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Happy Repeal Day! The 75th Anniversary of the End of Prohibition:

Radley Balko has an excellent article on tomorrow's upcoming 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition by the Twenty-First Amendment. He notes some important parallels between the failures of Prohibition and those of today's very similar War on Drugs. The sobering facts are almost enough to drive me to drink:

It did reduce overall consumption of alcohol in the U.S., but that reduction came largely among those who consumed alcohol responsibly. The actual harm caused by alcohol abuse was made worse, thanks to the economics of prohibitions.

Black market alcohol was of dubious origin, unregulated by market forces. The price premium that attaches to banned substances made the alcohol that made it to consumers more potent and more dangerous. And, of course, organized crime rose and flourished thanks to the new market created by the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act.

So hospitalizations related to alcohol soared. And so did violent crime. Corruption flourished, as law enforcement officials in charge of enforcing prohibition went on the take, from beat cops all the way up to the office of the United States Attorney General...

There's no question that drug prohibition has been every bit the failure alcohol prohibition was. Nearly 40 years after the [Controlled Substances Act of 1970] passed, we have 400,000 people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes; a domestic police force that often looks and acts like an occupying military force; nearly a trillion dollars spent on enforcement, both here and through aggressive interdiction efforts overseas; and urban areas that can resemble war zones. Yet illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana are as cheap and abundant as they were in 1970. The street price of both drugs has actually dropped—dramatically—since the government began keeping track in the early 1980s.

The main difference between the two prohibitions is that one was enacted lawfully, and once it became clear that it had failed, we repealed it (and government revenues soared with new alcohol taxes). As the drug war has failed, the government merely claims more powers to fight it more aggressively.

Radley also notes that the one saving grace of Prohibition was that it was clearly constitutional, adopted through the amendment process rather than by dubious overextension of Congress' power to regulate "commerce . . . among the several States" under Article I of the Constitution. When Prohibition was enacted, few jurists or legal scholars doubted that a constitutional amendment was required to give Congress the power to ban all sales of alcohol, including those that occurred within the territory of a single state. That consensus - which traces its origins back to the Founding era - is an important strike against the modern view that Congress has unlimited authority to control anything and everything through the Commerce Clause.

By contrast, the War on Drugs has culminated in decisions such as Gonzales v. Raich, which, as I explained in this article, gives Congress virtually unlimited authority to regulate any activity using its Commerce Clause power, whether the activity has any meaningful connection to interstate commerce or not.

Constitutional federalism is just one of the many casualties of the War on Drugs. Of course it's not as important as the thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of broken lives, and tens of billions of wasted dollars. But it's worth noting nonetheless.

pollwanter:
I wonder how many VC readers have (or still) smoked pot. VC readers I think would tend to be honest, at least in an anonymous poll.
12.4.2008 8:30pm
Ilya Somin:
I wonder how many VC readers have (or still) smoked pot. VC readers I think would tend to be honest, at least in an anonymous poll.

I don't think this has much relevance to the subject of the poll. But for the record, I haven't. This is a matter of moral and constitutional principle, not narrow self-interest.
12.4.2008 8:33pm
notsosimple:
Is it too simplistic to just make a blanket comparison between the War on Drugs and Prohibition? A ban on alcohol and a ban on drugs is not the same because of the wide variety of things that fall under the category of "drugs" (the variety is important given the variety of effects that different drugs have on people compared to the single effect of all types of alcohol (i.e. drunkeness)).

It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"
12.4.2008 8:41pm
Ilya Somin:
It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"

As the stats in Balko's article indicate, the War on Drugs has failed to prevent the "irresponsible" use of these other drugs, while simultaneously imposing enomrous costs on society and abridging our freedoms. Even if it did reduce "irresponsible" drug use significantly, it would not be worth the loss of thousands of lives and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of nonviolent people.
12.4.2008 8:45pm
Malvolio:
It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"
Of the last, oh, three people elected president, how many never used cocaine. [ counts on fingers, muttering ] That's right, none!

So, it is possible to use cocaine and still become the Leader of the Free World (tm). Isn't that a higher barrier than mere "responsibility"?

No drug is truly "bad" the way that Drug Warrior seem to imagine: instantly and permanently addictive and completely debilitating. Even if such a drug did exist, you'd have to be pretty much an idiot to take it in the first place, and a drug only used by idiots isn't much of a danger.
12.4.2008 8:52pm
Henry (mail):
notsosimple, the word "responsibly," as you use it, has no apparent meaning. If you mean to ask whether people can use cocaine, LSD, etc., occasionally and remain contributing members of society, then of course they can; many do. In any case, whether one can use these drugs "responsibly," whatever that may mean, can hardly be the determinative factor in whether to legalize these drugs. One might also consider the effect of criminalization, namely, "the thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of broken lives, and tens of billions of wasted dollars." One might also consider whether we want the government ever to have the power to tell people what to do with their bodies. Ingesting plants (or chemicals in the case of LSD) should be a right under the Griswold line of cases.
12.4.2008 8:52pm
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
Raich was such a disappointment, even if not unexpectedly so. I have to wonder if the Supreme Court would have upheld Wickard itself, if the facts of the case were reduplicated.

Count me who haven't smoke pot but think the drug war should end anyway.
12.4.2008 8:52pm
anonlawstudent:

Is it too simplistic to just make a blanket comparison between the War on Drugs and Prohibition? [...] It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"

You are conflating the policy issue with the constitutional issue. The constitutional issue is the same, regardless of the substance.*

(*) I could see a qualifier on substances that almost per se have interstate physical effects, e.g., nuclear materials.
12.4.2008 8:53pm
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
ugh - Count me among those who haven't smoked pot but think the drug war should end anyway.
12.4.2008 8:54pm
Curt Fischer:

notsosimple:
It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"


Just because our society is one where cocaine is banned, vilified, and associated with junkies does not mean cocaine is inherently a "hard core" drug.

It is the fact that cocaine is illegal (and non-native to America) that makes the bulk, purified powder the preferred form of the drug, as Ilya says. Unpackaged pure cocaine powder is much easier to abuse, because the dosage is so hard to regulate. Thus it is the form of the drug, not cocaine itself, that is "hard core". See my comment from awhile back for more.

In cultures in South America where cocaine is native, people chew coca leaves or drink coca tea. These activities do not turn everyone into junkies who destroy their lives. Most can enjoy these products in moderation, just as most adults in the US can enjoy alcohol in moderation without becoming an alcoholic. (Coca tea or coca leaves are not to be confused with coca paste, a much more concentrated form of the drug which is usually smoked, leading to much higher doses, and, predictably, rates of deleterious addiction and dependence.)
12.4.2008 8:58pm
Fub:
notsosimple wrote at 12.4.2008 8:41pm:
It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"
According to the DEA, and various federally funded anti-drug lobbying organizations, of course the answer is "no."

The reasoning for that conclusion I have read from such sources over many decades always goes like this:

Drugs are illegal.

Therefore using them is an illegal act.

Illegal acts are irresponsible acts.

Therefore illegal drugs cannot be used responsibly.

I disagree both with that conclusion and the "reasoning" that underlies it.

These two online articles might be useful in approaching the question:

Towards a Culture of Responsible Psychoactive Drug Use (HTML).

Is Recreational Drug Use Normal? (PDF).
12.4.2008 9:09pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
Recently, near Pittsburgh, an FBI agent was shot and killed entering a home in a pre-dawn raid to serve an arrest warrant in a drug case. He was shot by the wife of the suspect, from the top of the stairs, apparently because she did not realize that the armed men bashing down the front door were cops rather than robbers, and she feared for her two children.

Question: What the hell is a heavily armed band of federal agents doing bashing through a home's front door with a battering ram, while it's still dark, when they KNOW there are innocent people including children inside? They had the house surrounded, and they actually arrested the husband when he tried to duck out the back way. Why couldn't they wait until daylight? Why couldn't they have phoned the people inside to inform them of the arrest warrant and call the suspect out? Why couldn't they use loudspeakers, so the inhabitants could look out the window and see the police cars? What was the rush?

Anybody will know the answer to that last question: The agents wanted to get in fast so that drugs couldn't be flushed. So, for the sake of this utterly futile decades-long effort to keep people from getting drugs, an FBI agent is dead and a mother's life is ruined, even if she does not go to prison. Meanwhile, every time a drug dealer is taken off the street, others move into the slot.

