Where Have All the Drug Warriors Gone?

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, just sent me a link to the tape of his "debate" with journalist Richard Poe at last February's CPAC conference. It's only eight minutes long and is worth a listen because otherwise you might not believe me when I say there was no controversy whatsoever about the war on drugs, the ostensible topic of the exchange.

Poe, who works for David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture, spent his three minutes arguing that Nadelmann was not the right person to deliver the anti-prohibitionist message to the conservative movement because DPA is funded by George Soros. I'd say it was an attempt to undermine Nadelmann's argument by questioning his motives, except that Poe, a self-described libertarian who cited Murray Rothbard as a major intellectual influence, also opposes the war on drugs.

Confused? So was the audience. The first question was from a puzzled fellow who challenged Poe to explain the libertarian argument in favor of prohibition. Poe responded by reiterating that he opposes the war on drugs and thinks there is broad support for reform among conservatives.

Given my own difficulties in finding people willing to debate me on the drug issue, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that no one wanted to go up against Nadelmann except a guy who agreed with him. Still, it's remarkable that the organizers of a major conservative conference apparently could not find a single person who was willing to publicly defend the war on drugs.

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  • ||

    Still, it's remarkable that the organizers of a major conservative conference apparently could not find a single person who was willing to publicly defend the war on drugs.

    They must not have looked very hard.

  • ||

    It's not that they didn't look very hard. There's no shortage of prohibitionist blowhards, but finding one with an IQ above room-temperature bong water is nigh on impossible.

    I'm a moderator on an internet forum with over 10,000 members, many of them very much "big R" Republicans, and any time a debate over the drug war comes up, the drug warriors regularly make themselves look like the short-term memory impaired, pot smoking buffoons they rail against while those who argue to tear down prohibition come off as rational and well-educated on the issue.

  • ||

    Drug warriors don't get anything out of debating the issue. That they are right is the popular assumption. Declaring a victory in the war on the drug war based on the aforementioned lack of debate participants would be, um, premature to say the least.
    At least with the Darwinist vs. Creationist debate there are people on both sides of the issue who feel compelled to argue their points.

  • ||

    If I recall correctly, one of the conspirators over at The Volokh Conspiracy recently mentioned that he was in favor of keeping some drugs illegal. Whether that means he'd be in favor of the War on Drugs in its current form I don't know, but I sort of doubt it. I went looking for a link to the discussion on volokh.com, but couldn't find it. I think I read it about a month ago.

  • ||

    Reminds me of my struggles on the Yahoo group of my gentrifying neighbors in the 'hood.
    I keep saying I'm not going to lift a finger to improve "safety" in the 'hood until we end the war on drugs.
    Several have agreed, on Yahoo, and privately, that I'm right that the drug war should end, but, IN THE MEANTIME, we need to push the peddlers from 13th Street over to 12th Street or vice-versa. Or we need to keep encouraging the cops to do more drug sweeps.
    It's like they get it, but they don't get it.
    Interestingly, the black members of the Yahoo group and the neighbors, either don't get it period, or are afraid to admit they get it.

  • ||

    I don't know, Ruthless. I support legalization, but it didn't stop me from calling the cops on the guy injecting in the alley behind my building.

    Should they have let Al Capone go because prohibition was wrong?

  • fyodor||

    joe,

    Al Capone was likely responsible for killing people. Do you suspect the killing shooting up behind your building of crimes against others?

  • ||

    Should they have let Al Capone go because prohibition was wrong? With regard to booze, yes. With regard to fraud, extortion, murder, etc.? No.

    But then again, if it weren't for prohibition we would have never heard of Al Capone, and it's unlikely he would have risen to the legendary heights for which he still remains a household name.

  • ||

    joe,
    You're right in the sense my gentrifying neighbors could push all drug dealers completely out of our little corner of the world.
    I just don't want to do it that way.
    It's like the little boy with his finger in the dike. It just isn't the efficient way to do it.

  • ||

    The Drug Policy Alliance is obviously pretty minor league if they had to ask Richard Poe to argue for or against anything. He's one of Horowitz's Discover the Network conspiracy kooks who think that Soros is the greatest threat to, well, whatever anyone says is threatened.

  • ||

    Ruthless, it's not the best way, you are correct. It's not going to solve the problem. But if you're a little boy, and all you've got is your finger, whaddyagunnado?

    fyodor,

    I didn't suspect him of doing so. At the same time, I didn't want my building and its environs to become a place where people feel comfortable doing things that require hiding from the police.

    mediageek, I agree with your last 'graph. OTOH, if you were a cop, and you saw Al Capone, torturer-murderer-thief, unloading a keg from a truck, would you pass up the opportunity to put him where he couldn't hurt anybody?

  • ||

    Take a look at Poe's website if you don't believe me


    http://www.richardpoe.com/

  • Warren||

    One of the most odious features of prohibition is that, by definition it makes the trade in illegal drugs a crime. Drug dealers, while supplying a demand in a highly competitive market with entrepreneurial zeal, are still criminals. They don't sign contracts, can't take thieves and defrauders to court, etc. They are unsavory people and their business is conducted amidst, theft, vandalism, and violence.

    I see no contradiction in opposing the WOD while taking a NIMBY stand on illegal drug dealing.

  • Franklin Harris||

    This doesn't make sense. Not when every state in the union is getting ready to require background checks before you can buy a package of cold medicine, just in case you're really a crystal "worse than heroine" meth head.

  • ||

    joe and Warren,
    I'm so outraged by crime being "defined" into existence, I don't care about my back yard.

  • fyodor||

    joe,

    Your explanation is a lot more clear than your comparison to Capone.

    I think it's rather sad to lock up an innocent for the effect he might inadvertently have on encouraging others to do genuine bad things. That said, while I'd like to think I wouldn't do the same, I couldn't honestly claim I wouldn't.

  • fyodor||

    Warren,

    You don't know that any particular drug user or dealer has done genuinely bad things. Aren't you profiling? :-)

  • ||

    if you were a cop, and you saw Al Capone, torturer-murderer-thief, unloading a keg from a truck, would you pass up the opportunity to put him where he couldn't hurt anybody?

    If I were a cop, no, I wouldn't. Heck, I'll even agree that there's logic to the idea of reporting your ne'er-do-well neighbors to the authorities for drug violations.

    However, this completely skirts the point that Warren made; making something illegal (drugs, liquor, smokes, porn, guns, etc.) means that the market for it doesn't go away, but is instead taken over by unsavory people who are willing to break the law to provide that product, and are willing to use criminal actions to enforce disputes that would otherwise be resolved in a court of law.

  • ||

    Ruthless,

    No kids, huh?

    fyodor,

    I suppose, in a sense, I'm now one more person who's been corrupted by the War on Drugs.

  • ||

    mediageek, they weren't my neighbors. They were a couple of strangers who ducked into the alley. If they were my neighbors doing it in their unit, I wouldn't have known, or called the cops if I did.

