Quotes About the War on Some Drug Users



Insanity is doing the same old thing
over and over again
and expecting a different result.

-- Bill Clinton, campaign debate, October 11, 1992

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And here we come to the vital distinction between the advocacy of temperance and the advocacy of prohibition. Temperance and self-control are convertible terms. Prohibition, or that which it implies, is the direct negation of the term self-control. In order to save the small percentage of men who are too weak to resist their animal desires, it aims to put chains on every man, the weak and the strong alike. And if this is proper in one respect, why not in all respects? Yet, what would one think of a proposition to keep all men locked up because a certain number have a propensity to steal? -- Felix Mendelsohn, 1915

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim. -- George Santayana, "The Life of Reason"

I'd rather that England should be free than that England should be compulsorily sober. With freedom we might in the end attain sobriety, but in the other alternative we should eventually lose both freedom and sobriety. -- W.C. Magee, Archbishop of York, "Sermon at Peterborough," 1868

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. -- C.S. Lewis, in "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment," an essay from "God In The Dock"

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves. -- Ronald Reagan, The New York Times, April 13, 1980

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. -- John Stuart Mill

Book cover, 'Reefer Club' Totalitarianism is when people believe they can punish their way to perfection. -- House Speaker Newt Gingrich, at a President's Day Republican fundraiser, May 1998

[In] my era everybody smoked and everybody drank and there was no drug use -- Current DEA Chief Thomas Constantine, July 1, 1998

Yes, if we harm ourselves it may emotionally harm others. That's unfortunate, but not grounds for putting us in jail. If it were, every time we stopped dating person A in order to date person B, we would run the risk of going to jail for hurting person A. If person B were hurt by our being put in jail, person A could be put in jail for hurting person B. This would, of course, hurt person A's mother, who would see to it that person B would go to jail. Eventually, we'd all be in jail. ... Roughly half of the arrests and court cases in the United States each year involve consensual crimes - actions that are against the law, but directly harm no one's person or property except, possibly, the "criminal's." More than 750,000 people are in jail right now because of something they did, something that did not physically harm the person or property of another. In addition, more than 3,000,000 people are on parole or probation for consensual crimes. Further, more than 4,000,000 people are arrested each year for doing something that hurts no one but, potentially, themselves. -- Peter McWilliams, Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do

Congress should definitely consider decriminalizing possession of marijuana....We should concentrate on prosecuting the rapists and burglars who are a menace to society. -- U.S. Representative Dan Quayle, March 1977

Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. -- President Jimmy Carter, Message to Congress, Aug. 2, 1977

Whenever the offense inspires less horror than the punishment, the rigor of penal law is obliged to give way to the common feelings of mankind. -- Edward Gibbon, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," 1776

The passing of an unjust law is the suicide of authority. -- Pastoral Letter of the American Roman Catholic Hierarchy, February 1920

Book cover, 'It Ain't Hay' (1949) cover artist Gerald Gregg Make the most of the Indian Hemp Seed and sow it everywhere. -- George Washington

The greatest service that can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture. -- Thomas Jefferson

Abusus non tollit usum. [Abuse is no argument against proper use.] -- Latin proverb

If you say, "Would there were no wine" because of the drunkards, then you must say, going on by degrees, "Would there were no steel," because of the murderers, "Would there were no night," because of the thieves, "Would there were no light," because of the informers, and "Would there were no women," because of adultery. -- St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies," circa 388

The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud. All the so-called liberties or rights are things which have to be asserted against others who claim that if such things are to be allowed their own rights are infringed or their own liberties threatened. This is always true, even when we speak of the freedom to worship, of the right of free speech or association, or of public assembly. If we are to allow freedoms at all there will constantly be complaints that either the liberty itself or the way in which it is exercised is being abused, and, if it is a genuine freedom, these complaints will often be justified. There is no way of having a free society in which there is not abuse. Abuse is the very hallmark of liberty. -- Lord Hailsham, former Chief Justice, "The Dilemma of Democracy"

Corruptisima republica plurimae leges. [The more corrupt a republic, the more laws.] -- Tacitus, Annals III 27

Republic . . . it means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. -- John Wayne

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this. -- Albert Einstein, "My First Impression of the USA," 1921

I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn't make it worse. -- Brendan Behan (1923-1964)

Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy ... and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with 'scientific support' ... fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. ... The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents. -- William F. Buckley, Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495

Dime novel cover, 'Marihuana' A politician normally prospers under democracy in proportion ... as he excels in the invention of imaginary perils and imaginary defenses against them. -- H. L. Mencken, 1918

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. -- Saul Bellow

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other in order that the people may require a leader. -- Plato

Those, who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Ben Franklin

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. -- Herbert Spencer

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. -- Edmund Burke

Crime is contagious....if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. -- Justice Louis Brandeis

He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it - namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain. -- "Tom Sawyer," by Mark Twain, Chapter 2, "The Glorious Whitewasher"

