Holiday Row

Nick Gillespie and I spoke at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy conference this weekend. 

I'm always conflicted by my co-conspirators in the drug reform movement.  Most in the movement embrace "decriminalization" as preferable to out and out legalization.

I'd agree that decriminalization is a step in the right direction, but it's too often accompanied by calls for a panoply of new government programs and oodles of taxpayer dollars spent to treat illicit drugs like a public health problem -- similar to the way, say, Marion Nestle or Michael Jacobson would like to treat obesity.  This is basically the "Dutch model," and it leaves a lot to be desired.

Longtime drug reformer Eric Sterling (a guy I generally admire), for example, said at the conference that his first step toward a post-prohibition America would be "universal health care," accompanied by comprehensive treatment that addicts could obtain rather easily -- in Sterling's words, free treatment should be"as easy as ordering a pizza."

Terrific.  If there's one surefire way to make sure America never reforms its drug laws, it's telling the public that step one in "drug reform" would be to have taxpayers foot the bill for morphine clinics, needles, and the local addict's relapses. 

This would all still be quite a bit better than today's approach of kicking down doors and filling the prisons with pot smokers, of course (treating drug addiction like a public health problem, I mean -- universal health care is another animal entirely).  But it's a far cry from treating American citizens as actual adults, capable not only of making their own decisions about what they put into their bodies, but also of assuming full responsibility for those decisions.

Fortunately, Nick rather eloquently made the case for complete pharmacological freedom when he took his turn during the closing panel.  I looked around at some of the public health folks there while he spoke.  Lots of nervous smiles -- even a few cringes, particularly when he went after public health sacred cows like the drinking age or the prescription medication regime.  These are people who correctly recognize the brutality of the drug war in its current incarnation, but are still rather fond of giving Very Smart People in Government enormous influence over what we chose to eat, drink, and otherwise ingest.  The fact that the latter frequently leads to the former, and that they in fact have quite a bit in common with the activists that started the drug war with their support for the Harrison Narcotics Act and gave us alcohol prohibition -- well, it all seems to be lost on them.

One interesting side note to the conference:  Many of the students stayed at a nearby Holiday Inn.  Apparently, a police officer was also staying there.  Suspecting that a bunch of college kids in the drug reform movement were probably well-stocked with dope, the cop went to the hotel manager, and the two contacted local authorities.  Police were ready to bring in drug dogs to sniff out every room in the hotel.  Fortunately (and somewhat amusingly), Graham Boyd -- also a speaker at the conference -- was staying in the same hotel.  Boyd's the director of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project.  Probably the one guy the police last wanted to see.  Boyd (who relayed the story while speaking at my panel) reminded the police and the hotel manager that there are still some scraps to the Fourth Amendment left that haven't been swallowed up by drug prohibition.  The police thought better of the situation and -- literally -- called off the dogs.

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  • ||

    "a police officer was also staying there. Suspecting that a bunch of college kids in the drug reform movement were probably well-stocked with dope, the cop went to the hotel manager, and the two contacted local authorities."

    What a bunch of pansy ass busybodies. May they both be hung upside-down by their scrotums (scrota?) for all of eternity. Or at least have their doors kicked in in a botched drug raid and be thoroughly capped upon.

  • Allen||

    I don't feel comfortable in assuming that we'd be better off with a huge publicly funded rehab system instead of today's screwed up situation. Seems like it's bound to go down in flames a la California's "deregulation" of their power industry. It was sold as deregulation but it was really just shuffling around some rules. It was a disaster and it's hard to see how true deregulation could happen anytime in the next 10-20 years thanks to that. My fear is that if the political will can be found for this reform that a poor implementation will set things back even further. And if the reforms involve massive, public rehab programs it's likely the public would be juding the success of the reforms based on how successful rehab will be. And I doubt massive govt rehab programs would fare very well.

  • ||

    There is no reason to think that govt rehab programs would work any better than govt schools or the War in Iraq.

  • thoreau||

    I'll say two things in favor of making publicly funded rehab part of a compromise in a drug legalization package:

    1) Looking at the plausible high-end estimates, there's still no way that rehab could be anywhere near as expensive as prohibition. So just from a cold-blooded dollars and cents perspective, legalization coupled with rehab would be a net win.

