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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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  • by liquidMONKEY (749280) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:03PM (#26027001)
    I'm straight edge. I don't smoke, nor even drink at all, or consume any other substances. (Unless caffeine in Coca-Cola counts.) But, if other people want to consume these substances and fuck their own lives up, hey, be my guest. As long as they don't tread on my right to live a comfortable life. Even if drugs were legalized, it still doesn't mean their carry-on effects, such as murder, drink-driving, et cetera, are legal. And at least it means that if those drugs are available through government programs, it'll be taking away some of that money that drug lords are supposedly making, and pump billions more dollars back into the government. Well, that's my 2 cents worth anyway. I'm sure someone will disagree with me. :P
  • No, how about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:08PM (#26027037)

    No, how about we let it be decided at the STATE LEVEL? Let the individual states decide their own drug laws, not the federal government.

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

    by NuclearError (1256172) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:08PM (#26027039)
    Seriously. Laws used to have "sunset clauses" that would cancel the law a few years after it was enacted unless it was voted otherwise. I understand that some New Deal era laws that are detrimental, like some subsidies, are still in existance because they were not given sunset clauses a few senators threaten to filibuster their repeal. Bringing this sort of policy back to laws would probably do wonders in convincing congresspeople into considering new possibilities.
  • Unconstitutional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tukang (1209392) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:09PM (#26027051)
    If alcohol prohibition required an amendment to the constitution then how was the gov't suddenly able to prohibit another substance w/o changing the constitution?
  • by Shaitan Apistos (1104613) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:11PM (#26027073)

    Even if drugs were legalized, it still doesn't mean their carry-on effects, such as murder, drink-driving, et cetera, are legal.

    I think a lot of the crime related to the drug industry relates to the fact that drug entrepreneurs cannot depend on the police to defend their property rights with respect to the goods they sell, and are forced to handle their own security.

    I imagine the streets would be safer if one was allowed to make a phone call and report that their entire inventory for narcotics was just stolen and get the police investigating the robbery and trying to return the stolen property.

    I'm sure the police would appreciate the irony as well.

  • by domatic (1128127) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:23PM (#26027211)

    I'm all for legalizing anything one might put in their body using the orifice of their choice. Two things though:

    1. I'm still for draconian penalties for anybody who sells heavy dope like heroin or methamphetamine to a minor. Anything crap like that should be heavily regulated in it's sale and taxed heavily but intelligently. The taxes should be just high enough that the bootleg bathtub stuff doesn't look good. Tax evaders can share cells with ones selling dope to kids.

    2. Being under the influence should be a crime enhancer rather than an exonerator: "Your honor! It was the crystal meth that made me go crazy with that axe!"

    "Fine. I hereby double your sentence for axe craziness"

    Ditto for crimes committed for the purpose of obtaining drugs though they should be much more pure and affordable being regulated and with mafias mostly out of the picture. Cheaper pure drugs and delivery devices mean that dopers will be able to hold down jobs and so-forth a bit longer before skid-rowing themselves. And who knows? Dopers with dead end McJobs may have enough brain cells remaining to hold them indefinitely.....just like the alcoholics.

    This is only meant to accomplish two things. We don't pack the prisons full of non-violent recreational users and small time sellers and we remove the biggest profit center of organized crime. I don't deny that out-in-the-open drug use won't make apparent new out-in-the-open social problems. I suspect that conspicuously not coddling people who mess themselves up may be be the best deterrent to "having all you can eat".

  • Pain (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sanat (702) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:24PM (#26027227)

    There are a lot of individuals out there in human land that are feeling a lot of pain and turn to drugs (legal or illegal) as well as alcohol to mask their feelings... if only for a time.

    It is as if a cosmic force is increasing the pressure on everyone and that time seems to be flying by when in the old days it seemed to pass at a slower rate. Today it is excruciating and tomorrow perhaps more so. When and where can it end... surely not in more drugs.

    Escaping to drugs only seems to work for the issues causing the escape are still there the next day... however the pain is becoming so great in today's world that those whom you never believe would use drugs are now turning to them.

    Unfortunately I do not know of a solution. But, it does break my heart to see those I love do so. A friend who is a beautiful blond, 20 years old and has the world by the tail was just prescribed Lithium as a way of coping with her emotional issues. Lithium is a poison to the body... what are the pharmaceutical companies and doctors thinking?

    In my mind I compare it to the days of sunscreen. Before sunscreen the sun provided us with a source of vitamin D synthesis and then the doctors said the sun caused cancer and so we now use sunscreen. Now the skin cancer is at a unprecedented rate even using the sunscreen. Go figure?

    It is as if there is some correlated relationship between Beliefs and Emotions. It is becoming more murky knowing what to believe in and what not to believe.

  • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:26PM (#26027257)

    "Hard" drugs like Cocaine should probably remain illegal - it is impossible (or prohibitively difficult, at least) to "use them responsibly" and their health effects are much more marked.

    Cite? The fact that Cocaine was used as an active ingredient in a popular fizzy drink would seem to speak otherwise. And let's not forget that Cocaine is known because in its native region, the indigenous people used it constantly and they did alright.

  • Are you insane? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PenguinX (18932) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:31PM (#26027313) Homepage

    Most of heroin's dangers are more a consequence of its prohibition than the drug's distinctive properties.

    The data on this subject does a whole lot more than suggest that if people take certain drugs then they become addicted. In this manner, whatever addiction is is irrelevant, the results are damaging and very real. I watched drugs coupled with the stupidity it brings result in a number of poor judgments in my own life as well as several dozen of my friends. Far away from that part of my life now, I am glad that someone somewhere had enough of a moral compass in Government to make certain drugs illegal.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:31PM (#26027317) Homepage Journal
    Heheh..good one.

