Monday, September 18, 2006

More On Drugs

Final Drug War Thoughts, in response to A Fan For All Seasons.

"I support drug legalization because I do care about people, I care about people’s freedom to make choices for themselves"

That means you support murder, theft, rape, and basically any sort of deviant behavior, just so you know.


I care about people's freedom to make choices for themselves that don't infringe on the life, liberty, or property of others. In criminal law there is a distinction made between crimes that are malum in se and malum prohibita. Malum in se crimes are crimes that are bad in and of themselves, crimes that all societies punish- crimes such as rape, murder, and theft. Crimes that are malum prohibita are bad because we make laws that say they are bad- drug crimes today would be an example- or adultery, dancing, and failing to go to Church along with anything else that could be punished by law in the Puritan America of the 17th century.

The point is, some things are just bad, whereas other things- like drugs- are bad because our society says they are bad.

Black markets aren't just for illegal materials; they are for hard to acquire materials. Guns are legal, but there are black markets for guns. Prescription drugs are legal, but they have a black market as well. Organized crime will not die out with legalization of drugs. Do you honestly think giant drug cartels will just say "well, the jig is up, let's go get real jobs". No way.

Eventually, drug cartels will have to say the jig is up because they will not be able to charge competitive prices for the drugs they are selling. The market will dictate that they stop selling drugs. Additionally, you mention prescription drugs and guns- there is a black market for these products because they are highly regulated. People turn to the black market when they can't get the items they want legally (or perhaps because going the legal route involves more hurdles than they are willing to put up with). Again, black markets are caused by laws that restrict the market- the freer the market is, the less of a need there is for a black market, and the influence of organized crime is lessened.

Also, for the 100th time, alcohol is nothing like cocaine, crack, crystal meth or any other hard line drug. Those drugs are highly addictive. There are much easier to binge on and their effects are much, much worse. Alcohol is not addictive. If your body can't handle alcohol, you merely throw it up and that should be warning enough to stop. If your body can't handle a line of coke or a dose of heroin, you could die.

I think the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Americans who are currently in, or who have ever participated in Alcoholics Anonymous would tend to disagree with your statement that alcohol is not addictive. As a college student you should know how easy alcohol is to binge on, and the numerous problems that can result from alcohol abuse. Many of the problems you refer to with coke and heroin I believe generally result from "impure" versions of the drugs sold on the streets- a problem that would be far less common if there was a legal market. For the exceedingly small number of people who might die from using a drug, keep in mind that we approve pharmaceuticals all the time that could potentially cause death. Again, the point is the individual's freedom of choice.

This isn't merely about making "bad choices". A bad choice is watching a basketball game instead of hanging out with your girlfriend. If you truly care about someone, about people, you wouldn't want them to do drugs like cocaine in the first place. Stop comparing alcohol to cocaine. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. You can die from driving, I'm not saying ban driving. You can die from alcohol use, although it's very difficult, but I'm not saying ban alcohol. These drugs are illegal for a reason. Don't believe me? Go spend a night in a crack den.

I don't want people to abuse any drugs, be it alcohol, cocaine, or whatever. There's not a drug on the planet that is addictive from one use. Nicotine is supposed to be one of the most addictive drugs there is, perhaps the most addictive drug, yet I know from personal experience that you can smoke countless cigarettes without becoming addicted. Yes, most people who start smoking to become smokers, but you can find plenty of people who have smoked before who are not nicotine addicts. What does this all mean? Drug use, and addiction itself is a very personal sort of issue.

Whereas Person A may smoke 500 cigarettes and never become addicted, Person B may smoke 100 cigarettes and be hooked for life. There is no magic number. Additionally, lets say Person A and Person B each smoke 500 cigarettes, but person A smokes those cigarettes over a couple months and person B smokes those cigarettes over a couple of years. Their personal choices as to how often to smoke may play a role in whether they become addicted. Apply the same logic to cocaine, marijuana, or any illegal drug.

You say spend a night in a crack den, but I say spend a night at a New York City party where high priced attorneys and Wall Street types are doing lines of coke. If you didn't see them do it, you'd probably be hard pressed to point them out as drug users.

I'm not arguing that all drugs pose the same risks- quite the contrary. I recognize that all drugs have risks, and that those risks are different to different people. Additionally, I would argue that people don't develop drug problems because of drugs- people develop drug problems because of other problems in their life or other issues they may have. I think blaming drugs is a crutch for ignoring real problems. Yes there is such a thing as physical addiction (particularly when it comes to heroin), but I would argue that people don't get that far without any number of other problems in their lives. And finally I would make the points that 1- not all drug use is abuse, and 2- depending on the person, drug abuse can range from completely destructive to a minor personal problem. It is well researched that there are plenty of functional addicts in the world, people completely addicted to drugs, but able to function in their everyday lives. This is drug abuse for some people, and maybe for others it means living on the streets.

I don't engage in this debate to moralize on drugs. I think people's moral decisions, along with their decisions about risk should not be made by the government. I don't think we should legislate against a certain item because some people may have a problem with that item. And finally, I don't believe it's the place of government to draw lines as to what risks are appropriate- like alcohol, and what risks are not appropriate- like marijuana or cocaine.