    2) On a moral level, the drug was is such an obscenity in so many ways (evisceration of the bill of rights, a black market that fuels crime and terrorism, and countless other problems) that free rehab would be a small price to pay for the end of the Drug War.

    Of course, nationalized health care is a different story altogether.

    As far as the prescription regimen, I concluded that prescription status for drugs would have to end when I started thinking through the implications of drug legalization. If we legalize recreational drugs but make primarily therapeutic drugs accessible only with a prescription, well, that seems kind of backwards.

  • ||

    I tend to the belief that if legalization/decriminalization is to occur it will require some form of rehab for the public to swallow it. I also expect that most since most people who use drugs don't need rehab, a small sin tax could pay for it. While I'd rather have neither the govt. sponsored rehab nor the tax, both are better than the current situation, and the big implementation problem that I can see is that the government would almost certainly end up diverting funds from the sin tax.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    "If we legalize recreational drugs but make primarily therapeutic drugs accessible only with a prescription, well, that seems kind of backwards."

    Would you replace prescription with anything, say a requirement to get informed advice by a physician?
    Somehow I doubt that the general public would be willing to take responsibility in cases of their own misadministration of potentially lethal, but legal medical drugs.

  • thoreau||

    FinFangFoom nails it.

    martin-

    I suspect that in the absence of any legal prescription requirements the insurance companies would tell patients that for certain drugs they need a doctor's note to get the drug covered by insurance.

  • ||

    "filling the prisons with pot smokers, of course "

    can we drop this tired canard? this kind of anti-reality rubbish is just as bad as the stupid "brain on drugs" commercials from the anti-drug sorts.

    defense attorneys, prosecutors, and cops all know (as do i, having worked in the court system and testifed numerous times as an expert witness) that the incidences of people going to prison for smoking pot are near non-existent.

    when people go to jail for pot related offenses, it's usually something involving tons of priors, or a massive grow op with priors, etc.

    your basic pot user does not go to prison for possessing pot

    that is totally bogus, and like all misinformation, it hurts a noble argument, because it is simply FALSE.

  • Radley Balko||

    Whit --

    According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are 45,000 people in prison for marijuana.

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/116019.html

    According to the Sentencing Project, 11,000 or so are first-time offenders, and 6,000 are in prison for no more than possession:

    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/385/shifted.shtml

    For anecdote, try reading up on Jonathan Magbie:

    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/380/magbie.shtml

  • Radley Balko||

    Whit -- That's true in some parts of the country. But it isn't true everywhere.

    According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are 45,000 people in prison for marijuana.

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/116019.html

    According to the Sentencing Project, 11,000 or so are first-time offenders, and 6,000 are in prison for no more than possession:

    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/385/shifted.shtml

    For anecdote, try reading up on Jonathan Magbie:

    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/380/magbie.shtml

  • ||

    I would like to point out that if we adopted the Dutch model, then at least the drug users would pay half of their rehab costs.

  • ||

    radley, i'll look into those links, but EVERYTIME i hear the "put in prison for smoking mj" thang, and AcTUALLY look into it, there is always WAY more to the story.

    look at this mishmash of conjecture and estimation
    http://oldsite.mpp.org/arrests/prisoners.html

    also note that you cant even GO TO PRISON without a felony conviction, and in most jurisdictions, small amounts of MJ are a misdemeanor. california treats it as an infraction (a civil offense, not even criminal)

    as for the magbie offense, again... read the article. first of all it never mentions whether or not he HAD priors. or his unrepentant statements (this is gonna hurt you in any case. if a judge is gonna give you probation for spousal assault, and you proclaim "i'll keep beating my wife. etc" you are not helping your case) and he got sentenced to TEN DAYS IN JAIL.

    like i said, every time i examine the alleged evidence (not to mention having spent hundreds of hours in courtrooms of three different states), i find it more than lacking.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Okay, ACLU moves up one notch on my shit list.

    Good piece Mr Balko.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Whit. I don't care. Nobody should ever go to prison for Mary Jane or any other drug. Ever.

    Disclaimer: I do not use drugs or smoke pot (makes me paranoid). I do, however, have a little red wine now and again.

  • ||

    Whit,

    If it is true that few go to jail for possession, then why keep it illegal?
    Simply so the prosecutor can use the charge if he wants to? Like if somebody doesn't show the proper level of repentance?