    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?

    I wish someone could bring that suit forth...sure would have some MAJOR repercussions if that case could win through the court system....any millionaires out there that have some free time, and want to bring this suit forth?

  • by t0qer (230538) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:34PM (#26027347) Homepage Journal

    I live in California. A few years back, the voters passed the medicinal marijuana act, opening the gateways for use by cancer patients. Pot is *almost* decriminalized now.

    I say *almost* because my pot dealers (plural) have been a pot dealers all their lives. Only difference now is they got a doctor to give them a pot prescription for "nerves" and instead of having to go through the old network of pot growers, they can pick up a few OZ's from any number of dispensaries here in the bay area. Sells their OZ's off as 8ths for 2x what you paid, and make a nice profit.

    Then there is the supplier side. There is no regulation on where a club gets its pot. A few years back, we had a sheriff shot when he stumbled upon a pot farm on Mt Uhminum being run by mexican gangsters. Even though they couldn't find a direct connection to the clubs, many people suspected that that is where the weed was heading.

    Did I mention ALOT of the marijuana dispensaries look more like a club or a coffee shop and less like a pharmacy?

    Prohibition repeal needs to happen. We waste way to much money on the drug war. Not that i'm complaining about the lack of regulation with the medical marijuana situation in California as it works to my advantage. I am never more than 15 minutes away from multiple suppliers. This is pot I'm talking about though, a drug thought to be fairly benign by a majority consensus.

    My fear though is that all forms of lawmakers, city, county, state and fed have all been riding the fail truck for a while now. I could see them doing something like selling out to a special interest drug lord and making laws that on the surface seem like they benefit us, but really only benefit the drug lord.

    Some things need to be regulated, others don't. Weed should have no more regulation than beer or tobacco.

    Even though the purpose of end drug prohibition would be to un-fuck things, given the track record of our politicians they're going to figure out a way to sneak a fucking in there, somehow.

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:36PM (#26027361)

    I'll agree that there's a profit motive.

    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.

  • Re:Are you insane? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mprx (82435) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:41PM (#26027417)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_park [wikipedia.org]

    Addiction is about more than just the drug. Addiction causes real harm, but so does prohibition. Without prohibition we are free to address the underlying causes of drug addiction.

  • Re:Yes it's time. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:42PM (#26027425) Homepage Journal

    Ignoring the attempt at humour for a moment, I wouldn't agree with the statement. I would, however, argue that neither action nor punishment fail to deter and in some cases the combination of action and punishment have created an incentive. This is true of copyright, illicit substances and probably a whole string of other offenses. This doesn't mean they should all automatically be legalized. The opposite of authoritarianism isn't anarchism. What it does mean is that such offenses should be treated very differently and much less punitively. In some cases, yes, abolishing the offense probably would make sense, but it's not wise to assume that is automatically the best choice. If Prohibition was America's biggest mistake, abolishing Prohibition was the next biggest. You don't fix one extreme by going to the other. You certainly don't fix it by trying to pretend it never happened.

    England didn't ban heroin until the 50s (and only under heavy pressure from the US). There is little evidence it was seriously abused before then. But if they removed the ban overnight, it could be a total disaster. The shift in perceptions, the change in attitudes and the secrecy of the underground subcultures that abuse such stuff, not to mention the big pockets and bigger firearms of those wanting to protect their profits, would make an instant shift an instant disaster. If you're in sixth gear, flat out, you do NOT put the car into reverse. This does not make reverse gear a bad thing, it just means you need to take the intermediate steps first. The state of the system is utterly wrong for what you're attempting.

    The problem with the drugs culture is that we don't really know what the right state is. The level of neurological research on how drugs affect the brain is minimal and knowledge of the effect on the rest of the body is virtually non-existent. Sure, this could be fixed. All you need is a battery of PET, MRI and fMRI scanners, drugs containing radioactive tracer isotopes and a bunch of volunteers stupid enough to have their brain glowing with positrons for dangerously long periods of time. You'll soon find where the uptake is, the effect the byproducts have, how the brain structure changes and how brain activity is altered. Because the changes and any build-up are gradual over an uncertain length of time, you're likely to kill a large percentage of the volunteers with brain tumours from continually pumping radioactive material into soft tissue, hence the level of stupidity required. Without the neurological data, though, it is quite impossible to form a scientifically sane policy. At the moment, there's a lot of superstition and religious nonsense by both sides, but there simply isn't any science worthy of the name. Without that, how can you know when and how to liberalize?

  • Re:Are you insane? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by justinlee37 (993373) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:46PM (#26027469)
    Is the illegality really what stopped you? Or was it your own personal & informed decision? Have you considered the costs and benefits of drug prohibition? We squander hundreds of billions of dollars trying to prevent something that happens anyway, we drive up the prices of goods people are demanding, and put the money in the pockets of violent criminal gangs with no respect for the law. We're literally spending money to stifle our own economy and encourage criminal behavior. How does that make any sense? I wish that someone somewhere in government had enough will to avoid letting their "moral compass" seize hold of their reason.
  • legalize hemp (Score:3, Interesting)

    by u4ya (1248548) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:53PM (#26027589) Homepage
    hemp is one of the world's super-plants... making it illegal should be considered a crime against humanity.

    http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=abneijJWRys [youtube.com]
  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:56PM (#26027629)

    I think the problem is that it isn't about morality at this point, it's just a weird social phenomenon. A lot of people hear someone talking about legalizing it, and they just say *GASP* marijuana! There's such a large social stigma on it at this point, lots of people don't think about the subject logically, so if someone tries to legalize it, they meet resistance without reason from so many people that most career politicians don't want to be bothered.

