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

In August 1994, in an effort to
identify compelling arguments
against legalization, DEA
sponsored a twoday
AntiLegalization Forum at
Quantico, Virginia, for experts in
the field. Several police chiefs,
representatives from Government
agencies and private sector
authorities gave their time to
this important task. The
participants were asked to refine
the arguments that can be made
against legalization and evaluate
ways to address the legalization
issue in an effective and
meaningful way.

Three groups were formed to
discuss various aspects of the
legalization debate: Social/
Economic issues, Health Effects,
and Crime and Violence. All of the
arguments espoused by legalization
proponents impact on these three
areas, and many of the claims
outlined in this publication
crosscut the topics discussed by
the three groups. At the end of
the twoday session, group leaders
presented the recommendations of
each group.

While individual groups arrived at
specific conclusions, there were a
number of general concerns and
ideas raised by all participants:

 Those speaking against            At one time, drug warriors were
legalization needed to be positive  confident when they spoke about the
and confident about that position.  drug war.  They relied on
Legalization opponents must         inflammatory rhetoric and horror
constantly ask just how many drug   stories to get everyone to believe
addicts will be created under       drugs were bad and, therefore, the
legalization, how the government    best approach to the problem would
will support addicts' habits, and   be to put massive numbers of people
who will pay for the social,        in prison.  Then, about 1989, the
criminal and other costs of         tide began to turn.

 Legalization opponents often      This is an extraordinary statement
have a hard time being heard.       considering the fact that they
Although only a small minority of   parade every major drug bust before
academics, social scientists and    the media.  The DEA has always had
other public figures advocate       almost a media monopoly when
legalization, the conference        compared to the voices of reform.
participants felt that the
legalization advocates made better
use of the media in making their
opinions known than the far larger
group of legalization opponents. A
current climate of frustration
with crime, violence and drug
abuse is fueling the legalization
debate, and accomplishments in
controlling drugs do not get much
attention. The costs of the fight
against drugs are generally not
put in perspective, and the costs
of inaction are never discussed.
Nevertheless, conference
participants agreed that a
positive, proactive campaign
against legalization can be very

 Legalization proponents are       Thank you.
formidable opponents. The group
acknowledged that proponents of     The bit about public relations
legalization are generally          firms is a flat out lie.  Nobody in
wellprepared and credible people    the drug reform movement has the
whose arguments, though             money to afford it.  The movement
compelling, are faulty. Proponents  is made up almost entirely of
effectively use lawyers and public  volunteers.
relations firms to espouse
liberalization of drug policies.

 Misperceptions drive the debate.  The costs of solving the drug
The legalization debate is being    problem are not too high.  The
driven by the perception that the   costs of solving the drug problem
costs of solving the drug problem   are too high this way.  Everyone
in America are far too high. The    agrees that we should devote
group cited public mistrust of      significant resources to address
government and a perception that    the problem.  We do not believe
federal agencies attacking the      that the single most expensive and
problem are fragmented and have no  least cost-effective approach --
consensus about direction as        prison -- is the best approach.
reasons that the legalization
debate rings true with many         The DEA, as it has on many other
people. There are also numerous     occasions, is distorting the truth
misperceptions about the foreign    and outright lying about many
experience relating to drug         aspects of the drug issue in order
legalization and the system of      to advance its own interests.  The
prescription for heroin. Forum      Dutch Government has already filed
participants stressed the need to   an official protest against the
get the real story on the British,  misstatements of the DEA in this
Dutch and Swiss experiments out     booklet.
into the open.

 Americans are frustrated by the   Judge James P. Gray likes to ask
drug problem. While an              audiences how many people believe
overwhelming majority of the        the current drug war is working.
American people are not convinced   On average, he says, about one or
that legalization is a good         two percent will raise their hands.
option, there is a sense of          It is pretty clear to most people
frustration that we have spent so   that this drug war causes more
much money on controlling drug      problems than it solves.
trafficking and use, yet violence
and crime continue. The group
noted that most Americans
erroneously think that
legalization advocates are only
suggesting that marijuana be
legalized, and are generally
unaware of the dramatic impact
that legalizing cocaine and heroin
will have.

