aspose file tools*
The moose likes Meaningless Drivel and the fly likes Drugs legalisation: 'when, not if' Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Other » Meaningless Drivel
Bookmark "Drugs legalisation: Watch "Drugs legalisation: New topic
Author

Drugs legalisation: 'when, not if'

Alan Wanwierd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Lifted from BBC website - Any comments people?...

Drugs legalisation: 'when, not if'

By Danny Kushlick
Director, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

The chances are that most of us will live to see drugs prohibition replaced with a system of regulation and control.

By 2020, if Transform's timeline is right, the criminal market will have been forced to relinquish its control of the drug trade and government regulation will be the norm.

Users will no longer "score" from unregulated dealers.

Instead, they will buy their drugs from specialist pharmacists or licensed retailers.

Or those with a clinical need will obtain them via a prescription.

At its simplest, this is all legalisation, control and regulation will mean - shopping and visiting the doctor.

It is simply a question of transferring the policy paradigm of management to currently illegal drugs.

Cut the drama

One of the problems for those wanting to dramatise a world where currently illegal drugs are legal is the distinct lack of drama involved.

Drug prohibition, in collision with vast numbers of users, creates a situation where drama underlies the entire business.

By abrogating responsibility for the trade through the failure to prohibit it, the market is gifted to organised criminals and unregulated dealers.

The UK drug market is valued at �6.6 bn.

The global market could be as much as �100bn, dwarfed only by the trade in oil and arms.

The consequent deregulation of the market at the international level spawns violence, corruption and political and economic destabilisation - witness Afghanistan, Latin America, the Caribbean and south east Asia.

At a national level, our prisons are twice as full as they would be without prohibition, property crime is doubled, and the cost of prohibition-related crime is �16bn a year (more than the entire Home Office budget).

Your taxes - that the government spends on prohibition - actively make your environment a worse place in which to live.

And you are being duped into supporting a policy that makes drugs more dangerous and more chaotic.

Misery

At a community level prohibition-related street prostitution is endemic, street dealing and turf wars are the norm in larger cities, and prohibition is responsible for more than half of all burglaries, shoplifting, thefts from vehicles and robberies.

Drugs and their misuse are not responsible for this mayhem and misery.

Prohibition is.

(Note that there is no property crime related to fundraising to support a tobacco habit, even though users require up to 60 hits a day and tobacco withdrawal and abstinence are difficult to deal with).

With regard to tobacco, gambling and drinking, both John Reid and Tessa Jowell [AW - Who???] have clearly stated recently that prohibition doesn't work.

A useful question to ask is: what are the successful commodity prohibitions of the last hundred years?

If you are struggling to remember any successful prohibitions, it may be because there are none.

Politics, not evidence, drives the war on drugs.

You may well ask why we persist with prohibition if there is no evidence that it is effective.

In short, the answer is politics - with a very big "p".

The war is not fought because it is effective; it is fought because it suits politicians to fight it.

US and UK domestic and foreign policy are now intimately intertwined with prohibition.

With regard to domestic policy, prohibition identifies convenient scapegoats and drug-war enemies to rally the electorate around.

Many law enforcement agencies have an investment in prohibition.

Prison builders, police, customs, CIA, MI5, and the FBI are funded to a great extent to fight the war on drugs.

Breaking point?

The drug war is also enormously useful to the US in continuing its adventures in foreign countries in which it has an interest - see Latin America, Afghanistan, the Middle East, south east Asia and the Caribbean.

Global prohibition is enforced through the UN (for which read US). It is supported by more than 150 UN member states, many of whom - including the UK - do not wish to fall foul of the US.

Prohibition will end when the enormously destructive consequences of its continued enforcement become too much for the system to bear, despite its attractive political benefits.

And all the evidence points to the fact that we are approaching that point.

Transform estimates that 15 years maximum is as much more prohibition as we can all stand.

When it goes we will wonder why we did not end it earlier, and our trust in our politicians will take yet another dive.

We can only hope that it happens sooner rather than later and that we can pass on a less melodramatic drug policy to our children.
[ January 11, 2005: Message edited by: Adrian Wallace ]
Alan Wanwierd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
..In the interests of balance the oposing view to that set out above is here:

Drug legalisation: Not likely

I actually think the "pro-legalisation" argument is a bit unreasonably heavy on the US foriegn policy side - I'm not quite sure how prohibition of drugs is supposed to help US control Afghanistan (or even quite why they would want to)? I think this guy is losing his marbles a bit - been reading too much gloabl conspiracy stuff!!

However, the counter arguement that organised crime networks would use their resources to bypass regulation in a legal market and provide goods on a tax free unreguated black market doesnt seem to gel with the experience of alcohol prohibition - where is the organised crime providing tax free beer, wine & whisky (or cigarettes for that matter)? surely by this argument they should be lucrative markets.

Also questionable to me is the assertion that "total harm" would be increased by legalisation - He doesnt seem to account for the harm caused to society by the existence of organised crime, harm caused by treating people as criminals (a self-fulfilling prophecy once you send people into penal institutions it would seem)
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
AW: where is the organised crime providing tax free beer, wine & whisky (or cigarettes for that matter)?

Tobacco smuggling is a favorite organized crime activity in the US and worldwide. Same thing with alcohol.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
I'm convinced that most of these pro-legalization people really have no clue as to the real effect of drugs on people's lives in our society.

I wonder how many of these people have seen a woman who disappeared from her family for a couple of days to go on a drug binge, whacked out of her mind on heroine running around a McDonald's parking lot at 6 in the morning wearing nothing but a T-shirt and covered in feces and blood?

Or how about walking into a bathroom that looked like a murder scene, walls and floor covered with blood, with a naked blood soaked man high on heroine sitting on the toilet who decided to take a knife (or some sharp object anyway) to his penis and anus in order to try and dig out the spiders he was convinced were crawling around inside him?

I could go on, but I won't. At least those people lived.