  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:14AM (#26027825)

    Millions of dollars not wasted on the government hunting down plants. Millions of dollars not wasted on people locked up in jail. Millions of lives not wasted locked up in jail. Dangerous drug cartels no longer holding countries like Mexico hostage. I'd say there would be plenty of benefits.

  • Re:Dear God Yes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:16AM (#26027843)

    Are you trying to claim that the laws passed against drug use are only cause of addiction and physiological problems of drug use? Before that it was just hunky-dorry with no drawbacks until those meanies in DC decided to ruin your fun?

    I like how you claim it used to be an "upper-class" drug and then go on to say that they could support it for "pennies a day" (ignoring that everything cost pennies back then) and was common in stores. What was it? Cheap enough for the masses or a social elitism?

    BTW, nice name.

  • shrooms not acid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by globaljustin (574257) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <labolgnitsuj>> on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:19AM (#26027871) Homepage Journal

    I'll start off with this: I've used most drugs at least once and marijuana and quite a bit (used to work at a head shop), though now I'm straight edge for reasons that have nothing to do with my drug use.

    I am completely in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and LSD use

    I agree wholeheartedly with just one caveat, lets substitute Psilocibin mushrooms [wikipedia.org] (magic mushrooms) for LSD. It provides the same basic effect (there's nothing that happens on labratory made hallucenogens that doesn't happen on 'shrooms) but it is natural and controllable.

    When using 'shrooms you always know they are pharmacologically safe (relatively speaking) but LSD, even if it was legalized, is too unstable to be used widely, IMHO.

    I've known more than a few people who took too much acid and experienced permanent brain damage. With shrooms I have not seen any long term physiological problems.

    so..."don't take the brown acid"

    and for the love of God...legalize marijuana

  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:22AM (#26027907) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps it will always be a problem. That doesn't mean that fighting it is a bad idea - having it illegal and fought against may be better than the alternative (at least for the harder drugs - for marijuana, which is almost harmless and something I strongly want legal, the drug war is unconscionable).

    Comparing it to crimes with a simple victim isn't meant to comment on the morality of drugs, it's simply meant to suggest that legal prohibitions can work at least in part to curb demand. Having it illegal actually does reduce demand (stateways can change folkways - to look at another example of this, when slavery was ended and when women were given the vote, societal support was a lot closer to 50-50 in the times before the legal change, but after it support for the conclusion changed drastically).

    On the latter point, I was not sufficiently clear - if someone either temporarily or permanently lacks funds for cocaine, LSD, or heroin, because of the strength of the addiction of those drugs, they are much more likely to commit violence to get funds (or the drug itself) than less-or-non-addictive drugs (like pot, alcohol, cigarettes, etc).

    For drugs which have a small enough cost to society, of course they should be legal - the problems with smuggling operations and the like plus the unhappiness caused by restricting people's autonomy make it very clear. For those which are inimical to civilisation, the costs that you lay out are certainly real (and worrying), but I think the alternative of permitting them is considerably worse. Your judgement may reasonably vary - I know that ten years ago I probably would've sided with you (not meant as an age-diminuative, rather meant to illustrate the difficulty of the subject matter and how reasonable people may disagree over what solution is best).

  • Re:Or better yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kbrasee (1379057) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:29AM (#26027959) Homepage
    Yeah, that's true -- it makes more sense to either ban all, or ban none.

    I worked with a guy who was driving and was hit head-on by some drunk idiot. He and his girlfriend were both in pretty bad shape for a while. I know that alcohol's not going to get banned again, but you wonder how many lives it would save if it did?

    Of course, musing about something like this on /. gets you modded troll, flamebait, or worse.
  • by Yold (473518) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:36AM (#26028051)

    As someone with an addictive personality, I disagree with you. Imagine being a recovering drug addict, walking into Walgreens to get aspirin for a headache, as you are paying for it, you see behind the cashier "ICE BRAND METH $40". You didn't walk into the store to buy meth, but your old addiction starts tempting you. It would be sooo easy to say "and can you grab me some of that meth too". You hesitate... but in a moment of weakness, you buy the meth. You are now again a meth addict.

    That is me every time I walk into a convenience store, except with Black and Milds (cigars), instead of meth. The ONLY thing that prevents me from actually buying black and milds, is that it isn't worth it. 2 minutes of escape isn't enough to justify the health consequences. However, if it was meth, and the promise was 8 hours of escape, who the hell knows what I would do. I am just lucky I was exposed to pot and tobacco instead of meth when I was 14.

    Drug prohibition is an unfortunate response to human nature. Some people do not get addicted to things. They do not need to escape reality. These are people that drink one beer, play WoW/XBOX live 6 hours a week, etc. But some people are incapable of controlling themselves when it comes to escaping reality. These people will binge and binge and binge on drugs until they die, and cause some really bad things to happen in their communities.

    Making drugs readily available is a bad idea. If I wanted to find meth, it would probably take me weeks, or months. I don't even know where to start.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:43AM (#26028123) Homepage

    Annoyed with the situation on his block in San Francisco, a techie has created Adam's Block [adamsblock.com], which has an HD camera pointed at a drug dealer corner. You can watch the deals go down. Try expanding the left window to full screen; the HD detail is there.

    There's an attached blog and audit trail, and people are logging SFPD cars as they go by.