It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"

Alcohol is already legal. Why the scare quotes on "responsibly?" Are you suggesting that alcohol can't be used responsibly? If you get drunk and assault someone, you quite properly get prosecuted and punished for the assault. If you get drunk and mind your own business, so what? Exactly why is the situation different with cocaine? Would it not be a step in the right direction to eliminate prohibition of pot? Is it not the case that much of the impetus for developing and marketing high potency hard drugs was to make them easier to smuggle--in other words, that the existence and widespread use of the hardest drugs is itself partly due to drug prohibition?

Whether or not any particular drug can be used responsibly, it must be clear by now that our current drug prohibition CANNOT be enforced responsibly. Drug prohibition gives us more street crime and less respect for the Bill of Rights. There simply is no excuse.
12.4.2008 9:10pm
1Ler:
Okay, so all of us on a libertarian blog (shockingly) think the War on Drugs has failed and should end. Great--nothing much there. Much more importantly: any hope that our view will prevail? I don't see any prospects for success. Anti-druggers have made drug use something so seedy that we're a long way from seeing any meaningful political movement against criminalizing it. In fact, it's probably the main reason the Libertarian Party is so consistently marginalized in elections.

So what can we do? Try to persuade the powers that be to reform the ridiculous sentencing guidelines? Try to point out better allocations of police resources in heart-breaker story fashion? I'm open to ideas.
12.4.2008 9:20pm
Raționalitate (www):
It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"

Absolutely. In fact, it's difficult to not use LSD responsibly, given that it exacerbates any feelings you might have (meaning it'll make you very happy if you're happy, but very sad if you're sad), and its intense nature makes it completely non-addictive. So, it's a) non-addictive and b) impossible to use as an escape mechanism.

As for cocaine, again, very much possible to use responsibly. Its effects are really not all that different from caffeine or the amphetamines that are in ADHD medications. And unlike heroin, cocaine is not physically addictive. Now, the psychological addiction might be strong, but most of my friends have tried cocaine, and only a very small number of them have ever had addiction issues (which they're over now, without any government intervention or treatment).

As for opiates, it's very difficult to overdose on pure opiates, and almost all overdoses are due to dealers mixing the product, or not properly informing customers about the purity levels (both things that would be eliminated if the drug were legal). Other than physical addiction (which isn't in and of itself a bad thing, so long as you can get your fix – never a problem for cigarette smokers, since cigarettes are legal), the only long-term health consequence of heroin use is chronic constipation. And though an addict might be really slow and look kind of out of it for the first ten or fifteen minutes after they take a hit of heroin, they quickly return to a baseline level of control over their bodies, and you'd have a difficult time telling someone on heroin from someone who's never used the drug before.
12.4.2008 9:24pm
Bama 1L:
What would the states do differently?
12.4.2008 9:24pm
Curt Fischer:
I disagree with 1Ler, who does not see any prospects for success.

Witness the success of Issue 2 in Massachusetts. Now carrying 1 oz. or less of marijuana incurs a civil, not a criminal, penalty (or it will starting in January or something).

This is a very small step but it is, IMO, in the right direction. I think many other similar reforms are being planned elsewhere.

I suppose a challenge will be convincing any one that the supposed "hard core" drugs deserve to be treated similarly to marijuana.

Actually, one of the reasons that marijuana is perceived to be so much less risky than e.g. cocaine is that it grows native to the US, and is widely trafficked in crude, unpurified form. If most users' habit required snorting crystalline THC, I don't think marijuana reform would even be on the table in many jurisdictions.
12.4.2008 9:32pm
Hearditbefore:
1Ler: "So what can we do? Try to persuade the powers that be to reform the ridiculous sentencing guidelines? Try to point out better allocations of police resources in heart-breaker story fashion? I'm open to ideas."
I'm afraid it's a low-(direct)-cost issue perceived as 'morality'. Like environmental regs, and, say, agg. subsidies; most voters will spend others' money and maybe a bit of their own to 'feel good'. Changing morals is tough regardless of the evidence; how many times do we still read that the 'world is overpopulated'? I don't know how to change that.
12.4.2008 9:36pm
OKY:
so the only basis for defining federal crimes is the interstate commerce clause? does that seem bizarre to anyone else?
12.4.2008 9:42pm
Cornellian (mail):
I think marijuana should be totally legal, but I have never touched the stuff and never will, unless I end up one of those cancer patients who need it for the side effects of chemo.
12.4.2008 9:54pm
Allison (mail):
do those libertarians who wish to end criminality of drugs really agree that it should be regulated like alcohol is???

Are they really supporters of fed and state taxation of these substances? what of FDA regulation? if so, what's so libertarian about that?

if not, is drawing the comparison to alcohol really fair?

(please no straw men. I am not therefore saying the drug war is good. I just want to hear well reasoned answers to my questions above.)
12.4.2008 9:55pm
Cornellian (mail):
so the only basis for defining federal crimes is the interstate commerce clause? does that seem bizarre to anyone else?

It's not the only basis for defining federal crimes but it's by far the biggest one.
12.4.2008 9:56pm
Bama 1L:
The Commerce Clause is not the only basis for defining federal crimes, but you can fit almost anything under it.
12.4.2008 9:56pm
Norman Bates (mail):
I'm in favor of the complete legalization of all substances but, contrary to Radko's propaganda piece, Prohibition caused a very large reduction in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity. To get a small sampling of the research supporting this conclusion do a Google search on +Prohibition +cirrhosis. Bad scholarship ultimately hurts the cause it is supposed to aid.
12.4.2008 10:04pm
pmorem (mail):
To my mind, one of the big questions are:

Is it in our strategic interests to provide funding to the Taliban?

Is it in our strategic interests to allow the Taliban a means of distributing millions of dollars to poor Afghans?

Is it in our strategic interests to be letting the DEA run around Afghanistan, pissing off the locals?

Is it in our strategic interests to fund groups undermining and corrupting the government of Mexico?

Does our current approach have any reasonable prospect of heading off the above problems?

The "War on Drugs" actually exports our problems to other countries, in a far more toxic form. The libertarian reasons may sell well to libertarians. Strategic reasons may be a better sell.

This could blow up in our faces, and cost a whole lot of lives. Maybe even more lives in one day than the entire "War on Drugs" has cost to date.

One way or another, we need to stop spreading drug money around.
12.4.2008 10:05pm
Eli Rabett (www):

Black market alcohol was of dubious origin, unregulated by market forces.

Amusing that he does not mention that the alcohol was of dubious origin unregulated by government agencies. Swallow a horse, swallow a cow
12.4.2008 10:08pm
Hearditbefore:
Allison: "do those libertarians who wish to end criminality of drugs really agree that it should be regulated like alcohol is???
Are they really supporters of fed and state taxation of these substances? what of FDA regulation? if so, what's so libertarian about that?
if not, is drawing the comparison to alcohol really fair?"

Sounds to me like the 'eternal question': Do libertarians (or "L...s") try for purity or what might be possible? Dunno; looks like Barr didn't ring too many bells, and he was about as 'mainstream' as could fit in the tent.
12.4.2008 10:11pm
1Ler:
Allison, I'm pretty sure you'd agree that imposing heavy taxes, warning labels, etc. on drugs is still a much lesser degree of regulation than criminalization. So it's certainly a step in the right direction.

That kind of rhymed (in a Jesse Jacksonameter way)... bonus points to the first one who can come up with a rhyming, drug-themed Christmas song!
12.4.2008 10:13pm
Oren:

Anti-druggers have made drug use something so seedy that we're a long way from seeing any meaningful political movement against criminalizing it.

Nonsense. Each generation has more liberal views on drugs than the last. Here in Mass, a very strongly worded ballot initiative that reduces marijuana to a civil infraction won by a landslide 65%-35%. A good first step, no doubt.
12.4.2008 10:23pm
Tritium (mail):
Where greed exists, so does petty crimes. If you truly believe that Prohibition was Constitutional, then there is still a lot to know about the Constitution.

First, the previous government known as the "United States" was formed by Articles of Confederation. How is it they began calling it a Constitution instead? A Constitution 'fixes' or 'secures' those powers granted to the Federal Government in Republican form, from the people.

