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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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  • SMOKE (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:56PM (#26026947)

    SMOKE

    • Re:SMOKE (Score:5, Funny)

      by denmarkw00t (892627) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:21PM (#26027185) Homepage Journal
      ARE YOU SMOKING YET?
      • 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?

        • Re:SMOKE (Score:5, Insightful)

          by carlzum (832868) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:25AM (#26027933)
          That's my biggest criticism of narcotic regulation in the US. The democratic process has been completely removed from the management of drugs. This was introduced during the Nixon administration, I believe. Possession of a drug becomes a crime overnight with little to no legislative and judicial participation. A bureaucratic agency should not have unchecked power to decide what's a crime and what isn't.

          PS George Zimmer [wikipedia.org], of Men's Warehouse fame, is one millionaire with the time and money to fight these laws.
        • 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..

  • by kbrasee (1379057) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:59PM (#26026969) Homepage
    Let's just bring back alcohol prohibition.
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:57AM (#26028285) Homepage Journal
      "Let's just bring back alcohol prohibition."

      I'll drink to that....err.....wait.....

  • by The End Of Days (1243248) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:59PM (#26026971)

    The war on drugs makes a lot of money for a lot people on both sides of the law.

    • by shbazjinkens (776313) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:01PM (#26026981)

      The war on drugs makes a lot of money for a lot people on both sides of the law.

      As a taxpayer, I disagree.

      • by Walpurgiss (723989) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:10PM (#26027061)
        You just aren't one of the people on one of the sides that is profiting. Not everyone on both sides of the law could profit, or it would be perpetual money motion.
        • by mog007 (677810) <Mog007@gmail.TEAcom minus caffeine> 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 srjh (1316705) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:14PM (#26027109)

        As a taxpayer, you're not one of the "a lot people on both sides of the law". Doesn't mean they don't exist, or that they don't have an enormous vested interest in keeping drugs illegal.

        Think of it like the broken window fallacy [wikipedia.org]. It's a fallacy that smashing a shopkeeper's window is doing a good thing for the economy, but it's not a fallacy to suggest that there are some people who would benefit from smashing the window.

      • by jefu (53450) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:31PM (#26027319) Homepage Journal
        Hmm. Let's see :
        • Drug offenders do community service. The right organizations profit.
        • Drug offenders go to jail. The guards unions profit.
        • Drug offenders go to jail. The companies that use prison labor (at pennies on the dollar) profit.
        • Drug offenders go to trial. The prosecutors profit (promotions etc).
        • Drug offenders go to trial. The politicians profit (re-election).
        • Drug offenders have assets seized. Police departments profit.
        • Drug offenders are arrested. Individual cops profit (promotions etc.)
        • Drugs cross the border (and are discovered or not). Border patrol profits.
        • Corporations sell equipment to police etc. Corporations, stock owners profit.
        • Drug dealers sell drugs. Drug dealers profit.
        • Drug dealers go to jail. Drug dealers lose. At least until they get out and get their stashed money and continue the process.
        • Drug dealer, cartels spend their money. Lots of people profit.
        • Drug dealers, cartels invest/bank/... their money. Banks (etc.) profit.
        • Drug cartels sell drugs. Drug cartels profit.
        • Drug cartels pay off politicians, law enforcement... Politicians, law enforcement... profit.
        • Drug users hide, go to jail... Drug users lose.

        More profit than not, I'd say.

        • by Nasajin (967925) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:48PM (#26027527)
          Don't forget the fact that the process of criminalization increases the street value of a drug as it becomes harder to obtain. For example, in my country, most drugs are fairly hard to obtain, and criminal sentences are harsher on drugs than they are on rape or murder, and yet there are many people who are prepared to pay the equivalent of US$160 for ecstacy.

          All the criminalization seems to do is increase the incentive for providing expensive, weak, drugs cut with all sorts of bad chemicals to people who are prepared to pay almost any price for them. I've stopped using myself, but I'd say decriminalize just so I can get help from some form of controlled institution for my friends before they O.D. without having to worry about getting them arrested.
        • by cmdr_tofu (826352) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:49AM (#26028181) Homepage
          It is true that some individuals profit from the War on Drugs, but the costs are immeasurable. The demand is there, and a black market commodity commands high profits, so like you say, dealers and cartels get large profits. But since their profit is illegal, they cannot put their money in the bank, they cannot call the police. To protect their wealth, they buy guns. There is inter-gang warfare, and the lives of innocents are destroyed in the process.

          Those people if they were given the chance to live, to go to school outside of a warzone, would be spending money, going to school (creating jobs for teachers and universities), and contributing to this economy. We haven't even considered the approximately 1 million nonviolent drug offenders that we spend 20k-40k / year to keep imprisoned.

          We all know war is profitable for some few and devastating for most. The War on Drugs is no exception. The question is whether or not there are those who have a vested interest in continuing The War, but whether or not we can put a stop to it.
    • wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:47PM (#26027493) Homepage Journal

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

      if you want to argue profit (for the government), you argue for legalization

      sure there are entrenched interests, but there is no larger entrenched interest than the taxman

      • 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?

  • Yes it's time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gabrill (556503) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:00PM (#26026975)

    When the majority of the population can be convicted of a crime at one time or another, then it's proveable that the action is not sufficiently damaging to be a crime. Those RIAA bastards are profiting immorally and should be disbarred! Oh wait, we're onto drugs now? In that case, I maintain my statement.

    • 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 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 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 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
    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:17PM (#26027135) Homepage Journal

    Given that alcohol is already legal and is more dangerous than at least the most common recreational drugs, It would make sense to at least legalise other recreational drugs that are on par or less harmful than it (marijuana being the most obvious candidate).

    "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.

    Permitting broad autonomy to people in cases where there is not a clear and strong societal interest otherwise makes sense - broad restrictions on recreational drugs don't have arguments that meet the bar we should be holding up.

    (I am not a libertarian, by the way)

    • 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.

    • "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

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:19PM (#26027155) Journal

    While we're discussing prohibition, it's worth pointing out that it's always been a tool for expanding government beyond its constitutional powers.

    -jcr

  • You fools! (Score:5, Funny)

    by shma (863063) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:25PM (#26027249)
    Don't you know that drugs fund terrorism? That every puff of weed kills 5 innocent victims? And I'm talking about the white ones, not those scary looking foreign victims from the middle east.

    I mean, just look at this government ad [youtube.com]! How do argue with logic like "It's a fact because it's true"?

    Suck on that, dope fiends!
  • 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 gillbates (106458) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:54PM (#26027597) Homepage Journal

    To discuss the war on drugs.

    From a libertarian standpoint, what right does the Government have to tell people what to do with their own body? This debate is as much about the power of government as it is about the morality of drug use.

    However, there are some angles to the issue which never seem to be discussed:

    • It seems that a certain percentage of the population cannot handle "recreational use" of drugs, and instead become addicts. With certain, very addicting drugs such as heroin and the variants of cocaine, you have a situation where addicts negatively affect the public at large because of the crimes they commit to support their habit. With other drugs, you have the problem that the individual's behavior while on the drugs presents a public safety hazard. And yet others are used to incapacitate people (GHB) or otherwise impair their judgement (alcohol, various others...) so that crimes may be committed against them (rape, robbery, etc...). If the role of government is to protect the general welfare of society, shouldn't it address the problems created by the availability of drugs?
    • There seems to be no differentiation between drugs which are relatively benign - such as marijuana - and the harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. There are some drugs such as alcohol and tobacco which have known detrimental effects and societal costs (cancer, drunk driving, alcoholism) which remain legal in spite of same, and yet marijuana remains illegal.
    • The practice of civil forfeiture without corresponding criminal charges is especially troubling, now that it will probably (has?) be applied to other areas of the law, such as copyright infringement.
    • The morality of drug use is almost never mentioned. What kind of society do we have when a substantial portion of the public is content not to work to change the world for the better, but rather, seeks only to escape it? Is it really healthy for society as a whole to seek a chemical solution to what usually amounts to a problem of relationships? Does anyone still make distinctions between using drugs to cope with a legitimate physical ailment and using them to cope with the normal problems of life? Is it even a problem if someone uses a substance, or becomes dependent on a substance, to feel normal?
    • Is it immoral to sell someone a substance knowing that it will addict them?
    • If the libertarian view is correct - that a person's free will is sacrosanct, even to the point where government has no right to intervene - then wouldn't it also be incorrect to impair a person's free will? If such is the case, it would seem that addicting drugs would be rightly illegal, because in their addictive property they interfere with the free will of the user.
    • Do I as a parent have a right to prevent someone else from giving drugs to my child? If not, why?
    • Do I have a right to live in a neighborhood free of drugs? If a housing association can regulate the height of your lawn and the color of your house for the sake of making the neighborhood presentable, wouldn't they also have the same right to regulate drug use for the same purpose?
    • Is feeling good a civil right? Or is the "pursuit of happiness" merely a suggestion? (Perhaps it was the metaphorical "pillow talk" that seduced the early Americans into accepting the Constitution?!)

    I think the reason why the opponents of the War on Drugs failed is that they never discussed it in terms that ordinary average Americans could relate. They discussed it in terms of dollars, but federal law enforcement spending is truly minuscule compared to things like social security and defense. They talked about it in terms of prison population, when the average person thought simply, "well, I just won't use drugs and won't go to prison..." Instead, they should have framed the debate in terms of individual rights.

    That's what the gay movement did, and look where they are now. It seems that Americans don't want the government to mandate morality, and the gay movement capitalized on that. The reason why the War on Drugs lasted so long was because its opponents never pushed the civil rights aspect of it.

  • 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]

    • 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 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.

  • by leamanc (961376) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:47AM (#26028163) Homepage Journal

    The Onion ran one of their parody news articles a few years back concerning drugs. IIRC, the headline was "Drugs now legal if user is gainfully employed." I think that really cuts to the heart of the matter. What we should be most concerned about is people contributing in a positive manner to society. The negative effects to society in relation to drug use mostly revolve around crimes committed to acquire the drugs; the violent actions some people commit once under the influence of drugs; and harm done to children/teenagers who start drugs while their bodies and minds are still developing.

    If people did drugs in the privacy of their own home, went to work everyday and played their part in the overall good of society, and you had to be 18 or 21 (like cigarettes and booze in the USA) to legally do drugs, these main concerns would go away.

    Some people will never be able to wrap their minds around this concept. They've been raised with the "drugs==bad" mentality and can't see what goes on everyday around them. We already allow this with certain drugs. Alcohol, make no mistake about it, is a drug. It is one of the worst drugs around. Not to generalize (because there are "happy drunks"), but it makes people mean, and makes them do and say things they wouldn't otherwise. It is very addictive, especially to those genetically pre-disposed to alcoholism. It incapacitates users to a point that many other drugs don't. And the long-term health effects are among the worst of all drugs out there. But, for whatever reason, partaking in this drug is socially acceptable if you are 21 or older in the USA (other ages, usually younger in other countries). And then we have nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. This is an extremely addictive drug, so much so that many heroin addicts find it easier to kick smack than to give up smoking.

    And then we have "controlled substances," of which doctors write out legitimate prescriptions by the the millions every day. Oxycontin is known in some circles as "hillbilly heroin," because the effects are similar, and it is the closest equivalent that can be found in rural areas. Other opioid medications like Vicodin are equally addictive, and when it comes time to quit them, the user might has well have been taking heroin. The withdrawals of any opiate or opioid or all the same: a hellish process that makes user either want to get a fix ASAP, or just die. Yet these drugs are legal.

