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Time To Discuss Drug Prohibition? 1367

Posted by kdawson
from the with-your-remaining-brain-cells dept.
gplus writes "December 5th was the 75th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition in the US. The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed which argues that now may be the time to discuss our war on drugs and the drug prohibition currently in place. The article argues that the harm caused by the banned substance must be balanced against the harms caused by the prohibition. As to why Americans in 1933 finally voted to end prohibition, while we barely even discuss it: 'Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears. But few Americans now can recall the decades when the illicit drugs of today were sold and consumed legally. If they could, a post-prohibition future might prove less alarming.'"
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Time To Discuss Drug Prohibition?

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  • Re:Yes and No... (Score:3, Informative)

    by blitziod (591194) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:09PM (#26027047)
    oddly enough cocaine and heroin( in many forms morphine for example) can be proscribed. Cocaine is used in hospitals for surgery to slow bleeding. Grass however can not be prescribed it is NOT scheduled.
  • Re:No, how about... (Score:3, Informative)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:17PM (#26027141) Journal
    Wisconsin had a lower drinking age than Illinois had, and the result was large numbers of teen driving fatalities as people cross the border to drink. We don't need the same situation happening with marijuana, so we need major changes to be on a national level. Medicinal marijuana can probably be decided by states, but fully legalized use has to be a federal decision.
  • Last 3 presidents (Score:5, Informative)

    by olddotter (638430) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:22PM (#26027203) Homepage
    When Obama takes office, I think that makes 3 US presidents in a row that have (at least off the record, but perhaps on tape) admitted to using or been caught using illegal recreational drugs. It does seem to make the laws hard to defend morally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:31PM (#26027303)

    Like any good salesman, a drug dealer will try to convert a marijuana user to use other drugs that turn a better profit.

    I call bullshit, at least in the US. Sure drug culture can encourage experimentation, but if you think dealers calculate profit margins and make long-term strategies to upsell different drugs, you're crazy.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:43PM (#26027439) Journal

    The gov't would only stand to benefit from lifting of some prohibition

    Not exactly. Government benefits tremendously from any war, including war on its own citizens. The Drug War brings power to government as a whole, and funnels bribe money to government employees at all levels. It's terrible for the country, but great for a lot of scumbags with power.

    -jcr

  • "Hard" drugs like Cocaine should probably remain illegal

    It's important to legalize it all, and the reason has nothing to do with how safe any given drug is.

    Using things like cocaine "safely" may be possible, but it's certainly outside what I'd expect of most of the population. The idea when you ban something, though, is that it will have a desired effect. In this case: less people using the drug (and therefor a safer/etc society). The many decades of prohibition has shown us otherwise. Drug use still happens, and will likely always happen. Trying to ban something and hoping people will magically stop using it is not just logically wrong, there's now many years of empirical evidence that shows that it's the wrong approach.

    The particulars of any given drug are not relevant - banning them has not reduced their use in any significant amount.

    So the question comes down to this: "Who do you want meeting the supply, when the demand is fairly constant?" That's a simple econ question, and there are three major answers: Private Industry, Public (.gov) Programs, or Illegal (violent) Black Markets.

    Right now, we, as a society, are choosing the black market supply. We are handing large profits to violent gangs, providing very profitable opportunities for corruption, etc. Is this really the answer we want to choose? As a free-market loving American, I usually advocate the Private Industry solution, but really, either public or private solutions are significantly better than handing that market to gangs.

    As a pure economic side note: even with the worst drugs, it's much better to take the standard taxes involved with them and divert that to useful things like healthcare for people that want to get off drugs and such. We could trivially fund most of those programs with how much basic tax income we'd make off drugs, and that's just talking basic things like sales tax.

    On a note specific to the cocaine/etc you mention: I'd rather the addict be able to buy inexpensive and clean drugs, in a way they could fund from a McJob, than have them turn to crime to try and fund their habit. The fact that you don't see large amounts of violent crime to fund tobacco habits is evidence of this. /the only way to really stop drugs is to target demand, with tools like Good Education, not laws banning them

  • anybody who sells ... to a minor.

