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JonIrenicus
03-06-2011, 01:28 AM
This is an issue that kind of paralyzes me.

When it came time to vote on the most recent California ballot initiative trying to legalize marijuana I ended up not voting either way.


On the one hand I'd prefer people have the choice to take whatever substance they see fit, harmful or not. On the other hand, simply allowing that choice at all will increase the usage of the currently banned substance. Call me a square but I do not like the idea of increases of marijuana usage, I think it would make society worse off.

Then there is the issue of the effects this is having within Mexico and the Mexican border, rampant murder and lawlessness fueled by anarchic cartels smuggling marijuana and cocaine into the US. I was shocked to hear that they even employ submarines to aid in their smuggling tasks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narco_submarine

Freaking Submarines !!!! from non state actors! This is insane.


How is this to be stopped and damped? Crack down harder and for longer periods of time? Or go the nuclear option and legalize the drugs?

Many argue that marijuana is a more benign drug, I doubt that on balance marijuana is a good thing for its users, but lets give them the benefit of the doubt on that. What about Cocaine? Should we legalize that as well?

How far would you go? I honestly don't know what the right answer is.

bjkeefe
03-06-2011, 01:49 AM
[...] How far would you go? I honestly don't know what the right answer is.

I'd legalize marijuana without question, and tax it to the point where it was just below what would make criminals think it worth trying to compete on the black market. It's not a perfectly harmless substance (what is?), but it is something benign enough that I don't see a societal problem with it being legal. I'd be okay with some obvious restrictions, like age and prohibitions on being intoxicated at work.

I sometimes think the biggest stumbling block to legalizing pot is that we don't have a cheap reliable test to define the state of being stoned, the way we have one to define the state of being drunk.

As for the harder drugs, I am less sanguine about the cost to society, but I think I am persuaded that the criminalization is a larger cost, both in terms of what it does to users who get caught and the sort of people who end up running the industry. I think, just as a first pass, we would end up with a net benefit if we spent all the money we now spend on incarceration, interdiction, etc., on education and treatment.

I have a gut feeling that if some or all drugs that are currently illegal were made legal, we'd see a spike in use that would be only transient, and would decline rapidly.

Wonderment
03-06-2011, 02:57 AM
I go with legalization of everything. Treat the currently illegal substances the way we now treat alcohol and tobacco. Really ramp up education, early intervention, treatment and rehab.

Learn from other cultures. Consumption of these USA-banned substances is currently legal in some other countries, and those societies are not falling apart.

The big problem is not consumption, but rather persecution of the suppliers (which turns them into criminals, thugs and mass murderers.) Treat cocaine and heroin with the respect we now give vodka and Scotch. Let the cartels become shareholders and CEOs.

Criminalization is costly and deadly. Decriminalization and regulation would save tons of money and many lives. It's a huge net win, provided we invest the dividends responsibly.

Prohibition has failed abjectly. It doesn't work. The "war on drugs" has been counterproductive and irresponsible. Pursuing a failed policy relentlessly is a lot like looking for a fix. It fixes nothing, is fantasy-based, falsely comforting and self-destructive.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 10:09 AM
I go with legalization of everything. Treat the currently illegal substances the way we now treat alcohol and tobacco. Really ramp up education, early intervention, treatment and rehab.

Learn from other cultures. Consumption of these USA-banned substances is currently legal in some other countries, and those societies are not falling apart.

The big problem is not consumption, but rather persecution of the suppliers (which turns them into criminals, thugs and mass murderers.) Treat cocaine and heroin with the respect we now give vodka and Scotch. Let the cartels become shareholders and CEOs.

Criminalization is costly and deadly. Decriminalization and regulation would save tons of money and many lives. It's a huge net win, provided we invest the dividends responsibly.

Prohibition has failed abjectly. It doesn't work. The "war on drugs" has been counterproductive and irresponsible. Pursuing a failed policy relentlessly is a lot like looking for a fix. It fixes nothing, is fantasy-based, falsely comforting and self-destructive.

I disagree with a number of points here.

Some drugs are really poisonous. They are toxic in ways that are beyond what can reasonably be allowed to be legal. So, just as a starter, from a health and societal perspective, I wouldn't say that all and any drugs should be legalized. Among the common ones, cocaine and crystal meth (http://methstop.org/images/endstage1.jpg) come to mind, but there's many others including many of the "designer" drugs that are circulating among young people and frying their brains. I don't think that as a society we can allow these poisons to be freely available and then look the other way and keep our fingers crossed.

Some other drugs are not as horrific and may be considered for legalization if there was any benefit to society by doing so.

I used to think that we could learn from other cultures in terms of their experience with legalization. I have significant doubts about that now. The problem in this country in terms of drug activity, both using and dealing, is significantly different from what's seen in some of the countries that we would traditionally want to compare with. It seems that there are always going to be enough poisons available that will remain illegal for the dealers to market and profit from. I'm not saying that this aspect would render the possibility of legalizing the most commonly used and safest drugs unworthy, but at least it should be put into our calculations of the possible legalization outcomes.

I would not treat the cartels with respect. Except for the little guys who are exploited and drawn into dealing to support their use after they've fallen into the trap, the rest are crooks and criminals who are profiting from destroying people's lives. That's what it is. I have no respect for them, because they don't deserve it. Again, those who have been caught in the drug trap could and should be rehabilitated. The sociopaths should be processed by the justice system as everybody else.


Prohibition has failed abjectly. It doesn't work. The "war on drugs" has been counterproductive and irresponsible. Pursuing a failed policy relentlessly is a lot like looking for a fix. It fixes nothing, is fantasy-based, falsely comforting and self-destructive.

I would say that prohibition alone and as implemented in this country, is not getting the job done. I agree with you in terms of pouring money into education and rehabilitation. But also, we should look at the risk factors and address the circumstances that make people more likely to use and deal drugs.

Targeting the big capitals behind drugs would be the main priority for the justice system. They are wasting resources going for the hands and feet of the drug dealing business instead of going after the heads. That's where the best chances of making a difference are.

Or continue to ignore the whole thing and leave it at the endemic level it is now. Those who are privileged and want to use drugs recreationally manage to do it. The poor souls that become addicted and dependent, destroy their lives and their families' stay in the sewer while law enforcement looks the other way and extends their hand to get a tip for their discretion.

The situation is a mess. Unfortunately, the ideas that were popular a couple of decades ago about legalizing drugs, no longer apply. The problem has grown deeper and more intricate.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 10:12 AM
As an aside, this is the banner ad we have on this topic:

AemJeff
03-06-2011, 12:13 PM
My strong instinct is to legalize everything, but Ocean has a point. I know first-hand what crank and coke do to people over the medium- and long-term, and it's ugly in a way that it would seem immoral not to control against. I think the way to deal with the dilemma is to create really strong penalties against distribution of a short list of substances, and to force people who are caught using them in conjunction with other crimes into punitive rehab, but without making drug use of any kind into a felony.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 12:22 PM
My strong instinct is to legalize everything, but Ocean has a point. I know first-hand what crank and coke do to people over the medium- and long-term, and it's ugly in a way that it would seem immoral not to control against. I think the way to deal with the dilemma is to create really strong penalties against distribution of a short list of substances, and to force people who are caught using them in conjunction with other crimes into punitive rehab, but without making drug use of any kind into a felony.

Yes, I think those are reasonable ways of dealing with some aspects of the problem.

AemJeff
03-06-2011, 12:31 PM
Yes, I think those are reasonable ways of dealing with some aspects of the problem.

It sounds like you'd want to do more than that. Do you have anything concrete in mind?

Ocean
03-06-2011, 01:16 PM
It sounds like you'd want to do more than that. Do you have anything concrete in mind?

Yes, I think the problem is much greater than what the above measures can take care of. But it would be a start.

The main areas of concern for me are:

1. Toxicity of certain drugs. They should not be legalized (cocaine, crystal meth, but there may be others) because even a mild increase in use would have a very high cost to individuals and society. They generate illness, death, violence and more crime even if they are legal. People that tend to favor legalization at times, think of minimal or moderate recreational use. In my clinical practice I see the disasters created by moderate to heavy drug use.

2. I wonder what effects complete legalization would have on drug cartels and the associated crime. If you make one or a few drugs legal, the criminal drug dealing structure can plainly move on to other drugs. As long as there are highly addictive substances that can be pushed onto vulnerable populations, the market is there. Take away marijuana from the market, and the drug pushers will start saturating the same markets with cocaine or crystal meth. That's one of my concerns.

If you legalized all drugs, there can always be others introduced. As long as they are addictive, it's all cool for the dealers. The main problem, as I said before, is the vulnerable populations (very young people, people with mental illness, with personality disorders, people in despair).

3. The effect of decriminalization will take away a deterrent for drug use which is effective for a significant number of people. I have many patients who were able to stop due to these deterrents and wouldn't have done it if they were not present. I agree that mandatory rehab could be used instead of plain imprisonment. But for what I see, usually jail time is mostly used for dealing and not so much possession (or use).

I used to have the more traditional liberal view of legalization (although I never approved legalization of all drugs). Over the years I've come to think that the drug pushing machinery will not go away so easily. The only measure that makes sense to me is to direct efforts to the heads of the cartels. Since we have so much monitoring, pattern recognition and intrusion into everyone's privacy, coupled with computer analytical power, how come we can't identify the real criminals who are profiting from all this activity?

If we think about having a healthy society in the future, taking measures to remove access or interest in toxic substances should be a part of it. If we consider that people shouldn't have access to guns because of their dangerousness, the same thinking could go towards drugs.

When I hear libertarians talk about legalization of drugs, I truly have to question how many of them are seeing it as a measure to reduce crime and to eliminate the problem of addictions to dangerous substances, and how much is simply their self interest of having drugs available for their recreational use. We need to separate those two issues and come up with the right steps depending on which goal we want to achieve.

Wonderment
03-06-2011, 03:07 PM
Some drugs are really poisonous.

Alcohol certainly falls into that category. Alcoholism is a fatal disease, and alcoholics ruin many lives through bad parenting, driving while intoxicated, spousal abuse and other violent crimes.

That doesn't mean that we should necessarily add more substances like alcohol to our society, but it does suggest that we have a hypocritical double standard, and that addiction in general is the problem, not the particular substance one is addicted to.

So, just as a starter, from a health and societal perspective, I wouldn't say that all and any drugs should be legalized. Among the common ones, cocaine and crystal meth come to mind, but there's many others including many of the "designer" drugs that are circulating among young people and frying their brains.

Youth should be protected from all substances including alcohol and tobacco.
The vast wealth created by legalization would help fund much better drug deterrence programs among the young.

I don't think that as a society we can allow these poisons to be freely available and then look the other way and keep our fingers crossed.

No one is suggesting being passive or crossing fingers. We need to be very proactive to discourage drug and alcohol abuse, whether the substances are legal or not.

The idea that criminalization protects children from access to drugs like meth is naive. In my town, most kids can score meth as easily as they can score cigarettes, alcohol or vicodin (another big problem). In many areas of the country, purchasing heroin is no more difficult than renting a movie at Blockbuster.


Some other drugs are not as horrific and may be considered for legalization if there was any benefit to society by doing so.

The main benefit is putting the murderous drug mafias out of business.

I used to think that we could learn from other cultures in terms of their experience with legalization. I have significant doubts about that now. The problem in this country in terms of drug activity, both using and dealing, is significantly different from what's seen in some of the countries that we would traditionally want to compare with.

If true, all the more reason to emulate others and solve the problem through education. If Spaniards can live in a society where cocaine and heroin are legally consumed, there's no real reason why Americans can't too.

I would not treat the cartels with respect. Except for the little guys who are exploited and drawn into dealing to support their use after they've fallen into the trap, the rest are crooks and criminals who are profiting from destroying people's lives. That's what it is. I have no respect for them, because they don't deserve it. Again, those who have been caught in the drug trap could and should be rehabilitated. The sociopaths should be processed by the justice system as everybody else.

Drug dealers are largely not sociopaths. At least, they are no more sociopathic than people in the whiskey or tobacco business. They are business people (production, sales, distribution and marketing experts) who turn homicidal when war is waged on them either by rivals, the local government or the US military.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 04:12 PM
Alcohol certainly falls into that category. Alcoholism is a fatal disease, and alcoholics ruin many lives through bad parenting, driving while intoxicated, spousal abuse and other violent crimes.

I agree with this. I'm not going to be the one defending alcohol consumption.

That doesn't mean that we should necessarily add more substances like alcohol to our society, but it does suggest that we have a hypocritical double standard, and that addiction in general is the problem, not the particular substance one is addicted to.

As I said before, I'm not going to defend the problems associated with the consumption of alcohol. But it would be incorrect not to point out that some of the other illegal drugs we're talking about are worse than alcohol in their toxicity and consequences due to how they affect your brain, your body and behavior. I've seen people in their 20s with heart attacks and strokes due to cocaine use.