 The debate must not take place    This is a curious statement.  The
in the abstract. The debate on      DEA is saying that more than
legalization must be brought down   two-thirds of the people they want
from an abstract concept to a       to prosecute are gainfully
common sense scenario. Audiences    employed, tax-paying adults.  One
need to understand that 70 percent  would have to ask why the
of drug users are employed, and     government would have any interest
that the school bus driver who      in pursuing otherwise law-abiding
drives your children to school      taxpayers.
could smoke marijuana; that the
surgeon who operates on you may     As for people driving your bus, or
have cocaine in his system; and     doing your surgery, there are laws
that the driver in back of you may  and other sanctions in place
be on speed. The debate needs to    against doing anything harmful to
demonstrate graphically how the     others while intoxicated on
common man will be impacted by      anything.  These laws would not
drug legalization.                  change under any scenario.

                                    Attempting to arrest everyone who
                                    ever has a glass of wine is not an
                                    effective approach to preventing
                                    doctors from performing surgery
                                    while drunk.  This is also true of
                                    other drugs.


           DEA Statement                         The Facts

Some of the media, certain          The more interesting study of
quarters in academia and some       motives comes from analyzing the
frustrated Americans see            motives of those who have supported
legalization as an option which     these laws throughout history.  It
should be discussed. The panel      is apparent from the history of
discussed some of the factors       these laws that they were based on
possibly motivating advocates of    racism, ignorance, and the
legalization in order to            promotion of special interests.
appreciate the complexity of the    Everyone should read the history of
debate. The group noted that many   these laws to understand how we
who advocate legalization are       came to be where we are today.
attempting to "normalize" the
behavior of drugtaking and that
many are people who have tried
drugs without significant adverse

Others see potential profit in      And still others believe that
legalizing drugs and still others   government should abandon policies
simply believe that individual      which were based on ignorance,
rights to take drugs should be      fraud, and racism from the very
protected. The group also           beginning.  It also appeals to
acknowledged that the legalization  people who think that government
concept appeals to people who are   should not undertake to do anything
looking for simple solutions to     that is patently impossible.
the devastating problem of drug


           DEA Statement                         The Facts

There was consensus among the
participants at the
AntiLegalization Forum, too, on
the need to ask a number of
questions of those proposing
legalization. Too often, the
specifics of how to implement a
system for distribution and sale
of legalized drugs are never
discussed. Instead simplistic
rhetoric is used to deflect
serious consideration of the many
questions that must be thought
through before one can evaluate
the ramifications of their
proposals. This is the great
weakness of the prolegalization
position. Participants in the
Forum suggested that the following
questions be asked consistently in
order to illustrate the
shallowness of the legalization

Should all drugs be legalized ?     The question is not whether any
                                    drugs should be "legalized" because
                                    the DEA itself states further down
                                    in this book that there is no real
                                    definition of "legalization."  Is
                                    alcohol legal?  In some senses it
                                    is, and in others it is not.  The
                                    same is true of many other drugs.
                                    If the DEA is right, we will never
                                    "legalize" any of these drugs, so
                                    they miss the point to focus on

                                    The real question is prison.  Right
                                    now we are embarked on a course
                                    which will incarcerate millions of
                                    people who, in the view of many of
                                    the prison wardens in this country,
                                    don't need to be in prison.  We are
                                    turning loose violent felons so we
                                    can incarcerate more drug users.
                                    With these laws, we have the
                                    opportunity to imprison literally
                                    millions of people.  We must decide
                                    how many millions of people we are
                                    going to put in prison to make this
                                    policy work.

                                    As a personal matter, I don't much
                                    like cigars.  I think they are
                                    addictive, dangerous, smelly, and
                                    disgusting. I cannot understand why
                                    anyone would want to walk around
                                    with one of those things stuck in
                                    their face,  and I make my feelings
                                    known to anyone who lights one up
                                    in my presence.  At the same time,
                                    I don't want to put George Burns in

                                    No matter what policy we may
                                    devise, or what name we may call
                                    it, it is an undeniable truth that
                                    putting people in prison does no
                                    good at all.

Who will determine which segments   Who determines the access to drugs
of the population will have access  now?
to legalized drugs?                 Under "legalization" it would be
                                    the same people who do it for
                                    alcohol and tobacco.

Will they be limited only to        Are they limited to people over
people over eighteen ?              eighteen now?

