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CLAIM IX: DRUG PROHIBITION IS WORKING

DEA Statement

Legalization advocates claim that drug prohibition is akin to alcohol prohibition earlier this century. Their main premise is that it is impossible to prohibit people from using substances that they want to use.

The Facts

It seems obvious that it is impossible, by the DEA's own evidence. But there are other reasons as well. Even if it was possible, we should not undertake actions which do more harm than good.

DEA Statement

Participants in the AntiLegalization forum felt that legalization opponents should point to the successes of Prohibition and to continuously stress the positive progress that has been made between 1979 and 1994 in reducing levels of drug abuse.

The Facts

Does the DEA feel that the "successes of Prohibition" were so great that we should bring back Prohibition? Why not?

DEA Statement

When the Volstead Act was repealed, arrests for alcohol traffickers disappeared, but arrests of alcohol related incidents rose, indicating that the prohibition against alcohol had kept people from using it. The same will happen if drugs are legalized. Once drug use is sanctioned by the government, more people will use drugs.

It is also important to remember that after Prohibition was repealed, organized crime branched out into other areas, and there is every expectation that current drug organizations would also continue and diversify.

The Facts

After Prohibition was repealed, organized crime lost its single biggest source of funding. This is the same argument the DEA made before, that we must keep drug prohibition to keep the drug dealers employed so they will not do something else. Again, we have to asked what would happen if the DEA really did succeed in stamping out drugs. Would we have to start selling them again to keep the criminals from doing something else?

DEA Statement

Some facts which help to confirm the observations of the forum participants may be used in debates:

Dr. Mark Moore, in a 1992 article titled "Actually, Prohibition Was a Success" points out that alcohol consumption declined during the Prohibition years by as much as 3050%. Mental hospital admissions from alcoholinduced psychosis declined 50%.

The Facts

The Wickersham Commission, which was formed to study and improve Prohibition, found that alcohol use fell in the first year of Prohibition and rose every year thereafter.

Assuming this was true, does that mean that the DEA is advocating the return of alcohol Prohibition? Why not?

DEA Statement

Robert Peterson, Director of the Michigan Office of Drug Control Policy, states that "Since the repeal of Prohibition, alcohol consumption has tripled."

The Facts

Does this mean that the DEA is advocating the return of alcohol Prohibition? Why not?

DEA Statement

Alcohol, unlike currently illegal drugs, has a long history of social acceptance and has an important role in many cultures. Alcohol can also be selfadministered in small doses with little damaging effects.

The Facts

The DEA is saying that some drugs can be sold in the local store, while others merit a term in prison if you possess them. The difference, it seems, is based on their popularity. By this argument, when these drugs reach a certain level of popularity then it will be appropriate to sell them as we do alcohol and tobacco.

Other drugs also have a long history of social acceptance which the DEA would like to deny. Marijuana (hemp), for example, was once this nation's largest crop and was even grown by our founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Most drugs can be self-administered in small doses with little damaging effects and, in most examples of their use, they are.

DEA Statement

We are making progress in reducing the number of illicit drug users.

The Facts

Even if one believes the DEA's figures on this score (and there is good reason to doubt them), the DEA's own figures show that there has been no effect on hard core drug use. Further, there is no evidence that the current policy is the best way to reduce the number of drug users of any type.


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