Milton Friedman, the War on Drugs, and Last Tuesday Night

Friday, November 9th, 2012

In light of this week’s milestone victories for common sense in Colorado and Washington, here’s Milton Friedman—one of my personal heroes—writing an open letter to Drug Czar William Bennett in the Wall Street Journal.

In Oliver Cromwell’s eloquent words, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on “Prohibition and Drugs.” The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America. Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, “crack” would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts. The lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the U.S. The ghettos of our major cities would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man’s lands. Fewer people would be in jails, and fewer jails would have been built.

Columbia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of narco-terror. Hell would not, in the words with which Billy Sunday welcomed Prohibition, “be forever for rent,” but it would be a lot emptier.

Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972, but we must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization will only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.

Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs. Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures. Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be. Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.

This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence. A country in which shooting down unidentified planes “on suspicion” can be seriously considered as a drug-war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.

Friedman wrote that 22 years ago.

In writing my book over the last several months, I’ve been waist-deep in the drug war propaganda of the early 1970s, and then of the 1980s and 1990s: the government dissemination of flat-out lies, the ceaseless efforts by politicians (ably abetted by a media always eager to pounce on sensationalism) to degrade and dehumanize drug offenders, the relentless martial rhetoric and calls to arms. There were the insane court decisions that shredded the Fourth Amendment. I’ve decided my favorite is United States v. Montoya de Herandez, in which the Supreme Court ruled that customs agents can seize someone coming in on an international flight, hold her incommunicado, then detain her until government agents can watch her defecate in front of them. There were the deeply cynical policies pushed by politicians, like the no-knock raid, which was never asked for police officials or recommended by criminologists, but was an idea dreamed up by Nelson Rockefeller aides (then later adopted by Nixon in the 1968 campaign) as a way to appeal white fears about black crime. There was a time when it was railed against on the floor of Congress (yes, really) and in the Supreme Court (yes, really) as a constitutional abomination, as an affront to the founding principles of the Castle Doctrine and the right to be let alone. When Congress first imposed the policy on Washington, D.C., the city’s police chief refused to use it (yes, really!). Today, it’s such an ingrained part of law enforcement, you’d be hard pressed to find a narcotics cop who could imagine ever doing his job without it. And of course, there are the scores and scores of heart-wrenching stories of death and destruction wrought by all of this madness.

Anyway, all of this was fresh in my head as I watched the election results come in Tuesday night. Whether or not Obama respects the wishes of voters in Washington and Colorado is really only relevant in the short term. I’m now convinced that we are finally winning the long game. I mean Jesus, medical marijuana just barely lost in Arkansas. I guess what I’m getting at here is that spending the last several months reading and writing about just how insane things were at the height of the drug war made me particularly aware of just how magnificent Tuesday night was. The tide is turning. It isn’t often easy to find reasons for optimism when you cover these issues day in and day out. Seeing outright legalization pass in two fairly large states—there’s no other way to interpret that as a sign that we are slowly returning to sanity. This would have been unthinkable 10 or 15 or 20 or 25 years ago.

Friedman’s was always the voice of reason on this issue. But 22 years ago it was a relatively lonely voice, particularly on the right (William Buckley was good on pot). That’s no longer the case. Yes, some of the most obstinate opposition still comes form the right, although as you’ve seen on this site,  it also comes from left-of-center paternalists and editorial boards. And most politicians of all stripes are, typically, a good 10 years behind the public on all of this. But the culture warriors are dying off. The coalition for sensible drug policy is broad, diverse, and has been gathering strength and momentum with each election.

The public is turning. Tuesday was historic. Enjoy it.

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59 Responses to “Milton Friedman, the War on Drugs, and Last Tuesday Night”

  1. #1 |  JLS | 

    Am I just being cynical when I think that the fedgov won’t allow these decisions to stand. As soon as Washington begins to put pressure on local politicians they will overturn the will of the people and keep everything nice and illegal.

  2. #2 |  dsmallwood | 

    it is good to see. i need to read more Friedman.

    something in your piece gave me pause though:

    reading and writing about just how insane things were at the height of the drug war . . .

    are you speaking with a post election mindset? or are you saying we were on the downside before the election? or at least in a lull?