  • Pat||

    American drug policy is maintained and driven by mindless fear. Fear of addicts. Fear of crime. Fear of minorities. Fear of young rebels. Fear of nonconformity. This will not change until Americans are given a superior fear to obsess about.

    Here is my longer essay on the drug war connection to the proliferation of stateless terrorism. A greater and more valid fear. "Our drug policy grants huge subsidies to our enemies"

    "The international drug control regime, which criminalizes narcotics, does not reduce drug use, but it does produce huge profits for criminals and the armed groups and corrupt officials who protect them. Our drug policy grants huge subsidies to our enemies."

    Dr. Rubin concluded: "If it were not illegal, it would be worth hardly anything. It's only its illegality that makes it so valuable."

  • ||

    I think Boyd may have blown it. All the yakety-yak about what our current drug laws have done to our civil liberties wouldn't have been nearly as convincing as a police raid on such a flimsy pretext.

    Boyd should have said, "You don't have any constitutional... uh, sure, go ahead and call in the dogs." With video. His next talk could have eliminated all the prologue and gone straight to "any questions?"

  • Sam Franklin||

    Boyd should have said, "You don't have any constitutional... uh, sure, go ahead and call in the dogs." With video. His next talk could have eliminated all the prologue and gone straight to "any questions?"

    This comment would be construed as consent. Not a good response from a preserving 4th amendment rights perspective.

  • ||

    your basic pot user does not go to prison for possessing pot

    that is totally bogus, and like all misinformation, it hurts a noble argument, because it is simply FALSE.


    i have personally known a half dozen people that have been imprisoned in TN, FL, LA, and KY for posession, sometimes kicked up to 'intent to sell', for having an oz, sometimes less.

    the ones who got it worst tended to be minorities who got pulled over and searched. State troopers are especially fond of this.

    different states are well known to carry vastly different legal risks for possession.

  • Warren||

    Another great post by Radley. Just keeps getting better and better.

  • Todd Frye||

    Re the costs of treatment after any hypothetical legalization:

    One of the things that could really sour the American public on the drug war would be to educate them about how much it costs, in terms of cash and resources, every friggin' year. Of course, we might not want to slide any Universal Healthcare proposals in front of them immediately afterward.

    As for complete legalization of prescription drugs, i.e., no more prescriptions - from a libertarian standpoint, that's desirable, of course; but I believe in practice, in the real world, chaos would ensue. 'Off his medication' wouldn't be such an amusing phrase any more, and Grandma might be acting REALLY weird if she's not forced to stick to a prescribed schedule when taking her meds.

  • ||

    Morphine clinic? For opiate addicts, today there is medicine called suboxone/subutex that you can only afford with health insurance or medicaid. It is the only thing that got me off of pain pills b/c it blocks out all other opiates. People with who can't afford this stuff and end up with morphine patches or methadone. With the amount of taxes coming out of our paychecks, there's a good way to help people with opiate addiction/chemical dependancy health care issues right? Oh yea nevermind...D'OH. BTW, I speak from first hand experience; opiate addicts can't get out of the cycle without help. And no that doesn't mean going cold turkey behind bars.

  • thoreau||

    Who called the dogs off?

    A-C-L-U!

    Who called the dogs off?

    A-C-L-U!

  • ||

    When will some high-level muckety-mucks have this to conclude about the War on Drugs?:
    Go big
    Go long
    or
    Go home

    Then push for Go Home.

  • Pat||

    Addiction is a disease. For many it is a genetically based disease. Some experts feel that at least 25% of any given population is suseptible to genetic complications with addiction. That is open season for the prohibitionists. Shooting fish in a barrel for them.

    This is why addiction needs to be perceived and treated as a disease rather than as a criminal justice matter. Police and prisons are not doctors and hospitals.

    Clinical dispensing of heroin is the most successful program for getting incurable addicts out of the criminal drug dealing subculture while treating them as human beings. Getting them out of the criminal subculture reduces crime and addiction.