    Fans of the site are waiting for an arrest. Hasn't happened yet.

    It's streamed out via Justin.tv, so there's enough bandwidth for Slashdot users to watch.

  • Re:wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:47AM (#26028161) Journal

    if something like marijuana would legalized, the taxes collected on that would be staggeringly huge

    This is 100% correct.
    I was reading TFA and laughing the whole way.
    "The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption."

    Compare to this article (and many like it):
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_518872.html [pittsburghlive.com]

    What happened in 1930 that suddenly gave the repeal movement political muscle? The answer is the Great Depression and the ravages that it inflicted on federal income-tax revenues.
    ...
    And a House leader of Congress' successful attempt to propose the Prohibition-ending 21st Amendment said in 1934 that "if (anti-prohibitionists) had not had the opportunity of using that argument, that repeal meant needed revenue for our government, we would not have had repeal for at least 10 years."

    There's no doubt that widespread understanding of Prohibition's futility and of its ugly, unintended side-effects made it easier for Congress to repeal the 18th Amendment. But these public sentiments were insufficient, by themselves, to end the war on alcohol.

    Ending it required a gargantuan revenue shock -- to the U.S. Treasury.

    I wonder which will be easier to sell to the American people:
    Legalizing & taxing hemp
    Legalizing & taxing marijuana
    Cutting social spending - health care, social security, etc etc etc
    Cutting military spending (lol)

    That's in the order I think is most to least likely to happen.
    Why cut when you can (tax &) spend?

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by johnsonav (1098915) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:50AM (#26028195) Journal

    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?

    A lot of court cases, which took place between the enactment of prohibition and the present, that drastically altered the interpretation of: the elastic clause, the general welfare clause, and the interstate commerce clause.

    The real reason drugs remain illegal stems from the fact that society, as a whole, has taken responsibility for the actions of its individual citizens. As long as we socialize the costs of substance abuse: neglected children, hospital bills, and criminal activity; society will proscribe behaviors which tend to increase those costs. Rightly or wrongly, society, as a whole, views drug use as a cost which carries no benefit.

    As a, more or less, strict libertarian, I believe that all drugs should be legalized. I also believe that the government has no business picking up the tab for the costs of abuse. So, while we continue to view it as the government's job to pay for someone else's risky behavior, we'll never see the blanket legalization of all drugs.

  • ask a teenager (Score:1, Interesting)

    by belligerent0001 (966585) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:57AM (#26028275)

    Here is a challenge for you all. Ask a high school kid what is easier to obtain, tobacco, alcohol, or drugs etc. I am willing to bet that you will find that it is in fact easier for them to find drugs. It can all be obtained, however, with alcohol and cigs being readily available for adults it is more difficult for kids to get them. Drugs on the other hand are easier and generally cheaper to get from fellow classmates. Hell weed and shrooms can be obtained from almost any rural area.

    I can remember, when I was very young growing up on my great grand fathers farm, my aunts walking into the cow pasture and getting shroom, not to mention their horticulture projects in the holler. Who needs beer when you have cultivation?

    My point is that because recreational drugs are unregulated it is easier for kids to find and obtain. Alcohol and tobacco require an age check at the stores that sell them. A drug dealers generally doesn't ask for ID.

  • by dryeo (100693) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:29AM (#26028535)

    These are good reasons that drugs (including tobacco and alcohol) should be regulated.
    Here in BC tobacco products must be kept out of sight or displayed in a store where minors are not allowed.
    Alcohol is heavily regulated with most sold at government stores. The government stores are nice with pleasant staff who are paid enough. They somehow manage to under price the private stores by 10% to 20% and still bring in (next years projection according to the local paper) $800,000,000+ to the government + taxes.
    It is quite a bit harder for kids to get tobacco or alcohol compared to pot or meth. Even when I was a kid 40 years ago pot was way more available then alcohol (though tobacco was very available).

  • by amake (673443) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:29AM (#26028537) Homepage

    One thing that has been annoying me to no end lately is several incidents in Japan of college kids getting busted with marijuana.

    Now the media is calling it an "outbreak" and a "scourge" and bemoaning the morals of the young people, blah blah blah. They trot out so-called experts who talk about "Marijana Psychological Disorder." It's Reefer Madness all over again, and absolutely no one is open to discussing it in a rational manner. Forget the fact that these kids weren't hurting anyone or anything. Forget the fact that most of the rest of the world looks the other way on college pot use. And how about the fact that this country drinks itself to sleep every night? Bunch of hypocrites.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:32AM (#26028561)

    If I wanted to find meth, it would probably take me weeks, or months. I don't even know where to start.

    No, it wouldn't. It would take you a couple days at most.

    First off, you have your immediate friends. Even those that say they "wouldn't ever do drugs" - odds are one of them does some kind of illegal drug if you've more than one or two close friends. Weed, speed, coke, etc.

    Failing option one, just go to where young people congretate like a college. Go up to someone and ask if they know where you can get some weed - a relatively innocuous and common question on many campuses.

    When you get to a dealer, see if he knows someone that can get you your drug of choice. (He might even have it himself.) Once you've done this you have an established contact where you can pretty much get more any time you'd like.