In any civilized society, it is every citizen's responsibility to obey just laws. But at the same time, it is every citizen's responsibility to disobey unjust laws. -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. -- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience," 1849

In Germany they first came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up.
-- Pastor Martin Niemoller

When they took the 4th Amendment, I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs.
When they took the 5th Amendment, I was quiet because I wasn't a criminal.
When they took the 2nd Amendment, I was quiet because I didn't own a gun.
Now they've taken the 1st Amendment, and I can say nothing about it.
-- author unknown

The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are constitutional rights secure. - Albert Einstein

[There is] a duty in refusing to cooperate in any undertaking that violates the Constitutional rights of the individual. This holds in particular for all inquisitions that are concerned with the private life and the political affiliations of the citizens. -- Albert Einstein

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -- James A. Michener (1907-1997), in the novel, "Space" (1982)

One candle can light a thousand others without diminishing its light. -- Proverbial

World view

If the doors of perception were cleansed
every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things
thru' narrow chinks of his cavern.
-- William Blake (1757-1828)

All war is based on deception. -- "The Art of War," by Sun Tzu, circa 500 BC

. . . In any war, the first casualty is common sense, and the second is free and open discussion. -- James Reston, The New York Times, 1965

The first casualty when war comes is the truth. -- California Senator Hiram Johnson, 1917

So long as mankind shall continue to lavish more praise upon its destroyers than upon its benefactors war shall remain the chief pursuit of ambitious minds. -- Edward Gibbon

Magnifique, mais ce n n'est pas la guerre. [It's magnificent, but it's not war.] -- French General Rene Bosquet, witnessing the charge of the Light Brigade against Russian cannon

In war there are no winners. -- Neville Chamberlain

War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace. -- Thomas Mann

The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is. -- Winston Churchill

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. -- Mohandas K. Gandhi

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. -- Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

This vice brings in 100 million francs each year. I will certainly forbid it at once - as soon as you can name a virtue that brings in as much revenue. -- Napoleon Bonaparte

To make certain that crime does not pay, the government should take it over and try to run it. -- G. Norman Collie

poster, 'Shocking Facts' La cucaracha, las cucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque le quiere
Porque la falta
Un marijuana que fumar

[The cockroach, the cockroach
He can't travel
Because he wants
Because he lacks
Marijuana to smoke]
-- traditionally sung by and about Pancho Villa's soldiers

When even one American - who has done nothing wrong - is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril. -- Harry S. Truman

There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it. -- Martin Luther King Jr.

When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny. -- Thomas Jefferson

It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error. -- U.S. Supreme Court, in American Communications Association v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382,442

The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind. -- Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality. -- Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men. -- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of inhumanity. -- George Bernard Shaw

We should not forget that our tradition is one of protest and revolt and that it is stultifying to celebrate the rebels of the past. . .while we silence the rebels of the present. -- H.S. Commager

We cannot, by total reliance on law, escape the duty to judge right and wrong... There are good laws and there are occasionally bad laws, and it conforms to the highest traditions of a free society to offer resistance to bad laws, and to disobey them. -- Constitutional scholar Alexander Bickel

Book cover, 'The Needle' (1959) cover artist unknown

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime
It don't prohibit worth a dime
It's filled our land with vice and crime,
Nevertheless, we're for it.

-- newspaperman Franklin P. Adams, 1931, in the New York World, on the release of the Wickersham Commission report
Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don't they pass a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the Prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth. -- Will Rogers

I am against Prohibition because it has set the cause of temperence back twenty years; because it has substituted an ineffective campaign of force for an effective campaign of education; because it has replaced comparatively uninjurious light wines and beers with the worst kind of hard liquor and bad liquor; because it has increased drinking not only among men but has extended drinking to women and even children. -- William Randolph Hearst, initially a supporter of Prohibition, explaining his change of mind in 1929. From "Drink: A Social History of America" by Andrew Barr (1999), p. 239.

Insanity [is] ... Continuing to do the same things and expecting different results. -- Albert Einstein

