A recent CNN story about the potentially deadly dangers of new synthetic drugs inadvertently calls attention to the government's role in promoting these novel compounds. In my latest Forbes column, I argue that imposing one ban after another drives constant innovation by underground chemists, resulting in drugs with unpredictable hazards. Here is how the piece starts:
This week CNN ran a report called "Deadly High: How Synthetic Drugs Are Killing Kids." The story highlights the threat posed by "deadly new drugs on America's streets designed to evade the law." In case you are not sure how you should react to this menace, correspondent Drew Griffin tells you. "That, to me, is scary," he remarks during a conversation with a federal prosecutor about an entreprenur who created an online business that supplied a synthetic psychedelic implicated in the 2012 deaths of two teenagers in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Griffin is right that something scary is going on here. But it is not the inherent hazards of psychoactive substances so much as the way the government senselessly magnifies those hazards.