Former Republican Representative Bob Barr was once a committed advocate of -- indeed, participant in -- the "war on drugs." One could assume that a change of heart was necessary for him to secure the Libertarian Party nomination for President. He explains why he now opposes the drug war here. An excerpt:
Bob Barr, formerly the War on Drugs loving, Wiccan mocking, Clinton impeaching Republican is the presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party.
Now, you may be asking how this happened and my answer is simple: "The libertarians won."
For more than three decades, the Libertarian Party and small "l" libertarians have done their part to prove to America that liberty is the answer to most of the problems that we face today. Over the past several years, I was one of the many people influenced by this small party.
Whether through the free market or by simply allowing families to make their own decisions regarding the education of their children, libertarians have taught us that liberty does truly work.
In stark contrast, when government attempts to solve our societal problems, it tends to create even more of them, often increasing the size and depth of the original problem. A perfect example of this is the federal War on Drugs.
For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.
Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I'll even argue that America's drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, "War on Drugs," in 1972.
America's drug problem is only compounded by the vast amounts of money directed at this ongoing battle. In 2005, more than $12 billion dollars was spent on federal drug enforcement efforts while another $30 billion was spent to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.
The result of spending all of those taxpayer's dollars? We now have a huge incarceration tab for non-violent drug offenders and, at most, a 30% interception rate of hard drugs. We are also now plagued with the meth labs that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.
While it is clear the War on Drugs has been a failure, it is not enough to simply acknowledge that reality. We need to look for solutions that deal with the drug problem without costly and intrusive government agencies, and instead allow for private industry and organizations to put forward solutions that address the real problems.