Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Truth Obama Won't Tell

by Steve Chapman - February 3rd, 2008 -

On Thursday, The Washington Times reported that in 2004, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Obama came out for decriminalizing marijuana use. That usually means eliminating jail sentences and arrest records for anyone caught with a small amount for personal use, treating it more like a traffic offense than a violent crime. But in a show of hands at a debate last fall, he indicated that he opposed the idea.

When confronted on the issue by the Times, however, the senator defended his original ground. His campaign said he has "always" supported decriminalization.

It's a brave position, and therefore exceedingly rare among practicing politicians. Which may be why it didn't last. Before the day was over, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying he thinks "we are sending far too many first-time non-violent drug users to prison for very long periods of time" but "does not believe that we should treat offenses involving marijuana with a simple fine or just by confiscating the drug." Recently, he had told a New Hampshire newspaper, "I'm not in favor of decriminalization."

This episode reveals that as a candidate, Obama is more fond of bold rhetoric than bold policies. But it also proves the impossibility of talking sense on the subject of illicit drugs during a political campaign. That course of action would mean admitting the inadmissible: that the prohibition of cannabis has been cruel, wasteful and fraudulent.

The war on drugs is a war on the poor and minorities. As noted in this article, 100 million people, over 25% of our population, have used marijuana. That includes a significant number of our elected public officials. A million or so of the 100 milliion have criminal records as a result of getting caught for using marijauna. Similar numbers apply to crack and cocaine.

The only serious consequence of our "war on drugs" has been to increase the profitability of the drugs and make use more common because of the huge profits. The Columbian drug cartels have killed hundreds if not thousands because the profits were so large. The large profit has meant that many more "pushers" have persuaded our children to try drugs and gotten many hooked. Profits are the driving factor in drug marketing. Why on earth did we think that by criminalizing their use and making the profits large we were reducing use?

However random enforcement has made the consequences random as well.

As noted in the article:
A candidate who spent his college days flouting our marijuana laws can be elected president, but an abstemious, button-downed candidate who proposes to change those laws has no hope.

Had we enforced our statutes more vigorously, of course, Bush, Clinton and the others would never have been elected anything, because they would be ex-convicts. Yet Bush, Clinton and the others were happy to put people behind bars for crimes they themselves committed.

Our courts, so quick to find almost any excuse to invent a new right if it applies to criminals and illegal aliens, can't seem to apply the equal protection of laws concept to the use of drugs versus the use of alcohol. Common sense doesn't count. The judges do not care about the rule of law unless it gives them more power. They care about the rule of judges. Trivial differences in the laws on alcohol and drugs is all they need to justify their participation in the war on the poor and minorities. That is what the war on drugs has become.


At 5:00 PM , Blogger Jim Robison said...

Right on!
Sounds like you could be our Libertarian candidate.


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