you thinking and provide fuel for debating with others.  There are other related issues that have been overlooked by debating authors, like the moral impact of drug abuse on society and that everyone can get a natural hormone high that is better and safer than the chemical high from illicit drugs.   arrowup

 Morality  is a system of rules that regulate our behavior and conduct in social situations. It's about the doing of "good" instead of "harm," “right” instead of “wrong” and “good” instead of “bad."  Morality defined

Morality of drug abuse is scarcely mentioned in the debate arguments. Morality is an important and very sensitive issue; much like a older person assumed to be knowledgeable when not ... but given the power to make behavioral decisions over teen-agers who may be more knowledgeable.  So let us take time-out and briefly review the morality of drug abuse.

Morality is not about the temperance movement, prohibition or decriminalization of drugs. Morality is a system of rules that regulate our behavior and conduct in social situations. Moralization is the process through which preferences and behaviors are converted into values, both in individual lives and at the level of culture. It is about the affect drug abuse of a few persons can have on society and the moral fiber of justice, honesty, truth, freedom and liberty for everyone in a country.  It is about whether drug abuses really solve the personal problems of people.  Most important, the issue of "drug use" morality is covered up, distorted by mass media and politically supressed; and made not transparent in America.   Morality defined

Character and the morality of citizens are important ingredients of economic growth because they go hand in hand with the great institutions of private property, democ-racy, and free markets. Historical review of the performance of the ancient economies of Athens and Sparta during the period 490-338 BC provides us with an example of how important the moral fiber of a civilization is to its wellbeing.

"Athens grew vastly wealthier than Sparta essentially because its institutions were optimally adjusted to confront the basic scarcity of grains, whereas the institutions of Sparta were optimally adjusted to sustain its military supremacy. However, in both cases, there emerged systems of morality, which secured the operating efficiency of their institutions. Both Sparta and Athens set up agoge systems, so as to infuse a compatible “ethos” into the character of their citizens along with economic prosperity." Both Greek states flourished by infusing morality into their citizens so that their civilizations would prosper.  Bitros: Moraility Ancient Greece

The examples of Athens and Sparta illustrate the importance of morality to the economic survival of a country. The development of social order, and hence some form of morality, is important to the survival of all social species.

It is unfortunate that so little attention has been given to including morality in the debates about decriminalization and legitimization of illicit drugs, including legalization of marijuana.

We are born without morality. We learn values early in life from our elders. Each day as a child grows older, the child learns from its parents and other role models "right from wrong, good from bad" and these values evolve "character' in every child. Parents have an obligation to inculcate [teach] values to their children.  How well a job parents do determines the character and morality of children. But parents also desperately need a motivating environment for morality support from their local community and national government.  It is all of society that creates morality and not just parents. We need morality in order to keep our society from falling apart and resolve conflicts in an orderly fashion. Debaters must include morality in their debates.   arrowup

 Getting a Natural High  

Those advocating use of marijuana and other abuse substances need to be made aware that they can get a natural high from the hormones in their own bodies; that are better and safer than what they may experience from marijuana, heroin, opium and so on.  Woods: endorphins make you feel good

Indeed, your body is a chemical factory that produces its own chemical substances. For example, amphetamines mimic the action of adrenalin in the body. They cause the heart to race at high speed, increase blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate while at the same time decreasing appetite and gastrointestinal activity.

Another example is the body's ability to synthesize natural pain killers or hormones that are many times stronger and more effective than illicit drugs. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the brain [ produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus ] during certain periods [ most commonly released during periods of pain and stress ], that have effects similar to morphine and other opioid drugs.

Endorphins and other painkillers (heroin, morphine, codeine) act mostly to stop receptors from signaling severe, persistent pain. They do not cause dependence and addiction like drugs. Another significant difference is that endorphins are short-lasting unlike externally administered drugs which tend to act for long periods.

There are four kinds of endorphins and they affect the body differently.  Our knowledge about pain and endorphins is incomplete -- superficial and speculative.   Below is a simplistic and incomplete summary about endorphins:

Kind Duration Function
Alpha 15-30 mns suppresses pain temporarily e.g. as in an accident
Beta 3 - 4 hours analgesic effect: suppresses pain for long time
10 times more powerful than morphine
e.g. high levels before and during child labor
Gamma short-term opposite effect of Beta
heightens sensitivity to pain
Meta short term short-term pain relief

happy feelsEndorphins are produced during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm. Endorphins: natural opiate pain killer Half an hour of continuous, moderately intense exercise releases endorphins. But keep in mind that individual biochemistry occurs among all of us; endorphin levels differ among people. Apart from resting levels, the amount of activity required or the duration of the response also varies tremendously.

