The War on Drugs- It’s Time for Dramatic Reform!

My name is Wayne Root. I am seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States. I am also the right person at the right time to fight the completely senseless U.S. prohibition on drugs commonly referred to as the "war on drugs"- particularly marijuana. Why? First, because being a conservative, anti-drug crusader my entire life, I'm the most ANTI-drug human being you'll ever meet. Second, because I've never personally done an illegal drug in my life. But then I feel that way about alcohol and cigarettes too. I don't smoke- never have. I haven't had a drink of alcohol in over 20 years (I'm now 46 years old). But that's just my personal choice.

I believe in using education to fight drug use- at all levels, not just in schools. We need to teach people the dangers that come from drug (or alcohol) use and abuse- the health dangers, the addiction dangers, the breakup of families, the violence, the sexual violence, the loss of control, the damaged careers, the car accidents and crime that results from bad choices. Drugs, in my opinion, are a bad choice.

But here's where I take a sharp turn away from my conservative friends and former political associates. It is time to admit that the present war on drugs is a colossal failure and a waste of lives and taxpayer monies.

It is time to choose education to fight the battle, not incarceration. We are filling our prisons with record numbers of our fellow Americans, ruining their lives, and costing taxpayers billions in wasted dollars. We are expanding government to record levels by hiring tens of thousands of new law enforcement officers, prison guards, parole officers and administrators; building new prisons; funding new prisons; and paying for the lifetime costs of law enforcement and prison system employee pensions and health care- all for what? To put millions of Americans with a health problem, and perhaps an addiction problem in prison, instead of getting them education and medical help?

The most shocking and glaring statistic is that almost one million Americans are arrested each year on marijuana possession charges. Does this make sense? Their lives are often ruined. Their chances of ever finding a good job are taken away. Their opportunity to attend college is destroyed (because one marijuana conviction means you can no longer get financial aid from the government). Their resumes are forever ruined with the stain of a drug conviction and prison time. Why? For one minor mistake of youth? Is this a rational way to treat our own citizens? Our own children?

What is my solution? First, I believe medical marijuana should be legalized. Second, I believe minor marijuana possession should be decriminalized. Third, I believe that drug use in general should be treated as a health issue. Non-violent drug users should be offered rehab, not prison.

Let's tackle this idea that smoking marijuana is a crime worthy of prison time. Smoking marijuana is not my thing- as I explained above. But that's my personal choice. But if marijuana is indeed a drug, it is no different than alcohol. Yet we allow alcohol to be served legally across America at bars, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, country clubs, social clubs, and of course in millions of private homes. Why do we treat them so differently? Does marijuana cause terrible behavior? Well actually, no. To the contrary, it mellows out violent or agitated people. Some might argue it is therefore medicinal and has a primarily positive effect on a majority of users. But let's assume it has a negative effect (loss of focus, loss of ambition, lung diseases, lung cancer). But so does alcohol. Drinking and abusing alcohol leads to a veritable cornucopia of crime (assaults, rapes, robbery, murder, vehicular manslaughter) and health issues- yet we allow Americans the freedom to choose to drink alcohol (or not).

One might argue it wasn't always that way- Prohibition treated alcohol as a drug and criminalized its use. That is exactly my point. Did it work? Prohibition was perhaps the biggest mistake in the annals of U.S. criminal (and political) history- right next to the war on drugs. It was a complete failure- it stopped few, if any, Americans from drinking alcohol. It made a mockery of the law. It caused the masses of law-abiding average Americans (including policemen, judges, politicians and government officials) to break the law and lose respect for the criminal justice and political system. It put many otherwise law-abiding Americans (who simply wanted a drink) in prison, thereby ruining their lives and costing society billions in lost productivity (not to mention the destruction of families). It led to the birth of Organized Crime (known as "the mafia") and made legends of criminals like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. It created a billion dollar underground business- with all the profits lost to honest businessmen, and all the taxes lost to the government. It increased crime. It increased corruption- as police, politicians and government officials were bribed to look the other way. It increased the cost of alcohol (anytime you make a product illegal, you make it far more valuable)- thereby costing American consumers a fortune (and handing criminals an easy fortune). And worst of all, it increased the interest of young people in drinking- obviously kids want to experience whatever society declares forbidden.

Sounds exactly like the situation with marijuana today, doesn't it? My point exactly. Just because I don't like a particular product or habit, or approve of it, doesn't mean that I have the moral authority to stop everyone in the whole country from using it. Nor does it mean I should pass laws to throw everyone who disagrees with me in prison. Nor does it mean that we can prevent millions of Americans from expressing their freedom (or choice of entertainment) by creating laws to legislate morality. People have proven for centuries that they are going to do what they are going to do- whether government likes it, or approves of it, or criminalizes it, or not. By prohibiting it, we merely move it underground; make it more valuable and expensive; make criminal gangs and “Organized Crime� wealthy; ruin the lives and productivity of average citizens caught in the criminal net; waste the time of law enforcement (who should be out solving serious crimes); waste billions of taxpayer dollars; and increase crime (because the drugs are more expensive- thereby forcing users to commit ever more violent crimes to afford them).