    But I gotta say, while I agree strongly with your point about prohibition empowering dangerous criminals by turning a market into a black market, the point loses a lot of its oomph when you procede it by stating that you don't think the police should do anything about one of those dangerous black marketeers when they get the chance.

  • ||

    joe's right, there's no conflict there. I support the right of people to get high in the privacy of their home, not in the alley behind my house.

  • Mike H.||

    joe's right, there's no conflict there. I support the right of people to get high in the privacy of their home, not in the alley behind my house.

    Exactly. Especially if one has children. (Won't someone think of the children??!)

    :)

  • Warren||

    I'd like to take this opportunity to restate my position that opposition to prohibition is THE libertarian issue at this time. By that I mean, this is our best chance at wresting the reigns of power from the establishment. We should be as vocal as possible in condemning the WOD and actively promoting the association between libertarians and legalization. Prohibition grows more execrable each passing day. I believe it will soon reach a point where the canard of the WOD will become untenable. By taking a stand and voicing our opposition to a policy that is universally endorsed by all elected officials, we will establish ourselves as people of principal, and extend credibility to our philosophy as a whole.

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    Warren,

    Unfortunately, our public mouthpieces on the issue are frequently crackpots that can't state their case eloquently, and the party ends up looking like a bunch of stoned monkeys fucking a football.

  • MP||

    joe's right, there's no conflict there. I support the right of people to get high in the privacy of their home, not in the alley behind my house.

    And if it was a cigarette? I don't see how one can be pro-legalization but then want users busted. If you use the "vice leads to hard crime" logic, you are simply falling in line with the justifications used by the drug warriors.

  • Mike H.||

    And if it was a cigarette?

    I wouldn't like that either. It's not the substance that the guy possesses that's the issue in this particular case, it's the fact that he's hanging out in a fuckin' alley behind MY house.

    Do whatever you want at home (god knows I do), but keep it at home. Don't bring it around me - unless I ask. I have a right to not have 'freaks' hanging out by my house.

  • ||

    "I'd like to take this opportunity to restate my position that opposition to prohibition is THE libertarian issue at this time."

    YES! I can finally get my decoder ring!

  • ||

    "And if it was a cigarette?"

    If it was a cigarette, he wouldn't have intruded into our alley to avoid detection.

    "If you use the "vice leads to hard crime" logic, you are simply falling in line with the justifications used by the drug warriors." No, you're falling in line with the logic of anti-prohibitionists. To wit, prohibiting a common, victimless activity increases the harms surrounding the activity.

  • aj||

    The Horowitz follower must have only attended to beat up on Soros, he should have stayed on the porch if he wasnt going to engage the topic on the sidewalk, to put it metaphorically.

    To address the concern of the Soros basher on stage at this "debate", I think I could be persuaded, even as a many times over gun owner, to sacrifice the 2nd amendment, if it even really exists, to get true drug reform.

    Imagine the de-powering of law enforcement that would follow. Swat teams pounded into plowshares. Dogs and cats living together...

  • ||

    The difference between you gentrifiers and we lower-income neighbors in the 'hood, is this question:
    Are cops the solution or the problem?

  • ||

    Joe-

    Actually, I think I should restate what I wrote. Re-reading it now, the language is ambiguous. I should have written that
    If I were a cop, no, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to nail Al Capone unloading a barrel of prohibited hooch. Sorry for the mix-up.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to restate my position that opposition to prohibition is THE libertarian issue at this time.
    Warren, I'm sorry but I have to vehemently disagree with this. Personally, I'm of the opinion that by embracing drug prohibition as the main issue the libertarians have done nothing but repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot.

    There are a couple of reasons for this:
    1)Despite the massive numbers of recreational drug users, how many of them actually care enough about the issue to get out to the polls and vote?

    2)By embracing drug legalization you alienate massive numbers of potential libertarian converts in flyover country. Hate to say it, but salt-of-the-earth types like my parents aren't likely to give one wit about recreational drug use. Mom leans towards decriminalization, Dad's a prohibitionist, but neither gives a damn about the issue enough to want to change party affiliation over it.

    The libertarians need to stop hanging their shingle with pot heads and take hold of an issue that has much wider appeal. IMNHO, this should be the income tax. Everyone pays income taxes, the majority of the productive class in this country are struggling under rapacious tax levels and a tax code that's so byzantine that not even the monkeys at the IRS can be held accountable for giving you shoddy advice.

  • MP||

    If it was a cigarette, he wouldn't have intruded into our alley to avoid detection.
    It's not your alley, it's a public alley. If he went in there to fondle his girlfriend, would you call the cops on him? If you say "no, that's not a crime", are you saying you'd call the cops on him because he is committing a crime, even though the crime is one you don't think should be labeled as such?

    No, you're falling in line with the logic of anti-prohibitionists.
    So what are you suggesting the primary reasoning of the prohibitionists is? Drugs are bad because I say so? Prohibitionists gain tranction because they use externalities as their crux.

  • ||

    Funny, Ruthless, you were saying before that most of your (presumably not rich gentrifying) black neighbors were pro-drug laws.

    So which is it?

  • MP||

    ...crutch...bad typing day today...

  • ||

    "It's not your alley, it's a public alley."

    Actually, in this case, that's a little ambiguous. But that's not really your point.

    "If he went in there to fondle his girlfriend, would you call the cops on him?"

    Given the legal status of girlfriend fondling, the cops wouldn't be much help. But yes, we did what we could, within reason, to discourage people from assuming that the alley was a safe place to engage in covert activity.

    "Prohibitionists gain tranction because they use externalities as their crux." As could anti-prohibitionists, if they were smart.

  • fyodor||

    Good point, MP. Folks, we're not talking about someone hanging out on your personal property. If we were, we'd all agree we'd have the right to throw him off for whatever reason we choose. Including smoking a cigarette or fondling his girlfriend. But we're talking about someone shooting drugs in the vacinity of your property. I'm willing to admit I might put fear of personal safety ahead of the rights of the drug user, but I wouldn't claim to be proud of it, nor would I compare it to arresting Al Capone (a nonsensical analogy based on joe's reasoning). There's also no logic to saying that you support the right of someone to use drugs in his own home but not on the streets if you think it's a right.

  • ||

    You know, in a free society one could simply walk into the alley with your jacket open to show the butt of a pistol in a shoulder holster and ask what the druggie is doing in the alley.

    I don't think I'd have the heart to call the cops on that poor heroin addict, but I do see joe's point. It's one thing to support the right of any consenting adult to do whatever he wans on his own property, and quite another to support the right of the dregs of the black market to congregate in the alley behind your house.

    Just think--a matter where I'm more of a bleeding heart than joe! ;)

    As to whether drug reform is "the" issue for libertarians, I don't think there is one single issue. It depends on the audience and the campaign. There is no magic key to victory, sadly.

  • Mike H.||

    I also support the 'right' of people to engage in anal sex with donkeys, but that doesn't mean I want them doing that in the alley behind *MY* house.