When you say "we" have a hypocritical double standard, I would imagine you're referring to us as a society, otherwise I would want to be left out of the "we". But, yes there is a certain double standard due to a number of reasons.

.

Youth should be protected from all substances including alcohol and tobacco.

Yes.


The vast wealth created by legalization would help fund much better drug deterrence programs among the young.


I can't endorse the first part of the sentence. I don't know whether there would be any vast wealth created. And most importantly, I don't think I would like to see whatever "wealth" is created at the cost of more lives ruined or more deaths due to consumption. This is a piece that I don't feel comfortable discussing because I know your view as a talking point, but I don't have access to the data that supports the assertion. Also, you talk about funding "much better drug deterrence". What are those much better programs? I think there's still plenty of room for prevention and education, but I don't know what would help. Perhaps campaigns similar to what's been done about tobacco.


No one is suggesting being passive or crossing fingers. We need to be very proactive to discourage drug and alcohol abuse, whether the substances are legal or not.

I agree with that. But I think we should be equally proactive now even if drugs are still illegal. Why can't we do it now but would be able to do it in the future if drugs were legal? I guess you're still relying on the "vast wealth" created.

The idea that criminalization protects children from access to drugs like meth is naive. In my town, most kids can score meth as easily as they can score cigarettes, alcohol or vicodin (another big problem). In many areas of the country, purchasing heroin is no more difficult than renting a movie at Blockbuster.

Of course, if what we have now worked, we wouldn't be having this conversation. It's legitimate to say that what we have now doesn't take care of the problem completely. Perhaps it is preventing many people from using, we just wouldn't know. But if we want to improve the outcomes, we can try different ways of doing it. I would want someone who is an expert to comment. I think Kleinman has talked about this. I think of it as consistent versus inconsistent application of consequences, as you would in parenting.


The main benefit is putting the murderous drug mafias out of business.

...

Drug dealers are largely not sociopaths. At least, they are no more sociopathic than people in the whiskey or tobacco business. They are business people (production, sales, distribution and marketing experts) who turn homicidal when war is waged on them either by rivals, the local government or the US military.

I do consider murderous drug mafias and people prone to turning homicidal, sociopaths. But, I won't argue. It's a distraction from the main point.

If true, all the more reason to emulate others and solve the problem through education. If Spaniards can live in a society where cocaine and heroin are legally consumed, there's no real reason why Americans can't too.

I really don't know what to say. We're not Spain. As to your last sentence, it sounds like a good motivational slogan, other than that there's no factual information in it.

chiwhisoxx
03-06-2011, 04:23 PM
Alcohol certainly falls into that category. Alcoholism is a fatal disease, and alcoholics ruin many lives through bad parenting, driving while intoxicated, spousal abuse and other violent crimes.

That doesn't mean that we should necessarily add more substances like alcohol to our society, but it does suggest that we have a hypocritical double standard, and that addiction in general is the problem, not the particular substance one is addicted to.

.

Youth should be protected from all substances including alcohol and tobacco.
The vast wealth created by legalization would help fund much better drug deterrence programs among the young.



No one is suggesting being passive or crossing fingers. We need to be very proactive to discourage drug and alcohol abuse, whether the substances are legal or not.

The idea that criminalization protects children from access to drugs like meth is naive. In my town, most kids can score meth as easily as they can score cigarettes, alcohol or vicodin (another big problem). In many areas of the country, purchasing heroin is no more difficult than renting a movie at Blockbuster.



The main benefit is putting the murderous drug mafias out of business.



If true, all the more reason to emulate others and solve the problem through education. If Spaniards can live in a society where cocaine and heroin are legally consumed, there's no real reason why Americans can't too.



Drug dealers are largely not sociopaths. At least, they are no more sociopathic than people in the whiskey or tobacco business. They are business people (production, sales, distribution and marketing experts) who turn homicidal when war is waged on them either by rivals, the local government or the US military.

Re your first paragraph, that seems like a problematic comparison. Even though alcohol can be incredibly dangerous, the key there seem to be the word can. While some people have their lives ruined by alcohol, the clear majority is able to enjoy alcohol in moderation without letting it control their lives. I don't think the same holds true for things like crystal meth. You don't hear a lot of stories about casual crystal meth users who can dabble from time to time and keep it under control. Maybe that would change if drugs like meth were legalized, but I'm dubious.

SkepticDoc
03-06-2011, 05:23 PM
There are some drugs that have an addictive response that represent a true health risk at any dose, heroin and methamphetamine are the prime examples.

In the case of heroin, the legal distribution in the form of spiked cigarettes is an alternative, sometimes the only choice, to control the narcotic addiction in some European countries. The stimulants are in a class of their own, in the case of meth, there is no way of having occasional, recreational use without slipping into the addiction hell. On the other hand, cocaine leaf has been used for thousands of years by the South American Indians, the transformation into purified powder is a different story.

The situation with marijuana changes with every new crop selection, the cultivators are truly making stronger crops by selection of strains and changes in cultivation. When I see Ann Druyan promoting marijuana, and knowing that Carl Sagan used it regularly before he was ill, I wonder what is the real health risk ( psychosis is a definite risk in some http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d719.extract ).

Is cannabis worse than alcohol? We won't know for decades until the NIH can conduct the right studies, since some Big Pharma interests already are developing Sativex ( http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=sativex+&aq=f&aqi=g9g-s1&aql=&oq= ) I doubt that a regular, easily grown crops will be allowed to compete.

Wonderment
03-06-2011, 09:19 PM
I do consider murderous drug mafias and people prone to turning homicidal, sociopaths. But, I won't argue. It's a distraction from the main point.

It's not really a distraction. Part of the cost in human lives of prohibiting drugs is massive violent crime and collateral damage in the War on Drugs.

I have lots of family in Mexico who now live in mortal fear of drug traffickers. Prohibition has put the social fabric of the country on the brink of collapse. This was not the case in any other period of my lifetime, although there were always plenty of people in the drug business. The drug entrepreneurs have become murderers and terrorists because a war is being waged on them by the USA and the right-wing Mexican government.

Meanwhile, respected and powerful US businesses (not sociopaths?) have flooded Mexico with illegal firearms. As long as the weapons are legal at the point of sale (mostly border towns), the USA has no problem with this practice. Makes you wonder, why shouldn't Mexicans set up legal heroin and meth shops along their side of the border?

The US and the rest of the West have failed to address their drug consumption problems. The market is here, but the US military is there.

The USA has tried Draconian incarceration of addicts (failed) and wars on producer-exporter nations in the name of eradication (a ridiculous goal). I don't see how else you enforce prohibition except through massive global violence from the Southern border to Afghanistan. Not working; it's time for a change.

Analyses of the consequences of legalization rarely take into account the impact of prohibition on the producer nations. We need a global approach to the problem, and not a military one.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 09:42 PM
It's not really a distraction. Part of the cost in human lives of prohibiting drugs is massive violent crime and collateral damage in the War on Drugs.

I have lots of family in Mexico who now live in mortal fear of drug traffickers. Prohibition has put the social fabric of the country on the brink of collapse. This was not the case in any other period of my lifetime, although there were always plenty of people in the drug business. The drug entrepreneurs have become murderers and terrorists because a war is being waged on them by the USA and the right-wing Mexican government.

Meanwhile, respected and powerful US businesses (not sociopaths?) have flooded Mexico with illegal firearms. As long as the weapons are legal at the point of sale (mostly border towns), the USA has no problem with this practice. Makes you wonder, why shouldn't Mexicans set up legal heroin and meth shops along their side of the border?

The US and the rest of the West have failed to address their drug consumption problems. The market is here, but the US military is there.

The USA has tried Draconian incarceration of addicts (failed) and wars on producer-exporter nations in the name of eradication (a ridiculous goal). I don't see how else you enforce prohibition except through massive global violence from the Southern border to Afghanistan. Not working; it's time for a change.

Analyses of the consequences of legalization rarely take into account the impact of prohibition on the producer nations. We need a global approach to the problem, and not a military one.

Wonderment,

I agree with the substance of your argument. I'm also sensitive to the harm to all the populations involved. I just don't share your certainty that drug legalization will solve all problems. There is a very vulnerable section of the population that could be hurt by legalization and I happen to see them in the clinic daily. I can't in good conscience sacrifice them by making more easily available to them poisons that will kill them. That's all.

It's not likely that drugs will be legalized any time soon. In the meantime, we better figure out how to prevent new users, and how to help those who have already fallen in that trap.

bjkeefe
03-07-2011, 10:01 AM
Wonderment,

I agree with the substance of your argument. I'm also sensitive to the harm to all the populations involved. I just don't share your certainty that drug legalization will solve all problems.

I don't think it's fair to equate the pro-legalization position with a belief that it will "solve all problems." I suspect Wonderment is close to my view on this, that legalization is a choice of the lesser of two evils. Or, to put it another way, it removes one major aspect from the set of problems under consideration, while at least arguably not making any other aspect appreciably worse.

There is a very vulnerable section of the population that could be hurt by legalization and I happen to see them in the clinic daily. I can't in good conscience sacrifice them by making more easily available to them poisons that will kill them. That's all.

My sense is that, currently, people vulnerable to problems associated with drug use already have drugs easily available to them. Possibly legalization would make them marginally more available, but at least they wouldn't be committing crimes when acquiring them, with all of the long-term problems that entails, nor would they be enriching criminal elements.

chiwhisoxx
03-07-2011, 12:04 PM
I don't think it's fair to equate the pro-legalization position with a belief that it will "solve all problems." I suspect Wonderment is close to my view on this, that legalization is a choice of the lesser of two evils. Or, to put it another way, it removes one major aspect from the set of problems under consideration, while at least arguably not making any other aspect appreciably worse.



My sense is that, currently, people vulnerable to problems associated with drug use already have drugs easily available to them. Possibly legalization would make them marginally more available, but at least they wouldn't be committing crimes when acquiring them, with all of the long-term problems that entails, nor would they be enriching criminal elements.

In terms of your latter point, do you think social stigma has any value here? You're right that people generally have the drugs available to them, and making them illegal isn't enough of a deterrent to prevent widespread use. But to me, it seems like social stigma plays at least *some* preventive role here. It probably doesn't make a lot of difference for people already addicted, but in my experience, it does prevent the use of heavier drugs in some cases, especially in middle to upper class kids who care a lot about social perception. It's hard to tell what sort of impact legalizing drugs would have on social stigma, but it would almost certainly have some impact.

cragger
03-07-2011, 12:33 PM
Take away marijuana from the market, and the drug pushers will start saturating the same markets with cocaine or crystal meth. That's one of my concerns.

I don't think this is correct for at least two reasons. Estimates are that over 120 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once at some point in their lives. The vast majority haven't developed addictions to other, "harder" drugs because they don't see all things as being equal or all substances as interchangable. They may have means available to them by which they could access other drugs if they chose to do so, but they simply don't want to. Secondly, and I think more importantly, it seems to reflect a false view of how most people come to try marijuana or other drugs as being at the behest of drug pushers.

Most kids who smoke pot try it because they have friends, people they know and trust, who use it. Critically, this is also how and why it is available to them. They get it through someone they know and with whom they smoke it, who knows somebody else, who knows somebody else. These people aren't drug dealers in any meaningful sense of the term. At some point in this chain somebody knows someone who is connected to a professional network that imports and moves quantities of drugs, and in many cases offers availability to other drugs than marijuana.

At this point of intersection between the bottom level ad-hoc informal network of smokers and the semi-professional and thence professional dealers the purchaser, who again often knows and likely smokes pot with the dealer will be offered the chance to try something else. If the purchaser is willing, and likes it, they are likely to offer availability of this other drug back down the chain below them. At the bottom of this chain or tree, a pot smoker is far, far more likely to try something new with a friend they know, trust, and get high with and who they know isn't motivated by gain in offering it to them than they are to hear about some drug and decide to seek it out by going to the nearest big city and asking scary strangers for access or have some shadowy drug pusher offer it to them out of the blue.

Had marijuana never been criminalized, or if it were legalized, the bottom tiers that form the small branches and twigs of the distribution tree by which nearly all users get marijuana would disappear. So would the path by which they might be offered and try other drugs and through which they obtain them if they chose. The reduced demand would then impact the network of professional suppliers, which would wither in turn. There are certainly exceptions to this, and would likely remain pockets of heroin use in major cities or cocaine use in Hollywood for example, but the majority of "middle America" would see a lot less use of other drugs rather than more. The opportunity for access and the factors that affect the likelihood of trying them wouldn't be there.

bjkeefe
03-07-2011, 01:05 PM
[...]

Very good post, cragger.

I'd add one hypothesis, from my own experience. Since it is sometimes hard to get pot when the one or two local dealers one knows are out (and ultimately, because it's bulkier and cheaper and therefore much more of a pain to smuggle), it is sometimes the case that people will purchase other drugs merely because they can't get pot.