    That's a good point, and a strong reason to legalize it all. Street drug dealers don't ask for ID, but a well-regulated place like a liquor store does. It's far easier for a kid to get illegal drugs right now than it is for them to get liquor, and that really needs to change.

  • by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@nOspam.gmail.com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:55PM (#26027611) Journal

    The government makes BILLIONS on the WOD, the get it from the taxpayers and they get it from confiscations. They've now taken to farming out some of their duties to private prisons and other private services. Those private companies hire the politicians as spokes mouths and PR pukes and pay them millions.

    The only loser is society as a whole as the cancer of high taxation, putative laws and centralized power take their toll.

  • Re:Dear God Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:57PM (#26027641) Homepage

    don't forget those Chinese immigrants getting high in their opium dens--as opposed to upstanding white folks who only use opium & alcohol (always a smart combination) tinctures.

    really, i have yet to see any empirical evidence to back up the idea that before drug prohibition we had more drug-caused social issues than today. in fact, all the studies i've read about seem to point to the exact opposite. consider these points:

    • opium was commonly sold in the streets of ancient Greece and prescribed as a panacea for assorted ailments, much as people today use (hepatotoxic/liver-damaging) OTC painkillers. by all accounts, this did not cause rampant crime or opiate addiction, and in fact Opium retained a very high reputation among the ancient Greeks.
    • prior to the Harrison Act of 1914, which effectively made opiate-dependence a crime, opiate use was not considered a serious social problem. for the most part it was considered an "upper-class" drug habit, and opiate addiction was perceived to be less of a moral vice or social nuisance than alcoholism, which in contrast caused intemperance, unemployment, poverty, belligerence/domestic violence, and assorted health problems.
    • it was only after drug prohibition went into effect that a prohibition-style crime wave swept the nation. so rather than preventing real social harm, drug criminalization became a self-fulfilling prophecy. whereas opiate users were once able to easily support their habits on pennies a day and purchase their opiates at any store (much like people can purchase alcohol or cigarettes pretty much anywhere today), after prohibition even doctors were forbidden from prescribing opiates to opiate-dependent patients. naturally this created a black market, making opiate users criminals and forcing them to associate and do business with less than aboveboard individuals.
    • today the most successful methods of directly mitigating the social problems we associate with illegal drugs is not drug enforcement or criminal prosecution/imprisonment. instead, harm-reductions programs like needle-exchanges, safe injection rooms, and opiate-maintenance programs, give the best results statistically. and it's repeatedly been shown that individuals with opiate-dependence can still be healthy functional members of society through methadone/heroin/suboxone-maintenance.
    • in a similar vein, military intervention (such as drug raids or using military helicopters to dust farm lands in other countries with herbicides that aren't even legal in the U.S.) has been shown by U.S. government analysts to be the most costly and simultaneously least effective means of combating drug abuse. meanwhile, preventative education and rehabilitation programs have been shown to be the single most cost-effective means of combating drug abuse.

    you don't have to be a drug-users or even like drug users to be against drug prohibition. it serves everyone's best interest for the government to adopt a sane/rational drug policy.

  • Re:No, how about... (Score:3, Informative)

    by WMD_88 (843388) <kjwolff8891@yahoo.com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:59PM (#26027665) Homepage Journal
    You've got the speed limit story slightly mixed up with the drinking age story. :) The federal government set a national speed limit of 55mph in 1974, and any state that had a higher limit would not get funding. This was changed to allow 65mph on rural Interstates in 1987, and repealed entirely in 1995. The states can set it to whatever they want (Montana had no limit at all during the day for a while, but it's now 75). Most states outside of the Northeast now have speed limits of 70 or higher, except for Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin (I think), and Hawaii. States still officially have the power to set any drinking age, but cannot get federal highway funding if they set it below 21 - to this day. But the speed limits are not federally controlled at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:03AM (#26027707)

    Without doing research, my guess is ...