I don't even remotely buy into the legalization arguments. Most of the time the arguments hinge heavily on comparisons to tobacco and alcohol, which are faulty arguments. Just because two things which have a negative effect on our society and people's lives in general are legal (alcohol and tobacco) does not mean that further substances which are even more harmful in every way should be legal. Such arguments don't hold water. Prisons full because people insist on breaking drug laws? At least I know my tax dollars are being put to good use.

Bottom line, I don't want to live in a society where these things are legalized. I don't want to live in a society where these things become acceptable.
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
Irrespective of the merits, I don't think legalization is likely to happen in the U.S. It's too subtle an argument to be politically defensible, even if it is logically defensible.

Things may be different in the U.K., though. The U.K. government seems to be significantly more willing to let people decide for themselves what risks they want to take than the U.S. governments generally are.
Alan Wanwierd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Originally posted by Warren Dew:
The U.K. government seems to be significantly more willing to let people decide for themselves what risks they want to take than the U.S. governments generally are.


Really? I would have thought that European politics would have been far more interventionist than US? Isnt the laissez-faire approach and "minimalist government", self regulation etc etc more of a US style?
Alan Wanwierd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
I'm convinced that most of these pro-legalization people really have no clue as to the real effect of drugs on people's lives in our society.

.. Just because two things which have a negative effect on our society and people's lives in general are legal (alcohol and tobacco) does not mean that further substances which are even more harmful in every way should be legal. ...


In my experience I've generally found that most people who discuss the "pro" side of the drug legalisation debate tend to be *very* familiar with at least some illegal drugs and have some first hand experience of the culture... but perhaps I've not met a representative sample!

Anyway - The point being made is not that drugs are not considered bad (forgive the double negative)- its that prohibition is not solving any problems and *may* in fact be causing more harm than it prevents.

I dont think anyone wants to see more people out there getting into heroin abuse - its just there are disagreements about how to go about reducing and controlling the numbers. One such argument is to suggest that removing the criminal elements from drug culture goes some way to reducing the most harmful effects of drug useage on 'society' (although not protecting users from any harmful health effects).

Another argument states that a regulated business can introduce standards to actually improve the health of users by removing more dangerous additives and providing accurate dosage measures. This was the huge benefit of the legalised alcohol industry - all of a sudden, Whisky became relatively safe and people stopped suffering from Methanol blindness through poorly produced sly-grog. Of course regulated products can still be abused and a heroin user is still likely to be an unhealthy person - but at least controlled clean dosages should reduce the number of accidental overdoses and internal organ failures from toxic additives.

..and by the way I think trying to get into the "these drugs are worse than those drugs" debate gets very silly very quickly - anyone can argue that alcohol is far more socialy destructive than canabis, or that heroin is less addictive than nicoteen, or on the that crack cocaine turns users more crazy than coffee - but at the end of the day they are all drugs and can all be used to the point of abuse. (As can shopping, gambling, sex, posting on internet discussions - etc etc but very few people advocate prohibiting them)
Richard Hawkes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 1340
I'd be for giving legalisation a chance since it seems impossible to keep drugs off the street. It'd be worth the risk in attempting to see if it really did allieviate the surrounding criminal problems of drug use and deny organised crime some of their profits. Unfortunately victims will exist in any scenario but we might get less "innocent" victims. The bottom line is that we can always legislate to ban them again.

I doubt excessive drug use will ever be acceptable either. No one would employ an obvious drunk, stoner or smack-head for example, whether their particular vice was legal or not. People who abuse any kind of drug are considered anti-social and stigma is still a strong form of social control.
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
If harddrugs are legalised their abuse will go up dramatically leading to massive loss of productivity at the same time the cost of the medical system goes through the roof even more than it already does.

A LOT of people at this time don't take harddrugs simply because they don't know where to get them or are afraid to deal with the criminals now responsible for their distribution.
All these people would loose that barrier, leading to a massive growth of the number of addicts.

If you limit the distribution of drugs to these people you're in for a lot of armed assaults on distribution points as well as a continued illegal network which will be even more profitable as they no longer need to practice the system of giving the first few doses cheap or for free in order to get people thoroughly hooked.

Crime will skyrocket and so will the medical cost of dealing with the addicts.
At the same time that flood of addicts who would otherwise be productive members of society will cause massive damage to the economy.


42
Joe King
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
In my experience I've generally found that most people who discuss the "pro" side of the drug legalisation debate tend to be *very* familiar with at least some illegal drugs and have some first hand experience of the culture... but perhaps I've not met a representative sample!


This is an interesting point - how much of the pro-legalisation effort is being done by people who would like their illegal actions to be legally justified? It would be interesting to hear the view points of non-drugs users who think it should be legalised.

The problems that many governments have with reducing the drug problem is the inability to stop it being worth while for dealers. Each drugs dealer does what we all do in life - a cost-benefit analysis. In the dealers case the benefits of dealing drugs (money) out weigh the cost (punishment and risk of punishment). One way to increase this cost and reduce the benefits would be largely increase the punishments for drug use and dealing. Personally I would give life imprisonment to anyone dealing in any class A or B drugs, and a very long community service sentence for anyone taking any.

Normally I'm fairly liberal, but when it comes to most drugs things are different. Many drugs are nasty nasty things. While it is a possible argument that people should have the liberty to harm themselves, many addicts are in a position where they have a lot less effective choice. People who are addicted to drugs find it hard to stop, and a large number end up killing themselves in a slow and horrible way. Anyone who has seen a family member or friend going through an addiction to one of the more despicable drugs will agree how much it can wreck not only the addict's life, but the lives of those close to them.

There are a small number of drugs that are not as bad - cannabis could possibly be legalised (although I would prefer it not to be as cannabis smoke has to be the most foul smelling substance known to man), but most others we are better off without. I'm not a big fan of "zero tolerance" policing strategies in general, but when it comes to drugs I think its totally necessary. The only problem is getting the public and political backing to do it.
Christopher Docherty
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 03, 2004
Posts: 4
Jason these incidents you speak of will happen wether its legalized or not. Prohibition does not stop people taking drugs. It's about controlling it.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Christopher Docherty:
Jason these incidents you speak of will happen wether its legalized or not. Prohibition does not stop people taking drugs. It's about controlling it.