    It's really not as hard as you make it out to be. It's frightening easy, in fact. Hell, I could buy drugs in my high school. IN my high school. I went to class with at least one weed dealer than I knew of. I'm sure I could have found stronger substances easily if I so desired. I'm not one to use most drugs, but if I had wanted to find them it wouldn't have been all that hard.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:37AM (#26028591)

    You may disagree but it doesn't change the truthfulness of the statement. If you want to reduce crime **80%** in the US, simply stop the war on drugs and legalize them. If you want to save the US tax payer **$600/second**, stop the war on drugs. If you want to save the US tax payers billions per year and growing, stop the war on drug. Incarceration of drug related convictions is the fastest growing and the largest government service industry in the US. Currently, one out of thirty adults in the US are on parole or in prison for drug related crimes.

    We spend more imprisoning people of petty crimes than we spend feeding and housing our poor or elderly. I don't know for a fact but I fully expect we spend more to imprison people for petty crimes than we do as a nation to take care of our injured vets.

    As a tax payer, if you don't support decriminalization of drugs, you are simply out of touch with the sad, disgusting facts. Made worse, as a nation we are missing out of a HUGE potential tax base which can actually earn money in the billions per year. Any tax payer who supports the war on drugs is simply irresponsible and paying money to murder people and destroy lives on a scale unimagined in a world before the war on drugs began. Simply put, the war on drugs destroys far more lives than a world where these drugs were legal.

    Which is it you want? Do you want a world where we all pay to destroy innocent, and otherwise, lives and murder people or do want a world where drugs become a family/medical problem - as it should be?

    Simply put, the war on drugs is one of the largest farces ever put on the US public. Well, up until the recent bailout of the uber wealthy. In short, the war on drugs is putting TONS of money in pockets on both sides of the fence as the expensive of the US tax payer. If you're not mad, well, you're crazy.

  • by mog007 (677810) <[Mog007] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:47AM (#26028699)

    Don't think of it as a see-saw, think of it as some sort of three-person see-saw. I had an uncle tell me about an interesting sight he saw in New Jersey several years ago. In the city he was in, the cops had a very large SWAT-style van that they would throw confiscated drugs into. The drug dealers used children, aged around 9 to 10 or so, to actually sell the drugs. The cops wouldn't arrest a kid of course, so they'd capture the kid, toss the drugs into the van, and when the van was full they turned around and sold the drugs in the van back to the drug dealers.

    The dealers would sell the drugs, buy them back from the cops, and sell them again. Sort of perpetual motion, except there's a third party involved: the people who are neither cops nor drug dealers. Tax payers are paying for the cops to actually be there and have the authority to take those kinds of bribes and so on, and the drug addicts are paying to keep the drug dealers in business.

    Alcohol prohibition showed us that you can't stop people from doing something, even when it gets into the fucking Constitution, so we shouldn't work on stopping the addicts, we should focus on stopping the tax-money. Make the police handle drug raids as volunteers, not on the dime of the tax payers, and you'd see them not give a fuck.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:01AM (#26028825)

    That's true, but there are different types of antibiotics, and different ways to get yourself into trouble using them.

    Despite the widespread use of antibiotics in cattle, there aren't really that many clear examples of resistance coming out of it.

    On the other hand, there are clear examples of diseases that are treated with specific antibiotics and also tend to be common among non-compliant patients that are wildly resistant. Tuberculosis is a good example: it's much more common in homeless people who are very difficult to get to finish their antibiotic treatments. In many areas TB is now resistant to first, second and even third line antibiotic cocktails.

  • Re:A MUST READ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RodgerDodger (575834) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:08AM (#26028857)

    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).

    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"?

  • by evanbd (210358) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:33AM (#26029065)

    What basis do you have for saying that legalizing drugs like meth would cause more problems? I'm happy to accept that those drugs are bad, and it would be nice if no one used them. But, arguing that they should therefore be banned requires that the ban be effective. Every piece of data I know of says the effectiveness of such bans is minimal at best. Legalization clearly causes some harm reduction, even in the case of dangerous drugs: less organized crime associated with them, cleaner and more consistent product, less disease transmission from dirty needles, etc. So, on what basis do you believe that prohibition causes less harm than no prohibition?

    (As I said in another post, I tend to agree with you -- legalize marijuana and the psychedelics, but not stimulants and opiates. However, I'm not at all sure that belief is correct, and I'd like to see more data on the subject.)

  • by fractoid (1076465) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:53AM (#26029235) Homepage
    • Opiates and cocaine are very cheap to produce if they're legal. The cost of producing the drugs required to support a habit is on the scale of dollars a week, not hundreds. Being clubbed to death for the $20 in your wallet is much less likely when a dole check will buy a junkie all the heroin they want.
    • Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are all more toxic than pure heroin when taken in appropriate doses.
    • My value judgement is that it's immoral to price-gouge someone based on their addiction (which is what happens currently) but that selling a substance to someone in a mutual understanding that the substance is addictive is the choice of the buyer.
    • Possibly the most compelling argument for prohibition. Still, while intoxicants may temporarily interfere with the user's free will, it is still the user's free choice to take them.
    • As a parent you have a right to stop your dependant child from acquiring drugs while you are still their legal guardian. Once they come of age it's their choice. Hopefully you explained your values to them persuasively enough that they agree with you and will continue to follow your example even when you can no longer enforce it.
    • Does your housing association regulate what you watch on TV in your home at night? What colour tiles you use in your bathroom? What cereal you can eat?
    • The right to pursue your own happiness, assuming said pursuit doesn't impede anyone else's happiness, is a clear ethical right (again in my view) whether it's constitutionally protected or not (I think it is).

