DownsizeDC.org: More Questions For Congress

October 19th, 2009 10:23 am  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, congress, Constitution, DownsizeDC.org, Drugs, Health Care, Liberty, Politics  |  Comments Off

D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h

Two weeks ago, we asked you to write Congress about the Constitutionality of the War on Drugs. Some in Congress responded, but none answered our questions.

Even so, we must keep asking such questions. The more we ask, the more nervous Congress will become. Eventually, they will be forced to either answer our questions or admit publicly that they don’t care what the Constitution says.

We believe Congress’s refusal to answer our questions underscores the need for the Enumerated Powers Act (EPA). We urge you to demand that Congress pass this bill.

Since we last resported on the EPA in September, the House has increased the number of co-sponsors from 48 to 52, and the Senate increased its co-sponsor list from 21 to 22.

You can find House co-sponsors of the EPA here.

And co-sponsors of the Senate version are here.

If any of your House or Senate representatives has co-sponsored the bill, send them your congratulations and urge those who haven’t to do so.

In my personal comments, I also asked more questions . . .

Read More »

Drugs and the Constitution

October 6th, 2009 12:09 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Constitution, DownsizeDC.org, Drugs, Liberty, Politics  |  5 Responses

D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h

Quote of the Day: “I want a government small enough to fit inside the Constitution.” — DownsizeDC.org co-founder Harry Browne (1933-2006)

Our last Drug War Dispatch generated some concerned emails.

You can read our response here.

What we didn’t mention in the previous Dispatch was the Constitutional problem of the War on Drugs. That’s because . . .

Many people seem not to care what the Constitution requires. Today’s message is for those who do care.

Drug control is NOT a Constitutional power of the federal government. At the very most the federal government could, perhaps, ban the importation of drugs, and prohibit their sale across state lines under the Commerce Clause of Article I, Section 8.

But nowhere in the Constitution is Congress empowered to prohibit the sale or possession of any item within state boundaries. The Tenth Amendment dictates that whatever Congress is not empowered to do must be left to the States, or to the people. This means Congress cannot . . .

* forbid the personal possession or use of drugs
* prohibit drug sales within the same state
* intervene in other countries with money or troops to fight undeclared drug wars

This means that drug prohibition laws can only exist at the state level. Imagine what could happen if some states had no prohibition laws, while other states had prohibition laws of differing severity. Competing claims about drug prohibition could be tested, in the real world. As it is . . .

Federal prohibition laws not only prohibit the sale and use of drugs, they also prohibit us from learning what would work best.

The 10th Amendment’s Constitutional restrictions on federal power used to be well-known and understood. For instance, those who wanted to prohibit alcohol in the 1910′s knew that the Constitution didn’t give Congress the power to do this. So they had to pass the 18th Amendment, ratified in 1919.

Alcohol prohibition was a failure, so in 1933 the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment.

If prohibiting alcohol required a Constitutional Amendment, how does prohibiting other drugs NOT require a Constitutional Amendment?

Read More »

Whatever happened to “presumed innocent?”

October 1st, 2009 10:17 am  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Constitution, DownsizeDC.org, Drugs, Gambling, law, Liberty, Politics  |  Comments Off

D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h

Quote of the Day: “While few would argue that criminals ought to be able to keep the proceeds of their crimes, civil forfeiture allows the government to seize and keep property without actually having to prove a crime was committed in the first place. . . . Proceeds from civil forfeiture at the state and local level usually go back to the police departments and prosecutors’ offices, giving them a clear and unmistakable incentive to seize as much property as often as possible.” – Radley Balko

The government wants to seize the home of a widowed cancer survivor. She hasn’t been charged with any crime, but her now-dead husband once grew marijuana on their property. He used it to ease his chronic pain. Under federal civil asset forfeiture law, that might be enough for the government to take this woman’s home.

Such outrages are nothing new in the War on Drugs, but we’re seeing more abuses as criminal law becomes increasingly federalized. For instance, federal agents are now exploiting the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to seize bank accounts and computers.

The leader of a new Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering task force admits that unlike criminal cases where the suspect is presumed innocent until proved guilty, in civil asset forfeiture cases . . .