    SEE:
    Summary of the Synthesis Report Programme for a Medical Prescription of Narcotics 1997

    Swiss heroin model reporting benefits September 4, 2006

  • ||

    If Libertarians ever want to make any progress in liberalizing the drug laws, they have got to kill the addict way of looking at drugs. If you assume that drug addiction is a disease and the people afflicted by it have no choice in the matter, people will never agree to legalize drugs. You wouldn't legalize a substance that causes otherwise blameless people to destroy their lives through drug addiction any more than you would intentially release a virus on society that would kill 20% of the people infected. To legalize drugs, you have to kill the idea of addiction. If on the other hand, it is the case that there is nothing inherently addictive about drugs and the people who do abuse them do so because they are weak criminal personalities, then you have a fighting chance to legalize drugs. Then, drug legalization becomes a question of personal choice not disease control. We have to get back to the concept of personal responsibilty in order to legalize drugs. The addiction culture that teaches that drug abuse is a disease and in no way the result of the personal failings of the addict, undercut that principle and make having sane drug laws virtually impossible.

  • ||

    As for complete legalization of prescription drugs, i.e., no more prescriptions - from a libertarian standpoint, that's desirable, of course; but I believe in practice, in the real world, chaos would ensue.



    I have to disagree. The US didn't have prescriptions until 1906, IIRC. Some countries still don't, like Burma. Overall, it seems like kind of a wash at best.

  • ||

    Re: Prescription drugs in a libertarian society.
    All in America are legally allowed to repair their own cars, yet most would rather let an expert do it. Why?, you may ask. Because they don't know shit about cars and aren't to proud to admit it. It is wisdom, not stupidity, to recognize your own ignorance and use society's (free markets anyone?) resources and obtain the sevices of someone who knows what the hell he or she is doing. I imagine the same attitude would mostlly prevail with medical drugs available over the couter. If you don't know what ball joint, pcv valves etc. are for you don't buy them.
    Ditto with medical needs.

  • Pat||

    TO: John | November 21, 2006, 10:24am |

    Treating addicts for sickness is humane and scientific. This is not a philosophical issue. It is science.

    Treating sick people as criminals is the real crime. Who in government should have the right to declare that one disease should be a crime while another is treated as a sickness?

    TO: JD | November 21, 2006, 10:48am |

    America today is not living in the 19th century.

    While I prefer a few regulations as possible in society I also understand that I do not live on this planet alone. I understand that democratic regulatory systems are that democratic common ground between free people who have absolute trust in personal freedom and those who have no trust at all in personal freedom. Both need to be able to live in peace and security. Regulation is what allows that to happen.

    Prohibition is the complete abdication of government responsibility to regulate the predatory anarchy out of free markets. The predatory anarchy that is natural to any free market. Without regulation participants self-regulate with street crime and gun violence. without regulation gangsters, predators and terrorists thrive. Democratic regulatory institutions set the benchmarks that allow all free people to do what they want, up to but not beyond the point of interfering with the rights of others.

  • ||

    I agree John. But I think the bigger problem is that we as a nation are embracing prohibition for activities we "shouldn't" do like drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, play "violent" video games, and such. So I say until we, as a nation, stop thinking we have the right to tell others how they should live, we will not see a change on drug laws.

    The arugement that Pot is not as bad as alcohol or cigarettes falls on deaf ears because your still talking about things we want to prohibit.

    Until we re-embrace the ole American saying "Don't Tread on Me". I expect no change.

    I thought Clinton would be the man to legalize or decriminalize some drugs, being a party man. Politicians avoid the drug user label to the point they can't say drugs are not bad.

    Only when the country accepts light drug use as a personal choice will things change. In that, we agree. But I don't think that will ever happen as long as people think they can prohibit you from things they don't like.

  • Pat||

    TO: John | November 21, 2006, 10:24am |

    The problem is in accepting the simplistic prohibition demonization that one size fits all in defining addiction. There is the majority of the population that has a low to nonexistent genetic or physical affinity to addiction and then there is the small fraction of a percent of the population, normal genetic dispersion, that can become physically addicted to anything and everything. The vast majority can use intoxicant substances without a problem. All, users and addicts alike, are demonized by the criminal behaviors of the small percentage of genetic addicts who are forced into a criminal black market economy for their medical treatment.

    I think reform can only come when Americans come to understand that addiction is a disease that will never be treated with police, prisons and 'just say no'. That the people who are impacted by the genetics of the disease are Americans who have a right to live life with their disease.

