At first glance, Ron Paul’s political positions on drugs may seem to go contrary to conventional wisdom, but that’s primarily because what has become conventional is not wisdom. Rather, it is a blanket of coercive force to cover a diversity of activities with little consideration for the rule of law or compassion for the people caught up in these problems.
1) Ron Paul is a constitutional libertarian. He believes in following the rule of law, and for the federal government that means obeying the constitution. This trumps everything else. The constitution is a document which enumerates the powers delegated by the states to the federal government. Much of federal drug laws and enforcement policies operate outside of these enumerated powers. So they break the law in the name of their policy. They teach that “might makes right” and they bring us out from under the rule of law and bring us under the rule of man. Where is the wisdom in this?
2) Not only is the policy unlawful, but it is ill conceived. The so-called “War on Drugs” is supposed to be a national campaign to stop the import, manufacture, sale, and use of certain dangerous and harmful substances. So by now we should have the problem pretty much licked, right? Nope. The problem has only become more sophisticated, while hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, many innocent or harmless people have been ruined, and there is no end in sight. Where is the wisdom in this?
3) Ron Paul is a medical doctor. He understands better than most how ugly and ruinous drug abuse can be. He is more opposed to such abuse than most people who don’t think much about it, or who don’t really understand it — and he doesn’t voice this opposition with a little chuckle under his breath — he’s dead serious. So, guess what? He wants to implement a policy which is lawful and actually has a chance of working. There is wisdom in this.
4) This is largely the states’ jurisdiction. There are fifty states. What are the odds that out of fifty experiments in solving the drug problem, one of them (or several in cooperation) will develop something that works, and that other states will then begin to follow suit? What are the odds that not making drug use a federal crime will introduce more compassion, fairness, and will remove much of the abuse of enforcement and racism in prosecution and sentencing in drug cases? What are the odds that patients will be helped by the use of certain drugs which are now a federal offense but which have legitimate medical uses? There is wisdom in this.
Instead of setting a destructive precedent of flaunting the rule of law, and instead of pursuing policies which simply have not worked, have cost hundreds of billions of dollars, have needlessly ruined millions of lives, and which have only made the problem more sophisticated, why don’t we try something which makes sense for a change.
New Boston, IL
I know that leaving any comment about Ron Paul on any blog or FB post (either positive or negative) is asking for trouble, so I will try not to address my response in a manner that is directed at him, but more toward my understanding of the Libertarian view on drugs and drug use.
Just so you know my background and from where I have derived my opinions: I am a 36 year old man who is a devoted follower of Christ, I am also a husband and father of 3. I am a retired police officer from the Los Angeles area, I have been a reservist in the Marine Corps for 19 years, and in addition to running our small family farm, I currently work for the Navy in a Joint Forces Training Center for Special Operations. I enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17 and, in some capacity, have spent my adult life working to physically protect the lives and liberty of my fellow man. I have served in uniform, in 12 different countries and various U.S. cities. I have worked in areas where Social Workers will not go, where Christian Missionaries will not go, and where Politicians certainly would not go. I have witnessed acts and events that no human being should have to witness, but I thank God that I am one of the few in our society (and the even fewer in the Church) that truly knows what evils and depravity human beings are capable of – these experiences have made me a better advocate, husband, father, and Christian.
The effectiveness and the lawfulness of the War on Drugs are two separate arguments and should not be lumped together. Whatever the topic; just because an entity is inept at accomplishing something, does not mean that the efforts should be eliminated. Similarly, if something is effective, does not mean it should even exist. Your ignorance of the Federal Government’s role in the War on Drugs is very apparent and a little disturbing; given the he educational influence you have over many of your readers.
Federal drug laws are almost never enforced within the US borders, relative to the amount of individual state/municipal enforcement. Los Angles is the perfect example of this, in direct violation of federal law; dozens of “medical marijuana clinics” have been openly operating for quite some time now. Aside from a little tough talk, the feds have made no attempt to shut them down and/or deal with the local/state officials or business owners who are violating federal law.
The overwhelming majority of illegal drugs being abused in the US are Prescription Medications, Marijuana, Ecstasy, and Methamphetamines, all of which may be imported, but are mostly “homegrown” on US soil and are almost entirely enforced by State and Municipal law enforcement agencies, until they start crossing state lines. Cocaine and Opium based drugs are almost entirely imported and therefore are almost solely (importation/manufacture) enforced by the Federal Government.
As to your comments, “many innocent or harmless people have been ruined”, “have needlessly ruined millions of live[sic]”, I can only assume you are referring to the people who are actually using these illegal drugs, either casually or as addicts. If I am wrong in my assumption, please ignore the following paragraph.
At one time, I was ignorant enough to believe in the idea of “Victimless Crime”. It was a refreshing and freeing feeling to proudly state that people should be able to do what they wanted with their bodies (I have never supported abortion). It allowed me to be devoid of my God given responsibility to take a stand. I quickly stopped this naïve (in my case) thinking once I had to start dealing with the liberated people involved in those “victimless crimes” and the victims they actually created and please understand that there are ALWAYS victims.
“Ron Paul is a medical doctor. He understand[sic] better than most how ugly and ruinous drug abuse can be.” He may be an MD and have a greater knowledge than me in many aspects, but this does not make him an expert on the real ugliness of drug use/abuse. Sitting in a congressional office or in a clean white hospital room are far different that going to a woman’s house at 2am and having to literally pick her up off the porch while her unfed, unbathed 5 year old wonders around the front yard in a diaper. Ron Paul has never had to arrest a 60 year old man who (was stoned on legal medications) just stabbed his wife 50+ times with 7 different kitchen knives. Ron Paul has probably never had to bring a 20 year old lady to the hospital for an examination because she was “partying” the night before and doesn’t remember anything, but thinks she may have been raped. Events like these play out hundreds of times each night in major cities thought our nation and would only increase with the legalization of these awful chemicals. I have many saddening and gruesome stories I could tell you and I also have photos/videos of much of the aftermath of these “victimless crimes.” If we ever have the opportunity to meet in person, I would love to share these with you, in an effort to prove my point.
There are always victims. To suggest that drug use (prostitution is usually lumped in here too) should be legalized is nothing short of naïve, ignorant, and in some cases, just plain stupid. There is no wisdom in this.
I love my republic, but fear my government. Individual states should have more control with less (almost no) interference from the federal level. We certainly should not be borrowing billions of dollars from China to waste it on ineffective programs that do not work or do not work effectively. At the same time, I believe that we have a moral, secular, and biblical obligation to protect people from becoming victims of “victimless crimes”.
My response was typed due to my wonderful wife’s inquiry of my opinion on the matter and as you can tell, I don’t do very well with short answers. It was done with an attitude of love and concern. My family and I greatly appreciate your ministry and pray that I may be able to express my gratitude in person some day.
I live in a country where alcohol, drugs, pornography, prostitution and homosexual practices are forbidden. Each day I pray God keep us living here until my son have age to take the right decisions. If Freedom is allows a 21 ( or less if a State decide so) years old man to get drunk, kill himself with a overdose of cocaine, watch pornography or get AIDS from a prostitute, all down the flag of freedom, I prefer to live down tyranny, but that is me. As long Saudi Arabia give me freedom to do good, I am happy with the tyranny to forbid me do to wrong, but again, that is me.
In the other side, due to the “success” of the Drug War in the border with Mexico, now I saw my own country (Honduras) become the home of the Kings of Cocaine. It is amazing how in just a few years a nice little country become a danger, bloody place. Mexico is not more an easy place for them to live, so they moved their operation to Honduras (a small and more an easy place to combat them, they are losing territories).
If according to US Constitution, each state should regulate the freedom to sell, buy and use cocaine, be sure to campaign to make it legal in all the 50 states. If not, if just one state allows, what you will have is War of Drugs between state’s borders. Good for Mexico and Honduras, a tragedy for US.