Holy Belgium

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Don't be too hard on Europe, folks. When it comes to drugs, at least, it's a lot saner and freer than the U.S. of A. The latest evidence for this comes from Belgium, which has just decided to legalize pot for personal use.

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  1. I used to be against the drug war, but honestly, I’ve come to think that anything that keeps Reason Online type “libertarians” in their grandmother’s basements can’t be all bad.

  2. I think the ideal libertarian military would be a volunteer militia, though private forces would definitely have some uses – especially in security. Italy in the late 15th and early 16th century used a lot of private, for profit armies, with poor results. Machiavelli goes on a great deal about it. He though mercenaries were the worst thing ever, though that’s not surprising as he commanded Florence’s militia for a while.

  3. Super, Belgium is now free. Wait… no it isn’t.

    They hate us so friggin much I won’t be able to go there to pack one in peace without apologizing for being from “amerikkka.”

  4. ….not to mention prostitution laws, public smoking, teenage drinking and curfews, gay rights, TV and movie censorship, and a few other things that have slipped my mind.

    When you think about it, there are a lot of social policy spheres in which European nations are “saner and freer” than the U.S. – drug policy is just the most startling one. It would make for a good column if any of you guys are up for it.

  5. It’s sad, isn’t it Eric? Here we are, the land of the free and the home of those not brave enough to get out of other people’s lives.

  6. On behalf of successful stoners everywhere, I’d like to say to you ‘just say no’ types – You don’t know what you’re talking about.
    Furthermore if you can’t see how the drug war is crippling this country and deserves *more* attention, you have got your eyes squeezed shut tight.

  7. You’ll never get anywhere if you smoke pot. Just ask Al Gore. He’s not president.

  8. And you’ll never EVER go anywhere if you do coke. Just ask George W. Bush…

  9. http://www.orlingrabbe.com/drugwar.htm

    “The function of the Drug War is to create the Drug Crisis. The Drug Crisis involves billions of dollars in hidden cash flow. Addicted to this flow of money are law enforcement agencies, drug producers and distributors, covert agencies who use it as a source of black funding, and politicians and bankers who are hired to protect the drug revenues. Addiction to drug revenues requires that the drug war be fought so as to be lost. Failure thus becomes the criterion of success.”

  10. Without the drug war, how would all those poor Columbian and Afghani farmers make a living? Obviously, the drug war is just the Republican’s plan for ending poverty world wide…

  11. You’ve got it all wrong. It’s a secret plot by the conservatives to make libertarians sound like a bunch of crackpots, and maintain control of the Republican party.

  12. The Drug War, like prohibition of alcohol, is a poorly-advised solution to some very real problems. Drugs are, in general, not good for you–not too many people honestly think that, say, crack cocaine is a good palliative for life’s little ills.

    The problem is that making things illegal without removing the demand simply raises the price. No matter what the penalty is for drug trafficking, someone will be willing to do it if they can get paid enough. And the worse penalties are, the more the traffickers will charge to do it: thus, the more stringent the law, the greater the potential reward for breaking it.

    If we are really serious about dealing with the drug problem, we need to think about some new ways to do it. I am convinced that our resources (READ: MY TAX DOLLARS) can do better elsewhere.

  13. Out of 15 posts currently showing on this blog, two are about drugs, IF you count one about ephedra.

    Brendon is right, you guys have a one track mind!!

  14. If there is a focus on drug policy in Reason, it is perhaps because the drug war is one of the most glaring and egregious examples of the government oversteping its bounds and abridging personal liberty. If that doesn’t merit coverage in a publication whose tagline is “Free Minds, Free Markets”, I don’t know what does.

  15. yeah, more war reportage about how it’d be better to privatize the military please 😀 hope me!

  16. Get off the drugs subject, will ya man?! It gets old after a while, and any sane rational person knows not to take drugs if they wish to succeed in this life.

  17. O, joy! people are free to toke up. Gotta love the freedom…but it’s hardly a victory worth clamoring about. Let people make their own disasterous decisons, okay…just stop cheering for their pitiful choice. Is reason.com a haven of stoners??

  18. Right on, Brendon! It’s obviously the cigarettes I smoke that are keeping me from succeeding in this life. Or maybe the coffee? I think I had an advil last month…

    Wait a minute… I have to inject insulin before every meal… do you think THAT’s keeping me from being successful?

