Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Legalize Drugs? What are You Smoking?

When private behavior costs fellow citizens money, it is no longer a matter of personal sovereignty

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson wants to end the war on drugs, but his plan merely declares a truce in one battle zone of a muli-front war. He proposes to legalize pot, but the bold talk dissolves into wishy-washy vagueness as he addresses harder drugs, saying over-simply that hard drug use should be treated as a health issue.

Half-Baked Hash Brownies

Does he realize that the rampant criminality and drug gang wars are driven by other drugs besides marijuana, like cocaine, meth and heroin? What about those? Legalize only pot, and all the criminal pathologies he lists will shift away from marijuana and converge upon the remaining illegal substances. The criminality and societal damage will not go away just because you reclassify illicit drug use as a "public health issue,"

So unless he proposes we stand aside and quit trying to stanch the torrent of drugs entering our country, he won't really end the "drug war" at all; he's just using leftwing rhetoric to make dope smokers happy and get their votes, if they can remember to go vote on election day.

Legalization will not eliminate criminality

Even if we decriminalized all drug use, meth heads and other shiftless dopers will still commit crimes to pay for their habits. Also, decriminalizing something doesn't magically make any trouble around it go away. People do violence over legal items all the time, from sneakers and XBoxes to carjackings.  Moreso over addictive substances.

Legalization will not necessarily prevent a black market. Taxation and regulation could raise the price so high that a black market could be lucrative. Also, gangs could still war with one another over who provides raw material and finished products to legalized American manufacturers.

Can we live with the libertarian consequences?

If you want libertarian laws, you've got to be prepared to live with the with libertarian consequences. Do you really want to pay unemployable dopers to sit at home and use drugs? When a father breadwinner cracks himself out, do you want to foot the bill to save the kids from living on the street after the house is repossessed?

The only way drug legalization works is if we first eliminate the welfare state, and good luck with that...

In fact, Johnson wants us to pay for dopers' rehab as part of his treating it as a health issue.  This is as wrong as wrong can be.  He is incentivizing drug use.  To implement this in a truly libertarian way, there would be no taxpayer money to drug users.  

Hayek points out in Chapter 9 (Coercion and the State) of The Constitution of Liberty, that the state is right in restricting human activity where there is a collective responsibility.  Welfare is a collective responsibility.  A person blowing the top of her head off with drugs and rendering herself unemployable and an unfit mother places a burden on the rest of us.  And not an elective moral burden, but an involuntary, mandatory one, as the state takes money from us to take care of this drug user and her children.

Taking libertarianism to its logical end...

If man is free to smoke dope, why isn’t he free to drop acid, smoke crack cocaine or use meth? Why isn’t man free to cook his own meth?  Why can't two people engage in the free exchange of drugs for money?  If Gary Johnson wants to run as a Libertarian, how can he countenance restricting this private behavior?  Why does he stop at marijuana?

Why does Johnson and other libertarians suggest libertarian laws, but then backstop them with confiscatory progressive statism? 

61 comments:

Always On Watch said...

Johnson wants us to pay for dopers' rehab as part of his treating it as a health issue. This is as wrong as wrong can be.

In my view, calling addiction an illness has been a serious error.

Sure, brain changes have occurred. But calling addiction an illness has resulted in a proliferation of expensive treatment programs, many of which can hardly be called successes as an excuse for relapse is built in: "I have a disease!"

Not to mention all the law enforcement agencies involved!

Now, I've known a few addicts who have quit using. Not a one of those got rehab. Rather, each one realized, finally, what addiction was doing to their families.

In truth, most addicts whom I personally know didn't quit. They died. Or, in a very few cases, have managed to curb illicit drug use to occasional recreational use.

On the other side of this issue, we all know that Prohibition was a consummate failure, too.

If Gary Johnson wants to run as a Libertarian, how can he countenance restricting this private behavior? Why does he stop at marijuana?

He's being inconsistent.

Nothing on the face of this earth is harmless if overused. And addiction, by definition, entails overuse the vast, vast majority of the time.

I don't know what the answer is, really. As far as I can tell, we are losing the so-called war on drugs. But is legalization really the answer?

Always On Watch said...

Another thought....Perhaps private rehab, unpaid by health insurance and the government, is a better tactic in the war on drugs.

People do better when they have to pay for their actions.

I say this as one who "graduated" from Diet Center, an expensive program. Shelling out all that money gave me motivation.

jez said...