* if you lose property to an asset forfeiture seizure you must prove your innocence in order to get it back
* you have no 5th amendment protections — even your silence can be used against you

Civil asset forfeiture is also alive and well at the local level, where police steal money from citizens in order to pay for new equipment.

Under Illinois law, the state can withhold cash, cars, or other property for six months without even a preliminary hearing! Under the law, three innocent people had to wait over a year to get their cars back. They, along with three innocent people who had money stolen from them, have argued the Constitutionality of the Illinois law.

The “good” news is that this law will be argued in the Supreme Court this month in Alvarez v. Smith.

The bad news is that the most positive outcome is likely to be only a reduction of the time you must wait before a preliminary hearing. The Court isn’t expected to strike down the law, even though civil asset forfeiture proceedings clearly violate the 14th Amendment provision that no state “can deprive any person of . . . property, without due process of law.”

Congress can do what the Court will not. Tell your representatives to abolish Civil Asset Forfeiture using our Educate the Powerful System.

Use your personal comments to mention the example of the widow who may lose her home because her now dead husband grew marijuana that he used to ease his pain from cancer.

You can send your message here.

Read More »

When drug laws go bad: Grandma arrested for buying cold medicine

September 28th, 2009 2:31 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Drugs, Individual Responsibility, Liberty, Market Regulation, Politics  |  1


CLINTON, Indiana – When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.

Harpold bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a weeks time. Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law.

Read the whole story.

DownsizeDC.org: Is Drug Prohibition Worth It?

September 24th, 2009 11:51 am  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, congress, Constitution, Drugs, Liberty, Politics  |  Comments Off

D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h

Share this with your friends: http://www.downsizedc.org/blog/is-drug-prohibition-worth-it

Quote of the Day: “Those who suffer from the abuse of drugs have themselves to blame for it. This does not mean that society is absolved from active concern for their plight. It does mean that their plight is subordinate to the plight of those citizens who do not experiment with drugs, but whose life, liberty, and property are substantially affected by the illegalization of the drugs.” — William F. Buckley

There have been positive signs that America is reconsidering some aspects of drug prohibition.

  • In February, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Administration would stop medical marijuana raids in states where it’s legal
  • In  May, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case arguing that California’s medical marijuana law was in conflict with federal law
  • The Obama Administration did not object when Mexico liberalized its drug possession law last month

But as America takes baby steps toward Drug War reform, statesmen south of the border are suggesting something bolder.

This week, the Global Public Policy Forum on the U.S. War on Drugs  was held on the front lines of the Drug War, in the border cities of El Paso and Juarez. The Forum was organized by the University of Texas-El Paso, but the idea originated with the El Paso City Council. The Council also unanimously called for “an honest open national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics” (although that resolution was vetoed by the mayor under the threat of losing federal funds).

Regrettably, Obama’s “Border Czar” and “Drug Czar” chose not to attend.

But we agree with the El Paso City Council.

Indeed, prohibition can cause the retail price of drugs to be as much as 25 times higher than the production costs. Even if 75% of drug shipments were intercepted, the trade would still be profitable for drug lords.

Today, only a fraction of drug shipments are intercepted. This means the only way to “win” the War on Drugs is to lose the Bill of Rights and our way of life by substantially increasing arbitrary searches and seizures at home, and employing a much larger military as a narcotics police force across the globe.

In order to accomplish . . . what, exactly?

Drug prohibition costs hundreds of billions in both direct costs and opportunity costs such as the lost wages of the imprisoned. It endangers the lives of innocents caught in turf wars. It promotes chaos and instability in much of the world — and all of this in a futile attempt to save a tiny fraction of the population from themselves.

But if we lifted the prohibition on drugs . . . Read More »

Ron Paul TIME Magazine Interview

September 18th, 2009 12:17 am  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Drugs, Economics, Federal Reserve, government spending, Liberty, Ron Paul, Taxes  |  5 Responses

Ron Paul answers questions in a video with Time Magazine. They cover several topics including the treatment he received from the media and his GOP opponents during the campaign of 2007 and 2008.

Yes, Legalize Pot, But Why Tax It?

