Keeping The World Safe For Hypocrisy

Keeping The World Safe For Hypocrisy
Posted by FoM on April 20, 2000 at 11:30:33 PT
By Tom Flannagan 
Source: Terminal City
Policy vs. Reality:Looking at the results and realities of drug prohibition seems to be as forbidden as the substances themselves. People debate the policy as if it were the same thing as the reality. To some extent, the whole discussion of whether these substances should be banned is irrelevant. 
In reality, they are not and cannot be banned. After decades of increasingly severe penalties and ever larger enforcement efforts, these drugs are plentiful and readily available almost everywhere. In fact, the price just keeps dropping. Even the government's own figures show dramatic plunges in the prices of cocaine and heroin while the drug enforcement budget skyrockets. Yet the confusion of policy and reality continues. Let's start with the argument that drugs must remain illegal to protect children. This argument ignores the reality that under prohibition, they are very readily available and regularly consumed by underage users. There are no age requirements to purchase LSD. I once heard a 13-year-old argue LSD is entertainment that is "cheaper than a movie, and lasts a whole lot longer." Try reacting with horror and you run into another problem of the drug war – the crazy propaganda has jaded them, made them suspicious. You can't tell them any drug is dangerous, because they've already realized so much of what they've been told, by people who were supposed to be honest, was lies. I didn't even try marijuana until I was 18, but I knew when I was fourteen that the drug propaganda was mostly empty. It wasn't hard to figure out. I knew they were lying to me. Now, newspapers run stories like, "How to tell children marijuana is wrong when the parents smoked it." Now, we are lying to them. The Reality of the Policy: We Don't Need It:The reality is that most Americans don't need prohibition to keep from becoming drug addicts. There is this myth that these substances have allure akin to the mythological Sirens, which no mortal could possibly resist. But people have resisted. Heroin, cocaine and other "dangerous drugs" were legal in the United States until the early 20th century. We had fairly high rates of use, and even of addiction. Yet these existed without the social problems we see today. In 1906 the Pure Foods Act began to require ingredients to be listed. For the first time, people could read, right on the package, whether cocaine or heroin was in the product they were buying. The result was the biggest drop in the use of such drugs ever. These substances, supposedly so dangerous and alluring, were once readily available over the counter at pharmacies, and when people knew which products contained them, sales crashed. So, why do we have to spend billions today to control them… or feebly and unsuccessfully attempt to control them? The Reality of the Situation: Ethan Nadelman, perhaps the best writer on the subjects relates the view that "drug prohibition policies in the United States are fundamentally at odds with any conceivable policy predicated on either public health precepts or notions of harm reduction." our drug prohibition policies accomplish is actually the opposite of the stated goals. What we're really doing is perpetuating a huge black market, with violent entrepreneurs and dangerously uneven quality. We're making everyone prisoners and suspects. We're making it readily available even to children, and destroying the social pressures that would work otherwise. We are not reducing the harm from these substances, either to individuals or to society at large, but increasing it. Heroin, for example, is a relatively safe drug. To anyone exposed to years of drug war propaganda, that sounds outrageous, but it's true. Hospitals (outside the US) have long used it for treatment of severe pain, as it is the most effective painkiller we have. I tried go to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to find their propaganda. Even they say that the real danger of heroin is addiction itself. The danger of addiction is addiction. OK. When heroin is illegal, the purity fluctuates so much that people aren't sure what they're getting, or whether it is even heroin at all. It tends to be adulterated with more harmful substances and used in unsafe settings. NIDA had a little sidebar where they listed other dangers of heroin. The dangers were all due to it being illegal (e.g, AIDS from contaminated needles). Supposedly, legalization would be devastating to the inner cities, and prohibition protects them. Well, go spend time in an American inner city today, under prohibition. Legalization involves "writing off" the inner cities no more than repealing prohibition involved writing off Al Capone's hometown of Chicago. Go to an inner city today, under this extreme prohibition, and see how hard it is to find crack, or people shooting each other over it. (And it's not just the inner cities: rural drug use is very high as well.) We hear about "drugs and the violence they breed." They don't. The violence is over control of the markets, the violence is almost entirely because they are illegal. When alcohol was illegal, we saw the same violence surrounding it. When marijuana and heroin were legal, we did not see violence surrounding their use. When some parts of Canada place very high taxes on cigarettes, violent, gun-toting smugglers ran boatloads of cigarettes into Canada. Monday April 3, 2000Keeping The World Safe For Hypocrisy Pt.2By Tom Flannagan One of the biggest fallacies of the drug war is that the problem is the substances. If we could only rid ourselves of these substances, of this or that "scourge", we'd be OK. And the substances keep changing – it's heroin, then it's cocaine, then methamphetamine… It's not the substances. In fact, we can never get rid of the substances. Take heroin. Even if we eradicated the poppy from the face of the earth, you can make a synthetic version from coal tar. Gonna get rid of all the coal tar? Varieties of speed can be made from household chemicals. Marijuana grows as a weed. Even if you could get rid of these, you'd still have fuels and solvents (butane, for example, is called "bop-bops" and users enjoy inhaling it while drunk – tell them how dangerous that is and they’ll just ignore you, because that's what they were told