  3. #3 |  Jim | 

    JLS: You’re not being cynical, you’re living in the real world. I hope Radley is right, but I see absolutely no reason to believe anything has changed at this point just because the public’s attitude has. After watching Obama’s justice department double-down on the medical marijuana raids and step up the threats against landlords who rent to dispensaries in California, I just can’t get excited or hopeful about what is coming in response to the votes in Colorado and Washington. I don’t see Tuesday as a great night for freedom. Rather, I believe the feds will interpret the election results as a call to arms, and will move decisively to crush the medical marijuana and legalization movements. They will pour money into law enforcement, coerce states to adopt “per se” DUI laws for marijuana impairment and continue their efforts to militarize police departments. This has never been about drugs. It’s always been about control and the Obama administration is even more into control and crushing of dissent than Shrub was. What’s coming is not more freedom, but a vicious curb stomping of what little is left of the Constitution.

  4. #4 |  EH | 

    With the rise of the lawless upper class (and their LEO protectors), I think left/right distinctions cease to be very useful outside of network news. It’s really a matter for authoritarians vs. everybody else.

  5. #5 |  Reggie Hubbard | 

    I hadn’t been optimistic until I saw this. I’ve seen optimism from direct supporters but that is always heavily dominated by the need to maintain positivity for a cause.

    Seeing optimism from someone who is typically pessimistic about positive progress actually happening is refreshing and encouraging. Great words Radley. I look forward to your book becoming the surprise best-seller of 2013 and becoming the catalyst for the end of anything resembling a police state (there’s that blind optimism from a supporter).

  6. #6 |  Warren | 

    The best move for the drug warriors is likely to give up on pot and retrench on everything else and then throw all the freed up resources towards those other drugs. And ramp up “enforcement” and forfeiture on those other things.

    It’s not like they are acting on any sort of principle other than generating work for themselves so they don’t need any particular substance to be illegal just enough to justify their actions. So I’m sure the cops, prosecutors, judges, prison guards, assorted staff drones, and addiction entrepreneurs (clinics, half-way houses etc), will be able to maintain their level of skim and loot from the public if pot is legalized.

  7. #7 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    As a decent citizen looking to do my patriotic best to stimulate the economy, I’m busy with pre-launch activities in anticipation of NH passing legalization very soon. Just a matter time (if the man/woman at the top can get out of the way).

    Of course, the process I see in other states makes me rage appropriately.

    I’d like to see how zealous drug warriors are when the battle line is redrawn to focus on treatment of addicts and education—with no violent force of law whatsoever applied to growing, possession, or use. I think we’ll find they lose interest quickly if not allowed to bash heads. So, it’s really “bashing heads” that they are zealous about. Bash, bash, bash…bash bash.

  8. #8 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    It’s really a matter for authoritarians vs. everybody else.

    “Everybody else” still likes to know what type of authoritarian you am.

    Remember, without “authoritarians” and beatings you get road-less Somalia!

  9. #9 |  Deoxy | 

    Am I just being cynical when I think that the fedgov won’t allow these decisions to stand.

    Of course they won’t – that’s not his point. His point is that the level of support for the drug war, as currently incarnated, is falling hard and fast. These kinds of things eventually work their way up… it just takes several more years.

    t’s always been about control and the Obama administration is even more into control and crushing of dissent than Shrub was. What’s coming is not more freedom, but a vicious curb stomping of what little is left of the Constitution.

    This is absolutely spot on. The worst dictatorships on the planet in the last 100 years have all been lefty/socialist – that’s the way they roll.

    But that still doesn’t mean that the drug issue isn’t improving, at least relative to everything (perhaps it’s just losing ground a good bit more slowly…).

  10. #10 |  The Whited Sepulchre | 

    What makes this Friedman letter so enjoyable isn’t his logic, or his command of the facts, or his rhetorical ability.
    He was writing it to William Bennett, the U.S. Drug Czar who was later revealed to be a Las Vegas slot machine junkie. By anyone’s standards, a gambling addict.

  11. #11 |  Ghost | 

    I celebrated good and hard. Probably smoked half an ounce Tuesday night.

  12. #12 |  Eric | 

    If the Democrats want to keep the slight advantage that they have, I think their best strategy in Colorado and Washington has to be to let it go, right? Radley linked today to a story that legalization got more votes in Colorado than Obama himself. The majority of the voters approved it! Real live voters.