  • ||

    Why not open the window and shout "Get the fuck out of my alley"?

  • fyodor||

    As could anti-prohibitionists, if they were smart.

    Ha-ha, couldn't have joe on a thread without the gratuitous slap. Actually, I'd say anti-prohibitionists often do bring up the negative externalities of prohibition. But it's generally a futile pissing match between hypotheticals. One can't really prove whether ending prohibition will increase or decrease crime. Libertarians can just as easily be called dogmatic ideologues as convince anyone by stressing that aspect. But alas, we genuinely do believe liberty has all SORTS of net positive consequences....

  • fyodor||

    Mike H.,

    Good one. So I take it you see drug use as some sort of "indecency" that should be kept out of the public view? Once again the cigarette smoking analogy becomes useful. If public cigarette smoking were banned, would you think that was fair and analogous to banning public bestiality?

  • ||

    Let me throw it out this way:

    As one who has done their fair share of smoking the herb, I have reasonal knowledge that pot smoking is actually common enough to not warrant concerns if I smell the odor drifting from the alley and its actually pretty safe. However, when it comes to coke, meth, crack, or even a bottle in a brown sack, my experience with those substances causes me to have concerns. If its alcohol in the brown sack, why do you need to drink it covertly behind my house, move on please. If its the other substances, I would be concerned of them OD'ing or even acting out of control. I don't think I would call the cops, because they often want too much info from me personally, but I would keep a close eye on their activity. Lord knows if they go off the cuff or kill themselves, I am going to have a butt ton of cops combing the area and look at everyone and everything suspiciously. Hate to say it, even though I know I am doing nothing wrong, cops make me nervous, they are too power tripping.

    For me, its not about things being legal or illegal, its about the nature of your behavior in the close proximity to my family and home. For the record, I DO have prostitutes and heroin junkies getting their thing on in the alley behind my apartment. So far, there hasn't been anything done to warrant my concern, other than cops harrasing any lady who looks like they are dressed for an evening on the town or speeding by at high, unsafe speeds trying to get someone.

    In the meantime, lets end the WoD and the war on prostitution so these people don't have to use my ally!

  • ||

    Actually, come to think of it, *I* have gotten high in the alley behind my house, so I must be a hypocrit :-)

  • ||

    I don't want to see people shooting up on my street for the simple reason that they tend to act like crazy lunatics. Same reason I don't like crazy drunks on my street. It's not the drug use that's objectionable, it's the resultant behavior, for which we already have public nuisance laws and such.

  • ||

    funny unrelated story: the condo complex down the way from me (nice building, if you dig that sort of insane lego style like germany but with colors type thing) had a hooker problem, which became a hooker crack problem, when the hookers and clients would start breaking into cars on the block to do business. people started getting ticketed for drug paraphenalia when they called in the break-ins, though that got nipped in the bud eventually.

    two black market tastes that taste great together.

  • MP||

    I don't want to see people shooting up on my street for the simple reason that they tend to act like crazy lunatics. Same reason I don't like crazy drunks on my street. It's not the drug use that's objectionable, it's the resultant behavior, for which we already have public nuisance laws and such.

    Move to jolly ole England then. You'll love the way they crush freedom via ASBOs.

  • ||

    Move to jolly ole England then.

    I hardly believe it's "crushing freedom" to send a cop over to tell the assholes screaming at the top of their lungs at 5am directly underneath my 2nd floor window to shut the fuck up.

  • ||

    You are right, fyodor, anti-prohibitionists do bring up those points all the time. My comment was a slap (and hardly gratuitous, btw) at those whose phoney, 60s-retread, oh-so-transgressive "identification" with drug dealers living in other people's communities leads them to deny the very real, very dangerous criminiality that results from the growth of a black market.

    Bob Dobalina, 'Why not open the window and shout "Get the fuck out of my alley"?' When I mentioned the episode to one of my neighbors, he said he would have waited until the guy had a needle in his arm, then yelled "Boo!" as loud as he could, to startle the guy. Now that's just not right.

  • ||

    What about Bill Bennett? You'd think he'd be a safe bet. (Snicker Snicker)

  • MP||

    Time for Rhywun to read up on the Brits new best friend, the ABSO.

    See here for ongoing commentary and here and here for some recent articles.

    The ABSO, making Britain into a modern worker's paradise, for your enjoyment.

  • ||

    joe,
    I think my black neighbors have a love-hate relation with cops.
    Surely you've read how all city council people talk about hiring more cops during the election season. Then they pay millions to outside consultants and lawyers to tie the hands of cops.

    Many in this thread are of a similar two minds.

  • ||

    What about Bill Bennett? You'd think he'd be a safe bet. (Snicker Snicker)

    I'm sure Bennett could use a speaker's fee. I hear he lost a bundle betting on the papal election.

  • Mike H.||

    Good one. So I take it you see drug use as some sort of "indecency" that should be kept out of the public view? Once again the cigarette smoking analogy becomes useful. If public cigarette smoking were banned, would you think that was fair and analogous to banning public bestiality?

    Whom am I to claim that bestiality is indecent? Perhaps that was one really hot donkey? ...Maybe that donkey shouldn't have worn that sun dress?

    Mmmm...sun dresses...

    My entire point is this: We ought to have the right to pretty much do whatever we damned well please in the privacy of our own homes. However, as a society, we have a collective right to demand that certain things (here comes the unavoidable societal relativism) that the majority of us find "odd" or unseemingly, occur behind closed doors only.

    For instance, do any of you sick bastards want to see me get high with my girlfriend then sodomize the ever-loving crap out of each other in the alley behind joe's house? Or would you rather we engage in this in our home (pleasure dome)? Ok, well maybe some of you do, but I'd be willing to wager that most of you would rather not see my pale Irish ass bouncing up and down in a rythmic - almost tribal - fashion.

  • ||

    "damn you, ratzo!"

    always bet on white.

  • ||

    Here is my problem. I am a libertarian and ordinarily I would support people's right to abuse their bodies. However, we are a nation of drivers. And what scares me is the idea of people shooting themselves up with whatever and getting on the road with me. I support people's rights to make decisions. Unless they are stupid enough to drive drugged or drunk, in which case I support draconian penalties.

  • Mike H.||

    So you're against driving while impaired? Yeah, me too.

    I'm also against cancer!

  • ||

    Time for MP to look up the definition of "slippery slope", and conclude that this "ABSO" business is not what I am advocating.

  • ||

    While I am for complete legalization of drugs I think that it probably would have to get much much worse in terms of what the majority of people in this country are willing to do to those that use and sell drugs before they come to the realization that prohibition doesn't work.

    I think that the "won't somebody please think of the children" folks would rather see us the United States have drug laws like Singapore than move closer to legalization: http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/01/15/singapore.executions.reut/
    http://www.expatsingapore.com/general/law.shtml

    These people are not reasonable and unfortunately what they have been taught in school, church, and by the media about drug abuse will not be forgotten easily, especially when they have to protect their little ones. As an asside I remember the first time I smoked pot I was genuinely afraid of not being able to remember anything and it took a while for me to realize that much of waht I had been told about illegal drugs was bullshit.