about pot). You'll never get rid of the substances. They're not the problem, anyway. Most people who consume these drugs do so in moderation. Even heroin. Most studies and stories of heroin are based on hard core street addicts, but that's like talking about alcohol using only severe alcoholics as examples. To most people for whom these substances are available (that is, everyone), they are not a problem. We do, however seem to have a base rate of addiction. About five-percent of people seem to be drawn to substance abuse. That's shown up throughout different societies and different substances. In addition, when people feel hopeless, we tend to see higher rates of substance abuse. Nadleman again: "… Alcohol consumption among conquered aboriginal groups and cocaine consumption among some inner-city populations have more in common with each other than either does with patterns of alcohol or cocaine consumption among less vulnerable sectors of the population." Indeed, where they've banned alcohol among Australian aboriginals, they've had to lock up the gas pumps, too, because people started huffing gas fumes. When people find their lives painful and largely bereft of hope, they tend to seek out ways to alter consciousness and alleviate pain. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem we should be working on is not their substance abuse, but their pain and hopelessness. One famous example is the heroin-addicted U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. Despite high addiction rates while in Vietnam, once the soldiers came back from that nightmare, their addiction rates fell back dramatically. The soldiers came back to saner surroundings and dropped their habits. When we feel we can lead productive lives, we tend to avoid things that will interfere with that. Despite ready access to alcohol, even if we enjoy drinking, we generally avoid indulging to the point of hangover. Save Me From Myself:So, who, exactly are we protecting? Not the children. They find the stuff more available than if it were legal and are ill served by the propaganda that leads them to discount all warnings. Indeed, the ridiculous DARE program, started by the notorious LA police chief Darryl Gates (who once explained that blacks were dying from police chokeholds because they had a different biology than "normals") has been repeatedly shown to be utterly ineffective, with one study even suggesting it may later lead to harder drug use. Is it addicts, perhaps? That was the view of a Newsweek editorial: Legalization, then, is an inequitable trade-off that is based on a failure of empathy for society's victims: all those who do not use drugs would gain the benefits of reduced crime, while those who are addicted... will be condemned to a brutal struggle with their dependency. Now, two points here: One, the author, a staunch opponent of legalization, admits that basically everyone else would benefit. The rest of us would get reduced crime. In Vancouver there was a big heroin bust. The police were very proud of it and showed it off. It was "a major blow" to heroin trafficking. Then I read that police were warning people that, due to the sharp rise in prices resulting from the bust, there would be a lot more break-ins. Well, frankly, I don't mind the people shooting up in alleyways and cheap hotel rooms nearly as much as I mind them breaking into my house and taking my stuff. Another benefit -- when we have severe pain, we'd be treated. I went to the hospital after a bike accident with some obvious injuries (you can still see the scars). They dressed my wounds and prescribed me Advil. I went through a night of excruciating pain before I got hold of some painkillers. My girlfriend went to the hospital with pancreatitis, in the most severe pain I've ever seen anyone, and the resident refused to give her painkillers because she might have been faking. (An emergency call to her family doctor set that straight, after an hour of watching her in such agony I feared she'd die of shock.) There'd be environmental benefits as well, as illegal drug manufacture, a truly vast enterprise (one of the biggest in the world), is one of the most polluting industries on the planet (with dangerous chemicals dumped directly into local ecosystems). The other point about the Newsweek editorial is that the author closes by asserting that under legalization addicts "will be condemned to a brutal struggle with their dependency." Well, what does this guy think it's like for addicts now? If policy were reality, and there were simply no drugs to be found anywhere, he might have a point. The reality, though is that the stuff is available everywhere. I have a friend who actually tried to get away from it, and found she could even score on a remote island off Canada. What are addicts condemned to under prohibition? Because it is illegal, the quality is uncertain, leading to overdoses and health problems from impure product. The expense, while vastly enriching and funding criminal enterprises, leaves addicts impoverished, which makes it so much harder for them to get their lives back together, as does their criminal record if they’re caught. Where heroin is legal and prescribed, the addicts certainly seem to be a lot less condemned. The First Graders Were Laughing at Me:If I grow poppies in front of my house, I'll probably be left alone. But what if I take a few of those poppies into my kitchen and make a tea from them? What if I drink that tea and it gives me a mildly pleasant feeling? What if I then spend the evening sitting on my couch reading and enjoying the mild feelings of relaxation and well-being the tea brings on? Well, in that case I've done something so reprehensible that police agents will be justified in smashing in my door with assault rifles and sending me to one of our hellish prisons for the punishment I so richly deserve. A caller to National Public Radio asked a similar question. If I sit on my back porch, he said, and smoke a little pot, and watch the sunset, what harm is that doing anyone and why is that anyone's business? The ex-DEA agent defending prohibition said, Well, buddy, you ought to look at the correlation between marijuana and child molestation. Hmmm. I've been stoned many times. I've yet to have any desire to molest children. Frankly, I don't find young children sexually alluring. I don't think anyone without a mental illness