    Well the 18th Amend was passed in 1919, before the New Deal. Back then the Commerce Clause (the part of the Con' saying the Feds have the right to regulate interstate commerce) was interpreted pretty narrowly. If your business stayed within state lines, the Feds had to butt out.

    Then FDR came along. FDR didn't give a damn about the Constitution and forced the Supreme Court to change their view on the Commerce Clause (FDR threatened to pack the court). Otherwise all this New Deal stuff (wage controls, price controls, etc.) would (and did) fail the Constitutionality test.

    From then on, the Commerce Clause has been broadly interpreted to control ANYTHING that remotely touches on the idea of interstate commerce. Whether or not your individual action is inter-state, if the industry it would be placed in is interstate (and what isn't?), it is fair game.

    So, I would assume the issue is what Democrats like to call the "Living Constitution" meaning that the Constitution doesn't mean what it meant when it was written/ratified, but what 5 Justices think it means today (president be damned). Like Lewis Carroll's Humpty-Dumpty, words mean only what he says they mean.
    Conservatives refer to these people as "Activist Judges", and in stead believe that the way to change the Constitution is via Amendments (last one passed during Clinton). In short, the Constitution is a social contract and means what it meant when written/ratified.

    In addition, states/cities can't make their own drug policy because the Fed has tied grants ($$$) to the enforcement of the drug laws (via the Con's Tax & Spend power). So, if the states don't play along, their budget crashes.

    BTW, The Commerce Clause is why US motorways are referred to as Interstates. Aiding Interstate Commerce gave the Feds the power to set up the system of roads, versus state highways.

  • A MUST READ (Score:5, Informative)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:05AM (#26027733) Journal

    "The Consumer Union's Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs", 1972, Consumer's Union

    I usually detest peoples' hyped up assertions such as the title of this post, but in this case I think it's almost subdued in comparison to the facts of the matter.

    Due in large part to the contents of this book, marijuana was almost legalized ... during the *Nixon* administration. Yes, that's when us long hairs were making a lot of noise about many things, including drugs. But we had very little power then. It wasn't us who was attempting to change the law.

    Reading this book is like finding out that the tin foil hat crowd was right all along. This story is a conspiracy theory that happens to be true. This book provides the evidence, with references. It is an even handed historical recounting. It's hard for some people to believe it's even handed because the conclusion and its supporting evidence are so drastically lop sided.

    The summary is that the war on drug users started as and continues to be conducted for the economic benefit of the drug manufacturers and sellers that can guarantee sufficient tax income to the government. And more recently for the direct benefit of the government since they can now seize any property belonging to anyone they care to arrest.

    I was a substance abuse counselor for 3.5 years, and addiction remained one of my main interests through my PhD and beyond. The worst bodily harm comes from two drugs that are both legal: tobacco and alcohol. The worst withdrawals come from these two, plus another legal drug (or class thereof), benzodiazapines (valium family). I would rather a person use any drug, legal or illegal, other than these 3. Withdrawal from tobacco won't kill you, but the other two can.

    The bottom line is the URL for the book. If you care about this subject, no matter what side of any part of the argument, you really should read this book in order to learn how things came to be the way they are. It is one of the best, but certainly not the only, example of psyops (psychological operations) perpetrated by the US government on its own citizens. That's not hyperbole -- I studied that subject too.

