Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Other War We Aren't Winning

By Cornelia


The chart below illustrates the homicide rate in the United States from 1900 to 1998. It is important to note that each of the most violent episodes in this century coincide with the prohibition on alcohol and the escalation of the modern-day war on drugs. In 1933 the homicide rate peaked at 9.7 per 100,000 people, which was the year that alcohol prohibition was finally repealed. In 1980, the homicide rate peaked again at 10 per 100,000.
Source: US Census Data and FBI Uniform Crime Reports.


The Canadian Medical Association Journal published research on the impact of a police crackdown on a public illicit drug market in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) section of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The researchers found that:

"We detected no reduction in drug use frequency or drug price in response to a large-scale police crackdown on drug users in Vancouver’s DTES. The evidence that drugs became more difficult to obtain was consistent with reports of displacement of drug dealers and was supported by the significantly higher rates of reporting that police presence had affected where drugs were used, including changes in neighbourhood and increases in use in public places. These observations were validated by examination of needle-exchange statistics.

"Our findings are consistent with those showing that demand for illicit drugs enables the illicit drug market to adapt to and overcome enforcement-related constraints. Although evidence suggested that police presence made it more difficult to obtain drugs, this appeared to be explained by displacement of drug dealers."

Source: Wood, Evan, Patricia M. Spittal, Will Small, Thomas Kerr, Kathy Li, Robert S. Hogg, Mark W. Tyndall, Julio S.G. Montaner, Martin T. Schechter, "Displacement of Canada's Largest Public Illicit Drug Market In Response To A Police Crackdown," Canadian Medical Association Journal, May 11, 2004: 170(10), p. 1554.



Of the 1,846,351 arrests for drug law violations in 2005, 81.7% (1,508,469) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 18.3% (337,882) were for the sale or manufacture of a drug.
Source: Crime in America: FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2005 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, 2006), Table 29, from the web at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/data/table_29.html and Arrest Table: Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations, from the web http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/arrests/index.html last accessed Sept. 20, 2006.

Although people may think that the Drug War targets drug smugglers and 'King Pins,' in 2005, 42.6 percent of the 1,846,351 total arrests for drug abuse violations were for marijuana -- a total of 786,545. Of those, 696,074 people were arrested for marijuana possession alone. By contrast in 2000 a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 were for possession alone.


A study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University confirms what many criminologists have long known: alcohol is associated with more violent crime than any illegal drug, including crack, cocaine, and heroin. Twenty-one percent of violent felons in state prisons committed their crimes while under the influence of alcohol alone. Only 3% were high on crack or powder cocaine alone and only 1% were using heroin alone.
Source: Califano, Joseph, Behind Bars: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population, Forward by Joseph Califano, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (1998).



Federal statistics show that a large percentage of criminal offenders were under the influence of alcohol alone when they committed their crimes (36.3%, or a total of 1,919,251 offenders). Federal research also shows for more than 40% of convicted murderers being held in either jail or State prison, alcohol use was a factor in the crime.
Source: Greenfield, Lawrence A., Alcohol and Crime: An Analysis of National Data on the Prevalence of Alcohol Involvement in Crime (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, April 1998), pp. 20-21.



Most drug offenders are white. Five times as many whites use drugs as blacks. Yet blacks comprise the great majority of drug offenders sent to prison. The solution to this racial inequity is not to incarcerate more whites, but to reduce the use of prison for low-level drug offenders and to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment.
Source: Human Rights Watch, "Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs" (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, 2000), from their website at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/drugs/war/key-facts.htm.



Nationwide, black men are sent to prison on drug charges at 13 times the rate of white men.
Source: Human Rights Watch, "Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs" (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, 2000), from their website at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/drugs/war/key-facts.htm.



Nationwide, one in every 20 black men over the age of 18 is in prison. In five states, between one in 13 and one in 14 black men is in prison. This compares to one in 180 white men.
Source: Human Rights Watch, "Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs" (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, 2000), from their website at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/drugs/war/key-facts.htm.

