The war on (insert the latest government cause here)
By John Stossel
Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
In their arrogance politicians assume that only they solve social problems. Their programs fail, so they pass new laws to address the failures. It's one reason that 22 million people now work for government.
Take the drug war. It's true that some Americans destroy their lives and their families' lives by using drugs. Others struggle with addiction. But if illegal drugs are as horrible and addictive as we've been told, how come the government's own statistics say millions try those drugs but only a small percentage continue using?
Columbia University psychology professor Dr. Carl Hart, author of “High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery,” says “hard” drugs are not as dangerous as the media make them out to be. For 15 years, he's studied the effects of marijuana, methamphetamine, crack cocaine and more on users.
“The data simply shows that the vast majority of people who use these drugs don't go on to become addicted,” he said on my show.
Society has grown more accepting of marijuana but many people believe crack and meth are far more dangerous and addictive, and that they quickly lead to violent criminal behavior.
“The same thing was said about marijuana in the 1930s,” Hart cautions. “People said you use this drug, you go on to commit murder, you go on to use heroin.” New drugs always frighten the authorities.
To learn what drugs really do, Hart advertises for drug users on Craigslist, and then, with government approval, he gives users drugs at his lab at Columbia. He's discovered that drug users' brains react in similar ways to the brains of alcohol consumers.
“The vast majority of people who use drugs like cocaine use it on weekends, monthly or every six months,” says Hart. “Most hold jobs. Pay taxes. They do those things, in a similar way that we use drugs like alcohol.”
Government's anti-drug crusaders think they protect kids by hyping the threat but Hart says they actually make it harder for people like him to educate the public about real dangers.
After the hype over marijuana, young people no longer trust warnings about other drugs.
In fact, Hart says, the drug war is worse than Prohibition. It costs more, has lasted longer and doesn't just kill people in the U.S.: From Afghanistan to Colombia, American helicopters try to destroy drug crops. Foreigners gain one more reason to hate Yankees.
John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of “No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed.”
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