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"In Oliver Cromwell's eloquent words, 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.'

" Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. 

" Can any policy, however high-minded, be moral if it leads to widespread corruption, imprisons so many, has so racist effect that it destroys our inner cities, wreaks havoc on misguided and vulnerable individuals and brings death and destruction to foreign countries ?" 

- Milton Friedman, Nobel prize winning economist and Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. 

Recognizing the Victims 

Missionary "Roni" Bowers [1] and her infant daughter Charity are dead. 

They were not killed by drugs, but by the drug war. 

Dead too are DEA agent, "Kiki" Camarena [1], Texas teenager, Esequiel "Junior" Hernandez [1] and thousands of other totally innocent victims, and they are only a fragment of the "collateral damage" caused by the drug war. Hundreds of millions more have been severely damaged.

 Who knows ? Who cares ? 

Some may be indifferent to this unnecessary suffering but most Americans are decent people who are simply unaware of the carnage being perpetrated in their name. 

To fail to come to grips with inevitable "collateral damage" is to avoid examining our own responsibility. If we fail to act to hold our representatives accountable we will ensure that there will be an endless string of additional victims. 

Additional Comments 

As a society we do not tolerate drunken driving just because the drivers neither know, nor have any intention of harming, the innocent. 

Nor do we accept an excuse that the drivers had good intentions if they were  delivering gifts to their children or parents for Christmas. Nor do we conclude that those who oppose drunken driving are  somehow opposed to children, family and Christmas. 

Similarly, we suggest that scientific facts and ethical standards combine to indicate that there is no adequate justification for a drug war that unintentionally but inevitably harms so many while it neither limits the  supply and availability of drugs nor deters drug abuse. 

With flimsy justification at best, our disregard for the inevitable "collateral damage" to the innocent is reckless.

Can such justification be assessed if myths and misconceptions do not allow us to accurately weigh what is to be placed on each side of the scale ? 

 See: Damage, Failure and Science


Weighing the costs 

We have problems with drug abuse. 

We have problems with drug lords and drug dealers [drug trade organizations or DTOs].
The DTOs were  created by our decision to try prohibition as a response to the drug abuse problem. The DTOs are one of the costs of prohibition. 

Without prohibition there would be no DTOs beyond the scale now present with alcohol. Ending prohibition means the elimination of one set of problems.[2] 
Both drug abuse and the DTOs have victims. But there are two major distinctions. 

First, the primary victims of drug abuse had to make a voluntary decision, or set of decisions, that led to the problem; an act of personal responsibility would have avoided the problem. But the victims of the DTOs were totally innocent of any irresponsible behavior and could do nothing to protect themselves. [3] 

Second, there is no indication that government has the capacity to protect people from themselves, i.e. that prohibition actually deters drug abuse (nor that there is anyone who now behaves responsibly in their use of alcohol and other drugs who is simply waiting for government permission to become a heroin or cocaine addict). But we do have it in our power to eliminate nearly all the harm done by the DTOs; Roni, Kiki and Junior would all be alive today if we had not chosen to try prohibition. [2] 

That prohibition has saved anyone is theoretical but the deaths above are real and indisputable. 

And, assuming the drug war does in fact prevent some addiction: How many drug addicts should the drug war be required to demonstrate that it has saved to make up for the life of even one innocent person? [3]

 Or to make up for destroying acre after acre of rain forest or the legitimate crops of poverty stricken peasants? Or the corruption of the very foundations of democracy in country after country? [4]

 We did not end alcohol prohibition because alcohol became a safer drug. We wanted a country free of the effects of the likes of Al Capone and the way this two-bit punk was elevated in wealth and power to the point that he could corrupt the police, the courts and the electoral process in Chicago. What right do we have to impose 1,000 Al Capone's on the rest of the world for our own convenience?

Certainly no answers will come if we fail to even raise the questions.  

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