Point being they will happen with much greater frequency if we were to collectively lose our senses and legalize drugs. As I mentioned before, I've been to places where drugs were practically legal. Walking around one night I was accosted several times by people offering to sell me drugs. That's what's in store when drugs are legalized or the police look the other way.

We want to control drugs? Lock up the dealers and the hardcore users, do a better job sealing our borders, and don't offer up a culture where such activities are acceptable. Controlling drugs through legalization and reaping a taxation benefit would simply make us all culpable. I refuse to contribute to (through legalization) or benefit from (through taxes and tariffs) the narcotics trade. It seems to me that any society that does this has lost its way.
Jerry Young
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 15, 2004
Posts: 77
Remember in 1920s alcohol prohibition was even written into a US Constitution amendment. It took another amendment to get rid of it.

And in 1980s in former USSR there had beena similar movement. Mr. Goerbachov's failure, to some researchers, was partly due to the failure of this movement.

The told us: at some point of history, alcohol has been seen to be probably the same dangerous thing to society as heroin being seen today.

The only difference is alcohol ban failed so disgracefully that it was forced out of laws, while heroin ban is still written in the laws.


Let's base our argument on morality, if people use morality to justify this ban or that ban. This type usually goes like this: "I don't allow you to do this because it's not good for you; or I have to force you to do this because it's good for you". The fundamental question here is NOT whether or not it's good for me. The fundamental question is: do I have a right to do something to my body of which some other people think bad, or not to do something others think good? Does that you think something is not good for youself give you the right to stop others doing it to themselves? We are discussing morality argument here, so it does not matter even if here this "you" may be comprised 99% of the whole population. I guess to most people, the bottomline of morality is you have the right to do anything to yourself as long as it does not affect others. And it's those who think of themselves on a higher moral ground and think they have the right to tell others what's good and what's bad who are immoral., according to whatever culture, bible or koran.

Months ago someone used insurance argument to support "smoking ban". That's an interest argument, not a morality one. An interest argument goes like this: "I don't allow you to do this because it affects me negatively, or I have to force you to do this because it's good for me". In this type of arguments, usually it uses the number of people in "me" to justify itself. See, what you do is not only bad for me, but for us, a big us! Usually any such argument is dubious that claims he represents a big "us". Something on the paper of laws does not mean it's a will of majority, as the tax stuff: nobody wants to pay tax (or almost nobody) but somehow somebody could make taxing you into a law!

Most arguments use both. It's neither good for you nor good for me... so...

In reality, it's all about some powerful "narrow interest". In the case of drug ban, they are some religious groups (as they were in alcohol ban), and political interest groups using this to makw themselves politically correct and powerful, and existing beneficiaries of drug bans such as government servants on this tasks and relevant academians, activists, lobbists, stc.
Frank Silbermann
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Jeroen Wenting: A LOT of people at this time don't take harddrugs simply because they don't know where to get them or are afraid to deal with the criminals now responsible for their distribution.
I am skeptical of that claim. The only benefit I see from the prohibition is that children are not bombarded with advertisements for heroin and cocaine on television. I would not want to legalize drugs unless we can somehow create a third category of products which are legal to sell but whose usage is illegal to promote (despite Freedom of Speech).

Jason Menard: I've been to places where drugs were practically legal. Walking around one night I was accosted several times by people offering to sell me drugs. That's what's in store when drugs are legalized or the police look the other way.
I oppose making drugs "practically legal." I would want them sold only by responsible capitalists or civil servants, which would require their actions to be completely legal. I don't want criminals to profit from the trade. By the way, I suspect that minor drugs like poppy seeds and coca leaves were first concentrated in to hard drugs specifically in response to the challenges of smuggling.
Jerry Young
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 15, 2004
Posts: 77
As to Jason's example how a drug addict destroyed not only his life but those close to him. Then can we ask theis: isn't it more reasonable for those close to the addict to assume more responsibility for either preventing him being an addict in the firts place (if they also think this an addict will destroy their lives) or doing something to get him our of the addiction (if the addict is destroying their lives) or doing something to get themselves not so close to the addict? Using an interest argument, why should others shoulder this burden for them?

If I have a child being an addict, it's my problem. I can not just simply blame the society for it.

Somebody might say, "well, if the society had eliminated all the drugs, how could my child get it?" Well, many children stumble on the road and some hurt their bodies, how many parents blame soceity for not building more smooth and more soft roads? Many people don't finish high schools which are offered to everybody for free, how many blame society for "not educating him more correctly and more diligently?"

Buck got to stop somewhere. Personal responsibility is the key to any democractic society. Those so called intellectuals blaming everything on society are helping make a generation without any sense of personal responsibility by making blaming society for everything a pop culture and political correct practice. When people take their rights for granted and ask more than they are entitled and more the society can afford, the society implodes.

But so far, it seems that the society is sitll like the ocean big enough to hold all our dirty waters.
Frank Silbermann
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Originally posted by Jimmy Chen:
Many people don't finish high schools which are offered to everybody for free, how many blame society for "not educating him more correctly and more diligently?"
Lots. Many people in my city blame the high crime rate on "insufficient funding for public education, poor teachers, and not enough educational opportunity" even though:

  • Bureaucrats they elect and their appointees steal much of the tax money that's allocated (which voters justify by saying, "You had corruption before our candidates took over; now it's our turn.").
  • The candidates they vote for support the teachers' union, which protects incompetent teachers.
  • Most of the students in the poorer schools refuse to sit quietly and listen to the teacher (much less do their homework).
  • The few children who _do_ try to learn are ostracized and beaten up by classmates for being "Oreo cookies."

  • Yes, they blame society, and there are lots of them.
    Alan Wanwierd
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 30, 2004
    Posts: 624
    Originally posted by Joe King:
    This is an interesting point - how much of the pro-legalisation effort is being done by people who would like their illegal actions to be legally justified? It would be interesting to hear the view points of non-drugs users who think it should be legalised.

