The war on drugs

I’ve been dancing around a thesis on the war on drugs that I should make clear.

My thesis is this: the Warren Court effectively made policing impossible, crime exploded, the war on drugs was implemented in response, crime dropped. As such, I’m not surprised by this: "the fourth amendment now has a de facto exception clause when it comes to drug -related crimes." I’d only make one minor correction – "the fourth amendment as interpreted by judges in the ’60s."

Is this state of affairs bad? Yes.

Should we end the war on drugs? No. We’re entirely dependent on it to keep crime in check now that we’ve outlawed old-fashioned (i.e. effective) police work.

24 Responses to The war on drugs

  1. ScottS says:

    Would you please elaborate on this statement:

    “the Warren Court effectively made policing impossible”

    It is an interesting thesis, but I want to do more research on that first piece. I’m not all that familiar with the Warren Court, and I think it’s time to remedy that.

  2. Handle says:

    I think we could maintain the war on Heroin, Crack, and Meth, but get rid of the war on Marijuana, Ecstasy, and Hallucinogenics (and treat them the same way as Alcohol and Tobacco) and accomplish the same anti-crime “criminal element honey-trap roundup effect”. So the question isn’t between “drug war” or “no drug war” but “which drug war?” I tend to be guided by considerations included in charts like this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The problem with the war on drugs is how it’s corrupting our police forces. I live in a town where cops don’t even bother investigating theft, burglary, or assaults. But they are gung ho going after dealers because their department can keep the cash seized and because a good chunk of the cops steal a sizable percentage of the drugs and money before turning in the rest to evidence. We are headed towards mexican style policing here quite quickly. This may not bother a rich well connected dude like you, but for the rest of us it’s a crap shoot if we will get gang raped in jail because a cop did not like our attitude.

    Anytime you criminalize a thing instead of an action you create a never ending tyranny of the worst kind.

    Here’s a sample of what regular non criminals have to put up with from your war on drugs:

    Were not going to take this shit for much longer. People are going to start shooting back at these thugs.

    • Foseti says:

      I agree 100%. The optimal solution is a return to the law of the ’50s and to end the drug war. Unfortunately, I’m not holding my breath.

  4. pwyll says:

    That sounds like the missing puzzle piece I’ve been needing that helps explain why we have the war on drugs despite its obvious and acknowledged problems.

  5. Why are laws against consumption and trade in some substances required when there are ample laws against violent behavior? Whats stopping the neighborhood cop from arresting a violent thug from being violent as opposed to arresting him for selling drugs?
    In short, this post is not rigorous at all.
    BTW when marijuana was demonized in the 30s with patently and absurdly false propaganda, what was the reason for that?

    • trewq says:

      Rigorous? It’s a fucking blog.

    • Foseti says:

      I read my neighborhood arrest statistics every morning. The cops only arrest someone for “being violent” when said someone is caught in the act. To actually find such a person after the fact is basically impossible due to legal requirements.

      Let’s say someone commits a “random” act of violence. That person will only be arrested under two circumstances: 1) he does drugs or 2) he commits the same act again.

  6. josh says:

    Get out of my brain.

  7. Kyle says:

    Not disagreeing, just curious — how did they ‘effectively make policing impossible’?

  8. Surely it would be more effective to bust people for being black, than to bust them from smoking grass. Indeed, if there is a correlation between criminal violence and grass smoking, it is because both of them correlate with blackness. Making grass illegal only prevents crime to the extent that in enables police to bust blacks.

  9. RS says:

    This ‘stop-and-frisk’ thing is interesting. Apparently it’s based on a ’68 court case (in a rather stretched way, or so it seems to this ‘original intent’ type). But Giuliani started it up in a big way in the 90s for the first time. I don’t know whether you can refuse being frisked or not.

    Police in major U.S. cities stop and question more than a million people each year — a sharply higher number than just a few years ago. Most are black and Hispanic men. Many are frisked, and nearly all are innocent of any crime, according to figures gathered by The Associated Press.

    I think about half of it is done in NYC. 500,000 a year is a lot for a city of what is it, 12 M?

    The ‘nearly all’ is a lie. 10% get some kind of citation, summons, or arrest, even if it’s just some nonsense for drugs. Of course the usual suspects write in to the NYT with their usual level of factuality and logic — ‘nine out of ten have done nothing wrong!’ — as if 9/10 amounted to 99.999% instead of a whopping 90%. About one per 1,000 has ‘a gun’, I assume that means an illegal gun.

    Of course the racism thing has been trotted out, but the rate of being stopped in this way, by race, is the same as the crime share by race in a given area. So, so far the racism brigade has lost. I think the left knows very well it will get hammered at the polls if it lets criminals run wild.

    Here’s one thing not yet mentioned: if you get busted for drugs, then later when you murder or rape somebody they can use it as a reason to put you away a few years, or some years, longer than they otherwise would. This will, of course, push down the crime rate even more.

  10. RS says:

    Inasmuch as this looks sketchy to me constitutionally (I’m no sophisticate though), I wonder how Giuliani got away with it. Maybe it was really popular; if so I think the courts would feel inhibited about messing with it.

  11. icr says:

    Whatever they did in the 50s it had to be better than
    the current crazy proliferation of SWAT teams and no-knock raids.

    Over the last six months of 2009, SWAT teams were deployed 804 times in the state of Maryland, or about 4.5 times per day. In Prince George’s County alone, with its 850,000 residents, a SWAT team was deployed about once per day. According to a Baltimore Sun analysis, 94 percent of the state’s SWAT deployments were used to serve search or arrest warrants, leaving just 6 percent in response to the kinds of barricades, bank robberies, hostage takings, and emergency situations for which SWAT teams were originally intended.

    Worse even than those dreary numbers is the fact that more than half of the county’s SWAT deployments were for misdemeanors and nonserious felonies. That means more than 100 times last year Prince George’s County brought state-sanctioned violence to confront people suspected of nonviolent crimes. And that’s just one county in Maryland. These outrageous numbers should provide a long-overdue wake-up call to public officials about how far the pendulum has swung toward institutionalized police brutality against its citizenry, usually in the name of the drug war.

    For those foolish enough to believe in the two party system, please note that that’s the *deep blue* state of Maryland.

  12. […] I argued that in the 1960s, the Supreme Court effectively made good police work impossible. I went on to […]

  13. […] a doer, of Putin’s caliber in many years. Our most recent strategist of any note is Richard Nixon—and we all know how that ended […]

  14. […] opens on drugs. I think arresting people for having drugs is a bad substitute for locking up thugs. Foseti: “My thesis is this: the Warren Court effectively made policing impossible, crime exploded, […]

  15. Douglas Knight says:

    But compare Canada to America. Canada had no Warren court. Its murder rate moved in lock step with the American murder rate, doubling from 1965 to 1975. And its murder rate came back down a similar route as the American one, though skipping the crack epidemic.

    Maybe it copied American police tactics, despite no Warren, but it did not copy American incarceration rates.

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