    If Obama’s Department of Justice cracked down – and it is most assuredly his Department of Justice – you’d have a lot of disillusioned Democrats in one of only a dozen “swing states.” Can’t you just imagine the Republicans suddenly finding their federalist principles again just in time for the midterm election or the 2016 presidential election? There’s already a sea change afoot with respect to pot that any smart politician can see, and they might see the states as a way to push pro-life or health care or other conservative agenda items. I can hear the attack ads now about how Obama ignored the will of the voters and turned his back on the people that elected him and all that. If 1 out of 10 Democrat voters were pissed off enough that the federal government directly screwed them to switch sides – or much more likely, to just not bother voting – that changes the color of the state.

  13. #13 |  Sinchy | 

    “Columbia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror,”
    If there is any proof that the drug war is a failure and prohibition only serves the needs of cartels it’s the fact that Mexico is a hell of a lot closer than the 3 countries mentioned by Friedman.

  14. #14 |  red | 

    I will be shocked if the feds don’t find a way to shut these bills down. They’re already using extra legal means to shut down dispensers in California. As long as the feds can find a why to ignore/avoid jury trials with things like IRS trials, the madness will continue.

  15. #15 |  Kent | 

    If anything it can’t be brushed aside as an unimportant issue any longer, lame stoner jokes won’t cut it any longer. Once those serious talks begin the true ugliness of the drug war gets exposed, especially if we have folks like Radley sitting in front of congress spilling the beans on it all.

  16. #16 |  MingoV | 

    The optimism is misplaced. A handful of states approved medical use of marijuana. Big f—ing deal. The DEA will shut down marijuana dispensaries and arrest the workers and the medical marijuana users anytime it wishes.

    The general public strongly opposes non-prescription use of marijuana, opiates, cocaine, tranquilizers, barbiturates, amphetamines, etc. Surveys show continued strong support for the “War on Drugs,” and this support has not declined over the decades. The only change I expect is that tobacco products will be added to the list of banned substances. The USA is not for libertarians.

    @#15 Kent: The general public cares not one whit that innocent people or non-violent recreational drug users have been killed or injured during DEA and police drug raids. They find the SWAT team raids exciting and care little about the “collateral damage.” Congresspersons will listen to Radley, but most of them will follow the polls and continue to support the War on Drugs.

  17. #17 |  Walt | 

    MingoV, Colorado’s new law allows individuals to grow and possess marijuana. It will be nearly impossible for the Feds to control that. Dispensaries in Washington are more vulnerable.

  18. #18 |  Kutani | 

    “A handful of states approved medical use of marijuana. Big f—ing deal.”

    Read more, fool. This isn’t just medical, this is actual _legalization_. Reality disagrees with your doomsaying.

  19. #19 |  Aresen | 

    I hope to see a time when young people are no longer thrown in jail for using drugs.

    I have been hoping for it for a long time.

  20. #20 |  BamBam |

    On Tuesday, voters in Flint, Michigan enacted a measure decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by people 19 or older.

    Police Chief Alvern Locke candidly asserted that the officers under his command will simply defy the new law: “We’re still police officers and we’re still empowered to enforce the laws of the state of Michigan and the United States. We’re still going to enforce the laws as we’ve been enforcing them.”

  21. #21 |  BamBam | 

    And this sheriff quotes the Office of National Drug Control in the belief that most marijuana in the country makes its way through Oregon.

  22. #22 |  Pi Guy | 

    Party on, Ghost!

  23. #23 |  Pi Guy | 

    I’m definitely optimistic about the turning tide. However, it’s imperative that we support the legalization of all drugs. As The Whited Sepulchre notes, Bennett’s drug of choice is gambling.

    It’s prohibition – drugs, gambling, prostitution, oil price speculation, insert-fave-victimless-activity here – that creates all the corruption, class warfare, and violence in and between governments and on the streets. It’s about taking back the power that the government asserts but has no authority to enforce. They work for us.

    Stopping the police state is the first step. Let us keep marching.

  24. #24 |  GE | 

    I think that the cynicism of some people here is boring and missplaced. The fact remains that opinion polls in regards to marijuana are NOT stagnant…the trajectory of those polls have only indicated an increasingly libertarian American public, in regards to that one specific issue. Support for marijuana decriminalization/legalization has never been higher than it is right now, not even in what some people consider the high point in previous decades, the Carter years. Maybe that’s meaningless to some people, I don’t know, but the bland assertion that nothing’s changed, that nothing ever will change, boo hoo is incorrect.

    So yes, the federal government will continue to prosecute commercial enterprises, will continue all sorts of operations against marijuana. But the law is going to be unenforcable in states (like Colorado) which allow users to grow plants in their homes. Public opinion turning against marijuana prohibition will also likely manifest itself in jury rebellions. It’s far more than a handful of states that allow medical marijuana, too…Massachusettes makes the total 16. So you can argue that all of this is ultimately meaningless when looked at in the context of the wider prohibition of drugs in general, or that there’s still a very long way to go, but to totally shrug it off and say that there’s been absolutely no progress from a decade ago, or two decades ago, to me seems willfully blind.

  25. #25 |  LTMG | 

    Let’s assume for the sake of fantasy that all presently illegal drugs became legal in North America tomorrow. What would all of the drug enforcement officers and, in some countries, military personnel productively do on Monday morning?

    What would all of the present day outlaws in the production and distribution channels do the following weekend when their revenues suddenly dropped 80% or more within one week? From where and how would they restore their income? Would those alternatives be acceptable to the rest of us?

  26. #26 |  Cynical in New York | 

    I’ll withhold my judgement until the measures actually take into effect next year. My bet is that the fed drug warriors will continue their “mission” even though these states recognize common sense on an issue.

  27. #27 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    @#25 — Wow, I’ve seen some lame concern trolling before, but that really takes the cake.

    How about this: Fuck all of the parasites who profit from drug prohibition! And those who enable them, too.

  28. #28 |  Hags | 

    Buckley, et al were for legalizing a lot more than just pot 10+ years ago. Good on them!

  29. #29 |  Mattocracy | 

    “What would all of the present day outlaws in the production and distribution channels do the following weekend when their revenues suddenly dropped 80% or more within one week? From where and how would they restore their income? Would those alternatives be acceptable to the rest of us?”

    But how will the slave owners make up for lost revenue when blacks are emancipated Mr. Lincoln? Oh wait, that’s right. Who gives a fuck!

  30. #30 |  ceanf | 


    what makes you think the federal government has the resources to stop wholesale legalization of marijuana in two states? a few medical shops here and there is one thing but there is absolutely no way they can enforce their federal ban on a local level with outright legalization. Hell they can barely do it with medical marijuana. and they can forget about person to person transactions. but if they plan on trying, they are going to need a lot more than the ~5500 federal special agents currently employed by the federal government.

    as for the federal government somehow forcing the states to make it illegal… exactly how are they going to do that? disregarding the fact there is nothing that says a state has to enact or enforce any federal law whatsoever, do you really think those governors (the only single person who can do something) are going to give up their reputations and career in politics in their home state to appease a federal policy? Or do you think the federal government will somehow sway enough people in the state houses and senate to have the thing over turned?

    i have to completely agree with radly, the tide is turning…

  31. #31 |  jmcross | 

    Just a few years ago I didn’t think I would live to see this day. This is all very .

  32. #32 |  jmcross | 


  33. #33 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    @#30/31 — I

  34. #34 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    … agree.

  35. #35 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    Nice article, one complaint: Can we please stop spreading the lie that crack is cheaper than powdered cocaine? Anyone with even the slightest bit of experience with either substance will tell you that crack is far, far more expensive because the only thing that it does is make you want to do more of it. It’s not instantly addictive but it’s damn close. One rock is too much and a a shoebox full isn’t enough.

    Powder, by comparison doesn’t leave you climbing the walls (or surfing the carpet) looking for more. When it’s gone you can generally continue with your life. With crack, all you want is another rock – and another, and another…

  36. #36 |  Windy | 

    Interesting outcome in WA, on tonite’s Seattle news there was an “interview” with the prosecuting attorney, who said (on camera) that he would be dropping all the pending misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, because it didn’t make sense to go ahead with trying them for something which was not going to be a crime in one month. The law goes into effect on 12/6/12, tho the State has until 12/6/13 to work out the rules for the growers, distributors and retailers, which means for an entire year one can possess up to an oz without arrest but there is no legal place to buy it unless one is a medical user and can buy from a dispensary. Additionally, the law does not allow recreational users to grow it, or share it, giving a friend a toke off your joint is still illegal transfer. The law also contains a per se DUID provision which is feared by medical and recreational users alike.

  37. #37 |  Burgers Allday | 

    One of the police blogs raises an interesting question — will the doggies still be able to give probable cause in WA and CO?