According to ONDCP, federal spending to incarcerate drug offenders totals nearly $3 Billion a year -- $2.525 Billion by the Bureau of Prisons, and $429.4 Million by Federal Prisoner Detention.
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy, "National Drug Control Strategy: FY 2003 Budget Summary" (Washington, DC: Office of the President, February 2002), Table 3, pp. 7-9.



According to the American Corrections Association, the average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the US in 2005 was $67.55. That means it costs states approximately $16,948,295 per day to imprison drug offenders, or $6,186,127,675 per year.
Sources: American Correctional Association, 2006 Directory of Adult and Juvenile Correctional Departments, Institutions, Agencies and Probation and Parole Authorities, 67th Edition (Alexandria, VA: ACA, 2006), p. 16; Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2005 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, November 2006), p. 9.

The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, some 738 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (611), St Kitts & Nevis (547), U.S. Virgin Is. (521), Turkmenistan (c.489), Belize (487), Cuba (c.487), Palau (478), British Virgin Is. (464), Bermuda (463), Bahamas (462), Cayman Is. (453), American Samoa (446), Belarus (426) and Dominica (419).

However, more than three fifths of countries (61%) have rates below 150 per 100,000. (The rate in England and Wales - 148 per 100,000 of the national population - is above the mid-point in the World List.)
Source: Walmsley, Roy, "World Prison Population List (Seventh Edition)" (London, England: International Centre for Prison Studies, 2007), p. 1.



"More than 9.25 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or as sentenced prisoners. Almost half of these are in the United States (2.19m), China (1.55m plus pretrial detainees and prisoners in 'administrative detention') or Russia (0.87m)." According to the US Census Bureau, the population of the US represents 4.6% of the world's total population (291,450,886 out of a total 6,303,683,217).
Source: Walmsley, Roy, "World Prison Population List (Seventh Edition)" (London, England: International Centre for Prison Studies, 2007), p. 1.; US Census Bureau, Population Division, from the web at http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html last accessed July 8, 2003.



Since 1982 total justice expenditures more than quadrupled from nearly $36 billion to over $167 billion, a 366% increase. The average annual increase for all levels of government between 1982 and 2001 was 8% (table 1).
Source: Bauer, Lynn & Steven D. Owens, "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2001" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2004), NCJ202792, p. 2.



"- Overall, local police spending represented 30% of the Nation's total justice expenditure, and State corrections accounted for the second largest portion, 23%.
"- Police protection is primarily a local responsibility; accordingly, local governments spent 70% of the total police protection expenditure in the country in 2001.
"- Corrections is primarily a State responsibility, and the State governments accounted for 63% of the Nation's corrections expenditure.
"- Judicial and legal services in the United States were funded primarily by local (42%) and State (36%) governments."
Source: Bauer, Lynn & Steven D. Owens, "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2001" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2004), NCJ202792, p. 4.



"The total number of State and Federal inmates grew from 488,000 in 1985 to over 1.3 million in 2001. The number of local jail inmates tripled from approximately 207,000 in 1982 to over 631,000 in 2001.5 Adults on probation increased from over 1.3 to about 4 million persons. Overall, corrections employment more than doubled from nearly 300,000 to over 747,000 during this period."
Source: Bauer, Lynn & Steven D. Owens, "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2001" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2004), NCJ202792, p. 6.



Since the enactment of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, the Federal Bureau of Prisons budget has increased by 1,954%. Its budget has jumped from $220 million in 1986 to $4.3 billion in 2001.
Sources: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1996 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, 1997), p. 20; Executive Office of the President, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2002 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 2001), p. 134.



"Despite the investment of more than $5 billion for prison construction over the past decade, the prison system is currently operating at 32 percent over rated capacity, up from 22 percent at the end of 1997. These conditions could potentially jeopardize public safety."
Sources: Executive Office of the President, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2002 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 2001), p. 134.




From 1984 to 1996, California built 21 new prisons, and only one new university.
Source: Ambrosio, T. & Schiraldi, V., "Trends in State Spending, 1987-1995", Executive Summary-February 1997 (Washington DC: The Justice Policy Institute, 1997).



