Ron Paul and the War on Drugs

Last month the United Nations issued a report admitting that the worldwide war on drugs has failed. Richard Nixon was the first president to use such terminology back in 1971, and subsequent presidents have been hard at it — all with mixed results.

When I served in the Bush, senior White House, it was the common belief that what was needed was an even bigger hammer for the drug problem. A good combination of focused military power and CIA ingenuity would do the trick. We even invaded Panama. But today, the crisis is worse than ever before with no end in sight. Mexico is only a collateral causality. That country has been ruined by addiction.

Albert Einstein once quipped that “insanity was doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.” Barack Obama and all of the new serious GOP presidential candidates offer only more of the same, proving that our drug policy is indeed insane. That is, all presidential candidates except for one. The one exception is Ron Paul, who would decriminalize drugs.

This was one of the big reasons I was late to sign up for the Ron Paul revolution. I liked what he said about a return to constitutional government, about stopping the endless wars, about balancing the budget, about reigning in America’s Empire and paying its bills at home. But what was with this idea of decriminalizing drugs? Wouldn’t that make it worse?

Actually, studies have shown that it is exactly how we will one day solve the problem. And that’s why even leaders on the religious right, like Pat Robertson, are touting it as a solution.

Imagine us trying to end the use of tobacco in this country by declaring war. Imagine arresting young people selling cigarettes on the street corners. Imagine policemen going into hospitals and arresting people dying of lung cancer and throwing them in jail. Imagine defoliating the tobacco fields of Virginia and North Carolina. Just how far would we have gotten?

Instead, we educated the nation and now the smoke has cleared.

Laws do not solve such problems. Prohibition of alcohol didn’t work either. It created a criminal underclass that corrupted the American judicial system and ran some of our largest cities. Drugs are doing the same thing. Last month we discovered that a single border guard had been paid $ 5 million to let the drugs pass her station. According to a study by a Harvard economist decriminalizing drugs would pump more than $76 billion into the American economy.

Our country has the second highest incarceration rate in the world. Close to 1.5 million Americans are arrested each year for drug use. In the last twenty years almost half of all arrests in America were for marijuana possession or marijuana use. In most states, a three time felon will spend his whole life in prison at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers. We are warehousing people on a massive scale. To give you a sense of perspective, in the Soviet Union in1934, just before the Great Terror and the massive killing began in Stalin’s famous Gulag camps, he had gathered close to one million prisoners. This is less than the population of our own prison system in America today.

Now, I am not for decriminalizing drugs because I want to use them. I have never tried marijuana or any other illegal substance, which is interesting when you consider that my name is Wead. But I know that our nation’s war on drugs hasn’t worked. And there is no use pretending otherwise.

I appreciate the good intentions of those who fought this war and their sacrifices and service and their wonderful ideas. For a time, it may have held back the tide and saved lives. But the stakes are higher than ever. Even more lives now hang in the balance.

I supported Ron Paul because of his prescient understanding of the American economy.

His warnings, which seemed farfetched when I first heard them, started happening right before my eyes. Now, I understand that what he has been saying about the war on drugs is equally true.

We are in trouble. It is time to do this right and quit playing politics with such a serious issue. It is time to do the things we need to do and get this done before another generation burns out. 


39 Responses to Ron Paul and the War on Drugs

  1. tex2 says:

    Doug, you should be ashamed of calling yourself a historian. You are attempting to rewrite history right before our eyeballs.

    Why would you take the UN’s word for anything? The UN is a failed organization.

    Did Bush actually apply “focused military power and CIA ingenuity” to the problem in more than a token amount?

    Did we invade Panama mainly because of the drug problem?

    Pat Robertson is a flake, that is well documented.

    Tobacco doesn’t make people high like drugs do. I would much rather be driving on a highway with cigarette smokers driving the other vehicles than meth, coke, and heroin addicts, how ’bout YOU?

    The reason why Stalin imprisoned “only” one million people before he slaughtered them is because Lenin already killed an estimated 5 million in the six-year long White–Red civil war.

    There shouldn’t be any 3 time felons. Start locking them up for life and then watch drug usage.

    Prisoners shouldn’t cost anything. They should either work or live on bread and water. Period.

    There’s a reason why Ron Paul is the only candidate to favor drug legalization. He’s CLUELESS.

    • tex2 says:

      I should also note the only reason Stalin didn’t have more in prison is because he killed them. Do a search for the word “million” here:

    • ScottOK says:

      Sorry, but you are a fear-monger. Are you lobbying for drug cartels to keep drugs illegal? I, too, would rather someone smoke a cigarette while driving down the road, than “high on drugs.”

      Here’s the thing: people drive drunk and alcohol is very legal. Why aren’t you advocating to have alcohol banned? Not to mention that some of the chemicals used in cigarettes are just as addictive as heroin! Why hasn’t anyone entered rehab for nicotine addiction? I’ve been around first hand experiences when people quit smoking tobacco, and see the frustration, aggravation and irritations involved in kicking this habit. While it is not nearly as bad as a heroin addict with withdrawls, there still is one legal source of getting “high” with very real withdrawls: alcohol.