    So for you smart folks who post on H&R what should I tell people who think that zero tolerance is an effective deterent? Because I know it would keep me away from drugs.

  • fyodor||

    Mike H,

    Good job at using different words to say the same thing and then entirely missing my point. "Indecent" seems like as good a label as any to describe that which we would prohibit in the public sphere but not privately, but if you don't like that wording, fine (although I don't see why how HOT the donkey is has anything to do with the decency of its public human deflowering). But whatever wording we use to describe the need to put some things behind closed doors, I'm far from certain that drug use needs to be one of those things, for the same reason I would not include smoking cigarettes, either. And you have yet to explain why either, other than to raise analogies that are absurd in their extremity (albeit colorful).

  • ||

    Here's how to bring Republicans on board ending the War on Drugs: National Security. Drug prohibition supports the terrorists, creates the smuggling routes to infiltrate the US and links the terrorists with ready-made allies, the drug trafficking gangs. How will the terrorists get a WMD into the States? They'll work with gangs like M-13, the extremely brutal Salvadoran mafia gang, who threatened the Minuteman Project members.

  • ||

    Smoking is allowed in air-conditioned pubs, discos, karaoke bars and nightspots.

    Who would have thought that paragon of liberty, Singapore, would tolerate smoking more than my own "Capital of the World" NYC? You'd think smokers would at least spend a few decades in jail.

  • Clayton E. Cramer||

    Mediageek writes: "There's no shortage of prohibitionist blowhards, but finding one with an IQ above room-temperature bong water is nigh on impossible."

    Someone needs to spend a bit less time with his favorite medicinal herb, and a little more time talking to the 90% of Americans who oppose decriminalization of illegal drugs.

    Did Prohibition create big problems? It sure did. On the other hand, the cirrhosis of the liver death rate fell by about half--and then rose again to the pre-Prohibition levels--and the delay was about right for Prohibition to explain the difference.

    Does drug prohibition create serious problems with black marketeers solving their disputes at gunpoint? It sure does. Repealing the drug laws would certainly reduce the problems of gang related murder and corrupted police and judges.

    On the other hand, making everything legal creates a different set of problems. Intoxication is a major cause of murder, rape, child molestation, even economic crimes such as burglary and robbery, as well as the obvious motor vehicle and industrial accidents. These problems aren't going away just because the drugs are legal.

    To the extent that these drugs become cheaper and more available, the problems will certainly get worse. I agree that there are a lot of Americans who aren't going to do cocaine or meth even if Wal-Mart is selling at a penny a dose, but the crowd that already has a serious problem with alcohol, marijuana, or meth, will have a much serious problem if they can stay perpetually stoned. There will be at least a small percentage who will start to use some of these drugs because they are legal and readily available. The proof is left to your nearest college campus, where alcoholism is depressingly common.

    There are many laws and practices we lump together as the "War on Drugs," and there are legitimate arguments against these. There are certainly serious problems caused by drug prohibition. Pretending that opponents of decriminalization are morons is simply ignorant.

  • ||

    binge drinking != alcoholism

  • ||

    Here's a little bit of a non-sequitor about the drunk/drugged driving issue: There's been some talk from politicians about installing a little breathalyzer into the ignition of cars so if you blow over the limit, the car won't start. When I first heard of this, I thought, "hot damn, big ol' government has its filty hands all over my car again." However, as I thought about it more, it might be a good thing. If you were actually incapable of driving a car drunk, those traffic stops (roadblocks, etc) for drunk drivers as well as the practice of pulling over drivers for "swerving a little bit back there" would have to stop. I recently spoke to a police sergeant in my town, and he said that the vast majority of drug arrests come from traffic stops concerning drunk driving. So my point is... if we had the little breathalyzers, then the number of drug convictions would decline apace, hopefully. But this is probably just me being a starry-eyed optimist... they'd probably have traffic stops to see if people had tampered with the little mechanism... dammit and it sounded so good in my head....

  • ||

    Clayton Cramer-

    You make many good points. Certainly many ordinary prohibitionists are smart people who mean well. And certainly some problems will get worse with decriminalization of drugs.

    I guess the thing that frustrates me most is that everybody learned in school that prohibition of alcohol was a disaster. Yes, even in public schools, amazingly enough. Yet so few people make the connection. They go to American History class, learn that alcohol prohibition failed, and then in the next class period go to D.A.R.E. and learn that smoking a joint is a grave threat to the Republic. It's maddening!

    Also, on the problems that drug legalization will bring: It will certainly not be a panacea. I've seen the dangers of drug abuse in my own family as well as in my volunteer work. But I think some of the harms (not all, but some) will be mitigated by bringing the problem out of the black market. Lowering the price will reduce the number of people who steal and engage in prostitution to support their habits. Keeping addicts away from street dealers will also reduce the number of addicts who get involved with or fall prey to violence.

    And before prohibition a lot of people took drugs in relatively mild, recreational doses that brought on fewer social pathologies than the intense doses sold on the black market. If drugs are ever legalized then no doubt we'll see a lot of people get really messed up in the initial orgy of celebration, but in the aftermath one can hope that we'll move to a system like that before prohibition: heroin sold in small doses as a relaxant, cocaine sold in mild doses as a stimulant (think of the original Coca Cola).

    Finally, bringing the problem out into the open might make it easier for users to get sound medical advice on how to at least manage their addictions so they can remain functional. I don't know of any bad habit that becomes less destructive when people are afraid to talk about their problem.

  • Mike H.||

    Good job at using different words to say the same thing and then entirely missing my point. "Indecent" seems like as good a label as any to describe that which we would prohibit in the public sphere but not privately, but if you don't like that wording, fine (although I don't see why how HOT the donkey is has anything to do with the decency of its public human deflowering). But whatever wording we use to describe the need to put some things behind closed doors, I'm far from certain that drug use needs to be one of those things, for the same reason I would not include smoking cigarettes, either. And you have yet to explain why either, other than to raise analogies that are absurd in their extremity (albeit colorful).

    Be less snarky or I shall grow angry. You wouldn't like me angry. Nor would the donkey. But yes, I do so love the extremely colored analogies. �Eee-ahh, eee-ahhh!�

    Anyhoo yeah, dude, some things our society has deemed, for whatever reason, as 'indecent.' How does one define indecency? Fuck, I don�t know. Pretty much anything that is �odd� or �unseemly.� Can�t explain why, exactly, but sticking a needle into one�s vein seems a bit unseemly to me, and it�s really something I�d rather not observe. Inhaling fire does not. Illogical and unreasonable? Most probably. But then again, the issue of what�s decent and what�s not tends to be rather illogical and highly subject to personal preference to begin with, eh?

    I�m afraid I really have no good answer for ya, fyodor. But leave me now, for I wish to go pack a bowl!