I have no idea how this extends, but I sometimes wonder how much other drug use would decline of pot was always available, and indeed, legal.

bjkeefe
03-07-2011, 01:09 PM
In terms of your latter point, do you think social stigma has any value here? You're right that people generally have the drugs available to them, and making them illegal isn't enough of a deterrent to prevent widespread use. But to me, it seems like social stigma plays at least *some* preventive role here. It probably doesn't make a lot of difference for people already addicted, but in my experience, it does prevent the use of heavier drugs in some cases, especially in middle to upper class kids who care a lot about social perception. It's hard to tell what sort of impact legalizing drugs would have on social stigma, but it would almost certainly have some impact.

I'm sure that affects some people. I'd bet, though, that the stigma is not much of a consideration for most people who use drugs recreationally, and I'd further say that there is something of a forbidden fruit aspect that actually increases the desirability among some people to use drugs.

In my experience as a middle to upper class kid, hanging out with other middle to upper class kids, this latter aspect was highly non-trivial.

In my experience, the stigma aspects did help to keep some people from using one drug as opposed to another; e.g., people interested in what we called crank back in the day were generally looked down upon, compared to those who chose to use most other drugs. Eventually, cocaine also became somewhat stigmatized, once people started realizing how not fun it was to be around someone who was all coked out.

chiwhisoxx
03-07-2011, 01:14 PM
I'm sure that affects some people. I'd bet, though, that the stigma is not much of a consideration for most people who use drugs recreationally, and I'd further say that there is something of a forbidden fruit aspect that actually increases the desirability among some people to use drugs.

In my experience as a middle to upper class kid, hanging out with other middle to upper class kids, this latter aspect was highly non-trivial.

I think it depends on what drug we're talking about. At least in my experience, the forbidden fruit aspect was incredibly powerful; but it was almost exclusively with pot. As a reference point, this is my high school:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,985657,00.html

I think what explains a lot of what happened at my high school is that marijuana had no stigma. It wasn't necessarily people rebelling, but it just wasn't the same as hard drugs. But there are lots of different things to take into account; we're just talking about personal experience which is going to obviously differ. Not to mention, I wouldn't be surprised if there were generational differences as well. Just wanted to share my experience.

bjkeefe
03-07-2011, 01:16 PM
I think it depends on what drug we're talking about. At least in my experience, the forbidden fruit aspect was incredibly powerful; but it was almost exclusively with pot.

All I can say is that wasn't at all the case in my experience.

stephanie
03-07-2011, 02:07 PM
On how far I'm willing to go at present -- I'd allow states to legalize marijuana and generally support their decisions to do so, for the reasons Brendan said. I'd also pay attention to what other countries are trying and get away from our drug war approach to enforcement and, along with that, explore ways to reform how we deal with drug crimes criminally (I think some form of decriminalization of use short of legalization makes sense, not locking people up for a lot of the crimes makes sense, so on). Basically, I don't feel like I know what should be done, but I think we need to be more open to exploring other options beyond what's not working and fear of being labelled soft on crime (or drugs) has prevented this.

On the other hand, I'm not comfortable with the risks involved with full-scale legalization, since I do agree it will cause usage rates to increase and agree with Ocean's points.

Alcohol certainly falls into that category. Alcoholism is a fatal disease, and alcoholics ruin many lives through bad parenting, driving while intoxicated, spousal abuse and other violent crimes.

Agree. Strongly agree. But this is precisely why the idea of legalizing many other drugs scares me so much. It's unfortunate in many ways, but alcohol's role in our society is such that we can't really make it less legally available. We've tried.

That doesn't mean that we should necessarily add more substances like alcohol to our society, but it does suggest that we have a hypocritical double standard, and that addiction in general is the problem, not the particular substance one is addicted to.

I don't think hypocrisy matters at all from the perspective of the law here. The legal question is the costs and benefits, and the fact is that our society thinks of alcohol differently. Adding to the problems of drug use the additional problems that the glamorization and societal prevalence of alcohol places on our societal alcoholism problem doesn't seem useful. And that's even assuming that the ability for the majority of users to use without developing an addiction problem stands for all these other drugs, which I'm skeptical about.

I think we should consider the cost/benefit analysis anyway -- are the efforts to keep illegal already causing more problems than they are preventing? But I don't think we should ignore the costs (and huge risks) of changing the law or that there's some need to treat heroine and meth like alcohol just because alcohol is dangerous and causes problems for many too.

Youth should be protected from all substances including alcohol and tobacco. The vast wealth created by legalization would help fund much better drug deterrence programs among the young.

I am hugely skeptical about drug deterrence programs for youth (which we already have, I certainly got "drugs are bad and scary" education in school). Also, while I think rehab is better for drug offenders than prison, I am hugely skeptical about rehab programs as the answer -- the stats are awful, including with alcohol. And coming from a middle class perspective which I admit is a bias, alcohol was easily available and seen as no big deal in high school and especially college in a way other drugs (well, but for pot in college) never were, and the social acceptability/legalization is a big part of it. I also think a lot of people abuse alcohol who would have a harder time justifying abuse of illegal drugs, and while the former is a problem, making other drugs illegal doesn't help it, it simply puts the other drugs in a status more like alcohol.

Wonderment
03-07-2011, 02:17 PM
I have no idea how this extends, but I sometimes wonder how much other drug use would decline of pot was always available, and indeed, legal.

Pot is, for all practical purposes, legal in California, where I live. That has probably impacted major drug cartels to some extent, but they remain huge players as large-scale growers and distributors to other states. Also, there's still a huge black market for weed here because legalized pot sales are severely limited and regulated by the state. For example, although no one gets more than a parking ticket for using weed in my county, there are zero dispensaries. There are plenty in Santa Barbara County to the north and LA County to the south. But like of local legal supply means that residents still find it more convenient to go to the traditional source that's connected to blood marijuana and the cartels.

cragger
03-07-2011, 02:35 PM
It is that status in which, although it may be easy for many folks to get a prescription for use, growing and distribution are illegal (outside of certain limited channels) that maintains what remains of the underground black market including illegal growers and distributers. Were it completely legalized so that anyone could grow all they wanted essentially for free in their back yard, that black market would disappear. This is, I think, the glaring flaw in the "make it quasi-legal so the government can take over from the current growers and distributers as the profiteer" approach. Anything that the government significantly restricts which has a widespread demand and/or for which there is significant disagreement with the prohibition offers the incentive for a black market. And an illegal black market by its nature tends to bring along other problems.

SkepticDoc
03-07-2011, 02:36 PM
Could you comment on why the ballot measure was defeated in CA?

bjkeefe
03-07-2011, 02:39 PM
Pot is, for all practical purposes, legal in California, where I live.

Remember that I also said "always available." Even leaving aside the rest of what you said, the part about "zero dispensaries" doesn't let us see much from the situation in California, regarding my guess about people sometimes opting for other drugs when they can't get pot.

Still, I'd love to see a survey of, say, LA residents, or anyone else who has constant easy access to pot, to see if their consumption of other substances has declined.

Wonderment
03-07-2011, 02:42 PM
Could you comment on why the ballot measure was defeated in CA?

I will give you the quick and dirty answer from memory (not clouded by weed, just by age). Google it for more accuracy and depth.

The conventional analysis was that low youth turnout defeated the measure, plus utter cravenness on behalf of virtually all CA politicians, including the most liberal who saw no upside in supporting the measure.

There were other issues about how clearly and precisely the proposition was drafted.

Still, the presidential election is when the youth voter turnout will be higher, so a 2012 initiative should do considerably better.

Wonderment
03-07-2011, 02:47 PM
This is, I think, the glaring flaw in the "make it quasi-legal so the government can take over from the current growers and distributers as the profiteer" approach. Anything that the government significantly restricts which has a widespread demand and/or for which there is significant disagreement with the prohibition offers the incentive for a black market. And an illegal black market by its nature tends to bring along other problems.

Right. The larger problem of legalization in one state, however, especially a producer state like CA, is that it doesn't impact illegal export to prohibition states. The blood marijuana cartels would still operate in CA brutally and effectively, even if we could all buy bud (along with Bud) at the local gas station. The gangsters would just be growing, shipping and distributing to other consumer centers in the USA.

For legalization to work well it has to be everywhere. I still think, of course, that a legalization model for CA would be a great thing, providing a framework for copycat states and entrepreneurs elsewhere.

Wonderment
03-07-2011, 03:11 PM
Still, I'd love to see a survey of, say, LA residents, or anyone else who has constant easy access to pot, to see if their consumption of other substances has declined.


That would be interesting. My guess is that widespread availability of legal weed would not really impact amphetamine, alcohol and opiate addiction either way, but we'd have to see.

bjkeefe
03-07-2011, 03:19 PM
That would be interesting. My guess is that widespread availability of legal weed would not really impact amphetamine, alcohol and opiate addiction either way, but we'd have to see.

I'd bet differently, but I may just be projecting.

TwinSwords
03-07-2011, 05:26 PM
Very good post, cragger.

I'd add one hypothesis, from my own experience. Since it is sometimes hard to get pot when the one or two local dealers one knows are out (and ultimately, because it's bulkier and cheaper and therefore much more of a pain to smuggle), it is sometimes the case that people will purchase other drugs merely because they can't get pot.

I have no idea how this extends, but I sometimes wonder how much other drug use would decline of pot was always available, and indeed, legal.
... and even alcohol use. I think a lot of people who might prefer weed drink alcohol because it's legal and readily available, albeit more destructive in nearly every respect.

Yes, that was a great post, Cragger -- as have the arguments made by Ocean, Wonderment, and others. It's a tough issue. It's nice to be able to read such a thoughtful discussion about it.

bjkeefe
03-07-2011, 05:33 PM
... and even alcohol use. I think a lot of people who might prefer weed drink alcohol because it's legal and readily available, albeit more destructive in nearly every respect.

Yes (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=200195#post200195).

popcorn_karate
03-07-2011, 06:50 PM
Some drugs are really poisonous. They are toxic in ways that are beyond what can reasonably be allowed to be legal.

such as alcohol? Sorry, Ocean, but i doubt you can come up with any statistics that are going to show greater harm to users of anything than alcohol. Yet we somehow survive as a society and nearly universally admit that prohibition was worse than the scourge of alcohol use.

I would not treat the cartels with respect. Except for the little guys who are exploited and drawn into dealing to support their use after they've fallen into the trap, the rest are crooks and criminals who are profiting from destroying people's lives. That's what it is. I have no respect for them, because they don't deserve it. Again, those who have been caught in the drug trap could and should be rehabilitated. The sociopaths should be processed by the justice system as everybody else.

and you want to see this version of justice visited upon all makers of wine, beer, and spirits, right?


But also, we should look at the risk factors and address the circumstances that make people more likely to use and deal drugs.

being human is the main risk factor and its unfortunately difficult to educate people to not be human. ; ) Seriously, there has never been a culture that did not seek altered states of consciousness through chemical enhancement of perceptions, and at an even more basic level, many animals seek out "highs" too.

Or continue to ignore the whole thing and leave it at the endemic level it is now. Those who are privileged and want to use drugs recreationally manage to do it. The poor souls that become addicted and dependent, destroy their lives and their families' stay in the sewer while law enforcement looks the other way and extends their hand to get a tip for their discretion.

nah, you got the first part right, but law enforcement uses the drug war as a bludgeon against the poor and disenfranchised with results far, far worse than being "left in the sewer" - there are millions that would thank god with all of their heart for such mercies considering the lovely alternative of prison.

The situation is a mess. Unfortunately, the ideas that were popular a couple of decades ago about legalizing drugs, no longer apply. The problem has grown deeper and more intricate.

I think it much more likely that it is you that has changed, rather than the problem.

popcorn_karate
03-07-2011, 06:58 PM
I think the way to deal with the dilemma is to create really strong penalties against distribution of a short list of substances,

there is always another chemical, you'll end up chasing the technology of the "high" as new designer drugs are produced to give people the high they want.

and to force people who are caught using them in conjunction with other crimes into punitive rehab, but without making drug use of any kind into a felony.

I like the "in conjunction with other crimes" part - but that still means the drug doesn't need to be controlled, just that criminal addicts should be treated for their addiction whether it be alcohol or something else.

popcorn_karate
03-07-2011, 07:02 PM
....

thanks, you explained that really well.

Ocean
03-07-2011, 07:45 PM
I don't think this is correct for at least two reasons. Estimates are that over 120 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once at some point in their lives. The vast majority haven't developed addictions to other, "harder" drugs because they don't see all things as being equal or all substances as interchangable. They may have means available to them by which they could access other drugs if they chose to do so, but they simply don't want to. Secondly, and I think more importantly, it seems to reflect a false view of how most people come to try marijuana or other drugs as being at the behest of drug pushers.

Most kids who smoke pot try it because they have friends, people they know and trust, who use it. Critically, this is also how and why it is available to them. They get it through someone they know and with whom they smoke it, who knows somebody else, who knows somebody else. These people aren't drug dealers in any meaningful sense of the term. At some point in this chain somebody knows someone who is connected to a professional network that imports and moves quantities of drugs, and in many cases offers availability to other drugs than marijuana.