    It's available in its entirety at: http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/LIBRARY/studies/cu/cumenu.htm [druglibrary.org]

  • by Kirijini (214824) <kirijini@yahoo . c om> on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:25AM (#26027929)

    While you're right that antibiotics shouldn't be used when not necessary, focusing on human use of antibiotics isn't that productive. More than 70% of antibiotics are used in animal feed. [wikipedia.org] Most cows in feedlots are fed massive amounts of antibiotics so that they don't die from being fed food they weren't evolved to digest. [uic.edu] A very quick way to massively reduce the amount of needless antibiotics used in the US is to regulate the beef industry.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:5, Informative)

    by djtack (545324) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:27AM (#26027947)

    Why is it that it took a constitutional amendment to start prohibition of alcohol

    Because they didn't have Wickard vs Filburn in 1920. Nowdays the federal government can ban any material they wish under the guise of interstate commerce. Which hasn't been all bad, it also enabled the fed to pass things like environmental regulation and some labor laws. Still..

  • Re:Unconstitutional (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:29AM (#26027963)

    Because marijuana itself was never made strictly illegal. The possession & sale of it without a tax stamp (think cigarettes) was made illegal--with the gov't refusing to ever provide said stamps. As much as I disagree with it, it was a brilliant legal maneuver.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:33AM (#26027991)

    Exactly. I know quite a few marijuana dealers (hey I'm Canadian after all...) and none of them try to "upsell" their customers. In fact, most of them only sell marijuana. I think it is a myth, at least in my ghetto (upper middle-class).

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:38AM (#26028067)

    Repeat after me, some people are very susceptible to drug addiction after being users. Not all, but enough that one has to consider the consequences.

  • by lordsid (629982) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:15AM (#26028389)

    It's called the prison industrial complex. What you didn't list are all the industries that are based off of prisons and all the services they require.

    Pretty much anything in a prison has to be specially fabricated so that it cannot be converted into contraband easily. This is true for all the uniforms, TV's, phones, lunch trays and beds to name a few. Some prisons send laundry out for cleaning (read: sweetheart contracts).

    It's all a matter of incentive. Right now there is no incentive to legalize any drug, whereas there is plenty of incentive to keep them prohibited. I don't think this is going to change until people realize that sending billions of dollars out of our country to purchase illicit drugs that we could be growing ourselves. Really if anyone bothered to stop and think about it prohibition funds the terrorists. Now I'm not typically someone to jump on that bandwagon, but it is well known that our own government uses the sale of cocaine to fund covert operations all over the world. If we grew the plants cocoa and marijuana in our own country the money would stay local instead of sending it to some South American drug lord or even worse the CIA.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:24AM (#26028485) Journal

    The fact that Cocaine was used as an active ingredient in a popular fizzy drink would seem to speak otherwise.

    It wasn't just a "drink" at the time, and wasn't particularly popular by modern standards... Sodas were considered a form of medicine, and used as such. Note names like Pepsi, derived from peptic. It's only today that we look at their mass-market appeal and misunderstand their origins.

    And let's not forget that Cocaine is known because in its native region, the indigenous people used it constantly and they did alright.

    Chewing coca leaves is worlds away from doing cocaine.

    Also, I would recommend some reading material: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud#Cocaine [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Dear God Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:42AM (#26028643) Homepage

    first off, i never said IV heroin use was the same as ingesting opium orally. however, since you've brought it up, it should be noted that whether you smoke, insufflate, or ingest orally, the pharmacological mechanism of an opioid is the same. certain opiates like morphine and diacetylmorphine (heroin) are not suited to oral ingestion as they have very low oral bioavailability (somewhere around 10%, i think), but others like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine do have high oral bioavailability.

    really, aside from the initial rush (which lasts for 2-3 minutes max), injecting morphine/heroin/oxycodone/fentanyl feels exactly the same as if you ate it. however, it's more economical to inject morphine and heroin. and in my personal experience, most of the pill poppers who think that they're being smart by avoiding needles but have $200/day habits are not any better off than the heroin addicts with $200/day habits. of course, with IV use there are certain hygienic precautions you need to take. re-using needles and sharing needles are always bad. but aside from that, a lot of doctors who are closet IV morphine addicts are no worse off than pill poppers.

