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Subject: Drugs, war, legalization rss

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Chad Ellis
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http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/the-war-on-t...

When it comes to drugs, I'm the boring kind of geek. I've been drunk twice in my life (both times in my early 30s) and have never even tried pot, let alone any more serious 'controlled substance'. I have no wish to, either. So I have no horse in this race.

It seems to me that legalization is a no-brainer. Just as prohibition of alcohol gave rise to organized crime and a wide range of problems, prohibition of other drugs seems to do the same. The drug cartels exist because we've created the legal framework for them to exist. The vast number of non-violent offenders in our prison system are there because we've chosen to spend a lot of money taking their lives away from them for injuring no one but possibly themselves.

Does anyone here think that our drug laws are broadly correct? If so, what's the argument?
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Ken
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
It seems to me that legalization is a no-brainer.


I can see legalizing pot. Legalizing cocaine, opiates, meth, etc. strikes as dangerous. Their addictive qualities are pretty high and the impact of addiction can be devastating. If pot's the equivalent of alcohol, then the others are a fifth of good scotch to an alcoholic.

I think our drug laws regarding marijuana are dated and more a reflection of the '60s than the reality of the drug. And I think many of our other drug laws need a look, particularly on the sentencing side (we send way too many people to prison for the "crime" of being addicted and the sentencing laws don't make any damned sense with mandatory minimums).
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True Blue Jon
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Drug users don't just hurt themselves.
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quozl wrote:
Drug users don't just hurt themselves.


Neither to people who smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or drive while distracted (cell phone, eating, makeup, whatever).
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quozl wrote:
Drug users don't just hurt themselves.


And when the law can demonstrate that they hurt others, they should be punished for that crime. Until then, the government has no place (in a free country) telling its citizens what they can and cannot put in their own bodies.
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Absolutely legalize the whole gallery of drugs. Tax it, sell it, retail it, advertise it and reassign the DEA task forces to something useful... like school crossing guards.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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I'll make the same comment I made earlier. You're fooling yourself if you think legalizing drugs is going to make criminals just disappear. Most of the dealers and runners do it because it's easy money. With drugs gone, there will be another easy money. There will still be plenty of things that are against the law that will be preferable to holding down a day job. If we're lucky it will be some other vice and not preying on innocents.

I also agree that the hardcore stuff is way worse than alcohol in terms of how addictive it is and what it does to your ability to function as a productive member of society.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Also, I'll go on record as agreeing with the seeming equivalency between pot and booze. There is an inconsistency there for sure, I'm just not sure whether I come down on the side of further restricting alcohol or legalizing pot.
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[q="ejmowrer"]I'll make the same comment I made earlier. You're fooling yourself if you think legalizing drugs is going to make criminals just disappear./q]

While many of the dealers may move on to other areas of crime (I have no idea if this is the case or not), the legalization would make "criminals" disappear, because many users who are not involved in other crimes would stop being labeled as such.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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ZiggyZambo wrote:
ejmowrer wrote:
I'll make the same comment I made earlier. You're fooling yourself if you think legalizing drugs is going to make criminals just disappear.


While many of the dealers may move on to other areas of crime (I have no idea if this is the case or not), the legalization would make "criminals" disappear, because many users who are not involved in other crimes would stop being labeled as such.


True, but that's not who I was referring to. However, I don't see that aspect as rosy, either. Just because it's legal won't make them less addicted or more able to afford the costs of getting the next hit.
 
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Recent exchange between Ron Paul and Steve Baldwin.



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TheLightSarcastic wrote:
Sorry, but I have to vote against legalization. Right now, pot is relatively cheap and tax-free. Once the government gets their hands on the business, you know you'll be getting skimpy bags of dirt weed with insane taxation.




You realize, don't you, how inexpensive home gardening in a closet is?
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tommynomad wrote:
quozl wrote:
Drug users don't just hurt themselves.


And when the law can demonstrate that they hurt others, they should be punished for that crime. Until then, the government has no place (in a free country) telling its citizens what they can and cannot put in their own bodies.


Does this count for tobacco? The harms of second-hand smoke have been well demonstrated, especially for children who live in the homes of parents who are smokers.
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SpaceGhost wrote:
tommynomad wrote:
quozl wrote:
Drug users don't just hurt themselves.


And when the law can demonstrate that they hurt others, they should be punished for that crime. Until then, the government has no place (in a free country) telling its citizens what they can and cannot put in their own bodies.


Does this count for tobacco? The harms of second-hand smoke have been well demonstrated, especially for children who live in the homes of parents who are smokers.


You're asking the wrong guy that question. It's been demonstrated that children of smokers are much more likely to smoke themselves. Common sense tells us that no one would wish the smoking habit on anyone. I therefore maintain that parents who smoke do not love their children, or at least, love them less than they love the drug.
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TheLightSarcastic wrote:
Sorry, but I have to vote against legalization. Right now, pot is relatively cheap and tax-free. Once the government gets their hands on the business, you know you'll be getting skimpy bags of dirt weed with insane taxation.


