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drug legalization

J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 956
    
  13

A thread in MO about OTC drugs led me to this thread which predicted legalization within 20 years. I found it interesting because that thread is 9 years old and here we are now with two states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use and more states and cities considering it. I didn't recognize many of the names in that thread, but the topic was rather polarized with some in favor of legalization and others dead-set against it. I was wondering how our current membership views the topic and if we have any members from Colorado or Washington.

My personal opinion on the matter is that the "War on Drugs" has caused more problems than the drugs themselves and it's a waste of time and money. Data on the effects in Colorado is hard to come by, but this article is a good start. It reports savings of 10 to 40 million dollars from not having to prosecute minor drug cases, and thousands of users no longer being arrested and charged and saddled with criminal records for the rest of their lives. The state has also collected ~$20 million dollars in the first half of this year and expects to collect $60 to $100 million for the year.

Not surprisingly, there has also been a big boost in tourism, but car rental companies are complaining about customers leaving marijuana in the cars when it's time to return home because they can't take it with them.


"The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do." -- Ted Nelson
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11314
    
  16

two states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use

But it is still illegal on a federal level. And Federal law trumps state law. The feds may not currently be enforcing the law, but that does not in any way mean it is somehow legal.

It reports savings of 10 to 40 million dollars from not having to prosecute minor drug cases, and thousands of users no longer being arrested and charged and saddled with criminal records for the rest of their lives.

See above. States do not have to prosecute these cases now. There is what's known as "prosecutorial discretion". The prosecutor does not have to charge every single case that comes their way. If the chief prosecutor issued a directive not to issue those cases, then they wouldn't be - but the law would still be there in case they decided they needed it.

The state has also collected ~$20 million dollars...

I can't really rebut that. However, it is unknown how much of that money the state might have gotten anyway. Surely some of those people who bought pot would have instead spent that money on something else, and the state would have earned taxes on those sales...

Just my random, not-well-thought out thoughts.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38865
    
  23
Maybe some of the people from the Netherlands would like to comment; pot has been legal there for personal use for a long time, I think about twenty years. Whenever I go across the channel, I see no problems caused by its being illegal. Things are not as bad in UK as they used to be, but we perceived just as many problems caused by drugs being illegal as by the drugs themselves. Or more.
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8908
    
    8

J. Kevin Robbins wrote:My personal opinion on the matter is that the "War on Drugs" has caused more problems than the drugs themselves and it's a waste of time and money.


Drug laws are probably second only to speed limits for people ignoring them. Is there any metric where the "War on Drugs" has been a success? I don't think so: War on drugs a trillion-dollar failure
Now here's the problem: what replaces it? Legalizing Marijuana is a no-brainer. It is one of the most studied drugs (in large part thanks to the US government trying to justify its prohibition) and it side effects are minor compared to other legal drugs (alcohol, nicotine, Advil...). What about drugs that have significant potential for addiction or overdose like meth or opioids? Legalize them and let Darwin do his thing? Keep them heavily regulated? If we keep them regulated, what level of enforcement is necessary? The current state is a major infringement on civil liberties which leads to serious abuses


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chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

+1 for legalisation and sensible control of drugs.

Although David Simon (creator of The Wire) had an interesting take on the legalisation of marijuana - he's against it because:
David Simon wrote:
"I want the thing to fall as one complete edifice. If they manage to let a few white middle-class people off the hook, that's very dangerous. If they can find a way for white kids in middle-class suburbia to get high without them going to jail," he continued, "and getting them to think that what they do is a million miles away from black kids taking crack, that is what politicians would do."

But the cost of the "war on drugs" hasn't just been paid by relatively wealthy countries like the USA or European countries, but also by the countries where drugs are produced or trafficked illegally e.g. Mexico en route to drug consumers in wealthier countries, while opium/heroin production has been a major cash generator for the Taliban in Afghanistan. The evidence of the last few decades would seem to indicate the "war on drugs" isn't working - at least not for the right people - so there surely has to be a better way.

Of course, evidence has rarely featured highly in the debate over drugs e.g. the UK government fired their own independent scientific adviser in 2009 for advising against the re-classification of cannabis as a more harmful drug and for pointing out that taking ecstasy was less dangerous than horse-riding. His 2009 report on estimating drug harm might make challenging reading for the "war on drugs" lobby.

Personally, I'd legalise pot and ban horse-riding...


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Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38865
    
  23
chris webster wrote:+1 for legalisation and sensible control of drugs. . . .
You can only control something which is legal. You can get the Government to supply it; then it will become completely unobtainable
opium/heroin production has been a major cash generator for the Taliban in Afghanistan. . . .
The ironic thing is that there is a shortage of opiates for legitimate medical use worldwide; were it not for the “war against drugs”, Governments could have bought the entire Afghan poppy harvest for painkillers to use worldwide.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38865
    
  23
chris webster wrote: . . . UK government fired their own independent scientific adviser in 2009 . . .
HMG are very good at suppressing evidence which conflicting with their preconceptions policies.
taking ecstasy was less dangerous than horse-riding. . . . I'd legalise pot and ban horse-riding...
You would have to deal with my younger daughter first; she used to be horse‑mad.

There are all sorts of preconceptions about what is dangerous or not. I reckon I shall love longer because I fight with the London traffic on a Brompton but people keep telling me cycling in dangerous.
Went to Staithes yesterday for the annual Lifeboat Day, and went onto the RNLI website to make a donation. They had some videos about hazards of rip tides, etc., and they said more people drown swimming on the beach in Britain than are killed in bicycle accidents. So something safe like swimming in 4ft ddep water turns out to be much more dangerous than you think.
J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 956
    
  13

fred rosenberger wrote:But it is still illegal on a federal level. And Federal law trumps state law. The feds may not currently be enforcing the law, but that does not in any way mean it is somehow legal.