You continually avoid my points about risk and personal responsibility and decision making to point out that "these drugs are dangerous!" I'm not disagreeing with you there. My point is, we shouldn't cede to government the responsibility to make these choices for us. It's that sort of attitude that leads to other laws passed to protect people that violate the individual right to make choices. It seems as though you don't want alcohol banned, but imagine we lived back in the 20's during prohibition. Your argument would be that alcohol prohibition is a bad policy choice, but so long as a majority of people disagreed with you, there would be nothing you could do. My argument would be that the government should have no right to ban alcohol in the first place, because the majority should not be able to impose its views on what's safe, and what's a good idea on the rest of the population. Think about it.

1 Comments:

Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

"I think the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Americans who are currently in, or who have ever participated in Alcoholics Anonymous would tend to disagree with your statement that alcohol is not addictive. As a college student you should know how easy alcohol is to binge on, and the numerous problems that can result from alcohol abuse."

I'm glad you brought these points up. Yes, there are probably thousands, I'm not sure millions, but definately thousands of people suffering from alcoholism. At the same time, however, there are surely millions of Americans who drink without dependancy, they just drink for fun. This is where you get lost. I'm not talking about marijauna here, I am talking about hardline drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, crack, LSD, and E. Now the problem with alcoholics is that they lose their choice to drink. Some people like to think that they do have a choice and that they just can't resist, but that's not true. Alcoholics have symptoms that show how hard it is to resist. For the millions of other drinkers, though, this never becomes a problem. When it comes to the previously mentioned drugs though, addiction is much easier and much harsher. Heroin, for example, is a drug that can cause withdrawl only 6 hours after use. 6 hours. That's it. Other drugs will take longer but I just want to show you how bad a drug like heroin is. And withdrawl just isn't "oh, I want more", it can come with cold sweats, chills, muscle pains, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea to name a few. But there are other big differences with these drugs and alcohol.

Next there is dosage and ways of use. Obviously, you drink alcohol, which means effects take longer and there isn't a direct entrance into the blood stream. With these drugs you can snort, inject directly into the blood, smoke, or ingest in pill form. All of these methods are much faster entrances. Not only that, but dosages with these drugs aren't exact. With liquor, you at least know how much alcohol is in a serving and you know you're going to need more than one drink to get your intended effects. 1 hit of coke can be all a person needs to feel the effects.

"Many of the problems you refer to with coke and heroin I believe generally result from "impure" versions of the drugs sold on the streets- a problem that would be far less common if there was a legal market."

Here's another point you miss. Let's say drugs are legalized for a minute. Heck, I'm pretty sure there are legal forms of medicinal marijauna, so let's look at that. Medicinal marijauna isn't the same as street pot. Drugs companies remove the addictive elements and I'm sure there is a reduction of the potency of the drug. You may say, that's exactly why we should legalize drugs. Drug users don't want a reduced high, they use drugs to get as high as possible. There's no way drug companies will allow street versions of coke or heroin to be sold because of all the known risks. Isn't it very likely that a coke addict will not want diluted, store bought coke. Wouldn't he/she want a harder version? Where will he find that but the street and black markets. It's foolish to think the same pharmaceutical regulations you mention wouldn't apply to these drugs.

Honestly, I don't understand why you keep saying the government has no right to try and keep us safe. Forget about the "war on food", I don't want to talk about that. I'm talking about dangerous drugs. We have a friend who is currently dealing with quitting cocaine. He lied to us about his drug use for maybe 3 months. He told us he quit when in reality his usage got worse and worse. He has never said he could stop using coke whenever, he even said the drug takes control of you. Sure, you might say a wall street exec uses coke, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a problem. And here's the thing, you talk as if people will just use a drug once and never do it again. But what happens when a person enjoys his first time on coke, so he decides to do it again and again, and soon he has no choice.

"Whereas Person A may smoke 500 cigarettes and never become addicted, Person B may smoke 100 cigarettes and be hooked for life."

Sure that may be true, but if a person smokes 500 cigarettes fully knowing of health risks and what have you, than wouldn't you say that person has a need for cigarettes. I've been told some people smoke to relax, well if you need that cigarette to relax, I'd say that was an addiction. I'd also like to see that person who smoked 500 cigs just stop.

You would argue that other factors play parts in addiction and I would somewhat agree. I'm sure some people have developed addictions, but there are also plenty who are controlled by drugs. Now you say legalize these drugs, yet if you legalize them, you're making them readily available to people who have problems, and wouldn't that facilitate faster addiction?

"I care about people's freedom to make choices for themselves that don't infringe on the life, liberty, or property of others."

So when I was heartbroken by my friend coming out and telling me of his addiction did that not infringe on my life? Why are you so quick to defend someone elses life/liberty/property when a drug user may be losing his own life/liberty/property? You claim to protect us from bad choices. A bad choice would be drinking a soda instead of milk or skipping class instead of going. Heroin use, coke use, crack use is much more than a bad choice, it's a dangerous choice.

Basically it comes down to trust. You trust that people will use responsibly, you trust that violent drug cartels will just disband, and you trust that addiction isn't the drug's fault. The problem is you're too trusting. I mean hell, people still drink and drive despite the obvious risks. How can you trust someone to legally buy and not abuse heroin.

7:34 PM  

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