Friday, September 15, 2006

How the ASG can really win the War on Drugs

***draft...please comment***

Senator Liufau and Chief Justice Kruse deserve praise for legislation that will make American Samoa drug laws less stringent.

Current ASG laws are draconian in that the give our courts no room to adapt their judgements to the defendent.

If the government is really interested in winning the war on drugs, it should start treating the problem as a business, and if there is anyway to quickly kill a business, it's by undercutting market prices. Simply banning a product only raises the market price since the government lessens supply. Supply still exists during prohibition in the form of a black market where the real thugs and criminals thrive.

The ASG can either continue to battle the black market by knocking down doors, crowding our jails with drug users, driving our desperate further into the dark and away from the community, family and friends, and harming innocent civilians in the crossfire. OR the ASG can peacefully undercut the black market price by providing illegal drugs for free or cheap in treatment facilities. However, the ASG should go through great lengths in unstigmatizing drug use and making every effort to have drug addicts come for treatment without shame. Drug users should feel that the last thing they have to do is turn to drug dealers for a fix.

But treatment facilities need an aggressive program that educates our people of the destructive effects of abusive drug use and commits users to a path toward rehabilitation.

In the future, we have to come to grips to the fact that people will do with their lives as they please. We have to respect their right to their own lives. Addressing this issue means that for those of us who really care about abusive drug use have to turn up the heat on parents and their raising of their children. Drug users are not born over night. Drug use is a not just a simple decision between right and wrong that a huge fine or a long time in prison can solve. Drug use is largely a result of a weak social support at home and in the community, a lack of values or a number of things that affected that person's choice to use drugs.


At 8:30 AM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

I have several comments on this very excellent essay.

First, this piece is only 327 words long. Resultantly, this would be a great Letter to the Editor for you to send to the student newspaper of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which will print opinion pieces that are 500 words or shorter.

Secondly, will we see this Letter appear on your MySpace blog? The Comments section on MySpace is vastly superior to that of this Blogspot.Com/Blogger.Com domain.

Thirdly, what you have written will be of interest to one of the world's foremost authorities on successful drug decriminalization, Judge James P. Gray, who has written a very helpful book on how European countries have liberalized drug laws and consequently reduced their crimes rates. That is book is titled Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It.

This book is not even as 1 percent as insightful or readable as Atlas Shrugged, but it is still essential reading for anyone interested in drug decriminalization.

Judge Gray will provide you with tips on how to present the most persuasive case for drug decriminalization.

Fourthly, advocating free-market policies and deregulation without ever having read Atlas Shrugged is like going into a battlefield completely naked and unarmed.

The most stirring case for freedom which has done more to win over people to the pro-freedom mindset than any other piece of writing -- far more than any series of Letters to Editor written by libertarians like H. L. Mencken -- is Atlas Shrugged.

Polls prove it -- more than 70 percent of all people converted from Democrat or Republican to Libertarian say that the conversion happened as a direct result of reading Atlas Shrugged.

By simply writing Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand did more to advance free enterprise with this one book than everything that Milton Friedman has written about this subject his entire life. To this day, Atlas Shrugged remains the manual on pro-freedom persuasion.

At 12:16 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

At the Independent Institute, Judge James P. Gray explained here how a government can better respond to the drug problem than throwing drug users and dealers in prison:

"But the second thing is the options, the possibilities. These are not untried. These are not experimental. There are things going on today, for example, in the country of Switzerland, that you should be aware of, and if you would please, when you get the book [that Judge James Gray wrote], if you do, read about the medical maintenance programs on drugs in Switzerland going on today.

"It started in Liverpool, England. [...T]hey are going into the communities and clinics, and finding heavy using narcotics addicts, mostly heroin. That seems to be the problem in Switzerland. And they're bringing them what? Closer to the medical professionals that can help them. And when they do that, they do what you or I would do. They try to get them into some drug treatment because these drugs are harming them medically, physically, and in other ways. And they're harming, of course, their families.

"So they try to get them into drug treatment. But for one reason or another, most people don't want to do it at this point. And so they give them another option. They will actually find out a maintenance dosage for the heroin of these people. That means that they can go to a particular clinic, they have access to pharmaceutical grade heroin at cost, which dirt cheap to grow, manufacture and come by -- so that's not an issue. Easily $10 a day takes care of all of these people per person. And they will find a maintenance dosage, which means that they won't get any euphoria, they won't get a jolt or a high on it, but they also won't go through withdrawal. They're maintained at their present level.

"And you know what they have found out? They had an experimental program, a pilot program that began in the middle 1990s. It was supposed to go for three years in seven cities in Switzerland doing this with their addicted people. The Minister of Health in Switzerland held a press conference after one year and said, 'This program is so successful, we're not going to wait the full three years. We're going to expand it to 20 cities now because we have seen wonderful results.'