    I've gotten off-track a little bit, but for whatever reason, there's three drugs that are very much legal if you are the right age, or have the right doctor. Why are they legal when marijuana is less intoxicating than alcohol, and smoking it at worst provides the same risk for cancer as cigarettes? (I think weed is less likely to cause cancer because it is not pumped full of extra chemicals, like the tobacco companies do to keep their users hooked.) A habitual marijuana user will certainly feel "bummed" if they run out, but they won't go through withdrawals that are potentially deadly, as in the case of alcohol or opiates. And a pothead can quit with just willpower; as the commercials for many stop-smoking-aids, willpower is not enough to kick the cigarette habit.

    We tolerate alcohol, tobacco and addictive prescription medications, as long as their users are otherwise productive members of society. I can only see at as a great hypocrisy that other drugs are not afforded the same opportunity--especially when we are talking about something as innocuous as marijuana. Drop all the drug laws now. If people let the drugs turn themselves into criminals, there are other laws to take care of that. Just like laws that take care of drunk drivers, people that steal cigarettes, or people that forge fake prescriptions. If consenting adults want to do these things in the privacy of their own home, and keep them out of the reach of their children, and stay on the right side of the law, there is no reason they shouldn't be allowed too.

    As to why they are not allowed to, there are a lot of reasons why the dope dealers and the lawmakers don't want it to change; there's plenty of posts above mine that state these reasons in an insightful manner.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:59AM (#26028291) Homepage Journal

    This past Election Day, the people of Massachusetts just voted 2:1 to decriminalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana [amherstbulletin.com] (over 50 typical joints). If caught with that much pot, the "criminal" is issued a ticket, about equivalent to a ticket for an open container of beer, that can be mailed in with a $100 fine without even a court appearance.

    Every day that goes by without Massachusetts falling into chaos or bedlam will prove how stupid pot prohibition is. Something like 50% of America's over 1 million imprisoned criminals committed nonviolent drug crimes, and about 850,000 people are arrested for pot every year. Instead of spending an average of $30,000 per year per prisoner, we could be collecting income and sales taxes from the people growing, distributing and consuming it. Probably could be a top agriculture export for this country. And with an entire state running OK mostly post-prohibition, the counterexample in favor of sanity should be undeniable.

  • by bdwoolman (561635) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:14AM (#26029417) Homepage

    For countries with the political courage to try treating drug use as a social and medical problem, instead of as a legal one, the jury is in. It works. Switzerland has had prescription heroin for a decade on an experimental basis. They just voted to make the law permanent. Nothing chic about heroin in Switzerland. Just a bunch of old losers. Addiction rate is going down. Most hold crappy jobs. Opoids don't completely incapacitate a person -- as many on pain meds know. (They are hard on the gut) The Netherlands have also had progressive policies. There is of course a downside (particularly as people from countries with prohibition come in and cause problems), but in the balance the Dutch are okay with the openness. The great thing about relegating drugs to the medical sphere is that the cool factor evaporates. And the financial incentive dissipates.

    Prohibition uses sovereign power to create artificial scarcity increasing price and creating an underworld. Get this crap in the sunshine. Give it to the people who want it for cheap and they will mainly fill low paying jobs -- with some exceptions.

    Handle it in the private sector. You can test for drug use for security clearances and operator licenses etc. We need people to push brooms and flip burgers.

    "Dude, here's a spliff, now take this broom and sawdust and clean the warehouse. And by the way if you want a better life the clinic is open and the NA meeting is down the street."

    The exception is of course with creative people. They can do fine with drugs if they don't go overboard. Code poets, jazz men and artists will use. But they also get clean, too. Up to them I say. This puritanical nanny stuff is for the birds.

    Interestingly, I read that Cisco systems decided to scratch their testing policies. Too many good people came up dirty. True or not I do not know. And perhaps the status has changed. Comments?

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