Consider Arguments For Legalizing Regulating Drugs

  Consider Arguments For Legalizing Regulating Drugs

Posted by FoM on May 16, 2001 at 14:01:16 PT
By William Conroy  
Source: Messenger-Inquirer  

Sometimes the majority has good intentions, but consequences of good intentions are often bad public policy. The War on Drugs is a cure worse than the disease. We have experimented with both prohibition of alcohol and drugs used for recreation purposes (heroin, tranquilizers, marijuana, etc.). Perhaps we are on the threshold of criminalizing tobacco for adults. What have we learned? By using criminal penalties, if eradication of use is the goal, failure is certain. If moderately curbing use is the goal, success is possible, but at a cost that is unacceptable. 
Some say if we can put a person on the moon, we can stop illegal drug use. Wrong. It is easier to send a person beyond our atmosphere than it is to change the habits of millions of people. Today, tobacco is our most deadly drug and alcohol is close behind. And then come numerous also-rans of cocaine, heroin, etc. Society tolerates but regulates the first two drugs. For the others, the slammer is the favorite "cure." As long as millions of people desire drugs, they will be supplied. When police are most effective, they bust many dealers and confiscate pounds or even tons of drugs. Then the price on the street goes up. Laws of supply and demand deem purchases will decline when price increases, even for addictive substances. But as price increases so does property-related crime. Drugs cost more so holdups and burglaries increase. (And when price goes up, more people go into sales.) Detroit once had a very unofficial experiment of not busting heroin dealers for a period of time. Price went down; use likely went up; and property-related crime dropped. Also violent crime increases when drug possession is criminalized. Milton Friedman, a conservative, Nobel Prize-recipient economist, has demonstrated that during Prohibition homicides rose dramatically due to fighting among gangs over areas for exclusive distribution of alcohol. This is how organized crime spread from Sicilian neighborhoods to around the nation. After alcohol's relegalization during the New Deal, homicides dropped dramatically. Crack and heroin prohibition has duplicated the turf-war carnage and would likely follow the pattern of declining number of homicides with legalization. Until the second decade of this century, cocaine and heroin were legal in most locales. Even Owensboro had an opium treatment center at the turn of the century. Another problem is black market drug dealers often adulterate their product. In the '20s bathtub gin poisoned its customers, and today's crank labs in abandoned shacks don't produce anything like pure methamphetamine. Being good business people, dealers generally seek to sell a stronger product. Since whether your product is expensively potent or only mildly stimulating, each sale has the same potential for a bust and sentence. Why not sell the "good" stuff for a premium price and maximize the profit of each sale? Marijuana today is both far more expensive and far more potent than what Bill Clinton failed to inhale as a young man. Conversely, once alcohol was legalized, a long slide in potency began. Contrary to critics who claim without evidence that after legalization drugs will only become stronger, after alcohol was relegalized beer and wine gradually replaced bourbon as the drink of choice. Daviess County has paid the price as almost a score of distilleries died during this decline in potency. Also contrary to critics of legalization, consumption of alcohol per person has dropped steadily. Availability does destroy the attractiveness of once "forbidden fruit." Denmark had the same experience when it legalized pornography. If all of the above is not enough for the most diehard prohibitionist to rethink his or her position, one must realize both the financial cost and the destruction of human potential that follows from the penal approach to banning drugs. Forty percent of arrests are drug-related (more if we include alcohol). The cost in wasted lives and prison is immense, especially since many drug arrests are of people who have never committed a violent felony. These arrests help keep Jailer Harold Taylor's cells full and state monies coming into the county, but can anyone really think that incarcerating nonviolent drug users is more cost effective and humane than drug treatment? To Judge Tom Castlen's and Gus Gesser's (among others) credit, a new approach, drug court, is being taken, which emphasizes treatment over prison. And unlike prison, drug treatment works -- the rate of recidivism is quite low with proper screening. California's voters have mandated treatment over prison for all first-time, nonviolent drug offenders. Though it is not legalization, it's a clear statement by voters in the most populous state that addiction needs to be treated as a disease. Making counties dry (two-thirds of Kentucky) can't stop the use of alcohol, forbidding possession and sale of tobacco to teens will not stop teen smoking and prohibition of recreational drugs will not end their use. Regulate these substances but don't prohibit them. The latter is a fool's errand. By the way, I witnessed four friends' burials due to drug-related activities. And I do not drink alcohol, smoke tobacco or take drugs for recreational purposes. William Conroy is a professor of political science and history at Kentucky Wesleyan College, but his column represents only his personal opinion. William Conroy E-Mail: billco Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY) Author: William Conroy Published: May 15, 2001Copyright: 2001 Messenger-Inquirer Contact: readerswrite Website: The Hydra-Headed Drug Business Top Articles - Legalization