    Sadly, contrary to what you said, ordinary Americans are very happy for the government to mandate morality, as long as it's morality _they_ are comfortable with. Witness the recent overturning of the gay marriage bill. People have pushed the rights angle of drug prohibition plenty, but it's a subject that is very susceptible to whipping up moral panic and general hysteria, and so it's generally voted on emotive rather than rational terms.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:37AM (#26029575) Journal
    As a 10-year drug addict, I'd like to make the quite important and forgotten(and relevant to the OP) point regarding 2 already legal addictive substances with a high degree of abuse. I'm talking about caffeine and aspirin- wait no, that's not right, I meant alcohol and nicotine. Two of my favorites. Well, one of them is at least (scotch, scotch, scotch...), the other's just a monkey on the back.

    Although I'm a confirmed smoker, I have never seen/experienced nicotine provide a physical pleasure that can't be obtained for free by hyper-ventilating. It's hard to define "abuse" in the case of tobacco/nicotine because I have no concept of what "moderation" can mean when the drug provides no real pleasurable gain, while simultaneously being so addictive (and destructive). Smoking, in the U.S. at least, has pretty much gone out-of-vogue by this point, which (since its intial attraction is for social purposes) has severely decreased the number of new smokers over the last 10-15 years. But tobacco/nicotine will for many decades yet remove (cumulatively) millions of years of life from Americans through their contribution to heart disease, cancers, et al. But there's also the fact that tobacco/nicotine actually decreases the quality of the oft-shortened life for the far majority of addicts. Don't believe me? That means you're not a smoker...so go ask them yourself if they would be happier if they had never picked up that first cigarette. They'll almost all (unless they're new to it) admit emphatically that they would be.

    Alcohol, however, is totally socially-acceptable, despite the best efforts of its opponents, even though the abuse of it is at the root of all sorts of scary statistics and anecdotal stories of vehicular death and domestic violence. And don't forgot all the liver failure, heart disease, et al, that are contributed too by excessive drinking.

    The idea that ALL the "soft" drugs together, if legalized, could have as much of a negative impact on the lives of Americans as these two legal drugs, is frankly, laughable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:49AM (#26029935)

    Now I'm not positive about marajuana, but as for Coke, Heroine and Meth; a single use is usually all it takes to become an addict.

    If you ask any cop, he will tell you that there is no such thing as a casual coke/heroine/meth user, only addicts. Once you do it, you don't stop.

    What a load of absolute rubbish. Newsflash, only Americans think that. I, like just about every other person of my age, education, and income out here in the rest of the world, have taken and enjoyed a wide range of recreational drugs. I'm not addicted, any more than I'm addicted to beer or coffee, other substances that I put in my body because I enjoy the physiological effects and the social atmosphere in which I do it.

    Jesus America, get over it.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bishiraver (707931) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:18AM (#26030067) Homepage

    For the record, drinking cough syrup is pretty serious. The active ingredient as a cough suppressant is a dissociative anesthetic (it doesn't work on your lungs, it works on your brain). Drinking enough of it WILL get you fucked up. Drinking enough of it with not enough time left between said imbibing WILL kill your brain cells. However, because of how it works (it heats up specific brain cells which cause them to shut down; if you take cough medicine too often these cells get used to the higher temperature and do not shut down - and so they die), it's relatively safe for widespread human consumption - thus, cough syrup.

    It's a scarier high than marijuana. It's also a more dangerous high than marijuana. It's a lot like ketamine. It's not something to fuck or denigrate cause it's something "stupid teenagers do" ... because there are a lot of people out there who are pretty serious about it, even going so far as to extract the DXM from the syrup and mix concentrated batches of the stuff. And to do that, you need to know a little more about chemistry than you learned in high school.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theaveng (1243528) on Monday December 08, 2008 @07:33AM (#26030723)

    The alternative method being "ignore the constitution" and "threaten to add 4 pro-socialist/anti-constitution justices" (FDR), so the justices would cave to any desire the president wishes. The POTUS became Diktator over the SCOTUS.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:15AM (#26030949)

    ...was from the very illegality of the drugs and the black market that prohibition enables...

    Yes. Get rid of the prohibition on drugs and you've destroyed the mafia.

    For a good read on the original prohibition look for Allan Ginsberg's "The Marijuana Papers" and the political campaign of Harry J. Ainslinger. Prohibition of Cannabis was borne out of one man's drive to get elected to public office.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:47AM (#26031117) Homepage
    The problem with that "solution" is that it totally ignores the racial history of a nation like the United States. Minorities are adversely and disproportionately affected by drug use, and such a "solution" would result in more problems, not fewer. We don't need to concentrate on getting our minorites addicted and relegated to low-status jobs with others of their kind - we need to uplift them and provide opportunities for decent housing, crime-free living, and most importantly education. "Get those people out of here and get them some free dope" sounds like a meme from a nutcase rightwing AM radio station.
  • lives saved (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:04AM (#26031231) Journal

    but you wonder how many lives it would save

    None. Death is the debt all men owe. You get only one life and one death. The life can be spent once only, the death can be deferred, but the life cannot be "saved" and the death cannot be prevented.

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

    by vorpal22 (114901) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:04AM (#26031235) Homepage Journal

    Given the dangers associated with alcohol compared to many of the commonly abused drugs, logically, it should be banned.

    The current drug legislation is also tremendously unfair to those of us who have health conditions that prohibit us from enjoying the currently legal drugs. For example, I have Crohn's Disease, and drinking caffeine in any significant quantity is sure to land me in the hospital. Smoking is highly recommended against, as it can exacerbate my health condition severely. Drinking is also generally a no-no for most, although I'm lucky that I can occasionally have a little bit of hard liquor without too many problems. Given how serious and unpleasant Crohn's Disease is, in order to make it through the day without feeling the urge to up and seek euthanasia as I struggle with pain, fevers, humiliation, the inability to function as a normal human being, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and a whole host of other problems, I *need* some kind of chemical escape to cope on occasion, and alcohol is not an option.