  • ||

    I pay my taxes. I am a hard worker.

    I just want to be able to go home at night and smoke a big fat joint in peace and under the law..

    Is that too much to ask?

    Oh well, I guess there is always alcohol. At least it isn't as harmful or addictive as marijuana.

  • ||

    On the other hand, the cirrhosis of the liver death rate fell by about half--and then rose again to the pre-Prohibition levels--

    Actually, I believe the study that showed that has long since been discredited*. So it can pretty much be argued that alcohol prohibition produced no social good.

    *I seem to recall reading that in an article by Jacob Sullum, might have been somewhere else though.

  • ||

    The conservative problem with the libertarian point on this is mainly pragmatic- total legalization sounds mildly decent on paper (though nobody would want a meth user next door), but it won't ever work in reality.
    - So you make all drugs legal, who's going to sell them? Not Wal-Mart, the trial lawyers will have 100 years of studies showing the harmful, addictive effects of these drugs and will eat alive any fool who makes or sells these things.
    - So nobody makes or sells them- they get sold on the street corner. Black market, same violence problem we have now.
    --So, we just stop hassling the corner dealers. In other words you want to designate an industry to be effectively exempt from all federal, state, and local labor, health, zoning, and tax laws. Fine- as long as you give my business the same deal.
    --But the drugs are no different from alcohol and cigarettes. Nonsense. The drugs you are talking about here have the sole intended effect of inebriating the user. Believe it or not, you can drink a beer and smoke a cigarette without getting high. It is, always has been, always will be illegal to get sloshed in public.

    Basically- go ahead and legalize drugs, but do it after you have abolished all product liability lawsuits, all land use and pharmaceutical regulation, all corporate and personal income and sales taxes, and formally enshrined my right to shoot the greasy freak who keeps smashing my car windows.
    Now, how many people are going to vote for that?

  • Charles Hueter||

    These problems aren't going away just because the drugs are legal.

    To the extent that these drugs become cheaper and more available, the problems will certainly get worse.

    You are probably right, but I think only for the short term period of, perhaps, 12-18 months after a hypothetical complete decriminalization. The abusers will abuse and the curious will experiment. The irresponsible and the careless, unless they exercise self-control or find help for their behavior, will end up destroying themselves and providing examples on how NOT to live one's life. The hedonistic impulse may be limitless, but it needs a living and conscious body to sustain it. Chronic abuse of meth, coke, and heroin is not generally conducive to keeping those things functional towards reality. There is also no shortage of information and advocacy against the use of these drugs, even if one discounts the often-outrageous fear mongering conducted by the state.

    Of course, this assumes those fools aren't getting their jobs, housing, health care, and nutrition subsidized by the state, in which case the just responsibility they should bear is artificially weakened. A great deal of the problems "caused" by illegal drug use are directly attributable to the state picking up these and other tabs and spreading them to taxpayers, as well as hindering the individual's ability to defend themselves from street threats.

    I think that after a relatively short period of time, "hard" drug usage would peak and then begin to drop, leveling off at a roughly constant average rate. Certainly not a Utopia and certainly not without drug abuse problems. However, respect for fundamental self-ownership is worth it.

  • ||

    Someone needs to spend a bit less time with his favorite medicinal herb, and a little more time talking to the 90% of Americans who oppose decriminalization of illegal drugs.

    I have talked to that 90% and found the majority differentiate marijuana from other "illegal drugs." But you wouldn't know from the media as they go to their report on drugs and have their little video image of a pot leaf, joint, syringe, line of coke, and a few pills. A good start to ending/reforming the WoD is to get open discussion and honest discussion of each drug, something the drug warriors will not do. A solid majority of the people I associate with will call for the legalization (or decrim) of pot, while stepping up efforts to combat meth and crack. I have lived near a couple of meth labs that blew up, one resulted in a couple of children getting killed, for that, I see meth as a drug that can kill nonconsenting parties. Although, if legalized, it could be produced much more safely with a much better quality. As it stands, the herb is the drug of choice not counting alcohol and Rx meds. Focusing on the "killer" drugs is probably the best use of the DEAs time, if its even worth that.

  • TallDave||

    Hopefully someday we can move on to more enlightened and practical policies that actually reduce harm without infringing on our rights.

    Greatly enjoying my Reason subscription, btw. Best money I ever spent.

  • TallDave||

    If you haven't read "Drug Crazy" by Mke Gray, buy it and read it now. There are enourmously damaging unintended consequences to what we're doing now.

  • ||

    I wouldn't make drug legalization the last priority, but JeffNelson makes a good point about lawsuits. Any drug legalization law will have to come with liability protection for drug dealers.

  • ||

    I'm sick of parents taking my liberty off the table. If the world is too harsh for your darlings, why did you have them? I assume you were aware of the conditions on Earth before you bore them.

  • TallDave||

    I think the major problem with WOD is very simple: regardless of how harmful any drug is making a drug illegal doesn't make people stop using it.

    Some people are going to be self-destructive regardless. Treating a medical problem as a criminal problem just makes it all much worse for everyone. The gov't should focus on regulation and education.

  • ||

    So you make all drugs legal, who's going to sell them? Not Wal-Mart, the trial lawyers will have 100 years of studies showing the harmful, addictive effects of these drugs and will eat alive any fool who makes or sells these things.

    Irrelevant. Demonstrate how another man's use of heroin is harmful to *me*. Not to mention the fact that studies proving the actual harm of alcohol and cigarettes have not (yet) discouraged anyone from selling them.

  • ||

    Rhywun,
    I sympathize with your point- I really do. But it's a pipe dream to consider these points "irrelevant."
    Drug dealers are breaking a hundred laws with every transaction- take the possession and possession with intent charges away and they're still going to jail.
    No company on the planet is going to make or sell drugs after seeing what the trial lawyers did to Phillip Morris. Period.
    So you still end up with a violent black market, only you officially ignore it- and leave libertarians arguing that it's perfectly fair that crack cocaine is less regulated than spring water.

  • ||

    JeffNelson-

    I'm not sure that trial lawyers could drive drugs into a violent black market if the sanctions were civil rather than criminal.

    I'm sort of thinking this through as I type, so bear with me. The dealers wouldn't be afraid of cops going after their inventory. Rather, they'd be afraid of clients turning on them. I can imagine a number of solutions:

    1) Sellers insulate themselves by insisting that buyers sign massive waivers. I know, a waiver won't stop a lawyer from causing you trouble, and the legal wrangling can be long and costly, but a waiver will make it harder for the lawyer to actually win once it goes to trial.

    2) Sellers might revert to their old habits and employee black market violence. Only the wouldn't be using thugs to protect their inventory and silence informants. Rather, they'd use thugs to kill plaintiffs and their lawyers.

    You, there's a part of me that would welcome that scenario. Talk about the ultimate tort reform!

    3) Drug dealers might try to hide their assets from courts by, well, money laundering and offshore accounts and all of their other tricks. No deep pockets, no lawsuits.