    Americans who are not susceptible to addiction have a right to use the drug as long as they do not inflict themselves onto the rights of others.

    Prohibition is, once you understand the genetic aspects of addiction, genetic cleansing. Narco-eugenics.

    These issues though are secondary to getting the broader American community to look at its greater interests. Interests beyond even its unreasoning fear of crime, addicts and minorities to something that will motivate America to consider and adopt any of these alternative ways to think about drugs and addiction.

    "Our drug policy grants huge subsidies to our enemies" is that transcendent motivating issue I believe.

  • R C Dean||

    America today is not living in the 19th century.

    And its a damn shame in many ways.

    Advances in equal treatment of women and minorities under the law are one of the very few changes in government and the law since 1900 that I approve of. Most of the rest of it can be summed up as "loss of freedom."

    Without regulation participants self-regulate with street crime and gun violence. without regulation gangsters, predators and terrorists thrive.

    Unless by regulation you mean a night watchman state, I think you are completely wrong. All the ills that you claim we need "regulation" to address are in fact addressed by a minimalist state, and not at all by 95% of the "regulation" of the modern state.

  • ||

    "I think reform can only come when Americans come to understand that addiction is a disease that will never be treated with police, prisons and 'just say no'. That the people who are impacted by the genetics of the disease are Americans who have a right to live life with their disease."

    If it is a disease, most people are going to say that we have to help these people by cutting off the supply of drugs. If it is a disease, the natural response is to say these things are poison and I don't want my kids or family anywhere near them and anyone who sells the stuff ought to be shot. That may not be your response, but that is the response of most people when they are convinced that drug addiction is a disease.

    It is the idea that drug addiction is a disease and people can't help themselves that got us to prohibition. People didn't talk about drug addiction in the 1940s. It was about personal responsibility and most drugs were legal. It wasn't until the 1960s when the government launched scare campaigns about drugs turning people into burnouts and dope fiends that we started getting really harsh drug laws. Then with the 1970s we get rehab industry coming along that has a economic interest in perpetuating the idea that addicts can't help themselves and need treatment. Where did the prevelence of those ideas get us? The Rockafeller laws and mininimum mandatories that is where.

    I support legalization and not one dime for rehab. If you abuse drugs and ruin your life, tough shit. I don't owe you one dime of my tax dollars to help you from the bad decisions you have made.

  • ||

    "If it is true that few go to jail for possession, then why keep it illegal? "

    that's really not the point. and i don't think it should be illegal.

    the point is that an incredibly small # of people go to prison for possession of MJ.

    claims otherwise are simply bogus. the "cites" do not hold up to scrutiny. i have also spent literally hundreds of hours in the courtrooms of three states, and haven't seen it happen there either.

    repeating falsehoods for a good cause is STILL repeating falsehoods.

    it is just as wrong as when the anti-drug folks overstate the danger of drugs.

    facts are facts

    the facts are this. people do not (with EXCEPTIONALLY rare exceptions - and there are exceptions to almost everything) go to prison for smoking/possessing pot, unless they have tons of priors, tons of attendant circumstances (like they happen to be robbing a bank while smoking pot) etc.

    those are facts. and facts SHOULD matter.

    as for why MJ is kept illegal, if people aren';t sent to prison for it (people also keep conflating prison and jail. please note the distinction), MJ is basically looked at as a "we don't want to see it flaunted in public, but if you are smoking MJ in your home, we really don't care" type of offense

    that's the reality. even the majority of DEA agents i have spoken to, don't think people should be imprisoned for mere mj possession.

    the vast majority of jurisdictions treat firsttime (and usually second time and even third time) offenders similar to a civil infraction. iow, no incarceration.

    those are the facts

    it is totally dishonest (or illinformed) to fabricate hordes of people in prison for smoking MJ to promote a cause

    cause it is simply a falsehood

  • ||

    Whit,

    I have seen people go to jail for mere use of marijuana but it was because they were on probation for another crime and were too stupid to stop using drugs while on probation.

  • ||

    I'm sort of in the middle on this treatment issue. Treatment for junkies, crackheads, tweakers, etc. , OK they need some help. (But I wouldn't wish the 12-step/toughlove kind on my worst enemy). On the other hand I hate to see people forced into "treatment" because they tested positive for pot. (As an aside, I also detest the "drug court" system as it's been descibed in the media). Too many people are being defined as, (and forced to self-identify as) "addicts" when they're clearly not. Down that road lies Straight, Inc. and its foul progeny.

