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Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization

or How to Hold Your Own in a Drug Legalization Debate


by Clifford A. Schaffer

What follows in these pages is the Drug Enforcement Administrations's booklet "How to Hold Your Own In a Drug Legalization Debate" which outlines the top ten reasons why they think "legalization" is such a bad idea. I will examine their statements, sentence by sentence, and present comments. Readers should note that, while the DEA has written a book on how to survive when defending the War on (Some) Drugs, the DEA has no interest in coming forward to actually engage in such a debate. An open and honest public debate is the last the thing the DEA wants.

The DEA's Statement


Though compiled from many sources, this guide evolved from a single event: the AntiLegalization Forum held at the FBI/DEA Training Academy in August 1994. Five major city police officials provided invaluable assistance to the project:

Superintendent Matt L. Rodriguez, Chicago Police Department;

Chief Ruben Ortega, Salt Lake City Police Department;

Chief William K. Finney, St. Paul Police Department;

Chief Joe Samuels, Oakland Police Department; and

Chief Dennis E. Nowicki, Charlotte Police Department.

Other participants, whose contributions to the discussions are acknowledged with gratitude, were from:

Office of National Drug Control Policy

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Families in Action

California Office of Criminal Justice Planning

Office of Drug Control Policy, State of Michigan

Office of the District Attorney, Multnomah County, Oregon

Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

BOTEC Analysis Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts

DEA Headquarters

DEA Seattle, Miami, and Chicago Field Divisions


Kenneth F. Hickey, Esq., Washington, DC

Kunz and Company, Arlington, Virginia

The Walsh Group, Bethesda, Maryland


Dear Reader:

You and I are frequently faced with the need to address many of the positions which are advocated by those calling for the legalization of drugs. More and more, the debate on legalization is being given public airing in the media. Average citizens, fed up with crime and drugs, are being told that legalization is a reasonable alternative to the crime problem that so many communities are struggling against.

You and I know that legalization is not an alternative, but rather a surrender which will further reduce our quality of life. Ninety percent of the American people agree that legalization of drugs would complicate an already devastating situation. Health and social costs associated with the increased availability of drugs would break our economy. Crime would not decrease. The moral fiber of our country would be torn apart.

Those who advocate legalization have many motives. But they frequently do not have answers to a lot of the questions we are asking. Legalization is an abstract to many of them. But I can tell you firsthand, from my thirtyfour years' experience as a lawenforcement officer at the state level, the damage caused by drugs is real and lasting. It's not drug laws, or the enforcement of the drugs laws of our nation that are causing harm--it's the drugs themselves.

Because we're often called on to speak to the issues, I asked a number of professionals from the law enforcement, health, and academic communities to come together for two days to discuss how we can best address the arguments against legalization. I am well aware that local law enforcement officials are on the front line in the battle against drug abuse. For that reason I asked several police chiefs to participate in the Quantico Conference to give their expertise and guidance as we formulated our response to these issues. This guide represents most of the issues and arguments raised during that time. This booklet is intended as a resource for you as you are faced with the questions and issues associated with the debate on the legalization of drugs. While many professionals participated in the session, the views represented in this document are the position of the Drug Enforcement Administration. They represent the consensus of the assembled group and without necessarily attributing each and every position to the personal views of each participant.

Please feel free to use the guide in whatever way you feel it is appropriate. The debate on the legalization of drugs cannot be won if we remain silent.


Thomas A. Constantine


Drug Enforcement Administration

The Reply to the DEA's Statement


The DEA really has no business spending taxpayer dollars to promote their own political agenda. The DEA acts as lobbyist and public relations firm for themselves and other special interest groups which benefit from the drug war and it should be stopped.

In the course of this public advocacy the DEA distorts the truth on many occasions, lies shamefully at times and draws invalid conclusions from what is true. The purpose of this booklet was to try to stop the damage being done when the drug warriors were caught in public spouting the old mythology of the drug war, but we will demonstrate clear examples of the lies and distortions here in their book.

We agree that the debate on the legalization of drugs cannot be won by anyone who remains silent. That is why we challenge the DEA to bring forth their best against our best in an open public environment where these issues can be discussed at length. We have asked for an open debate on this issue since February 23, 1993 when the Resolution for a Federal Commission on Drug Policy was first signed. It is only the DEA who is afraid to debate this issue in public.

We challenge the DEA to show the strength and truth of their arguments by supporting our call for an objective Federal Commission where all of the issues and evidence can be fully examined. If they are right, the evidence will show it.


Clifford A. Schaffer


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