On the frequent occasions when I am asked why I oppose the
drug laws, I face a quandary -- where do I start? There are so
many important reasons:
* Half a million nonviolent drug offenders clog our prisons
and jails. Mandatory minimum sentences, and inflexible sentencing
guidelines, condemn numerous low-level offenders to years, even
decades behind bars, often based solely on the word of compensated,
confidential informants. With two million people behind bars,
the US leads the world in incarceration, at a level radically
beyond any time in our history before a quarter century ago.
* Prohibition creates a lucrative black market that causes
violence and disorder, particularly in our inner cities, and
lures young people into lives of crime. Laws criminalizing syringe
possession, and the overall milieu of underground drug use and
sales, encourage needle sharing and increase the spread of HIV
and Hepatitis C. Thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses
or poisonings by adulterants every year, most of their deaths
preventable through the quality-controlled market that would
exist if drugs were legal.
* Our drug war in the Andes fuels a continuing civil war in
Colombia, with prohibition-generated illicit drug profits enabling
its escalation. Opium growing, and attempts to stop it, both
hurt Afghanistan's attempts at nation building and help our enemies.
* Patients needing medical marijuana, and the people who provide
it to them, go without or live in fear of arrest and prosecution.
Physicians' fears of running afoul of law enforcers causes large
numbers of Americans who need opiates for chronic pain to go
un- or under-treated.
* Profiling assaults the dignity of members of our minority
groups, and of the poor, denying them equal justice.
* From drug testing in our schools, to SWAT teams invading
our homes, privacy has been gutted.
* Ethics in our criminal justice system are virtually the
exception rather than the rule, with perjury, violations of constitutional
rights, corruption and general misconduct endemic and largely
tolerated -- all of it driven by the drug war.
* Frustration over the failure of the drug war, together with
the lack of dialogue on prohibition, distorts the policymaking
process, leading to ever more intrusive governmental interventions
and ever greater dilution of the core American values of freedom,
privacy and fairness.
And that isn't even all of it, and it isn't a pretty picture.
And so we oppose the drug laws -- so we fight for an end to prohibition,
for legalization -- because of the harm and the injustice that
prohibition is inflicting on so many different people in so many
And because we understand that freedom is not just the right
to control our bodies and what we put in them, even though that
ought to be enough. Because freedom is the right for all people
on this earth, not having infringed the freedom of others, to
walk down the street, to go about their business, to live as
they choose not confined to a prison cell just because their
personal behavior was not officially approved.
And so for so many reasons that I almost don't know where
to start -- to save the lives of the addicted, so patients can
be treated, for privacy, for peace, for safety, to restore ethics
to government, to end the injustices large and small -- for all
these reasons and more, we seek to end drug prohibition.
Our views are correct, our cause is just, and we fight for
it to make this a better world for all.