Laws do not persuade just because they threaten. -- Seneca, A.D. 65

For over fifty years the United States has been committed to a policy of suppressing the "abuse" of narcotic and other "dangerous" drugs. The primary instrument in carrying out this policy has been the criminal sanction. The results of this reliance on the criminal sanction have included the following:
(1) Several hundred thousand people, the overwhelming majority of whom have been primarily users rather than traffickers, have been subjected to severe criminal punishment.
(2) An immensely profitable illegal traffic in narcotic and other forbidden drugs has developed.
(3) This illegal traffic has contributed significantly to the growth and prosperity of organized criminal groups.
(4) A substantial number of all acquisitive crimes - burglary, robbery, auto theft, other forms of larceny - have been committed by drug users in order to get the wherewithal to pay the artificially high prices charged for drugs on the illegal market.
(5) Billions of dollars and a significant proportion of total law enforcement resources have been expended in all stages of the criminal process.
(6) A disturbingly large number of undesirable police practices - unconstitutional searches and seizures, entrapment, electronic surveillance have become habitual because of the great difficulty that attends the detection of narcotics offenses.
(7) The burden of enforcement has fallen primarily on the urban poor, especially Negroes and Mexican-Americans.
(8) Research on the causes, effects, and cures of drug use has been stultified.
(9) The medical profession has been intimidated into neglecting its accustomed role of relieving this form of human misery.
(10) A large and well-entrenched enforcement bureaucracy has developed a vested interest in the status quo, and has effectively thwarted all but the most marginal reforms.
(11) Legislative invocations of the criminal sanction have automatically and unthinkingly been extended from narcotics to marijuana to the flood of new mind-altering drugs that have appeared in recent years, thereby compounding the preexisting problem.
A clearer case of misapplication of the criminal sanction would be difficult to imagine.
-- "The Limits of the Criminal Sanction," by Herbert Packer, 1968

Book cover, 'I Was A Drug Addict' Power is sweet; it is a drug, the desire for which increases with a habit. -- Bertrand Russell, in The Saturday Review, 1951

If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong. -- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business. -- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

Force loses its legitimacy when it is used instead of free and open discussion. -- Colombian diplomat Gustavo de Greiff

In defense of the Pygmies, perhaps I should note that a friend of mine who has spent time with them says that for such activities as the patient stalking and hunting of mammals and fish they prepare themselves through marijuana intoxication, which helps to make the long waits, boring to anyone further evolved than a Komodo dragon, at least moderately tolerable. Ganja is, he says, their only cultivated crop. It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization. (The marijuana-intoxicated Pygmy, poised patiently for an hour with his fishing spear aloft, is earnestly burlesqued by the beer-sodden riflemen, protectively camouflaged in red plaid, who, stumbling through the nearby woods, terrorize American suburbs each Thanksgiving.) -- Carl Sagan, "The Dragons of Eden, Speculations on the Origin of Human Intelligence," footnote on p. 191, 1978 paperback edition, copyright 1977

Book cover, 'Reefer Girl' And now for the vapor-bath: on a framework of three sticks, meeting at the top, they stretch pieces of woolen cloth, taking care to get the joints as perfect as they can, and inside this little tent they put a dish with red-hot stones in it. Then they take some hemp seed, creep into the tent, and throw the seed on to the hot stones. At once it begins to smoke, giving off a vapor unsurpassed by any vapor-bath one could find in Greece. The Sythians enjoy it so much that they howl with pleasure. This is their substitute for an ordinary bath in water, which they never use. -- Herodotus, 446 B.C.

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England cannot enter - all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!. -- William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham, during a 1763 debate in Parliament

Each time a (person) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others... he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. -- Robert F. Kennedy

The fight against drug trafficking is a wildfire that threatens to consume those fundamental rights of the individual deliberately enshrined in our Constitution. -- U.S. District Judge Juan Burciaga, Sept. 4, 1991

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have sworn upon the alter of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. -- Thomas Jefferson

It is better do die on your feet than live a lifetime on your knees. -- Emiliano Zapata

Book cover, 'The Pusher' Give to every other human being every right you claim for yourself. -- Robert Green Ingersoll

Silence gives consent. -- Canon Law

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave. -- William Drummond

The oppression of a majority is detestable and odious; the oppression of a minority is only by one degree less detestable and odious. -- William Ewart Gladstone

The God that gave us life gave us liberty at the same time. -- Thomas Jefferson

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression. -- Thomas Paine

Where is there any book of the law so clear to each man as that written in his heart? -- Leo Tolstoy

The marvel of history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. -- William E. Borah

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. -- Thomas Jefferson

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God cannot long retain it. -- Abraham Lincoln

It would be a good time to replace the drug war with something more constructive. The cure offered the drug war today has probably been more harmful and done more damage than the disease. -- George McGovern

It is the besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which the masses of men exhibit their tyranny. -- James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)

Book cover, 'Junkie' I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. -- James Madison

If the obstacles of bigotry and priestcraft can be surmounted, we may hope that common sense will suffice to do everything else. -- Thomas Jefferson

. . . the solution is not to toss youthful offenders into jail or prisons. We long ago recognized alcoholism to be a disease, and abondoned efforts to treat alcoholics simply by locking them up. -- Oregon Governor Tom McCall

You all know I have terminal cancer - and I have a lot of it. But what you may not know is that stress induces its spread and induces its activity. Stress may even bring it on. -- Oregon Governor Tom McCall, quoted in "Fire at at Eden's Gate: Tom McCall and the Oregon Story," by Brent Walth, Oregon Historical Society Press, 1994

The biggest killer on the planet is stress and I still think the best medicine is and always has been cannabis. -- Willie Nelson, High Times, January 1991

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