California state government expenditures on prisons increased 30% from 1987 to 1995, while spending on higher education decreased by 18%.
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, 1995 State Expenditures Report (Washington DC: National Association of State Budget Officers, 1996).



"The most recent figures available from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) indicate that, in 1999, federal expenditures on control of illegal drugs surpassed $17 billion; combined expenditures by federal, state, and local governments exceeded $30 billion. What is more, the nation's so-called 'drug war' is a protracted one. The country has spent roughly this amount annually throughout the 1990s."
Source: National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, "Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us" (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001), p. 1.



According to the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, the cost of [pure] heroin at the retail level declined from an average estimated $1,974.49 per gram in 1981 to $361.95 per gram in 2003. At the wholesale level, the drop went from $1,007.60 per gram in 1981 to $139.22 per gram in 2003. The average purity of heroin on the US market increased in that time as well, going at the retail level from an average of 11% in 1981 to an average 32% in 2003, and at the wholesale level from an average 12% in 1981 to an average 46% in 2003.
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy, "The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 Through the Second Quarter of 2003" (Washington DC: Executive Office of the President, November 2004), Publication Number NCJ 207768, p. 62, Table 5 & p. 63, Table 6.



According to the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, the cost of [pure] cocaine at the retail level declined from an average estimated $544.59 per gram in 1981 to $106.54 per gram in 2003. At the wholesale level, the drop went from $201.18 per gram in 1981 to $37.96 per gram in 2003. The purity of cocaine also went up during that time. At the retail level, it averaged 40% purity in 1981 and 70% purity in 2003, while at the wholesale level cocaine averaged 56% purity in 1981 and 63% purity in 2003.
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy, "The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 Through the Second Quarter of 2003" (Washington DC: Executive Office of the President, November 2004), Publication Number NCJ 207768, p. 58, Table 1 & p. 59, Table 2.



According to a United Nations report, "Over the past decade, inflation-adjusted prices in Western Europe fell by 45% for cocaine and 60% for heroin. Comparative falls in the United States were about 50% for cocaine and 70% for heroin."
Source: United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Global Illicit Drug Trends 1999 (New York, NY: UNODCCP, 1999), p. 86.



A study by the RAND Corporation found that every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs.
Source: Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Army (Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research Center, RAND Corporation, 1994), p. xvi.

The RAND Corporation study found that additional domestic law enforcement efforts cost 15 times as much as treatment to achieve the same reduction in societal costs.
Source: Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Army (Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research Center, RAND Corporation, 1994), p. xvi.



In 1969, $65 million was spent by the Nixon administration on the drug war; in 1982 the Reagan administration spent $1.65 billion; in 2000 the Clinton administration spent more than $17.9 billion; and in 2002, the Bush administration spent more than $18.822 billion.
Sources: U.S. Congress, Hearings on Federal Drug Enforcement before the Senate Committee on Investigations, 1975 and 1976 (1976); Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control Strategy, 1992: Budget Summary (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1992), p. 214; Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control Budget Executive Summary, Fiscal Year 2002 (Washington DC: Executive Office of the President, April 9, 2001), p. 2, Table 1: Office of National Drug Control Policy, "National Drug Control Strategy: FY 2003 Budget Summary" (Washington, DC: Office of the President, February 2002), Table 2, p. 6.



In March 1999, the Institute of Medicine issued a report on various aspects of marijuana, including the so-called, Gateway Theory (the theory that using marijuana leads people to use harder drugs like cocaine and heroin). The IOM stated, "There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs."
Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).



The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on marijuana explained that marijuana has been mistaken for a gateway drug in the past because "Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana -- usually before they are of legal age."
Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).



Maybe it's time to rethink our
national drug policy
.


With thanks for statistics and first-cited graph to the good people at the DrugSense organization: http://www.drugsense.org/


19 comments:

  1. What a great post, Miss C, as usual...it's making me think, though, which is a bit painful this early in the morning ;-)

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  2. I think I just wandered into Sociology 379. I hope the quiz next week is open book.

    Seriously, Cornelia, this is all very thought-provoking.

    Let's hear from Special Agent Jim (Reefer Madness) Born, who knows a thing or two on the subject. Okay, let's stick with "a thing."