    To be honest, I do see your point, but the black market measures incentivized by cocaine lawsuits would still be less drastic than those currently employed. A smaller black market is a smaller black market. And if they wack a few lawyers and their clients, well, I won't complain.

  • fyodor||

    jeffnelson,

    Huh? People risk the penalties of all these laws to sell drugs, but if we removed these laws no one would sell them legally? Whatever. As Rhywhun points out, the problems associated with alcohol and smokes have not quite relegated those pleasures to the black market. And that's hardly a surprise.

    Mike H

    I wish to go pack a bowl!

    AND YOU'RE NOT SHARING?!!!???!??!!?

  • fyodor||

    Betcha Larry Flynt would be willing to take on those trial lawyers!!

  • ||

    Thoreau,
    I see your points. But the problem is the system that exists would prevent any company from making or selling the drugs.
    Waiver's have too many loopholes. The most obvious lawsuit would be the premie baby born to a crack mom. Baby didn't sign the waiver and it's pretty obvious that Coka-Cola's Crack and 7/11's crack rack are the culprits.
    You also skipped a couple other major points. You focus on the fact that the guy selling dope on the corner right now is guilty of Possession
    and Possession with intent.
    But he's also guilty of:
    Zoning code violation.
    Health Code
    Drug Impurity acts
    Wage/hour laws
    Sale Tax collection laws
    Corporate Income Tax Evasion
    Failure to get a business license
    Personal Income Tax evasion
    Failure to pay social security for employees
    Child labor laws (for many)
    and on and on and on.
    Why should he get a pass on all of these laws just because drugs are a cause du-jour?

  • ||

    JeffNelson-

    The thing is, lots of people nonetheless manage to start businesses and stay on the side of the law despite the regulations that you just named, and despite the harsh legal environment. Which is not to excuse those regulations or to ignore the economic harm done by them, but the fact remains that those regulations have not sufficed to drive even cigarette sales into the black market. (Well, untaxed cigarettes are sold on the black market, but it's a much smaller market than the market for pot, cocaine, etc.)

    I am confident that legalization would bring drug sales into the open market. Some of the drug dealers might initially cling to their old habits and use violence to get their way, but people would quickly move away from doing business with dangerous characters if other alternatives were available.

    The one aspect of the black market that would undoubtedly persist would be bribery. But that's not limited to black market businesses. Some bribery is even legal as long as it comes in the form of "campaign contributions."

    So, in summary, legalized drug dealers would probably not be the most scrupulous businessmen around, but the situation would still be far better than the current black market. Not just marginally better, substantially better.

  • fyodor||

    thoreau,

    You are very noble for taking that guy seriously.

  • ||

    Wow, a lot of ignorant posturing by JeffNelson.

    The most obvious lawsuit would be the premie baby born to a crack mom. Baby didn't sign the waiver and it's pretty obvious that Coka-Cola's Crack and 7/11's crack rack are the culprits.

    The Myth of the Crack Baby.

    But the drugs are no different from alcohol and cigarettes. Nonsense. The drugs you are talking about here have the sole intended effect of inebriating the user. Believe it or not, you can drink a beer and smoke a cigarette without getting high. It is, always has been, always will be illegal to get sloshed in public.

    The public intoxication is a non-starter. It's illegal to be drunk, as well. You can consume cocaine, as well, without getting high. Provided it's not sold as a powder for snorting or smoking. The main reason why poeple get a sharp buzz is because snorted powder causes a sharp spike in blood levels of the drug. Sell cocaine as a liquid tonic at coca-leaf concentrations and you don't have the same buzz. Read The social and health consequences of cocaine use. Or about the WHO's cocaine survey.

  • ||

    fyodor-

    It's not always easy to tell who's just kidding on this forum. But in retrospect I think (hope?) that you're right.

  • ||

    jeffnelson--

    Can you name a liquor store that has been successfully sued by (or on behalf of) a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome? The answer to that question will shed a lot of light on the merits of your lawsuit liability argument. Also, consider the fact that right now making and selling drugs will earn you a massive fine plus 20 years in PITA federal prison, yet people still make and sell them. I don't see why a gaggle of product liability lawyers would be so much more intimidating. By the way, Altria group stock (the company that owns Philip Morris) is up 18% over the last year, and projected earnings for 2005 are over $5 a share.


    Finally, with respect to your street-corner-multiple-health-and-safety-law violator: there will be no street corner sellers, for the same reason as there are no street corner whiskey merchants. Why would anyone buy from them? If I can walk into WalMart or CVS and buy cocaine in sterile packaging and with guaranteed purity, why the hell would I buy any packets of funky white powder from some guy standing on a street corner? And the response that I will have to because nobody else will be selling doesn't hold water--see paragraph above.

  • ||

    Ethan Nadelmann on Soros in National Review, September 27, 2004 (responding to repeated attacks on Soros by Drug "Czar" Walters in a sorry attempt at a rebuttal for Nadelmann's original article):

    "...[T]here's another point worth making about George Soros. There is probably no private individual who played a greater role than George Soros in hastening the downfall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, and in trying to assist the subsequent transformation of those states into democratic, capitalist open societies....

    "Soros saw in America's drug war many of the same political and intellectual traits that had made him hate Communism and fascism: political indoctrination substituted for education; bureaucratic apparatchiks disfiguring scientific evidence to serve the state's agenda; massive deployment of police agents and their informants in ever more intrusive ways; politicians mouthing stupid cliches without the slightest hint of embarassment; official spokesmen responding to substantive criticisms of government policy not in kind but instead by the motivations and characters of their critics; and the arrest and incarceration of millions for engaging in personal tastes and vices, as well as capitalist transactions, prohibited by the state for reasons it can no longer clearly recall."

    I woulda paid to see the look on Walters' face after he read that.

  • ||

    I have a relative in the drug trade. Reportedly his friends have said at parties that legalization is the last thing that they want.

    Perhaps jeffnelson should explain how they have nothing to fear from legalization, and then they'll agree to put their considerable money and political influence behind the legalization movement.

    I'm not holding my breath for them to jump on board.

  • ||

    Walters can read? Huh.

  • ||

    No company on the planet is going to make or sell drugs after seeing what the trial lawyers did to Phillip Morris. Period.

    JeffNelson,
    Maybe I would like to expand my closet garden into the garage, the flower gardens, the back yard garden, or maybe I want to clear those 2 south facing exposed acres on the back side of my property and plant ganja like it was tomatoes. If I can brew my own beer in the confines of my home, I can certainly grow a garden. Besides, why would I want some budwieser like bud grown by WalMart? Give me freedom and I will subsidize your oxygen!

    Oh, don't worry, I will stick to my white collar day job, pay my taxes and bills, raise my family, and vote, just like I have been doing the whole time.

  • ||

    The meme of the WOD evolves like the arrow of time: one way, even though, theoretically, it could go back and correct course.
    To me, the most dramatic reason for ending the WOD is what it's doing to young, black men. Young, black women and older black intelligentsia don't seem to give a shit.

