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Friday, January 7. 2011
If you don't mainline it, and when it's legal and cheaply available, it doesn't seem so terrible from a societal standpoint. Why should I care if you want to live on a cloud? No skin off my back.
Doctors and druggists especially seemed to enjoy it in the old days. It reminds me of how much Freud enjoyed his recreational cocaine (as did Sherlock Holmes), Dr. Leary his LSD, and Coleridge his opium.
All prohibition does is to raise the prices and to raise the societal cost. My view is to let every person struggle with his own soul and destiny.
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I've become more interested in what prompted countries to try prohibitions (particularly alcohol). We forget that many countries did prohibition besides the US including most Canadian Provinces.
It took a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol. The drinking problems had to be really out of control to make this possible. I read somewhere that drinking in the US after repeal was no where near what it was before prohibition. I suspect similar things occurred with Opium in china and Heroin elsewhere. There must be a point where the risks get pretty high for society.
Those three-martini lunches in Manhattan never seemed to harm society very much...
Not that I think it's a great way to chose to live.
Typical professional class distain - if (insert someone who has lots of education, a job and personal support system) can do (put illegal drug here) without any ill results then it must be okay for EVERYONE!!!
And it simply isn't true. Meth has lead to widespread destruction of lives and communities, ravaged lives, made crime rampant in some areas. And it's legalization will make things better? Really?
Go back to your ivory tower and pretend some more.
You are mistaken, Mr Troll. Meth has done nothing. It’s an inanimate substance. The problems you cite are caused by people.
We can’t say that legalization will make things better without first understanding what “better” means. Some set of people will destroy their lives no matter what. But when drugs are priced at the marginal cost of production, nearly all the crime arising from production and procurement disappears. Who steals to buy aspirin? Legalization is likely to limit harm done to strangers. That’s a heap better to me.
And yes, the current set of regulations are the product of class and race prejudice. Are you interested in righting those past wrongs, or perpetuating them?
Interesting thing about the influence of "class" in the war on drugs. Blacks were one of the most vociferous proponents of higher penalties for crack than powder cocaine because it affected their neighborhoods more. Now, all that has changed and (some, many?) black politicians, etc. want equalization between crack and powder cocaine penalties. because it affects their neighborhoods more (but obviously in a different context).
The fear is that there usage would spread to a larger population and make the problem of dependent dysfunctional people that much worse. This is aggravated by the welfare state. Drug legalization and abandonment of the welfare state should go hand in hand so the people who ruin their lives have less of a negative impact on the rest of us.
The theory that making it illegal makes it more expensive and then reducing the number of users is contraindicated by the current cost. The cost would be still much cheaper if it were legal and the people who would suffer then would be the distributors. On a separate note - if there were a sales tax rather than an income tax, those scum would be paying taxes like the rest of us!
To some degree, all I've said is theoretical and the fear then is what if the theory is wrong? I'm not sure the side effects of my theory being wrong is any worse than the side effects of the theory we're living by that we already know is wrong.
As for how the problem with meth would not be helped by legalization, another question is how has making it illegal helped?
making these things illegal has helped a lot. It has made for a lot of people not having access to it because they don't want to do something illegal.
I'm dead certain my sister would be a pothead by now if cocaine and heroine were legal, she's weak minded enough that she tries pretty much everything.
So would my mother.
So would many others, the better part of entire generations.
But all those people aren't destroying their lives and resorting to crime to fuel their addictions (even when legal, the social security they'd inevitably end up on as they'd be incapable of holding a real job wouldn't cover the expense of buying the stuff), because they're unwilling to go and buy it illegally (or don't know how to go about it, I know I wouldn't know how to find it if I wanted to).
I'm inclined to agree with you and the Barrister.
Alcohol prohibition came about partly because of real problems with alcohol use and partly from a (progressive rather than conservative) desire to manage other people's lives. Much the same happened with drugs of abuse, but it's important to remember that drugs like heroin were put under controls because the addicts were harming themselves and other people.