Endorphins have many positive effects on the body and mind. When released endorphins lower blood pressure; high blood pressure is a major indicator for heart disease. Endorphins boost the immune system, slow down the aging process, and reduce pain, and anxiety. 

The natural body hormones resemble opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. Wiki: Endorphins

Western medicine today focuses on relieving pain by prescribing medications. However, this practice may be soon be circumvented by the recent discovery that vitamin D in adequate amounts is a very good and safe natural pain killer. Vitamin D update    arrowup

 Need for drug abuse education: 

Our educational system, society and parents should teach children, teens and indeed parents, how to experience the natural endorphin trip in socially appropriate and acceptable ways. Another aspect of feeling good education would be to develop positive work - job skills in adults. Indeed, adults, like addicts and strong advocates of decriminalization of drugs, should also be helped to discover the endorphin "feeling good" trip!

Getting a natural high instead of a chemical high also needs to be added to the debate about the war on drugs. Doing so would be pro-active.



Bitros, George and Karayiannis Anastassios, "Morality, institutions and economic growth: Lessons from ancient Greece." Munich Personal RePEc Archive Unpublished (2006)  Bitros: Moraility Ancient Greece

Blumenson, E. & and Nilsen, E., "Policing for Profit: The Drug War's Hidden Economic Agenda," University of Chicago Law Review, 65: 35-114 (1998, Winter).   Article by Blumenson: Hidden facts about drug legislation in USA is no longer active.

Blumenson Eric D.and Eva Nilsen, "CONTESTING THE GOVERNMENT'S CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN DRUG CASES," University of Chicago Law Review, 65: 35-114 (1998, Winter) Article by Blumenson: Govt conflict interest in drug cases is no longer active.

Chivers Tom, "Portugal drug decriminalization 'a resounding success': will Britain respond? No.," Cannibis News, September 29, 2010  Article by Chivers: Portugal free drug law is no longer active.

Common Sense For Drug Policy, "Drug War Facts," November 2007.   Common Sense: drug info

Drug Prohibition Timeline

1875: First anti-drug law in US enacted: San Francisco Opium Den Ordinance passed Nov. 15.
1906: Congress passes Pure Food and Drug Act.
1914: Harrison Narcotics Act enacted; federal control of narcotics established; nonmedical use of heroin and cocaine made illegal.
1919: Congress passes Eighteenth Amendment to US Constitution, establishing national alcohol prohibition. Nine months later, on Oct. 28, Congress passes the Volstead Act providing for the law’s enforcement.
1933: Congress repeals national alcohol prohibition.
1937: Marihuana (sic) Tax Act enacted. Objections were raised during hearings from the American Medical Association as well as from hemp producers.
1970: Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act passed into law, containing Controlled Substances Act (which lists marijuana in Schedule 1,prohibiting any legitimate medical uses).
1970:The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is founded.
1971: President Richard M. Nixon declares “war on drugs” at press conference on June 17; announces creation of Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention to be headed by Dr. Jerome Jaffe.
1978: Federal forfeiture introduced via amendment to Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.
1984: Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 enacted: broadened criminal and civil asset forfeiture laws, increased federal penalties for drug offenses.
1986: Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 enacted; creates mandatory minimum sentences, establishes disparity in sentences involving equivalent weights of crack vs. powder cocaine.
1988: Anti-Drug Abuse Amendment Act of 1988 enacted, increasing penalties for drug offenses and creating new federal offenses.
1988: First needle exchange in United States established in Tacoma, WA.
1989: US Office of National Drug Control Policy established. William S. Bennett, former Education Secretary, is named first “Drug Czar.”
1995: US Sentencing Commission recommends revising mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines to resolve crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity. Congress overrides their recommendation.
1996: California passes Proposition 215, legalizing sale and possession of medical marijuana by patients in need. Over the following decade, 10 more states legalize possession and cultivation of medical marijuana.
2000: California voters pass Proposition 36, allowing people convicted of first or second time, no-violent drug possession to receive drug treatment instead of prison.
2004: Oakland, CA voters approve Measure Z, making adult social marijuana use, cultivation, and sales the lowest law enforcement priority in the city.

Drug Alcohol Rehab, "Illegal Drugs,  Drug Alcohol Rehab: illicit drugs

Gibson Gary Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder  Article by Gibson: drug program truth is no longer active.

Greenwald Glenn, "Drug DECRIMINALIZATION IN PORTUGAL: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies," CATO Institute, 2009. Greenwald: Portugal drug lesson

Hughes Caitlin Elizabeth and Alex Stevens, "What Can We Learn From The Portuguese Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs?" British Journal of CriminologyVolume50, Issue6Pp. 999-1022.  Hughes: Learning from Portugal

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition [LEAP], Article about LEAP is no longer active.

