Own your ow legal marijuana business
Your guide to making money in the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry
Information for Activists


           DEA Statement                         The Facts

This Guide was developed by the     The reason they developed this
Drug Enforcement Administration in  guide was very simple.  They are
response to requests by law         getting beat -- badly -- every time
enforcement executives, community   they show up for a debate.  The
leaders, substance abuse            evidence is simply  overwhelming
prevention counselors, parent and   that our drug policy needs serious
family advocates, and others for    reform, and it is starting to show.
DEA's help in responding to
legalization issues and questions.

We well understand that responding
to these issues and answering the
questions can be a challenge.
Questions about legalization often
touch on many issues: crime,
violence, criminal justice and
economic costs; health, behavior
and development; the quality of
family, community and social life;
and employment and productivity.
Few are prepared to answer such
diverse questions thoroughly, let
alone stay current on the research
and spot the flaws and distortions
in others' arguments. Yet,
questions are asked and they must
be answered. This Guide offers you
a strategy and resource for doing

Discussions about legalization are  This is simply not true.  The drug
usually abstract and theoretical,   warriors are losing the public
which suits proponents of           debate on this issue because of the
legalization fine. A dialogue       most concrete, pragmatic reasons.
without boundaries or benchmarks    The drug war is a failure as an
works to their advantage. For       approach to the drug problem and
those engaged in the daytoday work  there is no way to redeem it.  We
of the real solution to America' s  could not afford to pursue this
drug problem--reducing the supply   policy to a successful conclusion,
and the demand for illegal drugs,   even if it was a good idea -- and
as well as addressing the criminal  it is not a good idea.  It isn't a
activity caused by drug             matter of what we want to do
trafficking and use--taking time    anymore, it is a matter of what we
out to discuss legalization         can do.
questions can be a frustrating
undertaking. This Guide offers you
the resource information to
discuss this issue in a reasonable
and informed manner.


           DEA Statement                         The Facts

DEA is unequivocally opposed to     As the DEA itself points out later
the legalization of illicit drugs.  in their book, there is no clear
                                    definition of "legalization" but,
                                    whatever it is, they are against

                                    Actually, "legalization" is not the
                                    issue, because we really don't know
                                    if we will ever do it.  The issue
                                    is really whether we need serious
                                    reform of the current policy, no
                                    matter what that reform may be
                                    called.  It would be more accurate
                                    to state that the DEA is
                                    unequivocally opposed to any reform
                                    at all.

Legalization in any form would      Whether a drug is perceived as
likely:                             having risks and costs is not a
                                    product of the law, but of public
(1) reduce the perception of the    education.  Even if the law was a
risks and costs of use;             major  factor in those perceptions,
                                    this still would not be a good
                                    justification to throw individual
                                    drug users in prison.

(2) increase availability of and    It should first be pointed out that
access to harmful drugs;            the DEA itself admits that it has
(3) increase demand, use, abuse     never had a major impact on
and addiction; and                  availability of drugs in the United
                                    States and there is no hope that it
                                    ever will.  In point of fact, this
                                    policy often makes the illegal
                                    drugs more available to
                                    schoolchildren than alcohol is.
                                    The availability of alcohol to
                                    children was one of the major
                                    reasons that alcohol Prohibition
                                    was repealed.

                                    Whether availability, demand, use,
                                    abuse and addiction would increase
                                    depends upon what you mean by
                                    "legalization".  If you mean that
                                    there would be cocaine vending
                                    machines alongside the tobacco
                                    vending machines, and convenience
                                    store clerks would wink as they
                                    sold heroin to children in the same
                                    way that they wink when they sell
                                    tobacco, then drug use might
                                    increase.   If the drug laws are
                                    somewhat more sensible, there is
                                    good evidence to believe that drug
                                    use would drop.

(4) remove the social sanction      There are many ways to have social
against drug abuse that is          sanctions reinforced in legislation
reinforced in legislation.          and everyone would agree that some
                                    laws are necessary to achieve best
                                    results with the drug problem.  The
                                    question is whether it does any
                                    good to enforce those social
                                    sanctions with prison.  All the
                                    evidence says that prison does more
                                    harm than good.

The present social problems in the  The Drug War benefits only two
United States, including crime,     groups of people -- The drug
health problems and poverty, are    barons, and the drug enforcement
substantial and can only worsen if  barons.  For the drug barons, the
drugs become legal. The arguments   drug war guarantees high profits
for legalization are a sad and      with comparatively low risk.  For
bitter offering to the most         the drug enforcement barons it is
vulnerable segment of our           their very livelihood.  It is the
population. Legalization would      reason they can spend billions of
increase risks and costs to         dollars on fancy drug-detecting
individuals, families and           technology, aircraft, and radar
communities--indeed, to every part  balloons, even while the figures
of the nation--without              clearly show that none of these
compensating benefits.              tactics provides any real benefit
                                    to the situation.