You make a crucial point: if we legalize drug use, we have to de-medicalize it. If people may obtain drugs and use them legally, they must be accountable for harm they do while they're stoned, as should be true with liquor. "I can't hold a job because I'm doing drugs" becomes a source of contempt rather than sympathy. "I got high on marijuana so I could get the nerve to rob the liquor store" becomes an aggravation, not a mitigation.
On the whole, I believe that removing prohibition on drugs will cause somewhat more problems directly linked to drugs. I think it will reduce the indirect problems: law enforcement costs to head off drugs, legal involvement of people who are holding but doing no other harm (see many episodes of Cops), gang warfare related to drug territories. On a pragmatic basis, I think it would be an overall win. I could be wrong.
Here's a funny thought. If drugs of abuse were legal to buy and sell, the black market would about evaporate. But if the legitimate producers looked at the tobacco lawsuits and said, "We will only sell to pharmacies and they may only sell under prescription," the supply might disappear. Would that be a hoot, or what?
I don't have data to back it up, but I remember George Will saying once that from a healthcare standpoint, prohibition was a big success. I trust his sources and interpretation and that agrees with your theory.
I think we both agree that legalization would be positive overall, but I get the feeling we both also agree that doing it is somewhat of a leap of faith. I certainly have a lot of trepidation about taking that path. Glenn Beck made the point recently about something (don't remember what off hand) that we shouldn't do until people are weaned from govt. and take care of themselves. It would be best for people to be responsible (not dependent on govt.) first, but do we wait for that? Having the govt. (us) take care of even more people doesn't excite me at all.
How far we've strayed!
I agree with much of the above. There is also a money and control factor.
Now doctors prescribe OxyContin to do what Laudanum once did, because...
Less addictive? No.
Cheaper? Hell no.
More effective? Debatable.
More money for drug companies? Hell yeah!
Its an area where many opinions are based on little experience. This is not to say we all have to try speed a few times before our opinions count, but since most people are not users of most drugs, some less-biased inquiry would be useful.
At the root, it is a moral issue. Each person’s moral agency requires them to be free to choose. Mr Bureaucrat or the public at large attempt to eliminate morality in the name of virtue when they outlaw certain chemicals. It seems foolish.
But given the world we inherited from the recent past, we’re not going to actually give everyone the unfettered ability to make bad choices. So let’s look at decriminalizing drugs by class of effect.
Start with the downers, or those chemicals that lead to idleness and introspection. Nobody smokes a pile of weed and then goes out to rob anything. Nobody takes a dose of heroin and then does much of anything. Show me who is harmed by the guy so stoned he’s not interested in getting off the couch.
It's not a moral issue but rather a genetic issue. Some of us can't handle drugs, including alcohol, nicotine etc etc. That gene is going to eliminate itself as it kills those who have it or otherwise prevents them from reproducing.
I suspect we can drag that process out over several thousand years or do it short and sharp by legalization.
If it weren't for the fact that the proportion of erratic and incompetent drivers already on our highways is already too high, I would favor all-in legalization so the stoners and lost ones could dream themselves into oblivion. But too many, behind the wheel, would take productive others with them.
Hear, hear, Barrister!
Let me ask 'whatever' how concerned s/he is about the "ravaged lives" of...
(a) people incarcerated for minor drug crimes (a world leader in incarceration rates, that us, folks!),
(b) people killed during SWAT raids to deliver drug crime warrants, and
(c) children growing up in a gangsta street culture based on prohibition-based profits.
All because of our nonsensical 'War on Drugs' policy.
A pox on it. It should end and the sooner, the better.
"a gangsta street culture based on prohibition-based profits."??
Good grief, talk about drinking the Kool-Aid. The "gangsta street culture" is prima facie the result of decades of popular-culture glorification of drugs and violence.
"Prohibition" versus "Legalization" is simply not the issue as we're long past having the luxury to discuss it. I've seen firsthand the results of de facto legalization in a community, and it should horrify anybody with the least sensitivity. The black folks had it right; crack cocaine did more to destroy their culture than any other single influence.
Marijuana, which is a horror unrecognized by those who've never seen the effects of long-term and early-onset use, will soon be legal, and it's essentially vain to argue otherwise. The inevitable result of this is simple: today Mexico, tomorrow America.