    And my cat just came out of an operation… do you think I should stay away from giving him pain-killers? I don’t want him to lose his ‘top-cat’ status in the area.

    Or maybe you’re only refering to hard drugs. You know, like the morphine my friend is on, after his arm was broken in two places. I’m gonna go have a talk with him about his drug-free future… I just hope he doesn’t pass out from the pain.

  19. Whether or not you agree with toking up, you have to admit that the drug war has been an excuse to trample on an awful lot of our cherished liberties. Any sign that this prohibitionist institution is crumbling is good news in my book.

    I don’t want to see people strung out on drugs either, and I personally wouldn’t touch the stuff. But if someone wants to smoke a joint in the privacy of their own home I don’t see why it’s anyone else’s business.

  20. As a resident of Germany, I would like to second Eric’s remarks. It is surprising how much freedom Americans willingly give up. Look at the draconian smoking bans cropping up across the US. Here, I can even smoke in my office! Heck, there’s even a smoking area for students in our institute (gasp! shudder! encouraging smoking!!!). People that don’t like smoke simply avoid smoky places. And don’t tell me that German mortality are worse significantly worse than those in the US, because it’s not.

    I hope that once the costs start to outweigh the benefits, Americans will reconsider the puritanical approach. The “Just Say No” approach (and the “throw the book at ’em” approach) is a costly failure of a drug policy. The government needs to do better with our resources (read: MY TAX DOLLARS).

  21. Frenk, just to clarify a bit, the problem with the smoking bans isn’t that some people are willingly giving up a freedom, it’s that people who don’t smoke are willingly abridging the heretofore inviolable freedom of others. It’s the tyranny of the majority.

  22. Geophile: I don’t disagree entirely, but I would say that the problem is indeed giving up of freedoms. But smoking per se was not my intended focus (sorry, I got sidetracked onto one of my other favorite rants).

    I think that when Americans willingly make things illegal, they do take away their own freedoms. The fact is, when something is made illegal, everyone has lost a freedom–which we could (unoriginally, admittedly) call, “Freedom of Choice.” When something is illegal, the freedom for EVERYONE to select (for or against) is gone.

    Similarly, a position in favor of legalizing pot is not necessarily a position in favor of pot. It is in favor of freedom. Ergo, I favor legalizing pot, even though I oppose smoking it. I support the right of people to make foolish decisions, even though I myself try to make wise ones.

    Making things illegal is an American passtime. Let’s hope that people realize our tax money is wasted when we lock up nonviolent drug users.

    At the same time: demand creates supply. As long as people want drugs, drugs will be available. Take away the profit factor and you take away the dealer. The only way to decrease profits for dealers is to make drugs legal. It’s simple, but as long as people confuse enforcing morality with public policy, this point remains elusive.

    And our tax money is burned up to stop what cannot be stopped.

  23. Something I really want to see addressed in this debate is the idea that by doing nothing to stop the flow of illegal drugs into a country, all a policy of decriminalization does is “fix” the social problem within the supposedly enlightened European countries vis a vis petty theft, etc. As a policy, this completely turns away from the country’s responsibility to the irredeemably fucked up third world places where the drugs originate. A truly “enlightened” policy would legalize pot, provided it’s only grown within the country doing the legalizing. How does bogus “decriminalization” promote personal responsibility, a hallmark of libertarian philosophy? I was very recently in Christiania, in Copenhagen, and all the pushers promised was that the “shit” wasn’t “stolen.” But if it’s imported illegally from Afghanistan or Turkey, how is that any better ethically?

  24. None: If drugs were legal, then they would no longer be as highly profitable, and thus will no longer be an attractive cash crop. The people who grow it now–in places like Afghanistan–only grow it because they can make a lot of money. Take away their profits, and the whole thing shifts, maybe even to growing food.

    More to the point: Your argument is a version of the “White Man’s Burden.” It’s not possible for us in the US and Europe to redeem other places directly. Better to encourage them to stand up themselves.

    Reform of drug policy is a means by which the US can better direct its scarce and valuable resources (READ: OUR TAX DOLLARS). The war on drugs has only succeeded in wasting lots of money try to block an unblockable flow and punishing those who are a danger to no one but themselves.

    *DISCLAIMER* Frenk supports the legalization of drugs, but opposes using drugs. That’s personal choice and responsibility.

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