Do you endorse legalization of all drugs?
I think I do. But tax and regulate them, please, as we currently do for alcohol and tobacco. You can render yourself unemployable with those, too, but at least duty collected on them pays for the health problems they contribute to.
And I'd much rather that idiot coke-users wasted their money on responsibly sourced cocaine instead of funding a civil war. That ethical clout of that pretty much overwhelms the domestic health and welfare issues, for me. (aside from which, I don't think that legal status directly affects takeup).

Surprisingly, drugs don't get much more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol (tobacco is among the easiest addiction to acquire, and alcohol is about the hardest to overcome once acquired), yet they are less associated with criminality than smack and meth. Why is this?

I reckon everyone who wants to use drugs already does. Do you imagine you'd be paying for more cracked-out fathers' kids if it were made legal than you already do?

I can't condone the wholesale dismantling of the welfare state: I don't care how libertarian you are, can you begrudge children taken into care? Do you really consider the prospect of separation from your kids an incentive to shoot up and drop out? I can't quite see it that way.

Silverfiddle said...

Jez and AOW: Great points all.

Freedom means freedom to fail. Our government's corporate welfare system brought about our financial crises, and progressive policies create the same moral hazards in our personal lives.

Johnson makes a libertarian argument, but it is inconsistent and he is relying on progressive statist policies to implement it.

Bunkerville said...

I think there is a huge difference between grass and the harder drugs. I see little difference between it and a few drinks. We tried to outlaw alcohol, and we know what happened. There will be abusers of this substance no different than alcohol. Just an opinion from someone who somehow survived the "Sixties"

Silverfiddle said...

Bunker: I agree with you. Johnson is being tendentious by proposing to decriminalize marijuana and then declaring that an end to the drug war. It clearly is not.

Rob said...

Like Jez, I'm in support of legalization of all drugs - and then tax the ever-loving snot outta them just like tobacco! I have no desire to use drugs - nor would I want my family to do so either - but why should I care - or have any right to prevent - you from doing so?

Perhaps it's high time (no pun intended) that we stop trying to legislate morality. If we're ok with people drinking themselves into oblivion with tequila, why shouldn't we be willing to be equally passive about cocaine?

And I sure do like the idea that American farmers might be able to grow some crops that would make money even without governmental subsidy prop-ups.

But, to jump to the other side of this issue, if we're gonna continue demonizing chemicals, then by golly, Coors Light is just a f-ing evil as pot. (And the rednecks who get wasted on cheap beer are exponentially nastier than anyone I've ever seen high!)

Seems awfully hypocritical that it is not only acceptable, but socially encouraged to treat tobacco smokers like lepers yet we take no issue whatever with boozehounds. Last I checked, ever bar has a parking lot, so drunkards are more of a threat to my family than smokers.

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, you are such a Daddy State conservative.

I know first-hand the seedy underbelly of the American drug culture and it's underground economy.

First, take violent crime related to drugs.

Much of the non-domestic violent crime related to drugs is motivated by the very criminality of those drug trades. You are far more likely to shoot someone who you think may land you in prison for a decade than you would someone who may only get you fined, or bring you no legal consequence at all. As well, most of the overhead in the price of drugs comes from, again, their very illegality, and so as such you are far more likely to shoot someone over a hundred thousand dollars than you are over ten thousand dollars.

Then there are the social consequences of the drug war itself. How are you helping anything by making the lives of miserable people more miserable? We know that American prisons (a shame of our nation) are simply schools of further criminality. And while most convicted drug offenders are non-violent, they are then exposed to the extreme violence of our disgusting and embarrassing prison system, making them more prone to violence in the future. We are taking a bad situation and making it far, far worse.

Then there's the international effects - the narco-terrorist international crime syndicates that thrive on our stupid drug war. Many American soldiers have been murdered by these thugs, funded by American drug-use dollars. It is suicide by proxy.

Finally, what has the drug war accomplished? Nothing. Drug use continues as always, our prison industrial complex and police state have grown exponentially, we incarcerate more people than any other nation, and we have created a permanent underclass of millions of ex-cons.

The drug war is a disaster and it's supporters are seriously deluded and hypocritical people. How can you denounce "big government" and yet have it dictate our purely personal lives? How can you claim to "support the troops" knowing that the drug war is indirectly but definitely funding their attackers? How can you claim there should be no "special class" of of one criminal or another and yet single out crimes committed by drug users as somehow different?

There is no justification for the drug war, other than just another race-class war by those who believe they are superior to everyone else. Supporters of the drug war - you are pathetic.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

No, Jersey, you are pathetic because you are not even arguing against the point I am making.