To amend is to 'fix' or 'secure' the intent of the Constitution, not to transform a government. It was determined that in order for such to be Constitutional, it would need to go through the ratification process contained in the Constitution, but all those elected would need to be re-elected. If you know why certain clauses exist, you would know why the 16th and 17th amendments are Unconstitutional and contain no repeal clause itself.
12.4.2008 10:26pm
Oren:

The Commerce Clause is not the only basis for defining federal crimes, but you can fit almost anything under it.

Except rape and carrying a gun into a school.
12.4.2008 10:26pm
Oren:

To amend is to 'fix' or 'secure' the intent of the Constitution, not to transform a government. It was determined that in order for such to be Constitutional, it would need to go through the ratification process contained in the Constitution, but all those elected would need to be re-elected. If you know why certain clauses exist, you would know why the 16th and 17th amendments are Unconstitutional and contain no repeal clause itself.

I think you are confusing the US constitution with the California one. In the US one, an amendment has unlimited scope that is on par with the original clauses.
12.4.2008 10:28pm
1Ler:
Well, call it a sampling error, but I still think it's premature to say that the country as a whole is ready for a visible anti-drug laws campaign. I probably did overstate my original premise, though--my point was that any change will have to come in small increments over a long period of time.
12.4.2008 10:29pm
Tritium (mail):
Answer:
If you infringe upon a persons freedom of conscious (and God given right to make mistakes and learn from them.) then how can you expect to get a person to become responsible for themselves?

Laws that provide for stricter punishments (or restitution) for laws broken while under the influence of mind altering substances would be acceptable, because you choose to do while high, and as laws should create guidelines when it comes to interacting with others, it should never apply to what you decide to do of your own free will.

Just like children, society needs to grow up too.
12.4.2008 10:47pm
Hearditbefore:
"Oren:
"Anti-druggers have made drug use something so seedy that we're a long way from seeing any meaningful political movement against criminalizing it."
Nonsense. Each generation has more liberal views on drugs than the last."
Really? Is cocaine again legal in Coke (tm)? It was a generation or so ago. I think is was the '30s when mj was outlawed?
12.4.2008 10:49pm
Hearditbefore:
Correction: Coke /= cocaine 3-4 generations back. But the point remains.
12.4.2008 10:52pm
Tritium (mail):

I think you are confusing the US constitution with the California one. In the US one, an amendment has unlimited scope that is on par with the original clauses.


A Constitution establishes Government.
Article I. contains the Constitution of the Legislative Branch.
Article II. contains the Constitution of the Executive Branch.
Article III. contains the Constitution of the Judicial Branch.

Article IV. contains the exceptions to State Constitutions
Article V. contains the method of amending or fixing (clarifying) principles already contained in the Articles preceding it, in order that no loopholes contrary to the intent of the Constitution can assert themselves to usurpation of powers.
Article VI. Constitutes the ratification process to authorize the establishment of the new government.

Amendments: "which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution"
12.4.2008 11:01pm
Brian K (mail):
Each generation has more liberal views on drugs than the last.

i think the 70's beg to differ :)
12.4.2008 11:34pm
Fub:
1Ler wrote at 12.4.2008 9:20pm:
So what can we do? Try to persuade the powers that be to reform the ridiculous sentencing guidelines? Try to point out better allocations of police resources in heart-breaker story fashion? I'm open to ideas.
There are many active drug policy reform organizations, some decades old, which one can assist in many ways. For example:

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

The Media Awareness Project

The Marijuana Policy Project

NORML

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

There are many more organized efforts as well. The blog Drug WarRant offers many such links to organizations, as well as drug war and policy news.
12.4.2008 11:50pm
Bama 1L:
Maybe Tritium will provide some support for his characterization of Article V, or maybe just a list of which amendments are unconstitutional according to the new teaching.
12.5.2008 12:33am
Tritium (mail):
Actually, the teaching is very old. If you look at the Constitution as if it were a contract, and the States as well as the people were required to ratify the Constitution, how can ratification by the state have greater authority then that which was ratified by both states and the people?

Not to mention, Article I. (being the Constitution of Congress) requires all acts of congress to be approved or vetoed by the President. So it would stand to reason that in order for Congress to use Article V, they must do it according to the Constitution of Congress.

Just because it's common practice, doesn't mean it's right. Logic can be a very useful tool.
12.5.2008 4:52am
ray_g:
I'm old enough to remember, while growing up, listening to older folks, who had actually lived thru Prohibition, and they all thought Prohibition was pretty stupid. However, the very same people had no objections to the "War on Drugs", a.k.a drug prohibition. Something that I don't understand is going on here. Probably a combination of several somethings.

You can't just go at this from the state level. I am a resident of California, and we have learned that even if the state makes something legal (marijuana for medical use in CA's case) the folks who may medically benefit are still at risk for prosecution from the feds. Maybe even more than before, as I'm convinced that the feds are trying to make a point here.
12.5.2008 7:35am
cboldt (mail):
Constitutional federalism is just one of the many casualties of the War on Drugs. Of course it's not as important as the thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of broken lives, and tens of billions of wasted dollars. But it's worth noting nonetheless.


The balance involves more than the penalties "wasted" against the users. The warrior enforcers obtain employment, as do those who produce the means of waging the war. The incarceration facilities likewise are a source of employment. And as others have noted, the economic dynamic has international dimensions. The US taxpayer funded war on drugs not only employs thousands of Americans, it also employs thousands of foreigners in full time interdiction, eradication, and incarceration functions. The war is big business.

.

There is also the "priceless" satisfaction accorded to the substantial number of "do good" and "nanny" members of society, who take a shine to using the force of government to make sure others live appropriate lifestyles. When utopia is implemented, there will be no skid row, no alcoholics, no addicts, no smoking, no obesity, no poor people, no lazy people, no uneducated people, and so on ad infinitum. The war is big "feel good."

.

Not to utterly trivialize the nanny point of view, drug abuse impedes a certain amount of productivity. Prevention of drug abuse can also be justified as a means to obtain "from each according to his ability." And to take the Marxist sting out of that utterance, productive people generally obtain self-satisfaction and pride in light of the fruit of their labor.

.

National health care will provide another weight on the "keep it illegal" side of the balance. Federal laws might come to resemble "doctor's orders." Eat properly, sleep enough, alcohol in moderation, no smoking, daily exercise, seat belts ... or else.

.

If, and then when the drug war is wound down, some other activity will be made illegal to take its place. It's the nature of human societies to make certain self-damaging conduct forbidden.
12.5.2008 7:37am
cboldt (mail):
-- I am a resident of California, and we have learned that even if the state makes something legal (marijuana for medical use in CA's case) the folks who may medically benefit are still at risk for prosecution from the feds. Maybe even more than before, as I'm convinced that the feds are trying to make a point here. --
.
The point is "it's about control." Much of the rhetoric obfuscates that simple point. "For your own good," "state's rights," whatever - it's all about control. The feds have it, and aim to keep it. Resistance against "the man" can be very costly.
12.5.2008 7:43am
ray_g:
I knew that, but you said it much better than I did. I voted for the legalization of medical marijuana in California, now I wish I hadn't, because unless the State of California, by which I mean the People of California, were willing to stand up to the the feds on this, it was just a feel good initiative that accomplished little, and got otherwise innocent, law abiding people entangled with the federal drug warriors. Bob help them.
12.5.2008 8:45am
ray_g:
I'm still puzzled by how many people I know, and more that I infer from reading new reports etc., who will quickly agree that alcohol prohibition was altogether a bad idea, but support drug prohibition, and seriously talk about tobacco prohibition, and furthermore get very agitated by even discussing the possibility of ending drug prohibition. I know all about the "ban everything but what I like" mentality, but I'm disappointed that we haven't gotten a little beyond that.
12.5.2008 8:52am
PubliusFL:
1Ler: That kind of rhymed (in a Jesse Jacksonameter way)... bonus points to the first one who can come up with a rhyming, drug-themed Christmas song!