    Those who say, "Just let me do drugs in peace," they piss me off the most.

    Great harm is done by the WOD. The greater harm is done by the war, not the drugs.
    People will always be too stupid to get it.

    Someone back me up on this, but the only way to get the requisite hysteria to repeal Prohibition was to whisper that it would create jobs in the brewing and distilling industries. This was in the early days of the Great Depression.

    War as a meme is robust indeed. Alas.

  • ||

    daksya, that was an opinion piece. I could tell you of a friend with 7 kids, 2 of whom were born when she was addicted to crack. the other 5 are bright and healthy. the 2 are disabled mentally and physically. but that's just anecdotal evidence too. means nothing. I'd personally like to see everything legalized but meth. lost friends to that. and meth use has a strong correlation with child abuse...yes, I understand the correlation/causation thing. but friends who had heroin and cocaine addictions were never a threat to kids. meth-heads seem to be. sorry, more worthless anecdotal evidence, which is all we really have since nobody can/will honestly study these issues.

  • ||

    Questionable liabilities hasn't stopped entrepreneurs from opening up plenty of Cannibus clubs here in the San Francisco bay area. Got home late from work, posting it's probably not worth my time.

  • ||

    Jeff Nelson:

    I don't understand your point. If drug sales became legal, what would stop me from opening a drug store to sell them? I could us my own private property, abide by all the laws you listed and...why would there still be a black market? Furthermore, violent retribution would have to decrease. When one drug dealer kills another, no one involved is likely to call the cops, because they're involved in an illegal business and thus risk jail time. If it's legal, people will call the cops, because they have nothing to fear from them.

  • M. Simon||

    I'm for the complete legalization of rugs.

    I favor car pets too!

  • M. Simon||

    Why do people chronically take pain relievers?

    Could it be to relieve chronic pain?

    Addiction or Self Medication?

  • M. Simon||

    Boozer Bob,

    It was discredited by Milton Friedman.

  • M. Simon||

    Lewis,

    Most meth heads would prefer buying crank to making their own.

    You want to prevent exploding meth labs?

    Simple.

    Legalize. Merk will then be happy to meet OSHA rqmts. So you don't have to.

  • M. Simon||

    amyc,

    The doctor who invented the "crack baby" now says he was wrong. No such animal.

    As with violence - the only known drug to scientifically correlate with brain damage in the womb is alcohol.

    If you really wanted to do social and medical good prohibit alcohol.

    Oh? Really? Nevermind.

  • ||

    Had to run last night, but some valid points raised by many and not a few straw men as well. a brief rebuttal:
    I don't think anybody seriously questions the addictiveness of cocaine or believes people will have any iterest in drugs for something other than their intoxicating effects.
    The studies covering the effects of drug use are so prevalent and so solid that nobody stands a chance in court if they make and market these things- seen anyone start a major new company to take on Marlboro lately? Me neither.
    As for the claim that drug use only harms the user- if that were true I'd be all for total legalization. Unfortunately, nobody who has spent 10 minutes reviewing a city budget believes it.
    Two concessions I'll gladly make- I don't think most of my arguments apply to marijuana and have no problem legalizing it.
    I simply don't think drugs are so exceptionally wonderful that they deserve a special free ride in the court system, city budgets and regulatory structure. In short, try the mental excercise that permits the production and marketing of a crack cocaine that is as safe and effective as aspirin and has gone through all the same hurdles as an aspirin maker. I think you will end up with a product no coke user will be interested, drug users will still be in jail (only for burglary and robbery this time) and drug dealers will be in jail for fighting over market share and avoiding taxes and regulations.

  • ||

    M. Simon

    It was discredited by Milton Friedman.

    Thank you. I was sure I had heard it was from a reputable authority.

  • MP||

    seen anyone start a major new company to take on Marlboro lately?

    Yes...many...particularly to get around the absurd cartel established between the various AGs and the big tobacco companies.

    You may "think" things, but you are simply forcing your preferences onto the rest of the population. In addition, you are taking the typical stance of an all-knowing bureaucrat who does not trust the marketplace to work things out.

  • ||

    MP raises an interesting point- "You may "think" things, but you are simply forcing your preferences onto the rest of the population. In addition, you are taking the typical stance of an all-knowing bureaucrat who does not trust the marketplace to work things out."
    -- the difference here is that MP believes in no regulation at all (well, at least for crack dealers) while I believe that some regulation is not only acceptable, it's inevitable in a truly representative government.
    No doubt everyone in the pro-legalization crowd would love to see Crack Emporium open it's doors. No doubt a majority of you would fight like crazy to make sure it didn't do so next to your houses.
    And, no MP, I didn't forget the Marlboro reference. Name one company that's started making and marketing cigarettes on the scale of Phillip Morris' Marlboro brand since the explosion of tobacco lawsuits.

  • fyodor||

    I simply don't think drugs are so exceptionally wonderful that they deserve a special free ride in the court system, city budgets and regulatory structure.

    Talk about strawmen! Has anyone here refered to drugs (well, other maybe than pot) as "wonderful?" Has anyone suggested they be given a "special free ride?" I don't think so. Most here believe in personal responsibility across the board. It's so tiresome to remind detractors that endorsing drug legalization is different from endorsing drugs, but apparently it has to be done time and time again.

    In short, try the mental excercise that permits the production and marketing of a crack cocaine that is as safe and effective as aspirin and has gone through all the same hurdles as an aspirin maker. I think you will end up with a product no coke user will be interested

    Nonsense. In fact, it's the other way around. It's the drug war that creates the incentive for high-powered drugs. In societies that allow coca use, chewing the leaves is the preferred method of intake. During the US's Prohibition on alcohol, illegal use of alcohol had a much higher ratio of hard liquor to measely old beer than when alcohol is legal. This is because when a pleasure is illegal, one has a much greater incentive to try to get the biggest bang for the buck (and for the amount of time spent on it). Crack cocaine itself is a good example of this and would likely not even exist without the drug war. Whether we made all drugs legal (the preferred course of most here; we would do away with those regulatory agencies, too), or whether we legalized coca leaves while keeping crack illegal, some people might continue preferring the instant buzz of crack, but plenty would switch to the more manageable doses of the leaves, just as beer is probably the most popular form of alcohol imbibement. When alcohol is legal, anyway.

  • ||

    With all of this scaremongering about trial lawyers, you'd never know that manufacturing and selling cigarettes continues to be a massive, and massively profitable, industry in the United States.

  • ||

    fyodor,
    Excellent point, I'll go along with it- seriously.
    Legalize the sale of coca leaves, arrest anyone who makes or sells crack or powder cocaine out of them, exempt all makers and sellers from liability lawsuits.
    In all seriousness- I'd support that. I'd even throw in marijuana and low-level doses of opiates (like a tylenol 4 grade pill).
    I don't think it will change one single statistic about arrest rates and drug violence, but on purely personal freedom grounds I'd support it.

