Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - A Letter from Dan McKinnon

In the following letter, Dan McKinnon make patent his views on drug laws and civil liberties, two causes to which he devoted his life.

January 15, 2001 

Dear Brian, 

Thanks for your recent e-mail on Governors Johnson and Pataki. As you know, Johnson appointed me twice to our Supreme Court. He is basically an Ayn Rand libertarian who justifies his opposition to the drug laws on the substantial saving of money that will result if the law is liberalized, if not eliminated. He talks little about the immorality connected with the enforcement of these laws or the pain and stigma suffered by hundreds of thousands serving hard time for using or dealing drugs. This outrage in the name of law and order has continued since the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act (1914) and the Marijuana Tax Act (1937), a period of almost one hundred years, without a scintilla of success.

What causes me the most angst is the fact that despite overwhelming evidence that the criminal law approach or “the war on drugs” is a clear failure, our law makers and enforcers continue marching, even into Colombia, where millions are spent on futile eradication exercises. 

Frankly, I have concluded that the bankers and government officials must be on the take. What else explains how the business of illicit drug activity has expanded, not contracted, despite our giant war effort? Prohibition and incarceration signaled by the mantra of an ongoing “war on drugs” continues despite our protests. Frankly, I’m worn out after protesting for over 35 years to no avail. 

Please give our best to Elizabeth. 

Peace, Dan