Deck the halls with clumps of reefer
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Christmas time with our friend Kiefer
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Snorting coke is fun-orama
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Just ask President Obama
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

;)
12.5.2008 8:52am
1Ler:
Fannn-tastic!
12.5.2008 8:59am
erics (mail):
ray_g:

There are, SURPISE!, some significant racial undertones that go directly to the issue you discuss. I suggest you add the movie Grass (narrated by Woody Harrelson) to your Netflix queue.
12.5.2008 9:20am
Oren:

Amendments: "which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution"

Yes, valid for all intents and purposes as part of the constitution. That's what I said -- amendments can literally delete portions of the original constitution (e.g. amendment 12, which actually removes text from Art II and replaces it with different text). See any dictionary:


Adverb

to all intents and purposes

1. (idiomatic) For every functional purpose; in every practical sense; in every important respect; practically speaking.



Maybe this is an old teaching or not, but I haven't heard a single respectable constitutional law scholar propose it. Correct me if I'm wrong.
12.5.2008 9:23am
PubliusFL:
1Ler: Fannn-tastic!

Of course, Adam Sandler was way ahead of us with Hanukkah songs. He even mixed drugs and alcohol, like this post:

So drink your gin and tonic-ah
And smoke your marijuana-kah
If you really, really wanna-kah
Have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah!
12.5.2008 10:23am
George Smith:
Well, here's a pint o' Guiness t' all o' ye.
12.5.2008 10:28am
mariner:
notsosimple:
Is it too simplistic to just make a blanket comparison between the War on Drugs and Prohibition? A ban on alcohol and a ban on drugs is not the same ...

No, it's not. Though alcohol and "drugs" are different, the rationale for federal government involvement, the form of that involvement, and the inevitable results of abuse and corruption are similar and detestable.

Funny we can get all riled up about people "abusing drugs" but not so much about government officials abusing citizens and their rights.

1ler:
Okay, so all of us on a libertarian blog (shockingly) think the War on Drugs has failed and should end. Great--nothing much there. Much more importantly: any hope that our view will prevail?

I see no hope at all. Corruption is so pervasive that most of the interested parties benefit from the present regime, whether or not it actually serves any salutary purpose.

Judges collect bribes, police officers collect bribes and get more goodies, bigger budgets, and more power over citizens' lives, politicians collect bribes (or campaign contributions) and get more prestige and more power over citizens' lives, and drug dealers make more money. Everybody wins!

I've never even smoked pot, but I believe the "War on Drugs" is one of the worst ever assaults on the Bill of Rights and our freedom.
12.5.2008 10:45am
Ben P:

Each generation has more liberal views on drugs than the last.

i think the 70's beg to differ :)



Well, I don't know that you can say that flat out. But neither am I sure that the dynamic really is a constant "more open to drug use" line. The drug revolution of the 60's and 70's is still the driving mechanic in our present society.

You go back 3-4 generations as someone mentioned, drug use was very prelevant because drugs were not yet illegal. Commercially purchasable over the counter "medicines" contained opiates of various forms, including heroin, cocaine was quite common as well. Marijuana was common among particular ethnic groups but had not spread to society as a whole.

Then most of the typical drugs were banned in the nineteen teens and twenties. Many of the same forces that brought about prohibition were involved, and drugs were heavily demonized.


Then during the late 50's, 60's and 70's the younger generation picked up drug use again. But the older generation was still heavily against it.

Now those that used drugs in the 70's are the older generation. In some ways the younger generation is just as much into some drugs. Marijuana use is certaionly not much lower than it was in the 60's and 70's. Fewer use other drugs, but there's use of drugs that really didn't exist 30 years ago.


So I think there's a liberalization trend, but it's not an old one. What will be interesting will be when the modern generations reach older years the extent to which their attitudes toward drugs will change.
12.5.2008 10:56am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
I'm still puzzled by how many people I know, and more that I infer from reading new reports etc., who will quickly agree that alcohol prohibition was altogether a bad idea, but support drug prohibition, and seriously talk about tobacco prohibition, and furthermore get very agitated by even discussing the possibility of ending drug prohibition.


Yeah, how dare they think that legalizing crack isn't exactly the same as legalizing beer.

Funny how Sarcastro doesn't appear in such a target-rich environment. Why, its almost as if his sense of humor leans in only one direction...
12.5.2008 11:00am
ForWhatItsWorth:
Oren: "...Nonsense. Each generation has more liberal views on drugs than the last. ...."

If that were really true, most would be legal today because my generation (mid to late teens in the 60's) are in control now. If anything, the penalties are worse today than they were. There is certainly more "active" enforcement than in the 60's.

What happened to all the 60's folks who said, "wait til we are in charge and .... blah, blah, blah." Well...... I'm waiting...... While I wasn't one of the users in the day, I was one of the few that I knew who didn't at least try some of it. So this really does, quite frankly, surprise me (that it isn't ALL virtually legal...... certainly something as innocuous as mj).

I guess many, if not most, of "my" generation are just as big hypocrites as we said our never-to-be-trusted parents were..... he he he.
12.5.2008 11:00am
Bama 1L:
Tritium, your method of interpreting the text inverts what nearly anyone else would do.

E.g.:

1. Nearly anyone else would take the placement of the amendment process in Art. V rather than Art. I to indicate that the Art. I process simply does not apply.

2. Nearly anyone else would take the Art. V clauses restricting certain amendments (touching aspects of slavery and equal representation of states in the Senate) as an exclusive list. Anything else can be amended.

3. Nearly anyone else would construe "to all intents and purposes," as Oren does, to assurance that amendments have the same authority as the original Constitution.

Leaving aside the Bill of Rights for a moment as well as your idiosyncratic belief that the President should have some input in the amendment, what amendments do you think altered the system so much that they must be unconstitutional? All of them?

The 11th Amendment takes away a right very clearly given in Art. III, § 2. I would really like to be able to sue a state in federal court without asking the state's permission!

The 12th Amendment completely rewrites the presidential election process, as Oren notes.

The 13th Amendment ends a practice present in much of the country at ratification and enshrined in the text.

The 14th Amendment radically alters the relationship between the states and the federal government.

The 15th Amendment gets the federal government in the business of telling the states (and thus the people of those states) whom they have to let vote.

Etc.
12.5.2008 11:21am
ForWhatItsWorth:
mariner: "...Though alcohol and "drugs" are different, ..."

They are? In what way? They both alter perception and nervous system response (assuming we are talking about mind altering types and not something like antibiotics).

If alcohol were discovered today, it would very likely be classified as a Class A narcotic. It has all of the characteristics of drugs in that classification.

The abuse potential for alcohol is unbelievably high. AA is more than ample evidence of that...... it has more members that NA ever has. Drunk driving...... etc, etc.

Alcohol is a drug, plain and simple. It does have many other industrial and medical uses, too, but it is a drug nonetheless.

In my opinion, the only difference is purely artificial. It is written into the constitution, the others aren't. That pretty much sums it up. Although I don't have actual statistics in front of me, the harm caused by the use/abuse of alcohol has far outstripped any caused my all other "drugs" combined. About the only thing you don't see is someone trying to support their alcohol addiction by robbing/burglarizing..... although that may not actually be true, either. So, if you want to say drugs are different from alcohol, you may well be right actually..... alcohol is much, much worse.
12.5.2008 11:36am
George Smith:
Here's my modest proposal:

Recreational drug use is a "victimless crime", so the governing principal is that no one else bears any of the costs or effects of another's recreational drug use.

All recreational drugs are legalized.

All importers and foreign suppliers of drugs are licensed by the FDA.

All drugs are sold through pharmacies.

All drugs are manufactured by FDA approved companies.

All drugs are tested and approved by the FDA to insure a uniform quality.

Prices are set by the market, but there is no print or TV advertising allowed.

No states may impose taxes on drugs (don't want the cigarette smuggling thing duplicated).

Public drug rehab programs may ONLY be funded out of federal taxes on drugs; no general tax revenue (thats you and me) may be used, and employers are not required to fund rehab or treatment programs.

Drug depencency is not a handicap under the ADA, and need not be accomodated by employers.

Drug impaired individuals may be fired.

No FMLA time need be granted for care of drug dependency.

Manufacturers are not liable for the effects of legal drugs (no tobacco style trial lawyer shakedowns).

Illegal importation, manufacture or sale brings a world o' hurt.

Liberals get the government oversight of the manufacture and sale; libertarians get sole and complete personal rresponsibility for the decision to use drugs.

And if this further weakens the Narcos, the people of Colombia wil be most grateful to us.
12.5.2008 11:36am
ForWhatItsWorth:
mariner...... I forgot to say, other than the statement concerning the "difference" between drugs and alcohol, I agree with you nearly 100 percent.
12.5.2008 11:39am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Manufacturers are not liable for the effects of legal drugs (no tobacco style trial lawyer shakedowns).

So manufacturers are allowed to legally sell lethal addictive drugs with a government guarantee that they can not be sued for their reckless conduct. Isn't that legitimizing corporate murder?

No wonder libertarians are a group of fringe nuts.
12.5.2008 11:45am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
About the only thing you don't see is someone trying to support their alcohol addiction by robbing/burglarizing..... although that may not actually be true, either.

Of course they do. Alcohol addiction is a drug addiction like any other. The difference of course is cultural. Alcohol and tobacco are two addictive drugs that are acceptable to use in this society. That is the difference.
12.5.2008 11:48am
George Smith:
Ah.......J.F., J.F.
12.5.2008 12:01pm
anon23:

So manufacturers are allowed to legally sell lethal addictive drugs with a government guarantee that they can not be sued for their reckless conduct. Isn't that legitimizing corporate murder?


When was the last time you heard of Anheuser-Busch (or other alcohol manufacturer) being sued when someone died of acute alcohol toxicity?

I'm sure someone's tried, and I hope they lost. If the likker wasn't poisonous due to improper manufacture, it's simply not the manufacturer's fault. Same dealio with any other recreational compound, assuming correct manufacture.
12.5.2008 12:05pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
JF: "....The difference of course is cultural...."

You are right. But I contend that is a poor reason to deny the others...... since there really is no difference in their intended purpose.

Puleez, don't anyone say they like the taste of alcohol. You and I both know that is crap, no matter who "you" might be :) If that were to be true, then I guess everclear should be the favorite alcoholic drink of all time.

No, people mix it with other things so that the flavor of the alcohol can be disguised or modified in some way. The "real" purpose of alcohol use is to take the edge off (dull or rest the mind) or get so "lubricated" that you can do and say things you normally wouldn't. That is the truth of the matter.

That would be my real point..... what's the difference, even in use, between alcohol and any other addictive or mind-altering drug? As you and I said, it is just the artificial "cultural" difference and I find that a poor reason to throw someone in jail.
12.5.2008 12:15pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
When was the last time you heard of Anheuser-Busch (or other alcohol manufacturer) being sued when someone died of acute alcohol toxicity?

The difference was the tobacco companies for years knew that their product was both addictive and deadly yet denied it. You are apparently willing to let anybody sell drugs that would be theoretically both highly addictive and deadly with a new blanket indemnity.

If alcohol and tobacco were new products and hadn't been used for thousands and hundreds of years, they of course would not be approved for human consumption. Why on earth should we allow companies to introduce deadly and addictive drugs for recreational use?
12.5.2008 12:18pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You are right. But I contend that is a poor reason to deny the others...... since there really is no difference in their intended purpose.

It is an excellent reason to deny the others. Just because there are two big exceptions for deadly, addictive drugs doesn't mean we should legalize all deadly, addictive drugs.

Not that I agree that this country's current policies towards illegal drugs is sane or practical. But wholesale legalization is not the answer.
12.5.2008 12:21pm
pintler:

If alcohol and tobacco were new products and hadn't been used for thousands and hundreds of years, they of course would not be approved for human consumption. Why on earth should we allow companies to introduce deadly and addictive drugs for recreational use?


I hope this doesn't seem flip - it isn't intended that way - but could contrast your position with, say 'Why on earth should we allow Frito Lay to introduce new Bar-B-Q flavor Preetos puffed snack chips', the immoderate consumption of which will lead to an increase in heart attacks, the leading cause of death in America'.

I mean, they are clearly intended for recreational use, not as food (if they were food, they'd have vitamins and stuff :-)). And judging from American waistlines, they're addictive - bet you can't eat just one!
12.5.2008 12:28pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
JF: "...It is an excellent reason to deny the others. ..."

If the use restrictions were the same as those for alcohol, namely age, what difference does it make? Do you think there would be more addicts? There will be addicts, whether we are talking alcohol or heroin. An addictive personality is an addictive personality. So it comes down to which addiction is worse......

The funny thing is that alcohol addiction is actually worse than most of the others, in a physiological sense. Drying out is alot harder for an alcoholic than a heroin addict. Ask them, they'll tell you. Not that either is a walk in the park, mind you.

I think that if drugs were legalized, even wholesale, you would see hardly a blip on the "addict" radar. Maybe a short spike in recreational use (chippies, as it were, in the case of heroin), but I really do believe the actual numbers of addicts would stay the same, if not actually drop. If those drugs are legitimized, then getting help has less social stigma (or at least the same as someone addicted to alcohol).

More to the point.... imagine that heroin were legalized today (or marijuana, a physically non-addictive substance), would you be anymore likely to try or use it than you are today? Would I? The answer is "no" to both, I'd bet. I certainly have no interest. I suspect most other people would be the same. They would tsk, tsk it just like they do someone who uses alcohol to excess.

Again, my opinion, but I really haven't seen anything in history or today that makes me think differently. Lots of emotion and "what abouts" on the subject, but nothing concrete or even close to concrete.

I will say that I REALLY appreciate the places that have needle exchange programs (which, if drugs were legalized wouldn't even be an issue). The only real danger, other than overdose potential with illicit substances, is the passing of disease due to the illicit nature of the substances we are talking about.

Oh, I am not a drug user (other than those prescribed by my physician...... not even alcohol). Well, not quite true.... I do smoke a good cigar from time to time, but that about covers it.
12.5.2008 12:37pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
JF: ".....If alcohol and tobacco were new products and hadn't been used for thousands and hundreds of years, they of course would not be approved for human consumption...."

Sorry, I missed this on the first go-round. Say what?

How long do you think marijuana has been used? How about the coca plant? Opium poppy output? Peyote? Psilocybin-containing mushrooms? Yohimbe? We can go on and on..... all of which are illegal..... even in their raw form.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is produced artificially or as a byproduct of leaving grapes on the vine too long. Those others are just plants. If we weren't actually meant to benefit from say opium, why are their receptors in our brains than accept only that substance or one of its close analogs?

I am not saying we should all go out and use this stuff, but to say that marijuana has not been used as long as tobacco or alcohol is to deny history. Ask any India Indian...... marijuana has been used in ceremonies there since before Vedic times..... which is WAY before biblical times.
12.5.2008 12:45pm
kshankar:
Reminds me..I'll be attending The Cato Institute Free to Booze event.

And I think this War on Drugs is absolute BS. I don't even use pot/cocaine/heroin/etc(give me some German beer and I'm good), but I still have donated to Norml, and I intern there as well (even with my busy graduate school workload and part time job)
12.5.2008 12:49pm
Brian K (mail):
bet you can't eat just one!

isn't this the catch line for pringles?
12.5.2008 12:49pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Brian K, "bet you can't eat just one!" was the catch phrase for Lays when they were in direct competition with Laura Scudder :)
12.5.2008 12:52pm
Brian K (mail):
If we weren't actually meant to benefit from say opium, why are their receptors in our brains than accept only that substance or one of its close analogs?

you're a little off. opioids mimic certain neurotransmitters already present in our brain and GI tract. I suppose you can say that the fact that opioids function on us was a fortuitous act of chance.
12.5.2008 12:52pm
Brian K (mail):
"bet you can't eat just one!" was the catch phrase for Lays when they were in direct competition with Laura Scudder

ahhh...my mistake
12.5.2008 12:54pm
Jeff R.:
It was the new deal that killed constitutional federalism; the drug war is more along the lines of an opportunistic infection.
12.5.2008 12:56pm
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
I'm generally in favor of decriminalizing personal drug consumption (speaking as one who has never used an illegal drug of any kind).

Just wondering, though. If personal consumption becomes legal, what I am I to do with a guy trying to sell meth to my daughter?
12.5.2008 12:58pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I could sign on to George Smith‘s “modest proposal" with the caveats that recreational drugs may only sold to and used by adults, no person who uses recreational drugs may qualify for any form of public assistance, and being voluntarily under the influence is not a defense to or any excuse for any crime including whether that they had the required mens rea to commit the offense.

