Barack Obama

Coming Out of the Drug War Haze?

Cautious optimism may be appropriate.

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President Obama's recent speech on the opioid overdose epidemic offers a ray of hope that the country's approach to drugs might one day adopt what has been called the first rule of American business: When all else fails, try doing it right.

Noting with considerable understatement that "treatment is underfunded," the president proposed $1.1 billion for expanded opioid-addiction treatment. This is a good step in the right direction. But it is still $50 billion less than the U.S. will spend this year alone on its current, fatally flawed policy of the war on drugs, and only one-third of what the federal government allocates to lock up drug criminals— whose incarceration accounts for half of the entire Bureau of Prisons budget.

The president himself is to blame for continuing to wage that war. Despite his own youthful enjoyment of marijuana, and despite the spreading decriminalization of marijuana (27 states have legalized it for medical or recreational use or both), and despite a Gallup poll showing nearly three out of five Americans agree with such policies, the Obama administration has targeted pot more severely than the Bush administration did.

It also defends its ludicrous Schedule I classification, which is reserved for the "most dangerous" drugs. This might be the point at which to mention that while the CDC attributes more than 20,000 deaths each year to alcohol, the number of deaths caused by cannabis is so low that, while probably not zero, it is apparently unmeasured.

Opioids, of course, have caused tens of thousands of deaths from overdose. The spike in opioid fatalities over the past few years is being blamed in part on doctors' purported over-prescription of painkillers. Patients can easily get hooked, and when they cannot get any more—or cannot get enough—from a physician, they turn to the black market.

This has become a middle-class epidemic, which has sensitized political leaders to the reality of addiction in ways the crack epidemic never did. As Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project puts it, when the drug users are "primarily people of color, then the response is to demonize and punish. When (they are) white, then we search for answers." (One exception: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been calling the war on drugs a failure for years. His personal testimony about the death of a drug-addicted law-school friend drew widespread praise last fall.)

Unfortunately, as the Drug Policy Alliance points out, while the Obama administration has given lip service to addressing drug addiction as a medical issue, it continues to follow the law-enforcement model. The same holds true for most of the rest of the country. In 1980 America locked up about 50,000 people for drug-related violations. Now we lock up more than half a million, under the ignorant delusion that drug use is a character flaw correctable through the infliction of unpleasant consequences. Well.

The possibility of going to prison six months or a year from now does not weigh heavily on the mind—it does not even enter the mind—of an addict who is jonesing for a fix so badly she wants to rip off her own skin and so sick from withdrawal she can hardly stand up.

Try to threaten an addict who has emptied her life savings to feed her addiction. Who goes to work high even though she promised her boss, again, that it would never happen again. Whose own parents won't let her in the door at Thanksgiving—or any other time—because she keeps stealing things to hock for drug money. Who breaks down in tears when she begs her landlord not to evict her for nonpayment of rent. Who can't stop seeing the look in her children's eyes when three strangers hauled them away to the Social Services van idling at the curb.

Tell the addict who has been to rehab after rehab that her problem is, she doesn't really want to quit. Tell her she's a useless piece of human garbage who isn't fit to live. Tell her she ought to get her act together for once in her miserable life. She's heard it all before a thousand times, from the woman she sees in the mirror—the woman she has grown to hate and sometimes wants to kill. Every one of her waking moments is filled with shame and self-loathing so intense that nothing can relieve them except a needle in the arm or a bullet in the brain.

And you're going to make her get clean by threatening her with jail? Please.

Most drug addicts would love nothing more than to straighten themselves out. But simply ordering them to do so is about as effective as ordering a diabetic to produce more insulin. They can't—or they would have long ago.

Drug courts can help. Because they involve substance-abuse counseling and other social services, they are expensive. But they have a good record: In Virginia, those who go through drug court have a recidivism rate of 14 percent, compared to 38 percent for similar offenders who go through regular courts.

Nationwide, three-fourths of drug-court graduates remain arrest-free for two or more years. The commonwealth has 37 drug courts now, up from zero a couple of decades ago.

In this regard Virginia and other states have begun to emulate Portugal, which decriminalized drug use (but not distribution) in 2001. Those cited for possession are sent to administrative, rather than criminal, courts. The dissuasion commissions, as they are called, encourage drug users to enter treatment programs by suspending fines if they do.