    • Tim Sharif says:

      Drug cartel supporter..

    • tex2 says:


      The proper word is “you’re” not “your.” LOL I am in the world most Americans are in, so I’m quite happy. LOL

  2. Curtis says:


    @Tex2 – Not so brilliant.

    Apparently, you think the war on drugs is succeeding. This must be why there are so many billions of dollars being traded in illegal drugs, including involvement by some corrupt people in government positions.

    It takes anyone with half a brain to realize the drug on war is failing.

    You ask three questions with no answers. You deny that there are other very legal drugs and natural plants that cause more mental impairment then the illegal ones. Then you defend Stalin, unreasonable jail sentences for possessing a plant, and the potential efficiency of creating more criminals.

    If this is reality on your planet, then the rest of us are indeed clueless.

    • tex2 says:

      @Curtis – The opposite of brilliant.

      Apparently, you missed the point. Did I claim the war on drugs is succeeding? Since you are unable to answer simple questions, the answer is NO. But that’s because we’re not fighting a war, we’re playing footsies with it.

      It takes anyone with a quarter of a brain to realize you made a straw man statement regarding whether we are winning the war on drugs or not.

      My answers to the 3 obvious questions are no, no, and yes. What are YOUR answers, Curtis?

      I never denied “there are other very legal drugs and natural plants that cause more mental impairment then the illegal ones,” did I, Curtis? Answer straw man argument? Yes.

      I never defended Stalin, did I, Curtis?

      A plant that causes the death of others on highways? Yes.

      I suggested a method of creating LESS criminals, Curtis.

      If this is reality on your planet, then you ARE indeed clueless, Curtis. LOL

  3. Tim Sharif says:

    “This was one of the big reasons I was late to sign up for the Ron Paul revolution. I liked what he said about a return to constitutional government, about stopping the endless wars, about balancing the budget, about reigning in America’s Empire and paying its bills at home. But what was with this idea of decriminalizing drugs? Wouldn’t that make it worse?”

    Glad you now see the light. The war on drugs is a big joke, sucking away our tax dollars and helping ruin more lives. Does nothing but make things worse and cost a lot to do it.

    • tex2 says:

      Yeah, who cares if these drug addicts are driving around killing people all over the country?

      • Tim Sharif says:

        What are you talking about? The war on drugs does not stop DUI. Does not stop people from using. Legalize and use the extra money for education and to put more street cops out taking the licenses away of drunks and other DUI offenders.

      • I’m not the one who used the alcohol analogy, Doug used a tobacco analogy. YOU are the one who brought up alcohol.

  4. chumpzilla says:

    10 years ago drugs were decriminalized in socially conservative Portugal

    The government in Portugal has no plans to back down. Although the Netherlands is the European country most associated with liberal drug laws, it has already been ten years since Portugal became the first European nation to take the brave step of decriminalizing possession of all drugs within its borders – from marijuana to heroin, and everything in between. This controversial move went into effect in June of 2001, in response to the country’s spiraling HIV/AIDS statistics. While many critics in the poor and largely conservative country attacked the sea change in drug policy, fearing it would lead to drug tourism while simultaneously worsening the country’s already shockingly high rate of hard drug use, a report published in 2009 by the Cato Institute tells a different story. Glenn Greenwald, the attorney and author who conducted the research, told Time: “Judging by every metric, drug decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success. It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country.”

    Back in 2001, Portugal had the highest rate of HIV among injecting drug users in the European Union – an incredible 2,000 new cases a year, in a country with a population of just 10 million. Despite the predictable controversy the move stirred up at home and abroad, the Portuguese government felt there was no other way they could effectively quell this ballooning problem. While here in the U.S. calls for full drug decriminalization are still dismissed as something of a fringe concern, the Portuguese decided to do it, and have been quietly getting on with it now for a decade. Surprisingly, most credible reports appear to show that decriminalization has been a staggering success.

    You can read an interesting study conducted on this by the CATO institute here:

  5. liberty says:

    I agree with Mr Wead wholeheartedly. When the drug war is finally solved, Ron Paul will be able to say “I told you so.” The only way to solve it is to take his advice!

    • tex2 says:

      Then why don’t you respond to the first post?

      • Ryan says:

        Because no one reading Doug Wead’s blog wants to feed the trolls. We have our opinions, based on real life experience and constitutional principles rather than hysterical Reefer Madness hyperbole, and we’re sticking to them. Don’t you have anything better to do than post inane comments on blogs of people you consider so crazy and irrelevant? No, you say?

      • tex2 says:

        In other words, you can’t debate the facts. Gotcha. LOL

  6. James H says:

    Dr. Paul’s proposed decriminalization, as many see it, is a danger. HOWEVER, as I understand it, the meat of the idea is to put the street dealers (and the Cartels) out of business. It is also FULLY in keeping with the minimizing of the FEDERAL government in something that should be the concern of the individual and Sovereign States (as in the 10th Amendment). Sometimes even Frank can be intelligent, not often it is true but once in a while.