Personally I used to be a lot more favor of relegalization for adults in college even though I have always made it a point to neither use nor knowingly associate with those who used. The parallels between the WOSD and Prohibition just made so much sense to me that relegalization for adults seemed like a logically consistent step.

While I’m still nominally in favor of it, my support has waned considerably for several reasons:

1) There’s a finite amount of time and effort that I can devote in my all-too short lifespan for the causes I care about and I think that there are far more important issues that those of us who want a freer society should focus on. While I don’t think it’s the role of government in a free society to protect adults from the consequences of their own stupidity, it’s far more egregious that government seeks to prevent people from doing things that better their lives. I would rather have free market health care reform like Senator McCain proposed, school choice, removing government-imposed barriers to entry so that entrepreneurs can start businesses and create jobs, free trade so consumers can buy more goods and cheaper, eliminating businesses subsidies, and lower taxes because these are the things that enable people to make their lives better. So long as government policies impair this freedom, it seems a pretty misplaced sense of priorities to worry about whether Bill and Ted can smoke dope in their basement.

2) I think that the “costs” of the WOSD have been exaggerated in that many of the people who died or have been imprisoned would probably have been killed or imprisoned for other crimes. We’ve seen on other discussions that the number of people who are actually imprisoned only for drug use without any other crimes is pretty small. Moreover even the “nonviolent” offenders are often dealers to children which brings me to my last point.

3) I think a good portion of those of us who are sympathetic to the idea of drug relegalization will only do so if it can only be sold to adults and not to children. In which case then yes, I and others still do want the people who are selling it to kids in the elementary, middle and high schools prosecuted which means that even if it becomes legal for adults to buy and use, there is still going to be a sort of WOSD continuing. It’s also why I think many people who disagree with Prohibition support the WOSD – they don’t want it sold to kids and I don’t believe that was as great of a concern with alcohol as far as repealing Prohibition was concerned .
12.5.2008 1:02pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
How long do you think marijuana has been used? How about the coca plant? Opium poppy output? Peyote? Psilocybin-containing mushrooms? Yohimbe? We can go on and on..... all of which are illegal..... even in their raw form.

But we are talking about societal norms. Alcohol has been used consistently in our society (and most others) since the dawn of time. Tobacco has been used by European societies since the discovery of the New World. The other drugs you mention only were widely used by western society (and are often acceptable within their native cultures) within the last two hundred years or so. Opium got a particularly bad reputation for a number a reasons including the British government's efforts to turn the Chinese people into a nation of opium addicts and the high number of opium and laudanum abuse and addiction during the Victorian era.
12.5.2008 1:11pm
George Smith:
Thorley - An age limit goes without saying. Only approved pharmacies could sell rec drugs, so the schoolyard seller is breaking the law. Which goes to Skipper's question, the answer to which is shoot his ass.
12.5.2008 1:16pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I think that if drugs were legalized, even wholesale, you would see hardly a blip on the "addict" radar.

Actually, I don't think that is true. Tobacco, especially cigarette use, is a perfect example of a highly addictive substance where the industry created a need and addicted millions of people worldwide, many of whom probably would have never smoked and become addicted, if it had not been legal. In this country, smoking rates peaked at over 50%, not coincidentally after World War II where cigarettes were included in every care and food package and were often more readily available to our soldiers than bullets.
12.5.2008 1:22pm
kshankar:
Thorley Winston:

Your first reason I can understand. But its not just whether or not Bill and Ted can smoke dope. Its just, as you mentioned before, the issue of how victimless crimes are treated. In addition, Norml has released a book detailing a good number of statistics by state. It has numbers involving counties with high arrest/low arrest rates, disproportions in arrests based on race, the quantities and sentencing guidelines, etc. It has also the cost annually per state. New York is at 1.1 billion, California is also around that. This is just for POT (Can you just imagine the total when it comes to enforcing the other ones?). Most of the mid-populated states are in the 200 millions. This doesn't include opportunity costs (lives lost, time wasted on getting the pothead on the couch instead of the rapist, etc). And I don't disagree that there are a lot of issues on our plate right now.

2nd reason...eh, that probably is correct. And the third reason is valid, but I don't think most proponents of drug legalization want it for everyone. They wish for it to be treated as a legal recreational product, just like alcohol..18 years or 21 years (they probably prefer the former).
12.5.2008 1:24pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Brian K: I forgot to mention, the Laura Scudder comeback line was, " Laura Scudders potato chips, the noisiest chips in the world..." I guess they were trying to imply crispness.... lol.

More importantly, WHY do I remember this stuff? lol

JF: Alcohol has not been used by western society "since the beginning of time" because western civilization has not existed since the beginning of time.

Beer was invented, if I recall, by the Egyptians. The pre-Vedic world was around alot earlier than this. In other words, marijuana use was around alot earlier than beer use. Surprisingly, the Indian culture doesn't seem to have died because of it, either.

Peyote has been used by the native people for thousands of years. There is archeological evidence of use in mexico for thousands of years. Additionally, psilocybin mushrooms have been used by the same people for as long, if not longer than that. Yohimbe and a number of other psychoactive plants have been in use there for as long.

Opium has been in use in the middle east, to include India, for as long as those places have been inhabited. The fact that the British tried to do something in China at a later date doesn't alter that fact.

Western civilization, quite frankly, is so new, it hardly bears mentioning in the context of the drug use in these ancient cultures.

This is why I see no real difference. Again, I am not advocating the use of any of these for other than any potential and real medical purposes, but to say that it is ok to dull thy mind with alcohol, one of the most addictive and dangerous substances known for human consumption, and to turn around and say something as innocuous as marijuana is worthy of serious prison time is just silly. It's really hypocrisy...... if it is dangerous, ban them all or don't ban any.... one or the other.
12.5.2008 1:32pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Again, I am not advocating the use of any of these for other than any potential and real medical purposes, but to say that it is ok to dull thy mind with alcohol, one of the most addictive and dangerous substances known for human consumption, and to turn around and say something as innocuous as marijuana is worthy of serious prison time is just silly.

This misstates my position. I never said that marijuana possession or use is worthy of serious prison time. I certainly believe in decriminalization of some of the less addictive and harmful recreational drugs. I strongly object to the concept of wholesale legalization of all drugs. The idea that corporations will be more responsible in distributing drugs or more concerned about the welfare of their customers is not borne out if you look at the history of the tobacco companies.

You are also selective in the choice of the drugs you choose to use as your examples. All your examples, except opium and opium derivatives, are rather innocuous or non-addictive in the traditional ways they were used. The tale of opium is one where the British tried and almost succeeded in using it to destroy an entire society all because they were pissed off the Chinese wouldn't sell them tea. Opium also became a serious problem in Victorian England.

Also, alcohol is not addictive for everyone. Alcohol addiction appears to be physically addictive only for people with a certain genetic defect.
12.5.2008 1:51pm
skippy (mail):
To all those announcing that they have never smoked pot: have you ever tried alcohol?

Why did you try one and not the other. did propoganda influence you e.g. Reefer Madness or is it just a cultural issue?

I am surprised sometimes by the lack of curiosity of people.
12.5.2008 1:54pm
pintler:

Just wondering, though. If personal consumption becomes legal, what I am I to do with a guy trying to sell meth to my daughter?


If she's an adult, nothing. If she's a child, have him prosecuted for selling to minors.

In reality, though, I think you would be better off. The state liquor store is pretty good about checking ID; the corner dope dealer isn't. Drugs would be harder to get. Illegal drug dealers would go the way of moonshiners.

I would add, Norm Stamper (formar Seattle police chief) wrote a book advocating legalizing everything but meth. He may have a point, libertarian purity aside.
12.5.2008 1:58pm
Randy R. (mail):
" Anti-druggers have made drug use something so seedy that we're a long way from seeing any meaningful political movement against criminalizing it. "

Yes, AGAIN, we all pretty much agree that the War on Drugs is a fiasco.