What is your position? Decriminalize all drugs? Clearly state what your position is, then we can talk.

Leticia said...

I believe it would be irresponsible and lethal to legalize drugs, especially, marijuana.

Marijuana is, in fact, a narcotic, tobacco is not. I also believe cigarette's should be outlawed as well. However, I digress.

I have known too many people hooked on dope that couldn't hold a steady job, dealt on the side and wound up getting into heavier and more dangerous drugs, to the point they were incarcerated, lost families, homes, everything. Nothing else mattered but getting high.

Is that what Johnson wants? People who abuse drugs legal or illegal, are changed, and hurt those around them.

I have personally been a witness to it. Children are hurt and neglected.

It's a mistake.

Rob said...

Leticia, there are plenty of people whose lives have been ruined by the corruptible influences of other, legal vices. Heck, there are even slackers too hooked on video games to hold a steady job or keep their marriages together yet we aren't about to outlaw Call of Duty 3.

We have no business legislating morality. If you don't like drugs - and I don't - then skip them. But why do you get to say that marijuana is illegal yet Crown Royal is not? Which causes more fatalities?

So, yes, I say we legalize drugs, tax the hell outta them, and funnel every single dime of that new revenue stream into preventative educational efforts. You can't stop people from harming themselves, but you can at least make sure they understand the risks that they're willingly taking.

Jersey McJones said...

My personal position is complicated. For instance, other than for marijuana, which I would legalize completely, I would like to decriminalize pretty much all drug use, as long as they are used in a way that does not harm others. For instance, smoking crack with a baby in the room should be grounds for having your child taken away and/or being charged with child endangerment. Driving on heroine should be considered just as bad or worse than drunk driving. Etc. As with other social sins of this nature, there must be rules.

As for trafficking illegal (remember I said decriminalize - not legalize) substances, as with anything else, that should remain illegal. But the consequences should be thought out logically, ethically, and mercifully. The vicious system we have now, with low level offenders turned to narcs turned to corpses, is highly immoral and destructive. Sales of classified substances that are not checked for safety should be subject to fines, just as we would fine someone for selling food without a permit.

As for international smugglers, they should be treated as we treat all smugglers.

Now, this all may seem a little convoluted to you, but it is actually pretty much what all "legalize" folks are saying. As well, of course we should look at drug abuse as a health issue. It is. Besides, we saw the terrible failure of Prohibition many years ago. It virtually single-handed created the American Mafia, as well as an entire class of otherwise law-abiding citizens reduced to the status of criminals.

The drug war is fuckin' stupid and so are it's proponents.

Don't be stupid, Silver. You're too smart for that.

JMJ

Country Thinker said...

Silver:

Thanks for a great post, even though I disagree with you. Like many issues, this is very complex, but three points need to be brought up.

1) Yes, gangs push other drugs than marijuana. But for many marijuana smokers, marijuana becaomes a "gateway drug" because they come in contact with the seedy underworld. That has happened to a few acquaintances of mine. Legalized marijuana will keep some away from the seedy underworld.

2) I am a practical libertarian. That means I want progress in the direction of individual liberty, but not so fast that it causes huge problems that derail the train moving in that direction. So I think starting with a relatively innocuous drug like marijuana is a step in the right direction. So I agree with Johnson that the other drugs should be illegal, but treatment for use and addiction should be part of our policy, instead of throwing them in jail.

3) On guy smokes a joint every night after work. His neighbor slugs down whiskey. Dopey stuffs his face with Cheetos. Drunky becomes unruly, argumentative, and gets into fights. Dopey goes to jail for his marijuana use. Drunky does not go to jail for his. This does not make sense to me!

Ducky's here said...

The right wing wants to hang on to the two typical attitudes toward any vice.

Expensive prohibition and punishment. My they love to put people away for nothing drug offenses. It's pleasing to God.

Then they spend billions on failed interdiction. But that boosts economic growth and creates jobs so they're cool with it. Doesn't stop the drug flow.

Legalize marijuana and start to decriminalize some others. Even if it breaks the hearts of the fringe right everywhere.

Come on righties, you never, ever, ever lit up a blunt? No wonder you're so sour.

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey and Country: I share your views on Marijuana, but legalizing it would not end the war on drugs. It's tendentious to say otherwise.

And Jersey, I'm tired of your moronic questions:

How can you denounce "big government" and yet have it dictate our purely personal lives?

Read the flippin' article!!!