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Comment #6 posted by jAHn on May 17, 2001 at 12:48:06 PT
So what y'all are saying,
 kinda of sums up how I feel about myself after having broke a tooth- just last night- following a bowl of the Dreaded Sugar Cereal (and mightily expensive, too)- Apple Jacks. I shouldn't be blaming the cereal companies for targeting me since I was 4 years old. I should be blaming myself for not trusting the toothpaste companies a little more (though, I probably shouldn't--toothpaste can KILL- it's VERY toxic!!!) and I should've used it as directed (by an institution with many, unObscure Lies/Flaws in their "science") to prevent cavities (deterioration) from developing.  How's the productivity speech sound when it's applied to a tooth-salvaging sugar snack? I guess it could even be applied to the Hardness of the Tostitos that I've gobbled down- shortly after, because I develop an Appetite for the stuff. It could be said that I don't use Sugar/Snacks properly, and HEY! maybe someone can create a Kind-Of D.A.R.E.-like program that RECRUITs people to their ideology.  Oops, nevermind, We already have people hiding under the guise of "Productionists" for the jailing/prisoning Field. We need MORE prosecutors...Ashley, "hey, battta battta! HEY! BATTAH! bantha!"  I wish Mr'T and Nancy Reagan could've COME to my home and taught me a thing or two upon the eating habits of cereal addicts. Oh, how the "imagination stimulation" just produces the oddest of scenes...gotta love it!!! you'd never know it unless you've considered yourself a believer in the "Imaginary friend" theorum, though, i suspect.
National Organization Reforming Marijuana Laws
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Comment #5 posted by Sudaca on May 17, 2001 at 10:47:33 PT
AS the other guys say, beign a hardcore stoner is not a bar against being productive. I've certainly noticed no slackening in my personal achievments and productivity even with a daily habit. That doesn't mean that people with a tendency to procrastinate or underachive are going to be better off because they smoke pot. It just has nothing to do with it. Plenty of ways to avoid responsibility even without weed in the picture.
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Comment #4 posted by Cuzn Buzz on May 16, 2001 at 22:30:13 PT

On Target! Bravo!
This story is dead on target and I applaud the author.A note to Ashley:I'm glad to know you love marijuana, but please, don't blame the "Grim Reefer" for your own lack of self control.The mythological amotivational syndrome was discredited many years ago.The fact is that Marijuana smokers are in general productive citizens.If you have a joint with your morning coffee you may be a bit lethargic for an hour or two, and anyone who "loves Marijuana" should know this, and act accordingly.I'd no more recomend you smoke a joint before going to work (other than for medical reasons) than I'd recomend you drink a martini before going to work.A person who is a recreational user should wait till it's "Miller time" before you say; "This Buds for Me!" It's about personal responsibility.Just say know.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 16, 2001 at 22:11:49 PT

Tough Question
Hi Ashley, I'm not a Doctor but anything that keeps a person from trying to achieve their goals in life is a problem. That can be any number of issues. I also believe that people need to maintain a balance in their lives and everything will find it's right place if this makes sense. Also I believe sometimes our health can make us lose ambition. Do we take enough time to care for our own health? I guess that's why it's hard for me to answer other then the way I just did.I hope this helps though!
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Comment #2 posted by Ashley on May 16, 2001 at 21:51:47 PT:

Legalization of Marijuana
I love marijuana yet i find myself thinking more of the lines of the futur of our society. If marijuana was legalized it would be much easier to smoke but i think our society eventually would become less productive. I've smoked it for a long time now and have notice the effects, espically involving ambition.
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Comment #1 posted by jAHn on May 16, 2001 at 16:42:53 PT

Nice article...
...I just firmly believe that once we started attacking other "recreational freedoms" such as football, lax, hockey, boxing, cliff diving, plane/helicopter diving, puh- even Bowling has its hazards- instead of patting the other person on their butt-cheeks and saying, "Great Job- nice accomplishment"- we will help people to understand that we're no complete abomination, us potheads. Of course, cannabis can be harmful if Abused--similar to a parachute, an aeronautical stunt, etc...but in can ALSO bring in some $$$$ into OUR economy. I'm sick and tired of even trying to believe that it's REALLY our economy...people that sell Tobacco pipes are even shut outta business, also, dealers of Hemp merchandise! Why can't we just be incorporated into this society? irk
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