does. I've become very horny while under the influence, but I've never done anything with someone other than a consenting adult (oh, all right, there was that one indiscretion with a water buffalo, but that was years ago). So we have another demon of the weed - if you smoke pot you'll become a Child Molester! Come on. I imagine you'd find a correlation with alcohol, too, and probably a lot higher. What it's actually about is bullying people. When I hear the drug warriors defending their practices, they sound an awful lot like schoolyard bullies, like that unpopular fourth grader who used to go pick on the first graders. They like harassing people who aren't bothering anyone. They get off on being able to kick in the doors of people's homes and drag them onto the floor. Listen to them, and you start hearing how much they like that. Upholding Hypocrisy:This is all happening in a time when both the President and Vice President admit to having smoked marijuana. You can still go to jail for life for the stuff, and people do (even those using it medicinally). Whenever states democratically pass a medical marijuana initiative, the federal government, run by people who have smoked the stuff themselves, steps in and sues to prevent it. Why don't we lock up the President and Vice President, based on their confessions? It's not much different from government officials, from Congress right up through the Presidency, drinking alcohol during Prohibition. And, before we move on to my own proposal on this problem, there is another potential benefit of legalization: Less dangerous drugs might drive out more dangerous ones. I have a doctor friend who said that she would rather have her patients use heroin (assuming it was pharmaceutically pure) than smoke cigarettes. Smoking tobacco not only causes lung cancer in ten percent of users, but heart attacks in 40 percent. Smoking steadily kills off parts of the heart muscle. And nicotine, according the World Health Organization, is more addictive than heroin. It's incredible that not only is this stuff legal, but heavily marketed. NewsHawk: ZapmanWeb Posted: April 3, 2000Maintained by Moonbeam Media. Revision 5.1 08 February 2000. CannabisNews Articles On Drug Policy & Legalization - Over 1500 News Items:
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Comment #6 posted by John R. Bills on April 21, 2000 at 11:04:45 PT:
I read that heroin, synthetically produced from coal tar can cost as little as 1 cent per average dose! Even the most hard core addict would go through about 25 cents a day. Forget PRISON. I'll even throw in a big mac a day.
Shaeffer Library
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Comment #5 posted by dddd on April 20, 2000 at 19:42:03 PT
 This is probably the finest dissertations I've ever seen on the subject. It really makes it clear,that the worst problem we have with drugs,is a corrupt and/or blind government,which has poisoned the public perception,so they can maintain there own evil and subversive agendas. I said it before;the most sleazy criminals,and heinous crimes,are the ones that occur,and exsist, in the political realm.....dddd
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Comment #4 posted by J Christen-Mitchell on April 20, 2000 at 18:11:11 PT:
Moral Liberty
Vices Are Not Crimes, A Vindication of Moral Liberty by Lysander Spooner 1875..Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. ..Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another                                                       ..Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property. ..In vices, the very essence of crime - that is, the design to injure the person or property of another - is wanting. ..It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practices his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others. ...Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property. ...For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth. 
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Comment #3 posted by DontArrestMe on April 20, 2000 at 15:23:23 PT
Good Stuff
This is truly excellent prose. When all of the said points are laid out in such a simple and clear manner as this, it makes me wonder if things will ever change. If someone asked me why we should legalize drugs, I could do no better than this editor. With that said, I doubt that this article will change the minds of policymakers in America. Legalization just isn't politically correct; neither is the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco. If the government would only realize why they haven't prohibited sexual and religious freedom: it is none of their business!
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Comment #2 posted by observer on April 20, 2000 at 15:02:26 PT
re: Tobacco Addicts, Prostitution
he can't even grasp the fact that tobacco addicts don't rob people b/c their drug of choice isn't on the black market.Yeah, tobacco is addictive. It is not unknown for people to prostitute themselves for tobacco when it is scarce, just as for heroin or for cocaine...``Young women had their special means, and it was not only entertainment, food, and silk stockings which made them seek the company of GI's, but in large part the almighty cigarettes. There was a saying that they went mit Ami fur die Ami.39''``. . . The soldiers dole out cigarettes and receive kisses from Italian women. . .'' 
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Comment #1 posted by Alexandre Oeming on April 20, 2000 at 13:45:13 PT:
This is welldone and still concise. I applaud every last point as i often bring up the same things several times a day in talk.politics.drugs. Nevertheless, the vast majority aren't going to listen. Never has it been more applicable that "my mind's made up ... don't bother confusing me with the facts". I've been debating some moron from NY state prisons and he can't even grasp the fact that tobacco addicts don't rob people b/c their drug of choice isn't on the black market. He has told me flat-out that "alcohol is not addictive". Couple that with the oldie and moldy, "who cares if the gov't is responsible for the creation of black markets for substances ... it's the fault of the dealers that do the dealing!" and you've got a whole lot of folks with their heads in the sand. Sad.
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