At this point of intersection between the bottom level ad-hoc informal network of smokers and the semi-professional and thence professional dealers the purchaser, who again often knows and likely smokes pot with the dealer will be offered the chance to try something else. If the purchaser is willing, and likes it, they are likely to offer availability of this other drug back down the chain below them. At the bottom of this chain or tree, a pot smoker is far, far more likely to try something new with a friend they know, trust, and get high with and who they know isn't motivated by gain in offering it to them than they are to hear about some drug and decide to seek it out by going to the nearest big city and asking scary strangers for access or have some shadowy drug pusher offer it to them out of the blue.

Had marijuana never been criminalized, or if it were legalized, the bottom tiers that form the small branches and twigs of the distribution tree by which nearly all users get marijuana would disappear. So would the path by which they might be offered and try other drugs and through which they obtain them if they chose. The reduced demand would then impact the network of professional suppliers, which would wither in turn. There are certainly exceptions to this, and would likely remain pockets of heroin use in major cities or cocaine use in Hollywood for example, but the majority of "middle America" would see a lot less use of other drugs rather than more. The opportunity for access and the factors that affect the likelihood of trying them wouldn't be there.

Nice post. You obviously seem to know the ins and outs of drug exposure and dealing at the average, middle class person much better than I do.

I guess I should have made it clearer, but I have based my comments and concerns on my experience with that smaller number of people who develop the stronger addictions, and end up escalating drug use in terms of quality of the drugs, quantity and duration. It is that section of the population that I refer to.

In terms of the average young person with minimal exposure or experimentation, I wouldn't worry too much about legalization.

Ocean
03-07-2011, 08:25 PM
such as alcohol? Sorry, Ocean, but i doubt you can come up with any statistics that are going to show greater harm to users of anything than alcohol. Yet we somehow survive as a society and nearly universally admit that prohibition was worse than the scourge of alcohol use.



and you want to see this version of justice visited upon all makers of wine, beer, and spirits, right?




being human is the main risk factor and its unfortunately difficult to educate people to not be human. ; ) Seriously, there has never been a culture that did not seek altered states of consciousness through chemical enhancement of perceptions, and at an even more basic level, many animals seek out "highs" too.



nah, you got the first part right, but law enforcement uses the drug war as a bludgeon against the poor and disenfranchised with results far, far worse than being "left in the sewer" - there are millions that would thank god with all of their heart for such mercies considering the lovely alternative of prison.



I think it much more likely that it is you that has changed, rather than the problem.

I don't care much for the tone of your comment.

We've already had discussions about the health risks that alcohol and drugs pose. We don't need to repeat them.

Your comments are based in a partial view of the drug problem. If you're interested in knowing about other views, including mine, change your tone, read well what's written, or ask questions.

As I've said repeatedly in this thread. I work with psychiatric and addiction patients. I've worked in NY city, in Newark, NJ, and currently I'm working in an area very close to one of the main drug distribution centers. I see the people that suffer the worst consequences of drug use. When I read comments about what happens to middle class kids who are experimenting, I can see your point, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I haven't completely made up my mind about this topic, because ultimately none of us knows what would work. As I said, knowing what the goal is would help with the discussion. If we are discussing how to make it easier for some privileged people to smoke pot without worries, that would be one topic. If we are talking about solving the health related problems due to drug use, criminality associated with drug dealing, the problem of addictions in general, then that's another topic. It is the latter as it applies to the most vulnerable populations (poor people, mentally ill) that I am currently most concerned about.

Finally in what's personal, I couldn't care less about those who want to use drugs recreationally. In my list of priorities, it would be close to last, perhaps close to procuring guns for those who want to hunt. I wouldn't waste my time typing two words in a row to defend their right. And I'm sure they don't need my help.

SkepticDoc
03-07-2011, 09:10 PM
http://www.google.com/search?q=california+2010+marijuana+ballot+initiati ve+failure&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&client=firefox-a&rlz=1R1GGGL_en___US358

I have limited knowledge of CA issues, I watched the movie "Humboldt County" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humboldt_County_%28film%29 and wondered how accurately it represented reality.

I was surprised to learn that Soros provided financial support.

I wonder how the voters from the Emerald Triangle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_Triangle) chose.

I hoped you would shed some insight from the trenches...

cragger
03-07-2011, 09:13 PM
I understood your viewpoint from your earlier posts and would have expected some aspects of it from what I would expect is your professional experience. Regarding which, I'd suggest that just as Freud is often considered to have overstated the influence of sex in his theories, they were formulated based on his practice which didn't consist of well adjusted people with happy and healthy sex lives and that it is natural that your views are similarly shaped to a degree by the sample of the population with whom you deal. Certainly not a very clean and exact analogy, but hopefully you get the general point.

No question there are people who, however successful or unsuccessful their lives would have otherwise been, have abused various drugs as ways of coping with or avoiding their problems in manners you probably know more about than I, and caused plenty of wreckage in the process. It just seems clear to me that among the many negative effects the "war on drugs" policy has had is that the marijuana prohibition has led to an increase in the access and use of various more dangerous drugs and a concommitant increase in the number of resultant casualties.

Ocean
03-07-2011, 09:29 PM
I understood your viewpoint from your earlier posts and would have expected some aspects of it from what I would expect is your professional experience. Regarding which, I'd suggest that just as Freud is often considered to have overstated the influence of sex in his theories, they were formulated based on his practice which didn't consist of well adjusted people with happy and healthy sex lives and that it is natural that your views are similarly shaped to a degree by the sample of the population with whom you deal. Certainly not a very clean and exact analogy, but hopefully you get the general point.

Good, I thought my perspective hadn't been clear enough.

I do understand your analogy. I just want to remind you, that although part of my practice deals with a population that has lots of different problems, including addictions, I also have contact with people for whom drugs have not been such a problem. I know alcoholics and also people who have a drink with moderation. I'm not blind to the spectrum from minimal use to severe addiction. It is just that my concern is about those with the more severe forms of addiction. The others don't need my concern or worries.

stephanie
03-08-2011, 12:11 PM
such as alcohol? Sorry, Ocean, but i doubt you can come up with any statistics that are going to show greater harm to users of anything than alcohol.

Alcohol is used at much higher rates. One question -- which I think the hardcore legalization fundamentalists usually don't address -- is whether the same would be true if the rates were similar and also whether the affect of making it legal/illegal has greater effects on consumption as with alcohol.

Basically, I'd argue that prohibition of alcohol doesn't work because in our society there is such acceptance of alcohol use (and view of it as something that only a small minority of people, more likely to be found in the lower classes (I'm not saying this is true, but that it's a social attitude and was an even stronger one in the '20s) can't handle) that laws restricting use, even back when we could amend the Constitution about the issue, are undermined. As a result, any positive effect (reducing use by those who have negative effects from use) is undermined by the bad effects.

The question for other drugs, then, is whether this is also true. With respect to marijuana I think it probably is. First, I think the negative effects to users are limited -- even if the rates were as high as alcohol use, I think the negative effects to society would be no greater (probably less, in fact, especially if there was some number of people who switched from alcohol to pot). Second, what's the effect on rates -- I think more than with alcohol (where there was some), just because of the lower rates now plus the longstanding "it's illegal" aspect, but again I think limited. Pot is pretty easily available and something you are likely to run into at times in your life among otherwise "respectable" people. (And I say this as someone who would have no idea how to go about buying pot and for whom the illegal aspect is a major deterrent, despite the fact that at times in my life I probably would have otherwise been prone to use or abuse it.)

With respect to various other drugs, I'm less convinced either of these points is true. Probably the effect of illegality on use varies a ton from community to community (and would vary against if we legalized pot, for the reasons cragger says, making people less likely to be familiar with illegal sources of drugs). So I think a discussion of legalization has to account for the potential affect on usage rates and addiction rates.

I also think you make excellent points, of course, about the problems with the way the drug war is conducted, but there are enough genuine, good-faith concerns about the effect of legalizing drugs and usage and addiction rates increasing, that I don't think we need to make this an all or nothing discussion.

popcorn_karate
03-08-2011, 03:02 PM
I don't care much for the tone of your comment.

hmmm. ok. I suspect you disagree with the substance of the post and rather than deal with the arguments, you would rather redirect the focus towards the "tone" where you're on more solid ground.

Your comments are based in a partial view of the drug problem. If you're interested in knowing about other views, including mine, change your tone, read well what's written, or ask questions.

you don't have a perspective that is any more valid than mine, much as you would like it to be so. I understand your perspective and disagree with it, is that what is making you angry?



As I've said repeatedly in this thread. I work with psychiatric and addiction patients. I've worked in NY city, in Newark, NJ, and currently I'm working in an area very close to one of the main drug distribution centers. I see the people that suffer the worst consequences of drug use. When I read comments about what happens to middle class kids who are experimenting, I can see your point, but that's not what I'm talking about.

again, i don't consider your perspective to be privileged or superior ( perhaps that is whats making you angry?). I grew up in poverty in a community that ranks in the poorest and least served parts of the country with rampant drug abuse. I've seen people i grew up with die from drug abuse and i'm under 40. The "gritty" reality you see is not unique to you and does not lead automatically to your views. Its tempting to think that "if only they could see what you see" everyone would share your perspective - but its not true.


I haven't completely made up my mind about this topic, because ultimately none of us knows what would work.

same here. I think its extremely likely that prohibition will nearly always cause more harm than legalization, but we don't know that with certainty, yet. I think your position is much more skeptical of that position, so I presented some reasons why i think my position is more realistic.

As I said, knowing what the goal is would help with the discussion. If we are discussing how to make it easier for some privileged people to smoke pot without worries, that would be one topic.

that is not my hobby horse, but its the lowest hanging fruit in that the harms involved with legalization are extremely minimal - its pretty much a no brainer.


If we are talking about solving the health related problems due to drug use, criminality associated with drug dealing, the problem of addictions in general, then that's another topic. It is the latter as it applies to the most vulnerable populations (poor people, mentally ill) that I am currently most concerned about.

yes, and those are the people that i think would be most helped by viewing addiction as a health concern and not as a criminal activity.

Finally in what's personal, I couldn't care less about those who want to use drugs recreationally. In my list of priorities, it would be close to last, perhaps close to procuring guns for those who want to hunt. I wouldn't waste my time typing two words in a row to defend their right. And I'm sure they don't need my help.

you seem to be working through a lot of rage directed at people that use drugs without problems. why do you think that is?

bjkeefe
03-08-2011, 03:07 PM
hmmm. ok. I suspect you disagree with the substance of the post and rather than deal with the arguments, you would rather redirect the focus towards the "tone" where you're on more solid ground.

That is a very poorly founded suspicion, when speaking of Ocean of all people.

SkepticDoc
03-08-2011, 03:31 PM
That is a very poorly founded suspicion, when speaking of Ocean of all people.

Our friend Ocean is the most qualified participant in matters of Psychology/Psychiatry, maybe PK is not aware of that.

Wonderment
03-08-2011, 06:25 PM
Alcohol is used at much higher rates. One question -- which I think the hardcore legalization fundamentalists usually don't address -- is whether the same would be true if the rates were similar and also whether the affect of making it legal/illegal has greater effects on consumption as with alcohol.

I'm going to object to the "fundamentalist" characterization. I would venture to say that the burden of proof of not being fundamentalist is on the prohibitionists who have pursued failed policy "addictively" for decades. When failure is repeated ad infinitum there's usually fundamental dogma at the core.

I don't think we need to make this an all or nothing discussion.

If you don't want to make it all or nothing, then you have to show a model of partial prohibition that is non-catastrophic. From my perspective, as long as there are drug cartels the war-on-producers continues.

Without legalization, there's perpetual war. (Granted, legalization of some substances would reduce markets for producers and distributors, which would be a good thing; i.e, less war).

With legalization, we merely have to face up to and deal with our freedom to do to our bodies and minds what we wish.

Wonderment
03-08-2011, 06:49 PM
If we are talking about solving the health related problems due to drug use, criminality associated with drug dealing, the problem of addictions in general, then that's another topic. It is the latter as it applies to the most vulnerable populations (poor people, mentally ill) that I am currently most concerned about.

I still don't see why you think there would be a great leap in negative consequences as a result of legalization. There would probably be a spike in addiction and meth-related temporary psychosis, but that can be addressed with increased education, intervention and treatment.

If you want to proceed cautiously, we could legalize marijuana right away, allow prescription and safe-setting use of psychedelic drugs like Ecstasy and LSD, and decriminalize heroin and meth consumption (as opposed to trafficking).

A few points to bear in mind:

1) Meth, coke and opiate addictions are not terminal diseases. They are treatable and curable conditions.

2) Substances like meth, coke and heroin, if legalized, would come with very powerful health warnings about addiction, and the dangers associated with intoxication.

3) Education and advertising have proven to be powerful tools in reducing drunk driving, tobacco abuse and unsafe sex practices. We have reason to be optimistic about the potential for legalized drug dissuasion.