However, to answer the question, there will be no national political movement against criminlizing even safe drugs like pot so long as:

1. We have a religious right movement in the country telling us how to live our lives as God intended, and

2. We have a president who engaged in said act.

Clinton admitted he smoked pot. So what did he do? He stepped up drug enforcement laws. I've always believed that was politically motivated to try to prove how tough he is on this issue to backtract for his admission, and to woo the religious right. Bush, likely having been a cocaine user, probably had the same guilt feelings and motivations.

Don't know if Obama ever inhaled, but I hope he didn't so that he can have cover when he decides to decriminalize, if ever.
12.5.2008 1:59pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The state liquor store is pretty good about checking ID

Funny, I seem to vaguely remember that obtaining alcohol in high school was pretty easy, and cheaper than almost any drug--even pot. I never had to pay more than retail for alcohol in the middle to upper middle class suburbs of Chicago.
12.5.2008 2:06pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
JF: "...I strongly object to the concept of wholesale legalization of all drugs. ..."

Ah, I didn't see that in your prior posts....... Ok, now I see precisely where you are coming from. I tend to agree with you. The legalization probably should be a little selective. But the devil is in the details of the selection process.

I generally disagree with your comment about alcohol addiction potential (genes), but I am not a medical person so I would defer to someone with more knowledge of current physiology.

If that is indeed true, however, I would have to say the same would be true of the so-called narcotics. In fact, my own experience there (prescribed) seems to indicate so. I had a serious back injury that eventually required surgery. In the interim, about 2 years, I was taking regular, repeated and significant doses of vicodin, then oxycontin when vicodin didn't work as well. After the surgery and I was released from the hospital, I asked my doctor if I could try to "cold turkey" to quit those damned things. He didn't think it was a particularly good idea, but there was no health reason why I couldn't try....... I tried and other than some sweating, a little stomach discomfort and being edgy for two or three days, there was nothing. THIS after years of daily use of a narcotic.

The above may seem to back up what you said, and it may well despite my tendency to disagree, but *I* might have been a major exception to the addiction "rule." I do know others who basically had the same use level as I did and for the same basic reasons....... and they went through some hell removing that addiction..... mitigated, to a large degree, by the doctor taking them off the narcotics slowly.

SKIPPY: The answer to your question is yes, I tried alcohol, hated the "feeling," and don't use it. Yes, reefer madness, that incredibly stupid piece of garbage that was presented as truth when I was in elementary school, was certainly a main reason for never trying mj. After that, I just never really had the desire. The things I really love to do, both for work and recreation, require a reasonably sharp brain...... so in my case, it would be pretty counterproductive to use anything I don't have to use. :) :)
12.5.2008 2:12pm
GU (mail):
contrary to Radko's propaganda piece, Prohibition caused a very large reduction in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity.


This is far from certain. See Jeffrey Miron's work on this topic.

It is also beside the point if you think it is both morally and constitutionally wrong to prohibit recreational drug use.
12.5.2008 2:20pm
mariner:
ForWhatItsWorth:
mariner: "...Though alcohol and "drugs" are different, ..."

They are? In what way? They both alter perception and nervous system response (assuming we are talking about mind altering types and not something like antibiotics).


I'll buy that, which means there is even LESS of a rationale for the War On Some Drugs.

So now we agree completely. ;)
12.5.2008 2:32pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Randy R: "....1. We have a religious right movement in the country telling us how to live our lives as God intended...."

In all honesty, I think you give them credit for more power than they actually possess. First off, if they really are the religious "right," then a democrat controlled "everything" should fix that straight up, no? I think the religious "left" may have just as much power and influence if such is the case. The dems don't seem to be anymore likely to decriminalize than the repubs.

But, I don't think it has anything to do, for the most part, with religion per se. It has to do with people being brainwashed by nonsense like reefer madness and all the rest. Dishonest research (like that never happens) into the subject of drug use, effects, etc.

In fact, as an aside and speaking of honesty, this reminds me of an incident I experienced at ASU. My mother (Nurse PhD at the time) was invited to a symposium on LSD and some other drugs back in the 60's. I was old enough that she brought me along. Anyway, this was back in the "LSD causes chromosome damage" days. Most of you probably even remember this old saw. Anyway, the speakers are coming up and all manner of data being presented, then they showed some "LSD babies." The Neurosurgeon that my mom worked with stood up and YELLED..... "THOSE are thalidomide babies.... I know.... I took a few of them!"

Needless to say, that presenter was booed off the stage and the symposium was OVER! That is what I mean by "dishonest" research. I remember that incident like it happened yesterday!
12.5.2008 2:33pm
Cornellian (mail):
Clinton admitted he smoked pot. So what did he do? He stepped up drug enforcement laws. I've always believed that was politically motivated to try to prove how tough he is on this issue to backtract for his admission, and to woo the religious right. Bush, likely having been a cocaine user, probably had the same guilt feelings and motivations.

Clearly then, I am the person to be making policy decisions on this issue. I think pot should be legal, but I have never touched the stuff and never will.
12.5.2008 2:41pm
pete (mail) (www):

More to the point.... imagine that heroin were legalized today (or marijuana, a physically non-addictive substance), would you be anymore likely to try or use it than you are today? Would I? The answer is "no" to both, I'd bet. I certainly have no interest. I suspect most other people would be the same. They would tsk, tsk it just like they do someone who uses alcohol to excess


I only used marajuana twice in high school and stopped because of fear of being arrested/having my parents punish me. If it were legal I would have used it more. I might have even been willing try LSD or ecstasy in my younger years, if I knew I could get it from a federally regulated corporation like who I got my beer.

I did not drink much alchohol before age 21 for fear of punishment. I may be in the minority, but my alcohol consumption increased greatly when I hit 21, not that I ever drank that much or and hardly ever to excess. But it went from once or twice a semester to once or twice a week once it was legal for me to buy it.

One of the biggest unintended results with the current prohibition is that it is a massive income source for global organized crime which gets hundreds of billions of dollars each year from blackmarket drugs. The last UN estimate I read was that it is a $400 billion dollar annual global industry with most of that money going to fund bad people who in turn corrupt the countries they live in in order to stay in business.

You can not eliminate demand through prohibition, you can just eliminate legal suppliers. I would rather have the money people spend on drugs go to corporations and government taxes then the crime lords that get it now.
12.5.2008 2:41pm
pete (mail) (www):

But, I don't think it has anything to do, for the most part, with religion per se. It has to do with people being brainwashed by nonsense like reefer madness and all the rest. Dishonest research (like that never happens) into the subject of drug use, effects, etc.


It is not that simple. People support the war on drugs because drugs mess some people up. And they help messed up people become even more messed up. Alcohol messes some people up too, which is why prohibition came about in the first place and there are societal taboos about alcohol and drug use.

I say this as a someone who opposes the war on drugs, but realizes that the people who support it are not always idiots. They just think the benefits from the war on drugs outweigh the costs. I think they are wrong, but it does the cause no good to pretend that people who disagree with you are all brainwashed.
12.5.2008 2:54pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Pete: "...I would rather have the money people spend on drugs go to corporations and government taxes then the crime lords that get it now...."

A very good point.

On your other points, you might want to use marijuana and you might even want to try heroin if it was legal and safely supplied. I have little doubt that would happen in some cases. But after the novelty wore off, I think there would be a normalizing back to the numbers today.

Using my prescribed vicodin/oxycontin experience I mentioned above, when I first started taking the vicodin, it felt so good I almost felt like calling the phone company and tell them what a fine job they were doing. I hear that isn't such a rare event, although I am the first person I know to express it that way :)

BUT..... I KNEW that wasn't something I would want to have happening everyday or even semi-regularly. In other words, if it hadn't been for the pain I was experiencing, I would have put them down. I think most people would do the same. I don't think *I* am all that exceptional, quite frankly. Like I said.... it "felt" awfully good (plus the pain was really gone, which was a godsend), so it wasn't like I didn't like it. See my point?
12.5.2008 2:55pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Pete: "...I think they are wrong, but it does the cause no good to pretend that people who disagree with you are all brainwashed...."

Brainwashed may be a bit strong and has that "idiot" connotation, but it wasn't meant that way. After all, I was one of those idiots....... I believed reefer madness when my elementary school teachers played it as fact.