Drug use has not risen in Portugal; in fact, it has declined. So have drug-related deaths and HIV infection rates. And deaths from drug overdose rates? They're the second-lowest in Europe, behind Romania's. Portugal's rate of drug-overdose deaths is 3 per 1 million citizens. That is the total for all drugs of any kind.

If the U.S. had an equivalent rate, the number of Americans who died from drugs in a given year would be 954—instead of 47,000, including 10,000 for heroin alone.

In the war on drugs, maybe the time has come to try doing it right.

This column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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95 responses to “Coming Out of the Drug War Haze?

  1. To end the war on drugs one must win a war against the judicial industrial complex that profiteers off criminalizing folks treating pain.

    1. The WoD is the result of the biggest bootlegger-Baptist coalition of special interests in world history.

      And those special interests are some of the most financially and militarily powerful entities on the planet. Don’t forget that in addition to the drug cartels, crooked politicians, lazy and crooked prosecutors, crooked judges, crooked lawyers, crooked cops, private prisons, and even the jailers and drug rehab employees at the bottom of the food chain, the national security state uses the drugs trade as a means of implementing foreign policy and obtaining off-books funding.

      The livelihoods of millions of people depend upon the WoD, and they will fight tooth and nail to preserve their livelihoods.

      An end to the WoD would require a revolution.

      1. “An end to the WoD would require a revolution.” Nah. Just feed all drug warriors feet first into woodchippers. Problem solved.

        1. A lot of revolutions. Per minute.

  2. American addiction ‘treatment’ is really abstinence-based suicide indoctrination, which is why it is so ineffective. And yes this includes drug courts, which have also been proven ineffective. Treatment works in Europe because they don’t push the “if you use again you will surely relapse and die” dogma. Instead they just provide job training and counseling and let people stop using on their own. Which they will assuming they don’t kill themselves in the mean time. Also drug courts are mostly moot if drugs are decriminalized. Also, I love the DARE style description of the addict in this article complete with “the look in the children’s eyes” flourish. LOL nice.

    1. tl;dr

    2. Also, I love the DARE style description of the addict in this article complete with “the look in the children’s eyes” flourish.

      While they might not represent the typical drug user, such creatures do exist.

  3. There is no way to do the War on Drugs “right.” Prohibition is a fundamentally immoral and inhuman act, and peddling this soft prohibition as some kind of solution to the problem is just endorsing the act. There is nothing libertarian or American about drug courts or forced treatment in lieu of prison.

    1. Exactly right. I wish people agitating to end the ruinous WOD would avoid sunshine and rainbows portrayals of societal benefits that may or may not come from legalization, but rather stress the simple fact that a nation that considers itself free doesn’t jail people for choosing whatever intoxicants they care to ingest. Alcoholism is a terrible, destructive problem, but no one advocates prohibition anymore because it’s self-evidently oppressive and useless.

      I understand *why* they sell the concept of societal benefits, but to me it’s entirely the wrong path to the right goal. Personally, I don’t give a shit about drugs one way or another. I don’t take any other than the occasional drink, and I haven’t drank to excess in over a decade because I don’t care to do anything that interferes with my ability to control my actions. The silly stoner pro-pot cheerleading just makes me want to roll my eyes. My beliefs are entirely grounded in personal liberty, and I think that would be a more convincing argument for a lot of people who have zero interest in drugs themselves.

      1. I don’t mind selling the societal benefits, but the societal benefits would be far greater from acknowledging that the government has no business trying to regulate what individuals put in their own bodies than they would be from putting a softer face on the status quo.

      2. While I certainly agree with what you say, unfortunately most people aren’t buying the personal liberty angle, at least when it comes to “hard” drugs. Harm reduction is the best we are likely to see there.

      3. stress the simple fact that a nation that considers itself free doesn’t jail people for choosing whatever intoxicants they care to ingest. Alcoholism is a terrible, destructive problem, but no one advocates prohibition anymore because it’s self-evidently oppressive and useless.

        But I don’t think that’s true. I think lots of people consider the nation too free as it is, and that prohibition of liquor is not self-evidently oppressive or useless as far as they’re concerned. They oppose prohibition of liquor because they think the benefits of legal liquor exceed its costs, and that jailing people for choosing intoxicants whose imputed costs to society exceed the benefits is appropriate, and helps lead to the degree of freedom they consider appropriate for a nation.