4) Consumer nations have a moral responsibility to stop the war on drugs and to seriously address psychotropic substance demand in the developed world.

stephanie
03-08-2011, 07:59 PM
I'm going to object to the "fundamentalist" characterization.

I think there's a tone that sometimes comes in that I would characterize as fundamentalist. I'm referring also to the refusal that I often note to discuss the pros and cons of various policies and the assumption that the only logical solution is to legalize all, since that's what we do (sort of) with alcohol.

If someone says that legalization appears to them to be the best approach and then is willing to discuss the concerns that others have raised and acknowledge that they are genuine concerns (and not just knocked away by the "must be consistent with alcohol" argument), I wouldn't consider that a fundamentalist position.

I would venture to say that the burden of proof of not being fundamentalist is on the prohibitionists who have pursued failed policy "addictively" for decades.

I never understand why people try to insist the other has the burden of proof. IMO, we are talking about whether to change the law and how. I'm in favor of changing the law somewhat and could probably be talked in to considering greater changes. But no one is going to be convinced by being told they have the burden of proof to justify why dramatic changes that certainly could have negative affects -- as Ocean has detailed -- shouldn't be made.

When failure is repeated ad infinitum there's usually fundamental dogma at the core.

That might be a fair criticism here if anyone was defending the current state of things and saying that any change must be resisted at all cost (a fair criticism of the political situation on the issue, IMO), but that is not, in fact, an accurate description of any position identified so far in the discussion here. One could think the current situation was a failure and yet not believe that jumping to some opposing "solution" would work either. Indeed, I thought your point about looking at what other countries had done was a good one, not because I think it shows that we must immediately get rid of all laws (other than those relating to minors) restricting the import, sale, and use of drugs, but because it seems a useful place to start gathering evidence as to the effect of various policies and try to come to a fact- rather than theory- or ideologically-based position on options we should try. Too often I think the extreme positions on both sides focus mainly on theory. (This is why I like hearing the ideas of people like Mark Kleiman, too.)

With legalization, we merely have to face up to and deal with our freedom to do to our bodies and minds what we wish.

When you say this you sound like a bit like Heather McDonald saying that the problem with the imprisonment rate can be dealt with by people facing up and dealing with their freedom not to commit crimes. In fact, the one area in which you sound "fundamentalist" on this issue to me is in the insistence that concern about increase usage and addictation rates are insignificant, because we can just treat the addiction, educate people. Drug treatment (and alcohol treatment) is hardly a magic bullet. The success rates are awful, and there's no good understanding of what will work with someone and what won't (or why it works with someone and not others). Given that we haven't been able to figure this out now, I see nothing about legalization that will mean we can handle the problem -- the fact that we treat some addicts with criminal penalties primarily (which is wrong, this is a part of the problem in which I think we could agree) doesn't mean that we haven't tried treatment and that's the only reason we haven't "cured" addiction. There are lots of efforts in this area, and it's not super successful.

Now, it's possible that if we look at individual populations the effect of illegality on the more vulnerable populations is minimal (although I'd need to see some evidence on this question before deciding either way). If so, McMegan's argument (which I'm sure everyone will love agreeing with) that the drug laws put greater burdens on the poor for benefits mainly to the middle classes might be right and would be a relevant consideration (though not a slam dunk, IMO). But in any case I don't think it's irrational at all to say this is a key question to research before going full-scale for legalization.

Wonderment
03-08-2011, 08:24 PM
Too often I think the extreme positions on both sides focus mainly on theory. (This is why I like hearing the ideas of people like Mark Kleiman, too.)

I may be wrong because I only know Kleiman from his talks here, but I don't think he addresses the impact of our drug laws globally. He approaches the problem domestically, as far as I know. But blood psychotropics is a global problem, like immigration and climate change.

(I have other quibles with Kleiman, but there's not really pertinent here.)


When you say this you sound like a bit like Heather McDonald saying that the problem with the imprisonment rate can be dealt with by people facing up and dealing with their freedom not to commit crimes.

This is really apples and oranges. Heather likes to see people in jail; I'm suggesting releasing most of them. Furthermore, it's Orwellian to claim that refraining from committing a crime is "freedom." It's bizarre to talk about a "right" to obey the law, but it's not at all contrary to our fundamental notions of freedom to claim a human right to pursue happiness by doing what we choose to our bodies (committing suicide, getting an abortion, tattooing, piercing, having sex alone or with another consenting adult, eating meat, smoking, taking heroin, etc.)

cragger
03-08-2011, 09:37 PM
I never understand why people try to insist the other has the burden of proof. IMO, we are talking about whether to change the law and how. I'm in favor of changing the law somewhat and could probably be talked in to considering greater changes. But no one is going to be convinced by being told they have the burden of proof to justify why dramatic changes that certainly could have negative affects -- as Ocean has detailed -- shouldn't be made.

A general comment here that is not specific to this particular issue.

I think that the burden of evidence always lies on the side that advocates governmental intervention into people's lives. That is, one must justify govenmental demands and prohibitions. The fact that a policy or law exists is not some natural state of affairs that one must provide an overwhelming case in order to change. For example, it is not required to prove that some great improvement will come if we remove the prohibition on women voting, those who would uphold it must provide an extraordinary level of justification for the maintenance of such a prohibition. This, I submit, is the general case.

Ocean
03-08-2011, 10:39 PM
Wow. I don't have much time to answer this one. I don't even have enough time to count how many "angries" you accused me of.

But, I have time to say this much: I'm not that angry! I'm annoyed at some of the stuff written here, because I think that people whose opinion I value are assuming positions that seem to me inflexible (in the sense of not being open to discussion or deviation from the most stereotypical "liberal/libertarian" position).

I read other posts quickly and I think I see Stephanie offering some reasoned arguments that I agree with.

I'll try to get back to some of these in the next couple of days.

And for you, pk, I'm not ready to deploy the Armada yet, so, not as angry as you imagine me to be.

Ocean
03-08-2011, 10:40 PM
That is a very poorly founded suspicion, when speaking of Ocean of all people.

:)

Ocean
03-08-2011, 10:40 PM
Our friend Ocean is the most qualified participant in matters of Psychology/Psychiatry, maybe PK is not aware of that.

:)

Ocean
03-08-2011, 10:42 PM
I still don't see why you think there would be a great leap in negative consequences as a result of legalization. There would probably be a spike in addiction and meth-related temporary psychosis, but that can be addressed with increased education, intervention and treatment.

If you want to proceed cautiously, we could legalize marijuana right away, allow prescription and safe-setting use of psychedelic drugs like Ecstasy and LSD, and decriminalize heroin and meth consumption (as opposed to trafficking).

A few points to bear in mind:

1) Meth, coke and opiate addictions are not terminal diseases. They are treatable and curable conditions.

2) Substances like meth, coke and heroin, if legalized, would come with very powerful health warnings about addiction, and the dangers associated with intoxication.

3) Education and advertising have proven to be powerful tools in reducing drunk driving, tobacco abuse and unsafe sex practices. We have reason to be optimistic about the potential for legalized drug dissuasion.

4) Consumer nations have a moral responsibility to stop the war on drugs and to seriously address psychotropic substance demand in the developed world.

Even with all the risks associated with heroin, I'm not as worried about heroin as I am about crystal meth and cocaine. They make people crazy beyond belief and they kill rather quickly.

bjkeefe
03-08-2011, 10:55 PM
I think there's a tone that sometimes comes in that I would characterize as fundamentalist. I'm referring also to the refusal that I often note to discuss the pros and cons of various policies and the assumption that the only logical solution is to legalize all, since that's what we do (sort of) with alcohol.

Eh, that's a pretty weak criterion for calling someone a fundamentalist. People here are debating an issue. One makes one's case for one side and is not obliged to make the case for the other side at the same time. I should think a lawyer would understand advocacy if anyone is going to.

Besides, I don't think even the most forceful of us on the "let's try legalization" side are promising ponies for all. Our point of view is, clearly, that we acknowledge some problems will persist, and some may even spike, at least temporarily, but that we are of the mind that we already have those problems, and nothing about the War on (some kinds of) Drugs has made them go away. And there are additional problems that the WoD causes that we believe legalization would largely make go away. Our argument is, in a nutshell, that whatever we're spending now could be better spent in other ways, and on top of that, we'd reap some benefits immediately, in the areas of (1) reducing the ruining of people's lives with jail time and criminal records and (2) cutting down on opportunities for organized crime to generate revenue and accrue power.

If you're going to call people "fundamentalists" just for proposing different solutions for a problem that we all agree exists and isn't going away, you aren't giving much room at all for anyone to say anything that you don't already accept.

bjkeefe
03-08-2011, 11:05 PM
A general comment here that is not specific to this particular issue.

I think that the burden of evidence always lies on the side that advocates governmental intervention into people's lives. That is, one must justify govenmental demands and prohibitions. The fact that a policy or law exists is not some natural state of affairs that one must provide an overwhelming case in order to change. For example, it is not required to prove that some great improvement will come if we remove the prohibition on women voting, those who would uphold it must provide an extraordinary level of justification for the maintenance of such a prohibition. This, I submit, is the general case.

Well said. I agree.

Ocean
03-08-2011, 11:12 PM
...

It's bizarre to talk about a "right" to obey the law, but it's not at all contrary to our fundamental notions of freedom to claim a human right to pursue happiness by doing what we choose to our bodies (committing suicide, getting an abortion, tattooing, piercing, having sex alone or with another consenting adult, eating meat, smoking, taking heroin, etc.)

The first thought that comes to my mind while reading your paragraph above is to ask that if people want to play Russian roulette, they can go ahead, but please, don't go to a hospital to use our health dollars to put their heads back together.

Perhaps there's a more rational way to have this discussion without having to use rhetoric like the above.

I would suggest to establish the objectives first. Are we talking about reducing crime and violence related to trafficking, reducing the consumption of toxic substances, or expanding individual freedoms to include self harm?

If we don't worry about toxic substances because it's better to respect individual freedoms, then we should be gun activists as well, right? And how about use of pesticides? Is that toxicity okay if I want to have the freedom to use them in a farm? Should the government inspect or regulate any of that?

Obviously, I'm being provocative with the above statements, but the idea is to throw a few of the lines of discussion that could be opened, so that people can offer their opinion for or against them.

I've got to sleep.

Ocean
03-08-2011, 11:17 PM
A general comment here that is not specific to this particular issue.

I think that the burden of evidence always lies on the side that advocates governmental intervention into people's lives. That is, one must justify govenmental demands and prohibitions. The fact that a policy or law exists is not some natural state of affairs that one must provide an overwhelming case in order to change. For example, it is not required to prove that some great improvement will come if we remove the prohibition on women voting, those who would uphold it must provide an extraordinary level of justification for the maintenance of such a prohibition. This, I submit, is the general case.

I disagree completely with the comparison between the original topic and the case of women voting. I'm hoping I don't have to start explaining the abyss of difference between one and the other, unless women voting is in your opinion the equivalent to using crystal meth.

Ocean
03-08-2011, 11:17 PM
Well said. I agree.

I'm very disappointed that you would agree with such ridiculous comparison.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 12:00 AM
I'm very disappointed that you would agree with such ridiculous comparison.

I'm sorry to disappoint you.

If it will help, let me clarify a bit: Of course I will agree that denying women the right to vote is not Just Like denying, say, me the right to get high on whatever I want whenever I want as much as I want.

Nonetheless, I think the example is a decent illustration of the concept cragger was expressing, and I think his main point -- that in general, the burden of proof is on those who would argue in favor of government preventing people from doing what they would like to do -- is a sound one.

Now, as I'm sure you already know, I am not a wild-eyed glibertarian. I support many specific instances of government restriction, from seat belt laws to pollution regulations. To that end, I think a good argument can be made from the point of view that sees blanket legalization of drugs as too much of a societal cost, and so when we're talking about that issue in particular, I am coming more from a position of "Yes, widespread drug use leads to problems for society, but the way we have been trying to deal with it over the past several decades is not working very well. Thus, it is time to try something else."

Back to my agreement with cragger: I think his general statement of principle was a worthwhile, and correct, interjection for this debate, in light of a sense that was creeping in: that those opposed to legalization were beginning to sound like they were insisting that those in favor of legalization were required to lay out an airtight case why it would be good, or the discussion was over. There are many downsides to the intrusion by government into people's private lives on the matter of drug use, and while I will not say that drug use by an individual has no external costs, and while I can even be persuaded to consider the idea that some people are so harmed by drug use that it's worth restricting their choices for their own good, his post was a useful push to get the discussion back on track. It is a fine starting principle that should not ever be swept aside, even by those who would do it for the best of intentions.

Wonderment
03-09-2011, 12:27 AM
I'm not as worried about heroin as I am about crystal meth and cocaine. They make people crazy beyond belief and they kill rather quickly.

I agree that meth addiction and associated psychoses represent the biggest challenge for legalization advocates.