  38. #38 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    Speaking as an anarchist with a bad attitude and a problem with authority, I am actually uplifted by Tuesday’s return. Yes, the feds will continue to crack down on existing marijuana outlets; yes, the feds will pressure the good people of Washington state (where I went to college) and the good people of Colorado (where most of my family is from); and yes, the feds will apply every tool in their fucked up tool box to keep this from happening. BUT! The rupture in the dyke has already occurred, the crack is widening and all these asshole “tough on crime” politicians and DEA agents, and know-better-than-you presidents are simply putting their finger in the hole, hoping it will stop the flow.

    The end of the drug war (at least in terms of marijuana) IS going to happen, and perhaps in my lifetime. There are enough states now that are telling the feds to go take their drug laws and go screw, they simply can’t enforce their assinine laws on everyone on their own and will eventually simply give up. Yes, there will be challenges along the way, but at this point, I am certain it will occur.

    I also would have smoked an ounce on Tuesday night, had I an ounce to smoke.

  39. #39 |  A Guy in New York » Blog Archive » Milton Friedman predicted the failure of the “War on Drugs” 40 years ago | 

    […] Milton Friedman, the War on Drugs, and Last Tuesday Night […]

  40. #40 |  AlgerHiss | 

    # 17 Walt: “MingoV, Colorado’s new law allows individuals to grow and
    possess marijuana. It will be nearly impossible for the Feds to control that.”

    I disagree. City police and county sheriffs piss their pants when the feds show up.

    The feds bitch-slap them and tell them how many sugars to put in the coffee.

  41. #41 |  Irving Washington | 

    You’ve raised the question several times; so I’m not accusing you of ignoring it, but if you’re going to call Tuesday historic, don’t you also have to consider what the hell is wrong with the President? He flat-out lied, deceived, and betrayed us on the issue of medical marijuana. The gawdawful GOP is too compromised and too beholden to prohibitionists to point it out, but it’s an ethical lapse of immense proportions. Does it change in the second term?

    I, with sadness, think not. I am convinced that his reversal was a simple, venal, disgusting sop to the police unions. I hope whatever he got from them was worth it.

  42. #42 |  Bob | 

    #29: ceanf

    what makes you think the federal government has the resources to stop wholesale legalization of marijuana in two states?

    Two words: “Asset Forfeiture”. The feds will just enlist local law enforcement to be their bitches on the ground by waving that in their faces. This is assuming, of course… that the “Legal System” doesn’t strike down the laws.

    If the legal system actually does it’s job, and says it’s the FEDS that are overreaching their constitutional limits by infringing on State’s rights in the first place… well then we could have a pretty big ideological divide brewing with the country split between the “blues” and the “reds”, both groups knowing the country is fucked up, and blaming the other group instead of the real puppet masters in DC.

  43. #43 |  Len | 

    25, what kind of idiot are you? Nothing happens overnight, there is always movement toward a position. Now try thinking that through in regard to the transition for criminals and those employed due to the WOD.

  44. #44 |  Clyde Barrel | 

    A law without the means and will to enforce it is meaningless. When the Feds come with their unconstitutional threats to close marijuana shops, it will require a governor with principles and balls to stop them. Using the same strategy as in the cold war. If you cross this line, shots will be fired. Do you really want to start this war? Then do not cross this line.

    Do not hold your breath for an elected politician with principles. Although seeing a sheriff arrest a DEA thug would make my year.

  45. #45 |  JLS | 

    ceanf #29, “what makes you think the federal government has the resources to stop wholesale legalization of marijuana in two states?”

    Idk, what if the local police just decide they like marijuana being illegal so they’re going to bust people anyway? What if the federal government decide to give some more grant money to local law enforcement, undermining their loyalty to the local jurisdiction they work for?

    Anyway, Bob#40 said it better than I can.

  46. #46 |  Walt | 

    From the Seattle police website:

    “Will SPD assist federal law enforcement in investigations of marijuana users or marijuana-related businesses, which are legal, at the state level, under I-502?

    No. Officers and detectives will not participate in an investigation of anything that’s allowed by state law.”

  47. #47 |  JLS | 

    Walt that is awesome news and I guess it’s just me being overly cynical that makes it so hard for me to believe it. I certainly hope I’m wrong and the police don’t continue to arrest marijuana users.

  48. #48 |  AlgerHiss | 

    #43 Walt:

    I don’t believe that lie for one second. The local LEOs will do the bidding of the feds. Period.

    They don’t have the morals or the courage to tell the feds to go screw themselves.

    Nor do they have the balls to arrest any fed that attempts to arrest a citizen on these charges.