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  3. Patty Smiley5/16/2007 10:01 AM

    Without a prompt, can anybody remember the name of one U.S. "Drug Czar" and a single thing he did?

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  4. Rae, my apologies. I hope you had some Starbucks as preparation.

    Paul... it's gonna be a pop quiz. Patty just asked the first (excellent) question, I think.

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  5. I spent some time a few years ago talking with a cop - someone from DL as i recall - about drug programs and the whole "DARE" thing and how it seemed a) not to accomplish squat any more than "just saying no". It was really interesting to both of us - my whine at the time - and still is - is the "DRUGS IS BAD" message that seems to come out of all this crap. now the "the anti-drug" ads which are all "if you only do x, your kids won't be curious, won't try, won't experiment, won't take....." which seems to be very 50s. Just have dinner and talk to your kids, Ward and June. NOT that it's not critical but I so hate the "anti-drug" message because, as I told the cop, it seems to me that we no longer discern between legit and bad, between addictive and useful, between any form of drug at all. I told her that I expected in the eyes of the kids being, well, taught or brainwashed that "drugs is bad" I would be seen as evil slime, a criminal, addict or worse because GASP I TAKE DRUGS. And I still wonder about that - these programs and messages don't ever seem to offer any sort of understanding about the difference. I realize they're going to simple loud messages but still. I mean look, as it is I have talked with far too many people like me who either refuse, or whose doctors refuse to prescribe useful or adequate medication because of the fear of addiction. It's bullshit - most "people like me" (that is people with chronic pain - going on over 30 years now) aren't addicts. blah blah blah. But the message seems to be "take an aspirin, next thing you know, you're a coke addict so tough it out cuz DRUGS are WRONG."
    Course you're talking to the person who thinks "Reefer Madness the Musical" is one of the best things she watched this year (the library is a great place.)
    Andi

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  6. Alberto Gonzalez, Esq.5/16/2007 11:51 AM

    Dear Ms. Read:
    You coked-out communist slut.

    We are tapping your phones and surveilling your butt.

    At this very moment, I have Justice Department lawyers (honors graduates of Liberty Law School) preparing to charge you with violations of the Patriot Act, the Sedition Act, and the Ventriloquist Act.

    Please be governed accordingly.

    Alberto Gonzalez, Esq.

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  7. FANTASTIC POST, Cornelia....usually just entertaining and lighthearted....but today a tour d'force! Brava ! I really like the pic of "Ethical Drugs".....in L.A., I suppose?

    Jon
    BTW: This Ad-min-istration changed it from "Just Say No," to "Just Say: I Dunno."

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  8. Mr. Gonzales:

    Kiss my surveilled, drugged-touting pinko butt--and that goes double for the lame duck you rode in on.

    Yours truly,

    C.L.F. Read,
    President, Bonghits for Jesus
    NorCal Chapter

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  9. Andi... EXACTLY!

    Just say no to drugs... um... penicillin... novocaine... tetracycline... lithium... oxycodone... ibuprofen.

    How about "let's try to figure out how to keep people from ABUSING mind-altering substances, and from otherwise damaging themselves and each other." Oh, wait... too many syllables for the Liberty Law School crowd.

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  10. Addicts are going to abuse substances, whether they are legal or not.

    That "drink responsibly" logo on the end of every booze commercial in America could not stop one, single drunk from getting wrecked if he wanted to.

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  11. Very true, but I wonder if we could shed a little light on that if we invested the $30 billion a year in some, oh, research into addictive behavior?

    $30 billion could buy a lot of good stuff, annually.

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  12. Sorry,
    I've been out all day.

    I don't want to get into a debate on this subject. I think Cornelia has, as usual, an intelligent and thoughtful post.

    I respectfully disagree with the legalization of drugs. This is not based on statistics or popular opinion. It based on my experiences in neighborhoods torn apart by drugs, seeing people's futures mortgaged to score dope and seeing innocent people killed for profit.

    Not a big fan of legalized drugs.

    But since it is a sociological issue, if congress comes up with another method to deal with it, I would be open-minded and follow the rules of law to help the problem.