  • fyodor||

    I don't think it will change one single statistic about arrest rates and drug violence

    You're just repeating your conclusion and I've already explained why it's crazy talk, so I'm not going to bother to do so again.

    I do want to point out that no one is advocating protecting any drug suppliers from liability except you. And that too is crazy talk.

    Yawn.

  • ||

    On whether legalization of drugs would exacerbate social pathologies connected to drug use: Let's look at prostitution in Nevada. According to Peter McWilliams' excellent book, hookers in Nevada have lower rates of STDs than the general population in Nevada, and also lower rates of STDs than hookers in other states. Bringing the practice of prostitution into the open has made it easier for hookers to get information to protect themselves and less reliant on violent pimps.

    I wonder whether legalized drugs might be used more responsibly and in lower doses than illegal drugs. Just a thought.

  • ||

    I don't think anybody seriously questions the addictiveness of cocaine or believes people will have any iterest in drugs for something other than their intoxicating effects.

    How addictive do you think cocaine is? What percentage of people get addicted within 2 years of first use? Take a guess. Another one: what percentage of regular users are addicted? What's the corresponding number for alcohol?


    The studies covering the effects of drug use are so prevalent and so solid that nobody stands a chance in court if they make and market these things


    85% of all (illicit) drug studies around the world are funded by NIDA. That organization's charter isn't neutral. Maybe you didn't read the last article I linked to.

  • ||

    Holy cats! The Clayton Cramer responded to my post. For a moment, I felt as if I had somehow arrived.

    Then he accused me of being a pothead. (I'm not. I'm far to obsessed with high velocity, long-distance paper hole punchers to waste time or money on recreational drugs.)

    From there, I'm afraid it was all pretty much down hill.

    Clayton, I've never denied that legalizing drugs wouldn't give rise to some of the problems you point out. However, my problem with the drug war doesn't stem from drug users getting the shaft. (As blatantly unconstitutional as that is.)

    Quite the contrary. What I find so offensive about the so-called War on Drugs is that even though I do not use recreational drugs, my civil rights are still being diminished as a result of the continued execution of the WoD.

    1)Prescription drugs that are even mildly narcotic are controlled in such a manner as to drive up prices and make it inconvenient to obtain and fill prescriptions.

    2)Doctors are now becoming so worried by the feds' crackdown on supposedly "illegal" prescriptions of Schedule II and III narcotics that they are often times hesitant to prescribe proper dosage levels. In other words, medical practitioners are not free to set dosage levels of narcotic pain killers for someone suffering from terminal cancer, lest the feds think that they're dealing drugs.

    Put another way: If you are injured or contract an illness that requires the use of such drugs, your dosage is likely to be set low because the doctor isn't the one making the ultimate decision as to what is a medically safe dosage level. That decision is now made by some gov't feeb with little or no medical background.

    3)We have all lost civil rights due to the passage of asset forfeiture laws. Basically, even if you are ultimately found innocent of any wrongdoing in a court of law, that doesn't mean you're going to get your stuff back.

    4)Abrogation of the spirit of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. For more info, see #3 above.

    5)Increased crime. As a direct result of drug prohibition, those who deal in illegal narcotics are likely to engage in vicious turf wars. Were drugs legalized I seriously doubt that such shenanigans would continue. When was the last time you heard about representatives from Coors and Anheuser-Busch getting into territorial shootouts? Geeze, come to think of it, there are no less than four microbreweries within a 20 mile radius from where I sit, and I have yet to hear about those associated with the Bristol Brewing Company rolling up the street to bust caps at the Phantom Canyon brewery, or Il Vicino trying to muscle in on The Warehouse's action.

    6)Increased tax burden to fund the so-called "War On Drugs." Billions and billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent prosecuting this utterly braindead attempt at modern puritanism, and absolutely none of it has kept Johnnie the 15 year old wasteoid from scoring a dimebag for a reasonable price.

    7)Last, but certainly not least; increased amounts of gun control. During and shortly after the era of Prohibition it was government-peddled fear mongering over handguns, machineguns, and sound moderators. These days they traffic in the same pointless drivel with regard to "Saturday Night Specials," Tec-9's, and "Assault Weapons."

    And thus far, in any of the drug war debates, when I have brought up any of the above points they are, without fail ignored by the puritanical faithful who continue to adhere to same groupthink, federally-inflated fear mongering about an idiotic, asinine and completely unwinnable culture war.

    I apologize for the really long post. :-)

  • ||

    Oh, and I meant to say "too," not "to" in the 2nd paragraph.

  • ||

    What I don't understand is the assumption that drugs are curently hard to get, and after legalization they'll be easy to get.

    Drugs are really easy to get now, especially if you're 16 or 17. My nieces always say how hard it is to get beer, but they can get anything else they want at partiesd, in school, on the street. Would stores, ala liquor store, be forced to card kids before selling them an eightball?

    Legalization: It's for the children!!!!

  • ||

    Legalization: It's for the children!!!!

    Is it possible to have a policy that is for the children and adults?

    I do think so myself. Legalizing will put distribution into the alcohol class thereby taking distribution away from sketchy street corner characters and into the hands of business persons who have families of their own at home.

    I can see it now, a sign at the cash register that says, "You must be born before xx/xx/xxxx before you can purchase this bud."

  • ||

    From an ideological standpoint I'm all in favor of ending drug prohibition. From a practical standpoint, though, I have big doubts as to how much of a difference it would make in the long run.

    I read an article sometime last year (in Reason, IIRC) that dealt with the drug culture and what makes it tick. The article pointed out that there are literally thousands of different illegal drugs in circulation today, but only a handful (marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth, Ecstasy etc.) that are commonplace enough to make headlines. The vast majority are the so-called "designer drugs" cooked up by what can only be described as amateur chemists, mostly for their own use and for sale to maybe a handful other users each. Since these are niche-market drugs as opposed to "mainstream" ones like pot and meth, they tend to stay under society's (and government's) radar. But here's the rub: Under the right circumstances, any one of these designer drugs could gain a wider following and go mainstream at any time - indeed, IIRC meth and Ecstasy both got their start this very same way.

    What does this mean for legalization? If Congress were to legalize all the "mainstream" drugs tomorrow, I believe it would indeed end all the evils that go with their prohibition - for a period of about 2-5 years. That's my guess on how long it would take for a whole new group of designer drugs that most Americans currently have never even heard of (and therefore have not yet been legalized) to fill the black-market vacuum left by the newly legalized drugs. Even if you turn around and legalize the new drugs too, there are always more new drugs waiting in the wings. Do we really want to lather/rinse/repeat this process ad nauseam until we have an FDA and/or state regulators charged with the regulation of thousands upon thousands of legal recreational drugs? The bureaucracy needed to maintain such regulation, in addition to the medicinal drugs the FDA already regulates, would be staggering. Is this the sort of thing libertarians are striving for? Somehow I think not.

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