Hayek points out in Chapter 9 (Coercion and the State) of The Constitution of Liberty, that the state is right in restricting human activity where there is a collective responsibility. Welfare is a collective responsibility. A person blowing the top of her head off with drugs and rendering herself unemployable and an unfit mother places a burden on the rest of us. And not an elective moral burden, but an involuntary, mandatory one, as the state takes money from us to take care of this drug user and her children.


If your action takes money out of my pocket, it is not a personal action, it is an action with material public consequences, hence my suggestion to de-link drug use and the welfare state, which I know will never happen.

So go snort ajax for all I care, just don't send the state to my door to shake me down because I need to take care of your kids because you fried your brains.

beamish said...

The only way drug legalization works is if we first eliminate the welfare state, and good luck with that...

This is pretty much the crux of my own arguments in favor of drug legalization.

Legalize drugs, and punish emergency overdose treatment center and drug rehabilitation facility staff members with the death penalty.

People should have an inalienable right to poison themselves to death in any manner they see fit.

;)

Silverfiddle said...

ST. LOUIS — A crude new method of making methamphetamine poses a risk even to Americans who never get anywhere near the drug: It is filling hospitals with thousands of uninsured burn patients requiring millions of dollars in advanced treatment - a burden so costly that it’s contributing to the closure of some burn units.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/23/meth-makers-fill-up-burn-hospitals/

Thousands of uninsured meth heads means you and I are paying those hospital bills.

Unless the Duckster and Joisey are footing the bill, I rest my case.

Silverfiddle said...

Here are the leftwing propaganda outlet links for the tunnel vision progressives...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46104151/ns/health-addictions/t/meth-fills-hospitals-burn-patients/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/shake-and-bake-meth_n_1224563.html

Burn experts agree the annual cost to taxpayers is well into the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars, although it is impossible to determine a more accurate number because so many meth users lie about the cause of their burns.

If those stupid people were burning their stupid asses up on their own dime, I wouldn't give a damn.

jez said...

If meth were licensed & regulated, dangerous backroom labs would be as rare as moonshine (illegal stills also have a habit of blowing up).

beamish said...

So-called "shake and bake" personally portable / volatilely explosive meth labs here in Missouri, particularly St. Louis and the bordering counties, is an epidemic of both how far a meth head will go to get his fix and just how much can slip through the State's fingers when it tries to tighten its grip on illegal methamphetamine production operations.

The good side is the heightened control and watchdog awareness over the sale of the ingredients needed to make meth has shut down major lab operations.

The bad side is that the hammer-down-from-heaven approach has created meth lab miniaturization. Now a meth head can cook up his own doses of meth up from volatile ingredients in a Gatorade bottle in traffic riding down the highway (with the risk of blowing himself up, but, that was always a risk when they were in major cooking operations blowing houses and neighborhoods up)

With marijuana, you have a plant that grows until it's harvested.

With meth, you have makeshift chemists taking odd and assorted legal chemicals and substances and mixing them together to make a drug.

With marijuana, you snatch a plant.

With meth, you try to restrict access to as many of the otherwise legal ingredients as you can.

If you see someone buying Sudafed or ephedrine pills, engine starting fluid / ether, coffee filters, lithium batteries, aluminum foil, ammonia, and Brillo pads, it's not bloody likely they're broke down on the side of the road with a head cold trying to get a flash light to work so they can scrub greasy pans and mop the floor while making coffee.

I have no idea how to crack down on meth while not interfering with the access to the legal use of legal ingredients involved in making it.

It's a HUGE problem here in the state of Misery, and elsewhere I'm sure.

beamish said...

And, if you're pulled over by the cops in St. Louis County with plates on your car registered from a bordering county, you are very much likely to have your car and person searched regardless of how well you know the Constitution.

This is a problem in its own right.

Silverfiddle said...

If meth were licensed & regulated, dangerous backroom labs would be as rare as moonshine (illegal stills also have a habit of blowing up).

Possibly, if it were cheaper to by the licensed meth than it were to cook it yourself, but Johnson is not talking about legalizing meth. My critique is of the article he wrote.

Ducky's here said...

Poor Silverfiddle, he has to pay taxes which go to social programs which might pay for rehab.

He and AOW would rather throw addicts in prison, it's cheaper.

Pretty silly, Silver, and you're giving jersey the tone?

Rob said...

I'm often pretty skeptical about the efficacy of rehabs in general and it's rare that I side with Ducky but I sorta do hafta on this.