    Personally I would give life imprisonment to anyone dealing in any class A or B drugs, and a very long community service sentence for anyone taking any


    OK - you want to hear the pro-legalise argumnent from a non drug user - Listen to me then! The only drugs I use are alcohol and prescription non-steroidal inflammatory drugs!. My recreational illicit drug use days are long behind me.

    bit of history for you: 10-15 years ago a HUGE percentage of my peers were regular illegal drug users, most were at least occassional canabis users, but many of my friends were users of so called "Class A" drugs (LSD, Ecstacy, Amphetamines, Cocaine). Some of my friends even helped reduce the [legal] risk to us all on special occasions by "doing the dealer run" and effectively shopping for the group (not supplying for profit). Over the period of 5 years probably each one of a group of 20 of was at some time guilty, in legal terms, of supplying class A drugs. If I look at that same group of 20 people now they are lawyers, IT professionals, doctors, parents and generally law abiding, tax paying citizens who no longer indulge in recreational drug use. We all grew up and got bored of it. It is a MYTH that the majority of drug users are helpless addicts. I dont have stats in front of me but I'm sure I've seen plenty of studies that suggest that 60-70% of uni students indulge in recreational drug usage - about 30% with class 'A' drugs. How many turn out to be the life-time losers that have been referred to in earlier posts? The vast majority seem to be perfectly capable of managing recreation drug use in a responsible way!

    Taking your suggestion for the treatment of users and suppliers above, I (and all my friends) would currently be serving long custodial sentences. Whilst some of you may well feel that society without my crazy "pinko socialist" views might be a better place, I seriously doubt that putting me in prison for many years (thus making me a tax drain rather than a source) would do anything to improve anyones life.

    My argument would be that I am the *typical* case and if we accept that, then the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" attitude makes no sense whatsoever.
    Alan Wanwierd
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 30, 2004
    Posts: 624
    Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
    I am skeptical of that claim. The only benefit I see from the prohibition is that children are not bombarded with advertisements for heroin and cocaine on television. I would not want to legalize drugs unless we can somehow create a third category of products which are legal to sell but whose usage is illegal to promote (despite Freedom of Speech).


    Just like tobacco then?

    (Looks like Frank and I almost agree on this!)
    Jason Menard
    Sheriff

    Joined: Nov 09, 2000
    Posts: 6450
    Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
    My argument would be that I am the *typical* case and if we accept that, then the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" attitude makes no sense whatsoever.


    Not at all. If your incarceration serves as a warning to somebody else, and they straighten out their life, then it certainly serves a purpose. I don't buy into the myth that the purpose of prison is to rehabilitate people. The point of prison is punishment.

    If this is as you claim the typical case, then all the more reason to lock such a person up if they are caught. There's a greater chance that the people in their lives will learn something from their crimes and not repeat their mistakes. In my experience, most drug users are too caught up in their own selfishness to realize the greater consequences of their actions on not only themselves, but their friends, family, and the rest of society. And for the type of people you describe who should be on the ball enough to realize the greater effects of their crimes, then they have even less of an excuse in my mind then the poor uneducated person growing up in a bad neighborhood.

    Society says it doesn't want you to traffic in cocaine or it's going to incarcerate you. If you know this, but go ahead and traffic in cocaine, then just like it promised, society is sending you away. The benefit on society is removing a person from it who refuses to live by its rules. Living in a society is a priviledge, and one that can be taken from you.AC
    Frank Silbermann
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 06, 2002
    Posts: 1387
    Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
    10-15 years ago a HUGE percentage of my peers were regular illegal drug users, most were at least occassional canabis users, but many of my friends were users of so called "Class A" drugs (LSD, Ecstacy, Amphetamines, Cocaine). ... If I look at that same group of 20 people now they are lawyers, IT professionals, doctors, parents and generally law abiding, tax paying citizens who no longer indulge in recreational drug use. We all grew up and got bored of it. It is a MYTH that the majority of drug users are helpless addicts.
    When I was growing up, lots of people habitually drove drunk with no ill effect. Only a few killed themselves or their families or strangers. With drugs, there may be a genetic difference between people who get hooked and those who don't, so it's probably like playing Russian roulette. I see no excuse for it, and I consider it hugely irresponsible and anti-social to take those drugs. If you need to stay awake, drink coffee. If you need to calm your nerves, take Prozac. If you want passive entertainment, see a movie. If you want a girl who'll allow easy sexual access, instead of corrupting her with intoxicating drugs just visit a prostitute.

    From a secular viewpoint, I consider drug use irrational; from a religious point of view, I consider it a sin. I don't think they solve any necessary human purpose (unlike, say, handguns, which can be put to good use by the general public in stopping burglaries, rapes and armed robberies).

    That said, I tend to believe that the criminalization of drug abuse -- at least the way we're doing it -- harms society much worse than the drug abuse itself. It makes America a bully in that we demand that little South American countries fight civil wars against third-world drug cartels that are financed by American addicts.

    Maybe I'd change my mind if instead of imprisoning users and dealers we simply caused them to feel intense pain for a while and then released them. Or if we could install a chip that would cause instense pain whenever they used the drug. But trying to cut off the supply to addicts is as fruitless an endeavor as trying to prevent violent criminals from having weapons. Short of spending $35,000 per year to keep each individual locked up and under supervision (and even that doesn't always work), the only reliable way to stop them is to kill them.

    There's nothing to be gained by the use of lesser punishments. There is no prohibition that will make people of a violent criminal mentality safe to be around, and nothing short of constant physical coercion will long separate an addict from his drug. Destroy them, or let them have what they want. That's the choice.
    [ January 12, 2005: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
    Alan Wanwierd
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 30, 2004
    Posts: 624
    Originally posted by Jason Menard:
    ... The point of prison is punishment...


    ahh - I see. Here we have a good old fashioned fundamental difference of opinion! I thought the point of prison was to keep society safe from dangerous people. I would also argue that the evidence that high levels of incarceration act as an incentive to reduce crime is questionable. (Although notoriously dificult to prove from either side of the debate)

    My point, I suppose, is that had I and my friends been sent to prison as impressionable 18 yr olds, its unlikely that we would have ended up as the 'sucessful' citizens we are today. Instead our chances of being involved in long term criminal activity would more than likely be massively increased. Which I would argue would be detrimental to society.