Wonderment
03-09-2011, 12:44 AM
I would suggest to establish the objectives first. Are we talking about reducing crime and violence related to trafficking, reducing the consumption of toxic substances, or expanding individual freedoms to include self harm?

All of the above, I'd say. The personal freedom argument is not at all paramount to me, but I think it enhances the case for legalization.

If we don't worry about toxic substances because it's better to respect individual freedoms, then we should be gun activists as well, right?

No. The key distinction would be between potentially harming oneself (drugs) vs. harming others (guns.) If I distribute handguns and ammunition to the local gangbangers, they are likely to kill innocent people. If I distribute legal heroin to them, I see no analogous risk to others.

But I do think that gun advocates have some plausible arguments on both individual freedom grounds and harm to society grounds. I think it's stupid to own an AK-47, just as I think it's stupid to use meth; but if I thought prohibiting guns would be detrimental to society for reasons analogous to why prohibiting drugs is detrimental (the emergence of a black market in guns, for example), I'd probably favor legalization of guns.


And how about use of pesticides? Is that toxicity okay if I want to have the freedom to use them in a farm? Should the government inspect or regulate any of that?


The link between pesticides and harm to the environment (i.e, all of us) is clear. The farmer doesn't have a right to poison me (or future generations) in order to grow his crop. The link between using heroin or cocaine and harming others is much more tenuous and speculative.

cragger
03-09-2011, 12:48 AM
Might be just my perception but I sense a hint of anger here. Perhaps this is a hot button issue for you, or you feel a bit ganged up on in this thread.

As I recall Stephanie comes from a legal background, and as I tried rather specifically to point out I am opining here on the general principle she seemed to be getting at in the previously quoted text - i.e. the idea that the burden of proof is on those who would change an existing legal state of affairs as the general case. I don't agree with that at all.

If you reflect a bit, I've said nothing about legalization of meth one way or the other. My previous point in this thread was regards to the idea that people would somehow begin using drugs with greater potential for hazard if marijuana was legal, which I think is wrong for the reasons stated earlier, and I think the marijuana ban has increased access to and use of other drugs.

I don't deny the possibility that a case could be made for prohibiting meth, kidnapping, or anything else. My point here is that case must be made with costs and benefits both taken into account, and I think that principles regarding freedom and the necessary justifications to be met to warrant use of the power of the state must be taken into account as well. In this regard, whether an existing law or proposed law is restricting women from voting, or the banning of kidnapping, gay marriage, masturbation, or some drug, the principle remains the same. The specific issues are obviously different, and in some instances we in general, and even you and I in particular, will agree that a sufficient case warrants collective action through government intervention, and in others that an existing governmental demand or prohibition is not warranted. I am contending here that this is the case that must be made, and where the burden of evidence and justification lies, rather than the burden falling on the case for changing any existing legal regime. I intended my example to serve that purpose, perhaps some sleep will make me clearer if I post tomorrow.

Ocean
03-09-2011, 07:45 AM
All of the above, I'd say. The personal freedom argument is not at all paramount to me, but I think it enhances the case for legalization.


The personal freedom argument should be kept separate. It's not an argument that has a lot of weight if we think about the many instances when as a society we make the decision to restrict some individual freedom because of safety issues. When we think about these freedoms, especially when those freedoms are not inherent to some essential need, we always put them on the scale against the negative consequences that could develop from those freedoms.


No. The key distinction would be between potentially harming oneself (drugs) vs. harming others (guns.) If I distribute handguns and ammunition to the local gangbangers, they are likely to kill innocent people. If I distribute legal heroin to them, I see no analogous risk to others.

But I do think that gun advocates have some plausible arguments on both individual freedom grounds and harm to society grounds. I think it's stupid to own an AK-47, just as I think it's stupid to use meth; but if I thought prohibiting guns would be detrimental to society for reasons analogous to why prohibiting drugs is detrimental (the emergence of a black market in guns, for example), I'd probably favor legalization of guns.

The link between pesticides and harm to the environment (i.e, all of us) is clear. The farmer doesn't have a right to poison me (or future generations) in order to grow his crop. The link between using heroin or cocaine and harming others is much more tenuous and speculative.

The link between the use of cocaine and other potent stimulants with violent behavior isn't so tenuous. One of the most interesting phenomenons to study has been the crack (http://www.streetdrugs.org/html%20files/Crack%20Cocaine.html) epidemic. I did my residency in psychiatry at the peak of the epidemic in NYC. Unforgettable experience. This article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_epidemic_%28United_States%29) has a lot of pieces of information which could be expanded by doing more searches.

Between 1984 and 1994, the homicide rate for black males aged 14 to 17 more than doubled, and the homicide rate for black males aged 18 to 24 increased nearly as much. During this period, the black community also experienced an increase in fetal death rates, low birth-weight babies, weapons arrests, and the number of children in foster care.

And another unforgettable sight is that of a crack baby. A very high price to be paid for the mother's individual freedom to remain addicted to a highly addictive substance.

Should we keep crack illegal?

Ocean
03-09-2011, 08:05 AM
Might be just my perception but I sense a hint of anger here. Perhaps this is a hot button issue for you, or you feel a bit ganged up on in this thread.


Yes, I would say to some degree or the other all of the above. I have shown similar annoyance and frustration when dealing with other topics, but some of the commenters in this thread may not have pointed it out because in those instances it was in agreement with their perspective.

There is only one piece of the discussion that triggers the most anger for me. It has to do with the individual freedom aspect of the discussion. It's not that I don't favor individual freedoms, but rather that I try to weigh heavily the consequences of my freedoms on others (the rest of society). When I see people defending their right to recreational use above their concern about how that same right may hurt a more vulnerable section of the population, it bothers me. That's why I've been insisting to discuss the topic separately. I think we need to talk about the effects of legalization on crime, violence, health and quality of life for those who may be affected by the negative consequences of use.


As I recall Stephanie comes from a legal background, and as I tried rather specifically to point out I am opining here on the general principle she seemed to be getting at in the previously quoted text - i.e. the idea that the burden of proof is on those who would change an existing legal state of affairs as the general case. I don't agree with that at all.

I'll let her respond. I think she may have been expressing a legal reality rather than a personal opinion. But I may be wrong.

If you reflect a bit, I've said nothing about legalization of meth one way or the other. My previous point in this thread was regards to the idea that people would somehow begin using drugs with greater potential for hazard if marijuana was legal, which I think is wrong for the reasons stated earlier, and I think the marijuana ban has increased access to and use of other drugs.

I agree with you on that point. I don't believe that marijuana is a portal to other drugs. I wouldn't be able to agree with your last sentence. If it was a question of having something available, there's always been alcohol around. Moving to other drugs has more to do with the particular chemistry of our individual brains and finding the best match for that.

I don't deny the possibility that a case could be made for prohibiting meth, kidnapping, or anything else. My point here is that case must be made with costs and benefits both taken into account, and I think that principles regarding freedom and the necessary justifications to be met to warrant use of the power of the state must be taken into account as well. In this regard, whether an existing law or proposed law is restricting women from voting, or the banning of kidnapping, gay marriage, masturbation, or some drug, the principle remains the same.

No, the principle isn't the same. You need to add one ingredient to the principle. That ingredient is the magnitude of the negative consequences of the freedom that you're talking about. The only rational to prohibit something is that there are negative consequences that society considers to be too costly. If you remove that factor, then the comparison can become absurd.



The specific issues are obviously different, and in some instances we in general, and even you and I in particular, will agree that a sufficient case warrants collective action through government intervention, and in others that an existing governmental demand or prohibition is not warranted. I am contending here that this is the case that must be made, and where the burden of evidence and justification lies, rather than the burden falling on the case for changing any existing legal regime. I intended my example to serve that purpose, perhaps some sleep will make me clearer if I post tomorrow.

I think we may agree sufficiently on the topic, although part of your argument seems directed to Stephanie, and I can't answer for her or in terms of the legal aspect of the issue.

Again, I insist that from my perspective we need to be clear when we discuss the possible restriction of any individual freedom, whether there's a substantial negative consequence derived from the exercise of that freedom. Without that requirement, all you're saying is "freedom is better than prohibition" without qualifications, which is rather obvious and misleading in the context of this kind of discussion.

Ocean
03-09-2011, 08:07 AM
I'm sorry to disappoint you.

If it will help, let me clarify a bit: Of course I will agree that denying women the right to vote is not Just Like denying, say, me the right to get high on whatever I want whenever I want as much as I want.

Nonetheless, I think the example is a decent illustration of the concept cragger was expressing, and I think his main point -- that in general, the burden of proof is on those who would argue in favor of government preventing people from doing what they would like to do -- is a sound one.

Now, as I'm sure you already know, I am not a wild-eyed glibertarian. I support many specific instances of government restriction, from seat belt laws to pollution regulations. To that end, I think a good argument can be made from the point of view that sees blanket legalization of drugs as too much of a societal cost, and so when we're talking about that issue in particular, I am coming more from a position of "Yes, widespread drug use leads to problems for society, but the way we have been trying to deal with it over the past several decades is not working very well. Thus, it is time to try something else."

Back to my agreement with cragger: I think his general statement of principle was a worthwhile, and correct, interjection for this debate, in light of a sense that was creeping in: that those opposed to legalization were beginning to sound like they were insisting that those in favor of legalization were required to lay out an airtight case why it would be good, or the discussion was over. There are many downsides to the intrusion by government into people's private lives on the matter of drug use, and while I will not say that drug use by an individual has no external costs, and while I can even be persuaded to consider the idea that some people are so harmed by drug use that it's worth restricting their choices for their own good, his post was a useful push to get the discussion back on track. It is a fine starting principle that should not ever be swept aside, even by those who would do it for the best of intentions.

See my comment in response to cragger's.

I do appreciate your intention to clarify and find common ground.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 11:42 AM
(I have other quibles with Kleiman, but there's not really pertinent here.)

Oh, I know, I almost acknowledged that, but decided it wasn't really relevant to my comment, which was about his approach. I'd be interested in a diavlog between him and someone with a similarly pragmatic approach on the other side of the legalization issue.

This is really apples and oranges. Heather likes to see people in jail; I'm suggesting releasing most of them.

The similarity is in the dismissing of the negative effects that others worry about as irrelevant, because those negatively affected could just "choose" not to be.

Furthermore, it's Orwellian to claim that refraining from committing a crime is "freedom."

I'm not defending McDonald at all -- I brought her up as a bad example -- but the parallel seems obvious to me. She says that we shouldn't worry if particular social conditions make negative consequences (drug use, criminal activity, dropping out of school) more likely, because the individuals in question always do have the freedom, the ability not to do so. I think that's not a reasonable approach when we know that the rates at which these things occur vary depending on social factors, poverty, so on. Similarly, then, if we determine that the usage rates for certain addictive and dangerous drugs is higher if we legalize them (and celebrate the sellers as Donald Trumps), then I don't think it's a sufficient answer to the concerns about the usage rate to say that people have the freedom not to become addicts or quit their addictions and they just need to learn how to deal.

it's not at all contrary to our fundamental notions of freedom to claim a human right to pursue happiness by doing what we choose to our bodies (committing suicide, getting an abortion, tattooing, piercing, having sex alone or with another consenting adult, eating meat, smoking, taking heroin, etc.)

This is a different argument (and I don't think it goes to the parallel to the Heather McDonald argument). To the extent the legalization position is maintained as the only legitimate one not because of the presumed effects (or without considering the effects) on the basis that we have some fundamental right to use drugs, I think that fails. Legally, the right to privacy has never been interpreted so broadly (obviously) and I don't think it makes sense to do so philosophically. If you want a tangent on this (the libertarian view, I suppose) we can start one. So far, people had seemed to be focusing on the pragmatic issues at least.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 11:52 AM
A general comment here that is not specific to this particular issue.

I think that the burden of evidence always lies on the side that advocates governmental intervention into people's lives. That is, one must justify govenmental demands and prohibitions.

Another general comment -- why I say that I don't see the point in arguing (or making assertions) about "burden of proof" is that they are just assertions. There's no general agreement on your position here. (Nor is it actually how the law is reviewed in the absence of heightened scrutiny, although I know you aren't trying to claim otherwise.)

Moreover, people like to bring in burden of proof like there's some rule about what it is and that it thus can identify who wins an argument. So in response to that, let's talk about what a "burden of proof" is. In a court case, it identifies who wins in the absence of evidence and in some (few) cases is greater than the preponderance of the evidence. The latter is not present here -- we are mostly debating who wins in the absence of evidence.

Well, realistically, then, in an argument about public policy, the burden of proof is on the person who wants to change the law. That's not because of a rule, but because if no one is convinced one way or the other the law isn't going to change. On the other hand, convincing someone in this case need not depend on the evidence -- it can also mean compelling logical arguments. But you simply aren't going to convince someone else by saying the other side has the burden of proof and hasn't said anything, and so I win.

