Speak out too loudly against the drug war, and you might be targeted.
had AIDS and cancer and was dependent on marijuana to stay alive. It
turns out that the people who had been using the stuff medicinally for thousands
of years were onto something. No one has ever been recorded as dying from the
physiological effects of marijuana. But the federal government wouldn’t
let McWilliams, a vocal anti-prohibition activist, have his medicine. They threatened
to take his mother’s house away if he used the substance that was keeping
him alive. He was found dead in his home in June 2000. The drug war killed him
And now Steve Kubby is
in jail, being deprived of the medical marijuana that has kept him alive. About
a quarter-century ago, he was diagnosed with an exceedingly rare strain of adrenal
cancer that no one else has been able to survive for more than five years. He
was expected to die within the same timeframe. His physician, Dr. Vincent DeQuattro,
an expert on this rare condition, has credited marijuana with saving his life.
Several years ago, Kubby was forcefully deprived of his medicine for three days
in jail, during which he suffered extreme vomiting and shivering and went temporarily
blind in one eye. In U.S. custody again, after having taken refuge in Canada
and being extradited back to the Land of the Free, he now has a good chance
of dying, of being murdered by the state, all so it can make an example of this
courageous anti-drug war activist.
For Kubby, as was the case for McWilliams, prohibition of life-saving medicine
could prove a cruel and unusual execution, all for the non-crime of self-medication,
the right to which all humans are born with. Apparently, he has been allowed
to use some Marinol, but the synthetic THC simply isn’t a replacement
for the complex mixture of cannabinoids in marijuana. Smoking about twelve grams
of pot a day has worked for him, allowing him to live a healthy life; the government’s
approved version does not quite do the trick, though it might barely be keeping
death away. It is very uncertain at this point what will come of his health
and legal situation.
The drug war is misdirected. It is foolish. It is stupid, unworkable,
disastrous, tragic and sad. But beyond all that it is evil.
The drug war is grounded in an evil premise: that people do not own their bodies,
that they have no right to control what they do with their own lives and their
own property, that it is appropriate to lock them in cages if they produce,
distribute or consume chemicals in defiance of the state.
This is a monstrosity. As long as America has the drug war, it is not a free
country. Politicians who support it and expand it, knowing the evils it entails,
have no business lecturing us on morality.
The ideology of the war on drugs is the ideology of totalitarianism, of communism,
of fascism and of slavery. In practice, it has made an utter mockery of the
rule of law and the often-spouted idea that America is the freest country on
earth. The United States has one of the highest per capita prison populations
in the world, second only to Rwanda, thanks largely to the drug war, all while
its federal government imposes its drug policies on other countries by methods
ranging from mere diplomatic bullying to spraying foreign crops with lethal
poison, from bribing foreign heads of state to bankrolling and whitewashing
acts of mass murder conducted by despots in the name of fighting drugs.
Like so many other wars, the drug war is constructed on a mountain of lies.
Politicians have lied over and over about the dangers of specific drugs, the
percentages of drug offenders in prison, the success of various anti-drug programs,
and the motives they have for waging the war. But even if it weren’t for
these acts of brazen dishonesty, the drug war would still be evil.
The war on drugs is murderous. Militarized police forces frequently raid homes
and assault or even slaughter innocent people – some of whom did not even
break the unjust drug laws. And those laws are just that – unjust. Remember
it always. The war on drugs is an unjust war of aggression. Its agents are in
the wrong. Under the current system, if you defend yourself against this homegrown
war of aggression, you might be killed instantly or put
on death row like Cory Maye. The authorities will get away with it.
The war on drugs is not a program that should be reconsidered, reformed, or
reinvented. It needs not a different set of priorities or a restructuring. It
needs to be repealed completely. Its prisoners need to be released without an
instant of hesitation. Its greatest victims should be compensated as much as
possible out of the pockets of the aggressors. Those at the top of this war
must be held responsible for their illegal and immoral acts.
I am sometimes told that libertarians are too obsessed with the war on drugs.
I disagree. I think that people in general, including many libertarians, should
be more concerned with it. We are talking about the longest war in American
history, one that has hundreds of thousands of innocent people locked in cages,
many of whom are raped and beaten by convicted brutes as the prison guards laugh,
all at an exorbitant cost in tax dollars and liberty. We are talking about a
program that has decimated every
article in the Bill of Rights. We are talking about a modern-day witch-trial
and inquisition, all wrapped up into one, and multiplied in its evil effects
and destructiveness many times over. We are talking about the precedent for
so many other evil policies, from prohibitions on so-called "money laundering"
and the criminal enterprise known as civil asset forfeiture to the egregious
civil liberties violations conducted today under the guise of combating terrorism.
They often say that all they want in the war on terror are the tools they’ve
been using in the drug war for years. There is some truth to this. But they
should have never had such sweeping powers to begin with, not for investigating
crime, not for fighting terrorism, and especially not for a war on victimless
The practical complaints against the drug war have been repeated ad nauseam:
Black market violence escalates, more people die of drug impurities, and so
on. These are compelling enough to end the whole crusade. But the most fundamental
reason to end it is it’s evil, very evil. It treats sick people like criminals.
It wrecks millions of lives. It puts young people in jail, sometimes for a lifetime,
only for engaging in activities that some of our presidents engaged in when
they themselves were young. It criminalizes speech between doctors and patients,
and producers and consumers. It starts wars in other countries. It’s one
of the greatest social evils in America. Unfortunately, a distinct political
class profits immensely off the oppressive program, and has succeeded in bamboozling
the public into thinking the program is a necessary evil or even a positive
Several years ago, drug warriors mistook some missionaries flying to Peru for
a plane of drug dealers, and so shot them down. Lew
Rockwell asked, "Isn’t it time the Christian Right begin to rethink
the drug war, which has now taken two of their own?"
Sadly, most of the Christian Right, as well as most of the rest of the right
and all too much of the left, still believes in the evil drug war. They are
afraid of what will happen if drugs are made legal. Will more people do drugs?
Maybe. I don’t personally think the long-term increase would be so dramatic,
if there were one at all. At various times, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD,
ecstasy, and amphetamine were legal. The problems associated with legal drugs
many years ago still exist today, but at least we didn’t also have a deeply
immoral war on drugs tearing society apart.
Even if some problems did increase, the drug war simply cannot be justified.
It is rotten and immoral to the core. To put someone in a cage, or to kill someone,
for engaging in private behavior or mutually voluntary trade is purely evil.
That is the first and most important argument against the war on drugs.
Anthony Gregory [send
him mail] is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California.
He is a research analyst at the Independent
Institute. See his webpage
for more articles and personal information.