The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harms resulting from fighting the War on Drugs and to lessen the rates of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.[4]

LEAP has two primary goals:

  • To educate the public, the media and policymakers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology.

  • To restore the public's respect for law enforcement, which has been greatly diminished by its involvement in imposing drug prohibition.[4] LEAP's main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly growing speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on police/community relations, the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects, police corruption and misconduct, and the excessive financial and human costs associated with current drug polices

McNamara Joseph D., "Criminalization of Drug Use," Psychiatric Times September 2000 Vol. XVII Issue 9.  McNamara: Criminalization of Drug Use

Media Roots, "US Drug War Has Met None of its Goals," 2010.   Article about Media Roots: Drug failure is no longer active.

"Media Roots serves as a project to help reclaim the media and put it back into the hands of the people by conducting citizen journalism and relaying factual, impactful news. This organization also seeks to provide a forum connecting conscious citizens, artists and activists to help build upon the emerging worldwide renaissance of independent media."

Mena Fernanda and Dick Hobbs, "Narcophobia: drugs prohibition and the generation of human rights abuses," Trends Organ Crim, 2009. Article about Mena: Narcophobia is no longer active.   This paper argues against prohibition, which is driven by moralism rather than empirical research, creates a black market that is regulated by violent entrepreneurs in developing countries. The current system of global prohibition creates more problems than it solves.

Mendosa Martha, "U.S. drug war has met none of its goals," MSNBC news, May 13, 2010.  Article by Mendosa: status war on drugs is no longer active. 

National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010

New York Editorial, "..Editorial Reviewing Criminal Justice," The New York Times, March 29, 2009.   NYTimes: Opinion on Justice System

Office of National Drug Control Policy, "Consequences of Illicit Drug Use in America," Fact Sheet, December 2010.  ONDCP: Fact sheet 2010

Schaffer Clifford A., "Basic Facts About the War on Drugs," Schaffer Library on Drug Use,  Schaffer: Basic facts

Solivetti Luigi M., "Drug Use Criminalization v. Decriminalization: An Analysis in the Light of the Italian Experience," January 2001. Article by Solivetti: Italian viewpoint is no longer active.   "The present paper focuses on the pros & cons of the main dichotomy in the field of drug control policy: that between criminalization and decriminalization.", "Mexico and Argentina Enact Drug Decriminalization, US Drug Policy Increasingly Out of Step," Transnational Institute, August 2009.  StoptheDrugWar: Argentina-Mexico legislation

Torruella Juan R., " Deja vu: A federal judge revisits the war on drug, or life in a balloon," Academia Puertorriquena de Jurisprudencia y Legislacion.   Article by Torruella: Judge discussion war on drugs is no longer active.    "One judge's attempt at a rational discussion on the War on drugs."

"US Drug War Has Met None of its Goals," Media Roots, May 10, 2010.  Article about Media Roots: Drug failure isno longer active.

Van Het Loo Mirjam, et la., "Decriminalization of Drug USe in Portugal: The development of a policy," Annals. AAPSS, 582, July, 2002.   Van Het Loo: Portugal drug policy

Webb, James, "SEN. WEBB’S NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION ACT OF 2009, October 2009.   Senator Webb: Criminal Justice Act 2009

Wikipedia, "Arguments for and against drug prohibition."  Wiki: Pros & Cons drugs

Wikipedia, "Endorphins."  Wiki: Endorphins

Wikipedia, "History of United States drug prohibition."  Wiki: Drug Prohibition USA

Wikipedia, "Office of National Drug Control Policy,"   Wiki: National Drug Policy

Wikipedia, "War on Drugs,"  Wiki: War drug history in USA

Williams Daniel E. "The Naked Truth About Drugs, Book, Whiskey and Gunpowder, December 15, 2010. Article by Williams: Naked truth drugs is no longer active.

The premise of the book is that repealing drug prohibition will be the most significant law and order legislation of the 21st century. And the author presents a commonsense blueprint for America post-repeal. Anyone interested in ending America's drug crisis is encouraged to read this book.

Some of what you read may surprise you.”Some of what you’ll learn: How to reduce crime at least 50% right now. Just how badly your government has been lying to you Why the drug dealers will ALWAYS trump the government.  How prohibition has led to even worse drugs (p 149)

Sure libertarians say that drugs aren’t as dangerous as propaganda has made them out to be…but is that really true? Exactly what happens when those drugs get into your body? For example, will LSD really “sit in the brain” and cause flashbacks twenty years after the last hit? (p 46) Before you swallow every exaggeration and lie spun by those who are looking for every excuse to butt into your lives even more.  

Woods Judith, " The happy drug inside" The Sidney Morning Herald, The August 18, 2005. Woods: endorphins make you feel good "Unlocking the body's feel good endorphins will give you a natural high,"    arrowup