Let me revise what I said to be what I meant..... People have been taught, since like day 1, with alot of garbage research presented as truth and fact. It isn't their fault.... I expect fellow scientists to do proper science. Non-scientists expect it even more, in my opinion. It isn't like they can do the research themselves. So when they are taught with what I like to call "bad science," the result is what it is. I am not impuning the intelligence of the recipients, I am questioning and belittling the "honesty" of the so-called scientific presenters who have an undisclosed cultural "mission."

Was that a little better? :) :)
12.5.2008 3:02pm
Seamus (mail):

It may make sense to legalize drugs that can be used "responsibly" like alcohol - but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"



If we're talking about cocaine, Sherlock Holmes did (though Dr. Watson may have disagreed on that point).
12.5.2008 5:56pm
Seamus (mail):

Constitutional federalism is just one of the many casualties of the War on Drugs.


Actually, the death of federalism (ca. 1942, when Wickard v. Filburn was decided) came two decades before the employment of the Commerce Clause to regulate drugs (unitl then, the feds used the taxing power to regulate drugs, which is why the Bureau of Narcotics was in the Treasury Department).
12.5.2008 6:09pm
whit:

but can you really use cocaine, LSD, and other more hard core drugs "responsibly?"



absolutely yes. take this from somebody who has extensive experience in undercover drug investigations, has testified as an expert witness, and went to one of the biggest party schools in the country (saw more drugs there than i did while undercover).

it is undeniable that people can (and do) use all sorts of "hardcore" drugs in a responsible manner.

this is tangential to the federalism and constitutional issues, fwiw.
12.5.2008 7:09pm
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
I think there is a fundamental -- and undecidable -- difference between those who would end prohibition, and the rest: that is, whether only a small proportion of the population is susceptible to addiction of any kind, or if anyone will get addicted to something.

For the former group, the war on drugs is a tremendous waste. Addiction, whether to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc is going to get its 8-ish%. The cost to society of trying to prevent the small subset prone to addiction from satisfying their craving is simply not worth the benefit.

For the latter group, as bad as the war on drugs is, the alternative is a societal suicide note.

To the advocates of legalization, I offer this hypothetical: a new drug appears, the effects of which are so wonderful that everyone who takes it can think of nothing but getting more.

Should it also be legal? If not, why not? And why doesn't that argument apply also to, say, heroin?

Speaking as one who thinks the "modest proposal" above makes pretty good sense.

I would add to it just this: recreational drugs are limited to alcohol, cannabis, cocaine (and probably two or three others of that ilk that I can't list because my familiarity stops at alcohol).

Nobody needs anything else.

++++

Of course I would shoot the SOB who tries to sell meth to my daughter. However, that gets harder to sell to a jury if meth is legal.

Which is why I added that short list above. Does anyone think there is anything at all to be gained by legalizing meth?
12.5.2008 7:57pm
markm (mail):
Hey Skipper: "Meth" is already legal, if produced by drug companies and sold with a prescription. If your kid appears to be ADHD and other drugs don't help, his school might even go to court and order you to get a prescription.

Methamphetamine and similar stimulants are often abused. You don't have to be ADHD to see a (short-term) improvement in grades from using them, and many of my college classmates in the 70's would scheme to acquire a stockpile of "upper" pills for exam week. IMO, even if cramming 20 hours a day on speed didn't get them wired too tight to do well on exams, they were just setting themselves up for failure later. Much of what goes into final exams is what you'll need to know to even get started in the next course, and these folks would forget everything when they came down off of the high. And that's assuming they escaped without addiction or serious side effects. It's even worse if people use stimulants to get through an ordinary day - there's always going to be a reason they need to take another...

But the effect of regulatory crackdowns to restrict the diversion of legal *amphetamines to recreational and self-medication uses, was just to create a black market for the home-cooked stuff - that is, to make it profitable to endanger yourself and your neighbors with a poorly-controlled home-made chemical plant, in order to sell a product tainted with toxins. And further crackdowns, requiring signing a log to buy cough medicines (and getting cut off if too many family members catch a cold at the same time), appear to have succeeded to the extent that illegal factories in Mexico and meth smuggled and marketed by violent gangs are replacing Ma &Pa Toothless... That's hardly an improvement.
12.5.2008 9:13pm
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
markm:

Thanks for the deep background.

As I mentioned above, beyond alcohol (I prefer Famous Grouse) when it comes to drugs, I'm at least a half vast wasteland of ignorance.
12.5.2008 10:59pm
whit:

Hey Skipper: "Meth" is already legal, if produced by drug companies and sold with a prescription. If your kid appears to be ADHD and other drugs don't help, his school might even go to court and order you to get a prescription.


i had a fair # of drug cases with kids giving away or selling their ADHD drugs to other kids.

dexedrine sulphate specifically.

this was also the case where i "invented" the drug lineup. i made a photo lineup of pills to have the girl who was provided the pill pick out the one she was given.

it was a first, according the prosecutor's office.
12.6.2008 12:01am
Curt Fischer:

"Meth" is already legal, if produced by drug companies and sold with a prescription. If your kid appears to be ADHD and other drugs don't help, his school might even go to court and order you to get a prescription.


I think the example of amphetamines perfectly illustrates the point I repeatedly try to make about drug legalization, dosage, and risk. ADHD drugs are amphetamines. Their pharmacological mode of action is virtually identical to crystal meth.

ADHD drugs are manufactured in pill forms with easily controllable dosages. This doesn't stop kids from selling them to other kids. It doesn't stop kids from grinding them up and snorting or smoking them, either (except for certain time-release capsules which cannot be ground up). But it certainly makes snorting/smoking less convenient and less necessary to a recreational user. The availability of pills makes it much more likely that a user will take a reasonable dose. It makes it much more likely that oral delivery, instead of smoking or injection, will be used.

Compare that scenario to the use and manufacture of crystalline methamphetamine. First, its manufacture is highly dangerous. Second, it is usually sold in bulk, purified form. In this form it is usually injected or smoked. These delivery mechanisms are much more rapidly acting, much more likely to lead to addiction, and pose much greater health risks (from e.g. respiratory damage, needle contamination, use of doctored "meth", etc.).

If drugs were legalized, I think that cocaine and even opiates would be readily available in low-dose time-release oral pills. I'd be concerned if I found out a loved one were abusing cocaine, regardless of what form they used. But I would be far more worried and shocked if they smoked crack than if they took some low-dose time-release cocaine pills.

Unfortunately the War on Drugs all but guarantees that only the riskiest forms of cocaine will be available to would-be users.
12.6.2008 2:29pm
Fub:
Curt Fischer wrote at 12.6.2008 2:29pm:
Unfortunately the War on Drugs all but guarantees that only the riskiest forms of cocaine will be available to would-be users.
From the point of view of many who support the war on (some) drugs, that is not a bug, but a feature.
12.6.2008 5:47pm
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
when I first started taking the vicodin, it felt so good I almost felt like calling the phone company and tell them what a fine job they were doing. I hear that isn't such a rare event, although I am the first person I know to express it that way :)

BUT..... I KNEW that wasn't something I would want to have happening everyday or even semi-regularly. In other words, if it hadn't been for the pain I was experiencing, I would have put them down. I think most people would do the same. I don't think *I* am all that exceptional, quite frankly. Like I said.... it "felt" awfully good (plus the pain was really gone, which was a godsend), so it wasn't like I didn't like it.

I must be missing something here. If I thought that was a typical effect, I'd recommend everyone do it, all the time. To say otherwise is to say one should not feel as good as one can feel, and that's crazy talk.
12.7.2008 10:22pm
Oren:



i had a fair # of drug cases with kids giving away or selling their ADHD drugs to other kids.

dexedrine sulphate specifically.

this was also the case where i "invented" the drug lineup. i made a photo lineup of pills to have the girl who was provided the pill pick out the one she was given.

it was a first, according the prosecutor's office.

Man, dexedrine is great stuff. Very clever on the lineup idea too, except that I'd make sure to grab another LEO that doesn't know what's what to administer it.
12.8.2008 12:41am
whit:
that would have been a good idea, oren.

cops need to think more like defense attorneys more often.

i've never used dexedrine, but i've used ephedrine/caffeine stack when i was dieting back in the day for a powerlifting competition.

that stuff jacks you up.

you feel kind of like beavis in the episode where he swallows a bunch of coffee and starts running around with his t-shirt pulled over his head.
12.8.2008 3:00am

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