Fighting a real war on drugs

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Man's Perspective

We talk about the War on Terror. The number of years it has raged on. The victories along the way. The lives lost by Americans, and others, committed to the cause along the way.

But there's another war that has been going on even longer, right here in our streets, and sometimes under our own roofs, that has been raging far longer and cost far more lives. I'm talking about the war on drugs.

Experts, strategists and political pundits often debate about the gains America and its allies have made in the War on Terror since it began following 9-11.

The same could be asked - and often is, with disappointing response - regarding the war on drugs in this country.

And, contrary to popular belief, that war is not just being fought in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Detroit and other major metropolitan areas around the country.

It's time to open our eyes to the fact that it's going on right here in the streets of Spencer. Perhaps not to the same extent as the bigger cities, but it exists without a doubt, and regardless of the size of its presence, the problems it creates in families, and the risk it creates in lives, is still far too great to remain unchecked.

My issue is not with the user. Not condoning or endorsing the behavior by any stretch, but anyone who chooses to begin taking, or continue to use drugs, with all of the information available out there today are in obvious need of help.

And help is available, but the user must seek it.

If we really want to "win" the war on drugs, I would suggest we turn up the heat on those providing them to the users.

It's time to step up the penalties for dealing - and I mean in a big way. Make the penalty for anyone caught manufacturing and/or distributing methamphetamine similar to someone charged with attempted murder. Isn't that what we're really talking about? Just because the death isn't instantaneous, doesn't make handing meth to someone any less deadly. Or coke. Or heroin. Or unprescribed medication.

People who take that first hit can become instantly addicted, and in their search for the next high, death can certainly be an end result. And the dealers are very much aware of that as they pass along the fix to their next victim.

What charge would someone face who deliberately gave someone poison? Are you aware of what's mixed in with some of these drug concoctions? Some pretty toxic stuff.

Personally, I believe dealing drugs should be a capitol punishment crime - in states that offer such solutions for criminal behavior. People argue, "That won't stop drug dealers." Well it would stop that one.

That can be the new war on drugs motto: "Ridding the Nation of Drugs One Dealer at a Time."

The war on drugs will not end until the penalties are severe enough to make it no longer worth the dealers while.

View 23 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • the drug test for jobs are a joke. any body can get clean for the frist day. most the poeple doing drugs where i live get s.s. cheaks. i have work at places where 90% of the enployee where on drugs. and there alway someone trying to sell you somthing. one drug user gets hired and it not long the whole place is drug user working there. and the bosses have no idea what going on.

    -- Posted by shadow3 on Sat, Jul 16, 2011, at 10:33 AM
  • The war is a joke just a good reason to ask for more tax $ that dont get to do the thing they are ment for . the drug war will never work till the govmt.starts telling the people the real truth about how they handle OUR many,many$$$$$$$$$$

    -- Posted by BRUSHPILE on Sat, Jul 16, 2011, at 4:10 PM
  • People who take that first hit can become instantly addicted,

    No thats utter bs and any doctor can tell you so, not even heroin causes a instant addiction by one hit. Man no wonder Usa is so screwed when people are so stupid

    -- Posted by John King on Sat, Jul 16, 2011, at 6:51 PM
  • My mother used to be a heroin addict. My younger sister was a meth addict. My sister started her addiction journey here in spencer. Maybe some of you wouldn't think of it all as so much of a joke if it was your family member on drugs. Or if it was your son/daughter that you feared couldnt kick an addiction. I am younger and see it out here on the streets of spencer on almost any given day. It does cost money to fight it, but would you rather not pay it and risk your kids being offered these drugs everyday? if so please lets divide up the neighborhoods, cuz i'll gladly pay to help provide my kids with a better environment. obviously these dealers arent a threat to most of us, but they are to kids, teens, young adults. as well as so are some of the users that resort to stealing as a means to support their addictions. I LOVE this article as I feel there are MANY things in this town and neighboring areas that people need to open their eyes to and address!

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 12:50 PM
  • You may be interested to know that more than one million people are currently incarcerated in US jails and prisons on drug charges or crimes directly related to drugs. The US has the most people in prison in the world. Many are serving federal sentences, from which there is no parole. Society puts away a young person for 10-20 years on drug charges. Tell me Randy, is drug use on the decline?

    -- Posted by Cookster on Thu, Jul 21, 2011, at 7:45 PM
  • I dont believe Randy was stating that drug use is on the decline. Harsher punshments might take a while to make sure a thing decline but will probably never eliminate it. But does that mean we should just leave things as they are and hope they get better? I do not feel sorry for "society putting away a young person for 10-20 years on drug charges". These people KNOW what they are doing is wrong. It is endangering not only them but others around them as well. Obviously not many people here want to believe it is that big of a deal around here, but just open your eyes for a bit. Take a look at how bad it is in bigger cities, now is that what you want to have happen here some day? Towns are constantly growing and changing. Storm Lake and Estherville have seen this happen for sure, if nothing as far as laws change whats to stop the same stuff from going on here?

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Fri, Jul 22, 2011, at 12:32 PM
  • It's unfortunate when we see the same "simple" and "common sense" solution to a complex problem that has failed every time it has been implemented. "Three strike rule" and life without parole hasn't deterred these criminals, why would capital punishment?

    The three reasons capital punishment won't work.

    1. Cost of implementation: Death penalty per case costs can be as high as $2.3 million. Multiply that number by he number of "dealers" currently incarcerated.

    2. Targeted Population: While we love to think of every dealer being like "Scarface", in fact most are low socio-economic citizens that have found dealing as the most efficient means to procure their habit. They have already prioritized drugs above family, friends, and health. They are already living a "death sentence" and will fully acknowledge this as a fact. Capital punishment will neither deter nor punish. As long as we have users, there will always be an ample number of dealers.

    3. Civil Rights Violations: Again, we would love to prosecute every Noriega or other drug linchpin. The fact is that they have the money to launch a vigorous defense that would most likely result in some type of plea bargain and not the desired result of death. The people that would suffer the consequence of capital punishment would be the population of lost souls trying to get cheap drugs with no means of paying for their own legal counsel. Who ends up paying for their lawyers?

    Mr. Cauthron, I challenge you to use your pulpit to create discussion around true solutions and not some type retreaded policies that have been tried and failed in their intended goals. How about the legalization of marijuana to allow both law enforcement and the penal system to focus on the drugs you wish to target?

    -- Posted by Headhunter on Sat, Jul 23, 2011, at 9:34 AM
  • I see your Spanish is even worse than your English.

    -- Posted by Cookster on Sun, Jul 24, 2011, at 10:03 PM
  • Legalizing drugs will obviously handle for the most part illegal selling and such. But does that mean you really want a bunch of crackheads hanging around your house? because it is "legal" then for them to use and sell? I don't personally really care if past punishments have worked wonderfully, nothing is ever going to be fool proof. Murder for example obviously has very harsh punishments but obviously everyday in cities around this country murder is still happening. Punishments are never going to eliminate a problem, there is always going to be people willing to risk the punishments in hopes of not getting caught, but I don't see that as a reason to just legalize everything so that we don't have to deal with the real problem. If drugs were legalized what kind of message is that sending to our kids? What would happen to crime rates? Obviously drug arrests would drop but would vandalism? theft? violent crimes? To me just legalizing it is to just take the easy way out!

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Fri, Jul 29, 2011, at 10:40 AM
  • Ashley,

    If you had read my post, you would see that the only drug I purposed legalizing was marijuana. We spend a significant portion of our "War on Drugs" budget on the eradication of marijuana plants and the incarceration of marijuana users but in an increasing number of states (CA and CO for example) a 20 second talk with an MD gets you a card so that you can hit the local "medicine hut" and purchase marijuana in many different forms.

    I am not an advocate of marijuana use but our anti-drug money can be spent more effectively.

    -- Posted by Headhunter on Fri, Jul 29, 2011, at 11:40 AM
  • Drugs are bad. The Drug War is worse. Check out

    -- Posted by OGreatOne on Fri, Jul 29, 2011, at 9:29 PM
  • the way i see it nobody will ever agree on how money is spent. places like amsterdam, where marijuana is legal, has higher crimes rates than New York(violent crime comparison). I could see if legalizing it would help to bring a big chunk of crime rates down but from what i see it hasn't. Id rather be broke and safe than have more money and have to worry. but thats just me.

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Sat, Jul 30, 2011, at 4:36 PM
  • Dr's are also thought to write out too frequently and easily prescriptions of narcotic prescription pain killers, so should we also just leagalize all those as well as to not waste money to fight on that as well? just curious your thoughts on that.

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Sat, Jul 30, 2011, at 4:38 PM
  • Ashley,

    Please become somewhat informed prior to pulling a statement out of thin air.

    Marijuana is NOT legal in Amsterdam, tolerated to a small extent, but not legal. NYC crime rate blows past Amsterdam with one exception, bicycle thefts. Violent crimes are considerable less in Amsterdam than in NYC.

    My point is that marijuana is increasingly becoming accepted in the US as a legitimate drug based on the legalization of personal use for medical conditions (16 states and DC have current processes in place for legal marijuana). This trend highlights the social acceptance of the drug.

    I feel that the legalization of marijuana will allow both law enforcement and the judiciary to focus on drug enforcement that will have a greater impact on crime instead of wasting time and resources on small time marijuana users.

    This will allow law enforcement to focus on the drugs that have a high impact (like meth or crack)and not waste time and jail space on marijuana users.

    -- Posted by Headhunter on Sat, Jul 30, 2011, at 11:11 PM
  • I've read here capital punishment is not going to stop drug dealers. It will stop that one! Never will you see a dealer subjected to capital punishment deal again.

    And as far as the criminals go, a 5-year-old child knows right and wrong. If they didn't they wouldn't lie or try to hide the truth. I expect drug dealers are aware what they're doing is wrong since they flee when cops show up like roaches when the light pops on.

    -- Posted by randy cauthron on Tue, Aug 2, 2011, at 11:29 AM
  • I did research the violent crime rates which as I found were as I stated! I was stating what I found as I researched. Sorry if they don't match whatever you may or may not have found but I looked in numerous creditable sources!I'm not sure why this too such a turn to focus only on marijuana so it is a war on "drugs". I think it obvious that we hold two very different stances on this topic, which can only be expected and I was only stating my opinion and the results of what I researched. Sorry if you take offense to someone else opposing your idea!

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 7:01 PM
  • I do also agree Randy about capital punishment having a huge impact on the war on drugs. Look up the histories of drug dealers and see how many times they have been arrested for drugs. If the punishment was alot worse they simply would not be able to reoffend as they would not be back out on the streets in a short matter of time!

    As for the Amsterdam comment I posted above I will apologize. Marijuana isn't completely legal there. It is legal for use the drug and purchase it at coffee shops and was as purchasing it as long as it meets the "personal use" guidelines. So not technically completely legal but almost just the same. And as I stated before the crime rate is HIGHER there.

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 7:10 PM
  • Randy,

    In 2009 there were approximately 1.6 million arrests for drug crimes in the US per the FBI arrest rates. Out of that number 18.4% were for dealing or manufacturing (or 294,400). Conservatively, it takes $1.5 million to achieve a capital crime conviction, so the cost of this program would be $441,600,000,000 for the first year.

    After killing off the 294,400 arrested dealers, this leaves 1,305,600 others that were arrested for possession. We are both "free market" kind of guys, 1.3 million confirmed customers will attract some attention.

    Until you eliminate the customer base, you will always have dealers. It doesn't work the other way around. Customers drive demand, as long as there is demand there will be dealers.

    Your nothing but a dog chasing his tail, except now your killing people and spending a significant amount of tax money to do it.

    -- Posted by Headhunter on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 11:21 PM
  • Ashly,

    The only crime rate that is higher in Amsterdam than in New York is bicycle thefts. More people are victims of violent crimes in three months of living in NYC than a whole year in Amsterdam, both per capita and in total number.

    Are you sure your not "researching" Amsterdam, NY instead of Amsterdam, Holland?

    -- Posted by Headhunter on Thu, Aug 4, 2011, at 12:20 AM
  • I'm sure of where I was getting my information as it was the same sites that had other information on it about the country and how things have changed from how it is now compared to how it was before they started "accepting" drug use. I'm sorry that you feel that you are the only one competent enough to research a topic or to hold a conversation about it.

    You keep bringing up cost. It costs money to improve basically everything. Should we instead just legalize everything so we wont have to spend the money? And how are we to justify legalizing certain drugs and not others? Drugs are drugs and should be treated as such. Caving into drug users and sellers by making it easier for them is completely lame in my book. But obviously we aren't going to agree on much in this topic as I pull my statements out of the air! LOL

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Thu, Aug 4, 2011, at 3:14 PM
  • No further law making is going to deter or help the current drug situation in the United States and the countries from which drugs are produced and imported illegally (Mexico, Columbia, Afghanistan, to name a few). In fact, it's painfully obvious that the last 40 years of the "drug war" has been an abysmal failure, and efforts to criminalize have led to no slowdown for the demand for drugs, but instead have resulted in far more death and violence, just as did alcohol prohibition in the 20s. Al Capone never would have become a wealthy gangster were prohibition never implemented. He actively opposed efforts to reverse prohibition.

    Similarly, the best way to fight violent drug cartels would be to pull the rug out from under their profits by bringing these transactions out into the sunlight.

    People who want to do drugs will do drugs. It's a basic law of economics: supply and demand. Where there is a demand, someone will create a supply. No laws or harsher penalties are going to change that. To believe making a meth charge similar to murder will have any positive effect on the consumption and distribution of meth is pure fantasy, if not downright ignorance of reality. Not only will it not work, it will cost billions of dollars in prisons, guards, police, court appeals, etc. Do we really, as taxpayers with an already ridiculous tax and debt burden, really want to shoulder more responsibility on an effort that will not work, cause more secretive trade, violence, and death? I sure don't. Drug laws have steadily, for the most part, gotten more strict since marijuana was first criminalized decades ago. Drug use, in that time, has also steadily increased. Clearly the law has no effect on the demand; rather, it makes obtaining them more expensive, creates atmospheres for black market trades to exist, which foments violence, creates gangs, all while costing further billions to fight.

    Portugal and the Czech Republic have both legalized all drugs. And studies and basic statistical data from those countries show that the efforts (or lack thereof, if you wish) have actually decreased problems such as addiction and use of drugs among minors, not to mention crime. Clearly a better solution to our problem is less blindly believing drug addicts are going to be swayed by slightly longer prison sentences, and more proactively promoting freedom of choice (it is a Constitutional Amendment the Federal Government is allegedly to have no right to forbid the taking of substances, after all, even though it's completely ignored). If people are only free to make good choices, they are not really free.

    -- Posted by jlees on Mon, Aug 8, 2011, at 1:25 PM
  • Ashley,

    The crime information I am using to compare NYC to Amsterdam is located at and at Neither of these sites back up your claims of a crime rate in the Netherlands (or Amsterdam) as being higher than NYC, quite the opposite. Even the official US State Department travel page says that violent crime is SIGNIFICANTLY less in comparing the Netherlands to the US. The only crime that comes close to being equal is petty theft such as pickpockets and bicycle theft.

    I do question your competence when you make a wild assertion and fail to back it up with any tangible evidence.

    This is the exact issue that I have with Mr. Cauthron's assertion that invoking capital punishment will stop drug dealers. As long as there is a market, there will be a dealer.

    Again, I challenge you (and Mr. Cauthron) to find a solution other then murdering some guy for selling three ounces of marijuana in Iowa when if he were in Colorado it would be legal.

    -- Posted by Headhunter on Mon, Aug 8, 2011, at 2:17 PM
  • It has became clear that to some, no idea besides their own is a good one. If everyone else wants to live where drugs are legal then so be it, part of what i also stated before was that i would still choose to live elsewhere and pay more myself to live in another area where it isn't legal. As for someone to doesn't know me to question my competence because they somehow haven't found the same source of information as i, and basically because I have the opposite viewpoint makes no difference to me at all. At the end of the day we will still have different viewpoints. I as well as others that i have been talking with about this subject have seen the results from my researching that i have done, until i saw in person someone prove otherwise in a real living situation otherwise i won't change my mind on my opinion, especially with what i have read. With that I thank everyone for having such a variety of opinions on the subject so that i can see what others viewpoints are on the subject though i don't agree with them.

    -- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Thu, Aug 11, 2011, at 6:11 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: