Winning the War on Drugs by Quitting

June 22, 2009

The United States has been waging a “war on drugs” for some time.  We even had a cabinet-level “Drug Czar”, who reported directly to the President of the United States.  Reminiscent of the Viet-Nam war, the more we had to win, the less we seemed to win.

The “Drug Czar” has disappeared.  Much of the Republic of Mexico is consumed by open gun fights, kidnaping  and blatant police corruption.   Now the American border states, especially in Arizona, have experienced a spike in kidnaping. All this from the drug trade.

What drives the drug trade?  American consumers, of course.  It’s the American drug user who pays for much of the drugs world-wide, from Afghanistan to Thailand to Columbia, but especially in North and South America.  No matter what our law enforcement seems to do, that demand continues to drive the growing supply.

From time to time, people voice the idea that it’s time to declare victory in the “War on Drugs” and go home – just like in Viet-Nam.  Their point is, there is no “winning” this war, so we should admit the undeniable facts and get on with our lives.

The Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (“LEAP”) is the latest group to call out for this solution.  LEAP claims to have 13,000 members according to Jack Cole, executive director of the national association.  He served in law enforcement as an undercover narcotics officer for 14 years in New Jersey. The group claims 102 members in Oklahoma, including 11 members who have law enforcement experience.  They just put up a billboard on the Broadway Extension in north Oklahoma City that reads, “Drug Abuse is Bad.  The Drug War is Worse.”

LEAP makes the argument so often made comparing the “War on Drugs” with prohibition of alcohol in the 1930’s.  Prohibition spawned the rise of gangsters as the alcohol-seeking public paid for illegal alcohol.  Similarly, LEAP argues that all the crime associated with drugs, most notably all the violence, comes from the illegal character of drugs.  If the drugs were legalized, the market would evaporate overnight, the profit would disappear, and there would be no need for any violence.  Moreover, by legalizing drugs, the use of drugs and drug users could be better regulated and monitored that it can now, when everything is simply illegal.  The idea is that the government could control the quantity, quality, production, price and distribution of all drugs.

The argument is a good one, but the American public is just too afraid to accept drugs, too afraid to accede to addiction-causing drugs, notwithstanding the acceptance of addiction-causing alcohol.  It just seems too big a “leap.”

No surprise that law enforcement types decry LEAP and its arguments. Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs said legalizing and regulating drugs would cause more problems than it would solve.  “It’s frightening and reckless that a group of law enforcement officers would endorse something like that….Look at what happened when we legalized alcohol and prescription drugs.   Now they’re the two most abused substances globally,” Woodward said.

President Obama has called for $14.1 billion to support the “War on Drugs” for the year 2009, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  There is no let-up in sight.  The war goes on, just like Viet-Nam.  We could never win, but we just could not make ourselves face the fact that we were not winning and – apparently – never could win.


The Next Drug Fad for Parents to Watch Out for

December 5, 2008

There’s a new drug fad called Snurf.

It’s not illegal. Yet. It is supposed to be a herbal remedy, and it is becoming popular with teenagers. And its use is spreading from ninth and tenth grade users to middle schoolers. It can be purchased legally over the internet with a credit card under a number of names, including “legal ecstasy.” The sales claim Snurf contains herbs like Feviza, Palenzia and De la Amazon. Unfortunately, such herbs are non-existent, and Snurf is a synthetic morphine analog.

Research on Snurf indicates it consists almost entirely of the non-herbal dextromethorphan or DXM, the active suppressant ingredient in cough syrup like Robitussin. In large doses, DXM has hallucinogenic properties and can significantly impair the user. Ingestion of too much DXM can cause impairments of the visual field, dissociation, excitement, and feelings of bodily distortion. Some online blogs describe the effects of Snurf to taking LSD (lysergic acid dyethelamide) or Ecstasy.

Thus Snurf is, in fact, legal, and it pretends to be ‘herbal”, giving it respectability to new users. What its effects are, especially when mixed with other substances, is unknown. What if someone uses Snurf along with an antihistamine? Or with alcohol? There is no telling what could happen, but the average Snurf user will not consider any of these possibilities.

DXM, the main ingredient of Snurf, acts to depress the central nervous system, but the average user does not bother to learn this, so obvious troubles may not be avoided. The side effects of taking Snurf include rashes and trouble breathing, while the most frequent complaint is nausea, all benign enough. It will probably take some tragic interaction of Snurf with some other substance before parents are alerted to the potential dangers of taking Snurf.

Legal drugs kill more than illegal drugs

June 17, 2008

All the stereotypes about the cocaine trade in Florida do not get past the evidence. The Florida Medical Examiners Florida have determined from autopsies done in the year 2007 that legal prescription drugs kill three times the number of people as all illicit drugs combined.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement has done studies which found about seven million Americans are abusing prescription drugs. That figure is not certain. But that figure would be an increase of 80 % over the last six years, and it is more than the total of those abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and inhalants.

The Florida report analyzed 168,900 deaths in Florida. Cocaine, heroin and all methamphetamines caused 989 deaths, while legal opioids (strong pain killers found in brand name drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin) caused 2,328 deaths. Drugs with benzodiazepine, mainly depressants like Valium and Xanax, led to 743 deaths. Alcohol was the most common, found in 4,179 of the bodies autopsied and ruled the cause of death in 466 of those autopsied. These alcohol deaths were fewer than cocaine (843), but more than methamphetamines (25) and marijuana (0).

The study also found that while the number of people who died with heroin in their bodies increased 14 percent to the total number of 110, deaths related to the opioid oxycodone increased 36 percent, to 1,253.
Because the State of Florida monitors drug-related deaths more closely than other states, it is difficult to compare these results with other states. Yet Florida has not kept pace with other states in the enforcement of illegal use of prescription medicines. Thirty-eight states have enacted laws that track prescription drugs with monitoring programs that track sales. The Florida legislature has repeatedly decided not to do this, apparently on the grounds of privacy of the patient.

Apparently the legislators of the State of Florida have observed that, even though government can always do a better job of saving us from ourselves, government should not intrude into this area. At least not yet.

There is no doubt that, if allowed to control our lives more extensively, the government could make us live longer. It would require us to eat more vegetables and less fat. Government would require us to take more exercise. The list could go on, government helping our lives by making out daily decisions. Yet a lot of people insist on making their own decisions. The Bill of Rights tended to say they should be allowed to do that, even if the government has studies that show it is bad for them.

There is something to be said for this. Can you imagine being arrested by police for using cold medicine without a doctors approval? Our justice system should not only protect us from harm but should also protect our rights. That’s one of the key purposes for lawyers….to be your advocate and your legal representation to make sure your rights and freedom are protected. Certainly anyone facing charges relating to illegal or prescription drugs should seek out the best legal help they can find, which is why I’ve included information on finding a criminal lawyer at my website at Please go there and learn how to be a well informed client who will be equipped at making wise decisions.