ACLU on Drugs

American Civil Liberties Union


Drug prohibition means corruption, not an end to drug use

During the Civil War, morphine (an opium derivative and cousin of heroin) was found to have pain-killing properties and soon became the main ingredient in several patent medicines. In the late 19th century, marijuana and cocaine were put to various medicinal uses--marijuana to treat migraines; cocaine for chronic fatigue.

At the turn of the century, many drugs were made illegal when a mood of temperance swept the nation. In 1914, Congress banned opiates and cocaine. Alcohol prohibition quickly followed. That did not mean, however, an end to drug use. It meant that, suddenly, people were arrested and jailed for doing what they had previously done without government interference. Prohibition also meant the emergence of a black market, operated by criminals & marked by violence.

In 1933, because of concern over widespread organized crime & police corruption, alcohol prohibition was repealed. Meanwhile, federal prohibition of heroin and cocaine remained.

Source: ACLU 2017 voting recommendation on opioid crisis , Feb 17, 2017

A "drug free America" is not realistic; repeal prohibition

People in almost all cultures, in every era, have used psychoactive drugs. Native South Americans take coca-breaks the way we, in this country, take coffee-breaks. Native North Americans use peyote and tobacco in their religious ceremonies the way Europeans use wine. Alcohol is the drug of choice in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, while many Muslim countries tolerate the use of opium and marijuana.

A "drug free America" is not a realistic goal, and by criminally banning psychoactive drugs the government has ceded all control of potentially dangerous substances to criminals. Instead of trying to stamp out all drug use, our government should focus on reducing drug abuse and prohibition-generated crime. This requires a fundamental change in public policy: repeal of criminal prohibition and the creation of a reasonable regulatory system.

Source: ACLU 2017 voting recommendation on opioid crisis , Feb 17, 2017

Oppose mandatory drug testing of state employees

HB 1205: Requires drug testing to be conducted within each state agency's appropriation; authorizes agencies within state government to require employees to submit to periodic random drug testing.

Analysis by ACLU Florida: The legislature took it upon itself to expand the Drug-Free Workplace Program to mandate random, suspicionless drug testing for state employees on a rotating basis. Each state agency can choose whether to participate in the program as it will have to find the funds to do so, i.e. pay for the drug tests, in its current allotted budget. If an employee fails the drug test, he/she must attend a˙rehab program or face disciplinary action or discharge.

Legislative Outcome: Passed House 79-37-3 on Mar/2/12; Passed Senate 26-14-0 on Mar/9/12; Signed by Governor Rick Scott on Mar/19/12

Source: Analysis of Florida legislative voting record HB 1205 , Mar 19, 2012

Drug testing for welfare is ineffective and unconstitutional

Drug testing welfare recipients as a condition of eligibility is a policy that is scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act authorized--but did not require--states to impose mandatory drug testing as a condition of eligibility. No states currently [do so because]:
Source: ACLU 2015-16 voting recommendation on Welfare Weed , Mar 2, 2012

Other pundits on Drugs: ACLU on other issues:

Opinion Leaders on the Right:
Cato Institute
Milton Friedman (Nobel Economist)
Rush Limbaugh (Radio Talk Show Host)
Ayn Rand (Author and Philosopher)
Heritage Foundation (Think Tank)
Libertarian Party
Republican Party
Ronald Reagan(President,1981-1989)
Joe Scarborough (Former Congressman; Radio Host)

Opinion Leaders on the Left:
American Civil Liberties Union
Democratic Party
Noam Chomsky (Author and Philosopher)
Green Party
Arianna Huffington (Internet Columnist)
Robert Reich (Professor and Columnist)
Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)
John F. Kennedy(President,1961-1963)
Sierra Club
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: May 01, 2021