        Therefore arguing about benefits & costs is a perfectly appropriate way to persuade many people on such an issue, as it is about practically all other matters of public affairs & policy.

        1. Completely true, but someone needs to check their math with regard to maryjane and her friends.

  4. OT: All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

    “For the kickoff of the 40th annual Chittenden County United Way fund-raising drive in Burlington, Vt., the sponsors considered themselves fortunate to have as guests Mayor Bernard Sanders of Burlington and Gov. Richard Snelling of Vermont. . .

    “I don’t believe in charities,” said Mayor Sanders, bringing a shocked silence to a packed hotel banquet room. The Mayor, who is a Socialist, went on to question the “fundamental concepts on which charities are based” and contended that government, rather than charity organizations, should take over responsibility for social programs.”

    He’s also apparently a huge asshole since he said this *at a charity fundraiser.*

    1. People get to choose what charity they give to, can’t have that. That’s anarchy.

    2. I think it was John who pointed out that that Sanders’ arguments as to why his policies aren’t those of a totalitarian communism depend on painting his policies as reactionary ones that don’t go all the way to communism but just enough to fix the problems caused by free markets – i.e. Sanders is claiming that his policies, being fascistic, are therefore not communistic.

      And he is entirely correct in that assessment.

    3. FWIW this is a pretty mainstream opinion on the Left. The Bern is (or was) just more honest about it.

      1. this is a pretty mainstream opinion on the Left

        There are definitely segments of the left where Sanders’s opinion is the norm, but I wouldn’t say it’s a mainstream opinion for the American left as a whole.

        What is mainstream on the American left is bias against religious institutions and charities. You could say Sanders etc. take this bias to its logical conclusion, but I don’t think even a majority of lefties in this country would be on board with forcibly closing all private charities and confiscating their assets.

        1. Closing? No. Removing tax-deductible status? Likely.

    4. A lot of my friends who are supporters of Sanders are the first to admit that charities are bullshit because the government should be the ones who provides charitable services. Sander’s voters are the most anti-choice people in the world with the exception of abortion.

      1. the most anti-choice people in the world with the exception of abortion

        If you believe that “exception” would last, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

        Depending on which variety of socialism we would find ourselves living under, abortion would either become mandatory (agrarian socialism) or illegal (industrial socialism) before too long.

        Without control over the population numbers, how could the central planners make their plans?

  5. Why does the theoretical drug addict in the story need to be a woman, eh? ^_-

    1. Because women be smokin’ crack, am i right? Also, shoppin’.

  6. I am not sure claiming drug addiction is a medical issue will help end the drug war. If drug addiction is a medical issue, then isn’t it fair to say that drugs make large numbers of people “sick”? And if it is the case that drugs make people sick and not just sick but sick such that they are no longer responsible for their actions, don’t the drug warriors then have a pretty strong case for making such substances illegal?

    Suppose some pharmaceutical company started selling a medical treatment that did nothing but make the people who used it feel good for a few hours but caused a large number of the users to develop a debilitating disease that caused them to lose control over their cravings and actions such that they would have to be in treatment for the rest of their lives to control such cravings? Wouldn’t it be pretty hard to argue against banning such a treatment?

    I think the first step to ending the drug war is ending this horse shit myth that drug addiction is a “disease”. No it is not a disease. It is just irresponsible behavior.

    1. The first and only step is to acknowledge that I and only I get to decide what goes into my body.

      1. You can’t acknowledge that if you believe that drug addiction is a medical issue and thus a “disease”. If addiction is a disease, then the addict can’t decide what goes into their body. They are compelled to put the drugs there by their “disease”.

        I am all for the concepts of free will and responsibility. But you can’t have that if you believe there is such a thing as a “disease” that causes people to use drugs.

        1. The author’s description of addiction is pure horseshit and propaganda. Addiction is not a disease, but treating it as such is far better than criminalizing it. And will ultimately result in the realization that it is just a lie/myth/scam perpetuated in part by articles like this to justify mischief. Nevertheless it’s progress. Baby steps….

        2. Regardless of whether or not it is a disease, it’s still a question of self-ownership. Should we treat those in chronic pain as lacking free will because they “need” pain-killers?

          1. Yes, Lee G. Addiction being a disease doesn’t take away your self ownership. Free people ought to be free to ignore and fail to treat any disease they have if that’s what they choose to do.

            I don’t think the disease description of addiction is a very good one, myself.

          2. If addiction is a “disease”, then it is not a question of self ownership. If you have no free will, then you don’t own yourself. It is no different than if someone put a gun to your head and made you take the drugs. Would that situation be an issue of self ownership? No, because self ownership only matters if you have free will.

            1. Where are you getting free will from here? Since when does having a disease take away free will? If there is any such thing as free will, then addicts still have the freedom to choose. They are just inclined strongly towards one particular choice.

              As I have said repeatedly, I don’t think addiction is properly described as a disease. It’s a pattern of behavior that some people are prone to developing. All of your arguments here are based on a conception of addiction that no one here really believes.

              1. Since when does having a disease take away free will?

                When that disease affects your mind. Do people with Alzheimer or serious mental illness have “free will”. Of course they don’t. If you believe that addiction is a disease then you necessarily believe that it takes away your free will.

                1. Do people with Alzheimer or serious mental illness have “free will”.

                  I think they do. Up until they become complete drooling blobs.

                  But we have rather different ideas about free will, and we’ve been through that all before enough times, so I’ll let that be.

                  1. I don’t see how you can say they do Zeb. It is not like they can help forgetting their pasts or believing crazy things. That is the nature of it being an illness. They have no control over it.

                    1. Like I said, I don’t think we are going to settle the free will debate here.

                      There are things about ourselves that none of us has control over. Free will doesn’t mean that you have complete control over everything you do or think. It means that if you decide to do something, then you do it if it is possible. That’s my take. I understand that many people think there is more to it than that.

                    2. You are right here. Drugs influence people, some more than others. To say that they have no awareness of the affect or ability to influence their behavior is absurd. Using words like ‘addiction’ aren’t helpful to solving the “problem” for an individual or a society. Most importantly, there is no need whatsoever for incarceration for those who use ‘drugs’. Progress is being made with regard to self determination with regard to drugs, but it’s a long slow battle for sure.

            2. Exactly. If you have no agency, then the best/most you could have would be a legal guardian for your affairs. You may own an estate, but not be in direct control of it in such a case. So “ownership” does not resolve the issue.

    2. given the choice, addiction as a public health issue makes more sense than addiction as a criminal issue. Whether the substance is meth or some prescription med that the person can’t kick, tossing them in jail seems a non-solution. There really are people prone to addiction out there, much as you want to dismiss that. There is a reason the children of alcoholics either follow in the parental footsteps or stay away from booze entirely.

      And I’ll go back to the growing issue of prescription meds, particularly those pain, becoming a problem. Those people were going through life when something unforeseen occurred. A medicine that got them through the aftermath was pretty damn powerful and became a crutch. It’s not new, per se, but it sure seems more prevalent today than decades ago.

      1. “A medicine that got them through the aftermath was pretty damn powerful and became a crutch.” This is not true. Addiction starts with NON-MEDICAL use, despite the propaganda to the contrary. In other words, it starts by telling kids “Don’t do drugs” a million times, and then they ‘borrow’ or steal a pill, and this causes a ‘disease’ that makes them ‘borrow’ or steal more pills. Addiction does not start with people innocently taking a pill for a ‘sports injury’ despite the flood of media propaganda.

        1. and yet, the “propaganda” has played out countless times and not just with athletes, but with everyday people after accidents or surgery or something else. You yourself claimed being in favor of treatment, which sounds a bit like wanting it both ways. Some of these people develop a problem with whatever they are prescribed. I don’t see treating them as criminals, either, but I’m not pretending there is no issue at all.

          1. “but with everyday people after accidents or surgery or something else” – Again, not true. See also Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream. Obviously you are too far brainwashed to see anything resembling a fact in this discussion. However at least you agree that treating drug users as criminals is bad, and for today that’s enough for me.

            1. I think you’re overselling, but you’re probably doing that to an audience that needs to be oversold.

              I’ve seen people (from prep school) who lived in the equivalent of a rat heaven. No doubt, some of them had other problems, but others were as happy as clams before. Maybe they had a genetic predisposition, maybe they have ten times as many opioid receptors as the average person. Some of them went off the cliff really, rally fast.

              I’ve known people who were in the equivalent of rat hell, who dropped it as easy as anything, too.

              Human behavior on this is too complicated to fit any simple model. It’s certainly too complicated to just treat them all like criminals. I was thinking about that last week during the backlash against Trump saying he’d go after women who sought abortions. I suspect there are anti-abortion crusaders that damned Trump for saying that who also stand by in silence when people want to prosecute addicts for being addicts.

            2. I think you’re overselling, but you’re probably doing that to an audience that needs to be oversold.

              I’ve seen people (from prep school) who lived in the equivalent of a rat heaven. No doubt, some of them had other problems, but others were as happy as clams before. Maybe they had a genetic predisposition, maybe they have ten times as many opioid receptors as the average person. Some of them went off the cliff really, rally fast.

              I’ve known people who were in the equivalent of rat hell, who dropped it as easy as anything, too.

              Human behavior on this is too complicated to fit any simple model. It’s certainly too complicated to just treat them all like criminals. I was thinking about that last week during the backlash against Trump saying he’d go after women who sought abortions. I suspect there are anti-abortion crusaders that damned Trump for saying that who also stand by in silence when people want to prosecute addicts for being addicts.

              1. My father in law is eating himself to death from type II diabetes. Is he a food addict? By your logic he is.

                Sorry but those people you know are victims of their own poor impulse control and self destructive behavior. If drugs didn’t exist, they would have found some other destructive activity. They were addicts because they choose to be addicts.

                If you don’t believe that, then you might want to reconsider your views on the drug war because in your view drugs really are special and take away people’s free will.

                1. Addiction isn’t a loss of free will. Just a redirection of the will. People still have complete free will. They just tend to aim their will toward doing more drugs in some cases. Addiction doesn’t take away choices or the ability to choose. It just makes certain choices look a lot more appealing.

                  Even if it does in some sense take away free will (which I don’t buy), people willingly made the choice to start using knowing the potential consequences and they can live with the consequences of their actions.

                  1. Addiction isn’t a loss of free will. Just a redirection of the will.

                    If it is being “redirected” then it is not free Zeb. If I put a gun to your head and made you drive me home, would you say your free will wasn’t taken it was just “redirected into something I found more pleasing”?

                    1. Yes, driving you home would be much more pleasing than being shot in the head. I am still completely free to refuse and get shot in the head.

                      No one is ever free in the sense that you seem to insist on for the will to be free. We do things for reasons, often very subjective and irrational ones based on feelings.

                  2. I wouldn’t say addiction is a loss of free will entirely, but when we’re talking about opioid receptors, we are talking about something physical in the brain.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Opioid_receptor#Major_subtypes

                    How can we say that doesn’t have any impact on the “free” part of that will. Addicts still posses agency, but surely it’s biased. That’s one of the reasons I never did it.

                    I knew I’d always have a will; I was worried about that “free” part. Ever seen somebody whose will was dominated by an insane and abusive girlfriend/wife/significant other? I knew a dude like that. He had agency like anybody else; he just didn’t have free part of free will to walk out the door like other abused people would.

                    That’s about the hardest question people can ask, “How do you make yourself want something you don’t want?” I guess the other side is, “How do you make yourself not want something you want?”

                    I guess that’s where 12 step people start talking about moments of clarity, hitting rock bottom, etc., and I guess that’s where Buddhist meditation and focusing on the present comes in. That’s why a lot of people don’t succeed at quitting smoking or suicide the first time they try. One doesn’t simply choose to not want something.

                2. John

                  Once you start on certain drugs (opiates) the wothdraw symptoms are substantial. Using isn’t then about getting high but about avoiding hell.

            3. Yeah, it is true. It’s not universal or even common necessarily. But it does happen. Particularly to people who already know that they enjoy the drugs recreationally. Use of and even dependence on drugs isn’t addiction, but there are plenty of cases of people who started using pain medication for medical reasons who end up as addicts. Stop being so dogmatic. No one is claiming any simple cause and effect relationship here.

              1. If it is true Zeb, then the issue of drug prohibition is no longer about personal sovereignty. What does it mean to be “addicted”? It means that you no longer have free will and can’t stop doing something without treatment. If addiction is real, rather than just a fancy way of saying bad behavior, then it is a disease. People who are addicted to drugs use drugs in the same way people who have the flu get a high fever. It is not something they choose but just a physical manifestation of their disease.

                Think about what that means for the drug war. We have these substances out there that when ingested cause a certain number of people to get this “disease” where by they engage in all sorts of destructive behaviors over which they have no control. Sure, not everyone who tries these things gets the “disease” and can’t stop using them, but a decent number of people who try them do.

                If you believe that to be true, saying the government shouldn’t ban drugs is akin to saying the government shouldn’t spry for malaria infected mosquitoes if they were a problem. It is no longer a question of personal autonomy, because addicts don’t have free will. It is a public health issue and drugs are nothing but a germ carrying device. Just because not everyone who uses them gets the disease, doesn’t mean the government doesn’t have a legitimate reason to ban them.

                I don’t buy that but I don’t buy into the idea of addiction. If I did, I would feel a lot differently about drug prohibition.

                1. What does it mean to be “addicted”? It means that you no longer have free will and can’t stop doing something without treatment.

                  No, that’s not what it means. That may be what the drug treatment industry wants to tell you it means, but it’s a load of shit. Plenty of people kick addictions all on their own.

                  I don’t know how you can deny that there is a real phenomenon out there that people call “addiction”. That’s all I mean when I talk about it. Why do you assume that I buy the bullshit definitions pushed by AA and the drug treatment industries? I don’t buy that for a minute and I don’t think calling it a disease makes sense, but addiction is a real phenomenon.

                  I don’t think we really disagree much here. Perhaps the problem is that I don’t think that the question of free will is very interesting or relevant to anything. There is absolutely no way to tell the difference between a world where free will exists and one where it doesn’t, so it is a completely pointless subject.

                  1. I don’t think we do Zeb. We are arguing semantics here. But if addiction means what you and I say it does, then drugs are not and never should be considered a public health issue. They are a personal behavior and morality issue.

                    1. I’m with you there. Sadly, there is so little hope of it being treated that way that’s it’s easy to get sucked into these little arguments about particular words, or free will, or whatever.

                      Unless someone is so insane that they truly can’t comprehend right and wrong or the consequences of their actions, people must always be held responsible for their own behavior.

                    2. Totally excellent exchange above, gentlemen. I am better for reading.

          2. AddictionMyth “claimed being in favor of treatment” only relative to criminaliz’n. If those are the only choices, sure, I’ll take phony rx over criminal penaliz’n too.

    3. I think that part of the problem is how psychiatric “diseases” are defined. They are pretty much just collections of symptoms and behaviors. Addiction is a collection of symptoms and behaviors. So it’s a diagnosable disease (if it’s in the book).

    4. I’ve known addicts. it is certainly a disease. but that part does not happen right away, or for most users. the horse shit part is treating everyone who uses a drug like an addict. not everyone who goes into a bar is an alcoholic. we could easily provide better help for those with an addiction, if we stopped acting like every one who ever used is an addict who needs treatment. how worthless would AA meeting be, if you filled them with everyone who had a glass of wine with dinner.

      1. If it is a disease, then your case against prohibition is very weak.

  7. “Now we lock up more than half a million, under the ignorant delusion that drug use is a character flaw correctable through the infliction of unpleasant consequences.”

    In the Obama Administration’s defense, when they treat something like a character flaw, they don’t throw you in jail for it so much as demonize it. For instance, they treat being white, middle class, or blue collar as character flaws. Being Christian is also a character flaw in the Obama Administration’s eyes–especially if it means you don’t want to bake cakes for gay weddings. Being Catholic is a character flaw if it means you’re a nun that doesn’t want to pay for your employees’ sinful indiscretions directly, and not being willing to sacrifice your standard of living for no one knows how many years to save the first polar bear is a character flaw according to that bunch, too. Believing in free speech is becoming more and more of a character flaw every day . . .

    Maybe the problem isn’t that the Obama Administration treats drug abuse like a character flaw. Maybe the problem is that, unlike libertarians, they don’t make any meaningful distinctions between moral obligations and legal obligations. For all I know, drug abuse may be a character flaw–but why does the government need to be involved? Should they star throwing people in jail for cheating on their spouses, too?

    1. Promising me I could keep my doctor and that my health insurance premiums would drop if we implemented the ACA was also a character flaw.

      1. in Camp Obama, your insistence on believing your lying ears and eyes is the character flaw.

