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End the Drug War -- Vote Libertarian

Dear editor,

Thank you for running “Losing the War on Drugs” by Kate Shuster. It was an excellent look at the madness of perhaps the most disastrous American social experiment of the 20th century, the War on Drugs.

As Ms. Shuster points out, the costs of this misbegotten war are mind-boggling: billions of dollars wasted, millions of harmless people arrested, savage prison sentences, civil liberties tossed out the window… the costs just go on and on. And nobody benefits, except demagogic politicians (who get to scapegoat peaceful drug users the way earlier demagogues attacked Blacks, Jews, immigrants and other minorities), drug dealers (they’d be out of business tomorrow if drugs were legal), crooked politicians and crooked cops (they can get rich by taking pay-offs from drug dealers), and America’s rapidly-expanding incarceration industry.

The war on marijuana is particularly savage and unjustifiable. Marijuana was legal in America until 1937. There is not a single recorded death from marijuana overdose, and marijuana is certainly not remotely as dangerous as tobacco or alcohol. Yet in 1998 there were 682,8885 marijuana arrests, nearly equaling 1997’s all-time record of 695,200. The overwhelming majority of those arrests were for simple use or possession. It is particularly appalling to see desperately sick people who desire marijuana for medicinal reasons -- to combat nausea and pain from AIDS, cancer, and other major medical problems -- harassed, arrested, and imprisoned. Such barbarism sounds almost unbelievable, yet it goes on every day.

The Drug War was created by Democrats and Republicans, expanded by them, and is being fought by them today. In contrast, America’s third-largest political party, the Libertarian Party, has opposed the Drug War since the party was founded in 1971 -- and Libertarians have stuck to that principled position, despite tremendous opposition from the two older parties.

Libertarian candidates across America -- and in Georgia -- will again be calling for an end to the Drug War during the 2000 campaigns. Hopefully voters, after experiencing the horrors of a prolonged Drug War, are at last ready to treat the Drug War as an earlier generation treated alcohol Prohibition: by repealing it. A strong Libertarian vote total is a strong step toward ending this madness.


James W. Harris

(Atlanta Press, December 1999)

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