Interestingly, in this 2008 election we now have a diverse group of Presidential candidates (and their spouses) with prior drug experience. We have Barack Obama who admits drug use- both marijuana and cocaine. We have John McCain, who admits being a "hell raiser," and hating authority as a kid and Naval Academy student (who received a record numbers of demerits and graduated at the bottom of his class). Did he use any drugs? We'll never know- but he sure admits to enjoying an occasional excess of alcohol as a sailor. His wife was a drug abuser of prescription medications- so bad in fact, that she stole drugs to support her habit from a charity she founded. Hillary Clinton's husband admitted smoking marijuana- but of course claimed he didn't inhale. And where was Hillary when Bill was busy hanging out at peace rallies and experimenting with drugs like pot? Yet all 3 support the current drug war. None of them, to my knowledge, has spoken publicly in favor of legalizing even medical marijuana, let alone decriminalizing marijuana use. None of them ever speaks about the lives wasted by the war on drugs.

It appears likely that I am the only potential Presidential candidate to have never done a drug. Ironically, I'm also the only one who admits the war on drugs is a failure, and supports serious and immediate reform. Interesting dichotomy, isn't it? Or should we replace the word dichotomy with hypocrisy? Barack Obama and Cindy McCain admit using illegal drugs, yet they were fortunate that their lives were not ruined, and their future careers not snuffed out by a harsh prison sentence. Why won't they speak out on behalf of millions of other young Americans who face ruin because of the same choices they once made? Courage is obviously not an attribute found in generous proportions in the political world.

Yet here's the problem with those few political activists and politicians that I've heard openly and publicly criticize the war on drugs- they are too closely linked themselves to the recreational, medical use, or past use, of drugs to be credible in the eyes of the American people. You see the American people are still torn between the lie that the war on drugs is the only way to save their children, and their willingness to accept a dramatic new direction from a potential President.

We need a political leader who has never done drugs, doesn't like drugs, to the contrary- hates drugs, but loves freedom and choice. We need an honest and open discussion from a political leader who can show America in simple, common-sense terms why the war on drugs is ANTI-family. Yes, I just said the war on drugs is anti-family. How is that possible? Well, would you think it fair if your child is caught making a bad choice such as smoking pot, that they lose their chances of going to college? Could you afford it if your child lost any chance of financial aid because of a minor drug offense? Is that pro family? Do you think one minor mistake of youth should cost a person for the rest of their life? Is that pro family? Do you accept the fact that if your child is sharing or selling a marijuana cigarette with a classmate or friend right now in the privacy of his or her bedroom, and the police find out about it, your home could be raided by a SWAT team and your home- that you've worked for your entire life- could be seized under drug forfeiture laws? How's that for pro family?

Do you know where your child is right now? If he or she is in your car out buying one joint and is caught by a police sting, do you realize the government will seize your car and leave you in a financial nightmare (and without a car to get to work)? And to top it off, your child's future just got wiped out. Get ready for a criminal trial, using your life savings to pay for lawyers, and visiting your child in prison hundreds of miles away. Is that your version of "pro family?" All because of a mistake of youth, or a health addiction issue that could have and should have been treated with a stint in rehab.
Are you aware that if your spouse is using drugs like cocaine in your house- without your knowledge- police can seize your home? Your children and you- innocent victims- will be broke and homeless in an instant, your lives shattered with daddy in prison. Is that pro family?

Are you a landlord? Do you own rental properties or homes or office buildings? Are you aware that if your tenants are using or selling drugs on your property- without your knowledge or consent- the police can seize your property and leave you in financial ruin? Is that pro family or fair to a small businessman?

Or how about if you're a small business owner with a limo, taxi, boat or plane for rent. What if the customers you rent it to are caught using, selling or transporting drugs- without your knowledge or consent. A true story reported in the Investor's Business Daily, a financial newspaper, related one such travesty. A small air taxi service was engaged to fly a customer to another city. Upon landing the DEA arrested both the pilot and the customer, and seized the plane. The pilot was ultimately not charged and released. The plane however, was not released- even though no drugs were found. After the pilot/small business owner spent $75,000 in legal fees, the government released the plane. It had been destroyed by the search for drugs. The government did not offer to compensate the man for their heavy-handed tactics and tragic mistake. The man went out of business.

Now here's the upshot. We've seen news stories on programs like 60 minutes and Frontline that show drug smugglers using the major airlines. But have any 747's been confiscated by the DEA? Not a one. Only the small business owner gets the full brunt of the DEA power. The war on drugs is just plain wrong, corrupt and excessive.

When asked my views on the war on drugs I say simply, "The only thing “the War on Drugs� has accomplished is empower the very worst people in our society with enormous wealth- which they have used to corrupt our government bureaucrats and law enforcement officials, as well as our most cherished institutions that guarantee our freedoms. It has to be reformed."

As your Presidential candidate I will champion and explain why the drug laws in this country must be dramatically reformed. As a home-school dad and father of four young children, I am the very symbol of a Pro-Family Libertarian Presidential candidate. I have never done marijuana (or any other drug) in my life. I intend to teach my children to stay away from drugs. But the Pro-Family stand for this politician is to dramatically reform the present drug war before it destroys another family; another child's future; another shocked and completely innocent spouse or parent; or another small business owner or homeowner. That next tragedy could be yours. Reforming our harsh, senseless, hypocritical drug laws is a PRO-family stance.

Wayne Allyn Root is a Libertarian Presidential candidate. For more about Wayne and his bold stands on important political issues, go to: www.WayneROOT.com

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