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Trump and The War on Drugs

In his November 15, 2022 announcement statement of his 2024 run for the presidency, Donald Trump focused on many crucial issues and challenges facing the American people. But he chose one specific primary issue that he hoped would emotionally galvanize support for his new electoral effort in the court of public opinion:

 I WILL ASK CONGRESS FOR LEGISLATION ENSURING THAT DRUG DEALERS AND HUMAN TRAFFICKERS, THESE ARE TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE HORRIBLE, PEOPLE WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR DEATH, CARNAGE AND CRIME ALL OVER OUR COUNTRY. EVERY DRUG DEALER, DURING HIS OR HER LIFE ON AVERAGE WILL KILL 500 PEOPLE WITH THE DRUGS THEY SELL, NOT TO MENTION THE DESTRUCTION OF FAMILIES. BUT WE’RE GOING TO BE ASKING EVERYONE WHO SELLS DRUGS, GETS CAUGHT, TO RECEIVE THE DEATH PENALTY FOR THEIR HEINOUS ACTS. BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY WAY. WE DON’T NEED ANY MORE BLUE-RIBBON COMMITTEES. I DON’T LIKE TO SAY THIS. I DON’T EVEN KNOW IF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS READY FOR IT. A LOT OF MY PEOPLE SAY, PLEASE DON’T SAY THAT, SIR. THAT’S NOT NICE. THEY KILL 500 PEOPLE EACH ON AVERAGE.

Trump’s powerful impassioned rhetorical statement evoking horrific images of decaying, crime infested, needle-strewn urban areas of homeless encampments and squalor ignores many existential realities and consequences concerning this serious issue:

The global narcotics trade is one the biggest businesses in the world. For centuries it has been fostered and enabled by complicit governments around the world. It is fueled by the intersection of drug money, intelligence and money laundering on a vast scale by banks and financial institutions. Authoritative researchers have connected the dots linking the “underworld” of organized crime (narcotics) to the “upperworld” of the Establishment (Wall Street banks and elite connected corporations/foundations/media). Interwoven within the nexus are the covert intelligence agencies of the deep state.

Those critical concerns were recently expressed by 2022 Libertarian US Senate candidate Robert Murphy:

 The Drug War is a Racket, a Charade, a Fiction, designed to rally political support against a mystical threat to civilization in order to justify authoritarian regulation of human behavior. The threat, of course, is the use of drugs, which was said to be a source of all sorts of immoral and criminal activity. When President Nixon declared the War On Drugs in 1971, though, it was for political reasons.

To quote an aide of President Richard M. Nixon, who first declared War On Drugs: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum for Harper’s Magazine in 1994, about President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, declared in 1971. It was essentially a continuation of an attack on the freedom of every individual to decide for themselves what to use as medicine.

Legal prohibition of a powerful human desire always leads to corruption, and eventually catastrophe. The lesson was clear in the 1920s, when alcohol was banned, and criminal gangs rose to satisfy demand. It is working in the same way today.

There always has been, and there always will be, a certain percentage of every human population that wants to use various substances to ease their pain, stimulate their thoughts, or induce euphoria. The substances used through history have varied from the seemingly benign nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol to the seemingly dangerous such as cannabis, opiates, cocaine, methedrine, and psychedelics. The hunger for these things is never-ending.

Just as there have been those who want to use various substances, there have been those who, for moral or political reasons – or simple envy –  are determined to stop them. The crusade against alcohol began with the Post-Millennial Pietist Christian movement of the 19th century – mainly Puritanical Protestants- when many Evangelicals thought it was justified to use the Law to prohibit bad moral behavior. Their zeal was well intentioned, but was soon hijacked by Progressive politicians eager to use the Law to control many more aspects of human behavior – economic, social, and global. They have led us into a morass of corruption, pain, and wasted lives.

Coffee was banned in many countries when it first became popular in the 15th century. Coffee houses throughout Europe were often seen as sources of political subversion by caffeine-agitated hooligans.

One of the more cruel Ottoman Sultans – Murad IV – used to take great delight in wandering the streets of Istanbul at night with his bodyguards, eagerly slicing off the heads of those he caught smoking tobacco.

Here is a brief list of some of the negative consequences of the Drug War:

– Because drugs are illegal, the prices are many times what they would be in a free market.

– Because drugs are illegal, there are profits to be made financing the demand for drugs in underground markets..

– Because drugs are illegal,  the growers, manufacturers, and suppliers who satisfy popular demand must rely on extra-legal means to enforce their contracts – too often involving violence, just like Al Capone’s gang in the 1920s.

– The vast profits to be had often lead to the corruption of policejudges, and politicians.

– Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Mexico from the warring gangs competing to satisfy the appetite for drugs.

– Asset Forfeiture laws have turned cops into robbers, seizing money and property from travelers on our highways, often enough without ever charging them with a crime.

– The Medical/Mental Health Establishment benefits with steady employment in Rehab Centers and Counseling for penitent convicted users.

– The CIA has used the trade in both heroin and crack cocaine to finance illegal underground wars and black operations.

– Because the most popular drugs are illegal, there’s a market for new experimental ways to get high, like Bath Salts, or Salvia, or Beladonna, with unpredictable and often tragic results.

– Most of the thousands of deaths from the “opioid epidemic” were caused by contamination. Fentanyl is the main contaminant – a cheaply-made painkiller that can kill in small amounts.

Too often, laws passed with the best of intentions lead to tragic unintended consequences. So it is with the Drug War and Drug Prohibition. Those in the lower economic classes suffer the worst. Those who use drugs to assuage the pains of their wretched lives are under constant threat of arrest and imprisonment, while those among the upper classes are too often allowed to enjoy their various stimulants with impunity.

A Better Way

If those who are determined to use drugs to alter their physical or emotional state are allowed access to pure unadulterated forms of their chosen drugs, cheaply and without undue restriction, most of the problems of drug use would be lessened. Please notice the I’m saying most drug use problems, and that they may not be solved, but would certainly be lessened.

Fewer people would die from Fentanyl overdose from contaminated opiates, and they could predictably  regulate their dosage – as long as the drugs were produced under regulated conditions and subject to testing for impurities.

Fewer Speed Freaks would lose their teeth or their senses due to homemade Meth, when Ritalin and Adderal – approved and pure forms of Meth – are freely available.

The relative success of the use of psychedelic drugs to treat various psychological or substance-dependent maladies is well-documented. Their legalization could be a major contribution to mental health.

The criminal gangs like the Bloods, the Crips, and the rich Mexican cartels would be deprived of their markets, their money, and their political influence, and the remaining criminals among them would be reduced to the traditional crimes of thievery, robbery, and extortion, all of which are more easily combated than the lucrative drug trade.

People would be free to determine for themselves whether or not to choose to use various drugs when the effects and consequences of occasional use versus habituation are published truthfully and are well known. This renewed sense of freedom would promote the idea of individual choice and individual responsibility – a prerequisite for a free society.

There will always be some who are so emotionally damaged that they will willingly risk death rather than face the real world, and they may too often shun the world with the use of drugs – usually physical depressants such as opiates, but often things like alcohol, Valium, or other physiologically active substances. We must help them if we can, but we must recognize free choice.

But we must also recognize that most of us use conscious discretion when choosing which drugs to use.

Usually when we’re young, we hear of various things – Pot, LSD, Ecstasy, Oxycontin, or lots of other pills that will make you think better, sleep better, or enter you into mystical realms a la Timothy Leary, Sgt. Pepper, or Carlos Castanada. We may have experimented – usually beginning with alcohol – but we soon decided what we liked – whether through a good meal, a good drink, a good smoke, or even a drink of pure water – and we stuck with that, for better or worse.

Mormons, and maybe the Amish, as I understand, reject the use of both caffeine and alcohol as spiritually debilitating – and I’m pretty sure they don’t approve of tobacco. They may be right. I don’t know. I tend to think that the key to a good life is “moderation in all things”.

What, after all, are the problems of drug use? Sometimes it’s an accident caused by someone intoxicated. Sometimes, someone dies from an overdose. Most often, it’s a robbery or murder committed because of high drug prices or Gang competition in drug sales. Inevitably, the problem comes down to a lack of an affordable and legal pure supply.

A century of anti-drug propaganda has painted drug users as a danger to society when they are no such thing. Most drug users are passive people merely trying to enjoy life. They are not a threat to anyone.

Most of the people who become habituated to things like alcohol, opioids, or cocaine eventually grow out of it. All attempts to stop drug use through law and punishment are futile and misguided. The Cure must be allowed to proceed organically.

It is time to legalize all drugs, recognizing that individuals must be considered competent to make their own decisions about what to use as medicine and should be free to do so. Their purity and consequences should be advertised and controlled, but they should be freely available without prescription. Doing so would eliminate the devastating influence of criminal gangs, Deep State Actors, and reinstate individual choice and individual responsibility as the main thrust of the American Ideal. It is time to make a better world.

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9:22 am on November 16, 2022