  • ||

    "I have seen people go to jail for mere use of marijuana but it was because they were on probation for another crime and were too stupid to stop using drugs while on probation."

    ABSOLUTELY. and that would fall on the "priors" etc. thang. heck, probation violation can imprison you for all sorts of LEGAL activity.

    if you are on probation for DUI, a typical condition of release is no consumption of alcohol (which is of course routinely ignored) and no presence in bars or taverns.

    if a guy on probation for a dui (espceially his 2nd or 3rd one) violates his probation by merely being presennt in a bar, or drinking (neither of which is even illegal in the first place), this could land him in jail.

    that's kind of similar

    the concept behind probation is that you are supposed to be (lol) a model citizen and you can have EXTRA restrictions placed on your behavior, many of which are not illegal at all (like drinking).

    that says little about the marijuan point i was making, and in fact supports it (as to the priors, etc.) thang.

    but u are absolutely correct.

  • Pat||

    "If it is a disease, most people are going to say that we have to help these people by cutting off the supply of drugs. If it is a disease, the natural response is to say these things are poison and I don't want my kids or family anywhere near them and anyone who sells the stuff ought to be shot. That may not be your response, but that is the response of most people when they are convinced that drug addiction is a disease. "

    This is purely your assumption. It is not my experience. I have successfully argued with prohibs who stop their zero tolerance mind-set when they realize that some of these folks are sick and that sickness is part of the human condition.

    "It is the idea that drug addiction is a disease and people can't help themselves that got us to prohibition."

    I addressed this when I spoke to differentiating between use and addiction. Please try to read what I write before responding.

    You should read 'Smoke and Mirrors' by Dan Baum. It provides a clear history of the creation of the drug war in the Nixon Administration. There were two arguments. One for rehab and treatment the other for prohibition. The prohib gang won. Not the predatory rehab industry of today but a real rehab first medicine over prohibition approach.

    The drug war was created by Nixon in collusion with the Dixiecrats as a way to re-impose Jim Crow just after the Voting Rights Act empowerment. And as a way to go after the anti-war dope smoking hippies and college who were about to be empowered by enactment in 1070 of the 26st Amendment. SEE: Drug Busts=Jim Crow by Ira Glasser and The invidious economics of Jim Crow

    If the choice is a few tax dollars to help an incurable addict stay away from thumping my wife for her wallet I think that is a damn cheap investment. If, instead of regulated rehab or maintenance, we have addicts selling drugs to more children and making more addicts then your no rehab attitude is counter-productive. No one will take that serious.

  • ||

    "If the choice is a few tax dollars to help an incurable addict stay away from thumping my wife for her wallet I think that is a damn cheap investment. If, instead of regulated rehab or maintenance, we have addicts selling drugs to more children and making more addicts then your no rehab attitude is counter-productive. No one will take that serious."

    I don't buy the rehab industries propaganda for a moment. Millions of people use drugs responsibily and do not commit crimes or use them to such a degree to cause harm to themselves or others. Addicts are criminals who happen to use drugs. The rehab industry has given them a ready made excuse for their criminal behavior. That guy would be thumping your wife for her wallet even if their were no drugs available. He steals her wallet for the same reason he uses irresponsible amounts of drugs; he is a criminal.

    If you honestly believe that the drug laws are about oppressing black people, no one will take you seriously. The drug laws are the result of people's hysteria over drugs combined with the overall denial of personal responsibility in the last 40 years.

  • ||

    "help an incurable addict"

    that's a ridiculous term imo, and one i am surprised to see on a libertarian blog.

    now, unless one is using one of those "non-using addict" definitions...

    my point is that free will exists. any addict can choose to stop using. it may, like in the case of heroin, have mass quantities of suckitude and discomfort associated with it, but it is still a choice within people's control

    whether or not they are an 'addict' in terms of their desires/chemical needs may not be. but ANYBODY has the choice to stop using ANY drug, with the possible exception of dihydrogen monoxide :)

  • Pat||

    You folks are denying the science. Discussing these issues with you is no different from discussing evolution with Pat Robertson. You, like Robertson, will never accept anything that does not conform to your dogma.

