The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom
by Laurence M. Vance: Saving
the Welfare/Warfare State
to Laurence M. Vance, The
War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom (Vance Publications, 2012),
xvi + 103 pgs., paperback, $9.95.
This is not
a book about the benefits of drugs; this is a book about the benefits
of freedom. I neither use illegal drugs nor recommend their use
to anyone else. I am even skeptical about the health benefits of
most legal drugs.
So why this
book? Because I believe in freedom. I believe in individual liberty,
private property, personal responsibility, a free market, a free
society, and a government as absolutely limited as possible. I also
believe that my perspective on this subject is unique.
essays in this book were all written between October 2009 and July
2012. One was published in the journal Freedom Daily, another
in the magazine The New American, one appeared online
as a Mises Daily article, another was a column at LewRockwell.com,
and the rest were first written as Future of Freedom Foundation
Commentaries. Each essay is reprinted verbatim. The source and
date of each essay is indicated below its title. Because the essays
are arranged only in chronological order, each one can be read independently
of the others. All the essays that originally appeared online had
links to document my quotations and sources. These can easily be
accessed online should the reader be interested. I would like to
again thank the editors of the various publications who first published
first essay, "The Drugs of John Gray" (the allusion to
the title of the novel The
Picture of Dorian Gray is intentional), although acknowledging
that the philosopher John Gray makes a strong case for drug legalization,
argues that his "unanswerable" argument is weak because
it is not based on the freedom to take drugs for freedom’s sake.
Moral Case for Drug Freedom," I argue that it is neither the
job of government nor the business of any individual to prohibit,
regulate, restrict, or otherwise control what a man desires to eat,
drink, smoke, inject, absorb, snort, sniff, inhale, swallow, or
otherwise ingest into his body. And that there is no ethical precept
in any religion or moral code that should lead anyone to believe
that it is the job of government to do these things. I do not argue
for the benefits of drugs, only for the benefits of freedom. A version
of "The Moral Case for Drug Freedom" was first presented
at the 2010 Austrian Scholars Conference at the Mises Institute
in Auburn, Alabama.
against Medical Marijuana" is actually the case against demonizing
a plant and for the legalization of all drugs on an equal basis.
It was originally written after Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control
& Tax Cannabis Act, was rejected by California voters in November
book’s fourth essay asks the question: "Why Don’t Conservatives
Oppose the War on Drugs?" Here I point out that the reason
conservatives should oppose the war on drugs is a simple one that
has nothing to do with the failures and evils of the drug war. Drug
prohibition by the federal government is simply unconstitutional.
In fact, nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government
to ban any substance. Conservatives who claim to revere the Constitution
should be ardently opposed to the drug war on the federal level
just as much as libertarians.
Hypocrisy," I maintain that the paternalism of statists is
at its worse when it comes to the war on drugs. Drug warriors are
hypocrites because every bad thing that could be said regarding
drug abuse could also be said of alcohol abuse – and even more so.
Yet, in spite of the negative effects of alcohol on morals and health,
few Americans would like to return to the days of Prohibition.
Drug War Is Expanding," I tackle the issue of the use of bath
salts as a hallucinogen. It is no more the job of government to
address this recent phenomenon than it is for the government to
have anything to do with pot smoking or cocaine snorting. Once government
is elevated to such a level that it is allowed to determine what
people can and can’t ingest, or regulate the circumstances under
which something can be lawfully ingested, there is no stopping its
Steroids, and a Free Society" was written after Barry Bonds
was found guilty of obstructing justice in an April 2011 trial for
his 2007 indictment. Here I argue that in a free society Major League
Baseball would make its own drug policy and the government would
not be involved in any way.
Attorneys Crack Down on the Tenth Amendment," I explain how
the federal government, in cracking down on providers and users
of medical marijuana in the states where it has been legalized,
is actually cracking down on the Tenth Amendment. The crackdown
on marijuana by U.S. attorneys is an attack on the Constitution,
the Founding Fathers, the principle of federalism, and the very
nature of our republic. Congress has been granted no power to ban,
regulate, or otherwise interfere with the production, sale, distribution,
possession, or use of marijuana for the simple reason that it has
no authority over any drug.
Is the U.S. Fighting Mexico’s Drug War?," I examine Mexico’s
war on drugs and how the United States is intimately involved in
it. I conclude that the United States should not only stop funding
and participating in the Mexican drug war, but likewise end the
futile and destructive war on drugs in America.
War on Freedom" is the account of how President Nixon declared
a war on drugs in 1971. I also argue in this essay that the war
on drugs is incompatible with a free society because once the government
claims control over what a man smokes, snorts, sniffs, inhales,
or otherwise ingests into his body, there is no limit to its power.