  49. #49 |  Bob | 

    Yeah, I’m overly cynical too. Oregon seems to have some protections against asset forfeiture, in that they have a law stipulating that the proceeds go to treatment as opposed to letting the cops have it.

    But I’m willing to bet that when the contagion that is municipal foreclosure starts to raise it’s ugly head in Oregon, they’ll be ready to bend the law for “creative” finance alternatives like asset forfeiture.

  50. #50 |  Walt | 

    More good news from up here:

    “Misdemeanor cases of marijuana possession will be dropped in Washington’s largest counties after voters legalized the drug, prosecutors said Friday.

    King County was dropping 175 cases, prosecutor Dan Satterberg said. Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said his office will do the same, but he didn’t immediately know the number of cases affected.

    Under Initiative 502, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana will be legal for people 21 years or older after Dec. 6. The initiative passed on Tuesday with 55 percent of the vote.

    “Although the effective date of I-502 is not until Dec. 6, there is no point in continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month,” Satterberg said in a statement.”

  51. #51 |  Vic Kelley | 

    “Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, “crack” would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version)”

    NOT TRUE. Crack evolved. Drug use evolves. Users and dealers do whatever they can to get a better high. The most successful marketer of crack was Ricky Ross in Los Angeles. He was a colored drug dealer. His crack – he called it ready rock – got people higher and did so faster. He “cooked” it so his buyers could buy it and smoke it immediately. Get higher and do it faster that’s drug use evolution.

    Inhaling gets users higher. That people taught themselves to freebase in the 1960’s and 1970’s then developed crack in the 1980’s was inevitable. It wasn’t caused by drug policy it was caused by people choosing to dope themselves and wanting to get higher.

  52. #52 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    @#48 — “He was a colored drug dealer.”

    Really? What color were the drugs?

    Oh… jackass!

  53. #53 |  Jim | 

    Milton Friedman. Mr. Paycheck-Tax-Withholding, his genius idea for funding WWII, ‘temporary’ of course. Piss on him.

  54. #54 |  Cynical in New York | 


    Depending on what goes down once the laws go into affect we’re guaranteed another episode in ideological hypocrisy. If Obama’s drug warriors go after them then the left is exposed once again that they don’t give a rats ass about civil liberties and personal choice. If the right starts to scream for the drug warriors to go after them then they’re exposed again on how they don’t give a rats ass about states rights and the “will of the people” as these measures were voted on, not decided by a judge(s) or the state government.


    Easy Judas, Vic is just another racial nationalist paleocon that has seemed to lost his way onto a libertarian blog. I think it’s a record that three of them have stumbled here within a week. The other two commented on Radley’s Prediction post. Who knows maybe us Agitators will get a treat and Lonewacko will make an appearance.

  55. #55 |  DarthFunyun | 

    I suggest you re-read the initiative… as long as the person is legally allowed to posses it and it was legally purchased in the state, they are allowed to use it. There is nothing listed to prohibit sharing, currently.

  56. #56 |  UvalDuvalCuckoo | 

    #35 Steamed McQueen – You’re arguing total cost vs per unit cost. Per Unit, you can get a $10.00 rock. Sure, you’ll want more and sure, if you have more money you’ll spend it. And yep, you’ll likely end up spending more than you would if you had an 8ball. But if you could get an easily available $10.00 or $25.00 bag of powder, most people would be scared to do it assuming it’s a bunch of stuff other than coke. And powder definitely has the effect of wanting more – I guess your mileage may vary individually but I can’t recall being at any parties where I woke up the next morning and saw the left over coke sitting around – things kept going until it was done. Crack has much more a compulsive vibe working for it no doubt, but on the whole, i think his statement was true

  57. #57 |  NL7 | 

    Waiting to see how people will react to legalizing drugs consumed by poor people and black people, not just drugs consumed by middle class white people. Mj is on the path but meth and crack have way more stigma.

  58. #58 |  Petraeus: Another “Iran-Contra”-Type Scandal? (And other news…) » Scott Lazarowitz's Blog | 

    […] Radley Balko: Milton Friedman, the War on Drugs, and Last Tuesday Night […]

  59. #59 |  Evan Cottrell | 

    I have never used “illegal drugs” and don’t plan to, but there is no question that legalization is the best approach. The church pastors that preach the horrors of drug use should continue to do so but should also promote legalization as the best approach to solving our drug problem. Please read my post on this subject: