U.S. Senate candidate and former New Times columnist John Dougherty (pictured) discussed his plan for the infamous "War on Drugs" this morning at a debate near Yuma. Bottom line: End it.
The "squares" have gotta love that.
"The War on Drugs has been an abject failure. We need to move it out of a criminal-enforcement model that has failed to keep drugs off the street and protect our youth and into a medical-treatment model," Dougherty said at the debate.
We've seen enough toothless meth-heads to know that you can't just de-criminalize every drug out there, but Dougherty's plan doesn't create a free-for-all for every drug addict on the street.
"We're doing this in a reasoned approach," Dougherty tells New Times. "Black markets inevitably lead to corruption and people die as a result.The 'War on Drugs' is a fear-driven policy that does nothing but fuel the cartels and create opportunities for a black market."
Dougherty says the first step is to de-criminalize marijuana -- something Californians will have the chance to do this November. The measure goes further than the already-legal medical-marijuana clinics in that state.
Marijuana is the cash-cow for drug cartels, Dougherty says, and by eliminating the black market for weed, it would cripple the cartels' ability to make money -- money they would otherwise pump into producing other drugs and buying weapons.
"Our main goal is to get drugs off the streets," Dougherty says. "To do that, we need to regulate them. [The War on Drugs] has been going on for 40 years, and it hasn't worked."
Dougherty recently penned an article for the online Huffington Post, in which he argues that the War on Drugs is -- among other things -- keeping American prisons full and wasting money that could be spent on other, more important things.
Here's an excerpt:
The nation's obsession to stamp out drugs has become a growth industry that is expanding the number of police, prosecutors, courts, prisons and defense attorneys across the nation. At the same time, spending on K-12 education is under attack.
The "land of the free" is steadily being transformed into a police state with the highest incarceration rate in the world. The number of people in prison for drug offenses has increased tenfold, from 41,000 in 1980 to more than 500,000 today.
The United States has approximately five percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisoners. Private prisons are now lobbying for increased penalties for drug offenses to fatten their bottom line.
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Check out Dougherty's entire article here.
Dougherty says the drug problem in the United States is a "self-correcting situation" that can be solved with regulation, not criminalization.
His plan would take some of the tax revenue generated from the legal sale of drugs like marijuana and put it toward treatment programs for those seriously addicted to other drugs. He'd also use some of the revenue to fund anti-drug campaigns.
Dougherty is holding a discussion about his proposed drug policy at the Hotel Congress in Tucson this Friday. For details, click here.