    in regards to Benjamin Franklin, i wasn't being disingenuous, but thanks for the accusation anyway. if you look up Poor Richard's Almanac (here's a digital copy [franklinpapers.org]) you'll find lots of references to laudanum (opium & alcohol tincture), including as an ingredient to all sorts of home-made remedies as well as, interestingly enough, a bill or invoice sent to the Franklin estate including charges for "opium pills" and laudanum--and quite a lot of it. so perhaps he did use it recreationally or perhaps he didn't. but it's clear that Franklin was a regular user of opium at least as early as 1769 (the date of that bill), and was a proponent of opium use.

    and if you want more sources that support Benjamin Franklin being a regular opium user:

  • by evanbd (210358) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:13AM (#26028895)

    [...] cocaine, LSD, or heroin, because of the strength of the addiction of those drugs [...] than less-or-non-addictive drugs (like pot, alcohol, cigarettes, etc).

    Your categories are rather flawed there. Nicotine is far more addictive than LSD, marijuana, or alcohol, and arguably more so than cocaine and heroin. LSD is less addictive than any of the others (well, basically tied with marijuana). Alcohol is not particularly addictive in modest quantity, but if consumed in large quantities is quite strongly addictive -- in fact, it's the only drug on your lists where the withdrawl can kill you.

    The current legal status of various substances has little or nothing to do with how harmful or addicting they are.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:20AM (#26028963)

    But you don't speak about the abyss of drug addiction, the income-sapping expense, the parents of kids that forget parenting while doing drugs, the accidents on the freeway, the madness of things like meth addiction and its incredible debilitating affects on the body.

    Or how the drug cartels live in lawlessness just below the border in muderous droves.

    Are you arguing for or against legalization?

    Because it seems pretty clear to me that all of the things you describe are not being stopped under the current system.

  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:35AM (#26029563)
    You clearly got your drug education from the DEA and Nancy Reagan

    This is part of the problem. The majority of people get their information from these PR campaigns that basically say, "Drugs are bad, mkay? You shouldn't use drugs", and that's all they know. They hear these horror stories of the one-stop-shopping drug dealer that will have every psychoactive substance known to man in stock, and is just waiting for the opportunity to get people addicted to stronger and stronger stuff. They're not aware of which people do and don't use drugs. I've not ever used myself, but I've had friends that had. Guess what - every single one of them used in moderation (some even using crystal meth on occasion), and none suffered from an addiction or were a burden on society in any way, just like the far larger number of friends I have that drink socially. Contrast that to the number of alcoholics I've known that regularly inflict harm on themselves, their families, and society in general.

    Drugs certainly are capable of inflicting unimaginable amounts of harm and pain in people's lives, but then so are bad drivers. There's just too much effort being put forth by certain parties with vested interests that totally distort the real risks involved and prevent any kind of intelligent debate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:00AM (#26029691)

    Did alright!? They lost nearly the entire continent! Sure go smoke yourself silly, just don't complain when the non-smoking aliens take over earth. Who knows maybe they'll let us run casinos?

    We must keep in mind the difference between the coca leaf and cocaine.

    It's like the difference between poppy seeds and opium.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Informative)

    by theaveng (1243528) on Monday December 08, 2008 @07:27AM (#26030691)

    And also forbade people from growing corn or potatoes in their own backyards. (You need the permission of Congress to do that, because it "affects" interstate commerce.) I'm fairly certain that was not the original intent when the Supreme Law was written.

    "On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text." - Democratic Party founder Thomas Jefferson

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday December 08, 2008 @07:38AM (#26030745)

    I used to live in Holland, more specifically in the Amsterdam area.

    In there you're free to buy and smoke pot if you want (coffeeshops are widespread in Amsterdam) and there are some projects going on that provide the drugs to hard-drug users.

    I noticed two things:
    - In Amsterdam, it's mostly the foreigners that go to the coffeeshops. Most dutch people either don't smoke the stuff with any regularity or are not doing it in the open, even though marijuana is widely available and you're not shunned by society for smoking it.
    - Of all the big cities I've been in or lived in, Amsterdam is the place with the fewest (visible) junkies on it's streets.

    The impression from my time in Holland and in other countries is that:
    - Making drugs illegal and restricted just increases their appeal to certain people (a bit like luxury items are inherently more appealing when their supply is restricted). Making them easily available means that they are common and not especially cool in any way: mostly people try it once and think "so what's the big deal?".
    - When consuming drugs is illegal then those that need help cannot get it. Many addicts (drug addicts or otherwise) will seek help (or they're friends or family will seek help for them) to break the addiction if they think they will not be thrown in jail and can succeed.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Informative)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:17AM (#26030975)

    But seriously....Why is it that it took a constitutional amendment to start prohibition of alcohol, and bring it back...but, other drugs have been taken out of public use by the swipe of a pen?

    Because white people drink, while reefer is for black Jazz musicians and opium is for Chinamen, duh! Seriously -- all of our drug laws were instituted to punish sections of the population they were associated with to try and make them want to leave, not because anyone cared about the dope. Why do you think crack carries a stiffer sentence than blow?

  • Nothing to discuss (Score:3, Informative)

    by zmooc (33175) <zmoocNO@SPAMzmooc.net> on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:48AM (#26031139) Homepage

    There's nothing to discuss. Drug prohibition has nothing to do with the dangers of the prohibited drugs as classified by experts. If it had something to do with that, either tobacco and alcohol would have to be prohibited or XTC, LSD, marijuana and a lot of other drugs that cause less harm than tobacco and alcohol, would have to be legalised.

    Drug prohibition is not based on any rational argument, so there's nothing to discuss. Drug prohibition laws as they are now are based on superstition, religion, arrogance, hate, misplaced autority, stupidity and a lot of money. In short: FUD. Good luck trying to discuss about that.

  • Not since Nixon.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:15AM (#26031331) Homepage

    and the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

    Prior to this, drugs were subject to transfer taxes, but were not actually illegal if the taxes were paid. Of course, the taxes were so high compared to the value of the drugs that nobody ever paid them, making the drugs "effectively" illegal. But the lawmakers up to that point realized that they didn't actually have the power to BAN drugs without a constitutional amendment, so they went with a tax-based approach.

    The controlled Substances Act changed all that. A new "superagency" called the DEA was created from parts of several different agencies, and was given the (unconstitutional) ability to ban whatever substances it saw fit by bureaucratic fiat.

  • Re:Or better yet (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday December 08, 2008 @11:16AM (#26032963) Journal

    Banning alcohol would save lives? You do realize it is much easier to bootleg alcohol than it is to bootleg other drugs, right?

    That is the problem with prohibition: It *costs* lives, it doesn't save them. The only reason you have drug dealers killing each other is because it is profitable, because it is illegal. Think back to Capone. Also, what incentive is there to convince others to try drugs if you can't profit from it? Over time, you get less addiction, not more, as there is no incentive to create a new class of addicts. Look at where they are already legal.

    Just think if we took all the money spent on enforcement, and instead use it for education and drug treatment.

  • Re:A MUST READ (Score:3, Informative)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Monday December 08, 2008 @11:26AM (#26033097) Journal

    So - the legal drugs, with the widest exposure - provide the worst cases. Is that possibly because they provide the most cases? Would legalising other drugs provide greater acceptance, and presumably greater uptake? Even if it didn't produce more users, would it increase consumption by existing users? Would that increased consumption result in greater "bodily harm" and worse "withdrawals"?

    Good questions.

    The "worst cases" are the effects on the body taken as per capita. Toxins don't rely on population statistics for the damage they cause. Alcohol gets into every cell. It is toxic at all levels of the system. Burning tobacco contains over 15,000 chemicals. We know what about 10% of them do. More than 90% of them are toxic.

    In the cases where legalization was tried, there was a small increase in soft drug use, and no reliable evidence for increase in hard drug use.

