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By: Ryan Ramsey

The hypocrisy of supporting gun rights and the drug war Part I

When conservatives or libertarians point out that lowering tax rates increases revenue, liberals scoff. You can show them proof, and they will not listen because they are too vested in their ideology to slow down and accept that sometimes things work a little different than they seem.

If the policy discussion shifts to the drug war, however, most people on the right develop a case of cognitive dissonance, and it develops quicker than you can trigger a social justice warrior at a Donald Trump rally. We must be very careful not to lower ourselves to the level of the Marxist left wing that murdered over 100 million people in the 20th century. Their goal was equality, but the methods used to achieve it had the opposite effect. Inability to admit they could be wrong about their approach resulted in mass murder across the globe.

I want to see drug use lower, but the current policy is a failure. The war on drugs has cost over a trillion dollars, with lackluster results. Use rates have not seen any significant changes, but the damage to our civil liberties has been catastrophic. Particularly troubling, is the number of gun rights supporters who are against decriminalizing marijuana, even for the sick and injured. Every single gun control act was in response to a post prohibition crime wave. There would be no need for the NRA or Florida Carry Inc. without drug prohibition. It is a bold statement, but I ask that you bear with me, and let the facts, rather than your emotions, determine your response. Below are two graphs showing the use of drugs has increased, despite our best efforts.

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There is only one western country that has lowered drug use, not just significantly, but dramatically. It is the European nation of Portugal. Hard drug use is down by half. The rate of overdoses is over five times lower than the EU average. The drop in use rates among young people is even higher than adults.

“Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.”

“The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.”

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This is happening while people regularly overdose in American prisons! Think about that for a minute. What kind of police state would you need to eradicate drugs, if we cannot even keep them out of the prisons we send drug offenders to? Recent arrests of prison guards in Florida highlight the problem. Are we to believe that the solution to the drug problem is to incarcerate them, where they still use drugs?

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The illegal immigration crisis is fueled by the rampant corruption, caused by the cartels, and their black market billions. The legalization in some states of medical and recreational marijuana has hurt the Mexican cartels, which the drug war was never able to do. The prices have fallen over half, which means less money for weapons and bribes. It has been a major blow, considering marijuana is about 40% of the cartel’s revenue stream.

Violence has been reduced by a very significant percentage. This is less counter intuitive than the fact that decriminalization lowers use. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Walgreens and CVS are frequently on opposite corners of the same intersection here in Florida, and sell more narcotics every day than any drug dealer in the city. The legal prescription drugs they dispense kill more people than all illicit narcotics combined.

Despite this, if Walgreens lowers their price on morphine, CVS employees don’t engage in drive by shootings against the rival drug dealers at Walgreens. If someone robs CVS, they can call law enforcement. If a drug dealer is robbed, they are forced to commit violent crimes to recover their stolen property.  Nearly all of the violence centered around the drug trade is related to turf or theft.

Unfortunately, the US drug war has once again rescued the cartels. The hysteria over methamphetamine reached a boiling point and Sudafed, which can be used to make the drug, was restricted. You now have to sign for it at the pharmacy counter. After a short decline, use is now back up and rising. The difference is instead of some knucklehead making it in his garage, the cartels are bringing in a cheaper and 100% pure version known as “ice”, so we have empowered the cartels to regain the ground we took with marijuana decriminalization. Thanks, now the cartels are getting rich creating new waves of tweakers and I have to register my cold pills. Do you feel safer yet? (To be continued…)

[Originally published at SD Liberty. Re-posted here with permission.]

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Ryan Ramsey is a US Navy Veteran and lifelong political activist. He hosts “The Sounds of Rebellion” and “Liberty Tree Radio” on Blog Talk Radio. He sits on the National Council of the SDL, is the Director of The Florida Liberty Project, founder of Jacksonville Open Carry, and Bradford County Chairman, for the LPF. He also is the singer and guitarist of the “Rock Against Communism” band “Lovecrime”.