That's a real sticking point. I think there should only be two federal laws related to pot. The first, no importing it without paying import taxes, and the second, no growing it on federal land without the proper permits. The second would leave open the option for the government to lease land to licensed farmers just as they now do for cattle farmers. Everything else should be left up to the states. But then I'm a big believer in the 10th amendment and I think the federal government in general should be shrunk to a fraction of it's current size. That's another issue.

Why in the world pot is still listed in the same category as heroin and cocaine is a mystery to me. I guess there just aren't any congressmen with enough guts to propose a change to the law.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11314
    
  16

J. Kevin Robbins wrote:Why in the world pot is still listed in the same category as heroin and cocaine is a mystery to me. I guess there just aren't any congressmen with enough guts to propose a change to the law.

So I'll ask...why should it NOT be in the same category? What criteria do you suggest we use to determine what is legal and what is not?

I'll probably agree the laws are somewhat arbitrary. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol are all addictive to some degree or another, and those are all legal (with varying restrictions), but if you allow pot to be legalized, doesn't that simply move the line? Then someone can come along and say "Well, why don' we legalize <whatever drug would then be closest to the line>?" I hate the term, but isn't this a slippery slope that once you start down, there's no telling where you will stop?
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38865
    
  23
And 120 years ago opium was legal in this country and all the posh ladies drank laudanum the way they drink Chardonnay or G&T nowadays. Would it be any worse if heroin and cocaine were legal?
J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 956
    
  13

fred rosenberger wrote:
So I'll ask...why should it NOT be in the same category? What criteria do you suggest we use to determine what is legal and what is not?

Well I guess the first reason that comes to mind is the health danger. It's easy to overdose and die from heroin or cocaine, but there has never been a recorded instance anywhere of someone overdosing on pot. You just eat a bag of Doritos and fall asleep. Doctors can't even figure out why pot smoking doesn't cause lung cancer like tobacco. I think decades of usage and many studies have shown that marijuana is a very benign drug compared to most illegal and many legal drugs.

But I'll agree that it is a slippery slope and rather arbitrary. By the same standard, alcohol should be categorized with heroin since alcohol poisoning is all too common.
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8908
    
    8

J. Kevin Robbins wrote:You just eat a bag of Doritos and fall asleep.


That's the difference between liquor and pot. Pot smokers are lazy. Mess with the alcohol supply and the stuff hits the fan.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

J. Kevin Robbins wrote:
fred rosenberger wrote:
So I'll ask...why should it NOT be in the same category? What criteria do you suggest we use to determine what is legal and what is not?
...
But I'll agree that it is a slippery slope and rather arbitrary. By the same standard, alcohol should be categorized with heroin since alcohol poisoning is all too common.

This is precisely the question that the former UK government scientific adviser David Nutt tried to address in his 2009 report. His team looked at how to compare legal/illegal substances by various measures of harm in order to introduce a more evidence-based approach to the classification of drugs and wider government policy on drugs, including programmes to reduce the harm caused by drugs e.g.:
David Nutt wrote:
We also have to fully endorse harm reduction approaches at all levels and especially stop the artiļ¬cial separation of alcohol and tobacco as 'non-drugs'. In some parts of the UK this has already happened. In Wales the programme of intervention in relation to drug harms now incorporates smoking and drinking because those are seen as in some cases being bigger problems than other drugs. There are other merits in approaching them simultaneously: for example, many of these drugs are being used at the same time by the same people.

All seems perfectly reasonable to me.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

Joe Ess wrote:That's the difference between liquor and pot. Pot smokers are lazy.

I think society as a whole would be a lot healthier if all politicians were required to smoke pot. Plus it would make all those political broadcasts much more entertaining...
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61221
    
  66

Good grief, no! So many of them are already weird enough. Do you really want to see Michelle Bachman high?


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J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 956
    
  13

Bear Bibeault wrote:Good grief, no! So many of them are already weird enough. Do you really want to see Michelle Bachman high?


Or Joe Biden?!? On the other hand, he sort of acts likes he's stoned all the time. That would explain a lot.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

J. Kevin Robbins wrote:
Bear Bibeault wrote:Good grief, no! So many of them are already weird enough. Do you really want to see Michelle Bachman high?

Or Joe Biden?!? On the other hand, he sort of acts likes he's stoned all the time. That would explain a lot.

But it could be a win-win situation: the politicians are too stoned to cause any trouble, and the by-products of the crop can be used to make energy storage devices and help combat climate change.

I dunno. You guys need to start thinking out of the box. Or gourd...
J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 956
    
  13

chris webster wrote:
J. Kevin Robbins wrote:Or Joe Biden?!? On the other hand, he sort of acts likes he's stoned all the time. That would explain a lot.

But it could be a win-win situation: the politicians are too stoned to cause any trouble,

That reminds me of a quote or t-shirt or something that said "If everyone in the world smoked a joint at the same time, we'd have world peace for at least two hours".
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4658
    
    5

I have to agree that its a bit illogical to make pot illegal when the two drugs that cause the most economic and social costs in most Western countries are tobacco and alcohol. My bold prediction is that in a decade or so, at least 20 US states will legalize pot, and the Federal statues will be relaxed. I see this as inevitable, just as gay marriage has swept the country.

The rational political position is to legalize most (all?) drugs and then regulate and tax them. Given US politicians, I have no dream that this will happen.

If Rand Paul were a consistent Libertarian, he would push for their position: legalize them and get out of the way. But he is a faux-libertarian, so that won't happen either.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38865
    
  23
Should have read the whole of that news link:
BBC Website quoted earlier wrote:"The hemp we use is perfectly legal to grow. It has no THC in it at all - so there's no overlap with any recreational activities."
 
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