    This is a waste of my time.

  • ||

    who is denying "the SCIENCE (tm)?"


    which proven scientific point are people denying?

  • ||

    I guess it comes down to an issue of what is an "addict". If go home every night and get drunk most nights and wipe out my liver and take a few years off of my life, the "science" and the addiction industry would say I am an "addict" in need of some bullshit 12 step program, even if I live my entire life as a happy well adjusted productive member of society and never commit a single crime.

    My view is that that makes the term "addict" completely meaningless. People have a right to do what they want and there is nothing about using drugs that necessarily makes me a criminal. Would a person in the above position be better off not drinking every night? Maybe, but I don't know for sure since I don't live his life. My point is that just because you use drugs or even if you are dependent on them, doesn't mean that you can't be a productive member of society, live a happy life and not be a criminal. The addiction industry is built on the assumption that anyone who uses drugs on a regular basis can't be happy or productive. That is bullshit. The people who use drugs and commit crimes and such are criminals who happen to use drugs. The criminality would be there regardless of the drugs.

  • ||

    i don't have any problem with the term "addict". although, i think there is a difference between physical addiction and a mere habit forming activity

    regardless, as long as people concede that being addicted to substance X does not mean that one is unable to stop using substance X, feel free to use the term addict.

    true addiction is a term that references something real beyond psychology. for example, an unconscious heroin addict will still show physiological withdrawal signs, because his heroin addiction has created a situation where the withdrawal of the drug results in physiological distress. heroin in his system has become his homeostasis.

    but if he robs a bank to get more heroin, vs. robbing a bank cause he's greedy, i';m not really any more sympathetic for the former reason

    ESPECIALLY cause his choice was to use heroin in the first place, an illegal drug, and then he got addicted

  • ||

    Whit,

    It is true that some people are just compulsive and will always find some outlet for their compulsive behavior. The problem is not the drugs, it is the compulsive behavior. You see this all the time. People will kick alchohol and become a gambling addict or get off drugs and become an anorexic or eat themselves to 500 lbs. I don't think there is anything intrinsiclly bad about the drugs, they just are a very destructive outlet for people's compulsive behavior.

  • ||

    The more i hear this "Alcoholism/Addiction is a disease" the more i think it's on the same level with the "Being fat is caused by a virus" shenanigans. It sounds like a line people use to rationalize their lack of personal responsibility.

    Useless anecdote:

    I have an ex who had a big problem with drug abuse, got clean, and had this line drilled into her over and over in AA/NA. She was convinced that she had the "Addict gene" and that the moment she touched any booze or pot she would be right back on cocaine/meth/heroin. All the while she smoked ciggarettes and drank a ton of coffee...go figure on that. A few years later she ended up trying pot again and decided it wasn't her cup of tea anymore. No cocaine/meth/heroin binge ensued.

    So what changed? She got a job, went back to school, and generally did the sort of things that engender a sense of control over one's circumstances and allow the development of a sense of responsibility for one's actions. Low and behold, her addiction gene disappeard.

    Seeing that process unfold leads me to think my initial feeling about the genetic addiction business is on the right track. Anyone care to show me the light with some solid science?

  • ||

    if a guy on probation for a dui (espceially his 2nd or 3rd one) violates his probation by merely being presennt in a bar, or drinking (neither of which is even illegal in the first place), this could land him in jail.

    Right. Get caught with a joint, get probabtion. Get caught with a joint again, go to jail. That's called "Going to jail for pot possession." The while "priors" thing is a red herring and people buy into it.

    I've talked to lawyers who have had possession cases where the fines are so outrageous ("Pay us $2,000 in the next 30 days or go to jail"; or the current favorite - professional drug counseling which costs $150 per session and they require 8 sessions) the only way the person is going to come up with the money is by some sort of shady activity (get a juice loan, sell pot, rob a house, gamble, skip paying the rent, etc.). That starts the whole priors ball rolling, too.

  • ||

    "professional drug counseling which costs $150 per session and they require 8 sessions)"

    If they ever legalized drugs, all of those counselers would be out of business. The idea that someone needs drug counseling because they happen to get caught with a joint is rediculous. Further, those counciling sessions are one step above Khamer Rouge re-education camps. The conselor's view everyone is an addict and no one can be a success and get out of the damn things until they admit as much. There is no such thing as a "casual drug user" in the eyes of the rehab industry.