For all of these reasons, then, I don't think it adds to arguments or makes sense to try and claim some superior position based on burden of proof. However, if I were to do this (which I will try to avoid outside of this post), my own position would be that it's the person asking that we change the law/take an action that has the burden of proof, although depending on the change the burden could be met by showing the negative effects of the existing law and that they would be alievated at least somewhat by changing the law in the way desired. Given that there will be a general understanding of the good believed to be served by the existing law, however, I think there's a related duty to show why that good either isn't served or changing the law wouldn't cause substantial additional harm or otherwise would be worth it.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 11:56 AM
Eh, that's a pretty weak criterion for calling someone a fundamentalist.

For the record, I didn't call anyone a fundamentalist. I referred to a tone and position as fundamentalist, without saying I was referring to anyone here. I do think PK's tone in responding to Ocean and his dismissal of the concerns that she raised as if they weren't good faith concerns sounded somewhat "fundamentalist" as I'd defined it, but I wasn't even sure that I would categorize it that way without more understanding of where he was coming from. (I would consider the hard libertarian view that it's just wrong to make substances illegal, regardless of the consequences, and that it's thus a violation of freedom that we are even discussing it as a question to be fundamentalist in the way I was defining it, but I hadn't noted anyone coming completely from the libertarian view yet.)

If you're going to call people "fundamentalists" just for proposing different solutions for a problem that we all agree exists and isn't going away, you aren't giving much room at all for anyone to say anything that you don't already accept.

Since I didn't do this, pretty obviously, I don't know how to respond.

Edit to add:

Besides, I don't think even the most forceful of us on the "let's try legalization" side are promising ponies for all. Our point of view is, clearly, that we acknowledge some problems will persist, and some may even spike, at least temporarily, but that we are of the mind that we already have those problems, and nothing about the War on (some kinds of) Drugs has made them go away. And there are additional problems that the WoD causes that we believe legalization would largely make go away. Our argument is, in a nutshell, that whatever we're spending now could be better spent in other ways, and on top of that, we'd reap some benefits immediately, in the areas of (1) reducing the ruining of people's lives with jail time and criminal records and (2) cutting down on opportunities for organized crime to generate revenue and accrue power.

I don't totally agree with your analysis here with regard to all the arguments made, but on the whole I agree with you and these certainly aren't the kinds of arguments that I would call "fundamentalist," in that they take seriously the concerns that others have raised, even if I think in some cases the conclusions they come to are more questionable or even unlikely. I tried to explain this distinction in my original post (perhaps badly) and I further made that point to Wonderment when I commented positively about his suggestion to look at evidence from other countries.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 12:40 PM
I addressed the "burden of proof" argument already. I will note further that I think your description of my initial position was inaccurate -- I wasn't arguing for a different burden of proof, but saying that the addition of claims about a non-existent burden of proof in arguments like this one seems unjustified to me. I'm not saying that my position (which also is that the law should be changed -- indeed, I think my position and yours are pretty much the same based on what's been expressed here) gets some burden of proof advantage. It would be as foolish for me to claim that as I think it is for anyone else to do so. Basically, burden of proof is relevant if we agree on some application of it (which would have to be understood in advance, not just asserted as a "rule" or reason to claim victory) or if we are talking about a situation (a legal question, perhaps) in which there actually is such a burden.

My point about it pragmatically being on the one who is trying to change the law was just that, a point about the reality of trying to convince people to make a change. More generally, the "burden" is on whoever is trying to convince someone else to change their mind. In an internet argument, that's pretty much everyone, not just one side. (And in internet arguments the term gets used incorrectly all the time, since it refers to how you decide on an issue in the absence of evidence, not simply whose arguments overall must be stronger.)

In this regard, whether an existing law or proposed law is restricting women from voting, or the banning of kidnapping, gay marriage, masturbation, or some drug, the principle remains the same.

Just to get all technical about it, the parallel with women's suffrage in particular isn't a good one at all, since the issue there isn't that women are being precluded from exercising some freedom, but that a specific law discriminates between men and women -- it gives men a right that women don't have.

The "burden" there is based on the fact that we legally (and probably all of us here) would agree that there's so little likelihood to be a basis to distinguish between men and women with regard to legal rights and duties that any such distinction has to be justified -- heightened scrutiny.

The only distinction that has been brought up here is that it's wrong to treat meth users differently than those who drink alcohol, and clearly if we are going to talk about legal standards the distinction between meth and alcohol need not meet any particular standard at all; it gets no special scrutiny. (For the similar reasons, it's not a violation of rights to ban trans fats or foie gras or, however dumb we may think such laws are.)

The comparison I think you want to make is more like "we have to be able to justify the government not recognizing that we have a right to vote," but that doesn't fit into your "the government has a burden of showing that some interference with liberties is justified," since it's not so much about interference as that we think there is an affirmative right to vote, based on our system of government and constitution and state constitutions.

So ultimately, I don't think the comparison works.

I get that that issue aside the argument is basically a soft libertarian one -- that as a matter of principle the government shouldn't legislate on private matters absent a good reason,* but that's not really how it works legally, so again the assertion you made requires that we buy into your particular viewpoint on these issues. While lots of us probably do, the assertion about the burden of proof doesn't strengthen the argument or convince those who do not, as it's ultimately only your opinion, and that's what my initial point about thinking it was an odd argument that people seemed to place more stock in than deserved was intended to convey.

*The actual legal standard, of course, being that if the matter isn't a fundamental right the government (pragmatically) is going to pass the toothless review applicable (absent discrimination, as discussed above), and if it is a fundamental right it's much harder, but of course you aren't going to get agreement that drug use is a fundamental right and that does not seem to be your argument anyway.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 12:42 PM
Another general comment -- why I say that I don't see the point in arguing (or making assertions) about "burden of proof" is that they are just assertions.

That's true in many cases, sure. It's an overused rhetorical tactic, no doubt. However, I don't think that's the case here. And I don't agree with this:

There's no general agreement on your position here.

I strongly suspect most people participating in this thread agree at least to first order on the general principle that governments should not prohibit individuals from doing things unless there is some compelling reason, such as larger societal concerns about the consequences of a given action, that overrides the general right to be left alone. This is sort of the fundamental axiom of desiring to live in a non-totalitarian state.

I notice that despite your opening statement, you go on to insist who else should bear the burden of proof, which strikes as humorous. Nonetheless, I will acknowledge there is something to this ...

Well, realistically, then, in an argument about public policy, the burden of proof is on the person who wants to change the law.

... at least to the practical extent that we always have to overcome the human inertia of "because that's the way we've 'always' done it." I would invite you, however, to consider how many laws we have had in the past that sought to restrict (and often punish) people that we have since decided are better done away with. Let's not forget that the US was founded on the general principle of the right to be free from unwarranted government intrusion into one's private affairs, and that this still forms the starting point for our legal and justice system, at least on the good days.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 12:46 PM
We crossed. I think your points are all addressed in my latest to cragger.

Edit: Well, just because two of your points are especially irritating:

(1) I did not assert that the burden of proof was on anyone else except in a "if you want to prevail in your argument" kind of way. That goes to the merits of making such assertions as if it helped an argument; it is not an assertion that I'm really the one who benefits from the burden. (My position and cragger's are the same on the underlying drug law topic, at least based on the issues which he has posted about here, which makes this claim particularly bizarre.)

(2) You do not need to inform me that sometimes the law should change, as I obviously know that. It has nothing to do with the side point about the rhetorical tactic of asserting "burden of proof" in an internet argument. Moreover, I am not arguing in favor of the existing law not being changed. My point is simply that the issue here is convincing each other of the relative costs and benefits of particular proposed changes, and an assertion that those not [ed. to add missing "not"] wanting to get rid of the drug laws in their entirety have some artificial "burden of proof" that we must meet doesn't add to the argument.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 12:49 PM
For the record, I didn't call anyone a fundamentalist. I referred to a tone and position as fundamentalist, without saying I was referring to anyone here.

Distinction noted. I don't think it substantively changes the thrust of my previous (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=200330#post200330) response, though. However, it's a minor point, and the rest of your post alleviates my complaint to the extent that I don't feel the need to say anything more on this matter.

I do think PK's tone ...

I acknowledge that I did not have his contributions in mind when I wrote that response. I was thinking mostly of what Wonderment, cragger, and I had been saying.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 12:57 PM
We crossed. I think your points are all addressed in my latest to cragger.

Edit: Well, just because two of your points are especially irritating:

This seems to be getting more heated than I'm interested in pursuing, so I'll hold off on any responses, at least for a while.

popcorn_karate
03-09-2011, 01:21 PM
And for you, pk, I'm not ready to deploy the Armada yet, so, not as angry as you imagine me to be.

sweet!

Wonderment
03-09-2011, 02:07 PM
Similarly, then, if we determine that the usage rates for certain addictive and dangerous drugs is higher if we legalize them (and celebrate the sellers as Donald Trumps), then I don't think it's a sufficient answer to the concerns about the usage rate to say that people have the freedom not to become addicts or quit their addictions and they just need to learn how to deal.

But I'm not suggesting anything like that. I want to educate AGAINST drug use and treat addicts like we treat anorexics or cancer patients. I do think, however, that most people, in a legalized environment, would "just deal," as we do today in an easy-access but criminalized environment.


If you want a tangent on this (the libertarian view, I suppose) we can start one. So far, people had seemed to be focusing on the pragmatic issues at least.

No, I appreciate the libertarian argument on this and realize I have libertarian allies in the legalization movement, but it's not what motivates me. To give one quick example, I'm fine with laws that require motorcyclists to wear helmets. My "freedom" argument goes only as far as ending incarceration for drug possession offenses. People should not go to prison for getting high. I wouldn't carry that to a right to commercialize without the other arguments that suggest commercialization is the necessary alternative to war (on drugs) and mass consumption of blood psychotropics.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 02:16 PM
My "freedom" argument goes only as far as ending incarceration for drug possession offenses.

As to that point, you aren't arguing with me, although my reasoning here is pragmatic rather than rights based, so I suppose there's no need to go into the libertarian position, then.

Wonderment
03-09-2011, 02:24 PM
The link between the use of cocaine and other potent stimulants with violent behavior isn't so tenuous. One of the most interesting phenomenons to study has been the crack epidemic. I did my residency in psychiatry at the peak of the epidemic in NYC. Unforgettable experience. This article has a lot of pieces of information which could be expanded by doing more searches.

I have no expert knowledge on this, but I doubt if crack use can be blamed for most of the violence. Of course, violence -- including homicide -- surged during the crack epidemic, but most of it was from illegal crack trade, not use per se. I do concede that people who are high on alcohol or stimulants like coke and meth are more likely to be violent than non-users.

A lot has been written about crack babies, some of it controversial (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27coca.html). Another similar problem is fetal alcohol syndrome. And then there are HIV babies. These are medical issues that need to be addressed in a legalization environment.

If you bring up crack, however, it raises the question of why it's no longer a huge problem. What happened to the epidemic? Did we succeed in stigmatizing crack as a low-life loser drug that will ruin your life? I hope so.

cragger
03-09-2011, 03:00 PM
Responding line by line would get repetitive, but you are in general arguing against a position I haven't taken. Individual rights and freedoms as I veiw them are subject to limitation when they impact others. From J.S Mill:

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise.

So my right to fire a gun does not supercede your right not to have bullets smack into your home. I also think the mantle of libertarianism is widely and seriously abused explicitly to attempt to justify persuit of self interest at the expense of others. The claim that environmental regulations, such as restrictions on disposal of toxics is an unwarranted infringement of freedom is absurd and disingenuous in my view, for example. Such things clearly invoke the "harm to others" justification. I think the burden of proof should be on someone who wants to dump something into a waterway to show that the substances are absolutely benign, rather than as is often the existing case in which victims must try to prove after the fact that their harm came from the dumping for example, and I don't think this is inconsistent with the above Millsian view on freedom and justifications for infringing upon it.

I do think though that we need to be pretty careful about the "harm to others" concept. Harm can be obvious and direct, as in assault. A specific issue might however involve the question of increased potential for harm. I'll avoid the obvious hot button issue of gun ownership since there are some other easy examples here. We find owner-operated cars very convenient, but driving a car clearly involves considerable potential risk to others. So for that matter do things like recreational flying, for which there is certainly a much weaker utility argument to be made in a cost/benefit consideration. I don't want to get into an argument over whether we should allow gun ownership, or to make the claim that because society allows X we should therefore allow Y. But these are only the first examples to come to mind as I type, and I hope illustrate my point that we probably don't want to automatically ban any activity that might increase the potential for harm to others. I think it is an important consideration, and one inconsistently applied, but one that probably needs to be carefully examined on a case by case basis rather than offering a blanket yes or no.