War on Drugs Is Senseless," I discuss the new cigarette warning
labels and conclude that if the government is going to make
a harmful substance illegal, then it seems logical that that substance
should be tobacco. The number of annual deaths caused by all drugs
– legal and illegal – pales in comparison with deaths caused by
Other Unconstitutional War," I focus on the unconstitutionality
of the drug war, but also point out many of its evils. The war on
drugs has increased the size and scope of government. The war on
drugs has served as a pretext for a war on individual liberty and
private property. The war on drugs entails Soviet-style central
planning by the federal government. No American who has any respect
for the Constitution, federalism, and the limited government established
by the Founders should endorse, support, or defend the federal war
on drugs, regardless of his political persuasion, religion, or moral
Testing for Welfare Benefits" explores the absurdity of the
whole idea. In a libertarian, that is, a free society based on voluntary
cooperation and contracts instead of government coercion and regulations,
both drug-prohibition laws and welfare benefits would be illegitimate.
Disparities," I explain how sentencing for drug crimes is extremely
arbitrary in nature. The solution to the madness that is drug sentencing
laws is not to reduce some sentences and increase others in order
to eliminate disparity and racism, but to eliminate any sentences
for possessing or selling a substance the government doesn’t approve
of. It is a national disgrace that the United States leads the world
in the incarceration rate and in the total prison population.
Views on the Drug War," I contrast the libertarian and prohibitionist
views on the drug war, and the confusing mass of inconsistency,
hypocrisy, and nonsense that lies between them. Individual liberty
and personal freedom are the farthest things from the minds of partial
prohibitionists who want the drug war to be altered in some way
but not eliminated.
Christians Support the War on Drugs?," I ask and then answer
the question in the negative. Christians shouldn’t support the government’s
war on drugs any more than they should support the government’s
wars on poverty, obesity, dietary fat, cholesterol, cancer, and
tobacco. Christians are making a grave mistake by looking to the
state to legislate morality. Although drug abuse is a great evil,
the war on drugs is an even greater evil. It is simply not biblical
to promote legislation or crusades to punish sin that does not aggress
against person or property.
Drug War: Cui Bono?," I point out that some groups of people
support the drug war because they have something to gain from it.
I discuss how the drug war benefits drug dealers, alcohol distributors,
the prison industry, law enforcement, and the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration. I also mention physicians and the pharmaceutical
industry, state and federal prosecutors, judges and lawyers, the
CIA and the FBI, the drug-testing and addiction-recovery industries,
and any group receiving federal funds for anti-drug campaigns.
Victims of the Drug War," I delineate twelve victims of the
Drug War that are rarely considered: the Constitution, the English
language, the American taxpayer, common sense, people who conduct
business with cash, people with allergies, crime, law-abiding Americans,
law enforcement, people who suffer with genuine pain, doctors who
prescribe pain medicine, and individual liberty.
The last essay
in the book, "Why the War on Drugs Should Be Ended," is
a no-holds-barred defense of absolute drug freedom. There are many
reasons for ending the drug war, and I even list twenty-six of them,
but the drug war should not be ended simply for logical, pragmatic,
and utilitarian reasons. I conclude that the war on drugs should
be ended because it is a war on the free market, a free society,
and freedom itself.
As long as
there is a war on drugs, the essays in this book will remain timely.
Yes, there is some repetition throughout the book. But this is because
the evils of the drug war never change and because the hypocrisy
of drug warriors is unrelenting. And in the end, it always comes
down to the issue of property and freedom versus badges and guns
reading, I recommend the following books, but not necessarily everything
in them that doesn’t relate to the war on freedom known as the war
the Undefendable. San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes, 1991.
B., and Albert C. Gross. America’s
Longest War: Rethinking Our Tragic Crusade Against Drugs.
New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1993.
M., ed. How
to Legalize Drugs. Northvale: Jason Aronson, 1998.
Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert. Marijuana
is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? White River
Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 2009.
Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish
Moralists, and Other Boneheaded Bureaucrats Are Turning America
into a Nation of Children. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.
Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything.
Washington DC: Cato Institute, 2004.
Today. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2010.
Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes
in a Free Society. Los Angeles: Prelude Press, 1993.
Trip: How the War on Drugs is Destroying America. Nashville:
WND Books, 2004.
Andrew P. It
Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case
for Personal Freedom. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: Scribner,
Harvey A. Three
Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. New York:
Encounter Books, 2009.
They Can’t: Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed.
New York: Threshold Editions, 2012.
Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market. Westport: Prager
Economics of Prohibition. Salt Lake City: University of
Utah Press, 1991.
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, Rethinking
the Good War, and The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. His latest book
War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. Visit his
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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