Opinion: To Save Blue Lives, End the War on Drugs

President Trump has made the Blue Lives Matter movement a cornerstone of his presidency. Trump publicly condemned the NFL athletes who took a knee to protest police violence, and has pushed to give local cops more access to military equipment. Meanwhile, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to push the drug war. His latest move has been to rescind Obama-era memos around allowing state-legalized marijuana.

Neither Trump nor Sessions sees the obvious disconnect. Like many conservatives, Trump will stop at nothing to make the job of police officer safer, but the best way to protect cops is to end the war on drugs.

The war on drugs creates violence by encouraging violent people to enter the drug trade. Once they’re in, the black market enriches them. They use the proceeds to secure their turf, funding more conflict. In 2010 alone, illegal drugs represented a $108 billion market in the US. A lot of that money flows to gangs like the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips in Los Angeles, who used drug sales to finance their more violent activities like assault and robbery.

Once these criminals are involved in the drug trade, they fight both rival drug gangs and the police. Drug kingpins have an incentive to kill any police with whom they interact, because an arrest can mean decades in prison and killing investigators is an easy way to ensure they do not get caught. Low-level drug offenders lack this incentive, but are often the targets of no-knock raids. No-knock raids, in which police break into a home without announcing themselves, often lead to tragic results for police. Homeowners think their home is being invaded, so respond with violence.

The dangers to police from black markets aren’t just theoretical: we see hard evidence in the Prohibition era. When alcohol was outlawed and black market booze became big business for gangsters, violence against police skyrocketed. I built a database of police killings that shows a clear spike during Prohibition. I used data from the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks the death of every officer on the job by year. Some of these deaths are non-violent: police in an accident during work hours, for instance. But when I looked at violent police deaths (assault, stabbings and gunfire) from 1900 to 1950, the results were clear: during Prohibition, 192 police were killed on average each year. In the 14 years after Prohibition ended, that number plummeted to an average of 88 per year. Part of that may be attributed to an improving economy, but another factor was likely that black market alcohol was no longer subsidizing gangs.

Above-ground markets don’t enrich criminals or encourage violence against police.

Legal markets are mostly crime-free. There’s a reason Colorado hasn’t given rise to the next Al Capone, and it’s not just because marijuana makes people chill. Above-ground markets don’t enrich criminals or encourage violence against police. Elon Musk operates Tesla legally. That means that if police come to his headquarters, he has every incentive to treat them well, rather than ordering Tesla employees to kill them to protect himself.

Even as it creates more crime, the war on drugs redirects police resources away from violent criminals, endangering both communities and police in the process. In spite of the brutality associated with the war on drugs, the criminal justice system often targets low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. For 92.4 percent of people in federal prison on drug charges in 2012, a drug offense (not violence) was the most serious offense for which they were convicted. This ratio has probably improved since the federal government stopped subsidizing drug arrests in 2016, but nonviolent offenders are still swept into prison at alarming rates. Every hour the police spend in sting operations and busts of nonviolent offenders is an hour they cannot spend hunting down murderers.

The war on drugs also creates hostility towards police. In a drug deal, none of the participants welcome police presence; most see the cops as villains who will throw them in prison for enjoying themselves or for making a living. Police tend to concentrate drug raids in certain neighborhoods, which magnifies this resentment as residents repeatedly see friends and family arrested and thrown in prison. This resentment can lead to violence.

When police punish violent crime, they often leave thankful neighborhoods of would-be victims in their wake.

Ending the war on drugs would dramatically improve relations between police and poor and minority communities, reducing tensions and violence on both sides. When police punish violent crime, they often leave thankful neighborhoods of would-be victims in their wake. That creates more goodwill toward police, because cops are going where they’re truly wanted. Letting police focus on the crime that actually endangers local residents, rather than punishing dealers and users who have community sympathy, can encourage residents to see the police as benefactors rather than an occupying force.

Finally, the war on drugs creates the next generation of criminals. It steals away parents: in 2015, over 450,000 men and women were behind bars due to drug convictions. When a child’s mother or father is incarcerated, the child is three times more likely to spend time in jail or prison as an adult. Conservatives have long realized the importance of a strong family, but the war on drugs directly harms families. By locking up parents, our drug policy is creating thousands of children who are both more disposed to criminality, and unlikely to have any love for police. This endangers tomorrow’s officers.

The war on drugs is big government at its worst.

The war on drugs is big government at its worst. It costs a budget-busting $50 billion per year, and hasn’t even reduced usage --- 66 percent more Americans used illicit drugs in 2010 than in 1970. By creating bad incentives and unintended consequences, it makes more of the very violence it was intended to help stop. While no-one wants to see kids shooting heroin, we should follow Portugal’s example: when they decriminalized all drugs in 2001, drug overdoses and even use fell dramatically. Decriminalizing drugs can help us create a safer, freer nation.


Julian Adorney is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in National Review, Playboy, The Federalist, The Hill, and Lawrence Reed’s bestselling economic anthology, Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism. Opinions presented here belong solely to the author.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.

It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…




Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.