    --Please take the following with a pinch of salt, i'm only half serious, just presenting 'the other side' --
    most drug users are too caught up in their own selfishness to realize the greater consequences of their actions on not only themselves, but their friends, family, and the rest of society

    Greater consequences of their actions being?... Stupid pointless conversations(hey - not unlike this one!!)? Wasted hours of listening to Pink Floyd/Bob Marley over and over again? Reduced profits for the local pubs and bars?

    As far as my family are concerned the most serious consequences were
    1) I had more money in my pocket because illegal drug use is far cheaper than recreational alcohol use which would more than likely have been the alternative leisure pasttime. (A significant driver in the choice of recreation). Therefore I needed to sponge slightly less off my parents.

    2) *Decreased* chances of me being involved in voilent anti-social behaviour since a mellowed-out tripping hippy is nowhere near as likely to yell abuse across a crowded car-park and get into fights as a drunk party boy I would otherwise have been.

    3) Increase risk of cancer(and other smoking related illnesses) to me and so therefore increased risk that my family (and society through medical costs) would have to support me.

    4) And of course somewhere down the line I was supporting an illegal trade and organisations that provided that business - but thats one of the points we're talking about isnt it? make it legal and this aspect of drug use goes away.

    There are plenty of positive drug experiences, thousands of people enjoy safe fun recreational drug use every day. If this wasnt the case, people wouldnt get into the drug scene!! (Very few drugs have the "1 hit and your hooked" thing that anti-drug literatue would have you believe).

    My personal experience was that illegal drugs provide a much better value proposition than other forms of entertainment available. They were cheap, convenient, easy to get and very sociable and stimulated some interesting group activities (conversation, music, video production, outdoor adventures)

    These benefits outweighed the small potential we had for having legal problems.
    Warren Dew
    blacksmith
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 04, 2004
    Posts: 1332
        
        2
    Joe King:

    Each drugs dealer does what we all do in life - a cost-benefit analysis. In the dealers case the benefits of dealing drugs (money) out weigh the cost (punishment and risk of punishment). One way to increase this cost and reduce the benefits would be largely increase the punishments for drug use and dealing.

    That would also increase the benefits of drug dealing, in two ways: first, it would tend to increase the scarcity and thus increase the price; second, it would decrease supplier competition, thus increasing market share for each remaining supplier. I suspect that the net result would be to make the cost/benefit calculation even more in favor of drug dealing.

    I think the primary effect of drug enforcement efforts is that they act as price supports. Just as taking agricultural land out of production increases food prices, cutting availability of drugs increases drug prices. If drugs were legalized, prices would plummet and dealers would go out of business.
    Warren Dew
    blacksmith
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 04, 2004
    Posts: 1332
        
        2
    Adrian Wallace:

    Really? I would have thought that European politics would have been far more interventionist than US?

    The U.K. seems to be substantially different from continental Europe in this respect. Maybe it can be chalked up to a lot of years under Prime Ministers from two parties with a strong belief in personal responsibility.
    Jason Menard
    Sheriff

    Joined: Nov 09, 2000
    Posts: 6450
    Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
    Greater consequences of their actions being?... Stupid pointless conversations(hey - not unlike this one!!)? Wasted hours of listening to Pink Floyd/Bob Marley over and over again? Reduced profits for the local pubs and bars?


    I might suggest a tour as an observer in a busy hospital's emergency room. Or, assuming you live in a fairly populated area, maybe contact your local ambulance service or police department and see if you can ride-along for a shift as an observer. Most hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and ambulance services (at least in my area) have such programs and if available I would urge anyone to take advantage of them in order to gain a different perspective. You might see something eye opening.
    Alan Wanwierd
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 30, 2004
    Posts: 624
    Originally posted by Jason Menard:

    I might suggest a tour as an observer in a busy hospital's emergency room. Or, assuming you live in a fairly populated area, maybe contact your local ambulance service or police department and see if you can ride-along for a shift as an observer. Most hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and ambulance services (at least in my area) have such programs and if available I would urge anyone to take advantage of them in order to gain a different perspective. You might see something eye opening.


    Theres a famous bit from the late Bill Hicks' comedy routine about LSD stories. He talks about the famous urban legend of a guy who threw himself off a building thinking he could fly whilst taking a trip. Bill makes the point that if you think you can fly, why not start on the ground? - The guy was an idiot, the fact that he was a drug user is almost irrelevant! The same argument is used frequently by the pro-gun lobby "Guns dont kill people - people kill people" . *Some* drugs together with *some* people is a dangerous mix.

    In my experience, the most dangerous drug as far as hospitals and police are concerned in alcohol. Like you suggest, go to a hospital ER on a Friday evening:
    How many Canabis casualties will you see? probably none..
    How many LSD casualties will you see? probably none...
    How many Cocaine casualties will you see? probably none...
    How many Amphetamine/Ecstacy casualties? perhaps a handful of dehydration cases.
    How many alcohol related casualties? Car wrecks, fights, drunken falling in the street... The list is endless.

    Now, I recognise that one reason alcohol casualties are overrepresented in this unscientific study is a numbers game (more drinkers ergo greater representation of drinking casualties). But the point I was trying to make is that the vast majority of recreational drug users do so in a responsible manner. NONE of my friends ever ended up in hospital due to illegal drugs. Several ended up in hospital as a result of alcohol related incidents (Including a nasty GBH by a violent alcoholic with a broken bottle)!