Any proposal with the potential to  The DEA has set up a straw man of
do these things is unacceptable.    what they deem "legalization" to
As public policy, it is             be.  In doing so, they have shown
fundamentally flawed.               that they really don't even
                                    understand the arguments.  In the
                                    fanatical protection of their own
                                    interests, they have missed the
                                    points entirely.


           DEA Statement                         The Facts

When DEA asked law enforcement      Basically, what the DEA is trying
executives, community leaders and   to say here is that the drug
prevention advocates exactly what   warriors were getting their butts
they want and need to address       kicked pretty thoroughly every time
legalization questions, the         they came out for a public debate
answers were clear. They said, "It  on this issue.  It was a major
is essential that the facts         embarrassment for them to have drug
regarding the true implications of  warriors being struck speechless
the legalization issue be made      and unable to respond every time
known. Help us to explain this      they got into a discussion in front
complex issue to our families,      of a public group. Whenever the
friends and fellow citizens. Put    drug warriors appeared, they would
it in words everyone can            be confronted by people who knew
understand. And give us the         the facts on the issue and made it
support we need to continue to      apparent that the drug warriors did
make the case until it doesn't      not know the facts.
have to be made anymore."
                                    The drug warriors would also be
This Guide is the first step in     confronted by simple undeniable
helping to deliver the credible,    logic:  Even if you assumed the
consistent message about the risks  facts to be as the drug warriors
and costs of the legalization of    have stated them, our drug policy
drugs to people in terms that make  still does not make sense.
sense to them. The
antilegalization message is
effective when communicated by
representatives of the Federal
Government, but takes on even more
credibility when it comes from
those in the community who can put
the legalization debate in local

DEA will undertake the ongoing
work of responding to your
inquiries, updating and expanding
the guide as necessary and
evaluating its usefulness and
impact. We invite you to provide
your views on this publication.

We hope the Guide will be used in
several ways. For local law
enforcement executives, community
leaders, prevention advocates and
others, the Guide should serve,
first, as an open invitation to
join in making the affirmative
case against legalization. Second,
it provides background and
practical answers to the most
commonly asked questions about the
legalization of drugs.


           DEA Statement                         The Facts

There are a few things to remember  This is no surprise.  There has
when discussing the legalization    been a concerted media campaign to
issue.                              instill this belief in the American
                                    public over the last several
First, according to reliable        decades by the DEA, its
public opinion polls, the majority  predecessors, and its allies.
of the American people and          Everyone should read the references
lawmakers agree that drugs should   listed at the back of the this
not be legalized.                   section just to see what a
                                    long-term concerted and malicious
                                    propaganda campaign can achieve.

Second, when discussing             Strangely enough, information is
legalization, it is important that  the one thing that all drug
all available information and       warriors seem to be short on in
experiences are brought out into    debates.  There are very few who
the open. This can be accomplished  can provide even the most basic
by asking the "tough" questions.    facts about the drug problem, such
Some of these questions are listed  as the number of people killed by
on page 8. Insist that any          drugs, the number of people in
discussion be based on a specific   prison, why drugs were made illegal
definition of how legalization      in the first place, etc.  The
should be implemented, not an       problem, in a nutshell, is the
abstract theory.                    ignorance of the drug warriors.

Third, don't lose faith. This is a  This was copied from my Persuasive
long and difficult effort we are    Strategies.  When I first wrote
undertaking to get our issues on    Persuasive Strategies a few years
the table and be heard. Eventually  ago I realized that, at the time,
the climate will change and         it was often hard to get people to
pro legalization arguments will      listen to rational arguments on
again be out of fashion. While the  drug policy.  I wanted to give
debate appears to be cyclical,      reform activists some encouragement
having more resonance in certain    to stay in the game until the
circumstances, we must continue to  debate turned their way, as I knew
impress upon audiences, and         it would.  As it turns out, I
ultimately the American people,     underestimated the whole situation.
that legalization would be a         Reform activists are beating the
devastating defeat to the           snot out of the drug warriors in
commitment that so many have made   every debate and don't really need
to living free, healthy and         a lot of encouragement and "faith."
unfettered in our nation.            I would agree that the drug
                                    warriors probably need it.

Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Home Page | Join DRCNet

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | The Drug Legalization Debate


Library Highlights

Drug Information Articles

Drug Rehab