      2. Well, you’re not supposed to notice, and if you do, it means you’re a racist. If you weren’t a racist, you wouldn’t care if Obama squandered your future paychecks bailing out the failed investments of Wall Street speculators either–but you do, so you’re a racist.

        The Obama Administration doesn’t want to throw you in jail for that, though. They just want to demonize you for it. Now stay still while I draw horns on your forehead with this Sharpie, you neo-Confederate, hate monger.

    2. Maybe the problem is that, unlike libertarians, they don’t make any meaningful distinctions between moral obligations and legal obligations.

      Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

      The failure to make the distinction between legal and moral obligations is the essence of theocratic totalitarianism.

  8. Treatment diversion is a fine option for genuine addicts, but government busybodies with citation quotas to meet and staffing budgets to justify don’t always make the fine distinction between addicts and casual users. So they end up sending anyone who gets busted with an ounce of whatever to treatment whether they need it or not.

    1. Don’t forget that most treatment diversion is to some crony business or another, as well. The more people they send, the happier the cronies are.

      1. We can’t legalize drugs, there’s too much money in it.

      2. all part of War on Drugs, Inc. So many people making so much money based on prohibition.

    2. Sometimes a drug induced stupor is the rational choice versus a terrible life.

    3. Having someone hold your hand might be great for curing your degenerate behavior but since when is it okay for the government to force you or worse me to have to pay for it?

      And if you believe in addiction, why do you want drugs to be legal? If addiction is a real thing, that means people who are addicts have no free will and can’t help but do drugs. If some drug users are not freely choosing to take drugs, then drug use is no longer an issue of personal autonomy and the objections to prohibition fail.

      Sorry but libertarians have to stop believing the addiction bull shit.

      1. I’m not sure how many libertarians are calling for new taxes to fund methadone clinics. But many of us would rather see the drugs decriminalized, the trillions not spent on law enforcement but instead see ys taxpayers get at least some of that back. If some were to be redirected to clinics and counseling that would be much better than the current plan. Drug addicts use to deal with pain and to avoid withdraw. It is a natural reflex to avoid pain. They have free will; they use to avoid the bad. Dr. Gabor Mate explains this much better than I.

    4. They don’t want to make that distinction. They don’t even make a distinction between abusers and pain patients. See, the addiction-treatment industry is very large, very rich, and a not insignificant player in the lobbying game. The more people politicians can deliver into its maws, the better. The idea is to feed the financial beast, not to actually help people. And if you’re the straight-edge type who’s never touched any intoxicant in your life, odds are that you will qualify for some sort of idiotic “soft” addiction such as sex addiction, shopping addiction, workaholism, love addiction, or that nebulous perennial favorite of addiction professionals who can’t find anything else to nail someone to, “codependency.” (Speaking of which, mental health professionals made a killing in the province of Ontario years ago by diagnosing everyone who came through their doors with codependency and then charging the provincial government for millions of dollars’ worth of “treatment.” It became a minor financial scandal. This is what state-sponsored addiction rehab looks like, folks.)

  9. I literally heard Sean Hannity make the argument that freedom means participating in democracy, which you can’t do when you are stoned. Therefore prosecuting the war on drugs makes us free. I literally could not believe the mental gymnastics, but that’s literally what he said.

    1. I literally heard Sean Hannity

      The dangers of channel surfing

      1. In ironic Libertopia he and Keith Olberman are gay lovers.

        1. This creates a truly entertaining image.

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    1. Literally?

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  13. The spike in opioid fatalities over the past few years is being blamed in part on doctors’ purported over-prescription of painkillers. Patients can easily get hooked, and when they cannot get any more?or cannot get enough?from a physician, they turn to the black market.

    Anyone got numbers on how many opioid fatalities are actually from prescription painkillers vs. black market pain killers?

    When I started looking for numbers, all I was finding was deaths which “involved” prescription opioids.

    1. No, no one has numbers that I know of. All opiates/opioids metabolize to the exact same substance in the liver. As a result, no one can be sure what the deceased was using at the time. I suspect that this has led far too many medical examiners to shrug their shoulders and sign decedents out as prescription-drug abusers when they may have been doing heroin or street Fentanyl. If I find numbers, I will come back here and post them.

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  15. People In Chronic Pain Chronically Take Pain Relievers PTSD mostly.

    There is no cure for PTSD. Cannabis is indicated for the milder cases. Opiates for the more severe cases.

    Next.

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