    I recognise that different drugs have different effects and that there may be substances out there that are mroe likely to cause violent anti-social behaviour than others (even perhaps some that are more likely to induce violence than alcohol!). Perhaps we should acknowledge that users of these troubled substances are in a staggeringly tiny minority of recreational drug users and having recreational drugs illegal is analagous to outlawing retail sales because a tiny minority of some people suffer from extreme retail addiction and screw their lives up.
    Warren Dew
    blacksmith
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 04, 2004
    Posts: 1332
        
        2
    Joe King:

    This is an interesting point - how much of the pro-legalisation effort is being done by people who would like their illegal actions to be legally justified?

    And conversely, how much of the anti-legalization effort is being done by people whose choice of drugs is already legal, and who are afraid that legalization of other drugs will expose those already legal for what they are?

    I would use cocaine as a case in point. Cocaine and alcohol serve similar social purposes. Both are psychologically but not physically addictive. Alcohol is more likely to produce disruptive behavior in those who use it. During the many years when both cocaine and alcohol were legal, alcohol caused far more grief and economic damage. How can one hold that cocaine should be illegal, without arguing that alcohol should be at least as illegal?

    It would be interesting to hear the view points of non-drugs users who think it should be legalised.

    If you are looking for people who have never used drugs, I'm an example. I never saw the need to dose my body with illegal drugs, so I never used them. I also refrain from partaking in tobacco, alcohol, or coffee, the primary legal recreational drugs. Since I don't have a bias towards one or the other, I think I'm in a particularly good position to recognize that there's no real difference between the drugs that arbitrarily happen to be illegal and those that arbitrarily happen to be legal.

    I think legalization would be a good idea, basically for the reasons Jimmy Chen and Frank Silbermann have already provided.
    Richard Hawkes
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jan 28, 2003
    Posts: 1340
    I'm with Adrian here. His experiences are similar to mine although I don't know any lawyers. Or doctors. I'm not of the opinion that using drugs (any recreational stimulant) is a sign that there is something lacking in that individual and that they need to be straightened out. Personally I think that looking to an imaginary friend in the sky for guidance is a little confusing, but I'm a fairly tolerant person and I'd never dream of denying people the right to do that, even if some people claim it harms society.

    Most of the time drugs are harmless (like most the time driving a car is harmless). Most the time people know when not to use drugs (like when people know when not to use a gun). I know precisely where I can find hard drugs, but I'm not queuing up to jam my system with them 24/7 because I much prefer hanging around in "reality". The vast majority of people aren't uncontrollable alcoholics or junkies because they're sensible and want to live long happy lives. The whole acceptable/unacceptable drug debate is redundant IMO.

    [added later...]

    Sadly I've been in casualty two times due to alcohol related incidents. I've seen carnage on the streets too, both traffic related and violence related, though I've never been the one with the job to clear it up admittedly. Tragically, years ago, a cousin of mine was found dead after overdosing on heroin. He was found by his brother in the garden. The same brother passed away himself a few years later in similar circumstances. I'm not saying they'd be alive now if drugs were legal. And if heroin were simply not available there's no telling what other activities they'd have gotten into, though they probably would not be dead now. Yet despite this knowledge and experience, I still don't believe in banning drugs. Life is about the choices we make and dealing with the consequences.
    [ January 12, 2005: Message edited by: Richard Hawkes ]
    Joe King
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Sep 02, 2003
    Posts: 820
    Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:

    Taking your suggestion for the treatment of users and suppliers above, I (and all my friends) would currently be serving long custodial sentences. Whilst some of you may well feel that society without my crazy "pinko socialist" views might be a better place, I seriously doubt that putting me in prison for many years (thus making me a tax drain rather than a source) would do anything to improve anyones life.

    My argument would be that I am the *typical* case and if we accept that, then the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" attitude makes no sense whatsoever.


    I'm not so bothered about the "pinko socialist" bit (leaning in the socialist, if not pinko, direction myself). I also do not think that users should be locked up - they need help. Dealers, on the other hand, very much should be locked up.

    Originally posted by Warren Dew:

    That would also increase the benefits of drug dealing, in two ways: first, it would tend to increase the scarcity and thus increase the price; second, it would decrease supplier competition, thus increasing market share for each remaining supplier. I suspect that the net result would be to make the cost/benefit calculation even more in favor of drug dealing.

    I think the primary effect of drug enforcement efforts is that they act as price supports. Just as taking agricultural land out of production increases food prices, cutting availability of drugs increases drug prices. If drugs were legalized, prices would plummet and dealers would go out of business.


    Increasing punishment of dealers would put up the prices of drugs, but would also reduce demand, decreasing the benefits for the dealer. Additionally if dealers are at more of a risk of a long custodial sentence then they are less likely to deal. At the moment the drug policing situation is a bit of a mess - the illegality of drugs has pushed the price up, but the lack of proper punishments and prevention mean that dealers are not very concerned. The two sides - law and implementation of law need to come together a bit more.
    Joe King
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Sep 02, 2003
    Posts: 820
    Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
    I recognise that different drugs have different effects and that there may be substances out there that are mroe likely to cause violent anti-social behaviour than others (even perhaps some that are more likely to induce violence than alcohol!).


    The other difference between some of these drugs and alcohol is that its very rare for a single drink to kill someone, but a lot more common for a single intake of an illegal drug to kill or seriously damage a user. Its not just the fact its addictive (like caffeine) or possible mind altering effects (like alcohol) that are a problem, but the very serious health risks.

    I wouldn't really have much of a problem about the law being relaxed in relation to not very dangerous drugs (cannabis could perhaps be looked at as an example), but the more serious drugs are dangerous. There are some lucky people who have taken these and got away with it, but there are an awful lot of people who have taken drugs only a couple of times and ended up very ill or dead.
    [ January 13, 2005: Message edited by: Joe King ]
    Jeroen Wenting
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 12, 2000
    Posts: 5093
    Originally posted by Jimmy Chen:
    As to Jason's example how a drug addict destroyed not only his life but those close to him. Then can we ask theis: isn't it more reasonable for those close to the addict to assume more responsibility for either preventing him being an addict in the firts place (if they also think this an addict will destroy their lives) or doing something to get him our of the addiction (if the addict is destroying their lives) or doing something to get themselves not so close to the addict? Using an interest argument, why should others shoulder this burden for them?