Harm to others can come about in other ways as well. Obesity arguably negatively impacts our society as a whole, increases costs from a burdened medical system and reduces productivity. Engaging in physically risky sports can similarly burden the medical system and might involve risk to others, such as other users of a ski slope or the folks who go out to search for lost hikers. There is a degree of harm to others if someone is injured engaging in some activity and is unable to work temporarily or otherwise, perhaps depriving their family of income and support and causing emotional distress as well as having more diffuse effects through lowering the tax base and so on. To be more extreme, we could argue that anyone who isn't achieving at their full potential is depriving society of benefits that would accrue. Here too, I think careful consideration is needed regarding harm or potential harm and in many cases I will likely think there isn't sufficient warrant to restrict individual choice and freedom. In others, I might.

All of which is probably far more rambling about this than you were ever interested in, and I'll avoid belaboring further Mill's point about individuals persuing behavior that may be harmful to themselves and how we should respond to that. Small mercies eh?

When you point out crime statistics correlated to increased crack use in NY, I think we need to be careful again. We need to figure out how much of this is related to the drug, and how much to our drug policy. That is, if rival gangs are shooting it out over sales turf, or users comitting crimes to get money to pay for drugs whose price is jacked up because they are illegal then we need to consider that this is far more dependant on the policy and the illegal money flow it creates than is truly related to use of the drugs. In the specific cases you have mostly talked about regarding various stimulants I think that there is a good point that some of this violence is related to the use of substances that tend to promote agressive behavior. As a somewhat digressive aside, I wonder to what extent this was at play in the several videos I have seen of US pilots killing civilians and friendly troops in Iraq since the military tends to strongly promote the use of "go pills" specifically because amphetamines increase both alertness and agression. In any case, there is good reason that the billboards scattered around don't say "take lots of meth kids - it improves your judgement".

So for the specific case of stimulants there seems to be a definite case for the increased potential for harm to others, although indirectly. That is, someone using them doesn't in and of itself cause potential harm as would someone shooting off a gun downtown. Stimulant use increases the potential that the user will act in a way that causes harm. If we tease out this, and consider as well the harm that comes with various policies we might adapt such as the effects Wonderment notes from our current policy, then we can look at this specific issue both from the costs/benefits as a whole, and from a question as to how the potential harm should be ligitimately treated from a (or my) philosophical view. The obvious difficulty is that people being what we are, it's hard to avoid engaging an issue that includes any degree of "greyness" without succumbing to the tendency to try to justify our initial emotional responses.

All of which is a very long winded attempt to say that I agree with you that individual freedoms must sometimes be justifiably restricted, we must consider harm to others when deciding whether to prohibit something, and that it might not be a clear and simple thing. And although I think the burden of justification is upon those who enact or maintain such restrictions, I'd rather not be lumped with those whose arguments on this board I'll caricature here as being "any attempt to restrict me from screwing over other people is an assault on my freedom to own the entire planet". I'd blame the length and meandering along the way on having had an atypical second cup of coffee but I'm afraid I'd have to duck and cover at the response.

cragger
03-09-2011, 03:33 PM
The interpretation contained in your post is correct. We've been largely talking about two different things. I'm not arguing that our courts or legislative bodies should be expected to act in such a way due to an existing legal standard, or that as a practical matter our political system can be expected to be directed by the principle I articulated. I am making a normative argument as to how I think a legimate system should work, for which the voting sample suffices, given an acceptance of certain democratic principles as normative bases for government that weren't elaborated in that post.

And no, I've no illusion that anybody in particular who disagrees as to the result this might lead to in any given case gives a crap what I think. I believe that the argument often follows the desired result, rather than the other way around.

Sorry for the rather clipped response but I'm just headed out the door.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 04:27 PM
We've been largely talking about two different things.

Not to be overly argumentative about a somewhat unimportant side point here (but I am anyway!), but I don't think so. I assumed the reference to "burden of proof" was a burden being asserted for the purpose of the argument, and not some legal burden (which would make no sense in context). My point was simply that in the absence of some external burden or a pre-existing or easy agreement on what the burden is, it simply makes no sense and adds nothing to the argument to assert that you have some "burden of proof" advantage that means it's on your opponent to convince you that your position is wrong. Basically, the only "burden of proof" in such circumstances is on the person trying to convince the others, so it has no real meaning. (We are all presumably trying to convince each other.)

True, if you can convince your opponent to frame the question such that your position will be conceded as correct unless certain conditions are met, that would be a helpful way of framing the argument. This is essentially the point that has been made in claiming that the burden of proof in question is one that the people arguing here are likely to agree with. But even if that were so (and I think the "rule" is stated too imprecisely for me to agree), you can't do this just by asserting that the other has the burden of proof. Moreover, in a situation like the existing one, where we are all basing our opinions on an analysis of incomplete evidence and just coming to different views on what that evidence says "burden of proof" is irrelevant anyway. I think my position is more likely than not to be true, which is why it's mine. Wonderment thinks his is more likely than not, and so on.

Like I said, I know I'm going on about this way more than I should be. It's just something I see it all the time in internet arguments, and it's a pet peeve. I brought in how the burden actually works in Constitutional issues only because libertarian-types sometimes do try to assert that the particular assumed burden you referenced is a real one that applies to the constitutionally of laws, and that's not true.

popcorn_karate
03-09-2011, 05:00 PM
...

no apologies, that was a great post.

Ocean
03-09-2011, 06:40 PM
I have no expert knowledge on this, but I doubt if crack use can be blamed for most of the violence. Of course, violence -- including homicide -- surged during the crack epidemic, but most of it was from illegal crack trade, not use per se. I do concede that people who are high on alcohol or stimulants like coke and meth are more likely to be violent than non-users.

Since I would imagine that the criminality associated with illegal trade may be similar with any of the drugs, and we know that crack made people paranoid and violent rather frequently, I would imagine that the excess (relative to other illegal drugs) rates of violence are likely to be due to the direct effects of the drug.

A lot has been written about crack babies, some of it controversial (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27coca.html). Another similar problem is fetal alcohol syndrome. And then there are HIV babies. These are medical issues that need to be addressed in a legalization environment.

Although there's many conditions that can be identified as problematic, the case that I brought up (crack babies) is particularly worrisome because of the highly addictive quality of cocaine. Women who became addicted couldn't stop in spite of being pregnant.

If you bring up crack, however, it raises the question of why it's no longer a huge problem. What happened to the epidemic? Did we succeed in stigmatizing crack as a low-life loser drug that will ruin your life? I hope so.

I can only share some anecdotal evidence. The effects of crack were so catastrophic that a lot of people started to see it for what it is, "poison". So,yes, it became stigmatized to some degree. I still see patients who smoke crack or freebase, depending of what neighborhood they come from.

Ocean
03-09-2011, 07:24 PM
All of which is a very long winded attempt to say that I agree with you that individual freedoms must sometimes be justifiably restricted, we must consider harm to others when deciding whether to prohibit something, and that it might not be a clear and simple thing. And although I think the burden of justification is upon those who enact or maintain such restrictions, I'd rather not be lumped with those whose arguments on this board I'll caricature here as being "any attempt to restrict me from screwing over other people is an assault on my freedom to own the entire planet". I'd blame the length and meandering along the way on having had an atypical second cup of coffee but I'm afraid I'd have to duck and cover at the response.

I agree that responding line by line has a practical use, but after a while, summarizing may be a more effective way of communicating.

This is the first couple of paragraphs from my initial comment in this thread:


Some drugs are really poisonous. They are toxic in ways that are beyond what can reasonably be allowed to be legal. So, just as a starter, from a health and societal perspective, I wouldn't say that all and any drugs should be legalized. Among the common ones, cocaine and crystal meth (http://methstop.org/images/endstage1.jpg) come to mind, but there's many others including many of the "designer" drugs that are circulating among young people and frying their brains. I don't think that as a society we can allow these poisons to be freely available and then look the other way and keep our fingers crossed.

Some other drugs are not as horrific and may be considered for legalization if there was any benefit to society by doing so.


I think that it's fair to say that our respective arguments seem to be close enough in principle. Perhaps the emphasis in yours is that of individual freedoms and in mine "benefit to society". That's probably coming from different formative (philosophical) backgrounds.

A key aspect in this topic may be showing credible, solid data about the effects on criminal activity and overall deaths with different levels of decriminalization/legalization. I would be interested in knowing how the use of legalized substances could be regulated.

Uhurusasa
03-10-2011, 02:23 PM
when was the last time, that you have heard of some rich folks, blowing themselves up, trying to make some speed(methamphetamine, crank, ice)!!! they head to the pharmacy for their amphetamine!!

the war on drugs is a war on poor folks and common-sense!


legal or other-wise:

most people abuse "uppers", so that they can abuse "downers", or
they abuse "downers", so that can abuse "uppers"!

some people use "uppers" or "downers" outside of the abuse cycle!

use is not abuse, contrary to popular opinion!!! imho!!!

what is easily misunderstood (or esoteric) is frequently sold to the public as pabulum(or wars on this, that, and the other)!!

the need to punish those who don't share our values, and then feel guilty for the punishment, is curious!?? the puritanical spirit prevails!!! i guess,it's too hard, to live, and let live!!!

P.S. stimulation("up")and depression("down") of the central nervous system is the great mystery of "getting high", that our world is so excited about. alcohol("downer")is the big player in the scheme of stimulant abuse! if you can't balance your system through diet, exercise, etc., head for the medicine cabinet???? people claim to love modern medicine, yet hate DRUGS!! hmmmm!!!! the pot(no pun intended) is calling the kettle black!! GOD_DAMN all the PUSHERS!! and leave my nervous system alone!!

poor people do on street corners, what middle-class and rich folk, do behind closed doors!

out-law caffeine, and soon people will be shooting one another over no-doze. the DEA will be arranging for meetings with juan valdez, in some dark alley somewhere, to sell bags of mountain grown colombian coffee beans! maybe the kennedy's could arrange elite home delivery service of gourmet blends!

huge fortunes are being made through the prohibition of plants or the derivatives of plants, that grow from the soil.

it's a game people!!

"the patterned deviation from norms", just means, that people are going to do what they want to "before and after they go to church".

OCD,OCD(obsessive/compulsive disorder) is the issue!! chasing symptoms is a major form of OCD!!!!

sugar, yeast and whatever equals alcohol, pretty much!!!

all this talk, reminds me of one of Clint Eastwood's favorite expressions, JAMF??

LET MY PEOPLE GO!!!!!

Don Zeko
03-10-2011, 04:44 PM
when was the last time, that you have heard of some rich folks, blowing themselves up, trying to make some speed!!! they head for the pharmacy!!

the war on drugs is a war on poor folks and common-sense!






huge fortunes are being made through the prohibition of plants or the derivatives of plants, that grow from the soil.

it's a game people!!

"the patterned deviation from norms", just means, that people are going to do what they want to "before and after they go to church".

OCD,OCD(obsessive/compulsive disorder) is the issue!! chasing symptoms is a major form of OCD!!!!

sugar, yeast and whatever equals alcohol, pretty much!!!

all this talk, reminds me of one of Clint Eastwood's favorite expressions, JAMF??

LET MY PEOPLE GO!!!!!

Your writing style suggests that you have a very personal stake in drug legalization.

Ocean
03-10-2011, 06:00 PM
Your writing style suggests that you have a very personal stake in drug legalization.

Or he/she is in serious need of one. ;)

operative
03-10-2011, 06:07 PM
Wow, I'm late in the game on this one, but I'm for decriminalizing marijuana, and likely moving onto a few other currently illicit narcotics, too. It's been done elsewhere and there have not been adverse effects. It'd also have some benefits of hurting the drug smuggling gangs around the border, and being a stabilizing force on inner city neighborhoods (maybe even the rural meth dealers too).

Uhurusasa
03-12-2011, 08:49 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Zeko
Your writing style suggests that you have a very personal stake in drug legalization.



Or he/she is in serious need of one. ;)


i think i said something, that you two didn't want to hear!!! and i think that you heard me!!! mission accomplished!!!!!!!

Ocean
03-12-2011, 09:12 AM
i think i said something, that you two didn't want to hear!!! and i think that you heard me!!! mission accomplished!!!!!!!

It was just a joke. I can't even say whether I liked what you said or not because I don't think I understood it.

Uhurusasa
03-22-2011, 02:13 PM
It was just a joke. I can't even say whether I liked what you said or not because I don't think I understood it.

i am really concerned about the humor of some puritanical sado-masochistic 21th century voodoo doctor, stepping lightly over the bodies of the dead and dying from this prohibition, as he(she) makes his(her) way to the clinic to apply bandages and band-aids to the walking wounded? i hope my words are simple enough for you to understand. and i donít care what you think about my tone or my style.

Ocean
03-22-2011, 07:26 PM
i am really concerned about the humor of some puritanical sado-masochistic 21th century voodoo doctor, stepping lightly over the bodies of the dead and dying from this prohibition, as he makes his way to the clinic to apply bandages and band-aids to the walking wounded? i hope my words are simple enough for you to understand. and i donít care what you think about my tone or my style.


I still have no idea what you're talking about, but it really doesn't matter.

stephanie
03-23-2011, 01:40 PM
I still have no idea what you're talking about, but it really doesn't matter.

Yeah, I really wouldn't worry about it.