    Lamar Smith is an idiot, those States that HAVE decriminalized marijuana have VERY strict guidelines as to who and how it is allowed to be dispensed. Again, the bill in question is ONLY to take the Feds out of the picture for POT. If Rick Perry wants to keep weed illegal then he can, at the STATE level, or he can be smart and license the LEGAL growing of it (money for the States coffers). Tax and regulate the SALE of it (MORE money for the State). Personally I think it should be treated EXACTLY like the sale and possession of alcohol. I admit I have reservations about the COMPLETE decriminalization of the HARDER drugs, simply due to their addictiveness, but many LEGAL prescription drugs are equally or MORE addictive than, for example, heroin. Just ask Rush!

    How is taking a few tokes and getting behind the wheel any different from tossing back a few shots of tequila and doing the same? There is none, and the charges when caught would be the same, either DUI or DWI. It doesn’t make any difference WHAT you are under the influence of if you get behind the wheel and kill or maim somebody. Even if it is prescription Oxycontin, the user should still have to do the prescribed amount of time.

  7. tex2 says:

    You’re ignoring the gateway drug aspect of marijuana. Today it’s a few tokes of maryjane, tomorrow a couple of lines of coke.

    • James H says:

      I was a regular pot smoker years ago, the ONLY two drugs that marijuana were a “gateway” to for me are both legal. Tobacco and alcohol. Of course EVERY person is different, if your (generic, not YOU specifically) personality/physiology/psychology happens to be more susceptible to addiction then another, then I suppose pot COULD lead to the use of harder drugs. _I_ would support harder prison time for those convicted of OTHER criminal activity while under the influence, or if it could be PROVEN that they were committing that crime in order to get their next “fix”. Even if that next “fix” is a six-pack of beer!

      • tex2 says:

        We’re in agreement about harder prison time for those convicted of other criminal activity while under the influence or in order to obtain funding to get their next fix.

    • ScottOK says:

      Is this from personal experience or… ? ; )

  8. Jason says:

    Doug, glad to see you take a truly conservative stance on the drug war. Conservatives believe more government is not the solution. Conservatives believe in getting the government out of people’s lives. Conservatives are against a nanny state. We need to learn from the lessons of history and revise our strategy.

  9. tex2 says:

    Jason, Doug does not have a conservative stance on the drug war, he has a libertarian stance. That’s why Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate with this stance, because he’s the only libertarian in the race.

    • Jason says:

      Tex, Libertarianism and conservativism do not have to be contradictions to each. Though not a libertarian himself, Ronald Reagan summed it well himself in a Reason interview in 1975:

      “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

    • Jason says:

      If anything Tex, you have a Progressive stance on the Drug War. Progressives believe in using the government to ‘better’ society and ‘protect’ us from ourselves.

      • tex2 says:


        I never claimed libertarianism and conservatism have to contradict each other. Nancy Reagan said, “Just say NO” in support of the war on drugs. Libertarians don’t think problems through to their logical conclusions, which is why I’m a conservative, because I actually think of the consequences.


        You are hopelessly clueless. LOL

      • Jason says:


        Don’t appreciate the personal attack. I prefer to have an intelligent debate.

        You said “Doug does not have a conservative view on the drug war”. There are many different kinds of conservatives: social conservatives, paleoconservatives, neoconservatives, etc. Then there’s also conservatives in Europe who are in fact socialists. One could make a conservative argument against the drug war. It’s a wasteful program. It doesn’t allow the free market to work. It encourages a nanny state. And it creates a bloated bureacracy.

        Funny you say libertarians don’t think problems through. I became a libertarian when I actually started thinking about the roots of our society’s problems.

      • Scott says:


        The “hopelessly clueless” wasn’t a personal attack, it was a statement of fact.

        Don’t try to confuse the issue with the many flavors of conservatism. The mainstream conservative position on drugs is that legalizing them is a bad idea, as the relatively small amount of additional government required FAR outweighs the negative consequences, such as the increased crime, medical costs (which includes both taking care of the brain dead druggies and the innocent people they harm, some for the rest of their lives), disabled Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. It’s called “promote the general welfare” clause of the US Constitution. You want to talk about a bloated bureaucracy? Just legalize ALL drugs!

        You probably started out as a liberal. You thought a little and became a libertarian. Just think a little more (if you can) and you’ll become a conservative. Promise.

        If you want to have a REAL intelligent debate, rather than these brief messages on a blog, you can name a couple of days/times that are convenient for you to make a confidential call to this number: 760-569-6000, access code 975016# and dial *67 first, to keep your number confidential. I live in the Central time zone, keep that in mind when you propose times. There is no charge for this number except your normal long distance charges to southern California, where the number is based.

  10. Thanks for this article it is very helpful for a couple friends who are looking at Ron paul but are stuck on this topic. Drug abuse makes the ones effected wish there were stricter laws on them. Not realizing that trouble goes where money goes and there is plenty of trouble in drug industry.

  11. Finnbar5000 says:

    Will you post a blog response to the article featured on the Daily Paul, or the humble liberatarian? Or is silence, acquiescence? I think it’s ridiculous, you’ve been a guest on fox and friends for, what seems like years? anyway, either way, keep up the great work!

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