You Can Put Your Weed in There


The drug paraphernalia crackdown is hard to understand even from a drug warrior's point of view. When the government seizes drugs and arrests traffickers, there is at least a theoretical possibility of having some impact on retail prices, even if it is slight and temporary. Other things being equal, higher prices could be expected to reduce drug consumption. But under what scenario does the government deter drug use by seizing bongs and arresting the operators of online head shops? As long as paper and aluminum foil (not to mention beer cans and apples) are available, pot smokers will have ready alternatives. Much like obscenity prosecutions of sex toy sellers (which cannot reasonably be expected to affect fornication rates), the anti-paraphernalia effort is a purely symbolic strike against artifacts that offend people in power.

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  1. True, but don’t forget that it’s also meant to inspire fear. “They’re watching you…”

  2. There is nothing symbolic about the abuse of power. This is just one more step towards a DOJ tyranny of the USA

  3. Terrorists live and work in places with uncertain access to Budweiser, McDonald’s & HBO. And they shoot back.

    Head shop owners live & work in places with reliable access to Budweiser, McDonald’s & HBO. And they don’t shoot back, usually.

    So if you’re a federal agent, which group do you go after?

  4. You know, it might also have the unintended consequence of making people buy more drugs. You know, what are they going to do with the 100 dollars they saved by not being able to buy a bong?

  5. Really, isn’t most of the Drug War symbolic?

  6. Poli,
    No, the Drug War is mostly corrupt. A means to siphon large amounts of funds off the public trough and to wield power (in ways previously held to be constitutionally forbidden).

  7. Agree with quaker120 – it has absolutely no impact on drug use or availability, but it’s a way to demonstrate that they’re going to smoke you evildoers out of your holes and get you! Purely designed to inspire fear of Dear Leader Ashcroft.

    Er, maybe “smoke” isn’t the right word.

    I await the Ashcroft crackdown on matches and lighters – how else do you light up your evil weed?

  8. Dude–

    It’s coming, believe me…I was recently carded to purchase a lighter (just a lighter). (I look pretty obviously over 18, too.) Doubly scary in the states where they scan your ID at the point of purchase.

  9. Herr Ashcroft! Ve have finally incarcerated ze entire population of Amerika! Your master plan iz verking mein Fuhrer! Zoon ve vill have enough slave labor to begin construction of ze Enormous Moral Dildo for your vife!

    Hail Ashcroft!

  10. So when is Reason mag going to have its first annual “suck up to druggies” issue? They can have collections of drug success stories to inspire the generations to continue to fight for their right to get high!

    That’ll show those SQUARE conservative nerds!

  11. In the short run consumption drops by 100 kilos. But in the long run the drop will be less than that since the higher prices will lead to more production, unless the supply is completely inelastic.

  12. I’m no fan of Attorney General Asscrack, but he IS merely (meaning: eagerly) enforcing the law as written by the Legislature. Place the responsibility for the death of liberty where it should rightfully lay…at the feet of your congressman.

  13. >>So when is Reason mag going to have its first annual “suck up to druggies” issue? They can have collections of drug success stories to inspire the generations to continue to fight for their right to get high!

    That’ll show those SQUARE conservative nerds!

  14. Talk Smooth:

    It isn’t about peoples’ right to get high. It’s about people NOT having the right to use force in a (failed) effort to keep people from getting high.

    What constitutes a “drug success story?” Being able to take life saving medicine without throwing up (AIDS and cancer patients everywhere)? Or do you want examples of people who are successful in their vocation while enjoying drugs you disapprove of?

    Minds and bodies are not properties of the State. You would think a conservative would agree. But “square conservatives” are nothing but a bunch of religious yahoos with a decidedly communist flair.

  15. While I agree with the majority of the sentiments above, and have no love for this man, Mr. Ashcroft; he’s not the one that got this pipe smoking. This is from an article in today’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

    “The federal investigation, dubbed “Operation Pipe Dreams,” began in Pittsburgh during the prosecution of Akhil Kumar Mishra and his wife, Rajeshwari, who ran two shops Downtown. They were convicted in federal court in 2000 of selling illegal drug paraphernalia and conspiracy.”

    This thing got rolling before he lost an election to a dead man and was appointed out of spite.

  16. I agree with set, although i don’t think bongs and pipes account for a large part of the typical drug user’s “drug budget.”
    And of course, there will be no practical effect as long as you can buy rolling papers in any gas station.

  17. Jacob Sullum’s economic logic is correct — seizing drugs will raise prices to the point where consumers choose to buy less. But that’s a very roundabout way of seeing it. Obviously destroying drugs reduces consumption, because now that some are seized, there’s less to be consumed!

    If the feds destroy (say) 100 kilos of drugs, that raises prices to the point where consumers choose to buy 100 kilos less. But wouldn’t it just be easier to observe that consumption must drop by 100 kilos because there’s 100 kilos less in existence to consume?

  18. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/21/2004 05:10:14
    He who gives up freedom for security deserves neither.

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