    Well, many people would take them in secret, especially kids.
    Just like parents tell their kids to not smoke and they do anyone at school or on the way home the same would happen with drugs. The peer pressure to use them would be similar to the peer pressure to drink beer or smoke a cigarette.
    Only difference: a single dose of heroin or crack cocaine and you're an addict.
    Once others notice it's often too late and expensive medical treatment is required (rehab clinics, etc.).

    Would you want to find out one day cleaning your kid's room he's been taking crack he got from an older kid at school who'd purchased it at the supermarket for a school party and is now stealing to fuel the addiction?
    Jeroen Wenting
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 12, 2000
    Posts: 5093
    Originally posted by Joe King:
    I'm not so bothered about the "pinko socialist" bit (leaning in the socialist, if not pinko, direction myself). I also do not think that users should be locked up - they need help. Dealers, on the other hand, very much should be locked up.


    The only way to get addicts to kick the habit is to put them in a controlled environment for an extended period where they receive psychiatric and medical treatment.
    Prison serves the first role and can help in the second but I agree there are better systems like dedicated rehab clinics.
    Just don't go the way of telling them to report for treatment every day and send them home as they won't (not after the first few days). That's been tried and simply doesn't work. They go back into their environment which is full of the temptations of drugs and may well mean they're forcefed drugs by fellow addicts and dealers.

    Originally posted by Joe King:


    Increasing punishment of dealers would put up the prices of drugs, but would also reduce demand, decreasing the benefits for the dealer. Additionally if dealers are at more of a risk of a long custodial sentence then they are less likely to deal. At the moment the drug policing situation is a bit of a mess - the illegality of drugs has pushed the price up, but the lack of proper punishments and prevention mean that dealers are not very concerned. The two sides - law and implementation of law need to come together a bit more.


    I advocate extremely strong punishment for dealers. Public execution by injecting them with their entire stock would be a graphic and effective means of ridding society of them.
    Life imprisonment without parole would serve for the drug barons who usually don't lower themselves to even get near the stuff.
    Jeroen Wenting
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 12, 2000
    Posts: 5093
    Originally posted by Joe King:


    I wouldn't really have much of a problem about the law being relaxed in relation to not very dangerous drugs (cannabis could perhaps be looked at as an example), but the more serious drugs are dangerous. There are some lucky people who have taken these and got away with it, but there are an awful lot of people who have taken drugs only a couple of times and ended up very ill or dead.

    [ January 13, 2005: Message edited by: Joe King ]


    Many people who start on cannabis end up moving into harddrugs at a later stage.
    Take it from me, living in the Netherlands where cannabis and similar drugs are effectively legalised, it doesn't make the streets any safer.
    All it does is increase the number of areas you can't go for fear of being mugged by people needing more money for drugs...
    Jason Menard
    Sheriff

    Joined: Nov 09, 2000
    Posts: 6450
    For those of you saying "me and my friends used drugs and nothing bad happened", I would say two things. First, you were lucky. Second, extrapolating what would be okay for society based on such a small sample size is inherently flawed.

    I personally don't care if addicts kill themselves, it's when they ruin the lives of others that bothers me. And unfortunately, that happens all too often.

    As a law abiding member of society, I do not want to pay the costs associated with legalizing drugs. If these things are made legal, usage will increase dramatically. I don't think an effective argument can be made otherwise. Increased usage will raise costs throughout society as the contributing members of society have to pick up the tab in terms of increased insurance premiums and an increased strain on the medical systems, to name but a couple. And you think we have it bad with alcohol related issues such as drinking and driving? That would increase manyfold with drug legalization.

    As I pointed out before, the argument that alcohol is legal so every other drug under the sun should be legal is flawed beyond measure. Why repeat a mistake that we don't have to? There's no reason to open the floodgates on numerous other substances that are nothing but a drain on society with absolutely no useful benefit. The alcohol genie is already out of the bottle and can't be put back in. While I would favor making it illegal, I am pragmatic enough to realize that can never happen. As that is the case, the best we can do is try to manage it and the tremendous costs associated with it. Arguing that we should add to those costs by making other harmful substances legal just doesn't pass the common sense test.

    Luckily, this is one of those issues where I can rest easily in the knowledge that my views on it are in the majority in my country, and I doubt highly that I will ever see these things legalized in my lifetime.
    Don Kiddick
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 580
    I think you have to take each drug on a case by case basis. I think for example, that cannabis & ecstasy are relatively social drugs. That is, users tend to act socially and it's non physically addictive. The fact that consumption will go up in these cases, is my opinion a lesser evil than having criminally controlled supply. Also, although consumption of these drugs would increase, consumption of alcohol would decrease....which is a good thing.
    Heroin is another case for me, it's user's have a nasty habit of being unsociable and robbing houses, which is just not cricket.
    D.
    Jason Menard
    Sheriff

    Joined: Nov 09, 2000
    Posts: 6450
    Originally posted by Don Kiddick:
    Also, although consumption of these drugs would increase, consumption of alcohol would decrease....


    What do you base that on? Do people who smoke or drink coffee have less of an appetite for alcohol?
    Don Kiddick
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 580
    Originally posted by Jason Menard:

    What do you base that on? Do people who smoke or drink coffee have less of an appetite for alcohol?


    Experience.
    That comment is not comparing like with like. People don't smoke or drink coffee to get "out of it", however they do with cannabis, alcohol and ecstasy. Take a user of cannabis, alcohol and ecstasy, take away their supply of illegal drugs, they will make drink more alocohol. The inverse is also true. Do you doubt that ?

    D.
    Jason Menard
    Sheriff

    Joined: Nov 09, 2000
    Posts: 6450
    Originally posted by Don Kiddick:
    Do you doubt that ?


    Yes. I think they will drink a lot of alcohol regardless.
    Alan Wanwierd
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 30, 2004
    Posts: 624
    Originally posted by Jason Menard:


    Yes. I think they will drink a lot of alcohol regardless.


