We are facing huge long-term problems: a real unemployment rate of 18%, dysfunctional banks that are "too big to fail", a regressive tax structure that's stifling economic growth, prisons that are bursting at the seams, urban schools that are struggling, a health care system that still needs major reform, the lack of a coherent national energy policy that will protect our economy and the environment, and a government that has been encroaching on our civil liberties. For decades we have lived with irresponsible public policies from career politicians in Congress who care more about increasing their party’s power and getting re-elected than they care about solving long-term problems. They haven’t been honest with us, and they have been lousy public servants.

I’m different. I do not want to be a career politician. I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I’m a Problem Solver. I want to force members of Congress to be responsible, and implement sustainable solutions to real problems. Please read the positions I present on this website, and spread the word to friends and family.

Please email me at John@Mertens2010.com, and become a supporter on Twitter at @mertens4senate or Facebook: John's FB

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Drug Law Reform

Our drug policies are not working. Remember, prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's didn't work either, and it caused great harm by creating organized crime in the United States. We need to adopt "harm reduction" policies that will reduce drug use, save a lot of money, greatly reduce urban violence, and improve our national security.

You can view the episode of my monthly television show that examined U.S. Drug Policy, in three installments:
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

Our current drug laws hurt us in many ways:
-Socially. The United States has many more people behind bars than any other country in the world. More than 1% of our population is in prison, and more than 3% of our population is either behind bars, on parole, or on probation. A disproportionate percentage are black or hispanic.
-Economically. We spend billions of dollars a year on ineffective interdiction, and more billions for the aforementioned prisons. And, if intelligent drug law reform is instituted, we can generate a great deal of tax revenue that can pay for much needed treatment and education.
-National Security. Users spend between $50 and $100 billion(!) dollars a year on illegal drugs in the U.S., and that money goes to terrorists (including the Taliban and Al-Qaeda) and international criminals.
-Crime and Violence. The criminalization of drugs is responsible for tremendous violence in our cities. And drug users who are put into prison learn how to be hardened criminals from their fellow inmates.

This website is a great source of information:
I would especially like you to look at this table:
Here is a list of incarceration rates of countries around the world:
Here is a very good discussion of the problems and solutions with Cliff Thornton:

Many people across the political spectrum agree that criminilization of substance abuse has been a terrible failure. I try to talk to every police officer I meet about this issue, and I've yet to meet one who thinks that drug users should be put in prison. I urge you to visit the website of "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition" (LEAP):

I recommend an excellent book, "Ending the War on Drugs", written by Dirk Chase Eldredge, a conservative Republican who worked with Ronald Reagan. He dispels myths, provides a lot of facts, and presents excellent solutions. From his preface:

"My solution for America offers help to all: first, the creation of a state government-sponsored and -enforced policy of distribution and sale of drugs; thus re-directing the profits from the pockets of the cartels into state governments, where, by law, they would be used to combat drug use and abuse. The crime and violence currently accompanying illegal drug use and sales would cease. With more funds for professional treatment of the addicted, and most of all, a unified American effort to expand drug education and research, our country could concentrate on prevention instead of prohibition. I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to point out the counterproductiveness of America's present drug policies, but the truth and logic of my position encourage me that my proposal will eventually prevail."

I also recommend "Legalize This! The case for decriminalizing drugs" by Douglas Husak.

I also urge you to read this by the late William F. Buckley:

I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about this issue on the campaign trail.

You can also watch the below youtube video of a speech I delivered at the state capital building. I address the drug policy issue in the second half of the speech:
(Note: I was invited to speak at this event. While I am not a "Tea Party person", I will speak to any and every group, find common ground where possible, and challenge people with facts on issues when we do not agree. Watch the speech to the end and you will see what I'm talking about. If we are going to succeed in solving the long-term problems that we face, all Americans need to be able to discuss things in a civil and respectful way with people that we disagree with. We all love the United States, and we need to work together.)

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John Mertens for U.S. Senate
P.O. Box 330452
West Hartford, CT 06133-0452