May 8th, 2009 9:00 am  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Drugs, Economics, Free Market, Individual Responsibility, law, Liberty, Market Regulation, Politics  |  27 Responses

I’m amazed and encouraged by the recent uptick in news stories about legalizing pot. Call it pot, marijuana, hemp or what have you, the basic issue is the same. While I agree that we should decriminalize this incredible plant that can be used for numerous industrial, commercial and medicinal uses, I’m discouraged by two points coming from the strongest supporters for legalization. These are:

  1. Tax it
  2. Keep ‘harder’ drugs illegal

This is a losing position and I’ll tell you why. On the issue of taxation, wouldn’t it be OK if there was one thing in this world that the government didn’t tax? I mean, do some fat cat politicians in Washington really deserve a slice of every bit of productive activity in this country? The income that a person uses to buy any item in America has already been taxed multiple times – through corporate taxes, payroll taxes, income taxes, medicaid and social security taxes and the list goes on and on. What makes people think that the government needs any more money from us?

Also, assuming that it was legalized and taxed, why wouldn’t people still buy it off the streets at a discount, tax-free? Assuming an 8% minimum tax, which is the sales tax rate in New York, why wouldn’t people who already ‘get it from a friend’ continue to do so? In fact, I think it’s safe to assume that an 8% tax is probably much lower than what the government would actually institute. Tobacco manufacturers could be counted on to lobby government to make sure that marijuana taxes were as high or higher than tobacco taxes to make sure they didn’t loose further business to a cheaper (and more healthy) alternative.

Read More »

Pot legalization is “on the table” says Jim Webb

April 24th, 2009 1:36 am  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Drugs, law, Liberty, Maven Commentary  |  3 Responses

There are reasons to like Senator Jim Webb. One of them are his recent statements regarding the legalization of marijuana as an option for helping to reform the criminal justice system.

From The Hill:

The leader of a congressional effort to reform the criminal justice system said Thursday that all issues — including drug legalization — need to be on the table.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who has made criminal justice and prison reform a signature issue of his this year in Congress, is the most high-profile lawmaker to indicate openness to drug decriminalization or outright legalization.

“Well, I think what we need to do is to put all of the issues on the table,” Webb said this morning on CNN if asked if marijuana legalization would be part of his criminal justice reform efforts.

“If you go back to 1980 as a starting point, I think we had 40,000 people in prison on drug charges, and today, we have about 500,000 of them,” the first-term Virginia lawmaker said. “And the great majority of those are nonviolent crimes — possession crimes or minor sales.”

Well, this all sounded great until I read the following:

“I think they should examine every aspect of drugs policy to see what’s working and what’s not working, and where the consistencies are and, quite frankly, where the inconsistencies are in terms of how people end up in the system with similar activities,” Webb explained, reiterating his call for a high-level blue ribbon commission to reform the criminal justice system.

Oh no! Not yet another “blue ribbon commission”! That is a Capitol Hill euphemism for a “political dog and pony show”. In the end nothing gets accomplished. I hope this one is different, but I have my doubts.

Ron Paul on the Phil Hendrie Show

April 18th, 2009 6:03 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Drugs, Foreign Policy, Free Market, Liberty, Philosophy, Politics, Ron Paul, rule of law, terrorism, War  |  Comments Off

Ron Paul was interviewed by Phil Hendrie recently. They discuss marijuana legalization, Somali pirates, torture, Rick Perry secession comments, and Obama releasing the CIA memos on torture.

Listen via youtube below in two parts. Thanks to Tim Peck for sending us the video links.

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Ron Paul Debunks The Drug War On CNN

April 15th, 2009 8:14 am  |  by  |  Published in Activism, Big Government, Drugs, Individual Responsibility, law, Market Regulation, Ron Paul  |  4 Responses

Ron Paul appeared on CNN American Morning today to discuss his views on legalizing drugs and the insane drug war. This time the host allowed Paul to answer the questions without interruption and Ron Paul did a pretty good job of doing so.

He did seem to avoid the question on introducing legislation to legalize drugs (all drugs, not just marijuana), but overall it was a good appearance. The clip cuts off the results of the CNN poll where 49% of those polled thus far stated they wanted all drugs to be legalized. This gives me hope that someday, maybe in my lifetime, the insane war on drugs will be abolished.

Enjoy Ron Paul making sense below.

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