    I'm with Don here - In the height of my drug days I didnt drink any alcohol for a year - it was too expensive.

    Popular "dance" drugs (ecstacy & amphetamines) are taken for the user to feel a heightened alertness and extra energy.A feeling of being "sharp" and in control. This is totaly contrary to the alcohol experience and in my experience most dance drug users just want to stay away from loud, slobbering, uncontrolled alcohol users - alcohol is percieved as a "dirty" drug experience in comparison. Also significant is that most dance drug users are well aware that dehydration is their biggest risk, so most tend to drink water to rehydrate rather than alcohol which would exaserbate any problems.

    Canabis and halucinogen(LSD, Psylocybin) users *tend* to be more interested in relaxing and allowing their heightened sensual sensitivity to provide entertainment. Since alcohol dampens the sensory inputs combining the 2 drug types would make no sense. Thats not to say a drink isnt nice (to experience heightened taste sensations), but any alocholic effect would certainly be unwanted. I have found that most recreational hallucinaters, at the peak of their experience are happy doing simple things (staring at the sky, the floor, a plain sheet of paper.. listening to music, going for a walk and looking at the way the grass bends in the wind etc etc...)

    I am unsure what the key desired effect of the opiate drugs (heroin). Never having experienced anyone (out of the 1000's of recreational drug users I have known) who's been a heroin user and the standards of drug informative education being *very* *very* poor. But since this is such a small percentage of the recreational drug market, its probably insignificant and I think Dons assertion than legalisation would reduce alcohol usage is probably reasonable.
    Alan Wanwierd
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 30, 2004
    Posts: 624
    Originally posted by Jason Menard:
    ...And you think we have it bad with alcohol related issues such as drinking and driving? That would increase manyfold with drug legalization.

    I see no reason to asume that things would get worse? Wheres the logic behind this?
    Originally posted by Jason Menard:
    As I pointed out before, the argument that alcohol is legal so every other drug under the sun should be legal is flawed beyond measure.

    Thats not the argument - the argument is that alcohol prohibition caused more damage than it prevented. The suggestion is that the situation is analagous and again the prohibition of recreational drugs is creating a bigger problem than it is solving.
    Originally posted by Jason Menard:

    Luckily, this is one of those issues where I can rest easily in the knowledge that my views on it are in the majority in my country, and I doubt highly that I will ever see these things legalized in my lifetime.

    ..and with the vast majority of youth in your country being experienced in recreational drug usage - how long will that remain true? Face it - we live in a society where recreational drug use is the *norm* not the exception. The sooner we recognise this and concentrate on people with problems rather than sweeping everything under the carpet with a contradictory "drug are bad" catch all statement

    One of the key issues to improving understanding of the problem with this debate is to recognise the difference between "user" and "addict" (a distinction which seems to have been overlooked in this debate so far). A *VERY* small minority of recreational drug users become addicts (similarly a small percentage of drinker are alcoholics). This is a distinction that needs to be made in educational material in school so that kids do not feel lied to!!

    In school we are taught that overdrinking can cause problems, and we are taught that smoking causes long term damage and is addictive - and yet we see society endorsing and even encouraging the consumption of these drugs. We are also taught that other illegal drugs cause horrendous problems and wreck lives, turning users into criminals, addicts and pale slimey gollum creatures after just one hit. This is a BLATANT lie, and once kids learn that they have been lied to (as they inevitable will by talking to their peers and learning from the experience of others)then any good quality advice that was included in the eductaional material is viewed with suspicion and ignored. Lets provide good quality honest information in school and allow people to make informed decisions! Sure - usuage of some drugs might increase, but usuage of others (the most dangerous substances) should drop.


    on a lighter note:
    Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
    Many people who start on cannabis end up moving into harddrugs at a later stage.

    You are quite correct - I started smoking canabis and before I knew it was hooked onto tobacco... dropped all the other drugs in a flash when I got bored of them, but the tobacco habit took me years to kick - THAT is a dangerous drug!

    Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
    Public execution by injecting them with their entire stock would be a graphic and effective means of ridding society of them.


    Well - ok - if thats your chosen penalty then I would not have worried one bit - I may have been guilty of supplying class A drugs, but had you tied me to a post and force-fed me all the LSD I had in my pocket I would more than likely have spent 3 or 4 days staring at the sky/ground/any passers by giggling with pupils like saucers before asking politely if I could be untied once the effects had worn off! I might have looked a little bit silly but I dont think it would have been the graphic and horrific show you were hoping for!

    And if you force the average canabis dealer to ingest all his stock he'd probably just sleep for a week and then wake up starving hungry!

    If anything this would provide a good educational tool to many as to the effects of a whole bunch of drugs!!
    Warren Dew
    blacksmith
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 04, 2004
    Posts: 1332
        
        2
    Joe King:

    Increasing punishment of dealers would put up the prices of drugs, but would also reduce demand, decreasing the benefits for the dealer.

    Huh? Dealers are a small fraction of the ultimate demand for drugs. If you want to decrease demand, you have to lock up users.

    The other difference between some of these drugs and alcohol is that its very rare for a single drink to kill someone, but a lot more common for a single intake of an illegal drug to kill or seriously damage a user.

    This is largely because alcohol is legal. The resulting public discussion and knowledge, regulation, and competition means that people seeking alcohol need not resort to potentially contaminated supplies of questionable dosage.

    During prohibition, this was not the case. Methanol poisoning from improperly distilled alcohol was common. 500,000 two ounce bottles of alcoholic Jamaica Ginger Extract - a "medicine" abused for alcoholic content - reportedly caused 50,000 to 100,000 cases of paralysis. Illegal alcohol is not safer than today's drugs. Illegal caffeine probably wouldn't be either.

    It seems likely that if legalized, the quality control on drugs would improve to the point where the risk of dying from a smoking a single joint of marijuana or a snorting a single line of cocaine would be as low or lower than that from a drinking single alcoholic drink.
    [ January 13, 2005: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
     
    subject: Drugs legalisation: 'when, not if'
     
    Similar Threads