    I admit full human fallibility on this subject. But that's how I feel.

    Jim Born

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  13. I don't know if I swing so far as to legalize drugs.

    I distinctly remember my Gr 13 World Issues class, when we discussed Amsterdam and our teacher said they'd had a problem with prostitution so they legalized it.

    A wise-ass in the back row piped up with, "Hope they never have a problem with murder."

    And no, it wasn't me.

    But I definitely think that more money should be spent studying addictive behaviours, investing in impoverished neighborhoods, in education so that people with low incomes can afford schooling, etc. I won't go so far as to comment on what Bush does spend your money on (being Canadian and having no real right) but it's what I'd like to see here too. We spend money on ridiculous things while we fail to address serious issues.

    Oh, and the legalizing pot thing? Damn, I used to live in BC (which is pretty much Canada's California, so mega-weird with some wacked-out, drug-induced philosophies) and someone in our building used to smoke pot all the time. I got the worst second-hand pot smoke headaches you can imagine. I'm allergic to cigarette smoke as it is, but those things killed me. Everyone else was on a permanent high while I had a big knot in the back of my neck.

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  14. Yep "drink responsibly" is just like the anti-smoking programs funded by Philip Morris. REAL convincing, say what? And of course addicts will always find things to be addicted to - anyone remember Larry Block's Matt Scudder books where the cleerk at his hotel had a constant buzz on from cough syrup? That always made me shudder - that stuff tastes SO BAD, you gotta REALLY want the buzz, huh?

    Jim - not going to pick a fight. I would like to know, with your background and perspective, if you're willing, to say if you think there's a difference between "legalization" and "decriminalization" and if that makes a difference. I remember such discussions from back in grad school (criminal justice) and while there was a difference in meaning, I can't argue if there's a difference in reality.

    And Alberto, Mr. "I'm Toast and Don't know it"? You wanna stop looking at my friend's ass and concentrate on trying to keep your stories straight?

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  15. Why live in living colour when the world is really black and white?
    Obviously the answer to the drug problem comes from one's perspective.....so Jim, i can respect your point of perpective.However, when one looks at the ebb and flow of human existance, "substances" have fallen in and out of vogue.....People have been abusing "substances" [read: everything under the sun, including, but not limited to: food,drugs,animals,the earth and each other]since time began.
    Thankfully, the bloggers here add colour to what some see as a black and white issue.
    And Cornelia, it is YOU who RULE!!
    I so much enjoy what your posts, despite the fact that some find this one to be a thesis or treaties!
    keep us all reading, and thinking.....cuz "A Mind is a terrible thing to waste.... What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful."
    Jon

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  16. When I talk to anyone who says that legalizing drugs would make usage spike I always ask if they would do heroin if it was legal.

    Of course, the answer is always no.

    And, it's my contention that we'd eliminate a lot of the problems Mr. Born witnessed if we took the profits out of the drug trade.

    Dope will, no doubt, screw up your life, but it's not the dope that tears neighborhoods apart. It's the money.

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  17. I'm with you on this, David. Few people are rallying to take liquor stores out of poor neighborhoods, though it can be argued that alchohol has as much of a negative impact as the use of illegal drugs does on the fabric of society.

    Prohibition of alcohol gave rise to Al Capone and his ilk, and nothing stemmed the tide of bootlegging until the eighteenth amendment was repealed by the twenty-first. Seems to me we should at least be discussing what impact the decriminalization or legalization of drugs might have.

    It's certainly brought down violent crime rates, incidence of intravenous-drug-related HIV infection, and hard drug use in the Netherlands.

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  18. Tom Griffith5/23/2007 7:10 AM

    Actually, the statistics are much more frightening. You can read them in "Statistical Abstracts of The United States of America" or in any almanac:

    1) There are three times as many people killed and injured by drunk drivers as by all the violent crimes, combined.

    2) For every person addicted to an "illegal drug," there are three people addicted to tobacco, five people addicted to prescription drugs, and ten people addicted to alcohol.

    Which only goes to show that there are socially acceptable ways to get snockered, and socially unacceptable ways. Frankly, it is the socially acceptable ways that scare me.

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