What's the diff in being bled dry for taxes to support lifelong inmates rather than prop up social programs to (attempt to) rehab addicts? Either way you're supporting n-er-do-wells, but at least with the rehab approach there's some slim chance that the addict can pull him/herself outta the gutter and re-enter productive society. How much less likely is that to happen after a prison stint?

Jersey McJones said...

Silver,

Your ignorance of the drug culture in America is astounding. Do you think all drug users are losers? Dude, have you ever looked around you? All sorts of people take all sorts of drugs. It's not just some unique and signature lifestyle of the poor. Really, man. What do you think?

I laughingly doubt the overall cost-benefit of the drug war would would fall on the side of this stupid Drug War. I would be stunned to be informed that our entire ridiculous Drug War - the prisons, the cops, the courts, the rehabs, the programs, the pr, the foreign entanglements, the divisive damage to our culture - actually costs less than keeping up with sociopolitical consequences of drug use in the first place.

My argument is further and better made by the fact that after Prohibition, after a brief bump, alcohol consumption went down and leveled out to where it was in the first place and has pretty much always been. In other words - THE DRUG WAR IS USELESS. Unless, of course, you think everyone would suddenly be compelled to shoot smack because they can't go to prison for it anymore? Really???

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

Hey! We can drop the murder rate to zero by legalizing the killing of people who piss you off!

But seriously, Jersey and Ducky, who fancy yourselves to be serious, thinking men. Please step back, get out of attack mode, and consider the purpose of this article.

I am refuting Gary Johnson's article.

#1. Only decriminalizing marijuana and not all other drugs is not "ending the war on drugs." He's lying, unless he intends to allow drug in unhindered, but he doesn't say that so assume no.

#2. Not harming others is a bedrock libertarian principle. Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of your neighbor's nose.

Personal sovereignty ends at the boundary where you deprive others of life, liberty or property. Using the coercive power of the state to force others to pay for your habit is very un-libertarian.

I realize that it is run of the mill, and therefor not surprising, for progressives.

#3. A libertarian, if proposing legalization, should legalize all of it or he is being inconsistent.

#4. Decriminalization will not magically end all criminality surrounding drugs.

This is essentially an argument about libertarianism. We already knew liberals support the stupid proposition that people can screw off and get paid by the government with money confiscated from others.

Come back when you've got something new or interesting to say.

Finntann said...

I'm with Jersey and Ducky on one hand:

Decriminalize Drugs.

On the other hand, Degovernmentize Rehab.

Problem solved.

The government has no more legitimate right to tell someone what they can or can not put in their mouth/body than it does to take money from one person to pay for the rehabilitation of another.

That ought to P.O both sides ;)

So, how's that war on alcohol going?

Oh, yeah.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I love the way Jez is willing to embrace just about any perverse, dangerous and degrading practice as long as it is "taxed and regulated."

Liberals live for the STATE and the STATE alone.

The STATE becomes, mother, father, sister, brother, lover, husband, wife, caterer, janitor, nurse, doctor, gravedigger, undertaker.

STALIN by STARLIGHT

The song a liberal sings
Through years of endless springs --
The ripples by the lake at eventide --
The murmurs and the sighs
That two lovers hide --

A great Commnist Theme!
That's Stalin by Starlight.
My heart and I agree
The State is everything to me.


~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Once the "fruit" ceases to be forbidden it's bound to lose a helluva lot of its allure.

And then all those dealers and pushers will immediately be forced out of business once anyone can walk into any pharmacy or supermarket and procure "Self-Destructive Substances" as easily as they can purchase condoms, toothpaste, cleaning fluid or chicken parts.

As far as I'm concerned anyone who wants to throw his life away in exchange for a cheap thrill should be ENCOURAGED to do so.

We have too many worthless drones stumbling around holding up the wheels of Progress as it is.

LET 'EM DIE!

A Leaner Meaner Society is a Keener Cleaner Society.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

As far as "education" goes, remember this:

"You can lead a whore to culture, but you cannot make her think."

~ FT

Silverfiddle said...

@Finn: The government has no more legitimate right to tell someone what they can or can not put in their mouth/body than it does to take money from one person to pay for the rehabilitation of another.

Well stated.

Kid said...

A few thoughts....

- people who are going to do them will do so whether they are legal or not. And as Portugal proves (after they decriminalized all drugs), fewer will do them if they are at least decriminalized.

-I know a special forces guy from the 80's who worked the drug problem and said we could buy the drugs for the addicts and assign them chaperones for life and save Billions for all the money we spend on this nonsense.

-All drugs were legal as of the early 1900's. Times weren't great then either, no big problems. Some people died. See point one.