As someone who doesn't use it, this is very much why I'm all for legalizing it!

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DWTripp wrote:
TheLightSarcastic wrote:
Sorry, but I have to vote against legalization. Right now, pot is relatively cheap and tax-free. Once the government gets their hands on the business, you know you'll be getting skimpy bags of dirt weed with insane taxation.




You realize, don't you, how inexpensive home gardening in a closet is?


And thus starts the War On Hydroponics.

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tommynomad wrote:
SpaceGhost wrote:
tommynomad wrote:
quozl wrote:
Drug users don't just hurt themselves.


And when the law can demonstrate that they hurt others, they should be punished for that crime. Until then, the government has no place (in a free country) telling its citizens what they can and cannot put in their own bodies.


Does this count for tobacco? The harms of second-hand smoke have been well demonstrated, especially for children who live in the homes of parents who are smokers.


You're asking the wrong guy that question. It's been demonstrated that children of smokers are much more likely to smoke themselves. Common sense tells us that no one would wish the smoking habit on anyone. I therefore maintain that parents who smoke do not love their children, or at least, love them less than they love the drug.


Well, that is an answer that I concur with.
 
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Quote:
You're asking the wrong guy that question. It's been demonstrated that children of smokers are much more likely to smoke themselves. Common sense tells us that no one would wish the smoking habit on anyone. I therefore maintain that parents who smoke do not love their children, or at least, love them less than they love the drug.


If I was given a choice as to what drug I had to make illegal it would be nicotine. Smoking is a terrible addiction. I mean terrible. And I'm a smoker who has struggled for the last few years to bring it to a close. Whether it's an urban myth or not, I have read that it's grip is stronger than heroin and I can certainly attest that it often feels unbeatable.

My dad and mother managed to quit and my son... who only smoked for a few years... quit as well. I have managed to bring a pack a day habit down to 3 packs a week over a two year period and I'm steeling myself for that final push.

Weed isn't really a part of my life, nor are any drugs and I'm only an occasional light drinker. But this cigarette thing... man, it's evil shit. Evil.



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TheLightSarcastic wrote:
Sorry, but I have to vote against legalization. Right now, pot is relatively cheap and tax-free. Once the government gets their hands on the business, you know you'll be getting skimpy bags of dirt weed with insane taxation.


Perhaps you are correct on the cheapness, but I question the idea of skimpy bags, and especially dirt weed. If it were regulated, would it not be sold in packages of nominal weight, and priced according to relative strength?

I am for legalization. I think it would solve many more problems than it would cause.

...not that I am an expert in the field or anything...
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I think you need to start with the effects on the user while ON the drug, and the effects on the user while OFF the drug. In other words, consider the individual drug, not "DRUGS!!!"

Pot's a no-brainer. Can't OD on it. Makes people placid. The effects from long-term use are so mild that it's controversial if they exist at all. No danger to stopping it, even if used habitually. Bad for the lungs for sure.

I favor the legalization of narcotics, especially heroin. This is because all the crime around narc use is because the stuff is so damn expensive that people must resort to crime for quick cash infusions. Withdrawal form narcs is unpleasant, but not dangerous, which is a critical distinction. I'd like to see doctors able to prescribe heroin, made commercially and thus inexpensively, with widespread distribution of clean needles to cut down on the infectious disease associated with the grubbiness of heroin use. Please realize that people on narcs can work, so the focus should be on maintaining people on a clean, cheap supply to get them back into society.

Both coke and meth make people agitated, aggressive, and assholish. They also tend no make peoples hearts' explode (metaphorically speaking). I think we should continue to ban these drugs, but shunt abusers into treatment rather than incarceration.

The American approach to the "War on Drugs" is the most pointless, expensive, hypocritical, and damaging social policy of my lifetime. We've created an underclass who now identify more strongly with the penal system than free society, we have punished addicts while enriching traffickers, and we have militarized our police based on a moral panic.
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Ken
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tommynomad wrote:
I therefore maintain that parents who smoke do not love their children, or at least, love them less than they love the drug.


At least in my case, you'd be wrong. Ever try kicking an addiction?
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ejmowrer wrote:
I'll make the same comment I made earlier. You're fooling yourself if you think legalizing drugs is going to make criminals just disappear. Most of the dealers and runners do it because it's easy money. With drugs gone, there will be another easy money.

There isn't really anything that will substitute. Drug dealing is easy to get into and there is a ready, accessible market. And of course the criminals will not just disappear. We have afterall spent years building up this massive criminal element. Like any war a lot of damage has been done and it will take a long time to repair.

ejmowrer wrote:
I also agree that the hardcore stuff is way worse than alcohol in terms of how addictive it is and what it does to your ability to function as a productive member of society.

What exactly is hardcore? Alcohol when abused pretty much completely destroys your ability to function and be productive.

ejmowrer wrote:
Also, I'll go on record as agreeing with the seeming equivalency between pot and booze.