    Marijuana seems to help many people with this condition, both in terms of the pain and the damage due to inflammation of the intestines. Of course, however, it's illegal in many parts of the world despite the fact that it's largely harmless. Opiates are necessary for many of us, but incredibly difficult to obtain due to drug laws, control, and stigma: I've had an incredibly difficult time to get the drugs necessary to get my pain under control to the point where I can at least have days where I can be productive and a contributing member of society, and have had one doctor outright accuse me of faking my pain and being a junkie, which is extremely humiliating and insulting. It's indicative of just one facet of the sad state of affairs that have arisen due to our current hysteria and insanity regarding drugs.

    It just baffles my mind that millions of dollars have been spent in research, for example, to develop synthetic cannabinoids that demonstrate minimal highs to treat health conditions because somehow, a substance making you feel good is a detriment.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:58AM (#26031815) Homepage

    All because a small percentage of people *might* use it to make meth, even though you, me, and likely no one that either of us know has known anyone that has actually done it.

    Spend some time in the "heartland of America" outside the major cities, and you'll encounter sad masses of people who have fallen victim to meth.

    Yeah, and making me sign a paper to get a decongestant that works has really stopped the flow of meth, hasn't it. I can still buy meth cheaper and easier than I can fucking brand-name pseudoephedrine containing products. Only small time cooks used Dexatrim tabs bought at the drug store. The big boys use drums of the shit brought over the border from Mexico.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cowmonaut (989226) on Monday December 08, 2008 @10:08AM (#26031935)

    Which is why the United States is *not* a democracy. The nation was founded on democratic *principals* but is a Representative Republic. Due to our unique origins and the history leading up to us freeing ourselves from the British we wanted to protect the rights of the MINORITY (while at the same time denying them the power to trample the rights of the MAJORITY), and we actually do that fairly well all things considered. If the Constitution hadn't been eroded and the founding principals ignored for the better part of the last 150 years things would be better.

    Some things that would help: restoring the number of Representatives in the lower House to 1/30,000 (hell, just do 1/50,000) instead of the entirely arbitrary number of 473 that causes some odd mathematical anomalies that allow a few states to override the rights of all the others.

    Possibly another thing that *could* help is restoring the Vice President to be the runner up reward. I can't help but wonder what Obama/McCain as POTUS/VPOTUS would do. Or what would of happened if it had been Bush/Gore in office? Things could very well been dramatically different. Sometimes better, sometimes worse so maybe not that big of a difference. But we definitely won't know now thanks to that being changed.

    Funnily, I don't remember that being a constitutional amendment [wikipedia.org] so I'm wondering how that was even legally done. I thought all changes to the Constitution had to be Amendments...

    Anyways, there are a few other Amendments (and even more laws) that in hindsight seem to have caused more harm to our liberties than I for one care for. Thankfully, not many.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Monday December 08, 2008 @10:09AM (#26031953) Journal

    No amount of taxation (limited to) DRUGS will be enought to make up to the massive loss of productivity of drug addicts.

    It's important to remember that the loss of productivity will only come from NEW drug users (as the productivity of the current users is already lost). Despite $SCARYSTATISTIC, I don't know how anyone could reasonably estimate what the loss of productivity would be without performing a significant and rigorous study for that specific purpose.
    Also, not to be forgotten, is the quantity of resources/productivity saved by not fighting a "War on Drugs". Although, like I said before, I think a study would have to be done for any real help in calculating this total "net loss/gain to society", my $0.02 is that there would not be that many new addicts, and that the far majority of the use (especially of something like pot/ecstasty) would be recreational, impacting the productivity of the users VERY little, while providing MASSIVE amounts of tax revenue. Our culture is already pretty negative towards meth, crack and heroin and so I think the number of NEW abusers would be pretty small (as a percentage of the population), however the health impact of abuse of these drugs is much more severe, so I could definitely see these drugs being a net loss if legalized. However, I could also see the numbers for abuse actually going down due to the greater acceptance of "moderate use" of the drug (see: excesses/abuses during Prohibition vs. after) so I could also see these drugs being a net gain, it's just pretty close in my mind. The other drugs (shrooms, acid, et al) would have such a small abuser rate, with the effects of abuse being relatively minor, that I don't think it's worth bickering over.

    Overall, though, I would never argue just on the cost/savings to the system. The much more important point is the principle of "greatest liberty for all" held so dearly by us libertarians. This principle, if accepted, quickly tips the scale in the argument far in the favor of legalization. Of course, if THAT principle were held by our politicians we wouldn't see nationalized health care any time soon (further decreasing the cost to society)...

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday December 08, 2008 @10:23AM (#26032167) Journal

    "Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears..."
    I'd have to say this statement is patently false.

    Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before Prohibition, which made it terrifying.
    Some people perhaps believe that the Temperance movement was just a bunch of stern-faced moralists who 'got off' on the idea of circumscribing peoples' freedoms or just enjoyed being repressive.

    Hardly.

    The pre-Prohibition world was poisoned by alcohol. The pervasive use of spirits was destroying society from the bottom up. Remember, there were no 'minimum drinking age's in those times; in some communities it was not uncommon to see 8- and 9-year-olds passed out like winos in alleys. Largely a male problem, it inspired mostly women to try to do SOMETHING to stop their sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers from killing themselves slowly.