-I don't care about addicts. If they want to fill themselves up with drugs and die I don't care. Health care costs? Again, we would hospitalize them and still save Billions.

-All we have to lose by legalizing all drugs is to eliminate the criminal gang elements and all the related street crime and Mex border crime.

These is nothing not to like here.

-Take it a step further and task the drug manufacturers to come up with drugs that are just as much 'fun' but without the addiction or health risks. Seriously, who is going to do street drugs when you can get the good stuff in a state controlled retail outlet like any state controlled alcohol outlet? No-one. It's why the mexicans don't sell booze.


Yes, I know it will never happen. Along with a gazillion other things that make sense.

Jersey McJones said...

Silver,

You can deal with societies losers with apathy, or you can treat them with anger. You can enforce your way of thinking to the extent that others would allow, or you could set aside the others as they really don't have that much of a stake in it.

Drug use is ubiquitous, classless, and mostly harmless to society at large.

Most drugs have rather pleasant effects. That's the whole point.

And when it comes to bad effects, we're just as usual talking about legal drugs anyway. Heck, I live in Florida, the capital of pills. That's a problem we can do something about.

Oh, and NO "freedom of conscience" for doctors and pharmacists. We should never put sectarian Biblical philosophy ahead of the requirements of necessary public services, like the dispersion of controlled pharmaceuticals.

So, you see, we actually agree on a lot, but we do disagree on a couple of heady philosophical points.

JMJ

Anonymous said...

I'm glad both of you agree with me.

LET 'EM DIE -- preferably in the STREETS.

If that doesn't wake them up to the error of their ways no damned gubmint program ever would.

By the way the laws against polygamy and polyandry should be repealed.

If you want to marry your dog, well GO AHEAD. Who am I to stop you?

And who the hell are we to tell fathers not to sleep with their daughters -- or their sons either for that matter? And if teachers are able to attract a whole harem of student mistresses, why should WE try to stop them?

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking
Now Heaven knows -- ANYTHING GOES!

Good authors too who once knew better
Now use only four-letter words
Writing prose -- ANYTHING GOES!

The world's gone mad today
Good's bad today
Black's white today
Day's night today
Most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigilos.

So though I'm not a great romancer
I know what you're bound to answer
When I propose -- ANYTHING GOES!


Ah Wilderness!

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

~ FreeThinke

Rob said...

FreeThinkie, I like to call that "Chlorine for the gene pool." Right, let's give people the chance to not destroy themselves, but if they're determined to do it, step out of the way.

Again, my family (and society in general) has more to fear from the boozehound driving home from the bar - and all bars have parking lots - than they do from stoners or nose candy ninnies.

Silverfiddle said...

Actually Jersey, we agree on very little. And this is an ignorant statement:

Drug use is ...mostly harmless to society at large.

http://www.policyalmanac.org/crime/archive/drug_related_crime.shtml

And I also disagree on your "conscience clause." Telling a pharmacist how to run his business is a fundamental violation of his personal rights. Typical attitude from a statist...

Anonymous said...

A SAD NOTE:

Z's great friend at GeeeeeZ -- Pris, whom some of you may know -- has just lost her husband of 50 years after struggling to survive a cardiovascular incident that suddenly occurred a short time ago without warning.

If Z reads this post, I'd appreciate very much her extending my condolences to Pris.

There can be nothing harder to bear than losing one's spouse.

"Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can't remove."

I hope that's true.

~ FreeThinke

Z said...

FT, I will copy this and get it to her. Thanks very much.

jez said...

Free thinke, yes. The practice is dangerous, so tax & regulate to handle the public costs. This is a less egregious assault on liberty than legislating against the activity. Legislation is a last resort, not a first one, yay freedom.

Silver I think I disagree about criminality around the business. Legalise it and I predict much of the violence, theft etc will disappear. I note again that few smokers steal to support their habit, why? No gang violence around scotch distilleries, how come?

jez said...

"Telling a pharmacist how to run his business is a fundamental violation of his personal rights."

I have no problem with health care professionals, including pharmicists, being bound by a hippocratic oath.

Silverfiddle said...

Jez: As you know, I am for freedom and less laws. I am pushing against a libertarian backstopped by progressivism. Unfortunately on one of my libertarian blogger buddies showed up.

I think we all agree, health affects aside, that legalizing pot and treating it like booze would be fairly innocuous.

There are, however some serious pathologies swirling around the harder drugs. Keep them illegal, and you really haven't ended the war on drugs.