I don't think they are equivalent. Alcohol is both physically addictive and withdrawal is potentially fatal. If we're going to arbitrarily declare drugs hard and soft, then alcohol should be tossed into the hard column.

ejmowrer wrote:
True, but that's not who I was referring to. However, I don't see that aspect as rosy, either. Just because it's legal won't make them less addicted or more able to afford the costs of getting the next hit.

The majority are users, not abusers. The majority are not addicted. Being an addict need not, in itself, be much more than an inconvenience like having to take medication for any other ailment.

JoshBot wrote:
Both coke and meth make people agitated, aggressive, and assholish.

A generalization and an untrue one at that. And certainly coca tea should be freely available (not the degraded so-called coca tea we get outside South America).

As for heart damage that's only likely to be an issue with excessive use, like liver damage in alcohol users.

DWTripp wrote:
If I was given a choice as to what drug I had to make illegal it would be nicotine.

Well then at worst ban the delivery method. No reason I should be denied access to nicotine because other people choose to use it in a dangerous form. In fact if it were illegal and not easily available in a safer form I'd be forced to buy tobacco on the black market, and probably be smoking it.

With regard to law enforcement I can see that the ordinary police officer might have a real incentive to win the war, afterall there are plenty of other real crimes to handle, but do specialised divisions of the police or police forces that exist solely to wage this war have such an incentive? What would all those narco-thugs do with themselves if they won?
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perfalbion wrote:
tommynomad wrote:
I therefore maintain that parents who smoke do not love their children, or at least, love them less than they love the drug.


At least in my case, you'd be wrong. Ever try kicking an addiction?

I think this reply points up the salient point in all of this. We need to recognize that "parents who smoke" are not a monolithic bloc which you can make sweeping generalizations about, and extend grace and compassion to all of Darwin's children.

As for legalizing drugs, I am, of course, all for it. I have been all my life, including the fifteen years in which my life revolved around maintaining an identity as a strident straightedger, eschewing with ferocity drugs, alcohol, and casual sex. Where some straightedge bands sung histrionic screeds about beating up smokers or freaking out about "a beer, a joint, like a gun to your head", I was always measured in my response, knowing that acting like the sky was falling wasn't appropriate, and drove folks away from the abstemious lifestyle I was promoting.

As well, I spoke out often and loudly in favor of complete legalization. I maintained that I would much rather my friends smoke pot than drink, owing to the toxicity of alcohol and the potential for drinking oneself to death. Freaky! As for the other drugs, I favored their legalization on a broad libertarian basis (the concept, not the goddam political party).

I'll allow that many of my ideals were formed in a state of naivete, having never used drugs and being fairly convinced that nobody I personally knew was using them, either. Boy, was I wrong about that! After "breaking the edge", the scales fell from my eyes and I saw that pretty much everybody I knew got stoned all the time, they just never brought it up around me, due to the perceived vehemence of my stance.

The ones who would give me the most pushback on my complete legalization outlook were, ironically, crusty punks who had personal experience with cocaine, meth, and heroin. On more than one occasion, a kid strung out on whatever would tell me I was wrong, and that the substance he was currently high on should not be made legal. Oh, what a pickle when our highfalutin' ideations refuse to align with reality!

Today, I'm no longer straightedge, and I still favor legalization of all drugs. That said, I'm for varying degrees of control upon them all, and I'm still strictly in favor of young people abstaining altogether. I retain nothing but disdain for so-called "partying". Ugh; the thought of it makes me want to vomit out of disgust.

But I recognize the efficacy of some drugs. There's not a doubt in my mind that smoking pot has made me a more centered and peaceful person. It slows down my racing thoughts and foments wonderful conversation. My experiences on psychedelics have been illuminating and rewarding, and even demon alcohol is useful as a social lubricant, for cats like me who are just too tightly wound as a rule.

But I'll say loudly from the highest mountain that drugs and alcohol are only useful if you're already in a positive state to begin with. If you're stressed or bummed out, they exacerbate a bad situation, or allow you to "cope" with a situation that should be addressed directly. I'll never (again) use drugs to "take the edge off" of a bad day or to fill in the cracks of a broken lifestyle. Double-ugh!

So by all means, drugs should be legalized. Like any other thing on earth, they can be used for good or for ill. We need to foster positive attitudes toward their use, not so that everybody will take them, but so that folks can experience them in the way that's most useful and can avoid the stigmas that prevent them from seeking assistance if they get in over their heads.
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kaytel wrote:
What exactly is hardcore? Alcohol when abused pretty much completely destroys your ability to function and be productive.


That's true, but alcohol's addictive properties aren't on the same level as cocaine, many opiates, or a variety of amphetamines. I'm certainly not saying alcohol can't be addictive, nor diminishing the impact such addiction can have. But it's not quite the same as coke or crack, is it?

I think there's a public interest in preventing addictions of that nature, myself. So legalizing all drugs doesn't strike me as wise.
 
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To those that think legalization is a bad idea.

Do you favor stronger enforcement of existing drug laws?

It really bothers me that we have any laws that we don't enforce. If they are important enough to be laws (and I think many of them should be eliminated), then it's important enough to enforce them.
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