    So while we all chuckle at how naive the 'Prohibitionists' were, we generally do so from a position of total ignorance at HOW BAD the problem really was before 1920. Further, most people today are in almost complete ignorance at the very necessary post-Prohibition compromises that probably would have been impossible to emplace without Prohibition in the first place.

    One might draw a parallel to today's 'legalize pot' crusaders, who may have been unsuccessful partly because they likewise trivialize and mischaracterize the very real concerns expressed by mainstream adults on the other side of the issue.

    For my own point of view, I personally don't have any problem with broad legalization of a wide range of narcotics - people, as self-aware adults, should have the freedom to destroy themselves if they want. Simultaneously, however, I'd like to see DRACONIAN, brutal penalties for dealing to children or for being cognitively impaired in situations where your condition could harm others, like driving.*
    * I'd say that this should be far worse than today's drunk-driving laws, and should equally apply to alcohol.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Monday December 08, 2008 @11:22AM (#26033033) Journal

    Which hasn't been all bad, it also enabled the fed to pass things like environmental regulation and some labor laws.

    You and I, sir, have very different definitions of bad.

  • Re:Think about this: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:06PM (#26033773) Homepage Journal

    When was the last time you heard of anyone going blind because his liquor had wood alcohol in it? That was common during prohibition. Poisoning by ingesting automotive antifreeze was also not uncommon, since the illegal stills often used used car radiators for their coils.

    I've heard rumors that drug dealers are adding Viagra to pot. I strongly supect this is an urban legend (Viagra isn't cheap, especially black market Viagra) but PCP (animal tranquilizer) is. Back in the '70s pot laced with PCP was common.

    You cannot regulate an illegal substance.

    The only good thing I can see about drug prohibition is it's easy for me to get laid - there would be a lot fewer hookers if crack was ten cents a hit instead of five dollars. I can get laid for the price of a "dub" (twenty bucks). The crack whores' competetion keeps the price of hookers down whether or not the prostitute is an addict (some hookers just love sex and money).

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kabocox (199019) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:35PM (#26035477)

    Legalize everything and supply and demand will take care of that problem for you. With a wide choice of alternatives at competitive prices, meth's popularity would dwindle, if only because of the health consequences.

    I only drink water or soft drinks and don't smoke anything. I support legalization of drugs for several reasons. The main reason is that it makes like easier for everyone. We should treat it like tobacco products. Tobacco products are only expensive because of taxes, and everyone knows it. It's socially accepted that tobacco users are getting taxed heavily for their habit. There is a part of me that would just like almost all recreational drugs to be sold in the drug part of walmart for about the same as other drugs and the only things that the stores need to really check for is that the drugs aren't shoplifted and that drivers licenses are checked for age verification at the check out. There is a multibillion dollar market that is currently being served that isn't getting taxed or regulated at all.

    We'd really kill all those illegal outfits if we just let our legal drug companies produce the same stuff and sell it for cheap except for whatever we choose to tax it at. The really bad guys profit would go down and our drug companies would have another profitable product line. I think that we should re-think all our drug law stuff and change it to a generic unreasonable addiction.

  • Re:SMOKE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by curunir (98273) * on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:27PM (#26038479) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who still thinks that drug-related problems are caused by their prohibition is an idiot.

    Caused, no. Exacerbated, definitely.

    Some drugs do cause problems in people's lives, but prohibition hasn't kept these drugs from being available to anyone that wants them. Like it or not, drugs are here in our society, and no law is going to change that.

    Pop quiz time, what's harder to obtain, heroin or morphine? Here's a hint, one of them is schedule 1 and is not allowed to be used medically. The other one isn't and is manufactured legally by a large corporations who adhere to strict quality controls. And while there is a black market to actually purchase both drugs, since the legal one is classified as a controlled substance, there are no black market producers of the controlled substance since the profit margins are too small to make it worthwhile...it's simply easier to obtain the legally produced variety through some other channel.

    It's time for us to start treating drug use as a medical problem rather than a criminal problem. If we decriminalize drugs, we can start to control them based on their addictiveness and overall danger to people's health. The mildly dangerous ones, like Marijuana, can be treated like cigarettes and their sale limited to people over the age of consent. We get the added benefit of being able to tax the hell out of them. The more dangerous ones can require a doctor's prescription so that they can be used in treatment facilities to carefully wean addicts from their addiction.

    This plan fully acknowledges that there will be uncontrolled use and that drugs produced legally will find their way onto the streets. But even this situation improves upon our current one. For one, the profit margins for producers will fall through the floor. No longer will terrorist organizations or drug cartels be able to use drugs as a means to fund violence and oppression of people overseas (and this includes our own government, who has used drugs as an easy source for funding covert operations that they didn't want to be subject to the bean counters who dole out the US budget).

    However the largest benefit will be to addicts who will no longer be subject to the poor quality control standards of the black market producers (which is mostly due to the middle men that "cut" the drugs potency along the way to increase profits). The biggest reason that so many heroin users OD isn't inherently due to heroin, though drugs that have a lower effective dose to lethal dose ratio do not suffer from it. The most common OD situation happens when they get a particularly weak dose and then try to adjust their dosage the next time when they've purchased a much stronger dose. With legitimate production that is subject to strict quality controls, even the drugs sold on the street will be of much higher quality.

    And lastly, the most compelling argument is a financial one. We're simply wasting a ton of resources incarcerating people who could otherwise be production members of society. We lose what they'd produce for our society (at a minimum, they'd buy crap from Walmart and the like) and we pay billions of dollars to house them. Simply releasing all the non-violent drug offenders would quickly pull us out of this economic downturn.

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