Legalize them, when coupled with the welfare state, and you really are providing state-sponsored life-wrecking.

Finally, I'll restate the my libertarian-centered point: If your behavior causes material harm to others, it is not a behavior that is subject solely to private sovereignty; it is behavior in the public sphere and therefor subject to state attention and regulation.

jez said...

"Legalize them, when coupled with the welfare state, and you really are providing state-sponsored life-wrecking."

If by this you mean that the state is tacitly approving or encouraging eg. meth uptake, then I disagree. These days, tobacco is legal but absolutely not encouraged, and takeup is falling.

Also, Free Thinke is briefly right (stop the clocks) when he says "Once the "fruit" ceases to be forbidden it's bound to lose a helluva lot of its allure."

The idea I'm putting across is that maybe this legalised approach would cost less than the war on terror, and have a better outcome (ie. less drug use, less criminality & destitution resulting from drug use).

This is different from your idea which is a philosophically pure libertarianism requires that we don't help anyone who gets into trouble and we throw their helpless children on a fire rather than endure any tax beyond that required for national defence. (I exaggerating, I hope). I don't care that much about pure ideology. I don't need to let users cook up their own meth in dangerous equipment; I'm all about a reliable, taxed supply of drugs that doesn't fund terrorism and civil war. That's my main objective, compared to which philosophically pure ideas about liberty don't seem to matter.

Always On Watch said...

Duck,
AOW would rather throw addicts in prison...

I never said anything about jail time. Instead, I emphasized a mistake that I see: the disease label.

As for expense, all the treat-your-addiction-instead-of-going-to-jail programs are expensive in that probation officers run them with frequent laboratory involvement. Furthermore, the health-insurance-covered programs cost something as well.

In fact, in my limited experience and observation, I've never known a single addict to anything to quit because he/she went to jail. It seems to me that true rehab is self-motivated and can take several different paths.

Rob said...

"I think we all agree, health affects aside, that legalizing pot and treating it like booze would be fairly innocuous."

So there's the rub. There would seem to be a majority of us who believe this, yet we still can't make it happen. Yup, I'm feeling the value of my vote all right.

I kinda like the idea of commercially-synthesized and marketed meth if for no other reason than it'd give all of the out-of-work chemical engineers something to do when the oil economy in our region goes bust again. ;)

Always On Watch said...

Silverfiddle,
So go snort ajax for all I care, just don't send the state to my door to shake me down because I need to take care of your kids because you fried your brains.

I strongly agree with that statement!

How much is drug addiction costing those of us who are not involved in that addiction?

Always On Watch said...

FT,
Once the "fruit" ceases to be forbidden it's bound to lose a helluva lot of its allure.

And then all those dealers and pushers will immediately be forced out of business once anyone can walk into any pharmacy or supermarket and procure "Self-Destructive Substances" as easily as they can purchase condoms, toothpaste, cleaning fluid or chicken parts.


I see those as valid points, too.

jez said...

Yes free thinke is right there as well. See, I don't think that the drug market is all that strong really. Remove it from its protected criminal niche and how much money is it really worth? Sure, underground it can make a lot of money for a few people: pay no tax, pay the gang foot soldiers less than minimum wage, no quality control, rip off your customers. Any industry so privileged would do well compared to legitimate, regulated commerce.

Meanwhile, what would happen to the existing legal drugs? Who'd bother smoking tobacco (pointlessly addictive, doesn't even get you high) when you can legitimately get hold of pot? Maybe people would switch from coffee (not as innocuous as you might think) to cocaine tea (unlike insufflated cocaine salts, a quite reasonable stimulant).
There could actually be health benefits from changed behavior. Finally, the market could decide which drugs are acceptable, rather than the historical accident we are currently stuck with.

Anonymous said...

Just one DEADLY SERIOUS additional note:

Habitual pot smoking is -- along with tobacco -- puts the addict on the express route to BLADDER CANCER.

I know whereof I speak.

Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio to the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years --
bitter, contested farthings --
And coffers heaped with tears.


~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

The Belle of Amherst knew one helluva lot about life for someone who spent her entire adult existence as a sheltered recluse, didn't she?

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

@ Jez: ... a philosophically pure libertarianism requires that we don't help anyone who gets into trouble and we throw their helpless children on a fire...

:) That is why I enjoy debating you, Jez.

Anonymous said...

All drug addicts dependent in the state should undergo mandatory STERILIZATION by the state.

Anyone who disagrees is, of course, an imbecile ;-)

~ FreeThinke

jez said...