    Again, bodily harm is toxic effects, not affected by number of users. There were no more users. Withdrawal is a physiological effect, also not affected by population statistics.

    Number of users and the problems that occur before and after legalization parallel number of users and problems during and after alcohol prohibition. In fact legalization/de-prohibition removes drug use from the realm of criminal activity, which carries its own set of dangers to health and well being, both user and victim. It also tends to put it under government oversight, preventing much of poor manufacturing toxicity and adulteration.

    You seem interested enough to ask such questions, why are you not interested enough to read the (free) book and find the answers yourself? You can argue words all you like. The book contains real, referenced, and peer reviewed data. I'd be interested in your arguments with those.

    (Full disclosure: the book contains some data about drug use changes after legalization; similar data has been obtained by legalization attempts subsequent to the book).

  • by bdwoolman (561635) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:45PM (#26036789) Homepage

    DNS-and-BIND your observation is perfectly correct. I was using some comic hyperbole to make a point. Perhaps I should also have added that the other side of the coin to not incarcerating people for mental illness (drug addiction is so defined) would be to invest enough in education to create human beings with the self esteem and intellect not to chronically need the seductive shortcut to 'happiness' that drugs and alcohol provide. (I exclude here sane recreational use.) We can, I might add, also provide more opportunity as a society.

    We have 2,000,000 people behind bars right now -- a virtual nation -- and a disproportionate number of them from minorities and also a disproportionate number for the drug- and the property-related crimes addiction stimulates -- ten times more than there were twenty years ago. This is down to draconian drug laws that have clearly deterred nobody. Let's decriminalize, educate and treat if needed.

    Pardon my sarcasm about low paying jobs, but I was making the point that if people are educated and provided with opportunity they will probably choose to succeed. If they still want to get high all the time then let the consequence they get fit the life choice they have made. If they can later get treatment and recover they can then go on to a normal life. (And treatment opportunities should be part of any decriminalization plan.) But it is nearly impossible to climb out of the hole a prison term and a felony conviction puts you in. Going to jail for drugs should be relegated to the ash heap of history -- along with debtor's prison and going to jail for sodomy. That said, we must then also use the tools that we know work like early childhood education, family counseling and quality education to counteract the tide that sweeps people into addiction.

    Note. Our last three Presidents all used drugs to a greater or lesser extent. If any one of them had been seriously wrapped up for it at the time they would never have achieved high office. It is a crap shoot out there. IMHO Drugs are far less harmful to society than are the current laws against them. This is especially so in light of the educational and psychosocial tools we have to help people who get messed up.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bourbonium (454366) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:40PM (#26038647)

    Yes, if you read the Wikipedia entry on Zimmer, you'll learn that he was the "angel investor" who helped bankroll the Proposition 215 effort in California that legalized medical marijuana back in 1996. He watched his mother die of cancer, and discovered how much marijuana helped her deal with the agony of her illness and cope with the side effects of chemotherapy. And as a recovering alcoholic himself, he's painfully aware of the consequences of addiction, and realized early on that marijuana was not addictive. He is now an ardent supporter of medical marijuana and strongly opposes the DEA's heavy-handed S.W.A.T. raids on patient collectives and medical marijuana clubs in California.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:28PM (#26041677) Homepage

    I think I'd much rather have to work with an opiate addiction than a meth addiction.

    Ugh. You ever seen a [heroin|morphine|vicodin|*] forced to go without their drugs? They get physically sick, and it takes days to get over that, followed by weeks of jonesing for a fix. You ever seen a meth head deprived of meth? They fall asleep for 48 hours, wake up, eat three Dominoes pizzas, sleep another 12 hours, then act a little tired and crabby for a week or so. There's no physical addiction to meth. The reason it seems worse is the worst behaved meth addict is the one on meth, while the worst behaved heroin addict is the one without heroin.

How can you work when the system's so crowded?

Working...