                                    Every major proposal for reform
                                    assumes that minors should not have
                                    access to drugs.  This is one of
                                    the major reasons that many people
                                    would like to see reform, because a
                                    more sensible policy would do a
                                    better job of keeping drugs away
                                    from children.

Will cocaine, heroin, LSD and PCP   Are they available now?  As the DEA
be made available if people         itself admits, their efforts have
request them?                       never had any major effect on
                                    availability of drugs and it is
                                    unlikely that they ever will affect
                                    the drug market.

Who will sell drugs? The            Who sells them now?
Government? Private companies ?     You can't think of anyone who could
                                    do a better job than the current

And who is liable for damages       The rules for liability should be
caused by drug use and the          consistent for all drugs.  If you
activities of those taking drugs?   get hit by a drunk or stoned
                                    driver, it doesn't matter to you
                                    which chemical caused the problem.
                                    The damage is done in either case,
                                    and should be addressed the same
                                    under law.

Who will collect the revenues       Who collects them now?
generated by the drug sales?        We have funded the richest criminal
                                    organizations in the history of the
                                    world with this policy. It is time
                                    to take the money out of their
                                    hands with a more sensible policy.

How will a black market for         The same way it is controlled for
cheaper drugs be controlled ?       alcohol and tobacco.

Who will bear the costs to society  Under the current system the
of increased drug use?              taxpayers bear the entire cost, and
                                    this system uses the single most
                                    expensive, least cost-effective
                                    approach to the problem -- prison.
                                    For the same money it takes to
                                    catch, try, and convict one drug
                                    offender and to hold them in prison
                                    for five years, we can provide
                                    treatment or education for more
                                    than one hundred people.  Which do
                                    you think is the better deal?

How will absenteeism and loss of    It should be addressed the same way
productivity be  addressed by       it is for alcohol, tobacco, or any
business?                           similar problem.

Will the local drug situation in a  Who dictates where drugs are sold
community dictate which drugs are   now?
sold where?                         The community itself should dictate
                                    these matters, as they do with
                                    liquor and tobacco outlets.

How will society care for and pay   First, there is no real evidence
for the attendant social costs of   that drug use would increase under
increased drug use, including       a more sensible policy.
family disintegration and child     Society is paying these costs
neglect?                            already.  Reform would seek to
                                    reduce those costs by using
                                    approaches which are more
                                    cost-effective than prison.  Prison
                                    does not do anything to address
                                    these problems.

Will people still need              This is a separate issue and,
prescriptions for currently         whichever way it goes, will not
controlled medications, such as     make much difference to the
antibiotics, if drugs are           fundamental problems of our current
legalized ?                         drug policy.  Antibiotics are an
                                    entirely different class of drug
                                    with an entirely different set of
                                    uses and associated problems.
                                    Therefore, it would be appropriate
                                    to have a different policy for

Will legal drugs require            That depends on what you mean by
prescriptions?                      "legal".  For example, both alcohol
                                    and penicillin are "legal" but have
                                    different requirements for
                                    purchasing them.

Can anyone, regardless of physical  Who can purchase them now?
or medical conditions purchase
drugs?                              Can anyone, regardless of physical
                                    or medical conditions purchase
                                    alcohol or tobacco?  Alcohol and
                                    tobacco are the big killers by a
                                    wide margin. If we can manage to
                                    find a workable policy for alcohol
                                    and tobacco, then the other drugs
                                    will be easy.

How can we deal with the influx of  We won't have to.  The rest of the
people to the United States who     western world is going toward
are seeking legal drugs?            "legalization" faster than we are.

Can we begin a legalization pilot   Yes.  As the New York City Bar
program in your neighborhood for    Association recommended, we should
one year?                           allow states and communities to
                                    determine their own approach to the
                                    problem, as they do for alcohol, so
                                    that we might have a number of
                                    different programs from which to
                                    draw ideas and information.  The
                                    one thing we should not do is to
                                    stay locked in to a single national
                                    policy which -- by definition --
                                    cannot work.

Should the distribution outlets be  Where are the distribution outlets
located in the already              located now?
overburdened inner city?
                                    Matters affecting the inner city
                                    should be decided by the people in
                                    the inner city.

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

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | The Drug Legalization Debate


Library Highlights

Drug Information Articles

Drug Rehab