I can't decide whether you're precedes SF. Sorry if yoy don't like the exaggeration, but you have come out in favour of witholding welfare from addicts' children right?

Silverfiddle said...

No, I love the exaggeration! That's why I put the smiley face there.

I am making the philosophical point that you've already said you are not interested in: If your personal behavior costs others money (that is confiscated by the state) then it is no longer an issue of pure personal liberty. Rather, your behavior is subject to public debate and a public vote. This is a legitimate arena for the state.

Those who want to legalize drugs are supporting privatized pleasure and socialized costs. Very unlibertarian, and very nonsensical.

That is called moral hazard, and it's why our economy is now in tatters.

Kid said...

Silver, How much are we spending on it now. Remember to add in all the associated criminal/prison/police/dea, and innocent people being mugged for drug money costs. Just to mention the top of the line stuff.

Versus what we'd spend to take care of a dwindling number of drug abusers if it were legal.

Respecfully, but very seriously.

Kid said...

Silver, I can't give you a number. I doubt anyone could, but I'll bet next year's pay the amount of money spent on the 'war on drugs' is a Mind Bending number when all relative factors are added in.

Ghettos? Let's stop paying career baby making women to pop them out like pieces of toast into these drug infested zero opportunity environments and start putting Them in jail instead - for child abuse.

Silverfiddle said...

Kid: I am open to that argument, but I am waiting for someone to present an actual cost comparison. Until then, we don't know how much the savings would be, or even if there would be any savings.

And as I mention, legalizing it could reduce crime, but it will not zero out all drug-related criminality.

No offense, but I am amazed that so many of my fellow Right Blogistanis treat this issue so cavalierly, and do not even consider my personal sphere-public sphere argument.

Kid said...

Silver, I respect that opinion. it's a tough subject. I personally equate it closer to the prohibition model. Translated as - it is not ideal to allow public drunkenness but side B of the coin encourages significant and very violent crime to flourish.

No one is ever going to give us the numbers on this. My best retort is to again point out Portugal who decriminalized all drugs - bout 10 years ago now, that claim numbers of addicts have dropped because these people were now not afraid to seek help, knowing there was no chance of criminal prosecution.

From the 10,000 foot level, people who are going to do drugs are going to do them regardless. We haven't saved the 'dealing with them' costs or the peripheral crime someone high perpetrates either way. But we can eliminate the huge amount of contraband and smuggling related crime.

Silverfiddle said...

Until someone can even approximate a cost comparison, it is all supposition.

Portugal is worth mentioning, but it is a very poor country where people do not have a lot of disposable income, and they are also still homogeneous and tradition-bound, unlike us. I don't know how much of their lesson applies here.

Kid said...

Silver, True ;-)

All I have to add is until they can keep heroin and coke and meth away from 13 year old kids who can get it 7 days a week, after 40 years of the war on drugs, I will consider every dime of taxpayer money spent on it as flushed down the toilet.

Silverfiddle said...

Kid: I am for personal liberty, but I am also standing on the conservative principle that says don't knock a wall down until you know whats on the other side.

I am not four-square against legalization, but I am adamantly for a fully informed debate supplied with as much hard data as we can muster.

jez said...

precedes=peeved... auto-correcting phones with ideas above their station!

Anyway, good. I got a bit carried away, probably to the detriment of my point, but I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

I am interested in moral hazard, by the way, but there are sometimes higher priorities, in this case stopping idiot coke-heads funding civil war in South America.

"I am waiting for someone to present an actual cost comparison."
Ah well, that's pretty difficult. Significant input to cost is affect of legality on take-up, and how can you possibly predict that (better than gut feeling) aside from examining Portugal (and Amsterdam? and most of the world pre-1925? Any of those comparisons are overwhelmed by confounding variables.)

I suggest we legalize one at a time and see how we get on. Start with the most lucrative drug and proceed in order.

Silverfiddle said...

Jez and Kid: I appreciate your thoughtful approach. And Jez, I love well-place sarcasm and hyperbole, even when aimed at me!

Legalizing cocaine and opiates will not necessarily end the strife in the countries that produce the raw materials.

Although we legalize it here, and presumably manufacture it here, we will still need to get the poppies and the coca, so Afghan tribes and South American militias will still war with one another over who dominates the now-legal trade.

I'm not trying to shout "Aha! Got you there!" in a effort to close out the argument in my favor, just providing a rebuttal to your point.

This is a complex issue, and I can see both sides of the issue. I guess on this one I am more conservative than libertarian.