  • ||

    Whit-
    Most pot imprisonments are for distribution, sure. But most users are, at one time or another, small time distributors.

    The situation is similar to underage drinking. When one person scores, they tend to spread it around to their friends.

  • ||

    As someone who is actively working to end the drug war, I would just like to say that those who attend these drug policy reform conferences and choose to flagrantly violate current drug laws (and get caught) do as much harm to our chances of actually being taken seriously as do our opponents. How are legislators, policymakers and the members of the general public supposed to believe that ending the drug war is actually about the core values of civil liberties, racial justice and freedom if we constantly do stupid things like this? Why should anyone believe that a group like Students for Sensible Drug Policy (or any other drug policy reform organization for that matter connected to SSDP)is committed to anything other than their own right to smoke pot in the Holiday Inn? While I certainly support every white college kid's right to smoke pot in their dorm room while listening to Phish, it doesn't do much to inspire me or most people to give a rat's ass about reforming drug laws. The lesson to these students: next time you come to a drug policy reform conference, come for the policy reform part, not the drugs. This is a serious movement with serious people trying to get something done.

  • ||

    "Right. Get caught with a joint, get probabtion. Get caught with a joint again, go to jail. That's called "Going to jail for pot possession." The while "priors" thing is a red herring and people buy into it. "

    no. going to jail for PROBATION violation is irrelevant to the underlying offense. being in a bar, isn't illegal AT ALL

    being in a bar in violation of probation for DUI is a jailable offense

    this isn't a problem of people being thrown in jail for being in bars. it's a probation thang

    my point stands, and no evidence presents to the contrary

    people who go to prison for pot almost ALWAYS have multiple priors or are involved in a host of other crimes along with the pot possession

    NORML spreads lies to make people think that people are thrown in jail for mere pot possession, when the reality is- that is extremely rare.

    " I don't think there is anything intrinsiclly bad about the drugs, they just are a very destructive outlet for people's compulsive behavior"

    look, personally, i think mj is pretty lame, but it does not follow that illegal drug use is necessarily destructive (apart from the whole illegality aspect putting them in jeapardy)

    people who use illegal drugs responsibly can reap many benefits from them, whether the drug is a hallucinogen, an anabolic-androgenic steroid (which actually can be used legally with prescription, such as those given by age-extension clinics), an amphetamine (improves sports performance and alertness), etc. etc.

    i don't for a second equate illegal drug use with abuse. whether a drug is being abused is completely tangential to whether it is being used legally, apart from the whole criminality aspect

  • Scott Morgan||

    "The lesson to these students: next time you come to a drug policy reform conference, come for the policy reform part, not the drugs. This is a serious movement with serious people trying to get something done."

    The fault lies with the hostile hotel management not the students. You're unusually judgemental for a reformer. I agree with your priorities, but not your lecture.

    Let's discuss this over tea at NORML 2007. There's always plenty of tea at these things since "serious people" never get high.

  • ||

    "Let's discuss this over tea at NORML 2007."

    I am surprised that you refer to the NORML conference in your response to my "lecture." The blatant use of marijuana by "serious" drug policy reformers at NORML conferences (and I am not referring to medical marijuana patients who use marijuana legally under California state law with a doctor's recommendation)is one of the most self-destructive behaviors of this movement. Newsflash: NORML is not taken seriously by anyone who has the power to change marijuana laws. NORML is understood by most of America and all lawmakers to be precisely the type of organization that would flout illegal marijuana use at a public gathering and actually gloat over the massive media coverage they get during their conferences. This coverage of NORML conferences reinforces the public's perception of drug policy reform as being about rich white guys' (and gals') right to get high in a Holiday Inn (or the Cathedral Hotel in San Francisco). I for one am not working to end the drug war so that I can have the right to get a contact buzz at a conference. I am working to end the drug war so that we won't have 2 million people in prison...and guess what? Most of the people in prison for drug crimes aren't your typical NORML member anyway. So, I'm sorry to say that I won't be at NORML 2007, and I'm sure I won't be missed.

  • Scott Morgan||

    Fair enough. I apologize for my initial response to you.

    Your more entitled to your opinion than I realized.

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