"What have we found? They found that crime in the neighborhoods surrounding these clinics noticeably went down. Why would that be? Just because you’re furnishing at cost, heroin, to some of these addicted people, why would that have an effect on crime? Well, that's not hard at all to figure. What do I as an addict do in order to support my habit? I’ll burglarize your house, your car, I'll hit you over the head at the ATM when you take some money out, or commit some form of check offenses. You know, the merchants in the neighborhoods surrounding the clinics, as I understand it in some of these places, experienced a seven-fold decrease in shoplifting because these people were no longer involved in crime to support their habits. That's a good thing. And Switzerland agreed.

"The second thing he found out was that drug usage in the neighborhoods surrounding these clinics also was noticeably reduced. Well, why would that be for heaven sake? These people are getting the heroin. They count in the equation. Why would drug usage go down? It went down noticeably. Why? Because what do I as an addict do now? Yes, I burglarize your house, and prostitute and the rest, but I also get larger amounts of drugs and push it on you, your neighbors and your children in order to support my habit. But if these people are arrested, they're off the program, and they no longer have to do that because they're getting access to these drugs through the medical community.

"So drug usage declines, because they have fewer people pushing drugs in the communities. And then, of course, if the 12 of us here were taken on the program and we were heavy users, our suppliers would no longer have this market. They'd go off someplace else to other grounds. So as a result, fewer drugs come into the communities, fewer drugs are pushed on our people, and drug usage has gone down. That's a good thing, isn't it? Switzerland thought so.

"You know what else they found out? Increased employability. The employment of these people went up by 50%. They were holding jobs, paying their taxes, supporting their children. They were not a drain on society. They were living pretty much productive lives. That was a good thing.

"And lastly, of course, the health of these people went up drastically. Nobody encountered AIDS, nobody got hepatitis, nobody overdosed on unknown quantities of these drugs, etc. They had a plebiscite in Switzerland because some, what I would call moralists, said we shouldn't do this for moral reasons. [...] For moral reasons, they said no, we shouldn't do this program. And they had a plebiscite countrywide in Switzerland to disband this program. That plebiscite failed by more than 70% of the vote. It failed, and they still made these programs permanent in the country of Switzerland.

"I can't believe that Swiss parents care less about their children and love their children less than we do. Do you? But they have something that's working, and this is something that, in my view, we should adopt in every city in our country and every community that needs it, that would support it.

"Can anyone think of any reason at all why we should not do that? And the only reason when I've asked that question is, oh, we’re sending the wrong message to our children. That's what I hear. That old tired, hackneyed, but emotional response. And my response to that is, nonsense. Don't hide these programs from our children, take them there, expose our children to these people that are addicted to these drugs.

"What are the people going to tell them? 'Oh yeah, you should jam some cocaine up your nose and really make a mess of your life so you too can be on this program and get your pharmaceutical drugs at cost. Is that what they're going to tell them'? Never. 'Don't do what I've done. It's a hard life. Look at me. I'm a -- I am in trouble medically. This is not something that you should do. You know how I got involved in these drugs? Well, somebody gave me a free sample of methamphetamines.' Whatever it is, they'll tell their stories. It is good education for our children. It's honest education and it will take.

"Same thing with needle exchanges. Oh, we shouldn't have needle exchanges? Here in San Francisco you're leading the way in that, and hats off to you. It is a no-brainer. In fact, it is a crime on our people to deprive them of needle exchange. All of the studies show -- San Francisco here, New Haven, Connecticut, other places -- that it does not increase drug usage, but clearly reduces the incidents of AIDS, hepatitis, and these other things. That is an immoral thing, a damnable thing for us to deprive people of these needles, if, in fact, they're going to use this stuff anyway.

"If they are, I don't care what we call them as a society. And I know what I call them, I call them drug addicted people that have medical problems. But you can call them moral degenerates if you want to. You certainly can call them criminals. They do not deserve to die of AIDS. They do not deserve to pass along AIDS to their loved ones, to their sexual partners and the rest. And if only for monetary reasons, we as taxpayers don't want that to happen. If that's what it comes to, that's what we'll talk about.

"So all of these things are out there. We should expose our children to needle exchange programs too. Let them talk to those people. What are they going to tell them? 'Oh yeah, this is fun life.' Never. That will not happen.

"So these are things we need to do. [...] I believe in this so strongly. I hate these drugs passionately. I'm a former Federal Prosecutor, as David said. I held the record for the largest drug prosecution in the Central District of California back in about 1978. Seventy-five kilos of heroin. About 160 pounds. That's a lot of heroin. Does anyone have any idea what the record drug prosecution now is in the Central District of California? Eighteen tons of cocaine in one transaction. Can you imagine? If we can't keep these drugs out of prison, how in heaven's name do we expect to keep them off the streets of Oakland, San Francisco or anywhere else? It just isn't going to work."

What do you think of the way he phrased everything?

That was good, though not even 1 percent as convincing as Atlas Shrugged.

At 12:20 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

The program in Switzerland is actually done by the government and financed by taxes.

However, Judge James P. Gray says that he would prefer that private not-for-profit organizations take over this program. There is nothing the government does in this program that cannot be taken over by the private sector.


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